This Writer Wednesday, the spotlight shines on indie author Rachel L. Carlyle!
Interviewing Rachel was like chatting with an old friend while taking a stroll in the woods… with a few deer, squirrels, and Tarot decks.
There’s magic in Rachel’s words, and it can be felt when reading this interview. Her most recent work is an anthology called Nightmares When I’m Cold, which is available on Amazon, and her next book, Simple Beauty: Seasonal Rituals for Everyday Magic, is a work of nonfiction releasing in December of 2023.
A quick note:
During this interview, you might note that many of the questions include the word “we” as if “we” asked them. Well, we did. This detail is meant to include you, my dear reader, and I do hope you enjoy each interview published to this blog!
Additionally, please note that each interview answer is the author's own words and the interviews in The Intuitive Storyteller blog are intended for informational and educational purposes only.
Rachel L. Carlyle, an acknowledged wild child by her family, grew up aptly enough, in the “Show Me State.” There, she spent her childhood hunting for eggs in her grandfather’s hen house during the spring, sailing the mighty Mississippi on humid summer days, jumping her bike over leaf-filled creeks in the fall, and ice skating on sketchy frozen ponds in winter. She has been part of a nationally recognized Top 10 All-American high school newspaper publication, trained with Olympic figure skating hopefuls in Colorado, and brushed by an elephant calf on safari in Botswana. When she isn’t up at the crack of dawn doing yoga or writing, she entertains her family and friends conjuring up impromptu dinners with new recipes she creates but never manages to write down. Her most recent published piece is in the anthology Nightmares when I’m Cold available on Amazon.
About Simple Beauty: Seasonal Rituals for Everyday Magic
What is everyday magic?
How do we define it?
Where can we find it?
Is it imagination, longing, curiosity? Or something else entirely?
You are invited to take your own journey of discovery through the pages of Simple Beauty: Seasonal Rituals for Everyday Magic, a weekly guide filled with practices to help you find beauty and comfort, support and ease, in the simple rituals of everyday living.
Rachel’s book Simple Beauty: Seasonal Rituals for Everyday Magic releases on 12/1/2023!
And now, the interview:
Rachel, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
From the time I could pick up a crayon and scrawl a doodle, I have been a writer. My first “published” work was at the tender age of eight when my grade school librarian encouraged me (and any interested student) to write books to add to our little library. Seeing my little hand-drawn illustrations and written books on cooking and fairy tales tucked into the stacks with true hardbound published works and recorded in our little library catalog drawers was a thrill beyond measure.
Tell us about the person(s) or event(s) that inspired you to write your latest work.
I have a small circle of friends, who are also writers, with whom I have shared some of my daily rituals. All of them have encouraged me to write this book. One even went so far as to actually come up with the title and has promised to write the foreword. No pressure, right?!
What is your favorite genre to write and why do these types of stories appeal to you?
That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child! I enjoy dabbling in everything. Haiku, free verse, flash fiction, mysteries, psychological horror. This current project spans several different genres including inspirational nonfiction and poetry.
Do you have a furry familiar? Tell us about them!
If the legion of furry animals inhabiting my small backyard urban oasis count, then yes! Stubby the Geriatric Squirrel, the darling does, mated broad shouldered hawks keeping a sharp eye on the ecosystem, the raucous hoot owl and conclave of cardinals. We are stewards of a true sanctuary. They all inspire me and are often a part of my daily spiritual practices.
Tell us about your writing schedule and/or a ritual that is necessary for establishing and sustaining your writing mood and endurance.
Early every morning, I light a candle and pull a card from an oracle deck and a word from a self-created monthly list that I share on my social media platform. My mother is also a lovely part of my writing practice, as she pulls a card for me from a matching art/oracle deck we share and then texts me the word. I always write some form of poetry using the prompts, usually a haiku, that I then record in a perpetual devotional journal. From there, l move on to whatever work in progress needs or wants my attention.
Why do you write? How does the act of storytelling affect you?
Writing is a reimagining and release for me. A way to process all the random thoughts, observations, fragments of memories, encounters that define my days. All serve as catalysts for remembering my life’s journey.
Think about yourself back when you first started writing. If you could travel back in time, what would you say to that version of you (about the writing process, publishing, the world, etc.) that might help prepare them for today?
Don’t let anyone define you, what you can or cannot do. I started out as a journalism major in college and gave up that dream because of a few negative experiences. I would tell my future self, “It is not only okay to fail, it is imperative. Your biggest failures will be your best teachers, and nothing can truly substitute for personal experience.”
What are your recommendations for fueling your writing energy and promoting inspiration?
Engage in activities completely outside your comfort level and expertise. And do this daily. Even if only for five minutes. Never tried Tai Chi? Google a YouTube video. Want to learn Italian? There’s an app for that. A fan of country? Try listening to jazz instead. Check out a different genre from the library. Open your heart and mind to the incredibly rich diversity of experiences literally at your fingertips. It causes the neurons and synapses in your brain to fire along completely different pathways. Literal sparks of inspiration!
How intuitive are you and does your intuition affect your writing?
On a scale of 1-10, a solid 10 on good days. Far less than that when my ego or impatience gets in the way. Intuition is, in large part, the convergence of past experience and probability. But it is also the practice of getting very still and quiet and listening to your wise inner knowing.
Intuition is, in large part, the convergence of past experience and probability. But it is also the practice of getting very still and quiet and listening to your wise inner knowing.
Tell us about your long-term writing and publishing goals.
I have a mystical coming-of-age trilogy that I began almost 10 years ago that is my heart and soul. The protagonist is a late bloomer by standard genre definitions, which I think will appeal to a large number of folks at any stage of their lives. Hope Springs Eternal. Even if there is snow on the roof! Book one in the series is in the first round of drafts. The other two have rough frameworks and titles with seeds of ideas for conclusions. Of course, that is always subject to change depending on where the characters lead me.
For what or whom are you most grateful right now and why?
Hundreds of small things that add up to one really big thing. Life. The past two years have completely altered my World / Universe view and my place in it. Yes, it sounds corny and trite, but I’m ridiculously grateful to still be here and to have cherished beings to share the journey.
Besides writing, what activities bring you joy?
Hikes in nature is my joy and reset. The most beautiful spiritual encounters come from my time in the woods, by the water. And of course, reading! I can’t imagine being a writer and not finding joy in a good turn of someone else’s phrase or the ability to travel to times and places, meet people and beings beyond the scope of my current human experience.
Which book are you reading right now?
Go Tell the Bees I have Gone, by Diana Gabaldon
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Inheritance of Orquidea Divna, by Zoraida Córdova
Fill in the blank: Magic is...
Magic is the soul’s spark. It is everywhere, in everything. WE are magic.
Stay connected with Rachel! Here’s where you can find her:
Next up, I’m continuing my Tarot Stories series with the next card in the deck: The Moon.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative or on Facebook at @haintbluebooks.