Morgen: Hello, Marlene. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Marlene: I’m an old teacher who began her writing career by converting lesson plans to books. My very first, The Language of Leadership, was based on a curriculum I had written for a university course I was teaching in Los Angeles. The proposal was accepted by a publisher and was also named a Main Selection by Doubleday’s executive book club. Currently, I’m in Rochester, NY, virtually retired by writing every day nonetheless.
Morgen: Congratulations. I’ve described you as a non-fiction author, what type of books do you write?
Marlene: I do books on the “soft side” of business and have written one fictionalized memoir (of my father and struggled with every word. Non-fiction is so much easier for me).
Morgen: I’m the opposite, it’s fiction all the way for me. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Marlene: No pseudonym, over 60 books published, list below…
- Mcgraw-Hill Publishers: ‘Quality Games For Trainers’, ‘Great Session Openers, Closers & Energizers’, ‘Leadership Skills For Manager’, ‘The Big Book Of Meeting Games’
- Macmillan: ‘One-To-One For Managers’, ‘One-To-One For Sales Professionals’,
- American Management Association: ‘Empower Yourself’, ‘The Business Ethics Activity Book’ (co-released with HRD Press)
- Crisp Publications: ‘Thinking On Your Feet’, ‘Leading Honorably’
- St. Lucie Press: ‘Quality Care’
- Publish America: ‘The Boy Who Braved The Mountains’
- Quality Resources (Kraus Organization): ‘Breakthrough Creativity’
- Richard Chang & Associates: ‘Memory Tips for the Forgetful’
- Human Resource Development (HRD) Press: ‘The Language of Leadership’, ‘Total Quality Transformations’, ‘Total Quality Training’, ‘Quality Leadership’, ‘Creating a High Performance Culture’, ‘Continuous Learning in Organizations’, ‘Quick Wits’, ‘Manager’s Guide Influence with Integrity’, ‘Business Ethics’
- Skillpath Publications: ‘Risk-Taking (with David Harris)’, ‘Hiring & Firing’, ‘Meetings that Work’, ‘Promoting Yourself’, ‘The Innovative Secretary’, ‘A Grapple a Day (calendar)’, ‘P.E.R.S.U.A.D.E’, ‘Info-Flood’, ‘Defeating Procrastination’
- South-Western Thomson Learning: ‘Interpersonal Skills’
- American Media Incorporated: ‘That’s No Problem!’, ‘Empowerment Works’
- Pfeiffer/Jossey-Bass: ‘Quality Driven Designs’
- Center For Professional Development (the following are self-published): ‘Principled Persuasion: Sell Your Ideas without Selling Your Soul’, ‘Poka-Yoke Your Training: 101 Ways to Foolproof Your Training
- PowerWriting’, ‘Communicate with Quality’, ‘The Quality Secretary’, ‘From Energy to Synergy (workbook)’, ‘Think the Unthinkable (workbook)’, ‘Starting Over’, ‘New Gear Resolutions’, ‘Obstacle Illusions: Turning Crisis to Opportunity’, ‘Performing under Pressure Gracefully’, ‘Diplomacy for the Verbally Challenged’, ‘Maximize Your Mind; Peak Your Performance’, ‘The Perfect Comeback’, ‘S-Team Success’, ‘Right Words at Work’, ‘Richuals at Work’, ‘Managing at Work: 250 Ways to enhance productivity, professionalism and personal well-being’.
- ‘Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate’
Morgen: Wow. How many lifetimes have you lived? 🙂 With your self-published books, what lead to you going your own way?
Marlene: It’s easier and quicker to self-publish.
Morgen: That’s true. Anyone can have their eBooks online in a matter of hours (minutes, sometimes). Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Marlene: I do have a few ebooks. As far as reading them is concerned, I have to admit I prefer paper.
Morgen: Most people do, even those of us who enjoy reading electronic. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Marlene: As I look back, I think all of my publishers have allowed me to keep the titles I’ve proposed.
Morgen: Perhaps easier for non-fiction? What are you working on at the moment / next?
Marlene: I’ve been playing with some whimsical titles. Ultimately, I think they’ll become short e-books. I’m also editing two books I’ve done recently–one on leadership and one on motivation.
Morgen: Given the amount of books you’ve written, this is probably a redundant question but do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Marlene: I do write daily, but the writing is not always for books. I don’t believe in writer’s block–if we are alive, we are thinking. And, if we are thinking, we can write.
Morgen: Very true which is why I welcome all writers on to my blog. I think that if a writer writes (or an agent agents / publisher publishes / editor edits) they have something to say. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Marlene: I hate doing anything a second time. So, I approach my books with the understanding that each will get a one-time, full-time commitment from me.
Morgen: Again I guess this would be easier for non-fiction. I tend to re-read my fiction four or five times but once or twice for my non-fiction (which really is only about the craft of writing). Do you have to do much research?
Marlene: I try to avoid it.
Morgen: Oh me too. Google / Wikipedia are my best friends. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Marlene: About 100 of them. I will die before I can write all the books I have outlined. When I lived in LA, I wrote a few scripts (influenced no doubt by a family member who had become a film producer–vp of productions for Julie Andrews and husband Blake Edwards). But these will probably never be revisited.
Morgen: I’m only (just turned) 45 but I’m pretty sure I have more ideas that I can write in my lifetime, even at a story a day. Do you pitch for submissions and / or are you commissioned to write?
Marlene: I’ve had both situations–pitches and the request to do a “work-for-hire”. More often, though, I have pitched.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Marlene: Like every writer, I’ve had my share of rejections. I just move on to my next project or query letter.
Morgen: The best way to react. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Marlene: I’ve never had an agent. I don’t think they are vital but they certainly are known for striking great deals for authors.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Marlene: Alas, I do virtually no marketing. (I’d rather write than sell) If I were inclined to self-promotion, I’d be a lot richer than I am.
Morgen: 🙂 I think all writers would rather write – it’s what we are, after all but sadly these days marketing is a necessarily evil (“marketing” is usually the answer to ‘what’s your least favourite aspect of writing’. Do you have a favourite of your books? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Marlene: My first book is my favorite, no doubt because it launched my career. If my fictionalized memoir were filmed, the lead actor would have to be Armand Assante.
Morgen: You mentioned earlier keeping your titles, did you have any say in the covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Marlene: I think covers are critical, which is why I leave decisions regarding them in the hands of true professionals.
Morgen: Do you plan your books or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Marlene: I do an outline of my business books and detail what I think they should include.
Morgen: Do you write any poetry? If so, why do you think it’s such a difficult market to break into? Are there any tips you could give to someone wishing to write poetry?
Marlene: I write poetry on occasion. The rejection rate is about 95%, though. Why is it so difficult? I suspect because books of poetry by unknown authors really don’t make money for publishers? The advice I’d give, if you are a poet, is to share your poems with family and friends. And, if you like a good challenge, fashion them into songs or greeting card verses.
Morgen: Good idea. I’d love to write songs (and greeting cards) and keep saying that I don’t know where to start but I guess it’s like any form of writing, you have to read it first. Do you write any short stories?
Marlene: My one fictionalized memoir, about my father’s childhood, is actually a collection of short stories.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Marlene: I write in all three persons.
Morgen: I mentioned this earlier, what’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Marlene: I hate to proofread. It’s tedious and I’m always in too much of a hurry. I was surprised by the ease with which a publisher accepted my first book, The Language of Leadership. I was also surprised that it was named a Main Selection by a Book Club.
Morgen: Write what an editor is after and it will seem easy. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Marlene: Analyze the writing of your favorite authors and understand, through careful explications, what works. Write small–i.e., developed a perfectly articulated concept and then pitch it. Even if it is not accepted, you have the beginning of your book. Write it and–if no publisher wants it–make it into an ebook and sell it on Amazon.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Marlene: I’d serve veal paupiettes a la duchesse because I like the sound of the dish. And I’d include Gregory Peck and Harper Lee… or Anna Akhmatova, Anais Nin, and Pablo Picasso and in honor of their cultures: Russian blintze, Veal French, and Spanish paella.
Morgen: The food sounds gorgeous so I think I could let you have five people. 🙂 Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Marlene: I love the word “reify” because it speaks the same language as this favorite quote by Hans Christian Andersen: “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale of all.”
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Marlene: I subscribe to HARO and submit short pieces for articles others are writing. I also write articles for various ezines.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Marlene: I swim daily, entertain frequently and make gift baskets / art work for local charities.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Marlene: In the future, writers will be everyone you meet. Because the Internet has made publishing so very easy, anyone can (and should) be writing.
Morgen: I say that to my non-writing friends. You never know what will come out when you put pen to paper / fingers to keyboard. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Marlene: http://www.saatchionline.com/LainaCelano, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marlene-Caroselli/e/B001H6W55O or simply Google my name to learn more.
Morgen: Thank you, Marlene.
I invited Marlene to include an extract of her writing and this the preface to The Boy Who Braved the Mountains (Marlene’s father’s story):
He was not an important man. Nor a man known beyond his immediate circle. He was simply a man who hated hypocrisy but loved his family, loved his family fiercely. A man who cherished freedom but joined the Communist party. A man who never rose above the level of assembly-line worker, but a man who read Rollo May and Thomas Wolfe at night. He was schooled only until the fourth grade but could quote Dante in the original. He was raised in the Vatican’s homeland but rebelled against the Church as a child. He was, quite simply, a man of enormous complexity and simplicity. A man of contradictions.
He was my father and parts of his being are everyone’s father–the values imbued, the knowledge shared, the sense of adventure instilled. Learn how the events and Fellini-like characters from his youth shaped the man he became.
Learn, too, about the facets of a small Italian community, such as the cemetery that lies nestled in the gently undulating hills above Celano, Italy. The brittle, silvery leaves of olive trees whisper to the tombstones there, creating the smallest disturbances in the buttery scene. The Abruzzi sun bleaches the air and the marble and the earth to stillness, as it has done for centuries.
In this cemetery, in these hills, one gravestone in particular offers a prophetic insight into the future. When we were children, my father reminded us of those gravestone words whenever we scoffed at the caution learned by those older than we. He tried to change our youthful irreverence, with its brilliant, insouciant optimism, to awareness–awareness of time and its inexorable progress toward old age. Convinced we would never succumb to toothlessness, hair loss, or arthritic knees, the words barely penetrated our thin shell of experience. The words come back now, though: “As you are, I once was. As I am, you will be.”
The stories that were an insignificant part of my childhood have been transformed, in my own adulthood, into a tribute to my father and the undeniable spirit that led him across the Atlantic Ocean. Newly revisited, that spirit has led me to the tiny graveyard once again.
This story, then, an insight into childhood in a faraway time, a distant land, a time and place so removed that it bears little relevance to children today. On the other hand, perhaps it bears all the relevance in the world. Such foreign places lie in the heart of every elderly person you know. The only passport you need to enter is the willingness to listen. Visit there often. You’ll learn, as I did in dewy morning conversations with my father, about the past and how it can shape your future. Scan the verses of an elderly person. Learn the meter of their days. Delight in their stanzas before Death denies their words a place on blank pages.
A vignette that tells the story of Marlene’s father’s birth, told by Modestina, the mid-wife who delivered him is entitled ‘Modestina’ appeared on my blog as a Flash Fiction Friday on 27th July and can be read here.
I then invited Marlene to include a synopsis of one of her books and this is of ‘Jesus, Jonas, Janus’…
This book was conceived when I gave a speech with the same title. In it, I explored the ways three prominent figures demonstrated leadership. No matter your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), no matter your knowledge of science, no matter your interest in really ancient history, there is much to be learned from the lessons these leaders taught—directly or indirectly.
Jesus, for example, was fond of vivid imagery and metaphor and parables. Nearly two thousand years later, we find management experts like Jim Kouses and Warren Bennis encouraging leaders to use these stylistic devices in their communications. In fact, one of the best management books around is titled Managing by Storying Around. In it, author David Armstrong recognizes the value of stories, as Jesus did so long ago. In a similar vein,
Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett coined the phrase “management by walking around” to describe a person-oriented style of relating to others. Jesus of Nazareth, of course, did the very same thing as he walked among his people. He reached out and touched, long before lyricists and Madison Avenue ad writers made the phrase popular.
Jesus, Jonas, Janus looks at concepts associated with these prominent figures and applies those concepts to the practice of leading others. The frequently asked question, “What would Jesus do?” is one of several presented in the book. Additionally, we will look at “How did Jonas [Salk] solve problems?” and “How can the Janusian method be used to make good business practices better?”
Today, we have leadership authors like John Maxwell encapsulating leadership principles that, upon reflection, are echoes of what was being done centuries ago. “Others will not care about how much you know,” Maxwell asserts, “until they know how much you care.” Those familiar with the Bible are also familiar with Jesus’ manner of comforting those who were poor or suffering.
(The difference between those who genuinely care and those who may use the less fortunate as a career opportunity is perhaps best illustrated by an encounter between Mother Teresa and a reporter. She was tending to the lepers in the Shanti Nagar (“Town of Peace”) colony. A reporter was shadowing her, looking for photo ops. At one point, as she reached down to comfort a man infected with the disease, his skin disfigured by sores, she overheard the reporter’s distaste for the scene. “Ugh,” he said under his breath. I wouldn’t touch that man with a ten- foot pole!”
“Neither would I,” was Mother Teresa’s rejoinder, as she leaned over the man to comfort him and laid her hands on his head.)
The book is divided into three parts, one for each member of the leadership triumvirate. It is not intended to provide background information or extensive biographical information about the triumvirate.
Instead, I’ve distilled my knowledge of these three figures into a single word. And, we’ll explore that word in relation to leadership. We’ll focus on the concept of PRINCIPLES as we study the words of Jesus. We’ll examine NATURE as the result of Dr. Jonas Salk’s recognition of its importance in problem-solving. And;
4. We’ll learn how the concept of OPPOSITES relates to leadership in the section named for the Roman god of beginnings (and ends).
Within each of the large divisions are chapter titles related to the three main concepts. leader’s style. You’ll find, too, suggestions for further learning, questions for consideration, exercises in which you may wish to engage. Because I consider writing a means of “teaching on paper” (or on a computer screen, in the case of an e-book), I’ve made this a self-help book for the business person hoping to flex his or her leadership muscles. Ideally, not only will those metaphorical muscles grow more solid, but your colleagues and customers will benefit from your exercise and exploration as well.
She has published over 60 books, including Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
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You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.