I asked. She answered. C. D'Angelo shares her latest news and answers compelling questions. From how being a writer has helped her as a person to the best thing the online #writingcommunity has brought her. Click here to view C. D'Angelo's website.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your author journey?
Being an author by title came later in life for me, although it was always in my heart. I have been a psychotherapist for almost 20 years, but engage in many (oh so many!) art forms in my free time. Writing took hold of me as a primary “hobby” in 2012, but became more than that over time. Reading, cross stitching, crocheting, drawing, playing ukulele, painting, sewing, etc. wasn’t enough, I guess. But back to writing.
I never thought about writing a novel, but an idea for a story flooded into my mind. It begged to come out and be told. If I’m being honest, and I always am, I first visualized my story as a movie, but knew I needed to and wanted to write it as a book. Let’s hope that becomes reality. Anyway, I made a decision that year to give writing a try at least. I would just write the book and see what happened, with the goal of getting it published. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had NO idea what publishing involved at the time. I knew that if I researched the process, I would not continue, due to that whole self-doubt thing, you know (more on my publishing process later in this interview). So, by early 2013 I typed my first sentence for The Difference and my author life began.
From January 2013 until May 2018 I wrote my first draft. I ended up taking huge breaks from writing during that time span due to many reasons (not feeling inspired- super important for an artist-, life changes like moving to a new city…). I got more serious about setting time aside as the years went on, though. As I made the final touches to my first draft in early 2018, I remember a huge sense of accomplishment. No matter what happened from that point, I did something that many people say they will but don’t end up committing to doing. I wrote a novel!
As the time passed, I have reflected on all of the factors that inspire me to write and to keep going on this journey. Just as you will find in my book and online presence, I’m inspired by themes of the Italian heritage, the country of Italy, art and music, travel, family traditions and values, building on strengths, creativity, uniqueness, genuineness, and so much more. They can never all be listed. My passions overtake me and naturally integrate into my art. I’ll never let go (Titanic anyone?). They feed me and allow me to grow in my writing skills. I feel they are a gift that drive me, leading me to the beauty I have found in this author world.
You have a new women's fiction novel coming out, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, I do and I’m so excited! The Difference is my debut novel and will come out in Fall, so I can’t reveal too much right now. What I can say is that I think my style is similar to Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing, so I compare it to the feel of her Eat, Pray, Love, but with Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series’ spark of quirkiness. My main character Rachel is not a typical early 30s woman, but does have “it all” on paper. She has a fabulous apartment in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, a psychotherapy private practice (of course!), and a boyfriend anyone would scoop up if they had the chance. But there’s an emptiness she can’t shake, and it’s affecting her mood and relationship with her boyfriend. What if she loses him, or worst yet, herself? She realizes that trying to find out more about her Italian family history may help her to understand herself more and answer the family secret her immigrant grandpa left behind. Rachel needs answers and needs her ancestry revealed. But will that bring fulfilment?
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What do you think makes a good story?
Give me all the feels. Emotions galore. I love the nitty gritty, the details, the depths of the human experience, and the ups and downs as well. I’m sure that isn’t surprising to you now that you know my background. Speaking of, I feel that it’s a large part of where I draw from in my writing. I’ve studied human thoughts, feelings, and behaviours for such a long time that it’s easy for me to get inside a character’s mind. I’ve heard the inner most thoughts from so many people, which gives me a privilege in developing my characters, I believe. Plus, knowing the intricacies of how personality unfolds is a bonus, and one that fascinates me constantly.
My favourite contemporary author easily evokes emotions and reveals thoughts of her characters better than anyone else, in my opinion. Have you read any Curtis Sittenfeld books? Immediately do so, if not. I promise you, every piece of hers is outstanding. When I read Prep many years ago, I fell in love during the first chapter. It was different than any other book I ever read. The way she can express her characters’ thoughts is like you are that person. You as the reader experience a peek inside their heads and live as them while you read her/their story. She’s my author idol and one who’s writing I keep in mind when I write.
How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?
I never would have guessed that being a writer would help or change me. How naïve, right? I just dove in and was sucked up in the process before I knew it. Now I know that I have changed due to the act of writing and editing, as well as the interactions from social media and my website.
See, here’s a shock; I’m a writer that is an introvert. I know, I know, that is SO uncommon in the author world. Ha, yeah right. So, being a shyer person as well, I was completely comfortable with the writing part. After all, it’s done alone where I can be in my own little world of my story and people. Perfect! But what comes from the writing involves…cue the scary music…the outside world. Opinions, suggestions, exertion of energy, rejections, timelines…AHHHH! To reach my goal of getting published, contact with readers, other writers, and industry professionals is a must, therefore I dove into that as well.
What has come from engaging with people online is more than I ever expected. I had to be brave and put myself out there. I identified as an author and showed my path to the whole world. Talk about terrifying. Being vulnerable to strangers in a new area of skills- whoa! But the impact of taking that leap has increased my confidence and knowledge tremendously.
I am a person that will work endlessly until a goal is reached. I was not going to stop until I got The Difference published. Luckily, it only took 5 months of querying before I met my publisher. The benefit of putting myself out there, the hard work on my manuscript, pitch, and query materials all paid off. Of course, the hard work doesn’t end there. Now I am continuing to push myself by editing my manuscript, website building, marketing myself (promoting oneself is pretty strange for me, FYI), starting pitch party services for writers, and continuing to build relationships and networks online. These new skills have to be learned and mastered and I’m doing it! I mean, I don’t know about the mastered part, but I am on my way at least.
Anxiety and fear didn’t stop me from pursuing my dream. Experiencing the results from going toward the difficult aspects that come along with being a writer has made me stronger. I am proving to myself that I can grow, learn, and reach new heights never even imagined. There is one more HUGE aspect of being a writer that has changed me, which I tell you about next. It deserves to be highlighted.
What is the best thing the online #writingcommunity brings you?
The solitary hashtag symbol combined with the words “writing community” brought a lot of change to my life, as person and writer. In fact, I wrote my last blog about the surprises from the online world that I have discovered and been a part of in the last year or so because I still can’t believe it. What happened, you ask? It’s another little word with big meaning; friends. Although I have author accounts on Facebook and Instagram and have made friends through those platforms as well, Twitter has been the shining star for me. That is the place where I can type in #writingcommunity and find infinite support and inclusion from fellow writers. I stumbled upon that hashtag not long after signing up for an account, and a little later, a nice soul announced to the community that I was new. All of a sudden, I had followers and was interacting with so many nice people. Most of them seemed to actually care about me and weren’t on there just for a follower addition to their account. And it got better from there.
I didn’t even know what a pitch party was until starting to see the word #PitMad on Twitter (another beautiful little word). Luckily, I learned what it was, recognized the opportunity it gave me to pitch my manuscript, and prepared to pitch as soon as possible. Guess what; the party did bring me to my publisher. But I didn’t do it alone. Yes, I did all the hard work ahead of time, but the people I became friends with online helped me during the pitch party so that my tweet would get more exposure. The people I built bonds with through games, question exchanges, validations between each other about writing experiences, and so much more took time out of their day to help me. These people became real-life friends over time, and I will forever be thankful to them.
To take things up one more notch, if you can believe it, one of the writers I was close with decided to put her friends together in a private group. I’m glad I remained open to the experience and gave it a chance because now I have no idea what I would do without those 10 other women. Oh, don’t get me wrong, my instant reaction was confusion and to leave due to nervousness. But I stayed with it and almost instantly we were off and running in daily chats. We talk in a continuous feed about our personal lives, writing, and anything else you can think of. None of us have met in person, but we have a known trust and deep bond that has been built. So, it happened. I made true friends online. My Generation X brain can hardly comprehend this possibility.
The #writingcommunity has changed my life and helped me to become a better person and writer (sorry, had to refer back to the last question- it all ties in!). I have allowed myself to embrace new opportunities, be wayyy more vulnerable than ever expected, and to share my peaks and pits with others. Having a place where I don’t feel alone in my hurdle of the moment is priceless. None of us are in competition with one another and we have universality, from my perspective anyway. I’m lucky to have found it and to play a role in the uplifting environment the writers create there.
If you could choose to be any book character for a day, who would it be?
Since I already revealed my love of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I have to go with her main character, Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood). What’s funny about this choice is that I couldn’t be more different than her on the surface. She adores shopping and doesn’t mind spending money. I only really like shopping for home décor, but am cautious with my spending. She has a tendency to lie to bosses and other significant people in her life, which I couldn’t do if I wanted to (my face gives everything away). Another quality of hers is that she loves fashion and to be seen. Nope not me. I’m pretty plain Jane and do not like to draw attention to myself. So why would I want to be her for a day?
Well, she’s hilarious for one. I always find myself smiling when I read her antics in each new edition of the series. I am a silly person who has many quirks, just like her, so that wouldn’t be different, but having new eccentricities would be fun. She views situations in such a unique manner as well, so I would like to experience that…just for a slice of time. Also, she has the sweetest (and cutest) husband and child, a wonderful best friend, and kind parents. So, she’s surrounded by love. How wonderful! Plus, she has lived in three of my favourite cities; London, New York, and Los Angeles. Her energy would be welcomed as well as the way everything works out for her in the end. Ah, fiction. See, I can’t go wrong being Becky for a day!
What advice can you give to other aspiring authors?
Ok, what I have to say most likely has been heard before, but maybe it was only heard. What I mean is that sometimes we hear but we don’t listen. I’ve surely done that. But I feel like some possibly overused statements turn out to be true sometimes. Here are a few of my favourites that I think apply to being an author. Don’t stop. It seems simple, but is extremely difficult in reality. There is SO much hard work involved in writing, especially writing to get to publication. Readers typically do not know how much has gone into the book they hold in their hands. If they only knew the years-long journey it takes from idea to physical finished product. My gosh! So, in thinking about that, and you know all involved, you still want to be an author. That says something. To reach that dream and goal, you don’t have a choice but to keep going. Do everything you can to meet your goal. Write this statement and keep it near you. Say it to yourself. Have loved one repeat it to you on your most frustrating writing days. Do anything you can to keep going. Just don’t stop.
Age doesn’t matter. I see the question of whether age matters in the writer community and for a while second guessed myself. I am middle aged and did not get my degree in any related writing area in college. Now, did I always love writing and did it come easy to me? Yup. Have I written countless papers and done academic writing in my life? Yup. So, I had to remind myself of that experience. It’s a plus to be older sometimes. And even if I had the degrees in writing, that doesn’t guarantee me publication. The hard work and persistence do though. I didn’t even start to write fiction until I was in my 30s. This makes me believe that age never matters. If you are 80 years old, still go for it. If you want it, you will achieve it. After all, it isn’t like we are trying to be gymnasts or something. Our minds can do this at any age.
Go toward your fear. Entering a new world of any sort is scary. There are so many unknowns about process, imposter syndrome, worries about others’ opinions…the list goes on. But, if you can keep going through the initial fear, you can prove to yourself that you can do anything. You can accomplish your goal. It will still be scary at times, but you can continue to reach new heights never imagined. Plus, you get bonuses like meeting new friends, as I have said. Remember that to grow as a human, we have to experience struggle. It’s how life’s lessons are learned, after all.
Know what you want. When you enter the writer world, know what you are wanting to achieve. Do you just want to write for yourself? For fun? Do you want to get published? If so, what type of publishing? Are you more of a self-publisher type or traditional? Know your path. Know what is involved in all choices. This can determine your lifestyle for many years to come. Know how much work you want to put in from the start and know what comes along with your choice.
Good luck on your exciting adventure. Hopefully some of those words helped you. I’m rooting for you and so is the writing community. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would love to connect with you.