My children... literally. They haven't quite reached the blissful adolescent years yet where they sleep until noon. Pre-school early mornings aside, my children and my family have been my inspiration for years as they drive me to be the best possible version of myself.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've been toying with the idea for years. As a child I created a nature magazine (which was essentially collages of cut out pictures from my father's National Geographic with hand-written comments and articles on how to save the animals). I made copies and distributed it to my (very tolerant and patient) neighbors and family. My love for writing continued to grow as I moved from saving the whales to enjoyed writing funny, short stories in emails about everyday events. After being encouraged to share my writing with others, I finally turned it all into a self development blog where I channeled my experience as a psychologist into useful and witty articles. It was the Paris Expatriate Magazine that first picked up some of my work and after having a few articles published, I got the writer's buzz and it hasn't stopped since. I realized that I have always enjoyed writing, and after getting the opportunity to share my work with others, it became clear that it was more than just a fun hobby.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up an expat child and later became an expat wife. Both my parents are Belgian, but they were drawn to the expat life and I spent the first 6 years of mine in the US and Saudi Arabia. We returned to the motherland for 10 years where we had a great childhood surrounded by extended family and lifelong friends. However, Europe just wasn't it for my parents, and we moved to the lovely beaches in Australia. I lived Down Under for well over 13 years before meeting my husband... "the Frenchie". He ended up being too good of a thing to let go, so I followed in my parents' footsteps and set on to continue the expat life with my new love. We spent a few years in Poland and Hong Kong, and later, moved back to Europe and settled in France where we now live with our two children. I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that my life as a former expat has had a great influence on my writing. It has taught me to keep an open-mind, look at the world differently and be open to change... a lot of it! I've shared stories and experiences with so many different people across the globe- I feel it has added a certain jadedness to my character. It has most certainly come with its ups and downs, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
Describe your desk
I'm a bit of an organisational junkie and I get goosebumps around brand new stationary (stores like OfficeWorks or Moleskine are my Disneyland). It's safe to say this extends to my home office space and my desk is fairly organised, in a quiet space with a lot of light. I like to listen to white noise when writing and although things might get messy in the progress itself, I'll clean up after before moving on to something else (much like in the kitchen).
Where do you get your information or ideas from?
Real life. I enjoy writing about the things that happen to us every day. My love for appreciating the small stuff as well as my passion for finding positive ways to deal with any hardships is reflected in my work. As a former psychologist a lot of my 'self development tools' stem from my own professional experience as well as relevant research by other professionals in my field. I use real life examples to connect with my readers, and where appropriate, I can't help but throw in a little humor (or at the least an attempt thereof). My ideas come from the things I see in the world and the different people I have the pleasure of meeting.
What do you like to do when you're not writing
I'm a self proclaimed foodie (which is just another way of saying that my favorite hobby is eating). I do take pleasure in cooking (the more the merrier), discovering new ingredients and learning more about the nutritional values of what we eat. Like any writer, I enjoy reading the work of others when I can and I'll always look for a way to learn something new. A perfect Saturday night for me, consists of my two children happily asleep in their beds, while I'm on the couch enjoying a good series or film, cuddled up to my husband; who is the absolute cheese to my macaroni.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest (and first) book is called "The Tough Cookie Philosophy". I wrote it because I’ve been a big fan of using a proactive approach to life for many years; both in my personal and professional life. I got to a stage in my life where I realized I could be a good, kind and supportive person; and yet still be able to tell someone where to go if it was required. This realization that I could handle stress and hardships proactively and assertively, without having to be a total bad-ass, sneaked in through a door I didn’t think was open. I accepted that being a doormat was a choice, and I knew that applying the tough cookie philosophy was the first step I needed to take in order to get off the floor. I was excited and worked on further developing my own growth mindset and resilience. It wasn't before long that I wanted to share this approach, and my story, with others. I continue to support positive psychology and affirmations, but I wanted to go one step beyond and employ the complete acceptance of negativity and weakness along with positivity and focus on strength.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in publishing your books?
I had no idea how much effort goes into promoting yourself and your book. I knew marketing would be a big part of getting the word out, but with the vast increase and influence of social media, the amount of websites and public profiles I currently have going sometimes feels a bit overwhelming. It's been a hell of a ride though and it has opened up a lot more opportunities and connections for the future.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I look for topics that may interest me and often find titles through "word of mouth". I'm open to reading anything really and won't shy away from giving an unknown author a go if their title/book speaks to me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I enjoy helping people and I enjoy making people laugh. If I can find a way to do both, I'll happily jump on it. Sharing what I know and learning from others through their feedback and own experiences can only add value, in my opinion, to how we approach life; all the good, the bad and the ugly parts of it.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.
Change your mindset on developing your resilience! "The Tough Cookie Philosophy" puts theory into practice by not only understanding the 'why' and 'how' of developing resilience (your tough cookie-ness), but by implementing useful worksheets to see actual change in improving it! Personal experiences and a bit of wit make this read as educational and as enjoyable as possible!