Free Book Friday / My latest Interview: In Conversation With Author Cara Cilento

About the interviews:

When I published my first book, I looked for ways to reach new readers, and being a brand new author, participating in various book bloggers interviews was a good way to start. Some interviews were standard questions, while others had more individuality built into them.

I then did a twist on the author interview by interviewing myself (Leon Interviews Himself). I then thought it would be fun to get to know some of the authors I was cross-promoting with, and the Friday Conversations were born. Guess what? They are a lot of work (the interviews, not the authors). I look up the authors information, visit the website so I can craft a unique set of questions (OK, there are a few standard ones) to let my readership get to know these new authors. Worth the work? You bet. Here is today’s conversation:

Cara Cilento has been a speech therapist for over twenty years in various public schools. Currently, she lives in suburban North Jersey on her own terms. Cara defines her own personal success as living her truth and not what is expected of her. Snapshots: Say Cheese! is her first published book which has taken a lifetime of experiences—traumatic, joyful, abusive, healing and reaffirming—as her muse.

In Conversation With Author Cara Cilento

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author Cara Cilento. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks for having me. 

I always begin with the offer of a beverage. Pick your poison. 

Thanks! I’ll have a Moscow Mule. It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? 

You bet! Tell us about the “Living Now” Award. Is that like the Nobel Prize or something?

Oh, if it was only that simple! The Living Now Book Awards aim to promote the year’s greatest lifestyle books and their authors. They pick books that help us learn how to live healthier, more meaningful, and more productive lives for ourselves and our loved ones. The Living Now Book Awards honor new books that may help us better our lives, from cooking and  entertaining to fitness and travel.

Did you have a love of reading and writing as a child? 

Absolutely! I would sit for hours on the porch and read. In elementary school, I would go to the library all the time. I would take out books like Encyclopedia Brown to Ramona The Brave. On vacations, my suitcases had at least three books packed. I must have been the only kid in High School that loved Summer Reading.  

It’s so easy for kids to forget school once summer rolls around and the ones who would benefit the most by doing it are the ones who do it the least.

Absolutely. Interestingly, I found that many children aren’t exposed to reading, especially with the onset of tablets and iPhones. Using a tablet to expose you to reading and phonics is just not the same. You would be surprised how many children I have taught that do not know simple nursery rhymes, but that’s a conversation for another day.

What was the first book that you wrote? 

Hiccup the Magic Elf. I think I was in fourth grade got gold star and a special pencil. Did you mean professionally? Oh, Snapshots was my first. 

No. The first book is the first book. That’s a great title, Hiccup the Magic Elf. Could be a book in the works?

I have thought about it. It’s on my to-do list along with my middle grade historical fiction.

When you are not writing, what are you doing? 

When I am not writing, I am doing things with my family and, get ready for it…I ghost hunt. I go once a month, at least.

I have never met a ghost hunter before. Care to share a quick story?

I’d love to. A few months ago, I was investigating a haunted bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Historically, Gettysburg is a fascinating place to begin with, but it is known for having hauntings. So, as I was walking though a field, I decided to take pictures. I always set my camera to take shots in rapid succession and in the first picture, there is a picture of forest. In the second, there is a picture of the same forest with white mist around the base of the trees. The third picture the mist was gone. I can’t explain it but that’s the point, right? To see things you can’t explain.

44444912. sy475

Ohhhhh…goosebumps.

The blurb for your book, Snapshots, sounds like soul-searching and the revealing of your inner  feelings. Is this an apt description? 

It is actually. When it was being released, many friends asked me how I felt about putting my journey on the page for everyone to read because it puts your vulnerability on display, but I never thought there was anything revealing about it. I think everyone feels vulnerable when they are seeking autonomy and finding themselves. 

And not everyone is able to manifest those feeling into words—which is where us poets come in right?

Yes. I try to make the implicit explicit using the flexibility of language.

You mention on your blog “…being an award-winning author who writes with LGBTQ+ themes is hardest of all.” What I find hard is saying the acronym. I’ve seen several other  versions: LGBTQ2, LGBTQ2S, LGBTQ2s+, LGBTQIAPK, LGBTQIA+, LGBTQQIP2SAA. Any thoughts for  people who may be confused with this? 

There are a lot of versions and everything keeps changing. I even wrote a blog about how the gay flag has changed so I understand where people can become confused. I think we should all be focused on making the world a better place for the  straight and LGBT+ community. I think the time we spend on what we call ourselves could be better spent on people and not labels.  

I agree. You also have a love for photography. What catches your eye to say, “I need to capture that” ?

 I love street photography. I love taking pictures of people in their every day which captures a slice of life or a glimpse of their  human condition. Even if it’s the ugly truth I think there is beauty in it. I am actually having a showing in November. 

I have a few like that, I actually put together a short video with music of some places I have been.

I always ask my guests about music. Any favorites? 

I love jazz music. I was supposed to go to New Orleans for their poetry festival but due to travel restrictions, it was canceled. I’m a live music junkie though. I was driving to see Alanis Morissette in inclement weather when it was canceled due to a tornado. I  was determined to go.

New Orleans is definitely worth the trip for jazz and music lovers. Even during the slow season, there is music everywhere. Literally.

Care to give the lightning round a go? 

Absolutely— Wait—let me finish my drink…okay, go. 

Hidden talent? 
I manage to lose my mug of coffee daily. My kids bought me a Tile. You know that square you put on your keys so you can find them? Yea well they bought me one to put on my coffee mug. 
I hear you. Nickel or dime? 
Dime. Nickels are bulky. 
What is the oldest thing you own? 
I just actually found a doll I had as a child and it is not one of those cute little “aww put it in the crib” dolls. It’s one of those you  would see in a horror movie. I don’t know what my family was thinking when they gave it to me and now I have questions. 
Favorite city? 
Joplin, Missouri. That’s where my wife is from. 
Shamrock shakes. Yea or Nae? 
Oh yea. 
How many digits of Pi do you know? 
3.14159…and I usually round it up to 3.1416
Nice. It makes the circles more accurate that way.

This has been fun, but we need to wrap it up. Any links you wish to add? 

For latest news on my next book and works in progress you can find me at www.caracilento.com.

Cara’s Photographs:

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

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Paperbacks? Yeah. We still do those!

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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C’mon, space stuff!

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