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Saturday, February 17, 2018
Interview with author Eleanor L. Tomczyk
The Fetus Chronicles: Podcasts from My Miseducated Self” (A mostly true memoir)
Eleanor Tomczyk is a memoirist and humorist blogger whose work features the musings of an engagingly funny ex-Evangelical Conservative Christian, African-American Baby Boomer. Not many authors can begin a book with words such as “I was born in a toilet,” literally mean it, and live to tell about it with such grace and humor. At the age of 60, the wife, mother, singer, actress, motivational speaker, and award-winning voice-over artist set out to establish a new career in retirement as a storyteller, using her life as fodder. Currently in her late 60s, the mother, grandmother, and wife of 38 years has published three books: Monsters' Throwdown (2013), Fleeing Oz (2015), and The Fetus Chronicles: Podcasts from My Miseducated Self (2017). She also posts a humorous weekly blog: How the Hell Did I End Up Here? Website: www.eleanortomczyk.com
1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
Growing old—that is what prompted The Fetus Chronicles, which is the third book of a trilogy about my life. Before I wrote TFC, I saw a picture of myself stuck on a zip line 200 feet above a rain forest, twirling around in the air like a random leaf stuck in an errant cobweb string. I couldn’t move forward and I couldn’t move backwards. In my panic, all I could think about was the Internet meme that was going to headline that picture being uploaded by all the cameras taking pictures of my misfortune: “Old Fat Black Woman Didn’t Get the Message to ‘Stay Home’!” For years that photo mortified me until one day I looked at it again and decided “this shit is funny as all get out!” I soon realized that I had scores of stories about my life (some horrific, some extremely sad, but many that were hilarious because they were so embarrassing) that dealt with universal fears from which I had gained deep insights that might be worth sharing.
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
My target audience is Baby Boomer women of all ethnicities, races, and religions, and the men who love them (although the men may need a hazmat suit). As an African-American woman who grew up in the ghetto of Cleveland, Ohio, got carried on the wings of the Civil Rights Act into higher education and freedom, and almost squandered that gift of intellectualism and freedom in White, Evangelical, Right-wing churches for 30 plus years, I felt that I had a lot to say as a woman about the universal missteps of life and the issues we face just by being born a woman, as well as the grace needed to overcome those situations. I wanted to leave the next generation of women a bird’s eye view of what it means to try and let go of shame (“My rape and sexual abuse does not own or define me”), laugh at ourselves (“Embarrassment won’t kill me even if it seems the entire world is watching”), and shake off all those things that try to thwart women from evolving (“You can’t because…”).
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
Everybody hurts…everybody suffers…nobody is perfect. At the risk of going all Oprah on you, what I hope would remain with readers is the strong incentive to try and become their “best selves”—to exit the stage left of life living their most authentic selves. Do what you want. Go where you will. Say what you mean—regardless of what others think. If it’s your truth—live it!
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
If you want to write—just do it! Don’t wait for someone else’s permission. I had 235 rejections from literary agents for my first memoir Monsters’ Throwdown, and I realized (after reading that 16-year-old Justin Bieber got a book deal for his memoir) that I’d be dead for a hundred years before anyone gave me the green light to write, simply because I didn’t bring to the table a platform of several million followers on social media. I knew I had something to say, and nobody had the right to tell me I couldn’t say it.
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
Where the book publishing industry is headed is already here and it is fast becoming the trend: independent book publishing and author-generated promotions. The five major publishing houses don’t have the inclination nor the desire to “waste their time” or budgets on writers who don’t bring them a built-in audience who will bring the publishers immediate guaranteed sales. Thus the book deal for the memoir of a 16 year old who was still wet behind the ears as opposed to someone who brought gravitas but no hysterical teenage fan base to the table. Even if an unknown author is “lucky” enough to garner a book deal, there are no glory days of book advances anymore, no sitting back while publishing houses create publicity for the unknown writer, and most times, once the publishing house is paid, the author rarely sees a cent—not to mention that the final result of the product may not be what the writer intended. At least when an author independently publishes, he or she has total control over the work and stands to receive a good portion of the returns to invest in future books and promotions. If writers have to do all the leg work, why pay a middle man?
6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
My idol is Maya Angelou, and she once said: “There are teachers who write and writers who teach.” I am a teacher who writes. I am always trying to point the reader to hope, truth, light, grace, and mercy through my life stories. My challenge is to do so without preaching.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
My book (actually all three of my books) is made for such a time as this. We (especially women) are really hurting as a culture and as a nation. I personally think that our hope is not in a leader or a political party but in ourselves portraying authentic lives filled with truth, love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace that we want to see played out in our relationships, communities, government, religious centers, and activism.
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."