Interview with Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I went through public school when there was a trial method of teaching reading that didn't include phonics but the use of memorizing sight words. I could say the words but had little comprehension of their meaning in sentences. I struggled just above the failure level and believed I wasn't as clever as my older brother or my classmates. It wasn't until the summer before I was repeating my first year of high school, when my mother spent a great deal of time helping me read a Nancy Drew mystery, that my brain suddenly clicked in to reading. It was an amazing experience for me. I read Nancy Drew library books all summer and by September returned to high school with much greater Self confidence.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the countryside with a variety of farms around me. There weren't any girls of my age that lived close by so I either tried to play with my older brother and his friends or amused myself. I learned that spending time on my own was enjoyable. This has served me well in writing when I get involved in the process and isolate myself to get the work done. My friends know that when I am writing I see less of them. Their encouragement to produce my next book, that they are eager to read, helps me stay motivated.
When did you first start writing?
My first writing project that included published work was when I did a column in the local newspaper with my high school sweetheart. I wrote about activities at school, sports scores and upcoming events. Jack helped with the areas where I felt insecure. (sentence structure and spelling) I gathered the news. I was full of curiosity as to what was going on around the school. My older brother was on the student council so he filled me in on what they were doing. I really enjoyed this and received a lot of positive feedback from it.
Why do you title your books using the holy grail?
I have read a lot of historical fiction and watched movies of those who have searched for the holy grail as an object that will allow them to have their wishes come true. I believe that by accepting responsibility for our lives, our choices, beliefs and attitudes, we can create the life we want. We can't control everything but we can control how we deal with what comes our way. So for me the holy grail is having the personal power to shape my life. Sharing my struggles to do this shares life skills too. I hope that sharing my learning to accept personal responsibility for myself and developing the use of my personal power rather than blaming others, or living on wishful thinking, comes through in my memoirs.
Your memoirs are about relationship issues of your past. How is your life now?
My life settled down dramatically when all the legal issues of my relationship with Jack were over. I presently have grandchildren and a good relationship with my children. My life is very much to my liking. I enjoy sharing my struggles and achievements in my public speaking. The life skills I used are very applicable to relationship issues today.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
My clients, colleagues and audiences are enthusiastic purchasers of my books and family and friends are too. Networking has gained me lots of readers. I don't hear from the majority of readers after they purchase and I really would like to have their feedback. One common comment I do get from readers is that they are afraid their comments will reveal personal details about their relationships that they don't want made public. Because my writing is so personal it brings out the very personal issues in readers lives.
What do you read for pleasure?
I usually listen to audio books both fiction and nonfiction. I enjoy stories of travel, current affairs, and respectful relationship stories without detailed violence and without explicit sexual content. I don't think violence should be used as entertainment. After years working as a relationship consultant I find the erotic passages unrealistic and lacking depth to enhance the relationship.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy travelling and have at least one trip a year to visit family and friends, use my timeshare weeks, and explore new places. Visiting botanical gardens and working with plants is relaxing for me. I like to ride bike and walk on nature trails. Time with my grandchildren is always interesting and I love it when they help me figure out some new device that I am having trouble mastering. Of course there is the usual mundane tasks of keeping my home, shopping, cooking, laundry and cleaning.
Why are your books so personal?
Struggling to find my Self has been part of a journey many people take in personal growth. I was raised to be a "good girl" fulfilling the expectations others had of me. Breaking free to be my Self, where authenticity, honesty and self-esteem are more important than being liked, isn't unique to me. Many people struggle through the same process. By sharing my growth others feel empowered to make changes in their lives too. I hope by being personal others will find the courage to make the changes they want for themselves.
Have you ever heard that if you can't say something nice about a person that it is best to say nothing at all?
Yes I have been told that many times. However, I believe that if you don't want people to say negative things about you don't do the things you don't want talked about. Sometimes it is hard to find positive behaviours in abusive people.
When people lie, cheat or steal, or whatever evil deeds they do, not holding them accountable is like accepting their abuse, condoning their words and deeds, and fails to warn others of the potential danger from them.
If I don't identify a bully and hold them accountable, they can go on thinking their behaviour is just fine. Name calling doesn't help solve problems but identifying problem behaviours does open the door for changes.
People who say not to look back, bring up the past, or talk about certain issues, usually have something in their past they do not want to face. Talking about good times in the past is part of healthy relationships. Talking about hard times in the past can be healing to mental health.
Published 2016-07-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Questing Home: A Safe Place For My Holy Grail, Personal Growth Through Travel
Price: $8.00 USD. Words: 242,750. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Divorce, Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
Questing Home: A Safe Place For My Holy Grail makes a significant contribution to understanding the use of legal bullying in a divorce. The inequity in the process of ending a deceitful marriage where a person in a legally powerful position freely abuses, ways of parenting children through conflict making efforts to avoid parental alienation, and healing through travel are exposed.
Questing France: Deepening The Search For My Holy Grail
Price: $4.00 USD. Words: 108,950. Language: English. Published: July 25, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Conflict resolution, Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Questing France is an elegant and thoughtful firsthand account of Self discovery through the process of confronting infidelity, marital separation and reconciliation. The story builds up to a romantic and emotionally charged finale where Marilyn and her husband celebrate twenty-five years of marriage with a luxurious trip through France. Relationship skills and travel tips are shared.
Questing Marilyn: In Search Of My Holy Grail, Personal Growth Through Travel
Price: $4.00 USD. Words: 129,810. Language: English. Published: July 6, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Confidence & self-esteem
Travel with Marilyn on a quest for Self discovery as she journeys through England and Ireland. Using the Holy Grail as a metaphor for her search for the essence of her authentic self, Marilyn shares personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs and challenges so you will feel you are along on her trip. Learn life skills that are incorporated into relationship issues as events do not meet her expectations.