Tuesday, February 17, 2009

READ IT: Note to Self by Andrea Buchanan

WhenI attended the Glamour Magazine Reel Moments, it was announced that Andrea Buchanan would moderate the panel of women involved in the project. I sat up a little taller, thinking, "I know Andrea! I interviewed her once before!" (on my Conversations with Famous Writers blog) I couldn't wait to talk to her and discuss her latest book.

So imagine my surprise when this tall, gorgeous redhead stood up and introduced herself as Andrea Buchanan. She...wasn't the same Andrea I expected. But lo and behold, after the panel discussion, I spoke to this Andrea and learned about her book, Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I love books. Especially books that empower and teach. Just read the description:

In Note to Self, thirty dynamic women share their inspirational stories with writer, director, and television and film producer Andrea Buchanan. Celebrities such as Grammy Award-winning rock star Sheryl Crow and Emmy Award-winning actress Camryn Manheim join stuntwoman Stacy Courtney, football player Katie Hnida, seventy- year-old HIV-positive grandmother Beverly London, and alcoholic-turned-interventionist Candy Finnigan to reflect on their unforgettable stories of redemption. Punctuated by tears and laughter, these poignant tales are full of incredible strength, invaluable knowledge, insurmountable odds, helpful survival instincts, amazing willpower, humiliation -- sometimes on a national level -- and a hefty dose of humor.

The book subject completely resonated with me, as I feel my life has been one giant learning curve. Ten years ago, I decided to get serious about my writing. I began to earnestly pursue my goal of being a published author and screenwriter. When everything didn't fall into place magically and immediately, I nearly gave up on my dream. Little did I know how much I had to learn, both about the craft of writing and about myself.

You will learn a lot from Note to Self, gaining insight and wisdom from the women featured in Andrea's book. The stories are at once inspiring and devastating and funny and I was very sad when the book came to an end. I keep it on my nightstand so I can page thought it again and again when I need a little encouragement. Following is my interview with Andrea Buchanan, you know...the one who wrote Note to Self. Oh, and I love her blog!

When did you decide to sit down and put this book together? And what inspired you to write it?

I started this project about two years ago. But really it began almost four years ago when I wrote my own story for a writer's group in LA and stood in front of a room full of folks and read it out loud. I had never done anything like that in my life so to say it was life changing is an understatement. It totally changed me, telling my own story, gave me courage to encourage other's to do the same.

This is a five star, must- read book that made me both cry and smile! What has the feedback been like? And any plans to follow this up with another book?

Thank you for that five star, must read review. The feedback has been overwhelming. The most common thing I hear is "I couldn't put it down". It is amazing and I have the women in the book to thank for allowing me to publish their stories and trusting me with them. Yes. Plans are in the works to follow up with a series of books.

How did you find the amazing women to contribute their stories?

I am a very blessed woman and have amazing friends. I would say about 50 % of the contributors are women that I know (some of my closest friends) and the other 50 were referrals and friends of friends. It's amazing what happens when you put your mind to something and put the word out there. I had women calling me to contribute. Well, that happened in the end. It took me a year to get my core group of contributors together.

You are an amazingly accomplished woman. Growing up, did you imagine your life to be like it is now?

Wow. I don't feel that accomplished. I feel like I'm just beginning to find myself and see what I'm really made of. This book has shown me what's possible in life, by connecting with others and helping people heal by telling their stories.. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface in what is ahead. And No. I didn't imagine anything like this...although I always knew that I had something to say.

What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

My biggest challenge right now is too personal to share. Just yet. I'm saving it for my book.

If you could write a note to all the women who are reading Notes to Self, what would it say?

My note to all the women who are reading the book would be:
You are no different than the women in these pages. We are all in this together, and it is a choice to glean insight from a difficult situation. But if you don't make the choice, you don't move forward. So make the choice.

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