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In today’s blog I am pleased to introduce you to author Maggie Mendus. Her book of poetry, entitled “Broken Consciousness: Reflections of an Epileptic,” traces her lifetime experiences with epilepsy. I have personally read the book and found it to be very well-written, giving the reader a clear picture of her experiences with epilepsy. Below are some of her book’s many Amazon reviews followed by an interview with Maggie.
“Ms. Mendus takes the reader on a heartwrenching ride through poetry inspired by her experiences with epilepsy. One can visualize her experiences well through her perfectly chosen words. While I do not have epilespy, I can feel the raw emotions that Ms. Mendus feels when being gripped by a seizure and when in recovery. I wish her continued good health and know these poems will speak truth to fellow sufferers.”
“Maggie Mendus’ book “Broken Consciousness” Reflections of an Epileptic, takes us on a poetic vision of what it is like to have seizures…with sensitivity, depth, feeling and clarity.
I have a bundle of favorites: War, Tonic-Clonic Seizure, Decrescendo, Seizure, Resting, Brain Storm, Looking Ahead, Tension (one of my very favorites) and A Note to You.
Whether you have epilepsy, know someone who has epilepsy or just want the education of awareness, this is a book you don’t want to miss.
A “must” for all those with an open heart!”
“As a writer and someone with epilepsy this book holds special meaning for me. There are poignant poems that remind me of my own experiences and yet, despite the sorrow, I can still enjoy Ms. Mendus’ elegant ability to capture a moment in words. The poems are well-crafted and precise in providing an emotional focus on the state of mind of a person with epilepsy. There is comfort in knowing that these experiences, which are surreal and inexplicable to most of the population, can actually be expressed as Maggie Mendus has achieved in her poems. Broken Consciousness allows a reader without epilepsy to enter the mind and world of a person with epilepsy. It is a must-read for those who have epilepsy in their lives through a loved one: a friend, daughter, son, a parent or a spouse. For those with epilepsy, Broken Consciousness is at once a mirror and the equivalent of a friend who holds your hand and tells you, ‘You’re not alone.’”
1. Tell us about your first book and its genre.
My first book, Broken Consciousness: Reflections of an Epileptic, is a collection of poetry about the realities of living with epilepsy for 56 years.
2. What was your inspiration for this book?
Although I have been writing poems about having epilepsy for many years, I can point to two specific inspirations for writing the book. My father, who passed away nearly four years ago, was a published poet and he did much to teach me to write in poetic forms. He always encouraged me to put some of my poems into a book. The other is one of my doctors who, at a time when I was in a seizure-free period, said, “Have you ever considered that you’re better because you write?” No, I hadn’t. But I then began to think seriously about what he said, and have come to the conclusion that there is a healing component to writing about the issues that are most important to me.
3. Describe your experiences with publishing.
I self-published through iUniverse, a company in Bloomington, Indiana. While I realize that self-publishing isn’t for everyone, it was a good fit for me. I was able to do my own editing, which was my choice, as I wanted to keep editorial control of my poetic lines. I was also able to maintain control over all aspects of the manuscript as it went through the publishing process. I appreciated the assistance of a designer to work with me on the cover of my book. I was able to tweak the design until it reflected my vision. I was also grateful for direction that made it easy to know what to include and how to write the inside front and back cover material.
4. Describe that exact moment when you held your book in your hands for the first time.
I felt I had given birth! My publishing consultant was with me every step of the way, and when all corrections had been made he told me when the final proof copy would be sent. I was in such a state of anticipation that when the package arrived my hands were trembling. I looked at that book as the culmination of all the work I had put into it and realized all over again how important writing is to me.
5. What responses have you gotten from readers?
For the past two years I have sold my book at the annual conference of the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan and have been told that it made others with epilepsy (or parents of a child with it) feel less alone. Others have said that it encouraged them in their particular struggles, whether those were neurological in nature or not. Still others said they learned a lot about epilepsy from reading my poems. Perhaps most satisfying are the readers unknown to me who have contacted me online to say what the book has meant to them. I am pleased with the reviews on Amazon and with the comments of readers of my blog, Brainstorms: How Epilepsy and Writing Connect (maggiemendus.wordpress.com).
6. What advice do you have for writers on the road to publication?
Write what you know and believe in your manuscript. At the same time, keep an open mind to what professionals in the field might suggest to you. They are attempting to help make your manuscript the best it can be which, of course, is your goal as well. Be tenacious. Remember that a rejection letter means that someone has read your work. Submit, submit, submit. The more exposure you have the better that is for you. Read as much as you can, not only your favorite authors, but books that are vastly-different from your usual fare. Admire the styles of other writers, but develop your own voice.
7. What future projects are you working on?
As I’ve mentioned, my father passed away almost four years ago. Before he died he asked me if I would help to get more of his poetry published. I do not move in publishing circles, but I promised him that I would do what I could. So my next project is a book that will be comprised of his poetry and mine in equal parts. Its working title is Word Gatherers: Poems of a Daughter and Her Father. I will be putting this book together as an honor to him. I also have a novel which I wrote two years ago for National Novel Writing Month, an online writing challenge to see if one can write 50,000 words during the month of November. My book, Incognito, is fully-edited, and I am still deciding whether I should submit it. I am, by nature, a poet, so I’m not sure about that yet. But Word Gatherers is definitely on the horizon for me.
8. Do you have any upcoming events planned?
Yes. I will be having a presentation of Broken Consciousness on Thursday evening, March 28, at 7 pm at the Bridgman Public Library. Library director, Carol Richardson, is strong in her support of local authors and I appreciate her generosity in arranging this event for me. I hope to see many of you there. Come, listen, interact, and enjoy some refreshments. Books will be available.