“Oh, hello again. I hope you enjoyed accompanying my cronies and me on our fantastical journey into other worlds. Please know that it was but one chapter in an endless, unwritten story. We (the princesses, Alpert, the gnomes, elves, and furry pet-creatures) can stay here as long or as short a time as we choose to. After all, everything is impermanent, because, what is time? Where is distance? How does one gauge forever? Are destinations endpoints or merely way stations on our travels?”
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself!
I am Brenda Grace de Jong, and professionally, I hold a Master’s Degree in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Women’s Studies. I have worked with individuals from every population, and delight in encouraging and aiding women to fulfill their highest goals. Personally, I am an avid barefoot, tree-hugging, candle-lighting student of the Universe, who follows the phases of the moon and the turn of the seasons.
Tell us about your latest project or publication, including where readers can purchase it.
I am an author of both short and flash fiction published works, and I have just released a book entitled, “My Name is Elpee: A Trilogy”. ‘Elpee’ is a darkish fantasy about a girl from a Brooklyn brownstone who escapes the neglect and abuse within it by creating a realm in which she experiences both fun and pain on her journey to wholeness. It is available on Amazon.
How did you become a writer?
When I was a young child, my mother foretold that I would write a book and her words have stayed with me throughout my life. I was a dreadful and delinquent student in grammar and high school and discovered that utilizing my writing skills could make the difference between a failing and a passing grade.
Tell us something people would be interested, but surprised to know about you.
Publically, I am seen as a highly educated, reasonably intelligent woman. People also perceive me to be privileged and ‘all together’ . . . It is partly an illusion. I have done community service, volunteered, and cleaned factories in the middle of the night, to pay my bills and put myself through college. Also, I possess a slim amount of common sense and often do not think things through before doing them. Although this has mostly served me well, there have been times it ended dreadfully. Here are a few examples of the latter: As a grown woman I have: accidentally driven my car into my house; fallen out of a tree; broke my back and was rendered incapable of walking; concocted a mixture of bleach, turpentine, and paint thinner in an enclosed shed resulting in a police boat ride off Fire Island. The list is endless. They all have back-stories, which made sense to me.
What was the high point or best part of your latest project?
The relief of, after almost a decade, publishing, “My Name is Elpee: A Trilogy”, which finally freed me to pursue writing my next book!
What was the hardest part or the lowest point of your latest project?
Becoming emotionally ready to let go of the story contained within the book in order to publish it.
What is the one you would like your readers to know and remember about you or your latest project if nothing else?
I am fortunate to have experienced a number of different lives in this go-around on the planet. In a more recent one, I left behind an extremely affluent existence, and all I knew, to construct (brick by brick) my authentic life. I stood, stripped of my identity, in a stark and humble place for several years before I could see my way to the other side.
It was through courage and grace that I am where I am today. As said by Elpee, “People will think you odd or insane, and perhaps you are, but weigh your options. Is it better to leave and be deemed crazy or to stay and be driven mad?”
What have you found has been the most successful marketing forum for your latest project?
I am still exploring those avenues, however, above all, I write because I must, and as an aside, I market.
What is your biggest hope for your latest project?
That those who read it will find value in the many hidden messages woven into it.
Please share your links where readers can learn more about you and your work!
http://cherrycottagefi.com/, Facebook, LinkedIn, https://www.instagram.com/brendagracede/ and about.me
What advice would you give prospective authors?
Identify as an author. Write. Ignore the rules. Edit later.
What is the one thing or skill that has helped you be most successful as a writer?
Dropping out of Chemistry class in high school and taking typing instead.
What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
I indulge in many and feel guilt about few.
If you could have one wish, what would it be?
That people would push through their fear of change and uncover the world that exists on the other side of it.
What are YOU currently reading?
“The Alienist” by Caleb Carr (again).
Thanks for visiting with me today Brenda. Your story is inspiring and your advice to writers is insightful!!!
T H E F I R E I S L A N D N E W S P A P E R • A u g u s t 3 1 , 2 0 1 8 • P A G E 4 9
Leaving Fire Island
By Brenda Grace de Jong • Illustration by Charlotte Bravin Lee
1520 hours, Seaview Marina, NY
THIS DAY IS DIFFERENT. It is unlike the thousands of previous ones in which I sat on the dock waiting to board ‘the’ last boat back to the mainland. Today, I am lodged on a bench beneath a weatherworn overhang sheltered from the sun’s afternoon rays where I await a ferry that will transport me from what was to what will be. This is a voyage that no one can, or will, take with me, and although a bay of water and a sea of people surround me, I am alone on this, ‘my’ last boat off Fire Island. Continue reading “Leaving Fire Island”