Friday, August 18, 2017

UK Interview

I was recently interviewed by Fiona Mcvie for her blog authorsinterviews. I was surprised to learn she lives in Scotland, just outside of Glasgow. As I work on my latest memoir project, I find myself on a road trip with my friend, Judi, driving the picturesque Scottish countryside. Such sweet sad memories.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did:

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi Fiona! Thank you for inviting me to your blog. My name is Arleen Williams. I’m 62.

Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Seattle, Washington, USA. I lived in other places—California, Hawaii, Venezuela, and Mexico—before returning to Seattle. I now live not far from where my father grew up in West Seattle.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up on a small farm outside of Seattle. I left home at seventeen, took ten years to complete a Bachelor’s degree and two years to earn a Master’s in Education from the University of Washington. I have spent the last thirty years teaching English as a Second to immigrants and refugees at a local college. My husband and I have lived in the same West Seattle home for the last twenty-seven years,where we raised our only daughter and watched the city change around us.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have big exciting news! A little over a year ago my publisher went out of business and my three novels and two memoirs found themselves homeless. I’m very happy to announce that my three novels—Running Secrets, Biking Uphill,and Walking Home—are again available in print and ebook formats on Amazon.

I’m still seeking a home for my memoirs—The Thirty-Ninth Victim and Moving Mom—but hope to have them available before year’s end.

I’m currently working on a third memoir that explores my years as an undocumented immigrant in Mexico City in the early 1980s.  Click here to READ MORE at Fiona's Blog!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's Time to Celebrate!

The Alki Trilogy is Back!

 Uplifting stories of cross-cultural, multi-generational friendships—and redemption

A year has passed since the publisher of The Alki Trilogy went out of business and my novels became unavailable. After endless months of waiting for another small press to re-release them, only to be told that it will publish Texan authors, exclusively, I decided to do it myself. 

Running Secrets, Biking Uphill and Walking Home are again available in both print and ebook format. Yeah! I've re-edited to (hopefully) catch all my errors missed in the first edition. Also, I’ve added Reading Group Questions to each novel. And best of all, I was able to lower the price: $13.99 print, $3.99 ebook, $13.99 + $0.99 for both!

Do you already have your own copies? Wonderful and thank you! Maybe you could mention them to anyone looking for a good read.

Do you know anyone who belongs to a book club? The Reading Group Questions stimulate great conversation making all three books provocative club selections.

Do you know anyone with an upcoming birthday? The Alki Trilogy might make the perfect gift!

Finally, writers need reviews. Reviews help sales. Sales mean more readers. More readers make writers happy. If you haven’t already done so, please consider writing a brief review on Amazon.

Just for fun ... the first three people to write a comment below and email me will receive a complete ebook collection of The Alki Trilogy!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Can You Do the Dutch Reach?

I call myself a cyclist, but I’m not a commuter, and frankly, I’m a mediocre distance rider at best. But I cycle the streets of Seattle several days a week until inclement weather pushes me into a gym. I love the exercise, the fresh air, the world I see when I’m not within the confines of a vehicle.

I’m lucky. I’ve only had one accident. It was my own fault. No cars, pedestrians or dogs involved. I pulled too hard on my front brake as I dropped about three inches from pavement to gravel and went head first over my handlebars. My helmet saved me from serious injury.

I know some drivers grumble about the sharrows, those shared lane pavement markings we have in Seattle. Why are they so far into the lanes of traffic? Why can’t cyclists stay on the shoulder? Why can’t cyclists just drive? 
I’ll ignore the last grumble. As to cycling on the shoulder, where they aren't used for parking, shoulders are often uneven, graveled or littered with broken glass—all dangers on a bike. Where shoulders are designated parking areas, a cyclist has to stay deep enough into the lane to allow space for the random door swung open without a mirror check.

There were over 800 bike deaths and 45,000 reported injuries in the U.S. in 2015.  In over a third of those accidents, a car hit a cyclist.

Do you know the Dutch Reach? How many accidents could we prevent if we all learned this simple technique? Can you take a moment and click on this short video?
Let's give it a try, make it second nature, tell all our friends. I'm a cyclist, but I'm also a driver. I sure don’t want to hit a cyclist and I doubt you do either.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Breath: A Challenge

When you inhale, you take into your body the flow of energy around you. At the top of the inhale, there is a slight pause where the outer breath merges with the inner breath. When you exhale, you surrender to the world around you, trusting that as you let go you will be filled back up.
--Laraine Herring, Writing Begins with the Breath

I struggle with breath. Or perhaps with trust. When I pay attention to my breath, death appears: one sister strangled, another fighting lung cancer, a father suffocating in his own phlegm. Yoga and meditation challenge me beyond the natural limitations of flexibility and patience because they conjure death. My focused inhale is forced.

Now, as I train for the 100-mile Obliteride, a cycling fundraiser for cancer research, breath becomes my enemy. Yes, my muscles scream. Yes, I wear myself out, get sick, must take a weeklong break from training. Lack of oxygen, the tightness of breath, is my true nemesis.

A cycling buddy encourages me to slow and deepen my breathing. She suggests yoga, the practice that taught her proper breathing techniques. I could try again, accept the pain of loss associated with breath, learn to trust that my lungs will fill if I allow them to do so. We all have losses, and as we age those losses multiply. The manner in which we deal with them influences the quality of our day-to-day life. I thought I’d dealt with my losses, thought I’d walked through scarred, but resilient.

I wonder how deep scars penetrate, how easily they are disturbed. I wonder if there’s more work to be done, if there is always more work to be done, if the work is never done. I wonder if I continue that work, if I learn to surrender to the world around me as Herring suggests, will my lungs refill without images of strangulation and suffocation invading my thoughts? Will I learn to cycle hills without panting so hard my stomach ties in knots?

Trust begins with awareness. I’m grateful to whatever forces of coincidence or synchronicity caused my eyes to land on Laraine Herring’s title last week at the University of Washington Bookstore. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fingers Crossed

Here it is mid July already, a month and a half into summer break—my time to be a full-time writer, the time I planned to spend working on a new memoir. But life has a mind of its own and doesn’t always follow our plans, does it?

My three novels—Running Secrets, Biking Uphill, and Walking Home—were originally published by an independent Seattle publisher. That publisher went out of business in spring 2016. Electronic copies were immediately unavailable. Within a few months, print copies all but disappeared from Amazon. 

But I wasn’t worried. I’d been offered a new contract from a small press in Texas and felt confident my work would be re-released within a few months. In an odd way, I was pleased to have the opportunity to re-edit the books. I knew there were typos and inconsistencies I’d missed in my amateurish rush to publish.

A year passed with minimal communication from the new publisher. Spring 2017 brought the news that my contract would not be honored. Marketing was difficult. Sales minimal. The Texas press decided to narrow their focus and become a niche publisher for Texas authors. Neither my books nor I are Texans, so I found myself again without a publisher.

Last month I decided to do what I should’ve done a year ago: self-publish. I reached out to Adam Bodendieck and Loretta Matson. Adam was the layout designer with my defunct publisher, and Loretta created the original covers. When both agreed to work with me on the re-release, I gained the support and confidence I needed.

It's been a month and a half and I still buried under edits, but now I’m reviewing layouts, so we’re getting closer. There’s still hope. There might still be time to spend on the new memoir before summer ends. Fingers crossed.