Posted in authors, editing, family, friends, Indie, journal, LGBT, love, memoir, old, personal growth, support, transgender, transition, writers, writing

My Husband is a Woman Now

Leslie Fabian pic

This is one of the most unusual  interviews I have ever done since starting Author Interview Friday.   As you can tell from the title, My Husband’s a Woman Now, it is quite an unusual story. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Leslie Hillburn Fabian, today’s Author. And because this is such an unusual topic, I’d like to change the order which I normally do my interviews. So hold on to your seats  readers, as I reverse the order. (just to keep you on your toes  LOL)

What shelf would we find your book if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

            With the ease of ordering on-line these days, I seldom go into book stores anymore, so I’ll have to create some shelf labels, to wit: LOVE STORIES; TRANSITION STORIES; RELATIONSHIP HELP; PERSONAL GROWTH & AWARENESS; MEMOIRS; TRANSGENDER…things along those lines.

Leslie, Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

From My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love by Leslie Hilburn Fabian, LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)

            “When I met my husband, he was wearing a dress.” I had occasionally made this surprising declaration during the first twenty years of my marriage to David. I’d been selective, of course, trusting my instincts to determine when and to whom it was safe to reveal this.

            Making this bold pronouncement, I’d been “outing” my husband as a cross-dresser, exposing his life-long secret of sometimes wearing women’s clothes. The statement was invariably shocking and confusing to others, but I had found it the least complicated, most direct way, of opening a conversation about who he truly was—or rather, who we thought he was.

            Then, in 2009, after twenty-one years together, we both realized that David was more than “just a cross-dresser” and he began moving in a much more audacious direction. His sporadic feminine expression, the act of cross-dressing, had morphed into a plan to become a woman full-time. This revelation was alarming to the majority of people in David’s life. They’d known him only as a man and it was unlikely they’d ever thought to question his undeniable masculinity, a perception based on observable details.

            …All who know David saw a skilled orthopedic surgeon, beloved and respected by hospital and office staff, patients, family, friends, and particularly by me, his wife. But the physical form, the skills, integrity, and brilliance of this individual—all that one could witness of his life—masked the inner workings of David R. Fabian, M.D.

            This transition story begins in middle age, in our early sixties. It is about the deconstructing of our previous life and the creation of a new one. My husband, David Robert Fabian, M.D., began living as a woman in the fall of 2011. This woman, Deborah Rae Fabian, has existed internally for all of David’s remembered life.

Did you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time’s?

            I have no formal training in writing, other than occasional weekend workshops and a class I attended years ago. All of the reading I’d done throughout my life, prior to beginning my book, contributed to the structure I used. There was, in fact, little structure in the beginning. My daily writing was essentially a “free-form” recording of what was occurring, both internally and around me. As I promoted my husband’s transition, maintaining a desire to remain in our marriage, emotional fluctuations were rampant.

            In the second year of my three-year writing process, the composition emerged. Working with a book shepherd was enormously helpful, as she guided me in structuring my work into the finished product that manifested. The book gradually took a chronological shape in four parts: our past, the process during the two transition years, journal entries from the first year after transition, and, finally, what I learned from the entire process.

As someone who’d never before written a book, how did you know how to start, once you believed you had something to say?

     After I’d written for a year and had accumulated 150 pages of writing, I believed I had a book-in-the-works, yet had no idea how to proceed. Fate stepped in; a book on self-publishing practically fell into my lap at a Barnes & Noble! In the midst of looking there for clues to my next steps, I read about the concept of Book Shepherds, people whose work it is to advise, encourage, and support writers. This led to four phone interviews and the hiring of my incredible book shepherd, Judith M. Weigle, Book Shepherd, Judy@JudyWeigle.com.

     For two more years, to the completion and publishing of my book, Judy was a God-send who kept me afloat and assisted me in creating my first literary work. I doubt I’d have done it without her!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Both of my parents (now deceased) aspired to write; each wrote beautiful, inspiring letters. While providing incentive, however, neither ever got serious enough to create a book.

            In the nineties, I was in graduate school for social work at Boston College, and a professor noted on one of my papers, “You are a gifted writer!” I’ve always loved writing and was pretty sure I did it well, and that short statement stuck with me until I got serious about it in my sixties. Then, with a profound transition occurring in my life, I felt compelled to write the on-going story as it unfolded. Voila! A love story emerged, and my first book was published.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

            I actually used a print-on-demand publisher called Virtual Bookworm. I consider this a “step above” self-publishing, as companies such as VBW provide myriad services, much as a traditional publisher does, for which the writer contracts. Their services are available both individually and packaged, and they are selective about what they publish.

            There are many reasons why I avoided the traditional route. Foremost was the warning of a friend who’s published several books and  found that the results of using a traditional publisher for one of them have been highly disappointing. The publisher made changes to her book with which she was not in agreement. She makes a pittance on the thousands of books sold, while the publisher makes much more. Further, the publisher now owns the book and she must buy it back if she wants to change publishers. She also warned me that it would likely take a couple of years to see my book in print, since I was a first-time, unknown author.

            I chose Virtual Bookworm after researching print-on-demand publishers and liking their services, packages, and responses to my inquiries regarding their work. They have been wonderful to work with; I highly recommend them.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

            As I said, I felt compelled to write this book, under the circumstances occurring in my life. I found the writing to be therapeutic and instructive to my own process, as I have for thirty years of daily journaling. I also knew that what I had to say could be helpful to others—to those going through similar processes, to anyone going through a huge transition, and also to those who might be curious about our situation and how my spouse and I handled it. There was no stopping my “Voice,” once the writing began!

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

            I developed this technique in graduate school, with lengthy papers to write, and it’s continued to work for me whenever I have a project of any kind. First I decide on a total time I want to write for that day. Then I prepare my work space, read something inspiring, and set a timer for one hour. I work until the timer goes off, then take a break. If I’m highly engaged in my work when an hour is up, I might continue working for another half-hour or to the completion of that piece, and I’ll set the alarm again for thirty minutes (to keep track of my total time). Then I get up and do something fun, completely unrelated to my writing, for fifteen to thirty minutes—e.g., walk the dog, grab something to eat, read something unrelated. Then I begin writing again, resetting the timer until I reach my total time for the day. This system promotes meeting my daily goal, as well as providing rewards for satisfying work.

 MY Husband is a Woman

Thank you Leslie.  This is a strange and compelling story. It took a lot of courage to expose your personal life, knowing that some people would never understand and attack your views and decisions.  Yet, it is something you felt compelled to write.  Reader, to learn more, go to her website: www.lesliefab.com

Below is a intro into her story and links to buy her book.

Nothing is more certain in life than change, and this change is bigger than most. In 2009, Leslie Fabian’s husband, David-an orthopedic surgeon who’d been privately cross-dressing for most of his life-realized that brief forays into the world as Deborah would never be enough.
This came as no surprise to Leslie. For two decades, cross-dressing had been a part of their lives; but she had witnessed her spouse’s devastation each time he returned to his male persona. To purchase, go to any website below. These are for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my publisher, Virtual Bookworm.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Husbands-Woman-Now-Transition/dp/1621374319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394127297&sr=8-1&keywords=9781621374312

(http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-husbands-a-woman-now-leslie-hilburn-fabian/1118828078?ean=9781621374312)

http://www.virtualbookworm.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH

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Posted in authors, books, editing, education, favorite books, fiction, history, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, novels, political injustice, readers, spiritual, spiritual, womens fiction, writers, writing

Janet Levine bring us Leela’s Gift

Janet Levine
Janet Levine

Today’s author, Janet Levine was born and raised in South Africa.  Multi-published, from her political memoir, Inside Apartheid to her women’s fiction novel, Leela’s Gift, she is a superb writer with a superb grasp of the art of story-telling.  Welcome Janet. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

There was never a time I did not want to be a writer. I still have my five-year old scribbles. Vividly I remember the first book I read on my own. It was about a visit to the circus and described the dawn colors and the day’s events. I was enchanted, exhilarated at the world evoked on the pages and I told my mother I was going to do that, write a story. So I did, and I’ve never stopped.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

At fourteen, a short story I wrote was read on the national radio in South Africa, and was a finalist for the best teenage writer prize that year. What a thrill. Since the age of eighteen I became a published freelance journalist in the national press in South Africa in those “liberal” newspapers that were against the apartheid regime. I have continued to write articles all my life. I now blog and write book reviews. I also wrote novels from about the age of twelve but none of them were publishable. Because of my involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle I did not have time to polish and revise. My political memoir Inside Apartheid was my first book length manuscript to be published. I started it in 1985 shortly after we immigrated to the USA. My then husband is American and we arrived to live in the Boston area with our two sons. I craved peaceful time to write after the drama of South African politics and wrote the book to establish that a number of white activists were part of the human rights struggle, too. Americans seemed to think that all whites supported apartheid. Because of my reputation in political activities and journalism, I was invited to be on the MacNeill/Lehrer News Hour commenting on the situation in South Africa, and interviewed by Judy Woodruff. A few days later PBS forwarded me a letter from a New York agent who asked if I was thinking of writing a book. I told him I was already working on one. Several months later we had a contract with a large Chicago publishing house.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelves would we find your books in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I’m a cross over writer; I’ve published a political memoir, two psychology books, and a novel. The book we are promoting today is a novel and we would find it under fiction, women writers, and spirituality.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

POV is one of the most challenging decisions for a fiction writer. My voice is decidedly first person. In the novel I am working on now I have two first person narrators; I enjoy making readers “work” a little at figuring out what is the structure. This is highly experimental and unconventional and I still need to work on smoothing the transitions between the voices. In a recently published, magnificent novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature 2014) the author mastered the first person POV to perfection. A pre-pub novel (by a well-known author) I am reading now for review has two, third person (omniscient) narrators, and he works the transitions between their POVs superbly.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Currently the hardest part of the writing process (for me) is deciding to go the traditional route of seeking an agent, or trying to find an indie publisher, or to self-publish. What I have learned is that however long your work takes to write and revise, it is pristinely your baby, until you hire an editor to bring that professional polish. But the aggravation of the editing process and all those revisions is nothing compared to the resilience and patience (and time and/or money) you need to publish your book. You have to absolutely believe you have something to say that other people want to read or don’t even begin the publishing journey. It is a tough world out there.

Tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences

In Leela’s Gift the protagonist, a New Yorker, undertakes an enriching spiritual journey in the mountains near Darjeeling, India. The novel uncovers highly relevant spiritual teachings for our modern world. In captivating prose the novel intertwines modern philosophy and ancient wisdom in telling a story as old as the human heart.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is in almost total silence in a room surrounded by my favorite books and pictures and with a window that looks out on a garden or some greenery.

How about this one. …. A book about writing I love is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings.

Where can readers buy your books?

My website is  www.janetlevine.com. All four books are linked to Amazon from my website and readers can follow me on twitter @jlevinegrp

Thank you Janet.  I know we will have you back to tell us more about Inside Apartheid.  Can you share a few paragraphs from the book we are promoting today, Leela’s Gift?  

“There was no mistaking Maharishi, standing amidst a group of solemn looking men all dressed in white. Pausing with one hand on the gate, Maharishi looked searchingly at me, drawing my attention back to him. He wore a long, immaculate white kurta, a collarless Indian shirt, over wide white trousers. Open sandals adorned his thin feet. In his other hand the beads of his mala slid effortlessly and deliberately through his slender, elegant fingers. His gaze seemed to penetrate my being and warmed to life many layers of my inner self that until that moment lay dormant; quickly I lowered my eyes, the force of his energy overwhelming. In his presence I struggled for breath.

His dark, deep-set eyes were softly luminous, and they smiled as he opened the gate. At the abrupt loss of his presence I felt cold, as I were in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. His presence radiated such heat and desire than when he left I was bereft. Considering this state along with my urge moments earlier to sink to my knees and prostrate myself at his feet, there was every reason to ask with rising hysteria; what was happening to me? After five minutes at the ashram my inner being swirled in choppy eddies. Maybe I should return to the taxi and drive back to Bagdora airport. The familiar known world tugged at me—standing at the threshold to this world seemed perilous, too risky.”

 

Posted in authors, books, conflict, environment, KIndle, love, memoir, political injustice, remember, support, writers, writing

In the Footsteps of a Palestinian Refugee

October, 2012-Ghazi holding up out of the box the first copy of his Memoir

Welcome Ghazi, you have such an amazing story. Your memoir is an important story, not just for you, but also for the thousands that others have struggled in countries with conflict affecting the daily lives of everyone.  I am so pleased to have you on Author Interview Friday.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Very early while in my teens. I had an unusual life. I saw first hand the struggle for Palestine Vs. Israel (1935-1948). Because of this, I felt impelled to record my experiences. I learned to write by doing it. My hopes are that the reader will feel the  direct channel to my emotions, feelings, thoughts, etc. I spoke directly to the reader naturally and from the heart.

What was the hardest part of writing your story?

Building the narrative coherently.

Have you done anything special to help promote your book?

So far, through personal appearances, talks to social or book clubs, sending out sale sheets to individuals or groups, organizations, etc. Joined social clubs: Facebook, twitter, Linked-in, associated website.

What has been your primary drive to write?

To believe in the worth of the story to many others; that it is going to do some good to a significant number of people. Also, that the process is beneficial emotionally (cathartic) to me and enjoyable at the same time.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Humanity is progressing toward better universal values, which will diminish wars and promotes harmony and peace.

Walking Out Into the Sunshine

Please the give the readers a peek into your story by giving us a small excerpt.

“I saw the fragmentation of the world along racial, ethnic, religious, or national lines is an outcome of past history, full at times of misconceptions and misunderstandings, that will not stand for long against the accelerating influence of the information and transportation revolutions worldwide; the result of which is that diverse groups of peoples are getting to know each other more quickly and intimately in positive ways, and work better together. I saw human beliefs about nationality, religion, and related identifications are useful practical models for good and righteous living, culturally intertwined, functions of time, history, and place. They are relative, subjective and evolving.”

 “It is in the context of celebrating diversity in humanity, combined with the underlying universality of man’s spirituality, manifesting faith, love, and brotherhood, that I have been able to liberate myself from much of past burdensome inner conflicts and traumas. I have done so with considerable effort over a long time, and against great odds. Yet, I feel blessed to have been able to do so.”

Windy City Publishers. Kindle Edition. …..

 

The website is:  www.ghaziqhassounphd.com

Buy Link: Print Edition:   Walking Out Into The Sunshine

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Amazon+ebooks+Ghazi+Hassoun