Monday, April 30, 2012

Stella Vance, non-fiction, Dancing with Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit

AUTHOR: Stella Vance
BOOK TITLE: Dancing with Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit
PUBLISHER: Create Space

Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis.
 Dancing with Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit is about the 30 tumultuous years of my life from 1970 (age 14) till 2000 mostly – though there is a bit after that, mostly of some of the characters’ deaths. My life included whirlwind relationships, world travels, and many adventures. But the book also details the confusion as well as excitement we women experienced while pioneering the sexual revolution, the pain of abortions and date rape, eating disorders, sexual harassment, and more. The tone, however, is one of adventure, healing, humor and discovering that life is a game to be enjoyed, with the ups and downs of a roller coaster. As I am in my 30s I discover more of who I am, thanks to spiritual teachers. Having parted ways with religious dogma, I finally discover a spiritual philosophy I can live with and thrive on.  But this happens after being involved in a cult! The story has a very happy ending, however, with an optimistic view of freedom for humanity. The theme of the entire book is FREEDOM, but my view of freedom evolves from “freedom to indulge in pleasures” to “freedom from the mind with all its worries, fears, and judgments.”

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
I read Eat, Pray, Love---and though I enjoyed it, I thought, “You know, I could write a better spiritual/travel adventure book than that!” I had traveled to 20 countries as a single woman. I have also been on a spiritual path since age 15.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write and market my book full time now, working in the mornings every day. I love it!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
 I began writing at age 14, inspired by Anne Frank’s diary. Then a very traumatic event occurred at age 21, and I stopped writing for over a decade, just when I should have been journaling the most! I devote an entire chapter to this event.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope everyone gets inspired to feel and crave freedom—freedom is the theme of the book!

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
 You have to write, and the first draft will take you around three months. But you have to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! Then when you are satisfied with the book, you have to proof it at least five times for typos, etc. When you are finally done (and it could be years, depending on the topic and your time put in it) you feel like the world owes you to be a bestselling author.
But that was the easy part…. Now comes the marketing!

What draws you to non-fiction writing?
I love nonfiction READING—since I do not read fiction (except maybe one book every ten years!) I would have no idea how to write it.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
For my reflective essays, I quote some of the spiritual and inspirational books I have read over the past few decades.

What about your book makes it special?
It incorporates how we women (Baby Boomers) felt as pioneers of the sexual revolution. It also contains a lot of philosophy of forgiveness, gratitude, life being a game, and more. It has an upbeat attitude in the midst of date rape, addiction, betrayal and all the ups and downs of life.

What is your marketing plan?
Write, blog, interview, and get reviews! Get the buzz going! Do radio shows whenever possible!

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
On Amazon—I don’t have a blog…yet.

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
 Don’t be afraid to self publish. Sure, it is more prestigious to get a big name publisher backing your book. But that’s like winning the lottery, especially in today’s economy. Self-publishing is inexpensive with print-on-demand. And either way, you will have to do the marketing—so why not earn 30 to 70% of the profits instead of just a dollar a book? You will need to spend a few thousand dollars on getting the book edited, formatted, uploaded, as well as having a professional cover. But you will keep the copyright and the lion’s share of the profits.

Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?
I didn’t even look for one! See above.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
Just write! The more you write, the easier it comes. Keep a journal. Keep quotes and summaries of books you read by writing Amazon reviews for them. (This will also get you free books!) My advice to writers starting out is to save everything you write—it may be decades later that you will find you can use some of that material in a book! Also, you can’t force inspiration. Just let it come to you. While you are waiting for inspiration for a book, keep a journal, create articles, and post a blog. Just staying in the flow of writing will increase your proficiency. Always have a pen and paper with you, even if you are walking on the beach or on a hike. You never know when the inspiration for a catchy phrase or paragraph will hit!

Also, be an avid reader. Because I have read thousands of books all my life, I know what readers want! You should also learn the formula for the genre of books you write. Readers expect certain things, and the book won’t sell if it doesn’t fit the prescribed format. Superstar bestselling authors may be able to break the rules—but not the novice author.

Free to Explore

I made a decision. Since I couldn’t marry my first love, I would have lovers from all over the world! I would have fun. Not only was I set free from the dogma of having to be a virgin on my wedding day, but I was deprogrammed from that idea much much later than my peers. So now I had this feeling that I had to “catch up” with my friends, when it came to men. In the end, I ended up surpassing them by far.

In a way, I related to superstar Michael Jackson, who seemed to have gotten stuck in childhood, having missed out on it, fronting the Jackson 5 and supporting a solo career for so long. So he had to make up for it with Neverland and had many, many more years of childhood fun than those of us who had a normal childhood that ended with adulthood. As it turned out, my need to make up for those lost dating years lasted for two decades; I didn’t really settle down till my 40s.

We women of the ’60s and ’70s were the pioneers of the Boomer sexual revolution. We had to tread where no women had preceded us. Sure, there had been eras with sexual liberties to some degree. But never before had there been a birth control boasting 99% success, safe and legal abortions, and single motherhood without stigma. We were wild horses set free to explore the terrain. We had to find out what our emotional, psychic, and physical limitations were. No guidebooks, such as Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus or What Men Really Want had been written. Consequently, many women often had casual sex, hoping for good fun, but finding only emptiness. But for other women, casual sex was fun. The point is: We all had to explore and see for ourselves how things felt.

Even then, there was still a hangover of double-standard thinking that women who were promiscuous or casual with sex were sluts, whereas men who took advantage of every sexual opportunity available were quite healthy and normal—even considered studs. I love the movie Chasing Amy because it delves into the “slut” woman’s view in great depth. Every man who judges women for being loose should see this movie. The male character is threatened by the fact that his new girlfriend has had more sexual experiences than he has. She makes no apologies, explaining, “Some decisions were stupid, some were love. But I don’t regret any … They didn’t use me; I used them! I was an experimental girl.”

The fact is, many women have desires just as strong as men’s. The Muslims know this, which is why they keep a tight leash on their women. Women who have casual sex or numerous partners are no more emotionally imbalanced or trying to escape than men who do the same. Ironically, I wound up following Burkard’s lead where monogamy was concerned, believing that it’s normal for either sex just to want to have fun and enjoy the moment. The woman who wants to have sex only in secure steady relationships is a stereotype.

And the great thing about being a young woman is that you can get sex more easily than men can. Why? Because a lot more men want it than women. In fact, a lot of women don’t want it. They’re imprinted by sexual abuse. They’re low in testosterone. They’re afraid of pregnancy. They have a hard time achieving an orgasm. They have intimacy issues. They just don’t like it. So for a young woman, especially a half-decent-looking one, it’s easy to find a lover. There simply isn’t (or at least at that time, wasn’t) much competition from other women willing to have sex outside a committed relationship.

In the ’70s, casual sex was common, especially at universities. These were the pre-AIDS days. We didn’t even use condoms. Mostly, we were fine with the way things were then, though on occasion extreme things did occur. My sister Stephanie, for example, had a friend who met a man in an elevator, had sex right then and there, and got pregnant! Stephanie drove her to Indianapolis for an abortion.
After Burkhard, my first few casual sexual encounters were when I was drunk. But it didn’t take long for me to start looking at an attractive man and wonder what it would be like to have sex with him, then determine to find out! Then, just like a man, usually after a one-night stand, I had no interest in the guy—taking another page out of the men’s playbook. Still, men never thought of me as a “bad girl” or a “slut,” because I always waited for them to make the first move.

Oh, once in a while a guy rocked my world. I remember a one-night tryst with a charming Aussie bloke who managed to rattle my cage a bit. We had an extremely passionate encounter and this time I wanted more more more. But he admitted that he actually had a girlfriend and could no longer see me. That one took awhile to get over. At least I could chalk up another continent with my repertoire of international lovers.

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