It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Ann Vanino, author of The Chrysalis Series (two of the five books in the series are published so far).
About Ann Vanino:
Ann Vanino is a career and new directions coach whose passion is collaborating with clients to create the life they want to live. You are a treasure and have gifts to give the world that are uniquely your own. As you “awaken” to what you really want and who you really are, your life can change in marvelous ways. Ann’s work is all about you – about collaborating with you to create a life that is fulfilling and brings your gifts out in the world.
Ann grew up in New York City. Before coaching, Ann enjoyed a career in the environmental health and safety field, including running New York City’s Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team, responding to over 600 chemical emergencies a year.
Since then, Ann has coached over 4000 hours and loves her work. Ann now lives in the High Mojave Desert of southern California inspired by the solitude, beauty and silence of the desert and mountains that surround her.
About The Chrysalis Series:
Written by Ann Vanino, The Chrysalis Series includes five books providing guidance for navigating and growing in this time of change.
Are you stumbling amidst all the change, chaos and instability in your life and in the world? Are you feeling uncertain of your future? Read The Chrysalis Series and you will have a roadmap to meaning, peace and purpose in your life!
Author Interview with Ann Vanino:
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- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me, for sure. A challenge for me was to create a discipline of writing. At first, I avoided doing so. That was exhausting! Once I committed to writing I found myself entering a new world. Now, when I enter my writing space, I am excited for what that day’s writing will bring. I am often surprised and delighted by what shows up. I have my challenging writing days but have grown to learn not to let them pull me in a negative direction. On those days, I make sure not to rewrite past work and to begin fresh the next day, when the work doesn’t look as bad as I thought. Writing is an energizing refuge for me now.
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I have to admit that my recent books tend more towards originality. The reader is always in mind as I write, but more from the aspect of whether I am communicating effectively and making the book interesting to them. I am fortunate to have connected with my writing muses and I let that process guide me.
However, this wasn’t always the case. My first book, Leadership On Trial, was a book on how to be successful in the workplace, followed by Power Stories, a book of mythical tales about finding work you love and a compilation of newspaper columns I had written about coaching and living your best life. For those books, what the readers wanted (a way to fulfilling work and lives) was definitely primary.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
In 2000, I moved from Los Angeles to the High Mojave Desert in southern California. At that time, I had not begun writing books. I soon found that the solitude of the desert had attracted many writers to the region. They have been pivotal in my writing journey and have helped me immensely. They are so generous with their time and advice. We often got together (a few of us still do) for monthly lunches, just to discuss how things were going with our writing. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them.
Some of the writers in the group are: Dorothy Howell, who made her name as a best-selling author writing historical romances and now writes the Haley Randolph and Dana MacKenzie cozy mysteries; Joan Fry, author of the award-winning memoir “How to Cook a Tapir” (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), and “Backyard Horsekeeping” (The Lyons Press, 2004, 2007). Joan taught creative writing at a college here in the desert; Lynn Gardner author of the Gems and Espionage and Maggie Mackenzie mystery series; Ellie Kay author of 15 books, including the award-winning book, Heroes At Home and Dana Marcotte Kilankowski co-author with Chuck Yeager of The Quest For Mach One: A First Person Account Of Breaking The Sound Barrier.
I am also lucky to have writers in my family: an uncle wrote 8 books on foreign policy; a cousin writes a financial column for a major international newspaper; another cousin writes an industry-tailored trade newsletter; and another uncle is a poet.
- Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Interesting that you ask. ☺ I now have an accidental series. I call it The Chrysalis Series. It is five books, the first one, Chrysalis: Personal transformation From The Inside Out and the second, Kaleidoscope: Flying Together In Earth’s New Energy are published as ebooks. When I started writing Chrysalis, I thought it would be a stand-alone book. About ¾ of the way through writing Chrysalis, another book (Kaleidoscope) came through like a force of nature. I knew that, once Chrysalis was finished, I would start writing Kaleidoscope. That repeated itself three more times. Three additional books are complete, but not yet published: Hummingbird, Dragonfly and Firefly. As I was writing them, I realized I had a series, not dependent on each other or read in a particular order, but fitting together well.
- What inspired you to start writing?
In 2000, when I moved to a small town here in the desert I was interviewed, as a new coaching business in town, by the owner of the local newspaper. After our interview she asked me if I would have interest in writing a weekly column on coaching for the paper. I said yes and that was what got me started. The owner of the paper is an experienced journalist and not only gave me this opportunity, but her editing of my columns taught me a lot.
- What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
First, I would say welcome to the community of writers! It is a wonderful path for those who are attracted to it. My best advice for a new writer is to create a discipline of writing that works for them. It needs to be regularly scheduled time (perhaps every day or a certain number of days a week) in a space conducive to writing. Be deliberate – what you are really doing is aligning your body, mind and emotions in service to your writing. Create a starting ritual for your writing – for me it is lighting a candle – that marks your space and puts you mentally in a space conducive to your writing.
- How do you handle writer’s block?
I have been fortunate that writer’s block happens infrequently for me. However, it does happen. When I am staring at a blank document, I try not to panic and I make myself stay in my writing space for the time I had committed to that day. I do not allow myself to get into any distractions. I also make sure not to critique or rewrite anything I’ve written previously, as that is not the energy in which I want to write. Usually, I sit quietly and surprisingly, new inspirations come and writers block recedes.
- Describe your writing space.
My home office is the space in which I write. I also do calls with clients and run my coaching business there. When I write however, my sole focus is on writing. The walls are light green, with a lot of art hanging on them including a poster of a Henry Miller painting with his quote: To paint is to love again and to love is to live life to the fullest. I have two windows – one looking out on lilac bushes and sky and a second taken over by a Scotch Broom bush that is a burst of yellow flowers in spring. All over my office I have colored glass hangings of fairies, butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies (I am looking for fireflies!). Besides my desk, bookcases, file cabinets and side table, I have a futon couch on which rests a beautiful multicolor patterned quilt made for me by a friend.