Izzy in El Mareo by Danielle Ledezma
1- Can you share a tip on making new friends?
Focus on asking them questions and helping them feel accepted and comfortable with you as a new person versus focusing on whether or not they like you.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Great ideas and phrases and points come to you at any given time so have paper/pen or recording device nearby at all times! But you also must intentionally build time into your day to write. Even if you don't put anything new down, form the habit for your brain in a space that allows that creativity to flow. A room in the house or favorite patio at a coffee shop; whatever it takes make yourself go there and think, then let the words flow.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
The passion was more about getting the story out of my head and onto paper versus a desire to write. I've been a reader for much of my life, and felt that I had a book inside me, and it wasn't until I lived in Mexico and later found solace, almost therapy, in writing a story inspired by that time in my life that the book was finally born.
4- What's the best thing about where you live now?
It's home! I grew up in San Antonio and spent over 15 years away from it. Now that I'm back I feel at peace and confident and myself. There is so much growth and amazing change I get to enjoy at this stage in my life such as Historic Pearl and La Cantera and Boerne and all the areas that are developing all over the city!
5- What is your favorite summer activity?
The best summer activity is swimming at the river or lake! My husband and I love to try and visit new lakes and rivers each summer with the pups in tow whenever possible. Some of our faves include Boerne Lake near our house, Guadalupe State Park and Medina Lake! We're on a mission to get out to Marfa to see the observatory and check out Balmorhea State Park!
6- Would you share a picture with us of your book somewhere fun?
7- What is your favorite saying or quote?
Love your neighbor as yourself; because to love your neighbor you must truly love yourself.
I also love Marianne Williamson's "Our Deepest Fear" poem!!! My favorite lines are "...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
8- What most motivates you to read a new book?
These days running a company I'm motivated to read a lot of leadership books and women empowerment books like "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis or "Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown. I also have Michelle Obama's book on my nightstand!! When it comes to fiction I'm inspired to read when it's a story that captures me. Like "Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine" which is just a great story of a funny girl. I like real life type of stories that can take hold of your heart and effect you in ways you didn't imagine. Like "In Her Shoes" by Jennifer Weiner (before it was a movie) and "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie.
9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
It feels like an authentic story about a woman learning to love herself just as she is; and she isn't the cute skinny party girl that needs to learn she's actually beautiful. She's a normal woman of a normal size and dealing with how that doesn't match up with whatever vision society has placed on what beauty should be. And through love, she learns to love herself. All of herself. Super empowering and uplifting!!!
10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
A coworker/friend of mine named Aly who loves the character's flaws and mistakes and her general uneasiness about life. She says she really relates to her not because she experienced in her own life, but that she could imagine the feelings and it was exciting for her to read and picture herself in those same scenarios. It challenged her to think about how she might react or behave. And she wants to know what Izzy does next! She's asked so many times about a sequal or follow up blog. My other biggest fan in general is my husband. He was the person who helped me learn to create space in my life to write, encouraged me to keep going, helped me when I was stuck and even helped create the title! He's so excited to see my dream come to life and has been and always will be my greatest supporter and best friend. It took a while to find him (into my mid-30s) but he was totally worth the wait!!!
11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
I hope this book will draw out readers' own feelings of discomfort and pain and heartbreak, along with their own shame, so they can walk through it and leave it behind coming out stronger on the other side. My hope is this gives the reader a space with which to wrestle with what they think are poor choices, mistakes or regrets and, while walking alongside Izzy, learn how they can overcome whatever labels or stigmas they've assigned to themselves. By the time they finish, I hope they feel peace and contentment.
12- What is your favorite animal and why?
Dogs!!! I have two of them, grew up with them and absolutely love their personalities and energy. A dog is loyal and protective and is the happiest thing on the planet when you walk in the door whether it was only 5 minutes or 5 days.
13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?
From the beginning the intent for this book was to find a way to help readers learn to love themselves no matter what decision or mistakes or "poor choices" they've made in their lives. I am a firm believer that you cannot truly love another until you learn to love yourself. That is why God said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you don't love yourself, have grace for yourself, forgive yourself or take an interest in yourself, how can you possibly do that for others? I mean truly without any ulterior motives (like trying to get them to like you)? I mean truly be able to listen to someone who clearly opposes you view, your voting preferences, your orientations, or thoughts on subjects like abortion or gun control, and actually listen to them as another human being if you spend the entire time dehumanizing them? or finding fault and nit picking? Is that what you do to yourself in your head all day long? In short, I hope this book gives readers the space to allow themselves grace and forgiveness so they can overcome and find true contentment and love within their own hearts and minds.
14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
Michael's confidence - he is so comfortable in his own skin he allows others around him to feel the same about themselves
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
Michael is a homosexual who is actually a critically significant character for the book because he represents someone who is comfortable in their own skin without apology, and it allows the others around him to feel the same about themselves. He isn't pushy about his beliefs or lifestyle, but also doesn't stop to apologize for it either. The entire book is filled with characters from different countries, cultures and viewpoints. We have Europeans including Germans (Gretchen), Mexicans (like Ximena and Luci and Felipe) and Venezuelans (Alejandra) to name a few. Izzy confronts these varied viewpoints, cultural norms and wrestles with them from her American perspective. It casts a fluorescent light on the differences between the characters through their social interactions and forces the reader to experience someone form another country through the reading.
16- Your Amazon book blurb states your debut is an "AMAZON BESTSELLER IN SINGLE WOMEN FICTION." When did you hit that mark and how did it feel?
this is the screen shot from my page but I didn't look at the actual Amazon page for where on the list i was. BUT it was crazy!! I kept reading it like "is that right?" Once I got past the shock and excitement, I hoped that it was something meaningful for the women who had purchased it which got me the designation. I started hoping they liked it and felt like they got something from it. I hoped it mattered.
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I wanted a professional finish, and most importantly, professional editing and help with plot lines, so I knew self-publishing wasn't the route for me. A first-time author can have a hell of a time trying to get the attention of a large publishing house through the traditional method, and looses control of the final product. Finding River Grove was incredible because I could collaborate, learn and grow from their support, and retain all the rights to the work for future use. They are an amazing team that truly helped a first-time writer through the sometimes daunting process!
18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?
Reviews help tremendously to exposure and to someone's decision to support/buy that author's work. Just like Yelp and restaurant reviews might help you decide where to go out Saturday night, the reviews on Amazon or Barnes&http://Noble.com or other sites you can leave reviews will help other readers to get a feel for the book and decide if that's what they're looking for. Please leave me a review!!
19- What is one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
Tell me about a time you were courageous and brave, and how vulnerable you had to first allow yourself to be in order to get there
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
As a full time working wife and mom of 2 fur babies, I'm also running a fitness franchise called DivaDance and continue to write in between! Speaking, writing and empowering others are my greatest passions, right behind loving my amazing husband and my family.
Karaoke in Puerto Vallarta -- this party really did happen
Surfing in Punta de Mita -- this part also really happened!
Izzy in El Mareo by Danielle Ledezma