Welcome to my #AuthorChat series. Today I’d like to welcome author Camilla Downs here to share some of herself and her writing. Camilla’s latest publication is Words of Alchemy. Sounds so soothing, so let’s get to know more about Camilla.
Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of MeetingtheAuthors.com and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.
In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt free-verse poetry memoir.
During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations.
Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written wordsto flow. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.
Praise for Words of Alchemy
“Words of Alchemy, a heartfelt new collection by Camilla Downs, lives up to its namesake in numerous ways. Downs spans the broad range of nature, healing, love, and parenting, while making sure we have a little fun along the way. And the bridge she creates from the mindfulness of how we see the world at large to the poetry of everyday life is certainly worth a stroll or two across its borders.” – Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Award-winning author of Painted Oxen
“This poetry collection offers contemplative words, soothing thoughts and peace to the reader.” – Sue Bentley, Bestselling author of Second Skin
“Camilla Downs shares truth, vulnerability and wisdom in her Words of Alchemy collection, inviting readers to be inspired, contemplate and dive into her world of self-awareness and growth.” – G. Brian Benson – Award-winning author, actor and spoken word artist
“These poems take you on a calm and loving walk through the verses of the author’sthoughts. Alchemy is a perfect word for the title as Camilla Downs understands nature; connecting with its magical, medicinal qualities and beauty which she conveys throughout her poetry.” – Ailsa Craig, Author of The Sand Between My Toes
“Words of Alchemy is a chronicle of hope. These poems are an encouragement, especially when we are feeling at our lowest, to keep seeking the light that is our way forward, and focus on the real. This collection is a walk through the positive nature of life. Camilla Downs is to be commended.” – Frank Prem, Author of free-verse memoir Small Town Kid
This is an exceptional collection of endlessly expressive free verse poetry, extremely moving and inspirational in a variety of different ways. It speaks of nature, healing, family, heart, unconditional love, joy, harmony in oneself, mindfulness, vulnerability and genuine acceptance of ourselves.
Camilla has approached her life experiences with a gentle courage that unfolds into a celebration of the important things that mean the most to us. Despite all of our negative times and troubles we have to endure, life has so many positive experiences to offer. Camilla navigates her own trials and tribulations when it comes to pain, heartache and sorrow, yet still weaves the words into something incredibly beautiful with every single poem she exuberantly spills on to the page.
Whether her poems are long or short, each one packs so much heartfelt emotion in their exquisitely, passionately sculpted words that you will want to read it a few more times, to absorb its essence and appreciate the purity of words that touch deep within your own soul.
My favourite poem in the collection (it was such a difficult choice, since all of the poems within have something unique to recommend them) was the one written by Camilla with her children Lillian and Thomas (Love is Magical). I had to re-read it a couple of times, as I marveled over what was written and by whom. It was exhilarating how well their different writing styles meshed together and at that point, I could really feel the bond of family between them all.
Buy this book and get taken on an enticing emotional journey that you will never forget. – David E. … Links for the review: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer- reviews/R39NQV89IMDYGY/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0980056845 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3357563039 book_show_action=true
Now that we’ve learned about Camilla’s background let’s get down to some Q & A!
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
Walking. Going for walks in nature, whether on a paved walking path, or a dirt trail in the woods. I adore going for walks, taking photographs of nature along the way. I find nature incredibly grounding, healing, and comforting. I attempt to infuse this, along with my energy into my writings and the nature photos I take.
Reading. I usually have about four books going at once. One book on writing, a fiction, a non- fiction, and a book that educates me on certain topics.
Another hobby is networking with other authors, interviewing them on a website I founded and facilitate – MeetingtheAuthors.com. I love meeting authors around the globe, developing and nourishing new friendships.
I also adore swimming. Although, we haven’t been able to do that yet this year. The new community we moved to in November 2019 has not finished construction of the pool. I’m a Pisces so each time I slip into the water, it feels like coming home. Going for swims, being in the water invigorates and brings such joy. I’m pretty sure I’m one part mermaid, one part fairy, and one party gypsy. I cannot wait for our pool to be finished!
D.G. – I hope that pool gets finished. I’m a Gemini – I need air! 🙂 And nice to meet someone who also reads 4 books at one time, lol.
Do your book ideas, or inspiration, grow from events in your daily life?
Being that my two books are memoirs, they are inspired by life events. My latest book published December 2019, Words of Alchemy, is a free-verse poetry memoir. I did not set out to write poetry, much less publish a book of poetry. Six years ago, poetry simply began to flow. When I decided last year that I was ready to publish a second book, I kept getting pulled back to the poetry. My first thought was that I did not want to publish a book of poetry. Who will buy it? HA! Yet, my heart and thoughts would not toss the idea aside. I finally leaned into it. I’m grateful that I listened as I feel it’s a beautiful book that has the ability to enrich others.
The first poem was sparked six years ago when I visited Fallen Leaf Lake and Mount Tallac. Standing in the sparkling snow, looking across the glass-like lake with Mount Tallac reflecting on its surface, broke open a piece of my closed heart, bringing me to tears. On the drive home, I made several stops to sit quietly at Lake Tahoe’s edge. By the time I made it home, I had written my first poem. Following that, poetry began to flow from the nature walks I take. Next, poems were inspired when revisiting the nature photos I took on these same walks. Lastly, the poetry began to flow from life experiences when writing in my journal or looking through the nature photos.
My first book published in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, was written with the intention of writing a memoir.
In 2004, I became a parent to a child with special needs when my four year old daughter was diagnosed with 18p-, a chromosome deletion syndrome. (You can learn more about chromosome 18 differences by going here, http://www.Chromosome18.org.) In 2005 I left a ten year marriage, becoming a single parent to a one year old and five year old. I experienced financial ruin with all bills being in my name, having to file bankruptcy in 2009 as I could no longer pay the bills. I openly shared this journey, with the feedback being that what I shared was meaningful and helpful to others. That’s what lit the spark of the book idea.
So I knew I wanted and needed to write this book about acceptance of myself, acceptance of becoming a parent to a special needs child, acceptance of becoming a single parent, and acceptance of financial ruin. I just didn’t know the “how” of it. Two things happened to change that.
In the summer of 2011, I kept getting an inner nudge to clean the garage of items that had been boxed since the divorce. I pushed it aside as I did not have time to fool around with going through boxes. The nudge became so strong, magnetic even, that I could no longer concentrate on anything else. I gave in to it.
In one of the first few boxes I found a forgotten book that had been gifted to me, titled, E is for Entrepreneur. I opened the book to find a handwritten message to me that this book would not have happened if not for me. I completely forgot that in 2007 I ran a blog for women entrepreneurs and had invited this woman to write guest blog posts. She began writing a series of A-Z posts having to do with being an entrepreneur. I suggested that she should make her writings into a book. She did! And, she did it without telling me until the book was complete and I received a copy in the mail.
I read the book that night, waking up the next morning knowing that this is the style in which I should write my book. Hence, the title, D iz for Different. Each chapter is a letter of the alphabet. A is for Acceptance, B is for Better, C is for Courage, and so forth. The book hit #1 in Special Needs Parenting on Amazon and #2 in Self-help on Amazon. It was a pretty amazing ride!
During that same summer, I was sharing my book idea with a dear friend who already had one published book, and was working on another. He casually asked how far along I was and when it would be published. That question turned the spark into a flame. The next morning I began getting up 30 minutes earlier, writing a section each morning. I had the book written in about 3 months and published in less than a year. Thank you to Brian Benson for asking me that question and for being such an amazing supporter!
D.G. – Don’t you just love those subtle nudges from the universe. It does pay to follow the signs! I commend you on being an empowering warrior woman Camilla. I shall look forward to reading your memoir. 🙂
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
I have written the two books mentioned above. In addition, I’ve co-authored a book with my son titled, Biggest Little Photographer and co-authored a book with my daughter titled, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories. So, four total.
Biggest Little Photographer is a collection of photographs my son, Thomas, took during a 365 day photo a day photography project. When he was 8 years old, we read an article about a professional photographer taking a LEGO mini figure with a LEGO camera to exotic locations and taking photos of the mini figure taking a photo. My son asked if he could do the same. I told him that he could and that if he stayed with it and finished the project that we would publish the photos in a book. About a month or two into the project, Thomas came to me and shared that this was a hard project and he thought he wanted to stop. I gave him that option, asking him to think about how it would feel if he finished, and how it would feel if he didn’t finish. He decided to move forward with the project, continuing to take a photo every day for 365 days. The book contains about half of the photographs.
Where Would You Fly is a collection of short stories, fairy tales, and poems written by my daughter, Lillian, from the time she was 4 years old through 15 years old. I wrote the introduction and helped with the early writings. As mentioned above, Lillian has a chromosome deletion called 18p-. The main way this manifests is that she has difficulty articulating words. She has them all in her mind, she just struggles to get them out. It’s been an exciting journey for her as she’s been invited to three book signings at Barnes & Noble and both of us will be attending with each of our books when shops fully open again.
I just can’t pick a favorite as these books are all so very different, with each holding a special and dear place in my heart.
D.G. – That is so beautiful your children are also published!
What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?
Blogging has been key. The first time I came across the term “blog” was just after my divorce in 2006. I got another of those inner nudges that I should teach myself all I could about blogs. I followed that knowing with purchasing my name and my kids’ names as domain names. I just knew that we would be needing them at some point in our lives.
Lillian and I began blogging in 2007 on a site we created together called, PinkElephantBooks.com. Some of her writings from that blog are in Where Would You Fly. I think it was 2008 or 2009, when I began to blog solely on CamillaDowns.com and she began to blog on her website at LillianDarnell.com. Thomas hasn’t used his blog in quite some time, but when he was younger he actively posted on it at ThomasADarnell.com.
Some of the writings in D iz for Different grew from blog posts and many of the poems in Words of Alchemy were first shared on my blog or our family blog at TheTeamTLC.com. Blogging has been key for that reason. It has also served as a sort of root system for sharing in all manner of places online and throughout social media. Think of the blog and blog posts as tree roots, with each time you share a blog post, or someone reads it and shares it as the trunk of the tree, the further sharing and traffic back to the blog being the limbs of the tree. Growing and growing and growing. Turning into a freeway for blog traffic, a freeway to your writings. And, those links never go away (unless the domain goes away).
A blog is something solid that you can refer people to as well, looking more official than sharing a post you’ve written on Facebook, instagram or twitter. Another benefit of having a blog has been anytime I have written a guest post, or had an article published somewhere, or have been interviewed, I include an announcement about it on my blog, with a link back to the original post. The more your name is anchored online, the more you will appear in search results.
D.G. – Great idea to set up the blogs, and wonderful for the children too!
Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?
Yes, I think so. I do my writing on the laptop as my hands begin to ache after about 10 minutes of handwriting. Many of the poems in Words of Alchemy were written with my eyes closed. Once the words began to flow, they were coming so fast, I could see them better and catch as many as possible with my eyes closed. This seems to help get my mind out of the way, so the words can flow freely.
Thank you so very much for having me on your blog, Debby! I appreciate your time and these wonderful questions. All the best to you!
D.G. – It was a pleasure to get to know about you, your journey to writing and your writing Camilla. Thank you for being here today. 🙂
Excerpt from Words of Alchemy:
The Space Within
There is a space within
A space occupied, it was.
Occupied with judgment
Occupied with harshness
Occupied with unkind thoughts
There is a space within
where the darkness
of judgment used to live.
here no more.
It has been.
There is a space within.
A soft space of love
For a journey
of thousands of miles
has been lived with
that each one of us
has traveled a similar journey.
To be sure,
not the same journey.
No, not the same.
That matters not.
Each has traveled a journey
of thousands of miles.
And each viewed not
according to their journey,
yet viewed with eyes
that flow from the heart.
A heart that knows the two
viewed with eyes flowing
from the heart that only
knows unconditional love.
Eyes wide open to
the Truth of each one’s journey.
The Truth that judgment of another is
simply a reflection of judgment
held within one towards oneself.
There is a space within,
a space that was once filled with
the darkness of judgment.
A space that is now
free for compassion
and love for one’s self and others.
Space to breathe easier
Space to live easier
Space to live peacefully
Space to allow all to BE
and travel the paths chosen.
There’s a space within.
A Beautiful Space.
May we all release
and expose this space within
for the Beauty it reveals.
Follow Camilla on Social Media:
Family Website: http://theteamtlc.com/
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/author/camilladowns
Meeting the Authors: http://www.meetingtheauthors.com/
Where to Buy:
Words of Alchemy: If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalized, signed book – free
shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee):
Amazon – Words of Alchemy: http://www.mybook.to/WordsofAlchemy
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/author/camilladowns
All of our books: http://camilladowns.com/books/