An Afternoon with Wil Haygood: A Booklaunch for His Latest Work “Tigerland”

Bestselling author Wil Haygood is best known for an article he wrote, for the Washington Post, about a butler named Eugene Allen entitled “A Butler Well Served by This Election” (Haygood, 2008). This article would serve as the basis for the movie we recognize as Lee Daniel’s The Butler (which Mr. Haygood would use as a springboard for his book The Butler: A Witness to History). The purpose of Sunday’s (9/23/2018) book launch was to introduce his latest work Tigerland: 1968-1969 A City Divided, A Nation Torn Apart, and A Magical Season of Healing (Knopf, 2018).

Tigerland is the story of Columbus, Ohio’s own East High School during the time Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. This time period was marked by a great deal of racial conflict and strife. The focus of the story was about how East’s basketball and baseball teams thrived despite the racial climate and went on to win championships against wealthier white schools.

Tigerland also discusses the personal lives of many of the team members responsible for these triumphs.

Below are two links to. Sunday’s interview with Wil Haygood. There are two parts because my arms got tired and I almost dropped my phone (😂). Anyway, the remainder of this two part conversation is available on my YouTube channel ( An Afternoon with Wil Haygood Part 1 and Part 2).

Also here are some slides of the book signing afterwards.

I was able to find some biographical information on Mr. Haygood from the Miami University website. While I haven’t had a chance to read any of his books YET, I plan on ordering a copy of Tigerland and The Butler at my earliest convenience. I suggest you do the same. Let’s support our local talent.

Wil Haygood

Contact Info

Boadway Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence

Wil Haygood is the Boadway Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence in the Department of Media, Journalism & Film. Prior to joining the Miami faculty, he was a national and foreign correspondent at the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and also where he was taken hostage in Africa by Somalian rebels. He joined the Washington Post in 2002, where he wrote the story, “A Butler Well Served by this Election,” which became the basis for the award-winning film “The Butler,” which starred, among others, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Haygood was an associate producer of “The Butler.”

Wil Haygood is a Fellow of the Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Alicia Patterson foundations. He is the author of seven nonfiction books. His latest book, “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America,” was awarded the 2016 Scribe Book Award from the American Society of Legal Writers, given annually since 1961 to the best book about American law. “Showdown” was also an NAACP Image Award nominee and an Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence nominee. Among Haygood’s other books are “Two on the River,” “King of the Cats: the Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.” “The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir,” “In Black and White: the Life of Sammy Davis Jr.,” “Sweet Thunder: the Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson,” and “The Butler.”

WOW (Women on Writing) Blog Book Tour for Ellen Wolfson Valladares “Crossing the Line”

Hello Bookworms;

It’s time for another blog book tour with our friends at Women on Writing (WOW). Today’s guest author is Ellen Wolfson Valladares, author of “Crossing the Line”, the story of a woman returns from the grave to help solve the mystery of her own tragic death.Today I’ll be posting the reviews of several fans of the book, which is a real page turner.As always, make her feel welcome, ask all the questions you want, and I’ll be stopping through so comment all you want.

About the Author:   

Ellen Wolfson Valladares

Ellen Wolfson Valladares is an award-winning writer/author, workshop facilitator, community volunteer, and mother. A native Floridian, she grew up in St. Petersburg and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. She has worked as an editor, public relations professional, and freelance writer. Her first book, a children’s novel entitled Jonathan’s Journey to Mount Miapu, received several awards, including a Mom’s Choice Gold Award and the 2009 Coalition of Visionary Resources Visionary Awards Book of the Year award. She also has a meditation CD, entitled “Healing and Manifestation with the Archangels.”
Today, Valladares continues to work as a freelance writer. She also enjoys coaching high school students working on their college essays and helping other writers realize their dreams. She has been married to her husband, Manny, for 30 years and they have two sons, Gabriel and Michael, two dogs, Flash and Chili Pepper, and a crazy cat named Zelda. They live in Weston, Fla. 


Twitter: @ValladaresEllen 

FB: @EllenValladares444 (link: 


 The Book:

Laura, who died thirty years ago, enlists the help of a tenacious high school reporter named Rebecca, who is very much alive. Rebecca, although skeptical and conflicted by her supposed encounters with a spirit, determines to learn the truth about Laura’s tragic death. As the clues unravel and their worlds collide, Rebecca finds herself at a dangerous crossroads. 

Laura, now pulled back into everything she left behind when she died – her old high school and memories of her life and death—has been in training for this exact moment. And nothing means more to her than succeeding at her assignment. 

It is her one chance to make sure that what happened to her does not happen to anyone else, and especially not to her new friend, Rebecca. 

The Reviews*:

Eric Trant

April 3, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition
Genuinely great read with a well-crafted plot, believable characters and a catchy story. Crossing the Line follows two high school girls — one dead thirty years, the victim of a murder-suicide — through parallel journeys both past and present. It tackles the drama most students face in high school as they discover their identity, and offers a fresh look at the other side of the mirror of life-and-death. In this case, it’s a surprisingly snug picture of a Potter-esque world you should discover for yourself, rather than having me explain it to you.

It also has a few twists at the end I did not see coming, and I am an author who enjoys crafting my own twisted endings. I was pretty shocked at the final revelation of what really happened the night of the murder-suicide.

Despite the serious tone of the summary, the book was a lighthearted and shockingly fast read. You won’t be able to skip paragraphs, certainly not pages, because every word has been pared down to something necessary to advance the story. You will not find fluff in this novel! It’s lean and mean, easy to pick up and nestle into, and I enjoyed my brief adventure tagging along with the girls. This has the feeling of a series novel, so hopefully we’ll see more soon from Mrs. Valladares!

– Eric


March 27, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition
Rebecca and her two good friends are trying to decide how to spend their afternoon when they stumble on an old Ouija board in a closet. When they decide to use it just for fun, they are shocked when the board tells them they are talking to a girl named Laura who was murdered in 1983 from their high school. Laura is a spirit sent on a mission to help Rebecca any way she can, even though there are very strict rules as to how she can interfere in a living person’s life. When Rebecca finds out that Laura was a real person, she decides to investigate what happened to her and uncover the truths that nobody will say.

I went into this book thinking I was reading a dark paranormal murder mystery, but really it was so much more than that. This was a story full of redemption, truth, friendship and forgiveness (with such a nice, perfect ending). Sure there were some very suspenseful things that occurred in the story, as well as the fact the whole premise was built around a murder-suicide and a ghost, but I thought the story was really sweet and feel good. All the characters were given the chance to show their heart and good side, wrongs were righted and possible terrible events were prevented. Yep, not what I thought based on the synopsis but I found this to be a quick, easy, engaging read to escape into for an afternoon.

The book started out with three girls playing with a Ouija board, when someone starts talking to them and I was instantly hooked. But then I was confused as to how the story was set up when I started the second chapter because all of a sudden I was dropped into a “special school” for the dead with a new character and rules for Crossing the Line (I loved how the title to the book had so many uses and connections throughout the story!). I had zero idea what was going on for almost the entire second chapter. But once I made it to the third chapter, I was fully immersed and interested in the plot. The book is dual narrated by Rebecca in the present and ghost Laura who is in the afterlife and has flashback to her past. Each character has a distinct voice and personality that came through the pages, and I really enjoyed trying to figure out how the two connected or what the mission was that Laura had to accomplish.

There was definitely a mystery to the book, but the relationship dynamics between both girls and their friends as well as between both girls was the main focus of the story (for me at least). I enjoyed the back and forth between the characters and the way the book unfolded, giving me hints along the way. I enjoyed this book which felt like a standalone since everything was wrapped up nicely, but there is most certainly potential for more from this world. Also, the concept of ghost detectives (or whatever you want to call the ghost helpers) was really neat. This was an interesting read full of mystery and supernatural appropriate for all ages.

I am voluntarily reviewing an advance, complimentary copy of this book.

Lisa V.

March 20, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a great read! I did not want to put it down, and it kept me interested and curious right up to the very satisfying end. I guess this is considered a YA book but the story line and topics spoke to me and I am way beyond YA age. The high school students seemed very real, and brought back memories of what it was like to be involved in high school romances, dramas and emotions. The spirit world dimension is thought provoking as well as intriguing and just plain fun! Lots of imagination here. The author goes back and forth between a current high school girl and one from thirty years ago and the subject matter is rather dark. However, there are many moments of humorous observation and even, for me, a few laugh out loud moments. The characters are very well developed as individuals and, like most kids, do not fit completely into typical stereotypes. The depth of character development keeps the twists and turns of the plot going and generates compassion and interest in the reader. There was plenty to think about and enjoy.
*book reviews are courtesy of
 More Book Info:
 Crossing the Line by [Valladares, Ellen Wolfson]

Paperback:  300  pages    

Genre:  Fiction / Young Adult Novel
Publisher:    WiDO (March 2018)
ISBN-13:    978-1-937178-99-4 

Amazon Link: 


WOW (Women on Writing)Blog Book Tour for Renee Antonia’s “I’m NOT Okay”

About the book:  When she wakes up in the morning, the first thing that goes through Alejandra’s head is whether or not she will be forced into another anxiety inducing situation. The struggles of being a young adult living with an anxiety- ridden brain becomes too much for Alejandra to deal with. So, with the help of her friends, she forces herself out of the I'm Not Okay by [Antonia, Renee]bubble her anxiety has placed her in.

Hello Bookworms;

It’s time for another blog book tour from our friends at WOW (Women on Writing). Today’s guest author is Ms. Renee Antonia, author of I’m not Okay. Today’s post will include an interview with Ms. Antonia, a review of her book AND a guest post about mental health misconceptions. As you always do, make Ms. Antonia feel welcome and feel free to ask any questions about her work, mental illness, and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Comment all you like. Enjoy each other’s company. I will be dropping in from time to time to answer comments. So enjoy!!!

Mental Health Misconceptions

One of the hardest things about living with any mental illness are the never ending misconceptions that are thrown around in today’s society.  It isn’t that I don’t know that they are all fabricated lies, because I do. I am aware that the people who say that anyone who is clean and neat are OCD or that anyone struggling with depression is suicidal are wrong.  I know these things, but the rest of the world, the world that doesn’t struggle with mental illness, don’t.

Every misconception is taken as gospel, and since mental health is still a pretty taboo topic, people who suffer aren’t given the opportunity to defend themselves.  Hearing what people think about my mental illness weighs heavily on me, especially on days where it’s at its worse. However, those are the days that I have to take a step back and remember how wrong these fallacies are.  And, this is how I do it:

  1. Nobody knows what it feels like to live with my mental illness.  No matter how much research they do, they will never know how I feel, how I cope, or how I live.  Because of this, their words are nothing more than sounds coming out of someone’s body. Once you start to look at their words of ignorance as just white noise, ignoring them become easier.
  2. Do you think you’re crazy?  Violent? Weird? No? Okay, then that’s all you have to worry about.  I’m not saying that hearing those names won’t hurt, but if you know they aren’t true, then they have no control over you.  This was definitely something that I had to practice. Hearing people who know nothing more than your diagnosis, call you disgusting and heartless names is difficult.  It definitely wore on my confidence, but after I realized that these people saying these things didn’t know who I actually was, I was able to get over all of their comments.
  3. Your mental illness is NOT you.  You are not anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenic, obsessive compulsive.  You are so much more than your diagnosis. Their misconceptions forget to factor that in.  So, just remember when they’re talking about anxiety, they are not talking about you. They are talking about a small part of you.  A part of you that isn’t as important as every other part.
  4. I feel like the hardest part of living and struggling with mental illness is the isolation that it tends to brings.  However, mental illness and mental health is no longer as taboo as it once was. There are huge communities who are willing to not only accept you, but help you grow and learn.

At the end of the day, misconceptions about mental health will always be around.  There will always be people who believe they know the best for you, and everyone who suffers from mental illness.  Not allowing those people to dictate how you feel about yourself is how you take control of your life.

Interview with Renee Antonia:

Q: I did a little bit of research on you and I see that you are a fellow blogger. Is blogging therapy for you? 

A: Blogging is definitely therapy for me.  I write short stories for my blog, but every short story that I write almost always comes from something that I am going through or something that I have went through.  I find it comforting to be able to put my feelings out into the world without explicitly making it my story.  

Q: Tell us about your background. What made you decide to write about mental illness? About anxiety? 

A: I decided to write about mental illness because I suffer from both anxiety and depression.  When I first began writing I’m Not Okay, I was going through a really hard time in my life with my own mental illness and I needed a way to express myself.  While I was writing it, I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to go through with publishing it, but I knew that I had to.  I’m Not Okay really helped me grow and understand that my mental illness wasn’t something I had to be ashamed of, and if one person reads it and finds the same, then it would all be worth it.   

Q: When can we expect your next book? 

A: Well, my next book is definitely completely different from I’m Not Okay.  I am currently in the process of writing the first book of a duology.  The book follows a teenage boy who lives in the underground city of Seattle, and the reader gets to follow his quest to move away from the Underground City and to live in Seattle.  It’s completely different from what I have written before, but it has been a lot of fun to create this new world and I am very excited to see where it can go.   

Q: You can use this space to give yourself a shameless plug? 

A: When I am not writing for my next book, I love writing short stories.  Most of my short stories can be found on my website at, where you can also find a link to my book and other information.  I also write exclusive Patreon- Exclusive stories on my Patreon account,   

My Review:

   I’m not Okay is the story of Alejandra Vanessa Sanchez, a nineteen old college student who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is a mental illness that is characterized by uncontrollable, irrational worry as well as apprehensive expectation about events and activities. This excessive worry interferes with the person’s everyday life. These irrational fears can be triggered by almost anything in the person’s life (job issues, financial problems, family problems, etc.).  

People who have GAD also suffer from physical symptoms like headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, etc. In order to be formally diagnosed, sufferers must have had these symptoms for at least six months. Cognitive behavior therapy (also known as CBT) combined with medication have been proven to be effective in reducing severity of symptoms. 

There are several things I like about this book. The first thing I like is that it’s written in first person. Since we’re talking about mental illness, it’s always more interesting to hear about the reality of mental illnesses from the viewpoint of the actual sufferer and not just what you read in text books or the DSM-5. It makes the illness more humane and helps you to put a face on it.  

I like how descriptive Ms. Antonia’s writing style is. Especially when she describes the reactions Alex’s family has to finding out about her illness. Especially the sister who always took care of her internalizing, sort of taking blame for the diagnosis. As though she didn’t do enough to make Alex feel secure enough to tell her sooner about her issues. Classic caretaker mindset.   

I also like the fact that Ms. Antonia not only sheds a spotlight on the whole issue of mental illness, but also talks about the whole issue of women feeling as they have to be “strong” and “keep a stiff upper lip” while inside they are crumbling. I’m not Okay makes it okay to not be okay and admit it and remove the shame that often accompanies mental illness. This book is an excellent read and comes highly recommended!!!

Our Guest Author:
Renee AntoniaRenee Antonia

Born in Downey , The United States

Renee Antonia grew up in a small city near Los Angeles. She always had a love for writing, but never acted on it until she graduated high school in 2014. When confronted with the question of what she wanted to accomplish, she realized she wanted to publish books. So, she changed her career path and began to write about anything and everything. Soon after, she started writing her first novel, “I’m Not Okay,” which she self published in 2017. She hopes to continue publishing for years to come.

WOW (Women on Writing)Blog Book Tour for B. Lynn Goodwin’s “Never too Late”Pt.2

Hello Bookworms;

   Here’s post 2 of my participation in WOW’s blog book tour for B. Lynn Goodwin’s Never too Late: from Wannabe to Wife at 62. In this post I’ll be reviewing Mrs; Goodwin’s work and posting the remainder of the tour dates so you can show our guest author some love.

The Review:

As I read Ms. Goodwin’s book, I was impressed with her willingness to be transparent about her romantic history (especially about her ability to poke fun at following advice from women’s magazines and feminist blogs/Facebook pages). I was also impressed at Richard being a pastor and her being a virgin. Virgins at an advanced age are more common than people think and feeling that one has to hide it lest someone “prude shames” you,  is horrible. Also, no one talks very much about the dating lives of the clergy.  Richard’s Craigslist post was heartwarming as well as very humorous. It shows his ability to be personable and likeable. And their rapport as they began to email one another more and. more was touching 

Some questions that I asked myself as I continued to read were “why does she seem to be ‘coming out of her pocket’ so much?”” Is he telling the truth about his future inheritance or dangling it as a carrot?” “Are her comments about being a “nice girl” who never pierced her ears and about the “loose woman” who “puts herself out there” a form of shade? Or are they a reflection of the insecurity that gets played out after the anxiety about ‘finally being chosen’ starts to fade” 

As I continued to read though, I start to notice the emotional transformation that starts to take place as the reality of being in a committed relationship with Richard becomes a reality to her.  Especially, when she begins to elaborate on how even though she’s always been fiercely independent, she feels “softer” as she spends more time in Richard’s company. There’s also a transformative moment when she thinks she lost the engagement ring and accidentally calls it “her ring”, indicating a realization that makes the ring hers is that it is a gift to her from her intended that’s meant to symbolize his love and commitment.  

I won’t spoil the ending (like many reviewers do) by giving away the ending. I’ll just say despite some of the “red flags” that show up, Richard turns out be a pleasant surprise. A man of his word, in all actuality. Never is a really encouraging read that reminds us to pay attention to “red flags”, to also watch and pray. Everything may not be what it seems.


About B. Lynn Goodwin


B. Lynn Goodwin

B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and Talent (Eternal Press). Talent was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award and won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.


Her manuscript, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was published by Koehler Press on December 20, 2017. Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun,, and elsewhere. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is a manuscript coach at Writer Advice. She always has time to write guest blog posts and answer questions. She loves working one on one, trouble-shooting, and helping writers find what works.
She can be found online at:







Here are the remainding tour dates:

February 12th @ Madeline Sharples Blog
B. Lynn Goodwin will be visiting Madeline Sharples blog and discussing one of my favorite activities in her post, “Need a Venting Partner? Try a Journal.”
February 14th @ Beverly A. Baird’s Blog
Blogger Beverly A. Baird will be reading and reviewing B. Lynn Goodwin’s book Never Too Late and sharing her thoughts with us.
February 14th @ Bookends Review
Come by and check out the review of Never Too Late at Bookends Review.
February 15th @ Mommy Daze: Say What???
Ashley Bass over at Mommy Daze: Say What??? will be sharing her thoughts about Never Too Late. 

February 16th @ Words From the Heart
Rev. Linda Neas will be reading and reviewing Never Too Late and be sure to check out her insights on this amazing book.
February 17th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Make sure to come by the blog Memoir Writer’s Journey and read about Lynn’s insight in her post, “The Authentic Writer.” Also, blogger Kathleen Pooler will be reviewing Never Too Late as well.
February 19th @ Strength4Spouses
Visit the blog Strength4Spouses to catch Lynn’s post called, “Craigslist Dating.”
February 20th @ Bring on Lemons

Nancy Cramer, yoga lover and retired schoolteacher, will be sharing her thoughts about Never Too Late on the blog, Bring on Lemons.
February 22nd @ Food Diary of a City Girl
Make sure to catch Cecilia over at Food Diary of a City Girl and her thoughts about the book Never Too Late.
February 23rd @ Strength4Spouses
Make sure you come by the Strength4Spouses blog to catch their insights into Lynn’s book Never Too Late. 
February 24th @ Becoming Zen Again
Shell LeBlanc will be telling us about what she thought about the book Never Too Late.
Keep up with the latest stops by following WOW! Blog Tour on Twitter: @WOWBlogTour

WOW (Women on Writing) Blog Book Tour for B. Lynn Goodwin

Hello Bookworms,

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I have a few live events/concert reviews coming up in March and a few book/music/art events, as well as more blog book tours like today’s.

That being said, today’s guest author is B. Lynn Goodwin, the author of Never too Late: from Wannabe to Wife at 62. book is the story of Mrs. Goodwin’s own personal of finding love and marrying after 62 years of singleness. I hope you find it as interesting as I did. In today’s post, Mrs. Goodwin discusses how important it is to tell your own story and how to develop the discipline to write about it everyday.

Enjoy 😉

Guest Post

B. Lynn Goodwin

525-word blog – 100-word bio

“If you do not record your own story, your tiny bit of the history of the human race is lost. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s vision. Dickinson wrote Dickinson’s. Who will tell your story if you do not?” –Pat Schneider, Author of (check YWMTDW?)

The Importance of Telling Your Story

Everyone has stories to tell. Sometimes people just don’t realize it. I once had a woman ask me, “Who would be interested in a Texas girl’s farm life?”

“Those who have not lived it,” I told her. “People in cities and suburbs. People who’ve spent their lives in schools and offices.”

Her eyes lit up as she began seeing her story in a new way.

No one can tell your story but you. Perhaps you’ve already told it out loud. Maybe you’ve shared it with family and friends. So why write it down?

There’s something about putting words on paper or a computer screen that creates a commitment to an idea. Got the words wrong? Use the delete key. Say what you really meant to say. The first draft usually involves spilling your story. Think of it as generating the clay you will mold. Each successive draft will make your writing more nuanced and you will get closer and closer to the truth.

And what will the truth do? Set you free from obsession over things you cannot control. Clear your head and your conscience. Give you insight. Broaden your perspective. Move you forward and maybe transform you.

Depending on how you tell your story and how objective and three-dimensional it is, you may help others to heal or embrace new ideas. Your story might inspire them to tell their own.

You might also help yourself to heal from whatever wounds are holding you back. It will allow you to move forward in your life. By telling your story you may begin to see your life as a journey. Our stories help us define who we are, the changes we’d like to make, and build our confidence.

If you share your story in any kind of group—therapy group, church group, or writing group to name three—it should help you connect with others. It will also help you connect with yourself on a deeper level. You’ll go from the whats—the events to the whys—the reasons behind them. Writing enables you to see your life in new ways. Writing your story can help you fix or accept the past and sometimes it helps you plan a more productive future.

Ready to start? Here are the first steps.

Write for 15 minutes a day for the next five days.

Each day after you finish, look for favorite lines. Those are places to explore further. Post the results here or on your blog or share with a group if you’d like to.

You might be surprised by how many people will identify with your story. Their encouragement will keep you moving forward until you have a rough draft.

I told my story in Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. Can a 62-year-old who’s never been married find happiness with a two-time widower seeking his third wife on . . . Craigslist? You’ll find out how by reading the book.


B. Lynn Goodwin  B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was just released by Koehler Press.

She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.

Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good, Purple and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.

WOW(Women on Writing) Blog Book Tour for Jennifer A. Payne’s EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: What We Leave Behind

Hello Bookworms;

As you can see, BOOKWORM is participating in another blog book tour courtesy of WOW (Women on Writing). Today’s guest is Jennifer A. Payne, author of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. Today I’m posting an interview, Q and A style, that I conducted with Ms. Payne so that you can read  her thoughts about her calling, her choice of direction for her writing, and her thoughts about mindfulness. I’m also posting a review of her most recent work “Evidence”.  Enjoy.

Hi Anjanette.

Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my books with you and your readers!

  1. How long have you been writing/ what made you decide to write?

I don’t know if I had a choice, really. Writing is how I’ve always communicated with the world. My earliest memory is writing letters to my Dad when he was away on business trips when I was young.In grade school, I used to write short stories, but I also had a dozen pen pals I kept in touch with regularly. I wrote for my high school newspaper, and studied journalism at UMass. My first job was writing press releases and advertising copy, before I started my own business doing the same. I published a zine in the early 90s, and graduated to blog writing about 10 years ago.

I’ve been writing all my life!

2. What made you take this direction for your writing/this work?

I think those early days of communicating real-life stories and experiences to my Dad and pen pals have kept me pretty firmly rooted in non-fiction writing. You can see that on my blog Random Acts of Writing ( Over the years, it has hosted everything from my food writing, travel journals and book reviews, to photo essays, social commentary and poetry.In the past couple of years, I’ve been writing more poetry, mainly because that is how my muse has been talking to me. But also, I was invited to join a local poetry group, the Guilford Poets Guild, and they have inspired and encouraged me a lot!

Both of my books, LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness (2014) and the new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind are direct results of my work on the blog. LOOK UP! includes essays, poetry, a collection of quotations by philosophers, naturalists, and famous writers, plus 100 of my original color photos. It’s a journal, really, that narrates my own journey from working 24/7 to reconnecting with our natural world, finding balance and mindfulness in the simple act of going outside. Evidence of Flossing is a follow-up to that concept. It features 73 of my poems and 80 original and vintage photos that continue a conversation about our divine connection to nature, and how important it is to find our way back to that.

3. What is it about mindfulness that interests/fascinates you?

By day, I run my own graphic design and marketing business. By night (really in the pre-dawn hours of the day), I do my creative work. My brain and I work at a very frenetic pace – as you can imagine – but somewhere in all of that, there has to be some downtime. Some quiet. Some peace.

I tried traditional methods of meditation – sitting on pillows, candles, oms, guided groups, recorded sessions. But nothing really “stuck.” I remember one group meditation…there were 10 of us in a small, candlelit room. We did some breathing exercises, and then the facilitator guided us on a meditation…down a path, into the treetops, up into the sky. I spent the whole meditation frantically running to catch up, because I couldn’t breathe right, couldn’t visualize right…couldn’t get out of my own way!

About that same time, I had started taking regular walks in the woods. There is a nature preserve near my house, and I can do a nice, easy 2-mile walk in a space that feels very far away from everything. I remember this one day very clearly. I’d been walking for about 20 minutes with lots of busy thoughts in my head. But then it was suddenly quiet. All I heard were my footsteps on the pine needle path. I wasn’t aware of my thoughts or my body, just the sound of footsteps, like a heartbeat, and breathing.

It was brief and wonderful.

I think of it now as my “ah-ha, so this is meditation” moment.problems, inspirations for my writing, connections to some mystery I wouldn’t have had time for if I wasn’t allowing myself to disconnect from busy and reconnect with nature. It’s that simple…and that complicated, I suppose. Perhaps that’s what so fascinating about it, and why I write about it. The difficult part of mindfulness is getting there—stepping away from our busy-ness, allowing ourselves that time to reconnect. But once we do, it’s really quite simple. It’s really quite amazing.
4. Use this space to give yourself a shameless plug?

I was at a workshop last week, and the hostess came over to me and pointed to a copy of my book on her coffee table. “I keep your book here,” she said. “In a place of honor. That way I can pick it up and read something from it whenever I want. Which is often. I just love it.”

She’s not alone. People seem to really connect with these books, with the writing and the photos. I think it’s because they talk about our collective concerns about our society in a way that is heartfelt and thoughtful. They’re smart books that you can skim for meaning, or dive into for a deeper understanding as they apply to your own philosophy and spirituality, your own experience. But they are both easy reads – you can read an essay, read one poem, open to a page and meditate on a photo or quote. They allow the reader to take that moment of mindfulness, to stop and consider…maybe…a better way to move about in this world? I hope.


Evidence is a combination of street photography and poetry. It’s actually a followup to a prior work of Ms. Payne’s called LOOKUP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness. Most psychology majors probably remember mindfulness as a Buddhist concept that is used in clinical psychology to help alleviate depressive symptoms. It involves bringing one’s attention to experiences that are occurring  in the present moment through meditation or other disciplines (like writing). Discarded dental flossers are featured in most of  Evidence’s street photography. To me they seemed to point to the commonalities of mankind. Even though there are differences between our global cultures, it is our humanity that gives us common ground. What’s is more of a sign on humanity that flossing? For the author they also ask the question “What is our legacy?” “What will we leave behind?”.  I like the way her poems are formatted because there’s no formal visual presentation (prose, haikus). So they force whoever’s reading them to ponder and meditate on their meaning. Her writing is definitely in keeping with the mindfulness concept. I look forward to reviewing even more of Ms. Payne’s work.

Evidence of Flossing  and LOOKUP! (as well as Jennifer Payne herself)can be found online at: