Today on Monday Menagerie, I'm very pleased to be featuring an interview with Chris, author of the popular book review (and then some) blog, CC-Chronicles. Chris is fairly new to the blogosphere, and has already made an impressive presence with her book reviews and other goodies she features on her blog.
Chris and I hit it off immediately; we have several things in common and continue to discover things about each other that we share. Here's an opportunity for you to get to know a little more about the person behind the blog!
Where did you grow up - tell us about your upbringing, any siblings, where you live now.
I grew up just outside of Winston-Salem, NC. I have an older brother I grew up with and a half sister I met a few years ago. I grew up spoiled but in an extremely strict environment. I was very innocent and naive until my mid-twenties. After college, I moved to Wilmington, NC to work in films, then ended up back near Winston when the film work dried up here. I ran bookstores and tax companies in between working as a costume designer on low budget films and made for TV movies. I eventually ended up back in Wilmington to be closer to my family, but my dream is to move to the mountains someday.
Have you always enjoyed reading? Did you enjoy reading as a child?
I have enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. One of the first books I remember ever receiving was called The Adventures of Muggins Mouse, which was given to me by a boy in second grade for Christmas.
You've come onto the blogging scene with a BANG! What about blogging and book reviewing do you enjoy the most?
The thing I like most about blogging is the connection to others. The blogging community (especially book bloggers) is full of such wonderful people. There is a great sense of camaraderie. As for reviewing books, I love to read and to share what I find with others.
What is your favorite genre(s)?
I read everything, literally. If it has writing on it, I'll read it. I have an innate curiosity. My favorite genres are fantasy, mystery/suspense, thrillers, epics....
You also work "outside the blogging world." Tell us about your "other job."
My "day" job is being an office manager for a construction consulting firm. We do CPM scheduling and work with many law firms dealing with construction litigation. I work roughly 50 hours a week there, but after years of crazy schedules it's great to have nights and weekends off. I'm very lucky to work for a wonderful company and with a great group of people. The past few years at night I worked in theater either stage managing or directing, but now I'm focusing on my writing and blog during my free time.
You have quite a diverse career history. How did they come about, and which, if any of them, do you favor the most?
Not sure if it's my love of learning new things or having the attention span of a flea, that has led to the diversity in my work history. There are so many jobs that I have loved, for different reasons. I loved running book stores- creating programs for the community, designing displays and promotions, setting up book signings, etc. I loved working in film. There is something magical about creating a movie and then walking into a theater and seeing it all put together on a screen and to see the audience react to it. With the tax company, I loved helping people get the best tax breaks and I loved teaching classes. I hate getting up in front of people and being the center of attention, but when I taught, I was at ease in the situation. I loved traveling around the south as a make-up artist during the Glamour Shots decade. I got to meet so many interesting people. And I loved working in live theatre, it was the first place I ever truly felt like I belonged.
We share a love of cats. Has that always been the case? Any other pets? And what about cats do love and enjoy the most?
I love all animals and have adored cats since I was a little girl. Maybe more so because growing up we had dogs and I was not allowed a cat, because my mom felt they were evil. Once I got on my own, I got a cat and I've had cats ever since. Over the years I've had dogs, cats, ferrets, a flying squirrel and at one point I fostered a skunk (they are very cat like). Cats will always be my favorite. My lifestyle is too busy for other types of pets. Of course, I think Merlyn is a mutant animal- part cat, part dog, part monkey and part human.
I recently learned that you design and make jewelry. Tell us how that came about. What inspired that hobby and how involved and challenging is it?
I am definitely an accessory girl. I have always loved and had a lot of jewelry. The first jewelry I remember making was in the early 80's when I was in middle school. I made my own watchbands with elastic, beads and safety pins. I was shocked when I saw that same style being sold in stores a few years ago. Something I created a few decades before, I should have marketed them back then. My jewelry making picked back up after college when I was running a movie theater. There was a lot of down time between shows and I had creative employees. We would make clay beads and amulets in between shows. That was almost 20 years ago and I've been making jewelry off and on since then. I don't make a lot of pieces at one time and it's rare for me to make more than one of anything unless requested. Since I was diagnosed with advanced rheumatoid arthritis a few years ago, it can be a challenge to make the more intricate pieces sometimes. But it is very therapeutic and I enjoy finding odds & ends to turn into wearable art. I mostly make things for family and friends, but have been commissioned to make things also.
You possess many talents.. Is there something you wish you were more proficient at, or something you'd like to pursue at some point?
There are many things I wish I were more proficient at. I love to draw and paint, but that is a gift my brother has mastered more. If I spend a lot of time and really work at it I can create things. I would also love to have a musical gift. I took voice lessons as a teenager so I would have a talent for pageants but once the pageants were over I didn't continue. A skill I do plan to learn and master is Iaido and medieval sword fighting. I collect swords and medieval weapons.
What's the most daring and/or adventurous thing you've ever done?
The most adventurous things I've ever done.... a few years ago I jumped in my Blazer and drove to Calgary and back. I did it on a whim and by myself. Since I'm a woman and live in the South (where many still expect us to be dependent, pretty and slightly mentally challenged), everyone thought I was crazy. It was great, although if I ever did it again I would definitely take along a travel buddy.
You have a very positive outlook and disposition. Is this a trait you've always had, or something you've worked on?
You should have known me during my marriage and right after my divorce. My ex wasn't the nicest, so I had little self-esteem left when I left him. I pretty much hated life and the world; I was the queen of negativity. One day, I actually heard myself. I mean really heard the words coming out of my mouth. I knew that wasn't me; one of my nicknames growing up was "sunshine." I decided I didn't want to be that person so I worked very hard to develop a positive attitude. Every time a negative thought crossed my mind, and at that point those were the only type thoughts I had, I would force myself to find something positive to replace it with. It took a long long time but it eventually became second nature. I still have bad moments where I slip back into the negative realm, but I snap myself out of it because that's not the person I want to be. Ironically, life has been harder and more challenging since then, and I live with a person who is extremely negative and doesn't want to be positive, but luckily I have built a good foundation to keep myself from falling off the wagon and I have wonderful friends who support me.
You are granted three wishes. What are they?
Three wishes.... first, great health. Second, a small cabin with a huge library (with a big stone fireplace) and a fabulous kitchen, that's in the mountains whose wraparound porch overlooks a lake and is surrounded by woods. Finally, a contentment virus that would engulf the planet... people would still have their challenges but we would all be content with our lives and appreciate what we have. Then maybe we could have world peace and everyone would be more willing to help their fellow man and the earth. (Sorry, slipped back into pageant mode there, hehe. But wouldn't that be great?!!)
What would you say your personal style is? How would you describe yourself to others?
I have very eclectic tastes and my style changes with my mood and environment. I'm comfortable in just about anything from sweats to suits to evening gowns to wacky costumes and period pieces. I make a lot of my own clothes (hey, I can sew and it's cheaper & more unique). I do wear a lot of black, but not because I'm Goth; simply because it became a habit when I worked backstage in theater and has stuck. Plus it's a great backdrop for fabulous accessories. I also love love love hats and wear them all the time when the weather gets colder. Fedora's are my favorite.
I would describe myself to others as open and adaptable. I've been in so many situations and experienced so many different environments that I've learned to adapt to what I'm around. I've been rich and spoiled and I've been poor and lived out of a car.
Is there anything you'd change in your life, either past or present?
There isn't really anything I'd change. My past has made me who I am and I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin. There are things I'm not ecstatic about and I've made more mistakes than I would have liked but I'm a work in progress. I don't believe in regrets. Regrets are simply mistakes we have failed to learn from and forgive. I also believe everything happens for a reason, even if I don't know what that reason is or I don't agree with it. I have faith that I'm part of something bigger and that the things that happen have a greater purpose.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
I'm torn between Don't Let My Blondness Fool You, and Lost in the Library. I may have to write a story with that last one, I just really like it. LOL, I just gave myself another project, maybe we should call it Stop The Insanity.
What words of inspiration or positive message would you like to share with others?
One of my favorite quotes is "Destiny is not a destination, it's a path." I have no idea who said it but the words are very true. We each have a path and often we are so focused on the results we want that we forget to enjoy the journey. We waste too much time simply existing and forget to actually live. And something that goes hand in hand with that... "anything is possible if you believe." Without belief we don't have hope and we can't dream. When you believe in yourself and your dreams, you hold the world in your hands.
Note from CCP: There are so many questions that I've thought of since completing this! The more Chris and I get to know each other, the more we discover we have in common, and the more I want to know about her! She is a multi-faceted person with a heart of gold, and is a genuine and REAL person. Nothing phony, no façade - just a kindred soul who I am so happy to have encountered on my journey in this life adventure. Anyway...that concluded the interview, and when Chris sent the answers back, she added this statement to the end of her email:
"Wow, I actually sound wise once in a while, must be my alter ego."
I had her permission to include that! She is indeed very wise, as is reflected in the overall interview, and especially with her thoughts on destiny and belief. We both share a fondness of the word "Believe," which brings me to another of Chris's ventures. She is the creator of another blog, Whispering To God. A few weeks ago she invited me to be a contributor. When I asked if she minded or would like it mentioned in this interview, she said she didn't mind at all, and added an observation to a comment I had made about the blog. The following paragraph is that statement about my comment, and the blog:
"I love how you describe it, that '...it does not matter what your faith IS - you can believe that "God" is from another planet or that your higher power is the sofa... just that faith and belief are an important part of life and existence and coping..' You can put that if anyone would like to be a contributor they can email me and I'll add them. I created it, but it's not just for me. It's a place where people can share their beliefs through prayers, whoever they pray to. As long as people don't try to advertise or self-promote, that sort of thing.... it's an open forum."
Anyone is invited to either follow, subscribe to, or if you feel so inclined, become a contributor. As we both feel, it doesn't matter WHAT your beliefs are, WHO or WHAT your higher power is to you. From the interview you can tell that Chris shares with me a love of motivational and inspirational thoughts and a belief system wherein we work on ourselves and have a desire to be the best we can be, improve upon the things we think need some work, and seek out an existence where we're happy, content with ourselves, our lives, and those sharing this journey with us. Whispering To God provides an outlet, is uplifting, and basically relays a message of faith, belief, empowerment, support and overall positivity.
In addition to the invitation to visit Whispering To God, please make it a point to check out CC-Chronicles. Chris does a marvelous job with her book reviews and the other features she posts on her blog. I'll close with one of her favorite "thoughts," which she has as part of her signature on her emails:
Busy working on that blog!
Thank you, Chris! It's been a real pleasure featuring you today on Monday Menagerie!