Final Selection: 2014 Summer Reading Giveaway and Contest

Congratulations to Elizabeth Brown of Colorado for winning a copy of Denise Stephenson’s novel, Isolation, in our flash fiction contest. Her winning story will appear on TreeHouse on August 30th. Stay tuned!

Sulfur by David Winnick

Sulfur by David Winnick

Our final selection for the 2014 Summer Reading Giveaway and Contest is David Winnick’s novel, Sulfur. To win a copy, email us your best poem, flash fiction story or any other type of artistic creation with the theme of Good vs. Evil. All art is welcome!

Send entries to artstreehouse@gmail.com by 11:59 p.m. on  Thursday, August 28, 2014. Good luck!

To read more about Winnick and Sulfur, visit http://treehousearts.me/november-david-winnick/   and

http://treehousearts.me/2013/10/29/artist-of-the-month-david-winnick/

 

What’s your art? To have your creative work featured on TreeHouse, submit it for consideration at artstreehouse@gmail.com.

Poetry by Changming Yuan

Read “Psycho-Astrology: Mind-Looks” and “Knot Theory” here:

PsychoAstrology Mind-Looks and Knot Theory by Changming Yuan

 

Changming Yuan

Changming Yuan

Changming Yuan, an 8-time Pushcart nominee, grew up in a remote village, began to learn English at 19, and published several monographs before leaving China. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently tutors and co-edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Since mid-2005, Yuan’s poetry has appeared in nearly 900 literary publications across 30 countries, which include Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline and Threepenny Review.

 

What’s your art? To have your creative work featured on TreeHouse, submit it for consideration at artstreehouse@gmail.com.

An Interview with Author and Blogger Anne Whitaker

Author Anne Whitaker

Anne Whitaker

Anne Whitaker lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her background is in adult education, generic and psychiatric social work, and private practice as a counselor, counseling supervisor, and mentor. She has also worked as an astrologer, astrology teacher, and writer since 1983. Anne blogs at www.anne-whitaker.com, where her e-books Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness — an open-minded take on paranormal experience — and Rumbold Raven’s Magic Menagerie can be purchased. An original astrological research study, Jupiter Meets Uranus 1997 and 2010/11 will be available there as an e-book in August 2014. Contact Anne at info@anne-whitaker.com

TreeHouse: Is Writing from the Twelfth House your initial attempt at blogging?

Anne Whitaker: Yes. I began the blog in September 2008 after taking a long career break from 2001-8 to recover from severe burnout triggered by a long family crisis. Although this sounds bad (and some of it surely was!) I had stacks of time to rest, to think, to dream, and to return to my two earliest life passions – reading and writing. I have a long-term interest in the overlaps between mythology, all forms of symbolism, paranormal phenomena, humanistic psychology, religion of all varieties, spirituality of all hues, and scientific exploration of the open-minded, non-dogmatic and non-reductionist variety.

Out of this rich brew, and my first careful steps as I returned to the world of the everyday, came the blog. I also wanted to make myself reasonably cyber-literate as the Internet took off.

TH: On your site you note that you are an astrologer, mentor/counselor, writer, and teacher. How did you initially become interested in astrology? Does any single role take precedence over the others, or do they complement one another?

AW: In my twenties I was a college lecturer, teaching English, History, Drama and General Studies. I also had responsibility as a student counselor in my final college job. At the end of my twenties I returned to my native island to write, following which a career change saw me become a generic and psychiatric social worker – and student supervisor – during most of my thirties. At the end of my twenties, whilst considering myself a Marxist, I met a strange little man in a launderette in Bath, England, who turned out to be an astrologer and read my horoscope with stunning depth and accuracy. He predicted to my shock and horror, that I would become an astrologer “or something very like it!” in my thirties – which I duly did…

In my late thirties I then set up a freelance career weaving all four vocational preoccupations together, including teaching astrology classes to a wide range of the general public from bus drivers to consultant psychiatrists. I have been happily and successfully freelance ever since. So – everything I do weaves together with, and influences, everything else. I’m very happy with this brand of unity in diversity!

TH: What initially drove you to create the Astrology: Questions and Answers site at http://www.annewhitaker.com?

AW: Answering questions about astrology is something I have done both for my students and for myself for a very long time! Then a couple of years ago, I was invited to run an astrology blog from a popular local site here in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. I thought it would be fun to call it Astrology: Questions and Answers, since by this time my astrological writings on Writing from the Twelfth House were attracting various kinds of correspondence via comments and emails from readers. Inevitably, questions were a big part! The local site proved too limiting, so I set up my own Astrology: Questions and Answers blog.

TH: From where do you derive inspiration for content for your astrology site and blog? Do you feel your blog posts have helped you craft your other writings?

AW: I am permanently curious about how anything and everything fits into the Big Picture, which is where in-depth astrology (not the Sun Sign stuff) is such a gift, since essentially it maps the ebb and flow of the vast shifting energy patterns of our solar system, providing some insights into why we operate the way we do both collectively and individually.

So – current affairs; being plugged into Twitter and Facebook where there are always gems of information and perspective amidst the endless stream of cyber-flow; my own networks at an individual and community level both locally and world-wide; my work, both paid and voluntary, with a great variety of individuals with differing needs and preoccupations; regular daily reading time where I read both fiction and non-fiction alternately; my family life; what goes on in the weird circuits of my own brain: all of these provide ample fodder for all my writing, indeed all the different but complementary occupations I pursue.

TH: How important is it to you to devote the time and energy to keeping Writing from the Twelfth House and Astrology: Questions and Answers going? How much time do you devote to creation and maintenance of the site?

AW: In the six years since I set up Writing from the Twelfth House, the amount of time and energy I have devoted to the whole project has varied considerably. By 2011 I was feeling rather weary; at that point I was posting on my main site, but also on three satellite sites i.e. Jupiter Meets Uranus (book promotion and research of the 2010/11 conjunction of those two planets) “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness (the serialised version of what has now become the ebook published recently) and “MoreBitsFallOff.com (designed to inspire the more mature reader to “never give up, never give in!” and liberally laced with ironic humour…). Four blog posts a week, one on each site, became somewhat exhausting although it was a lot of fun too.

So I went off to Edinburgh University in Autumn 2011 for a rest and to be a Visiting Student for a year, studying social science research in relation to counseling. By the spring of 2012 I decided that I had had enough of academe: regular bouts of indulging the education junkie in me had now added up to one university degree, three post-graduate Diplomas (the last one in Psychological Astrology, necessitating three years’ commuting by plane to London, and a fifty thousand word thesis) and some credits towards a Masters Degree which I decided I didn’t want to do, preferring to go back to part-time work.

So 2011-12 saw me scaling down my blogging efforts; I hardly posted anything at all during autumn to spring 2011-12. However, I picked up the threads in the summer of 2012, keeping Writing from the Twelfth House going with just one satellite blog, i.e. Astrology: Questions and Answers. I am now pretty busy with a variety of activities other than blogging, including working with my colleagues at CO-OCCURRENCE, who since December 2013 have re-designed Writing from the Twelfth House and published 2 ebooks, with two more due out by the end of this year. So the amount of time to devote to blogging is more limited than I would like at present. However, I try to put something up on Writing from the Twelfth House each week, and something on both Astrology: Questions and Answers and/or its Facebook Page a couple of times a month.

TH: Who are your readers? Do they comment/interact with you often? What blogs do you follow?

Interestingly, given that I am based in the UK, most of my following seems to come from the USA. But my readers are a diverse tribe, given the wide remit I set from the outset, not casting my net toward any particular grouping. I set up Writing from the Twelfth House “…for those writers and readers who share my preoccupation with questions of meaning, mystery, pattern and purpose.” In the symbolism of in-depth astrology, the Twelfth House is that mysterious place in space where all our preoccupations, our paths, our belief systems dissolve into the One. Therefore Writing from the Twelfth House attracts many people who, like me, are intensely curious and interested in any and all facets of life – and where it may all fit into the Big Picture…

Over the years, as a glance down the Categories sidebar on Writing from the Twelfth House will show, I’ve accumulated a large archive of articles. Over the two years of the satellite blog Astrology: Questions and Answers s lifetime, a wide-ranging archive of topics is also growing. My stats reveal that readers old and new read across a very wide range of all the archive material from month to month. My posts do not ‘die’ as time passes, and quite often I get comments or emails on articles which were published quite some time ago. This really pleases me! I only re-joined Facebook about six months ago, and see that some of my posts from that time on have collected quite a few Facebook Shares.

I really don’t have the time I would like to Follow and comment on all that many blogs – the Like button on WordPress posts is great when you don’t have time to comment but want to give fellow bloggers a heads-up! My favourite blogger is USA based writer Linda Leinen at The Task at Hand. During the day, she varnishes boats for a living. At night, she is one of the finest writers, on a wonderfully diverse range of topics, that I have ever come across. I rarely miss commenting on her posts, and she reciprocates in kind, I’m glad to say. I’m also newly a fan of Ellis Nelson at ellisnelson. ghostbusterbev at ghost talk blog is a deep, reflective, well-informed writer on a range of spiritual, religious and paranormal topics. And I really enjoy the erudition and irreverence of Robert Bruce at 101 Books!  

There are a number of other great favourites which space precludes me from mentioning. I prefer to interact with a medium-sized group of like minds, than spend my entire life on the Web in an obsessive drive for big stats! it’s important to have a fair balance between one’s ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ lives as a blogger.

TH: Where do you see your blog headed?

AW: I don’t have much of a clue! I am very happy to be quite the Buddhist these days, living in the present as much as possible and letting life unfold without becoming too hung up on any kind of plan. I know all too well that life – and probably blogging – has an inbuilt resistance to what our Ego thinks it wants. However, I do see myself continuing to blog. it’s something I cannot envisage giving up.

TH: What are the pros and cons of blogging?

AW: Here are a very few of the many pros: It’s one of the great 21st century ways of keeping on being a writer. It’s flexible: you can post a brilliant quote – 250 words max – one week, then a 2000 word essay on an astrological perspective on the Scottish Independence Referendum, the next (coming soon, folks!). It keeps your writing ‘stream’ going, even if you haven’t got any big writing projects in mind at a particular time. It means you can never become bored. And you ALWAYS have a good reason for not doing housework!

Here are the two main cons: One, you can become dangerously obsessed with every aspect of it – I have been there, for about a year during the time I was posting weekly on each of four blogs. The cure? Go cold turkey and disconnect yourself from social media and blogging totally for a whole week. Then do the same thing for two whole days per week, preferably Saturday and Sunday, until you feel relatively normal again.(within YOUR definition of ‘normal’ I hasten to add!).

Two, you usually spend too much of your thinking time in any given week going OMG! What am I going to post on the blog(s) next? As long as you can avoid EVER sharing this thought with your nearests and dearests, you should still be able to hang onto partner, family and friends…

TH: In Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness, you discuss your “thirty years’ experiences of atmospheres, dreams, ghosts, mediumship, mystical experience, poltergeist phenomena, prediction, premonitions, reincarnation and telepathy.” Could you tell us a bit about your processes of writing and publishing the book?

AW: During the 2001-8 burnout period I lacked the energy to do almost everything except read, write, and think. I had to have a project to keep me feeling creative; that project became lying on my settee with my laptop and doing something I had wanted to do for decades but been too busy to tackle, i.e. write down an account of those experiences described in the above quote. I had journals, diaries – both my own and my husband’s – to draw on, as well as vivid recollection of memories which refused to go away despite my rationalist side (which is very strong) being offended by their very existence! Having written down everything I could, I then set them in the context of rational analysis, drawing on contemporary writing from open-minded scientists and researchers, of where these experiences might come from, why they existed in the first place – and what their value might be. Then came serialising the book on a blog as already mentioned. And finally, after investigating what publishing on Kindle etc might involve and concluding it wasn’t worth the time, expense and hassle, I used CO-OCCURRENCE, an excellent Glasgow UK based web design company who had already re-designed Writing from the Twelfth House, to publish the book as a downloadable pdf. I have been very happy both with the results and with sales so far. I have no aspirations to sell hundreds of thousands of copies!

TH: You write within quite disparate genres. What prompted you to write Rumbold Ravens Magic Menagerie, a collection of children’s poems?

AW: I was very bored in a series of lectures on child development I had to attend as part of my post-graduate social work diploma studies a long time ago, wrote the poems to pass the time, and had a friend who is a brilliant artist lavishly illustrate them. The book was loved by the publishers to whom we sent it – but publishing it in pre-Internet days was considered too expensive. So the manuscript lay under the spare bed in our guest room until I became a grandmother and decided our little granddaughter would love the book. CO-OCCURRENCE loved it too, and turned it into a high-quality pdf. Since it was published recently it has sold quite well and collected some lovely reviews.

As you will have gathered from this interview, my sources of inspiration are indeed disparate. I never know what will pop up next, and that’s the way I like it! Thank you so much for your interest in me and my writing. It’s been most enjoyable answering your questions.

What’s your art? To have your creative work featured on TreeHouse, submit it for consideration at artstreehouse@gmail.com.

An Interview with Author and Blogger Michelle Arch


TreeHouse: Is Archetype your first attempt at blogging? If not, what came before?

Michelle Arch: Yes, Archetype is my first and only blog. I didn’t think about the logistics of it much when I created it. I simply chose a WordPress template, and, within an hour, I had written my first post to the world. Then I sort of panicked. I had just committed myself to something I had no idea how to maintain. I posted a lot about Oscar Wilde back then.

TH: What initially drove you to create Archetype?

MA: When I originated the site in 2009, I had recently begun the dual English and Creative Writing graduate program at Chapman University and wanted to establish a virtual writing workshop or MAB (multi-author blog) for artistic experimentation. At the time, I was immersed in the process of literary coursework, reveling in each newly discovered or rediscovered text and learning to conduct scholarly research and master’s level composition. And, most importantly, I was writing fiction again and risking what seemed the ultimate rejection and ridicule by (gads!) sharing my work with peers and professors. I was a first-year MA/MFA student, and I was terrified and exhilarated and self-conscious and buoyed. It was glorious, and I had this inexplicable desire to share what I was experiencing.

TH: From where do you derive inspiration for content?

MA: I’m inspired primarily by literature and fear. I’m constantly reading classic fiction and poetry and stumbling across passages that seem impossibly resonant. I sometimes find myself actually holding my breath as the passage unfolds. I get so awestruck and emotional about such beautifully written validation that I have to post what I’ve unearthed. Most of the poems and prose I publish have timely personal significance. From my occasional struggles with insomnia and feelings of isolation to my simple delight in a book or summer peach, each post, like a journal entry, reveals some hidden aspect of my life, whatever that’s worth. My ever-present inadequacy demon is also a common Archetype theme.

TH: How much time do you devote to creation and maintenance of the site?

MA: Most people would probably be a little quizzical if they knew how much time I spent each week preparing posts, mining for corresponding images, maintaining the site’s appearance, and keeping the contest deadlines, calls for submission, literary events, bedside table books, and other site features updated. With a relatively small audience of subscribers and Facebook and LinkedIn connections, one could argue that my time could be more appropriately allocated. I can’t explain it; some innate force propels me to post at least every three or four days. And I have consistently done so for nearly five years. Those close to me know how distressed I become if I’m unable to post by the fourth day. It really has become a journal (and a journey) for me.

TH: You are a busy lady and a prolific writer, to say the least. How important is it to you to devote the time and energy to keeping Archetype going?

MA: First, I’m not sure how prolific I am as a writer, but thank you for saying so. I’m certainly trying. Part of that objective requires building a platform and establishing a readership, so my website has become a large component of that. Further, I like to think that every post resonates with at least one person besides me. If it does, then it connects me to that person. I’ve also realized through my blog how much I admire nineteenth century oil paintings and to which poets I’m drawn – like Christina Rossetti and Sara Teasdale. As I’ve shaped and defined Archetype, it has shaped and defined me as a writer. I simply can’t imagine ending it after all this time and effort. It’s truly a labor of love.

TH: Where do you see your blog headed?

MA: Now that I’ve completed the MA and will defend my MFA thesis in the fall, I’m thinking a lot about the next thematic basis and future of my blog. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t harbor a Carrie Bradshawesque fantasy of having all my “Best of” posts (personal commentary) published in a book someday (not to mention my picture on a bus and a closet full of designer shoes). When I first launched Archetype, I couldn’t foresee beyond perhaps a year of posting. I didn’t have a long range plan for the site or even a vision of an audience; I simply wanted a space in which to articulate the moments of joy and angst and Aha! I was experiencing and share the poems, passages, and images that have moved me in some grand way, a probable void accessible to everyone and accessed by no one. And here I am, nearly five years and six hundred posts later, both trapped and liberated by “an unseizable force” that impels some of us to observe and question and reflect and write in a silent abyss with no end in sight. I have many ideas and additional features I want to incorporate when the time allows. I plan to pursue a PhD in English or Comparative Literature, so that endeavor will provide a lot of content. (I currently have my GRE study list posted if anyone is interested.) For now, I’m actually pretty content just having it as a forum for my own random discoveries and thoughts and knowing that its quiet appeal is appreciated by a few others.

TH: Who are your readers? Do they comment/interact with you often?

MA: I only know about half of my subscribers personally. That group is comprised of former Chapman peers, authors I’ve met at conferences and other venues, colleagues, and my mother, who, incidentally, was an English professor and department chair until just a few years ago and wishes I would post more Shakespeare and Milton. I think the others are teachers and writers who have stumbled onto the site inadvertently and liked it. I really appreciate that small band of strangers and its ongoing support. I do get a fair share of comments and interaction, which I enjoy. I will say that most Archetype subscribers are loyal. Once they subscribe, they tend to stay subscribed. Either that or they’ve relegated my posts to their Junk mail file.

TH: What are the pros and cons of blogging?

MA: For a perfectionist like me, it can be maddening when the site changes my intended font or doesn’t post an image exactly where I want it. I’ll invest hours wrestling with a template limitation and ultimately losing. And I spend a lot of time proofing and editing to ensure every post is as flawless as possible. At first I was terrified to write anything that was personal or overly provocative; the permanence of the Internet can be inhibiting. But Archetype is about literature and writing and art and all the feelings those creative forms evoke; it’s not likely to offend. I did think long and hard before posting a painting of a nude woman reading in bed a few years ago. Knowing it would probably garner more views than my posts normally attract, I wanted to be certain that my reasons for posting it were purely artistic. But the image is so hauntingly beautiful, and it complemented the poem I was posting perfectly (“The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm,” reposted in 2013). It resonated with me, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Once I posted it, I realized that, as long as what I write and post are consistent with my core values, I don’t worry about what people will think.

TH: What blogs do you follow?

MA: I follow quite a few and have a growing list of additional sites to check out. The first blog I found and immediately followed was Irvine Valley College English and creative writing professor Lisa Alvarez’s The Mark on the Wall. Like I was on Archetype, Lisa was also promoting Orange County events and posting poems and images, as well as her own thoughts. Since we were both local, I reached out to her, and we have promoted each other’s blog ever since. I also follow my good friend Ian Prichard’s site At the Wellhead, my Chapman pal Ruben Guzman’s blog Literophanes, Orange County author DeAnna Cameron’s Et Cetera, etc., Barbara DeMarco-Barrett’s Pen on Fire, TreeHouse, of course, and several others.

TH: You often post about calls for submissions and writing contests on other sites. How important is it to you to assist other writers with submitting their work?

MA: I want Archetype to be a literary resource for aspiring writers. But, again, I only promote calls, conferences, and contests that appeal to me and seem like valuable opportunities, so the lists certainly aren’t comprehensive. I review a lot of websites, online journals, calls for submissions, seminars, and workshops before deciding which to promote. I push Glimmer Train and Tin House calls a lot, because many of their stories end up in Best American anthologies. I also advertise fiction and poetry readings and other local happenings, as well as prominent national literary events.

TH: An excerpt from your novel, Time of Death, won First Prize in the Fiction Writing Contest sponsored by The Editorial Department, Second Prize in the WestBow Press Writing Contest, and Third Prize in the Beverly Bush Smith Aspiring Writer Award competition at the 2012 Orange County Christian Writers Conference in Newport Beach. At this point, where in the creative and publishing process is Time of Death?

MA: It’s not that much further along than it was at that conference, I’m afraid. I was so shocked and excited about its reception that my motivation to finish the book soared after that event. The award from The Editorial Department was a lengthy review and critique, which was incredibly helpful. And I had detailed conversations with WestBow about self-publishing, which I decided isn’t for me at this time. But a few months after the conference, the momentum waned. Between my MA and MFA course work and my career, it was extremely difficult to find time and energy to write. At one point, I dashed off about forty pages and thought I was well on my way to finishing, but then the story got stuck. And that’s where I am today, trying to unstick the story. At least 150 pages of it comprise my MFA thesis, which is due in October, so that’s what I’m working on now.

TH: What initially inspired you to write the novel? How does the novel figure in with Archetype?

MA: The blog and the novel are pretty separate projects, but I do write about the challenges and anguish of novel writing on Archetype. I’ve also promoted Time of Death’s occasional successes on the site. For me, the process of writing a novel is the essential premise for Archetype. I think the fact that I can bemoan about the trials of writing (and my inadequacy demon) give it some credibility.

TH: Do you feel your blog posts have helped you craft your other writings? 

MA: Absolutely. I’m a guest columnist for the Orange County Register, and many of my columns are derivatives of blog posts. Still, each article needs to be adapted to the specific audience of that medium, so they often end up looking nothing like their earlier versions. I met the editor of Orange Coast Magazine a couple of years ago and was invited to send him some pieces, which, of course, I wanted desperately to do, but I didn’t have the time I needed to tailor an article for his magazine. With so little available writing time, I try to get as much mileage as I can from a piece. Archetype has also helped me develop my personal commentary voice, so my posts, columns, and essays have a consistent tone.

TH: How did you make the progression from blogging for yourself to writing articles/posts for other websites and blogs? 

MA: Honestly, that has been a combination of networking and sheer luck. I am so appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had to write for other websites and publications. Among TreeHouse, American Christian Fiction Writers, the Orange County Register, and other random forums, it seems I always have an upcoming deadline. In fact, I have more invitations to submit than I currently have time to accept. I’m hoping that, very soon, I can finish my thesis and organize my writing time so that I’m taking advantage of every possible opportunity – they’re definitely out there! Although, I’ll soon be busy studying for that pesky GRE, too…

Michelle Arch, Guest Blogger for TreeHouse

Michelle Arch

Michelle Arch is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Chapman University. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Chapman University, a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and English from California State University, Fullerton. Arch is a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Modern Language Association, and the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society.

Her current projects include a portfolio of short stories, poems, and critical essays, many of which explore themes of identity and self-definition and the study of mimetic imagery, and a novel. Arch has presented her work at the 2010 and 2011 Sigma Tau Delta International Conventions in St. Louis and Pittsburgh, the Sigma Tau Delta 2011 Regional Conference in Orange, California, the 2012 John Fowles Literary Forum, and the 2012 Big Orange Book Festival. Her work has also been published on the ACFW website and in the Orange County Register’s Ladera Post.

An excerpt from her novel, Time of Death, won First Prize in the Fiction Writing Contest sponsored by The Editorial Department, Second Prize in the WestBow Press Writing Contest, and Third Prize in the Beverly Bush Smith Aspiring Writer Award competition at the 2012 Orange County Christian Writers Conference in Newport Beach. To visit her website and blog, Archetype, go to http://www.michellearch.wordpress.com/.

Interview with Sandy Madsen, Author of Purple Mums

Sandy Madsen

Sandy Madsen

The TreeHouse editors were recently given the opportunity to interview Sandy Madsen, author of Purple Mums, on her work of nonfiction about rape survival. Stranger rape and the recovery from it are detailed in Purple Mums, not only by Madsen, but also by her spouse, children, and therapist.

Sandy Madsen is a public face and voice for the thousands of sexual assault victims who remain silent. She bravely uses her experience to educate the public about this crime, speaking to law enforcement personnel, social services and healing professionals, raising funds for victims of assault and the agencies that serve them, and demonstrating for other survivors that recovery can and does happen.

TreeHouse: How was the writing process for you? How long did it take you to complete the book?

Sandy Madsen: On my “10th” anniversary of the rape, I felt I had come full circle (on page 35 of the book you will understand this answer). As I do state in the book I will never have closure, but I did close a chapter. That was the day I thought about writing a book. It took nearly five years after the anniversary before I really got serious, as I had kept a journal of weekly feelings. The actual writing began 2 years prior to publishing. I always had an opening paragraph and a closing paragraph. I knew I needed quiet and no interruptions, so I went to a beach in Florida alone and wrote my chapters. I started and stopped so many times, as it was very painful to relive all those moments.

TH: What do you hope readers take away from Purple Mums?

SM: My biggest hope was/is that I can encourage survivors to report the rape (even if it happened many years prior to the reading of my book). There are thousands of survivors without any hope of healing. Therefore, this is a book of encouragement and hope.

TH: How did you go about devising the book’s structure? What made you decide on the format and to incorporate the perspectives of your family members and therapist?

SM: The structure was not hard for me once I decided to write the book. So many books have been written about the rape, recovery, trials, etc. The one thing I didn’t find was writings by the survivor, each family member, and the therapist. The rapist not only raped me that day, but my whole family. I wanted the book to explain how each family member needed help in healing. It also explains from the therapist how each one of us was affected.

TH: How has the writing and promoting of your book helped you heal through this painful experience?

SM: Writing the book was very painful, as it brought back visions and some memories that I had thought was stored away forever. Public speaking, TV, newspaper interviews kept me aware of most of my experiences and healing, but some deep thoughts were never discussed. On the other hand, writing gave me a refreshed feeling; there is so much more that can be done on the subject and it is very important to me to keep working as an advocate. I am very strong and truly have a gift for speaking publicly.

TH: In 2012, you were the winner of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC) Visionary Voice Award. This award recognizes the creativity and hard work you have put into helping end sexual violence. Did their validation of your efforts in this field make it easier for you to continue making your voice heard on this issue?

SM: Absolutely. Winning the award encouraged me to continue, knowing there are still so many survivors that need to report their rapes and start the healing process.

TH: Prior to writing and promoting Purple Mums, did you have any experience in writing and/or public speaking?

SM: Public speaking has never been an issue for me. I represented a large travel corporation and I spoke publicly many, many times to the media and newspapers, and gave speeches to large groups. I started speaking on behalf of rape survivors 3 months after my experience. I felt so much stronger after that first speech and knew I had found a calling.

TH: Do you have any advice or helpful strategies that you can offer for others who are trying to write about a difficult, personal subject?

SM: All survivors have had different experiences, backgrounds, support systems, etc. They all have a story if they choose to share with others.  Not everyone can write or speak publicly, but may have another avenue they can advocate.

TH: What are your plans from here? Will you continue to write?

SM: I don’t have plans right now to do another book. I am writing a few songs and hope to have them recorded in the not too distant future. I was a music major, so writing music comes easy for me and the words come from my heart. I recently joined the board of directors of the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville, TN and now my main interest will be involving my experiences and advocacy with the state legislators.

Purple Mums by Sandy Madsen

Purple Mums by Sandy Madsen

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of Purple Mums goes to the Sexual Assault Center of Nashville, TN. To purchase your copy and help this cause, please email Sandy Madsen directly at: deskmad@aol.com.

Part IV: Summer Reading Giveaway and Flash Fiction Contest!

Congratulations to author Ana Prundaru, the winner of Ellis Nelson’s Into the Land of Snows, our third Summer Reading Giveaway selection. For more information about Prundaru’s work, check out her artist page on the TreeHouse site. The response to this contest was fantastic, and we send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who entered!

Ana Prundaru’s haiku:

beneath the snow-palm
crouching like caged animals
balding trees shiver.

 

Isolation

The next selection in our Summer Reading Giveaway and Contest is Denise R. Stephenson’s Isolation.

To win this title, send us your best flash fiction story that begins or concludes with the word “isolation” and is under 100 words. We will publish the winning entry and provide the author with an artist page on the TreeHouse site. The deadline to submit entries is Thursday, July 17, 2014, by 11:59 p.m. Good luck!

To read more about Stephenson and Isolation, visit http://treehousearts.me/august-denise-stephenson/

What’s your art? To have your creative work featured on TreeHouse, submit it for consideration at artstreehouse@gmail.com.

Part III: Summer Reading Giveaway and Haiku Contest!

First, congratulations to Olivia G. of Irvine, CA, the winner of our second free Summer Reading Giveaway selection, Danielle Soucy Mills’ Tina Tumbles. Many thanks to everyone who entered!

IntotheLandofSnows_432Our next Summer Reading Giveaway selection is Ellis Nelson’s Into the Land of Snows.

Forget the summer heat! To win this selection, send us your best haiku (or other type of poem) that has to do with snow!

We’ll publish the winning poem here on TreeHouse and give the winner his/her own artist page on our site.

Email entries to artstreehouse@gmail.com. The deadline is Thursday, July 10, by 11:59 p.m. Good luck!

To read more about Ellis Nelson and Into the Land of Snows, visit http://treehousearts.me/2014/05/31/an-interview-with-author-and-blogger-ellis-nelson/

What’s your art?

To have your creative work featured on TreeHouse, submit it for consideration at artstreehouse@gmail.com.