Wednesday, October 21, 2015

FEATURED AUTHOR: DANIELLE SOUCY MILLS




ABOUT THE BOOK

Three peoples’ life stories intertwine with a synchronistic twist.

Jimmy Pollaski, a young man at the peak of his potential, dies suddenly in a motorcycle accident. As his spirit hovers above his lifeless body, he calls out to his mother, Patricia, only to find that his words are inaudible. He then promises to find some way to transmit his message to the world of the living.

It is no coincidence that Lorrena Shaw can see him, along with other spirits — a gift that Lorrena’s mother shuns. After her mother suddenly announces that they will abandon their home in Connecticut to care for Lorrena’s grandmother — a grandmother she has never known — Lorrena inevitably finds herself in the same small Massachusetts city where Patricia resides.

As their paths unite, Lorrena discovers the unbearable grief that haunts Patricia’s every move. Now, not only must she convince Patricia that her son’s soul has survived the fatal crash, she must also travel beyond space and time to access the Akashic Records, the library of all of Human Existence, and write their stories as one — a story that ultimately shatters the boundaries between life and death.

If you liked The 5 People You Meet in Heaven or The Celestine Prophecy, you’ll love
Illusion of an Ending.




INTERVIEW WITH DANIELLE SOUCY MILLS


Danielle, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

I began writing very early on. I guess you could say I always knew I would be a writer. I remember writing stories in 1st grade, and then when I moved to a Montessori school a few years later, I even wrote my first “novel.” Looking back, I am so thankful for my teacher coming up with this blue notebook idea filled with lined paper where we literally got to sit down at a table and write whenever we had the opportunity to choose our activity. I wanted to be just like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike back then. I remember realizing though that I did not really know enough about life to write and publish a real book.

In middle school and high school I continued to write short stories and poems with lots of teenage angst. My senior year, I took a class called “Writing for Publication” which was a little scary because we had to share our writing with others. I think it was a good step for me and helped me really break out of my shell. In college, after finally deciding to major in English with a focus in creative writing, I won a scholarship for a collection of my short stories. I then moved across country to pursue my MFA, and finally wrote my first real novel, alongside my children’s book.

I found a small publishing company to publish both of those books, but when things didn’t work out, fate led me down the road of independent publishing. I guess this when I became a real author, having my books available on Amazon for people other than just myself and friends and family.

How long is your to-be-read list?
Oh gosh, it’s way too long! My “problem” is that I continually find amazing books to read, while still in the middle of others. Then, I start reading a little bit because I get so excited, and find myself in the middle of 5 incredible books. Will I ever catch up? I hope so!

What books do you currently have published?
I first published my children’s picture book Tina Tumbles, which was inspired by my childhood. As a kid, I loved to flip around my house until my mother got so scared I’d hurt myself, she signed me up for gymnastics. Though the storyline follows a little girl learning how to do a cartwheel, this book is all about perseverance and getting back up when you fall down — a lesson that can be applied to pretty much any aspect of life.

Later in the year, I published my novel, Illusion of an Ending which is very different from my first published book. I actually wrote this novel for my thesis during my MFA program, and for about 5 years I was trying to figure out who to send it to in order to get it out into the world. I knew it belonged in the Visionary & Metaphysical fiction genre, but there were only a few publishers who dealt with this emerging genre and hardly any literary agents. I felt very strongly about the message of this book though.

After getting in my first car accident in Rhode Island with a man in a rental car from southern California, I had a strange feeling that I would somehow write about it and also that I would end up in California. I realized in that moment that there were no accidents. On the same day, I later learned that a friend of mine had lost his childhood friend in an accident less than an hour away from where the guy I had gotten into my car accident with lived. I later came up with the idea for a book about a young man who passed away in a motorcycle accident but had a very important message to deliver to his grieving mother and the world of the living. He just needed a way to communicate the message since his mother couldn’t hear him.

Eventually, events lined up for me to move across the country to pursue my MFA in Creative writing at Chapman University in Orange, California. Moving across the country knowing hardly anyone, when I got there I found that several of the people that I met were connected in strange ways. Synchronicity in my life also inspired a part of the book, which is ultimately about how our stories unite and continue on long after we leave this Earth, and the important connections we make while we’re here — connections which do not end even after we pass on.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
Marketing has been a lot of learning for me. I’m certainly not an expert, and I’ve found that marketing a children’s book is very different than marketing an adult novel, not to mention I have two very different target audiences for my work. I have learned a bit about Amazon though, and how Amazon can be a great marketing tool. My children’s book is in a very niche category, which makes it extremely easy for people to find. Books continually sell, and I don’t really have to do much.

For my novel, things have not been as easy. I’m playing around with Kindle free promotions and Kindle Countdown deals. In order to do these though you have to be enrolled in Kindle Select, taking your book down on every other e-store. I recently did a free promotion, posting my book on free sites to let people know about the download. I had over 2,700 downloads within 5 days, and found that I got a few reviews as well as lots more people adding my book on Goodreads. I am still learning (it doesn’t ever end!) and trying to figure out the best ways to market my particular genres to my different audiences.

You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?

Luckily, I have an evening job which leaves a lot of time during the day for writing . . . which doesn’t actually always happen. I try to keep a balance between exercise, taking care of my house, marketing, writing, and reading . . . all while not using up all of my energy since I go into coach gymnastics to children with a LOT of energy in the late afternoon.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Oprah Winfrey Network! I don’t watch much TV, but I absolutely love Super Soul Sunday and all of the insight it offers. Oprah is one of the most incredible, inspirational people alive today, and the impact she has on the world is priceless. I love that she shares stuff “out of the box” too, stuff to truly help people get in touch with their inner selves and life purpose. 

How do you feel about Facebook?
Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship. I love being able to connect to friends and family, and people in general who I wouldn’t have otherwise met or kept in touch with. Yet, it can be a huge distraction. Again, it’s all about balance. Facebook has, however, continued to make it tougher for business pages to reach people. I love posting and sharing inspirational quotes and pictures and articles, but often wonder how worth it it really is to spend time on sharing stuff that hardly anyone sees. I guess though, it’s not about reaching tons and tons of people. If you inspire or make an impact on one person a day or week or month, it’s worth it, right?

I think so. What scares you the most?
Not achieving everything I came here to do.

What five things would you never want to live without?
Love, books, gymnastics, nature, children. Love is the glue that holds the world together. It expands beyond life and certainly keeps me going every day . . . loving people and things and what I do. Books are a great way to sit back lose yourself in a story, to leave your own life for bit, as well as great tools to learn something new. Gymnastics, in my opinion, is one of the best sports ever created, implementing strength with mental focus, body awareness, and dedication. Nature helps me return to my inner peacefulness and continually reminds me how much beauty there is in the world. Children always remind me to live in the moment, have fun, to see the lighter side of life, and also that things are never has hard as they seem.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Sometimes I feel like a little bit of both. There are times when I want to meet and talk with anyone and everyone, and other times I feel so shy and self-conscious and like to keep to myself.

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Well, I certainly have been spending a LOT on food lately, probably because I’m having a baby in the next couple of months and have found it very important to make sure I’m feeding her good stuff . . . and maybe a little “bad stuff” too! I try to eat food that’s good for me since it is really the fuel that keeps us going during the day. No processed crap, which I’ll admit, I used to eat a lot of!

Congratulations on the baby! That's great news. What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.” –Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. This quote is my life theme . . . and I will elaborate more in a later question.


Have you ever been to a fortune teller? What did she tell you?
Yes, I guess you could say that I have. I’m a firm believer in them, but have always learned that the future is never wholly set in stone because we all have free will. Also, that we are often the best fortune tellers of all for ourselves. Recently a tarot reader told me that I would write a children’s book that would be carried in the San Diego Zoo. I was a little skeptical, but did eventually start a story with an idea that came to me about a kid imagining what his life would be like if he moved into a zoo . . . only to find out a little later that my illustrator had done a few illustrations pretty much drawing out what I’d started writing. I haven’t really finished the story, but thought that was pretty cool! We will see how it goes!


Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?

Jim Carrey! The dude is not only hilarious, but he is also incredibly inspirational — a side of him which is certainly not shown in Dumb and Dumber or Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and a side that not everyone knows about. I had no clue until very recently how deep he actually is. I think it would be really cool to sit down with Jim at a dinner party and talk about life. 



What is your favorite movie?
Donnie Darko is one of my favorites. I love movies (as well as books) that really make you think. I try not to watch movies that have any violence. This movie not only has an interesting storyline that makes you kinda go “What?!” by the end of it all, it also has an incredible soundtrack. I’ve probably watched it over 20 times!

Do you have a favorite book?
Oh man, I have a few! Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, Paulo Cohelo’s The Alchemist, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Nonfiction: Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton, and my favorite children’s book is The Little House by Virgina Lee Burton. I continue to add to my list of favorites every year!

If you had to choose a cliche about life, what would it be?
Everything happens for a reason. You hear it a lot, but I also think it is not always backed up 100% with what those reasons are. I totally think that everything that happens to us is never “by accident” or random, even the little things. We are always learning from our experiences, and things often repeat if we don’t learn from them. I totally believe we come here with a purpose and it’s not all “God’s plan”, but our own, one we created for ourselves (before we are born) and whether or not we carry it out is our own deal. Our Higher Self, as they say, knows exactly what it is we’re supposed to be doing, and all we have to do is go inward and follow our hearts to figure it out. I’ve been studying a lot about Law of Attraction too which says that, “What we think about comes about.” I’ve really adopted the power of positive thinking in my life because we often attract what we concentrate on — it’s simply a law of the Universe, similar to the way gravity works. So yeah, I totally believe that everything happens for a reason . . . and even when bad things happen, we must simply trust that they are leading us to better things and that we are on the right path.


What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few things, including the sequel to Tina Tumbles called Tina Loses a Tooth, as well as a few other children’s book manuscripts I’ve been tweaking over the past couple of years. I’ve also started my next novel, which is about a woman who is saved by her guardian angel — who continues to show himself to her as she learns her true purpose in life beyond going to work every day and simply making a living.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Ice cream cake!
Laptop or desktop? Desktop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Chevy Chase
Emailing or texting? Both!
Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors
Tea: sweet or unsweet? semi-sweet
Plane, train, or automobile? automobile! (my husband is a car guy)


Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Book Excerpt from Illusion of an Ending


Prologue



Jimmy Pollaski
“Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality.”
— Emily Dickinson

Every day of my life I died a new death.

As the years turned me from child to teenager to adult, I remember wondering what it would feel like to die. How would I know when it happened?

Now, as I ascend over my body lying lifeless in the hospital bed, I see everything at once, know everything at the same time. My mother stands over me, her head low. She’s  waiting for a sign to assure her that I’ll be okay. My father sits behind her. His mind is
racing, face blank. He never knows the right way to calm her down. Outside, the San Diego sun warms the day to a pleasant seventy-four degrees.

I feel nothing but a rush of energy as the light around me grows brighter. Life isn’t flashing before my eyes, like they say, but showing up in pieces that remind me things will not carry on as they were. I begin to recall events throughout my lifetime where I believed I was coming so close . . . to a close.

I thought once that dying would be like breaking my elbow after my bicycle flew out from under my eight-year-old body. Pain shot up my arm, folded under at an unnatural angle. Still alive years later, I swore that death would be like the feeling of my lungs collapsing as my track coach yelled, “Only ten more miles!” I thought death loomed after a fifteen-minute swim in November’s North Atlantic, purple shaking lips and rubber skin. When that wasn’t death, I was sure it would arrive the morning after kicking kegs in the woods as the night transformed into dawn.

I recognize my mother’s worry that if the beer didn’t kill us, maybe it would have been the eighty-foot jumps into the quarry’s cavernous waters. The lofty shadows of trees drifted over our drunken heads, stars blinking through the branches. Our bodies floated in the cool water. Our sobriety was the only casualty then. The intoxication never shut me down completely, not even when my eyes shook to a close, opening again four hours later to the sun pouring rays at me as generously as I had let the alcohol flow down my throat. Head pounding, thinking in broken thoughts. Yes, finally, this had to be it. Really dying. Now I know that these times were only attempts at escape, the way my mother closes her eyes but the world remains around her, the way people are unable to fully detach from the hurt and vulnerability which tie us hand-in-hand to life. We persevere, countless moments of pain leading us to this final moment of release.

Twenty-five years gone by, but it’s my time.

“Mom, I’m okay! I’m right here!” My voice stifles as if I’m talking into layers of sheets that I can’t lift.

My mother’s chin rises. She pulls her cell phone from her pocket.

Thousands of miles away, my sister looks out her window at the snow-covered scenery. The streets are caked in thick ice. She’s clutching the phone to her face, her eyes red and puffy as she dabs them with tissue.

The hospital staff urged my friends to go and rest hours ago. I see them asleep on the couches, the silent glow of the television lighting up the living room.

“I know you can’t hear me now, but I will find a way. There is a way,” I tell them. It’s only a matter of time before the days align. My path has led me here, the wind pressing against my face, the motorcycle’s engine roaring beneath me. The earth and the ocean smear together at seventy miles per hour. Paths of everyone on Earth diverging, and intersecting.

I watch my mother collapse into the chair beside my dad, his arm cradling her descent. The doctor stands above them. All at once, I feel the delicate hand of my grandmother, its warmth transferring through my body like a comet grazing the sky with a sudden, hot glow. She’s been waiting for me.

My mother’s face contorts. She tosses her face into her hands, head shaking back and forth.

“My story isn’t over, Mom,” I say. “The beginnings and the endings aren’t real. I promise, I will tell you the true story—our story.”

As I speak, the scene closes in around me, forming a tunnel of astounding radiance. Shards of illumination multiply without hurting my eyes.

Today I am dying, yet I feel more alive now than ever before as the world around me fades to light.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle Soucy Mills is the award-winning author of Visionary & Metaphysical novel Illusion of an Ending and children’s picture book, Tina Tumbles. A lover of books since childhood, she studied English and creative writing at Rhode Island College, before moving to California to earn her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Chapman University. She enjoys writing books for both children and adults which inspire, encourage, and delve into our Divine purpose for being. Danielle has made guest appearances on The Nancy Ferrari Show on iHeart Radio, The Writer’s Divine Den Radio Show, and her work has been featured in Bell├ęsprit Magazine, as well as Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently resides in San Diego with her wonderful husband, Jesse, and her ever-growing collection of books.

Connect with Danielle:

Website  | 
 Blog  | 
 Facebook  |  
Twitter  | 
Goodreads