A Travellerspoint blog

Mapping Journey to Your Heart - Part 2

The conclusion of my interview with award winning author, Mara Purl. Here we discuss publishing and our mutual passion for traveling with our heart!

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Sorry for the delay. Thanksgiving celebrations took up most of last week.

Here as promised is part two of my interview with my friend Mara Purl, Award Winning Author of Where the Heart Lives.

Jane -- You have published books both with an independent publisher and now under a larger publishing house. Which do you prefer and what is the main benefit and challenge of each type of publishers?

Mara - I see the evolution of my publishing journey as a continuum. As we all know, publishing is no longer just the big publishing houses. Nor is the only other option self-publishing. For the past two decades what’s really experienced the most growth is the middle ground called independent publishing. The whole industry has gone through many changes and I believe it will continue to change as it has within the last few years. Publishing has become much more dynamic recently.

Just three years ago, E-books accounted for only 2% of the books sold. In 2012, E-books account for 40% of the books sold and these figures continue to shift.

I have heard people moan that it is a terrible time to be in publishing because “no one is reading anymore.” In fact, just the opposite is true! People are reading more than ever and on all platforms. The thing is we just aren’t reading the way we used to read. Now people are reading for critical, casual, professional, personal, and pleasurable information. We’re reading on phones, tablets, e-readers, computer monitors, paper printouts, hard cover books, soft cover printed paperbacks, and trade paperbacks. We are reading 3X5, 5X7, 8.5X 11, 20 X 30 coffee table books and every other shape and size imaginable. We’re reading not only passively but also interactively and dynamically. We’re even reading multiple texts and interactive texts at one time. With the new touch technology, we’re able to read and check the meanings of words from a single or multiple library resources to augment our reading.

Other shifts include the increase in the number of series or serials that are back in vogue. Charles Dickens wrote in installments with serialized stories and performed before live audiences. It helped him to connect to his reading public. He drew a large following at the time that determined how he was published. He proved their interest in serial story-telling.

But he was unusual, in that he was both author and performer. I have this in common with Mr. Dickens, and perhaps that accounts for my own interest in serial storytelling. But by the time I was first trying to sell my serial novels, no one was writing in this format. Publishers had a tried-and-true format of novels with beginning, middle and end.

When I first tried to publish my series, I sent samples to agents in New York. I knew I had a strong audience because they had followed the 100 episodes of the radio drama. They had been clamoring for the drama in a written format and already liked the serial style of storytelling. Despite the proven following, all the agents said that they would not be able to sell the series. Their research showed that bookstores didn’t want to commit too much space to any one author. They also didn’t want the added complexity of stocking each book in a series. Bottom line, if the store wouldn’t carry it, the agents would discourage writers from writing series. Such was the publishing landscape 15 years ago.

I was confident I had an audience and I wanted to keep the integrity of the serial episodes for the story telling from the original radio drama. I pressed on and found myself in independent publishing. I was never interested in self-publishing, which I think is perfect for very personal projects like family histories. So instead, I ended up co-founding a small press with an advisory board that included an editor from a major publisher, a former managing editor of the Associated Press, the CEO of New York Times Books. The creative team included six authors at the outset, plus professional designers and editors. Ultimately two of the authors left, and the four of us who stayed created very successful books. My series attracted the attention of a larger house, but I still do non-fiction and audio books with my original publisher.

Now that electronic publishing has begun to evolve, technology has finally caught up with me. I knew my stories were of value to my readers and now I have a new way to deliver them---not always in a printed format. We’re finding that people are eager for story segments in small increments, so I’m writing more short stories to augment my series. Readers can enjoy these as separate tales, but they also fit together in a bigger puzzle.

Jane – I am surprised at the comments about serials not selling because as I am aware, comics and series of books have always seemed to have an audience.

Mara – I really think readers have always enjoyed serial stories in many forms. Comics and graphic novels are perfect examples. Resistance on the part of the major publishers is partly because of their sheer size. It takes time for an ocean liner to change course. But independent publishers---smaller ships---can respond much more quickly to market demands. They’re less afraid and are more able to try new things.

Jane – I always remember the words of Tom Peters when I went to a seminar on business. To succeed in today’s climate; a company has to be humble and agile!

Mara – Yes! The founder of Midpoint Books, Eric Kampmann, saw that wonderful titles were slipping through the cracks at the major houses, and he recognized the opportunity for this new publishing paradigm.

Jane – I do not have an e-reader and believe that even when I have one, I will still prefer “a real book”, or a book in print. How about your audience? Do they have a preference?

Mara – I, too, prefer a “real” book, but I also enjoy my e-reader. I have every imaginable e-reader App so that I can experience what my readers experience.

Jane – Do you think it’s primarily younger readers who are diving into the e-reading world?

Mara – No, I don’t think so. My readers, who tend to be adult women of many ages, are not limited on how they read. For example, senior readers enjoy the Kindle format because they can increase font size and they have begun to downsize their book collections. Yet small children need printed books, not technology. They’re still introduced to the wonder of books with printed picture books. Kindergarten to Tweens may be using computers for other readings, but they are also still into “a real book”. Think of all the Harry Potter readers who stood in line for hours during the release parties. When I poll my audiences, they are evenly split, with half preferring a printed book and half using the readers. Sixty percent of those who prefer the printed book say that they also have a reader.

Jane – I foresee that I will have a reader in the future, especially when I travel internationally. But I also know that I will visit all the bookstores I can during my trips to see what’s new and I’ll read printed books when I don’t have to pack them. I’m sure I’ll enjoy having my favorite travel guides books available to me in multiple formats in the future!

Mara – No doubt! And I imagine travel books will be perfect for some of the interactive features that will eventually be built into e-readers

Jane -- The last few times we spoke, I learned more about you and found that we share an experience of living abroad during part of our early school years. I have this experience called “Third Culture Kids”; they do not necessarily identify with the birth culture, or the foreign culture where they live temporarily, but they are of a “third culture.” I would like to ask you some questions about how your experience has formed your opinions about life and how it has influenced your story telling and writing. Will you share with us what it was like for you to return to the U.S. after such a long absence and how and when you acclimated?

Mara – I consider myself still working at it even today. For example, I think growing up in Tokyo, a city of 11 million at the time, brought me a fascination with what it might be like to live in a small town. I wanted to explore how life actually is in the U.S. and how life works in a small community.

When I first returned to the U.S., I attended a boarding school for my last two years of high school. I felt like a fish out of water flopping around. I did not understand the clothes, hair, TV, food or any of the cultural references. I found my sanity by befriending two foreign students, one from Germany and one from Beirut who, like me, understood what is was to live in a culture that was not your own. Within our small group there was no judgment, which we keenly felt from the other students. I learned quickly not to share too much with most of my classmates, because all it did was emphasize our different perspectives. I was also constantly shocked by things in the U.S. I looked like a “regular American” teenager, but I didn’t feel like one.

Jane – How do you feel this influenced you and your characters, especially in your current book WHERE THE HEART LIVES?

Mara – Traveling the world helped me see how precious the sense of home is. And it also helped me see that this sense of home can be anywhere on the globe. By following the path of least resistance, we might end up living in a place that doesn’t really suit who we are, or what our goals are. So in this book, I asked the question---what does it take to discover your true sense of home?

As you know, in my writing, the heart guides everything. It’s both the starting point and the destination of the journey. The circumference can be the trips someone takes physically, or virtually, even if they stay in one location. This is embodied by the image on the cover of Where the Heart Lives with the magnifying glass over the map. Think of a compass – the fixed foot holds you in one place, while the travel foot wanders in widening circles. It is best if both are in play and in balance.

If a person has too much wanderlust, they’re out of balance. Similarly, a homebody who has never left home is out of balance in a different way. It is up to each person to look within himself or herself to determine who they are and what is the right balance for them. Some people find their center by traveling, others find where they want to travel to by staying at home. Bottom line, each person must follow their heart and it is up to them to know if what and how they are traveling is right for them.

Let me turn the tables on you and ask---what are the main things you look for and are at the core of why you travel?

Jane – Good question. As I pause and think about it, the main reason I travel is for self-knowledge. I find that I am at my best when I travel because I am so curious and hungry to learn about the world and myself at the same time. I can to do this best when I get away from my routine, my support system, and I have to rely on my inner guidance and myself. When I travel everything in my life is in flux and I love it.

Next, when I am away from home, I find that my compassion and understanding increases, not only for others but also with myself. I meet people who appear different in so many ways, and yet when I spend time with them, there is a fundamental core that everyone has that I believe is more similar than may be clear upon first acquaintance.

Thirdly, my patience increases, not only with others but also myself. I spend less time pushing boulders up hill, and allow things to unfold naturally.

Perhaps it’s because I was a military child and we moved so often, or perhaps it’s in my genes, but I’m always interested in seeing what’s over that hill, just around the corner, or on the other side of the world.

While I lived in Thailand between third and sixth grade, I found for the first time that the people that I meet not only from Thailand but all the other cultures around me in my school, that they thought and saw things in a new way. It was confronting at times, until I realized that it was not a judgment of me, but simply a different way to view life.

Mara – Yes! I realized early on that you can think and speak in a totally different language, and still be smart. Sounds so obvious! But it’s a subtle distinction. I came from one culture with a clear understanding about how things should be, but soon realized that there were other ways that had equal value. Making a bed for instance in the U.S. means a bedroom with a bed, dresser, closet, etc. I saw in Japan how a room could have many uses during the day. The four walls stayed the same but depending on where the moveable panels were arranged, it could be an intimate bedroom, a meeting room streaming with light in the middle of the day, or a breakfast room with the bed cleared way and small table laden with food.

How a house is laid out changes between the different cultures. But the qualities remain the same. So, for example, what’s required for a bedroom in any culture are qualities of calm and rest, comfort, security, a cozy sense of intimacy. Both styles can accomplish the same thing in different ways. I found it fascinating.

Food is another thing that is so different from culture to culture, yes every culture has its treats. We didn’t really know what American treats were, but on Home Leave we sometimes would have something called a milk shake that was pretty wow.

Jane – Your milk shake reminds me how much I longed for McDonalds French Fries when I was in Thailand. All they had was a fast food chain from the UK called Wimpies. They were a pale comparison in my mind, and they had ONIONS in their hamburger meat! YUK!

Yet, while I missed some special food and TV from the U.S., I was having a blast exploring all the exotic fruits and falling in love with Thai delicacies such as dried plum pits rolled in salt and alum and other candy.

Mara –When we went to the movies in Tokyo, my sister and I used to eat “rubber bands”---salty, chewy dried squid---not popcorn. We thought it was a great treat!

Jane – I think my early foreign travel helped me appreciate being able to do every day things in a foreign country. I love to go to the movies, find the post office and buy stamps, go the local groceries and markets and buy shampoo, tooth paste, candy and Kleenex. Doing those things helps me feel accomplished when I am a little overwhelmed and it also gets me out and into the community to see how things work.

Mara – I remember that during a trip to France and England, in France my husband depended on me as I spoke the language. Once we got to England however, he left the hotel saying he needed to run to the store for a few things and he was gone for hours. He returned glowing and laden with bags of things we didn’t necessarily need, because he had such a good time shopping in a place where he felt comfortable and could understand the language.

Jane – You bring up an interesting point about languages. In Thailand, I was in an international school where we were taught in English, but also took classes in Thai and Spanish. I never was very accomplished in Thai and my Spanish (10 years in grade school) is still at an intermediate level in comprehension, but only advanced beginning when speaking. How many languages did you learn in Japan?

Mara – I went to the American School in Japan (ASIJ), so named because the curriculum was American and classes were taught in American English. But there were 40 nationalities represented in the student body. We were required to study Japanese and one additional language and I took French. In addition to my school language lessons, I had a job performing on a local TV show (similar to PBS) where I performed in a drama designed to teach spoken English to Japanese students. As the students were following the lesson at home on the TV, I had to be letter perfect with the script.

After I had been on TV for a while, my sister and I were walking home from school when some older boys were taunting us that we were stupid. After a while, we spun around and snapped at them that “We’re not so stupid if we can speak your language!” They apologized and we ended up being great friends, with each of us helping the others learn our native language.

Jane – During our discussions, it’s clear that we both have a passion about using our heart as we map the journey of our lives. This is a strong theme through both my book and your current book Where the Heart Lives. What do you feel is the most important take away when people read your books and travel?

Let the journey unfold naturally. That is the most important part of good travel. Preparation is important, but leave some room for exploring and getting lost.

There was one business/pleasure trip that my husband and I took to France that shows how to plan and also allow a trip to unfold naturally. The first part was a business trip where I was performing music with the New York City Ballet. I had to be in certain places at very specific times. But for the second half of the trip, we rented a car, drove straight to the south of France, and then meandered our way back to Paris. We followed our hearts and would stop in a village that looked interesting. We would find a market a buy local cheese, fruit, baguette and wine and we ended up meeting wonderful people. At one point, we were looking for a room and everything was shut for the season. After two attempts with no luck, we knocked on another B & B without much expectation. When the woman opened the door and I explained who we were and what were doing, she must’ve decided we sounded interesting enough that she let us in. She reopened her hotel just for us. On another day, we’d stopped in the town of Le Puy. I explained to the owners that my ancestor DePuy was from this town and that I was from the U.S. The wife asked when DePuy went to America and I explained that he’d accompanied Lafayette and fought beside him in the Revolutionary War. She then explained that her ancestor had greeted Lafayette when he arrived in the New World. We realized our ancestors had to have known each other. How could I have planned this, and how could it have turned out any better?

Jane – Yes, that type of travel, both planning a bit and leaving the rest up to chance allows both sides of the brain to influence your heart. Mara, I know that when you speak, write, or travel, you are always connecting with local not-for-profit causes. How do you pick the agencies you support with our work?

Mara – For over 30 years, I’ve been involved with agencies that support women’s causes in all areas of their life. I’ve been on the board of Haven House in Los Angeles, the oldest shelter for battered women in the U.S. Now I work with charities in several cities to create special book tea events and I name each of them---Generosi-Tea, Connectivi-Tea, Possibili-Tea. . . .

And in some instances, I’m the keynote speaker for events organized by the charities themselves. As my book titles all mention the heart, I’m thrilled that recently the American Heart Association has asked me to speak to their regional Go Red for Women event in Colorado. I was unsure how an important medical association would receive my talks. They said, “we want you to do what you do and help us and our clients from a metaphorical perspective.” This is serendipity at its best when a group organically presents itself to me with an amazing opportunity to share and support them. I’m very involved with veterans groups and my second novel is dedicated to our service men and their families.

I find my greatest joy when I open and follow my heart. I find and I am sure you agree that we gain most through helping and supporting others. It is enriching, humbling and always inspiring.

To find out more about Mara Purl and the Milford Haven novels, go to www.MaraPurl.com. Through the end of the year, Mara is offering a FREE short story for her readers and blog tour followers! When Whales Watch is a great adventure tale, a complete story to enjoy! Visit www.MaraPurl.com/downloads to find links for all e-readers, plus a pdf file you may download if you do not have an e-reader.

As you can see, there are many ways to travel with your heart; with books, while staying at home, or while you explore new places near and far from home. As long as it is your heart that is leading, you cannot fail to have an amazing journey.

I wish you the best as you travel to complete this year of 2012. With the ending of the Mayan calendar and the new year approaching, I can only imagine all the incredible things that we will have to share the next time we meet.

Until then, please

Travel in Safety and where ever you go,

Hold the world in your Heart..... Volunteer!

Jane Stanfield

Posted by ladyjanes 16:43 Archived in USA Tagged travel volunteer writing mara_purl where_the_heart_lives following_your_heart Comments (0)

Mapping the Journey of Your Heart - Part 1

First installment of my interview with Mara Purl, award winning author of Where the Heart Lives

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Welcome to the first post of my new blog Where Is She Heading.

You may know me as a volunteer, international travelers, actress, author and lifelong learner - This post focuses on the journey an author takes when writing, be it fiction, prose or non-fiction.

I am privileged to know and recently had the opportunity to interview my friend, Mara Purl, as part of a book tour for her book, Where the Heart Lives.

Mara and I share many of the same passions - writing, acting, international travel, and most importantly, following your own heart as counsel and guide for where you are heading.

In the first part of our interview, I asked Mara about her writing of her most recent book,Where the Heart Lives. She explained how she adapted the stories of Milford Haven USA from an award winning and highly popular radio drama in the UK, to a series of novels and short stories. Here is what she shared with me.


First the questions about your Milford Haven series – from radio drama to award winning novels.

Jane - When you created the radio drama, did you draft an outline of the main plot for the entire series, and then fill in the details as you went along?

Mara - I tend to work in concentric circles rather than linear fashion. As I look back on the experience, I can see that I started with the “heart” to develop the concept and then had to work with my “head” to work out all the details of the stories. The story began as I was drawn to the specialness of the small town where I spent a summer performing in a play. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the potential of setting the piece in small town as the framework for the story. After that summer, I was performing on Days of Our Lives, and began to understand the classic soap opera elements of having a core group of characters in a generic setting.

But my choice was to use a very specific setting, so I placed my fictional Milford Haven on the Central coast of California. In a way you could say I began by putting a magnifying lens over that part of a map and trying to imagine what it would be like to live in small town in that area. When you look at the book cover of my second novel Where the Heart Lives, you will see that is image on the book cover!

Jane - Who are your major characters?

Mara - The three characters at the center of the story are Miranda, the painter with two close friends who are very different; Sally, ten years older and from a farm in Arkansas; and
Samantha, twenty years older, and a hotshot environmentalist.

Branching out from these three women, each needed a romance, and in some cases more than one, because as you know, many women’s first romances do not work out. After the men were created, then came other characters that were the antagonists, and others who help them find their passion and emphasize their differences.

Jane - Were these your protagonists for the original radio drama?

Yes they were. But when you create a radio drama or a show, it is always an ensemble cast. In narrative voice as used in fiction, stories generally have more focus on protagonists.

Jane - How did you develop the plotlines in the radio drama? And is it a different process when you write the novels?

Mara - In Milford-Haven U.S.A., I knew the core story and would then develop episodes or events for each of the three women in a linear process, taking each of them several steps forward in time, steps that might require a few episodes. Then I‘d go back and figure out where their stories might intersect or diverge. It was a very organic process, with the story coming right out of the characters themselves: their goals, desires, fears, hesitations, needs. To express these, I would get ideas about outside events that would impact then and change their course. And by the way, sometimes the characters would surprise me!

Jane – How exactly can an author be surprised by her own characters?

Mara – I think it happened naturally because I allowed the story to unfold. I opened myself to what the character would do, not what I wanted to make the character do. This is what allowed the story to evolve organically and it ended up so much richer.

Jane - So do you feel you’re actually creating the characters and the story?

Mara - Maybe the word “create” has to be redefined. I certainly do create in the sense that I’m not copying anything. The ideas I write are fresh and original. Yet as a writer, I feel what I really do is prime the pump and sit ready and willing to transcribe. I find so much of writing is actually listening to an inner voice, an inner sense of what’s real.

Jane - You feel what you write is real, even though you’re writing fiction?

Mara - Yes! My commitment in story writing it to tell the truth. Here’s one of “Mara’s Maxims.“ I feel that non-fiction is about facts; and Fiction is about truth. Fiction is a powerful lens through which you can look more deeply at a situation in life. I work to get out of the way and let the truth of each character come out. What does he really feel? What would she really say? At the end of it, I am usually pleasantly surprised and at times, shocked at what has come through.

Jane – I have similar experiences when I am enacting a character for the Denver Museum or Nature and Science. I recently began telling a story of how my character met her husband with absolutely no idea where it would end. I found because of the back-story that I had created for my woman, I could just begin talking and craft a story about what it was like to be her going through an actual experience. It was thrilling to see the end result and I am excited for the next opportunity to create something new.

Mara - Wonderful! Sounds like you, too, were “listening” for a sense of what might be true about that character. That means you were very fully present in that moment.

Jane - Your characters are diverse, and as we are only in book 2 of 5, many are still quite a mystery. My mentor reminds me that what many people want most of all is to be seen, heard and loved. Do you feel that fits your characters and if not, are there some who have a different MO for their lives?

Mara – I agree that to be seen, heard and loved is a basic human condition. What I feel is the bottom line for my characters is their journey to unravel the snarls of their lives and figure out their core purpose. Their questions are more “ What is my true identity? Who does that make me? Where am I going? What am I afraid of? What breakthrough am I trying to have?”

Several of the main characters are at different levels and different chapters of their life, but the underlying questions are the same.

For example, Miranda had been told by both her parents all her life to “use your head.” She was told to value smartness and use her head, as sort of an externally imposed mantra. Miranda chafes at this. But Miranda’s’ sister Meredith had the same message and embraced it. She did use her head and reveled in the results. She gets her fulfillment from using her head and also her fortune, joy and fun. She believes it is her destiny.

For Miranda, she feels that something does not fit. When she hears “use your head,” her response is always, “but what about my heart?” Before the novels begin, she takes an impulsive drive from San Francisco down Hwy 1. It is a road that is not necessarily about destination but about the journey. As you drive, you are---literally and figuratively---on the “edge.” On one side of you is solid land; on the other side is moving water. It’s as if they represent conscious and subconscious thought. So as you ride that cusp, the membrane between head and heart is thin, and you can begin to hear your own intuition more clearly.

Before the trip, she had done paintings of seascapes and coastal scenes and during her trip, as she rounds the bend in the road, she comes across a view that’s exactly like one she had painted, but never seen in real life. She’s rattled, but it inspires her to stop and explore the little town. The town somehow feels like home even though this didn’t make sense intellectually. It is not a crisp, clean, Head type town, but more of a Heart town with galleries, cafes and little shops like stationers and craft stores. She goes back to San Francisco, packs up and moves to this “inconvenient” location. Her manager, parents and sister all think she is crazy, but this is where she feels life. She’s not only thinking . . . She’s also feeling.

Another example is Samantha, who’s totally cut off from her heart and has been for many years. While she married for love, her husband was so jealous and tyrannical---including not wanting children---she ended up leaving the marriage and divorcing before she realized she was pregnant. She tried to raise the child but found out she was not cut out to be a single mother, and gave her son up for adoption. She went on the get a PhD and became an environmentalist. Now, she’s dealing with a tsunami of emotions and doubt about who she is, who her son might be, and wondering why she didn’t work harder on her marriage. While outwardly she’s an accomplished woman, at her center she’s now admitting that she has a lot of questions about who she is and what she should do.

A third example is Sally, who’s very clear about herself and who she is and had a great relationship with her mother. Even so, she had a horrendous heartbreak late in high school and chose to leave Arkansas in order to make a new life.

Jane – I really like Sally and see her like seaweed, able to ride the tides and very unflappable.

Mara – You’re right that she can adapt to enormous change and flow with the currents of life. But she can stand up for herself when the need arises, and she is honest and authentic without a false bone in her body. Yet there’s something in her that wants so badly to “please” a man. It’s heart-breaking to see her to allow herself to be taken for granted by this man she’s been dating for several years, because she is so deserving. She feels time is running out for her. She’d pinned her hopes on one man to help her expand her business and her life with a commitment. But he just does not get it about her. A lesser woman would be crushed by what he does to her. How will she establish her value for her own heart and her life to come? The stories continue, but Sally will use her heart and the wisdom she received from her mother by the end of the second book.

Jane - You’re writing a novel series, a form that’s becoming more popular these days. How did you decide how many books to have in the novel series?

Mara – In the radio drama, there were over 100 episodes to be developed into books. I knew that 100 or 20 books would be too many so I settled on ten books that’ll be two pentologies---that is, two series of five books each. Trilogies are very popular these days . . . I’m doing something a little different.

The first pentology will answer the five questions of the heart, which is why “heart” is in each of these five titles. Why five? That, too, came organically from the story itself. The series begins with journalist Christine Christian. And there are five questions that every journalist asks – who, what, when, where, and why. Book one was “What,” book two is “Where,” and next up is book three with “Why.”

So in terms of the overall structure, all the main characters’ stories will come to an ending by the end of the fifth novel. In the second pentology, I will focus on the interesting collateral characters, while continuing the stories of the main characters in the second 5 novels. Think of it like a favorite vacation spot you like to return to for a new experience.

Jane - I love your novels, and am also enjoying your shorter stories (or prequels) to the novels, such as When Hummers Dream and When Whales Watch. What inspired you to develop the short stories?

Mara - The more I write about Milford Haven, the more the characters’ lives keep expanding. There’s just more than I can fit in the novels. Also, I hear from readers that they’d like to know more about the specifics of my characters’ lives. So I began the short stories with a bit more detail about Miranda, a wildlife painter. I see the current short stories as the “critter chronicles” because in each one, we see Miranda fulfilling a painting commissions, while the novels focus on her everyday life.

Each commission takes her on the research journey of photographing the animal she’s been hired to paint---learning about their behavior, how they move, their seasons etc. When Whale Watch brings up part of her back-story (and my own history on a Greenpeace ship) about her previous quest to save sperm whales being hunted by commercial whalers.

Her actual job in this story, however, is to paint gray whales, which are known to migrate from Baja to the Arctic, and are beloved by many Californians as they trace along the California coast. During her gray whale watching research, Miranda notices another species of whale in the area. She can tell, because it’s acting differently. It turns out to be a sperm whale. All my interviews and most of my research said it could not be a sperm whale in the story, because they inhabit the deeper oceans, not the coastal water. But my heart said there could be a sperm whale closer to the coast, so I kept researching. After a lot of digging, sure enough I finally found there was a rare sighting of a sperm whale off California in 1996---the very year in which the story was set!

Jane – That was Divine guidance for sure and all about following your heart.

Mara – That’s how it felt. Is there interspecies communication? We accept that there is when it comes to dogs and cats and other pets. Yet we find it hard to believe with wild creatures. I believe this is one of the frontiers of discovery on our own planet. It felt as if the whales had this story they wanted me to tell. Even if that’s just my fantasy, I’m bringing new ideas to my readers for them to consider.

I had a similar experience when I wrote When Hummers Dream. While I was writing the story, a humming bird would hover outside my window as I wrote. He only hovered there when I was working on “his” story. Eventually, I promised him I would do a good job and tell his story truthfully. Many readers who know hummingbirds really resonate with that story.

This time I didn’t have a whale outside my window! But I‘m asking myself and my readers . . . with the biggest brain on the planet . . . What is this species thinking about? I felt I was getting signals and heart nudges from a whale.

In addition to the critter chronicles, I also have holiday shorts stories and also some sequels coming for the other characters. As the world of Milford Haven continues to evolve, it is a dynamic process.

Ultimately, it’s all about my readers. I want to give them the best possible experience I can, in every way. Writing more frequent stories helps to keep my readers happy between novels.

I will post the second part of our interview next Friday where we discussed our similiar history of living abroad as children, and how that has colored our lives and shaped our outlook and how we follow our hearts.

Until next time, please

Travel in Safety.

Jane Stanfield
Where Is She Heading

Posted by ladyjanes 11:03 Archived in USA Tagged the from with your to radio mara journey an where heart lives novels author interview mapping jane following stanfield drama purl Comments (0)

Meet Plan Go - How to take a Sabbatical from your life!

Exciting news and a special event in Denver on October 18, 2011!



I know it has been a long time since I posted on my travel blog, but I am getting ready to travel again - well at least next year! Wondering where? Just imagine acres of penguins and me in a red polar suit!

To keep myself occupied as I plan my next adventure, I am joining 16 other cities and hosting/coordinating an event called MEET PLAN GO 2011!

On October 18, 2011 - 17 cities will host the second annual MEET PLAN GO! event where would be international travelers and sabbatical wanna be's meet with others who have done just that - GONE ON AN EXTENDED INTERNATIONAL TRIP OR SABBATICAL! Time and locations are still to be determined, but I will keep you posted on the progress in Denver.

Ready to realize your travel dreams? Stop dreaming and start packing! At MEET PLAN GO! you will

  • MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers in your city (Austin, Boston, Chicago, DENVER, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, DC, Toronto)
  • Get motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of lifetime!
  • Start taking concrete steps forward to get ready to GO!

While extended travel is common in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK, career breaks, life sabbaticals, "gap years" and other forms of extended travel are not currently an American or Canadian birthright... but the Founders of Meet, Plan, Go! are on a mission to change that.

At every event will be individuals who have fulfilled their own dreams of traveling around the world, or are currently in the planning stages. Their real-life stories include an understanding of the unique challenges that all long-term travelers must deal with in order to claim their freedom on the road and who appreciate the unbelievable triumphs of realizing one's dream of a long-term international adventure.

Read what the NY Times said about the 2010 event: http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/travel/17prac.html?ref=travel


1. Follow Meet Plan Go! on Facebook at [|http://www.facebook.com/meetplango]]

2. Ready to really get into action - Sign up for the twice a month Career Break Newsletter with tips and articles about how to turn your dream into reality. http://b2b.meetplango.com/community/connect/

3. Meet the different hosts across the country. http://b2b.meetplango.com/2011/04/meet-plan-go-2011-hosts/

Here is what some 2010 attendees said about the event.

"Your event convinced me that my pipe dream of traveling was actually possible...and then gave me tips and tricks on how to accomplish it." NYC

"A life-inspiring event - covered an amazing amount of relevant material. I would definitely attend another and another until I 'go!'" San Francisco

For those of you who are planning a life-changing trip, you don't want to miss one of these events. If you aren't planning a big trip, but know some who is hoping to in the future, please send them this post and let them that help is available for the asking.


I will do at least a monthly post until the event, or more frequently as things change!

Until I see you all again, please

Travel in Safety.

Posted by ladyjanes 11:42 Archived in USA Tagged travel travel_ preparation_sabbatical_longterm Comments (0)

Exciting Announcements!

Easing my way into the 21st Century!

sunny 70 °F

Hello All,

I know I have been silent lately on the blog, but I can report that work was being done behind the scenes.

First - Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation is published, at the Tattered Cover in Denver, available when I speak and also on my website www.janestanfieldwish.com!

During the process, it seemed like it would never be done, but when I looked back on my calendar, it was really only 9 months from start to finish. When I showed it at the Colorado Independent Publishing Association (CIPA), I said " It took 9 months, and it isn't a boy or a girl, it's a book!" I submitted the book to the EVVY Awards with CIPA in two categories and my designer submitted it for technical awards. I only have to wait 25 days to find out how we did. Please keep your fingers crossed!

I am waiting to hear from the Tattered Cover, Colorado's largest independent bookstore about an event at the store. I will let you know via the social networks, my newsletter and the blog as soon as I know a time and date.

Second - The anticipated webradio interview will yours truly will be broadcast on Sunday, March 15 between 2-2:30 Mountain time. Eventually, I will receive an RSS feed and that will be posted on my website. If you want to listen on the actual day, the program is called Engaging the Ostrich. Log on to http://metradio.mscd.edu and hit listen. You may need to download the player which can take a few minutes, so I suggest logging in 5-10 minutes earlier.

Third - I am finally on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. I don't check in as regularly as I would like, but plan to make posts at least twice a week.

I will keep you posted as things progress.

Travel in Safety.


Posted by ladyjanes 15:08 Archived in USA Tagged events Comments (0)

Coming into the 21st Century

I am working on getting myself more in the loop.

<a href="http://technorati.com/claim/r64wupe9e9" rel="me">Technorati Profile</a>


Posted by ladyjanes 10:17 Comments (0)

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