What is the best thing that I love about my work? I’m a writer and I love writing, there is something amazing about finishing a novel. But what I love most is helping other writers and especially aspiring writers to realize their dreams. Each and every book I help someone publish feels like a grandchild of sorts.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? There was a time in my life that I described myself as content, and I thought that was special and to be desired. Now I believe, that content is only one step above a living hell. Happiness for me comes from being challenged. Whether it’s in my work to do better than I’ve done before, or challenging my belief system, or experiencing places or activities outside my comfort zone.
What is my greatest fear? Tarantulas. More specifically, discovering a tarantula in my home, by surprise. And yes, I moved to a country where they are abundant. I heard facing your fears makes you stronger. That’s the fear I most hope to never have to face, but if I do, I’m sure I’ll survive in the end. Right? I will won’t I? Yeah, I know you were probably expecting something a little more cerebral here, but big hairy spiders is it.
What is the trait I most deplore in myself? I am not a patient person. And I don’t deal well with two kinds of people, those who refuse to learn and those who work harder at not working than the work itself would be. I wish I could ignore it and not let it bother me, but it does.
Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Wow, that’s a tough question because it’s hard to narrow it to a few. But the ones who come immediately to mind to me are Nora Roberts, Fern Michaels, and John Sanford.
What is my greatest extravagance? I have never been an extravagant person. I do have some guilty pleasures, I love boots and hats and I have a lot of both, but I’m frugal and they can’t really be considered extravagances.
On what occasion would I lie? This is funny to me. I have never been able to successfully lie about anything. Now I joke, that I tell lies for a living…through fiction writing. But in all seriousness, I would hope that the one time I could pull of a lie would be at the side of a dying person trying to ease any fears they may have.
What is the thing I dislike most in my work? Editing and writing book blurbs. I don’t know why for probably at least 80% of novel writers, the hardest part of the whole thing is writing the book description. That just doesn’t make sense, does it? And editing, not at all because I think anything I write doesn’t need it, but because it feels like it takes longer than the actual creating of the story, and I’d rather be telling a new story.
When and where was I the happiest in my work? Here and now. I am in Cuenca Ecuador, which is a beautiful and inspiring city in the Andes Mountains of South America, surrounded by a huge writing community.
If I could, what would I change about myself? I would be the age I am now, look ten years younger, be thin, gorgeous and obscenely wealthy. No, not really, but that is what one expects. In all seriousness, I wish I had more confidence in myself and I wish I could see myself as others see me. I wish I felt as successful as others think I am.
What is my greatest achievement in work? For me, one of the things I love the most about being a writer is that sometimes I get the opportunity for my writing to make a difference. Not that the writing is wise or special, but through it I can help. I put together an anthology, consisting of 37 writers from around the world, from first time writers to bestselling authors to benefit Earthquake relief on the coast of Ecuador, and another collaboration benefits a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Through performances of the written word, we are able to raise money to make a difference in people’s lives. Those are reasons this is one of the best professions in the world.
Where would I most like to live? I’m there. In Ecuador. At 49 years old, I sold everything I owned and bought a plane ticket to Ecuador. I have not had a single moment of regret for the decision. I just wish it was closer to my son.
What is my most treasured possession? Having sold everything and travelled to Cuenca with only two suitcases, I did bring one treasured possession with me. A beautiful wooden pocketknife that was a gift from my son when he was in high school, so I would never have to ask to borrow one from a man again.
What is my most marked characteristic? Oh, I have no idea, can I phone a friend? I suppose it would be my smile. It seems it’s almost always there, I can’t help myself, especially if I know a camera is anywhere in the vicinity. I once passed a man in a hallway that worked for the company I did. He said, “What are you smiling about? You are always smiling.” My response, “Because it makes you wonder what I’m up to.”
What is my most inspirational place in my city? That is REALLY an impossible question for me to answer. I am literally surrounded by inspiration. I could say the magnificent green mountains that seem to touch the bluest sky I’ve ever seen, or the rushing rivers I love so much, but then there are the Incan ruins, where two cultures came together, stopped fighting and lived together peacefully, to the colorful street art and always blooming trees and flowers. Even the people are inspirational, hardworking, fun loving, family oriented, relaxed with magnificent senses of humor.
What is my most favorite place to eat and drink in my city? In a city with over 400 restaurants and a complete palette of gastronomy, I would have to say any of the restaurants with views of the river, or where you can hear the river, or are in a garden setting, or have a view of the city or the mountains. Have you figured out by now, I’m not a very decisive person?
What books influenced my life and how? Life’s Not Fair, But God Is Good, by Robert Schuller is one that comes instantly to mind. It helped me dispel the notion that the God I was brought up to believe in is not a vindictive God, and does not rule through fear. Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell would be an obvious choice for me too, because it taught me that tomorrow is certainly another day. And if you so desire, each and every day you have the choice to recreate who you are.
Who are my favorite writers? Again, too many for this indecisive girl, but right now in my life I would chose those who bucked the system, so to speak. Fern Michaels for persevering against her publishers who wanted her to continue to write romance, when what she really wanted to write was suspense. J.K. Rowling for her incredible imagination and talent and belief in herself to do something new and different for a market no one even knew existed, and E.L. James for the same reasons.
You only die once, what music would you listen to on your last day? I suppose that might depend a little bit on the circumstances, but right now, I think it would be at the least something that would keep my toes tapping, and at the most, something I could dance to. Isn’t that a lovely thought, to dance our way into the next realm, whatever that is?
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Good question to discover how shallow I am! Myra, from Fern Michael’s The Sisterhood series. Myra is a woman of an age, in her sixties I believe when the series starts, who takes what I believe is any mother’s greatest fear, the death of a child, and turns it into something good. Instead of wallowing in it, though she is profoundly devastated, she uses her anger, fear, and grief to channel her energies and those of other women to make a difference to people who are victims denied justice. I want to be like Myra when I grow up.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? A question like this makes me realize how much a person changes throughout a lifetime. While once upon a time I might have chosen an actress, or a pioneer for women’s rights, or a champion for human rights, through my experiences I have a different kind of hero. I have a friend who is an architect, and she has spent nearly her entire working life assisting in disaster relief all over the world, helping communities rebuild. Not just the buildings, but the relationships and hopes and dreams of those communities. And then, because she is gay, gave up a lucrative position in an organization she loved and believed in, because she was not allowed to recognize her wife publically. People like that, who can give up everything most of us consider necessities like clean running water to help others, and still have the strength to stand up for what they believe in. People who have a loving spirit, see gifts where others see trials, are happy despite everything else, those are my heroes and heroines today.
Which movie would you recommend everyone see once in a lifetime? I’m just like everyone else in that there are movies that have shaped and/or affected who I am, what I believe, even how I define my dreams. And as I answer these questions, I am realizing I am much more of a rebel than I ever knew. If I had to pick one movie to recommend, it would be Up Close and Personal with Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Because, it’s a beautiful story, of love, and of building each other up, even when it means sacrificing your own desires, and it doesn’t have the Hollywood requisite happily ever after. Because life seldom is a purely happily ever after.
What role plays art in my life and work? Art is everywhere and the role it plays in my life is everything. I consider art the murals painted on the walls, the music rising from the church, the placement of the white clouds in the sky to define the hue of blue to the combination of words that make the reader feel something unexpected. Through art, I’m led to feel peaceful or energized, happy, soulful, even sad. Art inspires emotion and that’s everything!
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? That would be my mom. It’s an interesting phenomenon that most author’s families are not particularly supportive. My son is supportive, though I don’t think he actually reads my books. My mom was a fan through and through, she sponsored me, cooking for me and making me eat when I would get into writing frenzies and forget things like food and sleep. She embarrassed me on planes and in airports telling anyone who would listen that I was a writer. She died last year and I miss her. I hope she’s proud that I’m still writing. I also have several friends, both longtime friends and new friends who keep me going, watch after me, and challenge me. I’m truly a lucky girl.
Who would I like to work with in 2017? Most of the time writing is a pretty solitary activity. But I sure would love to sit down and have coffee or a glass of wine with Fern Michaels.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? All of those mentioned above. Fern Michaels, Nora Roberts, John Sanford, J.K. Rowling and E.L. James. I think I could make room on my calendar for that. Can you imagine what it would be like to have them all in the same room at the same time?
What project am I looking forward to working on in 2017? In November I’m planning to finish the first two books of a new and different kind of series. A fiction series about those who practice indigenous methods of healing and spirituality. It’s about Shaman, wise women, priestesses, and witches. With some older heroines as well.
Where can you see me or my work in 2017? I’m heavily involved in the Cuenca International Writer’s Conference. The conference is over for 2017, but will be again in May of 2018. You can find me there, on Facebook, and on Amazon.com. If you want to find the new series it will be published under the name of S.J. Braden the first of the year (2018).
What do the words, “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? Retirement is when you get to reap the rewards of a lifetime of work. Passion is something you love, something that pays rewards every day, and therefore, there is no need to retire from passion. I hope on my last day in this lifetime, I am able to write, The End.
Here you can find my books: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlett-Braden/e/B01B6EK7GA
What is Your Story?
One Day Tour with Peter de Kuster in the greatest bookstores of your favorite city. In Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Berlin, London and Amsterdam we offer this unique What is your Story? experience. To (re) write your story about yourself and your work. In the process transforming your capacity to successfully have the creative life and work you love.
In this journey, Peter de Kuster, founder of The Heroine’s Journey explores with you the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our creative business and life.
“Your story is your art, your art is your story,” says Peter. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about our creative challenges, our art, our clients, our money, our self promotion, our time, our families and relationships, our health; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.
Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Peter, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, he asks you to answer the question, “In which areas of my creative life and business is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I’ve got?” He then shows you how to create new, reality-based stories that inspire you to action, and take you where you want to go both in your work and personal life.
Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. Peter’s approach to creating deeply engaging stories will give you the tools to wield the power of storytelling and forever change your creative business and life.
Become a great Storyteller
That’s why I set up What is your Story? service in the great cities of the world and their great bookstores. A new way to use the power of your story. To guide you to life-changing, eye-opening but often elusive works of literature, both past and present, the books of fiction that truly have the power to enchant, enrich and inspire.
In two days with Peter de Kuster you’ll explore your relationship with books so far and your unique story identity will be sketched. You will be guided to books that can put their finger on what you want to rewrite in your story, the feelings that you may often have had but perhaps never understood so clearly before; books that open new perspectives and re-enchant the world for you.
You will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of your session and you’ll be given an instant story advice and books to read to take away. Your full story advice and books to read list will follow within a couple of days.
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of the WHAT IS YOUR STORY? journey.
- What is your Story?
- Are you even trying to tell a Story?
- Old Stories (stories about you, your art, your clients, your money, your self promotion, your happiness, your health)
- Tell your current Story
- Is this Really Your Story?
YOUR NEW STORY
- The Premise of your Story. The Purpose of your Life and Art
- The words on your tombstone
- You ultimate mission, out loud
- The Seven Great Plots
- The Twelve Archetypal Heroines
- The One Great Story
- Purpose is Never Forgettable
- Questioning the Premise
- Lining up
- Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
- The Three Rules in Storytelling
- Write Your New Story
TURNING STORY INTO ACTION
- Turning your story into action
- The Story Effect
- Story Ritualizing
- The Storyteller and the art of story
- The Power of Your Story
- Storyboarding your creative process
- They Created and Lived Happily Ever After
RESERVATION AND FEES
The “What is your Story?” one day fee is Euro 995 excluding VAT per person
Questions? Contact Peter de Kuster at 0031 6 33661772 or mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org