Stories have arcs. Characters have arcs. Writers have arcs. We write, we get better at our craft. We read, we get better at our craft. We interact with other writers and our readers, we get better at our craft. Whether you are a professional writer or just starting out. Hobby or career. We are all in this together. Welcome.

Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com

The Interview - Part II

Scroll Down to Read Part I

What are you doing to support/publicize your novel?
I ask everyone who’s read the book to post a review on Amazon. I love that readers have such important voices and that we listen to those voices. Beyond that, I’m following the directions of my husband, who’s a publicist. He’s pushed me way beyond my comfort zone, having me do radio interviews, magazine interviews, open readings, and book signings, and I have to admit that each time I push past the nervousness and just engage with people about the book, I’m so glad I did. It’s exhilarating. 

One of my favorite things to do, which surprised me, is doing public readings of a chapter from the book. It comes to life in a way it never did when the book was simply in my hands or, before that, on my computer. I’ve always pictured the readership of Living with Gusto growing by word of mouth, organically. That vision motivates me and excites me, and so I’m doing all I can to bring the book into people’s awareness. I’m a firm believer that if a book has merit, if it moves someone and touches them and speaks to them, they’ll talk about it and pass it on—but it’s my job to let them know it’s there in the first place. And by writing new postcards on PostcardsFromGusto.com, I keep the spirit of Gusto alive within me and engaged with readers on a daily basis.

How does where you live impact your writing, your publishing, and the promotional aspects of your work?
I live in Todos Santos, Mexico. Though it’s a tiny town on the Pacific coast of Baja, we have high-speed Internet, so there have been no challenges as far as publishing and online promotion go. If anything, the simplicity of this town keeps me focused and clear about what I want to do and how I want to do it. There are few messages or stimuli competing with that clarity. Todos Santos is known as a pueblo magico, so it’s no surprise that everything about this little town nurtures the writer in me and helps me stay in touch with all that I hope to convey in my writing—the importance of falling in love with who you are and living a life that you’re excited to wake up to every day. 

Timing most things from the morning until I go to bed by the position of the sun, watching the whales migrate south, listening to a cacophony of  birds sing their song every morning and lizards kissing at night, waving to handfuls of smiling people while driving the dirt road to town, shopping at four closet-sized grocery stores to find all (or at least most of) the ingredients for dinner, all of them fresh, some from people’s own backyard, deciding whether we need a flashlight when walking to a friend’s house based on how full the moon is, watching the waves build and lift and then make their statement, sometimes gentle, sometimes powerful … these are the things  that feed my spirit. And when I’m living in a place that feeds my spirit, I feel connected and in tune with who I truly am. That manifests itself in every aspect of my life, including my writing and how I go about the promotion of my book.

Here in Todos Santos, there’s a use for everything broken. Few things get thrown away. So when my writing doesn’t feel like it’s working or a promotional effort doesn’t at first look successful, I don’t worry. I keep doing the best I can, trusting the process. Here, shop owners stand outside in the sun and talk to neighbors and laugh often during their workday. Construction crews sing while they’re hammering nails and pouring cement and measuring. I’m constantly reminded to have fun writing and promoting my work, to enjoy it while giving it my all. Here, people do what they’re good at, and every skill is valued. It’s a constant reminder to write and edit until I love what I’ve written, to believe in my talent, and to be immensely proud of what I accomplish on any given day. Otherwise, no amount of positive feedback or success will matter. 

If you’ve created something you’re excited about—because you did it and because it expanded and pulled from who you are—then every bit of success that comes afterwards is fantastic, but your pleasure and satisfaction with the experience in no way hinge on it.

What are you working on now?
In addition to the daily postcards for my website, PosctardsFromGusto.com, I’m working on the idea of a workbook to go along with Living with Gusto and experimenting with how I want to continue the Gusto series of books.

Final Words of Wisdom
Most children have “imaginary” friends, and they have long, detailed conversations with them. As we grow older, that conversation begins to fade, and that kind of imagining is even deemed as problematic. 
What if we were to stop moving away from those “imaginary” conversations and instead brought ourselves back to them. 

Every single one of us has a version of Gusto within us—a wise, compassionate, nonjudgmental, honest voice that will readily and gladly answer any question we have, give us whatever advice we’re looking for, encourage us when that’s what we need and nudge us when it’s time. What if we not only started talking more to that part of us, telling our whole truth, but we also paused long enough to listen to the answers within us. What if our top priority got boiled down to one thing: to become more of who we really are. Not to change who we are or turn down the volume of any part of us. No … instead, for you to become even more of who you are. For me to become more of who I am. For the person walking down the street next to you to become even more of who he or she is. 

Just the thought of it gives me chills … because we’re lucky. So incredibly lucky. There’s so much talent and wisdom and compassion living on this earth right now. There are answers tucked within each of us, there are dreams to be manifested, there’s fun to be had, forgiving to be done, words to be expressed, obstacles to be overcome, personal and communal and worldwide songs to be sung. The more we each tap into who we truly are, the more we’ll see and do and say and create what we came here to experience, alone and together.

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