INTERVIEW WITH PHYLLIS LABRIE MORNEAU
Phyllis Labrie Morneau was born in 1953 in Manchester, NH and was blessed with a loving Mom and Dad and 2 wonderful Sisters. She has been happily married to her husband, Rich, for almost 45 years and is blessed with 3 sons, 1 daughter, 1 daughter-in-law, and 7 grandchildren. The desire to write a personal memoir for her family, especially her grandchildren, was the reason for writing her 1st book "From My Heart to Yours: A Legacy of Love". She wanted to share her family's story and their love and also share God's story and His amazing love, too. It was originally published in May 2011. Her 2nd book "My Season of Writing" was also written with her grandchildren in mind. It is a collection of Bible Bedtime Stories, Poems, Prayers, and Songs written during a recent season of her life. Her grandchildren enjoy reading before going to bed so have enjoyed reading the stories and poems from each book.
Welcome to Scarlet Leaf Review!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am 64 years old, retired, and have been married for almost 45 years to my best friend - my husband, Rich. I have 3 sons, 1 daughter, 1 daughter-in-law, and 7 grandchildren. I currently live in Tennessee but I grew up in New England. I was blessed with a loving Mom and Dad and 2 wonderful Sisters. I was raised in the Catholic Church, which gave me a good foundation for my faith. However, although I knew about God, it wasn't until I was 20 years old, that I surrendered my life to God and really came to know Him as my Lord and Savior. Actually, it is this knowledge of His love and saving grace that inspires me to share it with everyone who has an open heart to receive it through my writing.
Q: Do you think that your school years have had an impact in your writing career? If so, what were you like at school?
I really enjoyed school and my favorite subject was always English. My favorite assignment would be to read a book and then write a report about it. I found it very easy to write but, if we had to give an oral report, that was more difficult for me. I have always been a little shy and do not feel comfortable speaking in public. Although my speaking voice has not been my strength, my writing voice has always been strong.
Q: Were you good at English or like Einstein you excel now in a field that was a nightmare for you as a student?
I always got good grades for English in school. I remember that I took my Scholastic Aptitude Test in high school and scored such a high mark on the English and Essay portion that I was nominated for the National Honor Society as a result. You mentioned Einstein and it reminded me of the time when I visited the Amercian Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN. It was very interesting and informative but spending a few hours learning about all the mathematics and science involved actually gave me a headache. I remember thinking that I would like to visit a Museum of Storytelling next time. :)
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to continue to write as I feel led by the Lord. For me, I think of my writing not so much as a career, but as a ministry.
Q: Which poets have inspired you and how? What was their impact on your work or your literary perspective?
My favorite poet is Maya Angelou. Everything that she wrote - whether books, poetry, essays, or a memoir - she wrote from her heart. Her poetry, especially, touches my heart and affects me in a profound way. Each poem expresses her incredible wisdom and strength of character. I think that many people, including myself, have a new appreciation of poetry because of her.
Q: So, would you mind telling us what you have written so far?
I have written 2 books. The 1st book that I wrote is a memoir called "From My Heart to Yours: A Legacy of Love". The 2nd book that I wrote is called "My Season of Writing: Bible Bedtime Stories, Poems, Prayers, and Songs". My husband teases me that I can make a short story long and I guess that I can make a short title for a book long also. :)
Q: Where can we buy or see them?
They are both available for the Kindle and Paperback on amazon.com. They are also available for Paperback on barnesandnoble.com. They are also listed on Goodreads website.
Q: What are you working on at the minute? What's it about?
At the moment, I enjoy writing essays about hope for my community Facebook page "Hope for the Daily Grind: Morning Meditations on God's Word". It focuses on the importance of having hope for daily life and the very real hope that we can have by meditating on the Promises of God in His Word. I also enjoy writing poetry as I feel inspired to do so.
Q: What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
My books are Christian non-fiction and Christian poetry. I have been inspired by reading books in that genre and hope that my books will inspire people as well.
Q: How much research do you do for your books?
For my memoir, I was blessed to be able to ask questions of my Mom and Dad to hear the stories of their life as well as those of their parents. I also looked at family photographs to help me remember stories about my own life. It was a way for me to share the love of our family with my children and grandchildren. For my book of poetry of Bible stories, I spent a lot of time studying the Bible. It was a way for me to share my faith with everyone.
Q: When did you decide to become a writer and why? What was the principal reason for taking up a pen (metaphorically speaking) and write that first sentence?
To be honest, although I loved reading books as a child, I didn't have a passion to write until I was 51 years old, in 2004, when my husband was stationed in Iraq. I wrote to my husband faithfully every day, either by email or by letter, sharing news of life back home in West Hartford, CT. It was therapeutic for me to write creatively from my heart in a positive and humorous manner. It helped me to continue to be optimistic and lighthearted during a difficult year when my husband was so far from home.
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I write part-time - a few hours a day. My favorite time to write is during my quiet time with the Lord in the morning. That is usually when the Lord places an idea about something on my heart. For example, my 2nd book "My Season of Writing: Bible Bedtime Stories, Poems, Prayers, and Songs" was written during my morning quiet time with the Lord. That is when I first got the deep desire to write some bible bedtime stories and prayers as nursery rhymes for my grandchildren to read at bedtime. After many months of writing, I decided to have the collection of poems published to share not only with my grandchildren but with my family and friends.
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Or is it just the spur of the moment, a special feeling you experience or a specific conjuncture that offers you inspiration?
Usually my ideas come when I am praying or reading the Bible. But they have also come from a conversation with someone or a song that touches my heart or an inspirational book that I have read. I try to stay open to whatever I feel the Lord is placing on my heart to share with others through writing.
Q: How do you think you've evolved creatively?
I am enjoying the process of writing more than in the past. I used to be so focused and intense and serious about getting it done, that I really didn't enjoy writing as much as I do now. I had to take breaks every once in a while because I burned myself out. So now, although I definitely want to finish whatever I am working on at some point, I don't put as much pressure on myself to do it as soon as possible.
Q: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
For my memoir, I originally made an outline for the book, which is the story of over 100 years of my family's history. For the book of poetry, I originally got the idea for it during a quiet time with the Lord.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
When I am in the flow of writing, I lose all sense of time and can easily write for hours. When I wrote my 1st book "From My Heart to Yours: A Legacy of Love" I spent many hours at a time sitting in my recliner using my laptop computer to write. I remember one time that I was literally sitting for hours writing and found that, when I finally did stand up, I was so stiff that I actually had trouble walking. :) So, for me, the most difficult part of writing is to be patient, pace myself, and take breaks periodically.
Q: Now, what about the easiest thing about writing?
The easiest and most rewarding thing about writing is the ability to share it on my Facebook page and have friends and family read it and respond to it.
Q: Do you ever get writer's block and if so do you have any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer's block?
I have gotten writer's block, when it feels that the well has gone dry, and the only way for me to deal with it is to take a break from writing for a little while. It is usually because I overdue it and then feel burned out and just need some time to get refreshed and renewed.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I love to read! My favorite authors are John Eldredge and Philip Yancey. I prefer eBooks because you can change the font to make it larger. I know that I am showing my age now. :)
Q: What book are you reading at present?
I am currently reading a book called Prayer by Philip Yancey.
Q: Tell us about the covers of your books. How did it/they come about?
The graphics for the original cover of my 1st book was done by one of my sons. I had originally self-published on 48hrbooks.com. However, it did not have enough resolution to be used as the cover for the kindle version of the book on amazon.com. But I liked it so much that I included it on the 1st page of the kindle book.
Q: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes - I think that the cover definitely plays an important part in the buying process.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
The main advantage to self-publishing is the ability to get your work published quickly and not have to wait to get it accepted by a publishing house.
Q: What do you do to get book reviews?
The main way that I have gotten book reviews is to make the books available for free during the 5 day free kindle book promotion on amazon.com every 3 months. That is usually when most people will obtain my book and write a review.
Q: What are your views on social media for marketing? Which social network works best for you?
Social media is a wonderful tool to market my books. I use Facebook to get the word out about my books. I have over 4,500 friends on Facebook so I often share information about my books on my personal page. I also belong to several book groups on Facebook so share information about my books on there, too. Many of my Facebook friends have book blogs so I have done some author interviews and book spotlights on there as well.
Q: Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
What works best for me, to have the most people read my books, is the 5 day free kindle book promotion on amazon.com every 3 months.
Q: How do you relax?
My husband and I enjoy retirement. I actually wrote a poem called When You Retire about the fact that every day is now a holiday. We love to go on long walks and enjoy nature together. We also enjoy going to the movies, too. And I love to find new recipes to cook for my family. We also enjoy travelling where I always take many pictures and then later enjoy organizing them and putting them into photo albums.
Q: What is your favorite motivational phrase? What is your favorite positive saying?
My favorite motivational phrase or positive saying is actually a quote by Maya Angelou. It is "If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded".
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
I think that my favorite book is Epic: The Story God is Telling and The Role That Is Yours To Play by John Eldredge. It is a book that delivers a powerful message of truth about the reality of our life being a grand drama with God as the Central Character and the Hero in our own story. It is very interesting and inspiring.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote from the book Epic is "The Lover of our souls, the One who has pursued us down through space and time, who gave His own life to rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness, has made it clear: He does not want to lose us. He longs to be with us forever."
Q: Where can you see yourself in 5 years-time?
I hope that, five years from now, I will continue to spend time with the Lord as a priority every morning. I pray that I will continue to be open to write whatever He wants me to share. I also hope to continue to enjoy long walks with my husband every day and just be able to spend time with my children and my grandchildren.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to always write for the same reason as when I first began -- to simply bless and encourage another person with the right words at the right time, sharing what's on my heart, and hopefully make a significant impact on their life.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would simply advise any aspiring writers to just start writing. If you have the desire to share something that is on your heart or something about your life that would benefit others, than do it. It is not easy but it is very rewarding.
Q: Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I think that self-publishng is increasing each day and will continue to do so.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven't included?
I would like to encourage my older readers to take time to write your own memoir for your family and friends. Everyone has a unique story that is significant and can enrich and inspire other people by sharing it. I also would like to encourage the poets who are reading this interview. I feel that poetry is important as a creative way to share and express what is on our hearts with one another. I originally started writing nursery rhyme poems for my grandchildren based on stories from the Bible as a way to share my faith with them. It was a challenge for me to write in rhyming prose but also very rewarding. I also wrote poems about my love for God and for my family. And I enjoyed writing some inspiring poems about the hope we have in God and also a few humorous poems about my life as well.
Q: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Information about me and my books and my writings can be found on the following links . . .
Amazon Author Page:
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
February issue is live! Enjoy lots of poems and stories. We've had a chance to feature really talented authors in this issue.
There might be some format problems here and there - too many pieces and too little time! What's important is the words - they tell you the story or the poem.
There were several other pieces accepted for this issue, unfortunately, the email address used by those authors made it impossible for us to let them know. We do regret it, as there were a few excellent pieces.
To bring joy to readers everywhere.