The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

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London Belongs to Me – The Final Chapter

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I admire writers…I always have.  Being an avid reader, it constantly amazes me that people can sit at a computer and create story arcs and dialogue and characters.  To know someone that has actually done this, is nothing short of inspirational.  I know that I write this little blog, but creating a book out of thin air and taking the time and the discipline to see the story through to the end is not within my skill set.  Luckily, I know Jacquelyn Middleton (JM), author of “London Belongs to Me” and even though I will never write a novel, I wanted to share her advice with you, my lovely readers, in case any of you were thinking about where to start.  Since she also writes magazine articles, I’m keeping that advice in too!

Q: How long did it take you to write the book and what was your process?

JM: Just over a year start to finish.  I came up with the characters and idea before I wrote the actual book.  I made bibles on each character.  I read books that related to my writing experience.  I needed to learn structure, character development, story arcs, scenes,  and acts.  I knew nothing and had no formal training!  I used highlighters and sticky notes to keep organized.  I always wanted to be a writer and I built the story from the ground up.

Q: How did you know when you were done?

JM: You just have to stop.  I could still  be writing and editing the book because it’s never perfect.  I read and edited it so many times.  I did have a great support system thanks to my family and friends.  My husband even read the book backwards to help with the editing.  I just knew that I wanted to create a book that I’d want to read.

Q:  What does writing success mean for you?

JM: With “London Belongs to Me” it was just getting it done and having it in my hands.  When I received the first proof, I knew that even if no one reads it, that’s a feeling that no one can take away from me.  It’s so special.

Q: How did you go about getting your book published?

JM: It’s self-published under Kirkwall Books.  There are many self-publishing companies out there.

Q:  What’s the difference in the process for writing a book versus a magazine?

JM: It’s very different.  Magazines are fact based and fact checked, where books can be fictional.  Each is telling a different type of story.  Magazine articles are based on different types of interests like health, fitness, travel, pets and sometimes interviews and again, based on fact.

Q:  If you were to give your 20 year old self advice on your future career, what would it be?

JM: You can do it, don’t be scared – just try.  I didn’t think that I could finish a book before, I was afraid of failure.  I tried writing in other ways like the Leaf’s Newsletter (a hockey newsletter) and was the editor of my high school newspaper.  Now, I’ve got “London Belongs to Me”.

Q: What would you say to people who want to write a book or magazines articles and don’t know where to start?

JM: Just do it!  Remember though, that the magazine industry is shrinking and writing for web is the new reality.

Q: Last question – what are your favourite books?

JM: “Charlotte’s Web” is my favourite childhood book.  Karen Swan’s “Christmas at Tiffany’s” is a favourite.  “You Had Me at Hello” by Mhairi McFarlane is great Women’s Fiction.  I just love reading a book because you get to see how the characters are cast in your head as you visualize who you think they are.

Get London Belongs to Me on October 14th when it goes on sale.  You can also pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!  Just a couple of more days until you get to read this amazing first novel.  Thanks again Jackie for being such an inspiration and for answering all of my questions.

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London Belongs to Me – The Author

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I’ve wanted to interview Jacquelyn Middleton for my blog for awhile.  Originally, it was as part of my “inspiring” people series – I was inspired by her successful move from broadcast production and programming into award winning magazine writer.  Anyone that can make such a scary change inspires me.  Things got busy and often, it’s hard to find the time to interview people, but when she announced “London Belongs to Me” was coming out, that was a whole other cool factor and I had to reach out to find out more.  It gave me the opportunity to catch up with Jackie (JM), which was great, and find out more about her book and her writing process.

Q: How did you start writing?

JM: I started contributing to the Slice website (where she formerly worked).  I always wanted to do more writing and freelance writing seemed to be a good fit.

Q: But why the complete career change?

JM: I got laid off in 2008 from a job I loved in broadcast, but was writing for a website.  This gave me a portfolio of work that I had done.  There were family issues that I needed to be around for and free-lance writing provided me with the flexibility that I needed.

Q: So you always wanted to write?

JM: YES!  My Mum would tell me that I needed to write a book, but that was scary because I thought what if I can’t do it?  What if I don’t have the goods to deliver the thing that I most want to do?  I was inspired by Stephen Beresford (he is an English actor and writer for stage and TV).  He wrote Pride, my favourite movie for many reasons.  Pride was at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and I wanted to talk to him, but he was chatting with someone else so I didn’t get to tell him how much he inspired me at that moment.  As a freelance magazine writer, though, I got to interview him!  In magazines, if you have a great idea, you can make it happen.  I pitched an idea to Script Lab after he was nominated for a BAFTA for Pride.  I interviewed him in London (twice including last September).  He was wonderful – he delivered in the interview, was funny, and I just adored him.  He inspired me because nothing he ever wrote for TV ever went through, but he wrote a play and the National Theatre picked it up.  Remember, this was his first play and it was picked up by the biggest theatre in the world.  Then, Pride was picked up and he just made it happen.  He didn’t sit around and procrastinate.  Seeing him do this was a huge inspiration.  After the first interview with him, I knew that I needed to write a book.  I needed to try, even if it didn’t get published.  The book is a tribute to my Mum.

Q: How autobiographical is “London Belongs to Me”?  How close is the heroine, Alex Sinclair to you?

JM: Alex isn’t very similar to me at all.  I never moved to London, but I got to live vicariously through Alex.  I didn’t have a tumultuous relationship with my Mum.  My own Mum was my everything.  I had to visualize Alex’s relationship by removing my mother from my life and imagining what Alex went through.  Alex’s love of London is similar to my own and her drive to pursue the career that she wants is very much like me.   There are traits of Alex that I share and people who know me will pick up on them. Parts of me are in every character of the book.  It’s fun writing a book.  There are little tributes to people that only you or a select few would pick up on.

Q: Do you tell people that you know who the various characters are based on?

JM: No, I’ve stopped.  I can’t tell people in case they are wrong because that is how they are reading the story.  It’s personal and you should be able to read the story with who you pick or think the characters are.  I like it when people guess though.

Q: The book has a lot of fan girl moments.  What are your ultimate fan girl moments?

JM:  Meeting Simon LeBon from Duran Duran (Jill here – did I mention that Jackie has great taste in bands?) for the first time.  He never disappoints.  I have so many though!  Just a note, Jackie goes to Fan Expos and has met a lot of really cool people including one of my celebrity loves, Benedict Cumberbatch!

Q:  What books inspired you to write “London Belongs to Me”?

JM: Charlotte’s Web (She really has great taste in books, that’s my fave too!), 84 Charring Cross Road (true story and gorgeous movie), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and My Love Affair with England (Jackie read it in 1993 before she went to England for the first time) all inspired me.

I’ll reveal more of the process behind writing a book in my next entry.  Remember that London can belong to you too if you order it!  Get London Belongs to Me on October 14th when it goes on sale.  You can also pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!

Jackie – thank you for being so patient with all of my questions!

 

 


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Challenges

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Another year, another theme for my blog.  I’ve made one major change – at least major for me…the title is still “The Whiz-ard that is Dr. Oz” but the tag is “And Other Stories”.  I can’t just follow Dr. Oz’s advice, I mean I’ll still try some of his suggestions, but I have other stories that I would like to tell, and let’s face it, I was cheating a lot.  I’d like to do a post and not relate it back to the good Dr.  You’ll still get a healthy dose of health, but I also think growing and changing is healthy too so you’ll be getting some non-health related information from me. More Gwyneth blogs, movie recommendations, recipes my way and some inspiring interviews.

Once I decided that it was time to make some small changes, I also had to think of a theme (not a resolution) for my beloved little blog for 2016.  I sat on my “What Will Become of Me Couch” and pondered.  I lay on my sucky pillow (I’ve had it since I was 2 – I know gross) and had some deep thoughts, then fell asleep.  I sat on the subway and felt the earth move, but realized it was just a bump on the tracks.  I went to my thoughtful spot and thunk, I mean thinked…oh you know what I mean…

So drumroll (in your head) please…this year will be about CHALLENGES!!! Give me a Kermit the Frog YAY!.  Tough audience.  Last year was so challenging, that I thought I should put myself through even more!  In the words of my muse – I know wrong sex, geniuses – Dr. Oz, I want to eliminate stress by trying new things and challenging myself with things that I already love to do.  Some months, I’ll do one challenge, others more.  I’ll have several that last throughout the year,  and I’d love for you to try them with me and comment on how you are doing.

The first challenge is going to be something that I love to do, big hint it has to do with the picture at the top of my blog.  No, I’m not going to befriend a spider – it’s a reading challenge.  Reading is a big stress relief for me and I love it so I thought why not start with a reading challenge.  I belong to a modified book club at work.  Ok, it’s just me and my pal MJack at work talking about books and swapping stories (pun intended) about what we think about them.  She has great taste in books and was the first person that I thought of when I was putting Challenge #1 together.  I always love her picks and you’ll see them peppered throughout the year so MJack – this challenge is dedicated to you.

The Book Challenge (from several lists but mostly goodreads.com):

I’m going to read the following in 2016 and keep you posted on my progress:

A book about an animal
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’
A book considered a ‘modern classic’
A book from a series
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists
A book from Oprah’s book club
A book involving religion
A book involving royalty – a king, queen, prince, princess etc.
A book picked for you by someone else
A book published this year
A book someone gave you
A book that a relative or friend loves
A book that everyone is talking about
A book that you can read in a day – CompleteIf I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – CompleteWhere She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in
A book with a creative title
A book with a short title
A book with a title that describes your life
A book with a title that has more than five words
A book written by a politician
A book you borrowed
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public
A book you’re excited about
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book
A humorous book
A play by Shakespeare

Yup, that’s right – 35 books in total for the year.  I’m an avid reader, but GEE WHIZ that’s a lot.  I’ve finished two – but I picked easy reads, because I spent 2015 reading very difficult books including Nightingale recommended by MJack and brutal, End of You Life Book Club which you’ll hear more about, a little bit of Deepak Chopra and other assorted Debbie Downer style books.  I’ll give you lists of some of my favourite books, and tell you which you should put down because they suck and never get better.  Your welcome!  So join me – you don’t have to read 35 books to play along, you can even just send me your recos based on the list above.

Until next time, I remain,

Your bookworm

 


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My Favourite Books

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Image courtesy of Harper Collins

I’m an avid reader – I even keep a book diary to record a list of all the books that I have read.  I only started keeping it in 1991, but if I were to guess, I’ve probably read well over a thousand books.  Why do I bring this up?  I was thinking about meditation, which is really being able to tune things out, and listen to nothing, not even your inner voice.  Well, it’s more than that, but that’s the gist for you newcomers to my deepness.  As much as I can’t do this, and I get distracted, I was thinking, I do that sometimes, about how when I read a book I love, I am able to tune things out.  Yes, I’m still listening to my inner voice, but it’s how I relax and de-stress which Dr. Oz and my home boy Deepak Chopra would both approve of.

I’m reading a book that I really like right now, “Wild”.  It’s not the best book that I’ve ever read, but it’s very well written and definitely worthwhile.  It’s the first book in a book club that we are starting at work and I definitely recommend it.  It made me enjoy reading again and also made me think of the ten books that really affected me – here they are:

  1. Charlotte’s Web – my top favourite book ever!  It’s the only book that I kept from my childhood.  Ironic, since I’m terrified of spiders, but it has so many important messages…you may be scary outside, but you can be beautiful inside, unlikely twosomes can become the best of friends, true friendship can last a lifetime, no matter how short that lifetime is, and more.  I always loved and identified with the underdog and this book, read to me in grade 2, was the start of all of this.  Even my beloved, and deceased dog Rascal was the runt of the litter and I loved him as much as Fern loved Wilbur.  I bawled my way through this book (driving my sisters crazy when I was a kid, reading it out loud over and over again) and bawled my way through the movie as an adult.  If you haven’t read it, it’s never too late.  My favourite line?  “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.  Charlotte was both.  THE END.”  Charlotte has always been my inspiration.
  2. The Last Lecture – this is a must read – there is simply no more inspiring, joyful book out there.  Yes, Randy Pausch was dying when he gave his last lecture, but he still loved life.
  3. Memoirs of a Geisha – just beautifully written – it’s as simple as that.
  4. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving is a quirky writer who isn’t for everyone, but this story is amazing.  So many things happen throughout the book, and you wonder why, but it all makes sense in the end.  The book’s protagonist is also an underdog, and you know I love an underdog.
  5. Angela’s Ashes – so good!  You’d think the poverty would depress you, but it’s written with humour and you can get lost in the story.  I loved ‘Tis too!
  6. The Harry Potter Series – trying to pick a favourite is like trying to pick a favourite child – you may have one, but whose dumb enough to tell the world about it?  It’s amazingly creative, shows that good does triumph over evil and the books become more sophisticated as the characters age – what’s not to love?
  7. Marley and Me – You may not agree with this one, but as a dog lover, I adored this book.  Especially the part SPOILER ALERT when the author is getting ready to say goodbye to his beloved pet and he does what I did – strokes his dog in all of his favourite places to memorize how he feels (I did this to my dog when he was trying to sleep, and as always, he was patient with me).
  8. The Book of Negroes – this was a difficult read, but so well written that you feel like you were on the slave ship.  It should be required reading in schools and for members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists.
  9. The Book Thief – Classified as a Young Adult book, there is nothing about this book that meets that classification.  It was also a difficult read, and you have to understand a little metaphor, but a very important book, at least in my opinion.
  10. Julie and Julia – I know, autobiographical fluff, but it’s one of the books that inspired me to start blogging.

Those are the books – the ones that I remember and had the most impact.  I’m grateful to have read each and every one of them.  I’d love to hear your favourites too so leave them here, or tweet them to me @JillSchnei!