Voices From the Land (Volume 1).
Jan writes every day and encourages writing as a tool for healing and creativity. I connected with Jan thanks to literary publicist, Stephanie Barko, who asked me to review Jan's book, Voices from the Land.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Jan. It's great to have you with us. Can you tell us where you grew up?
I grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in apartments that were solid brick buildings from corner to corner. It was a time when ice cream trucks and carnival rides like the whip and ferris wheel rode down the streets to please kids. Those were the days when trucks had bins they opened on either side filled with both food and knife sharpening equipment for neighbors. Everything came down the street. If mothers couldn’t get out of the house to shop or take their kids to playgrounds, they didn’t have to.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Peach ice cream made with huge chunks of real peaches. My parents would take me to the ice cream parlor on hot evenings for this delight. I think it cost only a nickel.
When did you begin writing?
When I was about eight, my mother bought me a Girl Scout Diary. You know the one. It had a little gold key. I remember one rainy day sitting on my bed fascinated by the blank page and its ability to hold secrets. I wrote about a boy named Peter who had moved onto the block a few years earlier and who had the cutest freckles I had ever seen. So I wrote about him. That was the first time I wrote anything out of school. But I stopped writing when my father made a comment of disinterest and I didn’t start writing again until I was 22 and in college. I haven’t stopped writing since.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I write every day and the whole day is a blank page waiting for me. I love to journal write in the morning around 6 or 7. But I have been known to get up at 3 when it’s quiet and the world isn’t stirred up yet because ideas for stories or books wake me up. There is something about the sleep process that stirs up creativity. Unfortunately it plays havoc with my sleep patterns.
What is this book about?
Voices From the Land is the strangest and yet most inspiring book I’ve written. It is told from the point of view of several voices who started and endured in a small town around 1860 in the Midwest. These voices speak about how their hardships in a lawless land brought out the deep compassion of its inhabitants. It is about the spirit in all of us that attends to the humanity in each of us and how we need to strengthen that spirit when we live in community. It is a timeless piece in my opinion because it speaks to the values that we each need to live--a life a love, peace and harmony.
This is the strange part I mentioned above. In 2006 I was speaking with an intuitive and describing to him the power I felt from walking on the five acres I had just purchased in Lamy, NM. When I mentioned I felt a particularly strong energy as I walked around a circle of hundred year old pinon and juniper trees on my property, he told me to take pen and paper out to the trees and write. He said there were spirits inhabiting the land who wanted me to record their stories. Now, I am not freaked out easily by spirits or ghosts because I used to live in a 100-year-old water tank and had exposure to them. I was so frightened about what I might be getting myself into that it wasn’t until I was bored one day in the late fall of 2008 that I traipsed out to the end of my property and waited with pen poised. Then the stories came. I talk about this in detail in the Introduction.
Who is your favorite character from the book?
That’s a good question. I have taken each character into my heart. But I suppose I was especially touched by the girl who wanted to be a boy. She was the most delightful.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My women friends. I have three or four women friends who read everything I write. They love the way I write and buy my books as soon as they come out.
Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?
Not formally. I do have a handful of writers who read and critique my work in pieces.
Who is your favorite author?
That is a very difficult question. I read everyone and like them all for different reasons. Recently I have read everything by Elizabeth Berg and Paulo Coehlo. Their simplicity in telling a story while throwing a powerful philosophical punch makes me unable to put their books down once I read the first sentence.
Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?
I did have an agent but publication companies these days are not taking many books from new writers so I’ve been self-publishing.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
The road to publication is expensive and detail oriented which I don’t normally mind because I can get anal about my writing. Lately I’ve worked with CreateSpace. They published my last three books including Voices From the Land. They are reasonably priced considering they edit and design covers. At first I fought against working online because I am fussy about the way I want my books. But CreateSpace made it so easy and they took phone calls quickly so it worked great.
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t think so. Maya Angelou says- when you know better you do better. I stay focused on that and don’t like wasting my time on regret.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
CreateSpace.com gives links directly to each book.
Voices From the Land is www.createspace.com/3552509
This link takes you to my other books.
Amazon for Voices is http://tinyurl.com/6jgy9fv
Buyers can email me for a signed copy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any bookstore can order it. Libraries can order it.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
My website is http://www.janmarquart.com/
My blog is http://www.freethepen.wordpress.com/
http://www.filedby.com/ is a site for authors and readers
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
Hiring a publicist and doing book signings.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Keep the pen moving. That is the only way to write. I give writing workshops at libraries and other local venues and I can’t tell you how many people who have a burning desire to write stop writing after one sentence or a short paragraph. Writing is an action. You must keep writing to get what you want accomplished.
What is up next for you?
I have been developing skills around flash fiction and poetry. This is strange for me because I love writing books. I like room to develop my ideas with as many pages as I need. My life is in a lot of changes at the moment so I’m not into any big projects now. Besides in the last few months I’ve published three books so I need time to fill up again.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. In writing Voices From the Land I realized that there are more ways of getting stories than you can know. Although I’ve read channeled books before, I never thought I would write one. It opened a new horizon for me. So I’d like to add that for anyone wanting to write, first tackle your fears. I was so fearful of taking the intuitive up on his instruction. It scared me and I let those fears haunt and cripple me for two years. And since I don’t do boredom, when I became bored that day, I allowed myself to open to the weird task of listening to spirits. I was so excited and inspired from what the voices had to say that I could hardly contain myself. And I got Voices From the Land out of it. I’m in ecstasy.
Thanks for joining us today, Jan. We wish you continued success.