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Interview with Janet Givens from “Author Janet Givens”

Interview with Janet Givens from “Author Janet Givens”

By: | September 14, 2018 | Tags: , | 50 comments

Get your cup of coffee, then meet Janet and enjoy the Interview with Janet Givens from “Author Janet Givens”

All about your BLOG:
Tell us about you lovely BLOG.

What is the name of your blog and how did you decide on your blog name? 

I love to tell the story of And So It Goes, though it’s not short. It involves ABC news reporter Linda Ellerbe and author Kurt Vonnegut and it begins in high school, long before I knew either of them. I wrote a weekly column for our school paper and its name translated to “Such is Life” a phrase my teenage ears resonated with. My sophomore year I called it “C’est La Vie” since I was taking French that year. My junior year, when I’d changed from French to Spanish, I called it “Asi es La Vida.”

Decades later, I met Linda Ellerbe at a political rally and began watching her on TV; her closing was usually “And so it goes.”  In between high school and Linda Ellerbe, I read Slaughterhouse Five.  In it, Kurt Vonnegut describes Lot’s wife – you know, the one that didn’t do as she was told and got turned into a pillar of salt.  I loved how he described her, ending his summary with “So it goes.”  I believe Ellerbe picked up on this for ending her news stories.

As I was delving into what to name mine, I tried it on and liked it. The stories I bring to the blog are often (I hope) ones that lend themselves to a C’est la vie kind of approach.  Such is life, and so it goes, one foot in front of the other.  Life just goes on; let’s just take a quick look at it..

What prompted you to start on this blogging journey?

My publisher told me I had to. (And I’m so glad she did.)  As she said back then, I’ll sell 50 eBooks for every print book I sell.  So maintaining a presence with folks who are digitally savvy is important. But more so is my message about staying curious in the face of an ever changing world.

To date, what blogging achievement/s are you most proud of?

I’m pleased that I’ve blogged faithfully, every Wednesday for over six years. I had my 300th blog post in July. I love the faithful community of subscribers that has grown over those years. And I love that my readers circle the globe.

How would you describe your own blogging style?

Chatty? My husband always says my blogs sound like the way I talk. I like that.

What excites you most about blogging?

I learn new things with each blog. The research that goes into each one varies, of course, with the topic. But each week I have learned something new

What platform do you use and why?

I’m on WordPress dot ORG because it’s what my first web designer recommended.  Since then I’ve heard everything from “it’s the only one if you want to be taken seriously” to — actually, that’s the one I keep hearing.  I admire those bloggers, though, who can tackle the details of blogging on the dot COM site.  That’s not for me.  And, frankly, I tend to stay away from the others as they don’t play nicely with WP. Bloggers who comment on my WP.org site can, for example, choose to link back to their latest blog post through the CommentLuv widget I’ve added. I like that ability to share and support each other. That’s what first drew me to you, Esme.

What genre/topic/theme do you blog about? Do you ever deviate from that theme?   

My mission, as I pull it from my website’s ABOUT page is:

to foster curiosity in cross-cultural experiences, both at home and abroad–especially the ones
that make us gasp (and giggle, I’ll add here).

I began to blog before my Peace Corps memoir came out (At Home on the Kazakh Steppe) and did so at the urging of my publisher. “Write on the themes from your book,” she told me. My themes were friendship across cultures, the power of culture on the individual, and the stress and eventual joy that comes when one confronts cultural differences with curiosity, compassion, and courage (by new three Cs).  Those themes have evolved over the years, of course.  And, since I’m an old political wonk, I find our current political morass compelling to explore. I loved the series I did on Civil Discourse (LEAP FROG) and am reworking those posts into a short eBook for distribution.

How often do you blog per week or month?

I tried blogging the recommended three times a week, but it wasn’t for me. My blog launches now every Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. EST. (New York time). That’s a nod to my first international follower, Ian Mathie, a Brit who was so supportive in my early years; his comment was always the first one I’d find when I woke up and it often set the tone for the others. He died unexpectedly last year and the grief I felt over his passing, given I’d never actually met him, was striking. Friendships formed in this medium can be powerful, and real.

Do you have any wisdom or tip/s regarding blogging to share with us? 

I’m a big fan of Kristen Lamb’s teachings on blogging: Get your name out there, that’s your brand (This was a workshop for authors.). Leave lots of white space. Use images widely (and wisely, I’d add). Make reading it easy on the reader. Proofread! Twice. Be predictable – schedule so your readers know when to expect you. Don’t make it too long (500 words max if you post more than once a week; 1,000 if weekly). Capture your subscribers’ emails (I use Mail Chimp). Things like that. She also says to toss in a few cute kittens now and again. I’ve refrained from this one.

Do you participate in linkup parties? How do you feel about it? 

I have no idea what these are, so I guess not. I did try something on Goodreads once but was quite turned off by the experience.  And, when I’m going to have time to reciprocate, I do post to your Senior Salon. I’ve found a few good bloggers there that I enjoy following.


Interview with Janet Givens from “Author Janet Givens”

All about YOU:
Tell us something about you, the real YOU.

What do you like to do other than blogging?

I love to write.  I could write all day if other parts of my life didn’t call. It is how I feed my soul. I also love to work in my woods.  We have 30 acres here in Vermont’s Green Mountains and I feel quite an affinity for them as steward, guardian. I raise chickens and just this past year we opened up as an AirBnB site – a guest room in our home, a campsite across the road, our yurt, and just this week, the old RV pad my mom used to use.  We’ve met fascinating people from all over the world as a result.

Where do you reside?

Yup – still in Vermont’s Green Mountains on 30 acres.  That’s in the northeastern part of the US.  It is part of New England, the six most northeastern states of the US: Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.  We are of Yankee stock up here.  Long winters, in sync with nature (usually), with an enormous pride in education. Vermont is my seventh state and 15th mailing address.

Are you an indoor or outdoor person? 

Depends.  I am pulled to get outside when I’ve been inside writing all morning. I love to snowshoe in the winter, walk (and hike) in the summer. Swim all year. I do a LOT of gardening, some of which I thoroughly enjoy. I also like to veg in my recliner and watch a great movie on our TV.  And I love late night bubble baths or curling up in front of the woodstove in the winter with my Kindle..

Do you still work, and if so, what is your trade/profession? 

Funny you should ask. I have considered writing to be my profession for the past ten years. BUT, in honor of my 70th birthday in late August, I’m returning to my former profession of Gestalt psychotherapist, opening a small practice, one or two days a week, and offering video counseling sessions since where I live is so remote.  Interesting, once I decided to do that, I stopped feeling “old” (whatever that actually means). Gestalt is an experiential, existential, and holistic therapy. I did a series of blog posts on it throughout August for anyone really curious.

Or are you retired? If so, what do you do besides blogging? 

“Retire” is what they do to racehorses when their careers are over. Of course, it’s also called “going out to stud.” That’d be fun. ☺️

Do you wish to be 20-something or the age you are now and why? 

20 again? Oh my heavens no. I love my life right now. I love the flexibility it offers, the serenity of no longer having to measure up to someone else’s standards, the wisdom that has certainly come as I learn from my many, MANY mistakes.

What makes your day a good and happy one? 

When I cross something off my To Do list, comes first to mind. But that feels a tad flip and this is a really great question. Giving it a bit more thought, I’d say that while feeling productive is important to me, so is self-care, connecting with someone new, and staying serene in the midst of chaos. I am fascinated by people, all sorts. They are endlessly fascinating – the whys and wherefores; I imagine that’s why I love the therapy work I do.  I also love when I find myself in the company of someone new who is smart and knowledgeable about something of which I know nothing. That is always deliciously exciting. Listening to my body, knowing at the end of the day I’ve honored its needs, sends me serenely off to sleep. Of course, that’s the goal; I’m also human.

Describe yourself in 3 words. 

Curious, compassionate, courageous – the values I emphasize in my FB posts and in my blogging.  I plan to write more on each of them soon.

Share with us 3 interesting facts about yourself. 

  • For the first forty-two years of my life a debilitating stutter guided my life – how could I keep this shameful fact hidden? Once I learned I really did not have to hide it, once I accepted that it was a part of me and truly OK to embrace the whole of me, (I was 42 at the time) I came to realize (a few years later) I wasn’t even thinking about it any more. I’ve been a keynote speaker, give book talks and readings often, and have given workshops and written a textbook on stuttering and my approach to it.  That was a fun era. Then my hubs and I gave it all up and went into the Peace Corps.
  • I am married to a man I met over the Internet, long before chat rooms and dating sites were big. Actually, we first had an exchange in 1989 on the old CommDis listserve out of RPI. So, when I came across his name again in 1993 when he asked me to introduce myself, (I’d just joined his email discussion group) he was at least a familiar name to me.
  • I almost dated Elton John (friends have expanded on this plot to say I “almost married” him). It’s a good story.

Do you have any other tidbits to share with us about yourself?

I raise chickens?
Serve in the local guardian ad litem program.
Sing in a hospice choir, a truly satisfying privilege.
I used to sing tenor but went to a singing camp a few years ago and came out a mezzo-soprano.
Stopped watching TV news nearly 12 years ago. I read my news now.

Last but not least:

Please share with us your social media links, in order for our readers to follow you!

Facebook Author Page
Blog (my blog is my landing page, but there’s more; explore)

Amazon Author Page

I’m also on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram theoretically. There’s just not enough time in the week to do them justice. And I joined MIX not long ago, but haven’t read their welcome email yet. 

What are you waiting for I know you want to do it

What are you waiting for I know you want to do it

Interview with Janet Givens from “Author Janet Givens”
  1. This is a really good format and I enjoyed reading Janet’s answers!

    • Thank you so much Debbie, much appreciated. Deb, I am not home at the moment, so unable to check, have I asked you if you would like to participate in these Interviews. Please let me know if interested, as if not, I would love to showcase you and your blog. Please drop me an email via my About Page and consider it done.

  2. Fantastic interview that kept my interest word by word. I’ve enjoyed Janet’s blog for several years and thought I did know everything about her – how wrong I was! Just out of thisvinterview she has enough here for one blog every week for a year! 🤗

    • Hi Pamela. Thanks for your great review and comment. What do you say to an interview here. I would so love to showcase you and your blog, please drop me an email via my about page and consider it done.

    • Hey Pam. How nice to see you here. Has it been years already? My, the time flies. You have one of the most creative blogs of the many I follow, so I take the compliment gratefully. Thank you. I finished The Right Wrong Man recently, btw. Review is on my TD list. A fun read. Again, Thanks for popping in.

  3. Much enjoyed this thank you Esme for sharing it and Janet for your words! Great to hear more about you! I also stuttered badly from childhood until my early 20’s and still do when tired. Have a great week!

    • Dear Susan, thanks for your visit and note. So good to meet you here. Susan, how about and what do you think of also doing an Interview or a guest post. P,ease let me know as I would love to have you here. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Oh Susan, we must get together some day. So much to talk about. Thanks for stopping by

  4. Great interview and enjoyed learning more about Janet. I wouldn’t go back to being in my 20s either. Love her three words and yes to meeting incredible people via blogging. Thank you.

    • Hi Amelia. Thanks so much. Those three words seem to crop up often in my life and I find each one is strengthened by the other two

  5. You are exactly as you reveal yourself here. Why? I’ll pull out generous as my favorite descriptor because I met you personally twice for a writers’ retreat at your invitation.

    You are at the cutting edge in many ways. I had no idea you met your true love on the internet so long ago.
    P.S. Your photo improves with age 🙂

    • Aww, thanks Marian. I miss those writing retreats. .trying to decide if my yurt would suffice. It would have to be a retreat for writers who camp. Thanks for the compliment though. I have to say writers in general have been a most generous lot. It goes with the territory. What we go can be do isolating, we need people.

    • Marian may I ask if you would be interested to also participate in an Interview. I would love to showcase your blog and you here. Please let me know.

  6. Hi, Janet. Sure enjoyed both segments of your interview and feel like we just sat down for a visit at your place, neighbor! 🙂

  7. Lots of new insights here! Super interview. I also cannot hit three blog posts per week and be happy with them.

    • Hi Fancy Paper Blog. Even though the three a week were different — one was a video and one a repost; only Wednesday’s stayed as text. — I still couldn’t keep up. Replying to Comnents takes time. And it’s the part I enjoy very much. Thanks for stopping over.

  8. I follow Janet’s blog but learned more about her from this interview. Fascinating stuff!

    • Hi Clive. We first met through the original Senior Salon I think. Back when Bernadette had it. Have you heard from her recently? I’d like to know how she’s doing.

  9. GREAT JOB JANET, both here and on your blog. You are great at making us think!

    • Many thanks, my friend. Nice to see you here. These questions are all posted on Esme’s website, under “Interviews.” It’s a good exercise I think.

    • Joan, as Janet mentioned the questions, let me know if you would be interested to partcipate in an interview. Pop over to my About page, drop me an email and consider it done. I would love to get to know you better via the Interview.

  10. Great job, Janet, here and on your blog. You keep people thinking!

  11. Wonderful interview, Janet! Since I’ve met you in person, I can say, this does sound just like you. 🙂

    • I’m becoming far too predictable in my autumnal years. Must think of something to surprise you with. Hmmmm. Thanks for stopping in.

    • Merril, thanks for visiting and yes I need to ask you as well, to think about it and let me know if you would be interested in participating in an interview. I for sure would love to have you here.

      • Thank you so much, Esme! I will think about it. I’ve only been lurking in the group because I haven’t felt I have the time to really participate.

  12. A lovely interview, Janet and as an ex-choir girl I can relate to the joy singing brings to the soul…It also seems many of us don’t watch the news…Good to get to know you better 🙂

    • Thank you Carol. Esme’s list was a good one to get me thinking. I love feeling the vibrations made when I’m singing in a group. Is harmony in Thailand much different than here in the West? It certainly was in Kazakhstan.

  13. Thanks so much for popping in and saying hello, Pamela. I do think the more we know of one another, the better connection we feel and I look forward to learning more about you in Esme’s next interview.

  14. Love this interview. Janet Given’s blog is one I read consistently. Thank you for making her even more real for me.

    • Hi Gael. Thanks for popping in here with Janet. Have I asked, if not, how about an interview from you. Please let me know. I would love that

    • Hi Gael. How nice to hear from you again. You are one of the four people I know who have been to Antarctica. I’m SOOOOO impressed. Envious actually.

      • It was an amazing experience in an amazing place! Truly a trip of a lifetime. BTW, I LOVE your writing. You are one of the few that I go looking for if you haven’t hit my email at the crack of dawn. Don’t want to miss anything!

        • I’m very grateful for your comment, Gael . Thank you. Great timing too as I’ve been revisiting what my impact really is.

  15. Lovely to learn more about you Janet. It is nice to meet a fellow gardening enthusiast and singer. 🌼

    • Hi Brigid, Thanks for hopping over to say HI to Janet an

    • Hello Brigid. Those are two of the greatest gifts I give myself — to sing and to dig in the soil. I’ve come relatively late to both so perhaps that’s why I value them so much. Would love to know more about you. Do you have a blog? I don’t see a link.

  16. Janet is a very interesting person and I love her blog. I don’t watch TV news either. A great interview!!

  17. Well, it’s certainly nice to get to “know” you Janet! What a lovely interview!!!

    • Pamela, Just love these Interviews to see the other side of our blogging buddies. You’re next in queue if I am not mistaken.

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