Just before dawn, Red was unlocking the door of the M3 Coffee Shoppe. On the other side stood Lizzie Belle Quimby. Waiting for the last pots of coffee to brew was the perfect time to sit down with a cuppa and talk about late blooming, the quest for identity and attitude.
M3: Lizzie, the M3 Readers need to know who you are. Give them the book jacket version, if you would be so kind.
LBQ: Lizzie Belle Quimby lives in Arizona where she enjoys her family, the outdoors, reading, writing and searching for her family roots. My Leaning Post is the author’s first book.
M3: Do you have anyone you want to thank before we talk about your book?
LBQ: Not specifically. All who have touched my life in one way or another are a part of whom I have become and for which I am thankful.
M3: Even tangential interactions make a difference. Tell the M3 Readers how you got your start in the publishing industry.
LBQ: For decades, I had been writing the makings of a book, the dark secrets of my life written on scraps of paper and kept hidden, with a part of me, in a file cabinet locked in a closet. I lived my life hiding behind a mask of shame and guilt.
After my husband’s death the pervasive sense of loneliness I always felt deepened. I felt stuck, lost in some non-world and I decided then I no longer wanted to live my life hidden in the past. I wanted to contradict the predictions of my upbringing, recapture my life and take control of my own destiny. Writing My Leaning Post gave me a way to tell my story and complete the journey. I was 76 years old!
M3: That is inspirational to all those who think it is too late to start! What do you have in the works at the moment?
LBQ: I felt genuine terror when I came out from behind my mask of shame and guilt and once I removed it, I had nowhere to hide. I have come to a calm, rooted, sense of self, but it hasn’t been easy. Having lived my life in fear of exposure, an identity crisis in and of itself, I now experienced another identity crisis. It was difficult to trust enough to uncover those parts of me I had kept hidden all those years and to embrace the person God had intended all along for me to be. I would like to write about this transition.
M3: Do you have any plans on taking a break?
LBQ: No, I didn’t come this far to leave the success of the book to chance. I am in it for the long run, as success is my only option.
M3: I like your attitude! Do you have one with the traditional publishing industry?
LBQ: No, I think the industry is just trying to survive like the rest of us.
M3: Have you had any triumphs of the cat and mouse game?
LBQ: Just getting the book written and published was a triumph! My book has been featured in Sunday newspaper book reviews, and I have had requests for interviews, to write an article for a magazine, and to be a guest on a radio talk show. I am grateful to add you to my list! Thank you.
M3: Nothing doing! Thank you for letting me pick your brain. So, tell me…Do you think the traditional publishers look down on self-published material?
LBQ: Yes, I do, maybe not the industry as a whole, but the bulk of the agents who are the first to represent them. I can’t think of any other reason for their blatant neglect of even common courtesy. I don’t think it is unreasonable for an author, after hours, days and even month’s in my case, of self-prepared proposal letters, to expect at least a rejection letter if that is the case vs. no response at all, which is most often the case.
In defense of the agents, perhaps it is the publishers who have made their life difficult. In any event, the system appears to have broken down. To a dedicated and sincere author, the system is defeating and demoralizing right out of the gate.
M3: Glad you see the division between agents and publishers. Do you see the same attitudes in your colleagues?
LBQ: I have just recently been connecting with other writers and am pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie among them. It appears they have a genuine interest in helping each other. I do want to be selective however, as I don’t want to get bogged down with relationships that aren’t going anywhere. I want to be a part of a winning team!
M3: I have the sneaking suspicion you already are, Lizzie. Do you have any advice for new teammates?
LBQ: I believe everyone has a story to tell. I also believe strongly that if there is healing to be done; that the healing should come before the writing of a book begins; and if you are going to write your story know that although rewarding, it is a deeply emotional journey and you must be ready to tell the truth. It was Socrates who wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Although it is never too late, I would hope others would start the dance long before I did.
M3: Good thing you have rhythm! Let’s talk tips. Has the current economy changed the way you do things?
LBQ: No, not at all. I live on a fixed income, I am a widow and retired.
M3: Those are two things we have in common. Pretty well makes the topic of your day job moot.
LBQ: No, I have a day job; writing and marketing my book.
M3: Speaking of marketing, how important are your efforts in social media?
LBQ: This is and will be very important to me as I realize the book will not sell itself, nor is selling the book a quick fix. I have a website and have already made giant strides in learning and putting into play social media outreach.
M3: I think you will whip it. What makes My Leaning Post so close to your heart?
LBQ: I found that our past does not have to determine our future: When we feel shame and guilt, something deep inside of us wants to hide. I no longer live my life hidden in secrecy, held hostage in a man-pleasing spirit. I was a teenager in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when secrecy, hypocrisy, judgment and condemnation were prevalent in society. Outwardly people appeared to hold higher values and morals than they practiced in their family and private lives. Many of those secretly held values are lived openly today, while the power of shame keeps most still hiding behind their masks of shame and guilt, thus the hypocrisy continues.
M3: Masks seem to be standard issue gear for many folks, Lizzie. Since your book is quite the exposé, is there anything you would hold back from the M3 Readers?
LBQ: Will the real Elizabeth Jeane Baldwin please stand up? I am the author, who uses an alias, I am Elizabeth Jeane Baldwin, the main character in the book, and I am Lizzie Belle Quimby, my alias.
M3: Many a fine author writes under a pen name. What is going to make this book special for the readers?
LBQ: My Leaning Post is unique in that, although it is a fictional memoir, it reads like a novel; the pursuit of true love, peace and a genuine relationship with God evokes emotion and gives the reader pause to stop and think. The book is a powerful testament to the importance of understanding who we are so as not to become someone others have carved us out to be.
M3: Identity is quite the theme around M3. Give the book an identity. Tell the M3 Readers in 15 words or less why they need to read My Leaning Post.
LBQ: WOW! I have been told by my critics that the book really is that good?
M3: (Laughing) They are right about that, Lizzie! I cannot wait for you to call me when the next one comes out.
Darling M3 Readers,
Please take a few moments to check out Lizzie Belle Quimby and My Leaning Post. Visit Lizzie’s blog to learn more about the author and her books. Follow her on Twitter for the latest on her upcoming books.
Thank you for your continual support of the talented M3 Coffee Shoppe authors. When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #authors, #books and #WW.
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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