Interview with Carmen Ambrosio

Why did you write Life Continues?
I've wanted to write a book since I was in my twenties. If I had done so, my memoir would've been a pamphlet and double-spaced. I needed at least fifty years of life to have enough interesting material. Certainly, after I survived bouts of my right hand nerves deciding I no longer needed to hold a pen and later when my jaw and chest nerves chose to riot with unprecedented regularity and intensity, I thought it was time to try to assemble and share my experiences before I couldn't do so.
If you didn't have multiple sclerosis, would you have written a book?
Someone at a book signing event posed this question. Yes, but the book would've been different. My next book will be a short story collection. So far, six stories are partially complete. I'm finding fiction writing to be much more difficult than non-fiction. Although I need to cover the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why), fiction requires a different kind of storytelling. I'm having the most fun creating characters and dialogue. The challenge for me: showing more, telling less.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?
I would've hired someone to format the interior for both the paperback and ebook editions. Preparing the manuscript was enlightening and excruciating. My neighbors probably heard me venting. I owe them apologies and several cases of Zinfandel.
What has surprised you most about self-publishing your book?
Actually, there were many revelations:

1. How easy the process was and is. Overall, I'm pleased with products and services offered by my print-on-demand and ebook publishers.

2. Marketing yourself and your work are jobs that can consume part or all of your time. I'm lucky because I've worked in journalism, advertising, and marketing—for others. Promoting me and my book has been like trying out a new hairstyle—somewhat exciting and scary.

3. Your family and friends will be more ecstatic about your book than most book stores, media outlets, or book festivals.

4. Not being traditionally published will become a razor-wire-covered wall with few gates. (See number 3. Thankfully, since I've released Life Continues, the book industry is becoming more receptive to self-published authors.)

5. Receiving positive reader reviews—especially from strangers. I was surprised how many people, whose only exposure to my warped sense of humor or candor was from my book, found what I wrote interesting.
What do you do when you are not writing
I spend time taking photographs, cooking, hobble-dancing, nagging, laughing, and volunteering.
What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
Empty your brain on napkins, blank books (perfect for supporting stick sketches), lined pads, computer screens, or whatever surface you can use and save legally. Do so whenever ideas pop up. Don't wait for the right time, right space, or right place. You never know what or when inspiration will materialize. Brief notes and snippets of dialogue might become the basis of your next story, poem, or essay.
What is the most common feedback you've received from readers?
When I ran a Pick-a-Passage-Please promotion to mark the first anniversary of publication, most people who responded liked Chapter One "Bod Mail™ " the best. It’s a favorite of readers at book signings and other events. I also learned Life Continues made quite a few readers laugh and cry. Many said they appreciated my blunt insights about having multiple sclerosis. Sugar-coating was not my intent.
How did your Muttley Muse Sam feel about your writing?
He offered supportive, vocal riffs and paw pats especially when he, my favorite Doggy Detective, suspected I was writing about him. He was less enthused if my indoor computer time interfered with his noon-in-the-grass, lounging time. Because the paperbacks and ebooks lack food smells, he decided one paw up and half-a-day of right tail wagging was all a Production Reduction Specialist like him could muster. (Check out his dog blog at http://www.ambrosart.com/Sam_s_Dog_Blog.html)
What is the most important attribute to remaining sane as a writer?
What makes you think I know? Okay, I'll try to answer. When you write, just write. Do whatever you have to do to make your internal editor/critic/pain-in-the-butt dreamslayer/naysayer disappear.
What major Bod Mail™ messages have you received in the past three years?
Everyday my left leg informs me that it probably will be dragging and limping again. Thank goodness we have Walter. (Read Life Continues to find out who he is.) Brain also prods me to stop procrastinating and finish book two since cog fog* is a distinct possibility.

My body is stiff. I need to do yoga. At least I'm hobble-dancing more regularly. Running is not an option unless I spot a snake, bear, or one of the neighborhood coyotes.

Best of all, I can take photos; I can walk; I can type. And, I know things could always be worse.

Life Continues

*cognitive fog--muddled thoughts
Who are your favorite authors?
Rebecca Solnit

Sherman Alexie

David Sedaris

Zadie Smith

Gloria Naylor

Pablo Neruda

Dr. Jerome Groopman

Malcolm Gladwell
Published 2013-09-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Life Continues: Facing the Challenges of MS, Menopause & Midlife with Hope, Courage & Humor
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 29,580. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / immune system, Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
When multiple sclerosis turns everyday into a scary roller coaster ride, Ambrosio uses laughter to deal with the uncertainty of what lies ahead. Quirky short chapters tell much about the author's uncanny ability to focus on what she can do instead of dwelling on the mounting cannots.