We're back again with another blog tour! Today I'm excited to introduce you to Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding by author Linda Jämsén.
Join us as we share more about this profound memoir, interview the author, and give away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.
First, a little bit about the book Odyssey of Love:
When Linda doesn’t receive the marriage proposal she had long been expecting from her boyfriend on her 41st birthday, she reluctantly visits a psychic, Angelica, who predicts that Linda will soon leave him for a romantic and music-filled Odyssey in Europe. There, a “Russian icon” will lead to her future husband, a “tall man with glasses.”
Skeptical at first, but eager to explore her Eastern European roots and reignite her passion for music, Linda moves to Hungary, the land of her idol, composer-pianist Franz Liszt. In Budapest, she reinvents herself as an English teacher and joins a chorus. Soon, she’s performing at the Liszt Academy of Music and Tel Aviv’s Opera House.
With Angelica’s vision in mind, Linda vows to “settle down, not settle for,” but is tempted by romantic close calls: Gabi is gorgeous but too immature; David in Amsterdam fits Angelica’s description to a T, but his British reserve needs some defrosting. Liszt look-alike Ádám has it all, including a wife.
With her teaching and singing gigs ending, Linda flies to Finland for one last trip before moving back to Boston. But is her Odyssey truly over, or is it just beginning?
Publisher: Tulipan Press (May 2021)
Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads list.
About the Author, Linda Jämsén
Linda Jämsén is an American ex-pat writer-musician living in Finland. She grew up in New York, holding a book in one hand while exploring the piano keyboard with the other. Mesmerized by her mother’s playing of the Romantic repertoire, she soon studied piano with her and later graduated with a B.A. in Music from Bard College. Linda is also an avid choral singer and has performed in Hungary, Finland, the UK, and Israel.
During her years in Boston, Linda raised funds for a variety of philanthropic causes and completed the graduate management course at Radcliffe Seminars/Harvard. However, longing to return to her musical roots, in 2001 she moved to Budapest, land of her musical idol, Franz Liszt. There, she volunteered for the Music Academy in his name and received a CELTA certificate from International House, where she then taught English as a foreign language. Her musical, romantic, and travel adventures abroad inspired her to write Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding, her literary debut.
Linda lives on an island in Helsinki with her husband, the “tall man with glasses” from the memoir, and their treasured Russian icon. A sequel, Triptych, is in the works.
To follow the author, visit her website at www.lindajamsen.com. Make sure you also follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.
--- Interview by Nicole Pyles
WOW: First off, congratulations on your memoir, Odyssey of Love. I love the journey you take within this book - both the inward one and the outward one to find love. What kicked off these travels for you?
Linda: At age 41, I found myself at a crossroads with a partner who couldn’t commit after 7 years. I’d been expecting him to propose, but I soon realized that 10 or 15 years might not be enough time for him, either. Feeling I’d hit rock bottom, when a friend suggested visiting a spiritual intuitive, Angelica, I reluctantly agreed. It was during this psychic session that my eyes were opened to other possibilities. When Angelica predicted I would embark on a music and romance-filled Odyssey abroad, I was skeptical, but also intrigued. I started thinking of how for years I’d put my musical interests on the back burner. Maybe it was time to reconnect with my passion for music and also search for the “tall man with glasses,” who Angelica envisioned as my future husband. In addition, I was curious to explore the lands of my Easter European roots. Because of my love for the music of Hungarian composer-pianist Franz Liszt, I chose Budapest as my base in Europe.
WOW: What a fascinating experience! So, why did you decide to self-publish versus traditional publishing?
Linda: I had first tried the traditional route by attending a handful of writers’ conferences in the US and here in Europe. While the feedback on the initial pages of Odyssey was mostly positive, the agents I met me told me that memoir was a very difficult sell and that my book would stand a better chance of publication if I rewrote it as fiction. Because of the very personal journey I’d experienced abroad, that didn’t seem sincere. I couldn’t image writing about myself as a fictional character.
Another obstacle was that I was told my memoir was too similar to Eat, Pray, Love. What’s wrong with that? I wondered. That book was and still is an international bestseller. The agents added, “It’s “already been done,” which seemed odd. Did Elizabeth Gilbert’s overseas adventures preclude others from writing about theirs? No two writers’ experiences are alike. Just because I set my memoir mostly in Budapest shouldn’t stop other writers from shying away if their stories are set in that same city.
After these discouraging conversations with agents, I began to seriously consider self-publishing and enrolled in a bunch of online webinars about the process. That alternative also seemed quite daunting, so in the end, I hired a company to help and that was a big incentive to move forward.
Another important issue to consider is artistic control. I was able to weigh in on most of the major decisions along the way, such as book cover and interior layout. I wrote the book cover blurb and back matter myself and edited both the ebook and paperback versions multiple times. Nothing was edited out from the story against my will, as might have happened with a traditional publishing house. I’m glad I was part of the overall process, even if it created more work for me.
WOW: The feedback you received from agents shows me that there is so much to consider when pursuing traditional versus self-publishing. For those who read your book who are afraid of starting an adventure (and maybe something is holding them back) what advice would you give them?
Linda: What I did, which was helpful, was envision myself in the future had I stayed in my former relationship. Would I have to continue to compromise (yes!) and give up my personal goals (yes!). How did that make me feel? (very frustrated!) I knew that if I didn’t leave my relationship, I would eventually become bitter that I’d deferred to another’s plans, or lack thereof. At that time, I was only 41—and I say “only” because I was so invigorated by my Odyssey and had more energy than ever during that time. I felt fully alive, curious about the world, and open to possibility. (Didn’t Emily Dickinson encourage us to, “Dwell in possibility?”)
While I didn’t feel particularly held back, I was concerned about finances, which is why I lined up a training course to become an English language teacher. I flew to Budapest knowing I had three-months of classes ahead of me and then could begin teaching. It was reassuring to have this lined up. Since I didn’t have any local contacts when I arrived, I instantly made new friends—and found a potential love interest, I might add!
This doesn’t mean you should leave your home and move abroad or make drastic changes. For some, particularly those with young children, it’s not possible. However, whatever your situation, remember to “settle down, not settle for” with regard to whatever it is you are looking for—whether a permanent love relationship, a fulfilling job, an artistic project. This phrase was my mantra in the book. I would repeat it when I found myself in a seemingly alluring situation but ultimately realized I would be settling again.
"Whatever your situation, remember to 'settle down, not settle for' with regard to whatever it is you are looking for—whether a permanent love relationship, a fulfilling job, an artistic project."
WOW: You did so much self-reflection and planning! That inspires me. I loved what you wrote recently on your blog about your hesitation to call yourself a writer. Have you gotten to the point now where you could introduce yourself as a writer?
Linda: Yes! I’m happy to say I now call myself a writer. For years, I didn’t feel I could utter those words without having published first. But my mindset changed while attending a writers’ conference in Stockholm, where I met others who were equally hesitant or shy, yet they were already promoting themselves as a “writer” or “author” on their websites and business cards. During the sessions, I also learned the importance of doing this and the value of setting up a website or landing page to begin promoting your work months before publication.
WOW: Congratulations on finally calling yourself a writer! How did COVID impact your writing (and/or publishing plans)?
Linda: Covid had a big impact on my publishing plans and led me quickly down the self-publishing track. Just before Covid hit Helsinki, where I live, I had been actively singing and performing in several choruses. One had recently toured in Hungary, where I had lived and sung as well. However, soon after returning, all the local rehearsals and concerts were canceled. This opened up a lot of my free time that had been focused on learning musical scores and practicing. Instead, I watched webinars and spent time studying the self-publishing process and enrolled in an online one-month marketing course for authors, which was very helpful. I wound up hiring the company that organized it.
Since I live in Finland, and it’s time-consuming and expensive to attend book fairs and other promotional events, the pandemic made it possible to stay put and publish and promote from home. I also had a virtual launch event via zoom that allowed many more friends and family members attend than if I’d organized a celebration in Helsinki.
WOW: Glad you could participate in virtual events! What's next for you?
Linda: At the moment, I’m continuing to promote Odyssey and plan to participate in the Helsinki Book Fair this fall IF it isn’t canceled due to the rise in Covid cases. I’m participating in my first book club meeting at the American Women’s Club here next month, which is exciting. I’d love to do more. I have already written a rough draft of the sequel, Triptych, which needs to be expanded on, rewritten in sections, and then professionally edited. I don’t have any specific publication date. I have also written fairy tales and a Christmas picture book, but those are future projects that entail a lot more research as well as finding the right illustrator. So, I’m sticking to memoir for the moment.
WOW: I can't wait to see what you come up with next. Good luck with your book and the tour!
-- Blog Tour Schedule
September 20th @ The Muffin
We kick off the blog tour over at WOW! Women on Writing's blog, The Muffin, where we interview the author and give away a copy of this amazing memoir.
September 21st @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue as she features author Linda Jämsén's guest post about how to organize and host a kick-ass virtual book launch event at little cost.
September 22nd @ Create Write Now
Join Mari as she publishes author Linda Jämsén's guest post about what inspired her to start journaling.
September 23rd @ One Writer's Journey
Visit Sue's blog again where she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 24th @ The Faerie Review
Join Lily when she features Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 26th @ Michelle Cornish' Blog
Join Michelle as she shares her review of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 28th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa as she interviews author Linda Jämsén about her experiences and writing her memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 30th @ Choices
Come by Madeline's blog today and you can read a fascinating guest post by the author about how a visit to a psychic ended up changing her life.
October 1st @ Michelle Cornish' Blog
Visit Michelle's blog again and you can read a guest post by the author about self-publishing versus traditional publishing and why she chose the former.
October 3rd @ Word Magic
Join Fiona as she features Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love and gives away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.
October 5th @ A Storybook World
Stop by Deirdra's blog and read a feature of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love. A memoir you don't want to miss if you are looking for love!
October 6th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Beverley's blog and read a guest post by the author about publishing as a debut author in mid-life. Don't miss this inspiring post!
October 8th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Come by Beverley's blog again and you can read her thoughts about Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 11th @ What is That Book About
Visit Michelle's blog and read Linda Jämsén's guest post about taking chances in mid-life and finding adventures and true love.
October 12th @ Alanna Jean
Alanna features Linda Jämsén's guest post about top European travel destinations.
October 14th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog today and read her review of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 15th @ The Forgotten Books
Join Heather as she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love on her Instagram page.
October 18th @ Memoir Writer's Journey
Visit Kathleen's website as she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 20th @ Words from the Heart
Visit Linda's blog where she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 24th @ Leslie's Voice
Join Leslie on her blog today and read her review of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
--- Podcast Tour
Stories of Inspiring Joy
Don't miss Linda on the podcast Stories of Inspiring Joy where she shares her inspirational story of travel, love, and writing.
Barefooting with Sierra
Take a trip with Linda over at the podcast Barefooting with Sierra.
It's time to just write with Linda Jämsén and podcaster Travis Cody! Learn more about Linda and her experiences being an expat, and all about her new memoir Odyssey of Love.
Joy Found Here
Experience joy and inspiration with author Linda Jämsén as a guest on the inspirational podcast Joy Found Here.
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
Enter to win a copy of Odyssey of Love by Linda Jämsén by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends October 3rd at 11:59pm CT. We will announce the winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up via email. Good luck!
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