Author Interview – Lori Eberly

What compelled you to write your most recent book?
I’ve had good success with clients over the years and wanted to draft a how-to of sorts. I was also eager for the collaborative process of writing with someone I greatly admire and respect. It felt like a valuable experience to focus what has worked and what I’ve learned.

What obstacles did you encounter while writing the book?
Discipline and focus… until we got into a good routine. It helped to have a partner to hold me accountable. Rejection… couldn’t find an agent to pick it up.

How has writing your most recent book changed or added value to your life?
It forced me to distill what I know. It gave me a platform to promote myself and my work. It is a great source of pride, to have completed a product that is not only my best work but collective work.

Did you self-publish or did you go the traditional route? What was that process like?
We sent out about 50 proposals. We only got about 10 formal rejections… the others didn’t respond. We ended up self-publishing through Amazon. It’s convenient and they walked us through the process, good cost, etc. The problem is that many independent booksellers refuse to carry books published by The Devil.

Are you friends with other writers? If so, how do they influence your writing?
Yes, journalists, bloggers, “on the side” writers. My biggest influencers are the other authors and writers I read.

Do you maintain a regular writing practice? If so, what does it look like?
Not anymore… but we wrote 5 days a week, for large blocks of time pre-publishing. It was a full-time job for 2 years.

Do you have other books in progress?
No. But wish I wrote more articles.

Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?
Absolutely.

What would your life look like if you didn’t write?
I’d have more of a jumbled mess in my brain. I guess I’d have to invent some other way to process and integrate my thoughts.

Why do you write?
Because it’s fun. Because I want to connect with others. Because it helps me think and make sense of the world. It’s satisfying. It’s challenging.


Lori Eberly is the founder of Radius ECD and the author of F*ckery, a book about trust-damaging habits. She got her Masters of Social Work in 2000, but the real learning came from a decade in hospice and a zig-zag coaching career around the globe. Her keen insight and Socratic approach connect people to their goals and to each other. Lori lives in Portland when she’s not touring the northwest in her Westfalia.

To learn more about Lori, please visit her website.

How understanding the crown chakra will improve your writing

Believe it or not, your characters’ spiritual lives have a big impact on their stories, whether that’s part of the plotline or not. Just as with we humans, our characters have spiritual beliefs – or not – that inform their motivations and decisions in life. In religion, this is called the eschatology of a belief system: what we think happens to us when we die, whether or not we believe in karma, how we view humanity’s purpose in this life, or whether we believe in past lives.

Even if we don’t embrace any of these beliefs, the fact that we don’t also influences our day-to-day motivations and decisions.

It’s easy to by-pass this part of our characters’ development, but it’s essential, I think. Whether your character is a mystic or an atheist, a Buddhist or a Baptist, their belief system – or lack thereof – has everything to do with their movement through life and their story world.

After you’ve gotten clear about a character’s inner world, as we do when using the Third Eye Chakra, go one step further and think about the character’s connection (or not) to a higher power. This higher power can be anything – even their own sense of inner wisdom. Or their meditation practice. Or their love of literature. Their daily hike. Or their daily cocktail. It doesn’t have to be overtly religious or spiritual.

Understanding our characters to this degree can help us portray their complexities in deeply moving and complex ways. And this is the very quality our stories need to have if we want them to stay with readers long after they’ve put our work down.

What is the source of your character’s higher power, and how does it inform her/his way of moving in the world?

How understanding the third eye chakra will improve your writing

Getting inside our characters’ heads can feel second-nature to us writers, and oftentimes, we gravitate to stream-of-consciousness or interior monologues. This can work – as William Faulkner showed us with The Sound and the Fury (although the novel’s success was delayed… and I found it unreadable, but I digress). However, we need to ask ourselves what we want to accomplish with this kind of invasion to our characters’ minds.

Showing our readers all the troubled, angry, tired, sad, fragile, and destructive thoughts in our characters’ minds is most definitely a way to connect them with and help them empathize with characters. And the way we do that can mean success or failure.

After we’ve gotten clear with our characters’ voices – as discussed with the Throat Chakra – we can explore their Third Eye Chakra, which is the seat of intuition. What do they know, without a doubt? (We typically think of this as a “gut-level” response to life; however, it starts here, in the Third Eye Chakra, a somewhat ethereal part of us that defies “rational” human thought.)

Whether our characters trust their intuition or not is one thing, and the way we portray that intuition is another. We run interior monologues all the time. This is how we sort out life. We run through a multitude of scenarios, trying on all the “what-ifs” for each one.

What our characters think, HOW they think (stream of consciousness, more understandable broken thoughts, or pretend conversations), and what they do with those thoughts informs not just our readers about how to interpret their stories, but us, the writers of those stories, as well.

How do your characters’ thoughts align – or not – with their desires and motivations, and what does this tell you about their ability to make decisions?

How understanding the sacral chakra will improve your writing

 

After we make a thorough and in-depth investigation of our characters’ backstories by way of understanding the Root Chakra, we can then begin to explore each character’s understanding and relationship with herself. A common practice to show readers a character’s view of herself is to use interior monologue – to take our readers inside the character’s mind.

Another way to accomplish this is by understanding the Sacral Chakra. It can shine a light on a character’s self-awareness by focusing on his relationship with others (how he relates to others based on his impression of himself) and on his ability to be creative, which can take many forms.

Give thought to how your characters support, interfere with, and reflect each other’s most vulnerable parts, including their ability to create.

How do your characters reflect each other through thought, action, and dialogue?

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

I’m very fortunate to live in downtown Portland where I can walk to Powell’s City of Books on a whim and surround myself with floor-to-ceiling shelves of the written word – room after room, level after level. The smells, the sights, the subdued verve in those walls – simply being around all those books – feeds me in ways that are hard to explain.

During my most recent visit, I noted – once again – a particular feeling that comes over me when I’m there. It was a hard one to locate… and I’m still not sure I’ve been able to pinpoint it, but to help, I went back to John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and the closest I can define this feeling is a conflation between his words vellichor and anemoia.

vellichor | n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores,
which are somehow infused with the passage of time—
filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read…

and because Powell’s also sells new books…
and because books alter time, move us around in time…

anemoia | n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known

It’s a kind of FOMO, but more erudite. More sublime.

This experience got me to thinking about emotion in writing and how essential it is to suturing readers into our stories, getting them to invest enough to keep turning the page. Engaging readers through emotion is the cornerstone of story. Simply telling readers what our characters feel is not enough. The character and emotional energy of a story can fall flat with mere telling: Maria was sad.

Readers want to be taken on the ride. They want to experience the emotional shifts within scenes and they want to witness the emotional transformations characters undergo throughout the story arc. Sometimes the most of subtle emotions are the most pivotal to a character’s evolution and describing them can be a challenge.

How do you know when you’re reading a well-done emotional description? Can you think of a good example? Please let me know in the comments below!