I was invited by Joanna White-Oldham to be on the Books and Blogs Panel at this year's WILLiFEST (The Williamsburg International Film Festival) this year. For me, one of the most interesting things about being on a panel, is learning about my fellow panelists, and their personal stories, in this case especially since my fellow panelists were all writers. On the panel were:
Dr. Kirt Gonzales, author of The Chauncey Street Monster, and a licensed Christian Counselor with specialities in treating substance abuse, grief and family issues
G. Anthony Williams, a beauty expert, brand ambassador, entertainment professional and freelance writer
Lauren talked about how she first got herself "out there" by blogging to let her friends and family know about her travels. She's always challenging herself to get out of her comfort zone and now she's started a website called OutThereSocial.com that inspires others to do the same. I'm really excited to see where she goes with this, literally, since she is often off on her latest adventure, traveling somewhere.
I really identified with Lauren's experience because I got on the path to write and experimented with putting my words "out there" so to speak when I started blogging while living in Taiwan. In those days Blogger was the standard. My blog was a way to express my thoughts and to share what I was going through with my friends and family halfway around the world. It was the first time that I put my words out there publicly and it was seemed like a pretty scary thing to do at the time, even though I was basically anonymous and didn't reveal my true identity on the blog.
Dr. Kirt Gonzales talked about what motivated him to write his book The Chauncey Street Monster. The book is not only a raw account of the relationship between his sister and her abusive ex-husband, who ended up murdering her, but also personal story of how Kirt grew up witnessing the physical abuse of his mother and later his sister. It's incredible what he's gone through and that he is now an advocate for domestic violence victims. What was most impressive is that Kirt said he wrote The Chauncey Street Monster in 11 months and that he could have finished writing it even sooner!
G. Anthony Williams talked about his approach to fashion and beauty writing, which is very topical and often requires specific research. It was interesting to hear how he puts a spin on writing about fashion and beauty by using vibrant language to make what might seem mundane fun and new.
It was a pleasure to be on this panel not only because it was an opportunity to speak about my work and to share what I've been through so far in my writing career, but I found myself inspired by my fellow panelists.
Special thanks to Victor Scott Rodriguez for taking these photos!