WOW! is proud to be launching Linda C. Wisniewski's whirlwind blog tour across the web. Linda's memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman's Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage (Pearlsong Press, 2008), has been called “A courageous insightful book,” and “unflinchingly honest.” Join in on the conversation as we chat with Linda in this insightful interview!
We're also holding a comments contest! Comment on this post and be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of Off Kilter.
So, pull up your comfiest chair, grab a cup of coffee, enjoy the learning experience as we chat with Linda--a truly talented and inspirational author, and share your thoughts!
WOW: Welcome to WOW!, Linda, we're thrilled to be launching your blog tour for your memoir, Off Kilter (Pearlsong Press, 2008).
One of my favorite books growing up as a child was Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. It was also my first introduction to scoliosis. If it weren't for that book, I probably would never have known about it. Have you read this book?
Linda: Yes, long ago. It came out after I was a child, though. (I’m 62 this week!)
WOW: Happy birthday, Linda! What a great time to launch your book tour! So, why did you choose scoliosis as a metaphor for your memoir?
Linda: One of my writing teachers introduced me to the idea of using a metaphor to represent my life. This one was staring me in the face--or pinching me in the side! When I wrote about it, it became obvious. All the twisting and adjusting to be comfortable with back pain--just like life: one adjustment after another!
WOW: I hear that. I had a car accident many years ago that caused two herniated disks in my neck/spine, so I definitely know about back pain. But how did you come up with the idea to link scoliosis with your mother and your Polish background?
Linda: When I went through my writing, looking for a common theme to use in my memoir, I found three big ones: scoliosis, my relationship with my mother, and my Polish heritage. In all three cases, I felt out of balance and wanted to re-adjust my life. Instead of writing three books, I decided to hang all three themes on my 'off kilter' body image.
WOW: That's a wonderful metaphor, and it's great to have a theme. I've interviewed many famous writers who've had an extremely hard time pinpointing the main theme of their book.
Another thing that's hard for a writer is pleasing family members, especially when you’re writing about them! What has your family said about your book?
Linda: Well, I stopped trying to please my family long ago, and that's an important part of my story. We're not close, and I've lived far away from 'home' for forty years. I changed some names, and waited until my parents died. A couple of people were upset by what I wrote about my childhood but I had to be true to myself, and write my story as I saw it.
WOW: Good for you! Now, I know that memoirs tend to be subjective. How much of your book is true?
Linda: All of the incidents and people are real. I did take some creative license with things like colors of clothes, weather, and dialogue when I couldn't remember it exactly. I was always true to what the person sounded like or looked like, and the 'emotional truth' of my story. That said, of course it's subjective. I selected only the segments that illustrated my point: my life was 'off kilter.'
WOW: I love the fact that you kept it real, but why did you choose to write a memoir, instead of labeling it as fiction? (As many authors do.)
Linda: My mother suffered through sixty years of verbal and emotional abuse, and it affected me and my sister very deeply. One reason I wrote a memoir is so others can see that emotional abuse is as damaging as physical blows. The other reason is to show that we can overcome a damaging childhood and find happiness.
WOW: And I thank you for that, Linda--so true. Let's switch to the business of authoring. One thing that's hard for an author is choosing the right publisher. What made you choose Pearlsong Press?
Linda: My publisher's name comes from the image of a beautiful pearl. Sand or grit irritates the oyster, and so it produces opalescent nacre ('mother of pearl') to surround the sand. The oyster's self-healing transforms suffering into a thing of beauty. It perfectly describes my story! Plus, I liked Peggy Elam, the owner, from the start. She is a psychologist and journalist, and worked closely with me on the book design and marketing, and still answers my many questions. Also, she created a Yahoo marketing group for all her authors to share tips. It's been very helpful to me.
WOW: Oh, I just love your cover. So what has your experience been like working with Pearlsong so far? And would you recommend them to other authors?
Linda: Pearlsong is a very small and selective publisher, but if you have a story that fits with their mission--celebrating diversity of body image and size--I think you’ll be happy with their very personal, creative approach.
WOW: They sound like a great fit. Linda, from reading your excerpt, I'm in awe of your prose. You are in touch with all the senses, and bring readers along for a beautiful ride. Are there any particular activities, or places, that inspire your writing?
Linda: My yoga practice and meditation help me get in touch with my body, my breath and my place in the world. And walking every day gives me new ideas and answers to writing problems. My iPod often stays in my pocket when I walk on writing days--I don't want to be distracted in case the Muse speaks!
WOW: (Laughs) I love that! And I LOVE iPods. So how long did it take you to write Off Kilter? Did you have a set writing routine?
Linda: When I decided to pull my essays and memoir pieces together around one metaphor, and write new pieces to link them, I took about three years from start to finish. I wrote almost every day, for an hour or two, in mid-morning or late afternoon.
WOW: That's a good model. Do you do any other type of writing? If so, what is your favorite?
Linda: I've written some fiction, personal essays and poetry, but memoir is my love. There's so much we can learn by returning to the past and finding its meaning, it's like a treasure hunt!
I'm now working on a novel, only because I want to write about an ancestor from the 18th century and don’t have many facts about her. I'm having fun right now creating her character.
WOW: That's great about your new novel. Congrats! And I know you teach memoir writing. What advice do you have for a person just starting to write their memoir?
Linda: Don't edit or censor yourself. Just get the story on the page, and revise it later. Write what is important to you, write the story that wants to get written no matter what, the one that has emotional resonance for you.
WOW: That's great advice. Now, I know you've been on the promotion highway for Off Kilter. What are some of the things you've learned along your journey that you can share with other authors?
Linda: Listen when people come up to you at a signing. If you just talk about your book, you miss what your readers are really interested in. Here's the big secret: it's themselves! All of us want to read stories that remind us of our own struggles and triumphs. If you can connect with someone who has the courage to come up and talk to you, a stranger, you'll gain a new reader, and maybe a friend.
WOW: Excellent advice! Thank you so much Linda for taking time to chat with us today, and we'll be following you on this fantastic tour! I can’t wait to read your yoga tips on the other blogs, and all the other wonderful topics you'll be talking about. So, do you have any parting words of wisdom you can share with our women writers?
Linda: Writing a deeply personal book like Off Kilter wouldn't have been possible without the encouragement and support of other women writers, and two wonderful organizations: the International Women's Writing Guild (www.iwwg.org) and Story Circle Network (www.storycircle.org.) Check out the resources and tips on their websites, and support other women writers as well. And, of course, keep reading wow-womenonwriting.com!
WOW: Awwww, thanks Linda! You've been such an inspirational interviewee. :)
Ladies, come and join us on Linda C. Wisniewski's fabulous blog tour! And remember to comment to enter to win a signed copy of Linda's memoir, Off Kilter.
About Off Kilter:
Off Kilter: A Woman's Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, and Her Polish Heritage
By Linda C. Wisniewski
Even before she was diagnosed with scoliosis at thirteen, Linda Wisniewski felt off kilter. Born to a cruel father and a long-suffering mother in the insulated Polish Catholic community of upstate New York, she learned martyrdom as a way of life. Off Kilter shows her learning to stretch her Self as well as her spine as she comes to terms with her mentally deteriorating, widowed mother and her culture. Only by accepting her physical deformity, her emotionally unavailable mother, and her Polish American heritage does she finally find balance and a life that fits. Susan Wittig Albert calls Off Kilter a "splendid first memoir about the difficult business of finding balance in our lives. Funny, honest, deeply moving, Off Kilter reminds us just how hard it is to adjust to the physical pain, the emotional loss, and even the surprising beauty of being fully who we are."
Find out more about Linda by visiting her website: www.lindawis.com
Blog Tour Dates: Come and Join the Fun!
NOVEMBER 1, 2008 Saturday
Linda will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! By commenting, you enter a drawing to win a signed copy of Off Kilter! Stop by and say hello.
NOVEMBER 3, 2008 Monday
Linda visits Allie Boniface's blog, Allie's Musings, to talk about the business of writing. Allie's interviews are always a lot of fun, as well as informative.
NOVEMBER 4, 2008 Tuesday
Linda stops by Beth Morrissey's blog, Hell Or High Water, to chat about the best thing about libraries. Both Beth and Linda are former librarians! At WOW!, we adore libarians. Don't you just have the urge to give them a big hug? There should be a "Hug a Librarian Day!"
NOVEMBER 6, 2008 Thursday
Linda visits Anne-Marie Nichol's blog, This Mama Cooks! On a Diet, to chat about how yoga helps with writing and work. I'm feeling relaxed and inspired already!
NOVEMBER 10, 2008 Monday
Read all about Linda's book, Off Kilter, today at Carolyn Howard-Johnson's fabulous blog, The New Book Review. Don't you just love book reviews? Before I buy a book, I can't resist finding out what others think. Find out the skinny here!
NOVEMBER 11, 2008 Tuesday
Linda stops by Andi Lit to chat about yoga, writing in the midst of distractions, and women's spirituality. I can't wait to read this one!
NOVEMBER 12, 2008 Wednesday
Linda will be stopping by Jen Singer's popular blog, Momma Said, for an interview and book giveaway contest! You have two weeks to enter The Housewife Awards, but don't wait until the last minute! The contest starts November 12 and runs through November 24. Winners are announced by November 26.
NOVEMBER 13, 2008 Thursday
If you're a fan of Debbie Ridpath Ohi's popular cartoons on writing (and I know you are!), you have to check out her blog, Inky Girl. Linda stops by to chat with Debbie about the craft of writing, or whatever is on her mind. Debbie's interviews are the best! Come and join the fun.
NOVEMBER 17, 2008 Monday
Linda will be visiting Joanne DeMaio's inspiring blog, Whole Latte Life, to share her insights on how to stay focused on writing all the distractions of modern life. I can't wait to read this one--I definitely need the advice!
NOVEMBER 18, 2008 Tuesday
Linda visits Carolyn Howard-Johnson's award winning blog, Sharing With Writers and Readers, to share her tips on memoir writing! If you've never visited Carolyn's blog, it's a must-read for authors, and a Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers.
NOVEMBER 19, 2008 Wednesday
Linda stops by Lauri Griffin's blog, Lauri's Reflections, to talk chat about writing and many other inspirational topics. Come join them in a lively conversation!
NOVEMBER 20, 2008 Thursday
Linda stops by Maddie Jame's blog, Life, Unedited, for a candid interview! Come and join the chat!
NOVEMBER 24, 2008 Monday
Readers delight! Linda stops by Musings of a Bookish Kitty and chats with readers today about their favorite subject: reading. Linda shares her reading habits and more!
NOVEMBER 25, 2008 Tuesday
Do you believe in happily-ever-after? Or do you want to? Then stop by Allyn Evans' blog, Happily Ever After, Today, and get ready to be inspired! Linda tells a wonderful story about a family camping trip that helped overcome life's obstacles. This is not to miss!
We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.
If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Linda Wisniewski's tour for Off Kilter: A Woman's Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage, or schedule a tour of your own, please email angela[at]wow-womenonwriting.com
**Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.