DAB: I have to admit, your website alone inspired me. Tell our readers a little bit about your background that led to this fascinating project.
AMK: Thanks – I appreciate that you took the time to look the website over and so very glad you like what you found there! And thanks for doing this too!
I grew up in a strict Italian-Catholic home. I was a "good girl" - and I know many of your readers will identify. You know, I did all the right things: good grades in school, didn't make problems, became the peacemaker, became a teacher, etc. But the first part of my life included very difficult times - but also contributed to some of the most profound turning points of my life. My father became an alcoholic in my teens (he didn't drink at all before then). My oldest brother was physically and emotionally abusive brother, and my sister was already showing signs that the moodiness (as my mother called it) which she exhibited when I was a child was the beginnings of mental illness.
In my twenties I fell in love and was engaged, only to realize the relationship wasn't going to work out in the long term. I ended the engagement but at the expense of my father's approval. A couple years later, when I moved into my own apartment, my parents (with their strong first-generation Italian values) didn't approve. Not only did they not help in any way, my father didn't talk to me for almost a year. I was teaching in a Catholic elementary school and making next to nothing - or, as I often joke, earning a couple holy cards (prayer cards) a week.
DAB: What was the catalyst that inspired your desire to write “Victorious Woman!”?
AMK: I got the idea to write Victorious Woman in a dream. Then, like many of us who get great ideas that way, I immediately found an excuse to ignore the inspiration. A few months later I started having a gyn problem and the doctor couldn't diagnose it. After ruling out different kinds of cancer, I was waiting for a call and wondering if it was ovarian. If it was, I didn't know what I would do; I didn't even know if I wanted to be treated or just go peacefully into the next world. That’s when the Victorious Woman idea popped into my mind again – and it was like the universe smacking me on the head, and gleefully telling me, “We tried to tell you nicely but you ignored us, so we had to give you the ‘two by four between the eyes’ to get your attention. Now will you write Victorious Woman?” The phone call came moments later and it wasn't cancer. Interestingly, my gyn problem resolved itself within two weeks; it was the outcome of an embolization which, at that time, was an experimental treatment for fibroids. But I wasn't going to fool around anymore. I did my first Victorious Woman interview six weeks later.
DAB: Was this your first foray into writing a book? If so, please tell us a few choice tidbits along the way.
AMK: Yes and no. Early on I mostly wrote in my journal. Later on I wrote business articles (freelance) for magazines. My marriage has an unusual foundation, that is, I only get married for five years at a time. People really liked the idea and, as I was preparing to get married again (to the same man), they encouraged me to write a book about it. The concept was working for me, so I drafted a book about it. Unfortunately, at that time, I couldn't find a publisher who would consider it. So, in 1998, I boxed it up and put it away.
I'm now in the 4th year of my fifth marriage – and it’s still working well. In the years since 1998, I've noticed that the market for my “different twist” on marriage is broader now. So, in 2011, the book came out the box and is in the process of being finished – finally! The Five Year Marriage is generating more interest now and I think it will be better accepted by the public in 2013 than it would have been in 1990s. To everything there is a season!
DAB: How long did it take to write “Victorious Woman!” from concept to final draft?
AMK: I got the inspiration in October 2001 but didn't pay attention until late January 2002. I did my first interview in the spring of 2002 and went to press in 2004; it was available in early 2005.
DAB: Many times I describe writing as a pregnancy and birth experience. Give us a nutshell about how you would describe it.
AMK: Well, it was definitely a birthing experience! I can really appreciate that analogy. But for me I think I felt it was like a roller coaster. Each interview was a “high” and I loved doing them. But the writing part wasn't always easy and, as anyone who writes knows, writing is rewriting. The interviews and getting the published book were both great, but everything in-between was emotionally very up and down.
DAB: In your lifetime, who among your family/friends/acquaintances/memories most inspired you? Tell us about that person and what they did that propelled you forward.
AMK: Cheez, I was so lucky to have wonderful people, mostly women, who guided me. One woman, Jeanne Grayson, has been my spiritual mentor for years and years. I'm not sure my life would be as positive and upbeat if she hadn't shown me a better way to think. It’s what I trust I do for other women through my keynote speaking for groups and associations and with my Victorious Woman Project workshops, webbings, determiners and books. In fact, Jeanne is older now and I often tell her that, because she was good enough to help me, her influence is reaching and helping so many other women.
Specific to Victorious Woman!, it would be Gloria Williams. Almost fifteen years ago, still missing my undergraduate degree, I made the decision to go back to college. It was a curriculum designed for people like me who were way past “traditional” college age. It began with a required first course for research science. Each week I turned in the required paper on some topic I researched. While my grades were mostly in the B+/A category, I somehow presumed that I was just keeping up with the rest of the class. After all, we weren’t kids just starting out as teenager freshman.
But a conversation with Gloria turned things around. She told me that I was one of two students in her class whose writing was head and shoulders above the rest of the class. She also told me that I had a talent and should do something with it.
I graduated, magna cum laude, in 2001. Gloria retired a few years later. We still keep in touch and have a breakfast together from time to time.
If I hadn't returned to finish my college degree, I might never have never written a book that could actually get published. Sometimes, as Robbie Motter (another of my mentors) tells me frequently, it’s all about showing up!
DAB: Do you think it is imperative for success and overcoming life’s obstacles to have that inspiration/encouragement from another person?
AMK: Without a doubt! But it can't be false or phony stuff. Not one of the women who influenced me gave me a pass on the work I did with them. They challenged me and the challenge made me better.
DAB: Please share with us a snippet about your question, “Are you one of the good girls?” and what the meaning is behind the question.
AMK: Those of us who are “good girls” are the ones who did all the things we were expected to do: we went to school and got (at least) decent grades, we didn't cause problems, we kept the peace and accommodated others. Then we got to a certain point in our lives and said to ourselves, “Hey! I've been being a good girl for all this time and where’s it gotten me?”
But being a good girl is a habit so ingrained in some women – many women. And though I don't think of being a good girl like an addiction, it is, like any habit, tough to change. And, because being a good girl serves most of the people in our lives, they aren't happy when we stop. So, when we break through good girl behaviors and replacing them with powerful woman behaviors, everyone doesn't like it. Then we hate the disapproval and rejection that comes with our change; some good girls think it’s easier to be unhappy in our life than to be rejected. So, because of that, I think “good girl” is as difficult a habit to break for good girls as giving up smoking or drinking is for other people. And, BTW, I'm an ex-smoker who really liked smoking, so I know what I'm talking about when I say they're similar!
I was a good girl...I'm better now :-). I sometimes say I'm a recovering good girl. I might have a good girl slip-up once in a while. Fortunately, I've done enough victory stretches to know how to get back on track right away.
In the Victorious Woman Project, I help women find their own path and do the same.
DAB: What other writing projects do you have in the works?
AMK: I have a couple small projects but my big and really exciting one is The Five Year Marriage. I designed the concept because I didn't then and still don't think traditional marriage is all that great a deal for most women. The Five Year Marriage gives her a least a “fighting chance” for a more equal, happier and more satisfying marriage. It isn't for everyone, but there are plenty of women, and the men who love them, that will find it’s a perfect fit for them! I'm hoping it’s out in early early-mid 2013.
DAB: Now’s the time I like to leave for you to share a bit of inspiration for our readers about you, your work, and “Victorious Woman!” – take it away.
AMK: The focus of pretty much everything I do is around women having the power to choose what they really want and create a lifestyle that brings it to them. I don't promise that it’s easy, because it usually isn't. But that’s where the victory comes into play.
Victory is the stretch out of your comfort zone that enables you to go from where you are to where you want to be. When you stay in your comfort zone, you have to settle for whatever is there – and all too often, it’s not what makes you happy or satisfied.
In the first and last chapters of Victorious Woman I tell stories about some of the women I interviewed who did just settle, and what happened to them.
I believe you have a dream that you're meant to fulfill. If you don't, you are unhappy and you get to the end of your life and look back with regret. I don't think it has to be that way for you, me, or any woman.
That’s the idea that gets me up in the morning and keeps me going when things get tough. When I talk to or get email from a woman who has taken my advice, followed the steps, gotten to the other side and is happy – that warms my heart and fill me with joy!
Once again, thank you to Annmarie for visiting the blog and for Tribute Books Blog Tours for bringing us all together. If you know a victorious woman or have someone in your life who desires to become so, be sure and pick up a copy.