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Paris Letters – interview with memoir author Janice MacLeod

I’m thrilled to welcome Janice MacLeod to the blog today, the author of the memoir PARIS LETTERS which I read and loved recently. In the book she shares how she went from being a busy and worn out copywriter to simplifying her life and becoming an artist in Paris, finding unexpected love on the way.

Janice sold, donated, or got rid of most of her belongings and saved enough money to quit her job and buy some time to travel, not knowing what would happen next but trusting that she was following the right path to make her life what she wanted it to be. Now, she is married and runs a painted letters from Paris subscription service, combining her love of words, art, and Paris…

 

Janice MacLeod Author Photo credit Krzysztof Lik1. Did you ever imagine when you first went to Paris that you would end up living there?

Not in a million years. I thought I’d like to live in Rome. When I first planned my European itinerary, I made Rome my final stop so I could either stay there and eat pasta every day or figure out where to go from there. But of course, by then I had met the lovely Christophe in Paris who had asked me to return. Since I gave up my job and my apartment in California, I figured, hey why not? Paris is hardly outer Mongolia. I’d go and see about this Christophe fella. And of course, I fell in love with the city around the same time I fell in love with him. Paris is definitely well suited for me. For an artist, the streets provide constant inspiration.

 

2. Describe your life before Paris in three words and your life after Paris in three words:

Before Paris: Stressed. Traffic. Alone.

After Paris: Inspired. Stroll. Love.

 

3. You mention in your book that you write three pages in your journal every day, as recommended in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. After doing this for so long, do you ever struggle with what to write or is it one of those things where the more you do it the more you can do it? How helpful is journaling in your life now?

I would love to tell you it gets easier, but that third page is still a pain much of the time. Though it has become easier to show up at the page. I can now open my journal and begin quite easily. Journalling has helped me organize my thoughts, my day and my future plans. Being the master of my own business requires a lot of planning. The journal is where I carve out time to plan. It’s also where I dream. It’s also where you’ll find my daily list of things to do. Writing everything down has made me more efficient with my days.

 

Janice Wedding 2 credit David Bacher4. Did it cross your mind that you might meet an eligible bachelor while travelling, or was your whirlwind romance totally unexpected?

Not only did I not expect romance, I had given up entirely on finding it. Back when I lived in Los Angeles, I really thought the love of my life was there and all I had to do was find him. After many disappointing dates, I gave up looking for him. I was in complete acceptance that it might never happen. In a way, I broke up with my imaginary boyfriend who lived in Los Angeles. I took off for Europe, and of course, there he was waiting for me to arrive. Even when I met Christophe, I didn’t think we would have a relationship. I was traveling through Paris. Knowing I was just passing through and having already given up on romance likely made me more open to simply living in the moment with this handsome butcher. And that likely helped romance blossom. Life is funny that way.

[Juliet ~ It’s amazing how letting go can lead you to something wonderful 🙂 ]

 

5. At the back of your book you list a ton of helpful ways to declutter, simplify your life, and save or earn money. For people who are overwhelmed with their lives and want to get started on making some changes, what three tasks do you suggest they start with?

1. Oatmeal. The cheap bulk kind. It’s healthy, filling and so very affordable. You can get ahead in a lot of aspects of your life by eating oatmeal in the morning. I don’t cook mine. I toss it in a bowl with some nuts, seeds, cinnamon and whatever milk I have on hand.

2. Live beneath your means. You’ll likely start saving and be able to pay off credit and boost your bank account. Being able to live life with a chunk of change in your pocket provides an air of peace and calm in your life.

3. Write in a journal daily. I came up with so many ideas on how to save money (like saying no to group dinners that left me drained in spirit and pocketbook) and earn money, which led to my Etsy shop that now brings in most of my income. And in between all that, I had my Lists of Things To Do each day, which just made me more efficient in my days, resulting in more energy to clean out my drawers and sell household items online.

 

6. How did you go about getting your memoir published?

Once my romance and artistic life started to blossom in Paris, I realized this might make a memoir that would help and inspire. I consulted Linda Sivertsen over at http://bookmama.com/. She helps people create a book proposal. I researched agents who are great at selling memoirs and found Laura Yorke at the Carol Mann Agency in New York (laura@carolmannagency.com) and sent her a note explaining my book. She agreed to see my book proposal. She signed me right away and we went about pitching the book to publishers. We landed with Sourcebooks and I couldn’t be happier. This publisher is fantastic. Great editors, great publicists, great resources for authors.

[Juliet ~ Congrats!]

 

Janice MacLeod St Andre Paris Letter Photo Krzysztof Lik7. You created a business selling painted letters from Paris. Do you have a favourite Paris Letter so far?

The most recent Paris Letter is always my favorite. I never know exactly how it will turn out. The process is magical, even for the one holding the brush.

[Juliet ~ I look forward to receiving mine in the mail each month!]

 

8. When you’re not writing or painting or enjoying the sights of Paris, what do you like to read?

I love reading memoirs, but only happy stories. Tragedy bums me out. I also like historical fiction because it’s a history lesson wrapped in the shiny bow of an entertaining story.  Though lately I must admit, more of my free time goes to lounging around Pinterest. It may be the best museum I’ve ever visited. And that’s saying something as one who lives in the City of Museums.

[Juliet ~ I totally share your love of Pinterest! I think I’m addicted.]

 

Paris Letter Sample 19. My readers love romantic stories with a happy ending (or at least, a happy new beginning!), what’s next on the horizon for you?

I love romantic stories with happy endings, too. The other night I watched The Notebook (again!) but this time with French voiceover. And I bawled my head off (again!). But it was the good kind of crying. So satisfying.

[Juliet ~ I must watch that one again!]

Next on my horizon is a big move. Yes, Christophe and I are cleaning out our drawers and discussing next steps. We are such compatible travelers and our wanderlust is in full gear. We are both nomads at heart. I also have a couple book ideas bouncing around my head. And of course, another line of letters will come out that aren’t about Paris. They’ll likely be about wherever we show up with our suitcases. Oh the intrigue. I’ll report more over on my blog: janicemacleod.com

[Juliet ~ Intriguing indeed! I look forward to following the blog]

 

10. And lastly, can you impress us by telling us something really cool in French? 😉

Alas, I cannot impress you with my French. My French is not impressive.

[Juliet ~ It’s gotta be better than mine 😉 ]

 

Thanks for sharing your story, Janice!

>> Follow Janice’s ongoing journey at her website/blog.

>> To get a copy of Janice’s memoir, PARIS LETTERS, check out your local bookstore or buy via the links on this page HERE. 

>> And for a little taste of Paris delivered to your letterbox each month, subscribe to her personalised, painted letters HERE.

 

Paris-Letters-by-Janice-MacleodHow much money does it take to quit your job?

Exhausted and on the verge of burnout, Janice poses this question to herself as she doodles on a notepad at her desk. Surprisingly, the answer isn’t as daunting as she expected. With a little math and a lot of determination, Janice cuts back, saves up and buys herself two years of freedom in Europe.

A few days into her stop in Paris, Janice meets Christophe, the cute butcher down the street—who doesn’t speak English. Through a combination of sign language and franglais, they embark on a whirlwind Paris romance. She soon realizes that she can’t ever return to the world of twelve-hour workdays and greasy corporate lingo. But her dwindling savings force her to find a way to fund her dreams again. So Janice turns to her three loves—words, art, and Christophe—to figure out a way to make her happily-ever-after in Paris last forever.

 

9/11 – Lillie’s Story

In honour of those who died and those who risked their lives to help others on September 11, 2001, I decided to interview Lillie Leonardi about her unique and compelling experience of that day, and the days that followed…

1.    Thank you for joining me on the blog today, Lillie. Your memoir, In The Shadow Of A Badge, details your experience at the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and how the 9/11 attacks affected your life. Can you tell us a little about your book and your experience of that day?

The book reflects my story about the visitation of Angels during the first moments at the Flight 93 crash site.  It is a narrative non-fiction account of the spiritual experience I encountered while serving in my professional capacity as the Community Outreach Specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pittsburgh Division. What I saw and/or heard is a personal interpretation of the events leading up to and following 9-11 and, in particular, the Flight 93 crash. The book also details my on-going journey of personal healing and recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following my experiences that day.  The chapters penned include some significant historical facts as well.

 

2.    Can you share with us a brief excerpt from your book?

“On this day, the shimmer of light began to grow and was almost blinding. I looked again and the light began to evolve into a foggy white mist. The white mist then began to take shape. It moved and swirled in patterns of spectacular white light. All at once, the mist took full shape and I saw what appeared to be angels. There were angels standing in the open area to the left of the crash site. There were hundreds of them standing in columns. There was a field of angels emerging from the realms of the mist. They were Archangels with their wings arched up toward the sky.”

 

3.    How did the events of that day change your life and your view of the world?

Like many others who watched and witnessed the terrorist attacks of 9/11, my life was dramatically altered by the very nature of the events.  First and foremost, 9/11 removed any sense of security and left in its stay, a deep seeded feeling of fear.  This frozen fear caused trauma to my heart, mind and soul.  Yet, due to my inability to express the emotions felt, I became afflicted with PTSD.  As a result, every aspect of my life has changed.

 

4.   The memory of 9/11 brings with it a lot of strong emotions for people; do you think there are some positive things people can take from this experience to help them move forward in their lives?

Yes, I do feel there were some positive occurrences on 9/11.

From a law enforcement perspective, I believe many individuals served on behalf of their fellow man.  At each of the three sites, acts of bravery transpired.  When the Twin Towers were struck by the planes, the emergency responders rushed in to save lives and rescue the injured.  When the Towers fell, the responders assisted in recovering those who lost their lives and in the post clean-up efforts.  At the Pentagon, the same type of heroic deeds were witnessed on countless occasions.  And, the passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93, gave their lives to assure others would survive.

While at the crash site, I watched representatives from United Airlines, the law enforcement, human service  and government agencies work in tandem to address the needs of the family members who lost loved ones on Flight 93.  Each of these remarkable individuals gave their all to ease the pain and suffering of the survivors.

Additionally, residents of the surrounding communities rallied and offered unbelievable support to the families.   And, the area business owners provided essential supplies needed for an effective response to the tragedy.

There were so many individuals who helped to ease the pain and suffering of others.  They joined together to help rebuild the lives of those most affected.  It was amazing to watch the strength of spirit exhibited by one and all.

 

5. Your book is the first in a trilogy, can you tell us what the other two books will be about?

My Life In Black And White With A Smidgen Of Blue:

Book two provides the continuing story from where the first book left off. The many chapters trace my journey as a law enforcement officer, the PTSD diagnosis, the necessary healing processes and the difficulties faced.

The pages also unearth aspects of my childhood, spiritual path and the origins of my intuitive gifts. Additionally, the narrative is my version of a love story. Not, the conventional type that one may be familiar with reading, but it is my rendition of the “affairs of the heart”.

 

Messages From the Plane:

The third book of the series provides insight into my treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The pages penned delve into the initial treatment of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) – a highly successful therapy used to aid those suffering from the effects of PTSD.

“Messages From the Plane” describes my journey to restore my mental health, as well as reveals the extraordinary phenomenon that occurred during each of the EMDR treatments. With my mind open, my intuitive abilities were tapped and my creativity began to reemerge. The pages highlight my path out of the depths of despair to a deeply enriched spiritual connection.

This book was co-authored by Dr. Deborah Conway, PhD.  Dr. Conway is the psychotherapist who treated me through conventional therapy and through the process of the EMDR sessions.

 

Thank you for sharing your amazing story and personal journey, Lillie.

Lillie’s book, In The Shadow Of A Badge, is available at Amazon, BN.com, select Barbes & Noble stores, and Word Association Publishers.

You can also find out more about Lillie at her website.

Do you have a 9/11 story to share? Where were you on that day?