Read and Write with Natasha

This author told her story through 'easy walks'

October 30, 2023 Natasha Tynes Episode 36
This author told her story through 'easy walks'
Read and Write with Natasha
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Read and Write with Natasha
This author told her story through 'easy walks'
Oct 30, 2023 Episode 36
Natasha Tynes

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After battling a health crisis, Marjorie Turner-Hulman,  embarked on a remarkable journey, creating the "Easy Walks" guidebook series.

These aren't just books; they are a beacon of hope and exploration that help people find local trails, and they are a testament to her resilience and passion.

Not stopping at the guidebooks, Marjorie took a leap of faith, sharing her personal journey in her memoir.

Tune in as Marjorie reflects on:

-The power of storytelling.
-The priceless value of reader reviews.
-How to develop effective marketing strategies for authors.

And much more. 

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

After battling a health crisis, Marjorie Turner-Hulman,  embarked on a remarkable journey, creating the "Easy Walks" guidebook series.

These aren't just books; they are a beacon of hope and exploration that help people find local trails, and they are a testament to her resilience and passion.

Not stopping at the guidebooks, Marjorie took a leap of faith, sharing her personal journey in her memoir.

Tune in as Marjorie reflects on:

-The power of storytelling.
-The priceless value of reader reviews.
-How to develop effective marketing strategies for authors.

And much more. 

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


Speaker 1:

At one point I felt like all I was doing was taking. I was in such a needy and hard place and coming to the point of seeing and actually really having it confirmed that I had something to give. That's life giving, and I try to encourage anyone I speak to that you have something to give.

Speaker 2:

Hi friends, this is Read and Write with Natasha podcast. My name is Natasha Tynes and I'm an author and a journalist. In this channel I talk about the writing life, review books and interview authors. Hope you enjoy the journey. Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Read and Write with Natasha. So today we have Marjorie Turner-Hulman, who is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors. She has completed four books in the Easy Walks guidebook series. Her liturgy of Easy Walks is her memoir, and this is how she learned how to live with a changed life. Wow. So, marjorie, thank you for joining me today and I'm really, really excited to see how Easy Walks changed your life. So, if you can just tell us a bit about your mission, your memoir and how did your life change?

Speaker 1:

Well, my goodness, thank you. The background is my life wasn't changed until I became quite ill. I had surgery brain surgery to save my life, which saved my life. Obviously I'm here, but in the process of that surgery I woke and found my right side totally paralyzed. Since then I have I've got a measure of healing I can use my let's see, is that my right hand, my hands work and I'm able to walk when I'm off off pavement. I need support and has changed my life in many, many ways.

Speaker 1:

I was not. I've never been able to go back to working really substantially. You know there's a lot of other health things that have gone on. But because I was lost a lot of things, I still had a creative wish. I'd always been a very reluctant writer and suddenly that was about all I could do. I had a computer at home. I started by writing emails. Something I've realized is, if you are writing and you just think I've got to talk to all these people, you get very self-conscious. But if you feel like you're just writing to one person, like an email, it's easier to be yourself, it's easier to let your voice through. And that's exactly what I learned was I just started writing to family, really describing things. My kids were still young. I described them growing up. I described things that they were doing with neighbors and people kept writing me back. This was back when we only had a few emails and it was really exciting to get an email.

Speaker 1:

That's very changed now, and so when people would write me back, that was more encouragement to write more. And before I don't know, within the year, I approached a local newspaper editor and said would you let me try writing for you? Here's some writing samples. They were just my emails, but they had my voice and that's really how I got started was the discipline of writing every month, because it was a monthly newspaper and I was mentored by the editor for how to just write anything. That's how I got started writing.

Speaker 2:

So the editor would take some of your emails and publish them, or how did that work?

Speaker 1:

Because she saw my emails. She knew that I could write a beginning, middle and end. She then assigned me local things that I got rides because I wasn't able to drive at this point. I had a neighbor come and she did the photography, I did the interviewing, then I went back home and wrote them and then I emailed the articles to my editor. So it was something I could mostly do from home and then she could change them if she needed, but she taught me a lot. She also just gave me opportunities to write and to get feedback and to write some more. She asked me to do it more than once, which you know. If your mother says, oh, that's really nice honey, you still don't know, it's all right.

Speaker 1:

If it's somebody that doesn't know you who says I'd like you to write more. That's a different feeling, and it also gives you a different sense of confidence. So what did?

Speaker 2:

you write about.

Speaker 1:

At first I wrote just community school events, presentations, special festivals at schools or in town. Before long she started giving me profiles people doing interesting things. How did they get to where they are? What was it about who they were that made them interested in whatever I was asking them about? And she discovered that that was where my writing really shined helping tell people stories. So that's really when I started becoming aware of where my writing strength was. Writers all tend to have things that they do better with. Some people can write about anything. Lots of us are better at some types of writing than others.

Speaker 2:

So you started with emails and you started writing for the newspaper, and then when did this book come to life and why?

Speaker 1:

While I was writing emails a lot of the emails are in that book While I was just writing about my kids, I was also in a real serious progression of healing from serious neurological disabilities, and so I would write about what was it like to live through healing and the not knowing if you're going to heal about learning about my body, about different ways that things were happening, and just the emotional ups and downs of uncertainty with life.

Speaker 2:

Okay, and why did you call it Easy Walks?

Speaker 1:

I first started writing trail guides. I had written a series again for the newspaper Just, it kind of occurred to me to write about local trails and because of my challenges I only take easy walks. So when I put these newspaper articles up on my writing website and people kept coming to my website saying how do you find this or that trail, and they would find the articles that I'd written, after about the 500th person had come to my website I said you know, I think there's a need and I had already started helping people self publish family stories. That was part of extended profiles that I was writing. So I knew how to publish a book and I just said maybe I could write a book.

Speaker 1:

And I started doing the work of exploring what was out there right in my own community and neighboring towns and before long I had enough to put together a small guidebook. I wasn't sure what to call it and my husband finally said why don't you just call it Easy Walks in Massachusetts? And thankfully I did, because I had no idea that it would become a series. I had no idea that it would become something that has been a gift to a lot of people. It was just I saw a need. I thought I might be able to meet it and it kind of took on a life of its own. It's really been quite humbling.

Speaker 2:

So the Easy Walks guides there are sold, like in bookshops, or where do people get them?

Speaker 1:

Many of the books are sold through Amazon. It's a all on Amazon. I have an Amazon author page. I also, before the pandemic, did a lot of in-person presentations and typically people would let me bring my books. So I would do presentations at libraries, senior centers, trying to think what else, a few other speaking opportunities, but mostly libraries and senior centers, and I would sell books there. I even had some people who it's called the Massachusetts Walking Tour and these are musicians who walk from one town to the next and do free concerts every night after they've walked carrying their instruments. They use my books to trace out a couple of their paths of going from one town to the next and they hosted easy walks and then offered me the opportunity to have my books for sale at their concerts. So we did that two different years with trails that are included in two of my books.

Speaker 2:

Fascinating.

Speaker 1:

You never know.

Speaker 2:

So would you say that this was lucrative for you, those easy walks, guides, or not really?

Speaker 1:

That it was what was the word that they were lucrative.

Speaker 1:

I have earned money. I've certainly earned back the editing costs that I have my time, who knows? Because I was going to get out and do these walks regardless. Yeah, writing a book is incredibly time consuming and because these are nonfiction books, you have to spend time clarifying facts and making sure that locations are right GPS locations, weather, dogs are welcome A lot of little details. I'm actually in the process of writing yet another guide right now, collaborating with some people who are doing the fieldwork for me, and then I'm assembling another easy walks trail guide the Hyper Local, very intense, one contiguous town, so one town next to the next in a concentrated area. So I'm being reminded of how many details there are that you need to include in a trail guide like that. So the liturgy of easy walks is different, because it's my memoir, the why behind easy walks. Because if I was a normal, healthy person who could walk like lots of people can, I doubt that I ever would have focused on easy walks, because I would have done whatever kind of walking I wanted to do.

Speaker 2:

So how do you define an easy walk?

Speaker 1:

I have learned to tell people that an easy walk is not too many routes, not too many rocks, relatively level, firm footing, with something of interest along the way.

Speaker 2:

That's it. How long is the walk?

Speaker 1:

I want to leave that up to the individual because people's stamina are very different, even those with mobility challenges. I also have people that use my books, that are visually impaired and they're looking for places that they can go, that are safe, that are relatively smooth. So I never really tell people here's a distance. I try to say this walk is this long, but I also will say there's options to go farther or come you know, turn back when you're tired. I don't really try to quantify stamina because that's an incredibly individual thing. Mobility it's a little easier to say what are trip hazards? What are their benches that you can stop and rest? Is there something pretty that you can get to see? And how far do you have to go to get water views or other such? Those are the things that I feel like I can quantify and that those are helpful.

Speaker 2:

So don't give them a certain time, you don't tell them like, walk for like half an hour.

Speaker 1:

No, a lot of people do in trail guides and I have found that for the people who find my books helpful, that's not nearly as helpful as finding out about trail surfaces. Many trail guides ignore what the trail surfaces are like. They just say, oh, it's easy, it's a half mile, and they ignore that it may be all roots or there's lots of rocks and because it doesn't really matter that much to them.

Speaker 1:

For me it's whether I can do it or not. So did you self publish those guides? These I have all self published. I find financially that it's a lot more lucrative than with a publisher or even a hybrid publisher. They take their cut.

Speaker 2:

What.

Speaker 1:

I do is I pay for the editing, the book design and the cover design. I pay for that upfront. That's all done. And then any sales that I have, I get the money from it In person. I get pretty much almost the total cost. For Amazon I get almost half of every sale. So 40%, 40% or so, which is a lot more than published books will get you unless you're a best seller.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's true. So you use Amazon KDP. I do For publishing, I do. I mean, I always sometimes get technical because people who are listening, they like to learn the tricks of the trade. So you use Amazon KDP. And how did you find the editors and the designer? Did you use a certain service to find them?

Speaker 1:

The work that I've done as a personal historian helping families get their stories written. We have a whole community in New England. We have a personal let's see. It's PHNN Personal Historians, northeast Network, phnn. There's a website and it's a whole community of writers, publishers, editors, designers, and so I've got a large community of people that I can draw on, that I have worked with and that I know are dependable and that we have a good working relationship, because it's like dating, it's not just go do this. It requires quite a bit of interaction and you want to make sure it's someone you trust, that you're comfortable with, and that they hear what you need. Okay, what about the designers? Same thing. There are designers in the same community that help people who are self-publishing books for families to make it the best that they can do. There are other options for finding these. An online option is called Readsie or E-E-D-Y-S. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I used them before Yep, I used them before and again, you have to talk to them and see if you're a good match, see if what they're willing to offer is what you're willing to accept, and also that it's a financial works for you.

Speaker 2:

So I saw in your bio that you were featured in ABC and the Boston Globe Right. How did that happen, and was that based on the guides or was that based on your memoir?

Speaker 1:

Both I've been interviewed by local papers. It's not something that you can just snap your finger and make it happen. I've been doing this for 10 years, so I have a pretty large following. I have 13,000 people in a Facebook group, my Easy Walks Massachusetts, rhode Island and beyond, so that's an audience. Yes, it also gives some credibility when I send out press releases I sent out let's see one person for the Chronicle, which I think that was ABC. Yes, I think so. It's an on-the-air news magazine. Somebody who follows my email newsletter used to work for this show and when they were looking for some nature programs, especially the beginning of the pandemic, he recommended me. So that was networking. It just came out of the blue. For my memoir, I sent out press releases, which are people forget how important those still are and how useful they are, and a newspaper editor a local newspaper editor picked up the press release and interviewed me for an article for profile, which was very nice.

Speaker 1:

She did very nice. But when she did that, a lot of newspapers are now online and this CBS news person saw the article online and he contacted me, cold-call, and said would you be willing to be on my show? Well, of course, I happened to be traveling in Canada when he called and said well, would you like to wait till I get home? So he said oh, of course. So when we returned from our trip, I just reached out to him by email and said we're back, would you still like to do it? And he said oh, yes, so that's how it worked. I encourage people to don't overlook press releases. That that really opens doors. The other Boston Globe was through someone in my personal history network who was also a feature writer for the Boston Globe, and again, I just sent her an email and said I've been doing these books. Is this something you might be willing to write an article about? She checked with her editor and came back and said sure, so you also have to just be brave sometimes. And ask.

Speaker 2:

That's true, I mean, I get a lot of press releases, mostly for the podcast, and I picked a number of guests. You know I came through them. Honestly, I don't have time to like respond to everyone but the one that grabs my attention. I contact them and ask them to come to the podcast. So yeah, I mean, I agree, press releases still work. They might sound old fashioned but they still work. So, ok, so you're self published and you know one of the things that self published authors, including myself, that we like one of our challenges is marketing. Yes, and I just want to know what really worked for you. You know it's like in terms of setting the book and you know some people say to talk some, but I want to know exactly what worked and what didn't work.

Speaker 1:

What? One of the things that I have done, and I continue to do, is follow people who write marketing newsletters specifically for authors One person who she's now retired but she still has a website up with a whole lot of resources. Her name is Joan Stewart and she calls herself the publicity hound, and I have learned so much from Joan, and one of the one of the simple things for marketing that she pointed out that had never occurred to me was to include at the bottom of every email you send out, include name, phone number, email and your website and a little tagline, something about that. Every single time you interact with anybody by email you're sending out, here's what I'm doing. You might be interested without being in your face. It's just, it's a no effort marketing that. If you're, if you're not doing that, you're overlooking a really, really simple, low hanging fruit, as they say, opportunity to let people know what you're doing. So I follow those letters.

Speaker 1:

Anne Handley is another writing author, writer, newsletter marketer, and she focuses a lot on marketing your writing, anne A-N-N Handley. H-a-n-d-l-e-y.

Speaker 1:

She's out of the Boston area but she's national international speaker and I'm not sure if you can hear me, but I'm going to go ahead and top-notch newsletter. Jane Friedman is another person with lots of resources and I mean there's been a number of ones and some I get more from than others. I'll start noticing that I'm prioritizing them and others I say, well, this is just not that much and after a while, if I really don't see that, I unsubscribe because I just don't have time to read everything, like you were saying with pitches. But I look for those little nuggets and I see if it's something that I can start doing now and that's really over 10, 12 years that I've been doing this, I've kind of acquired things that I think seem to work for me.

Speaker 1:

Press releases is still one of the very basic ones, but podcasts and how to pitch podcasts. I don't ever pitch someone for a podcast unless I listen to it first.

Speaker 2:

And.

Speaker 1:

I also. I look through the podcast episodes of any person that I think we might be a good match and if I don't see anything that is at all of interest to me, I suspect that probably I'm not going to be interested in their audience. And I just say there's lots of other podcasts, so I don't even bother if I can't see that there's a topic that is close to not the same, but related to things that I feel like I have to offer. Once I see that there is, I listen to it, I take notes and I let the podcaster know that very specifically, I listen to it. Here's what I got from it. And now here's my story, and I customize it for each person because every podcast is different, that's true.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I usually, as I said, I get a lot of requests and I usually respond to the people who mentioned certain episodes of the podcast because that makes me feel that they're actually invested in it and it was. It was also helpful for me when I pitch to editors and I remember what I like and then I use the same thing that attracts me to attract others.

Speaker 2:

So let's say I'm pitching to an editor, I would say I enjoyed, like, listening to your interview. Or I saw that personalizing is the key. So I'm sure I can't remember what your pitch was, but I'm sure I can't go back and look yeah, same here. But yeah, that's, that's fascinating, so okay, what about social media? So you mentioned podcasts and newsletter, but you mentioned you have a lot of followers on Facebook. Do you think Facebook is the biggest one for you?

Speaker 1:

For me. Yes, I'm still working on building up my newsletter following and in fact I've paid attention to what other people are doing with their specifically with people who had at all are specifically focused on outdoor mobility, handicapped accessibility, these kinds of topics. I try to watch and see what are they doing and what could I do. That would be related to some of the techniques, not to copy them, but to make it take what works for me that I see they're doing and do that. The whole reason that I even wrote a second trail guide was because at first, when I wrote this first book, I had no social media and someone I spoke to said you need a Facebook page for your book. Okay, all right, I'll try that. Well, facebook is very visual and so you know, if I was out taking walks to help market my book, what do you do but take pictures? And so with each new place I went, I would take pictures and then I would put it on my Facebook book page and I put pictures up and I'd say here's another place I went and people started resonating with that. But, more important for me, before I knew it I had acquired enough material to write a second book. I hadn't even really planned that. It was more. I was marketing my first book and realized that I had about half of a second book and then I very deliberately took the did the rest of the work to finish a second book.

Speaker 1:

At some point, facebook changed their algorithms and I'm still concerned because Facebook is what you call your renting space. You don't own it For your newsletter, you own your newsletter, but for Facebook you're really renting space and they could change the terms at any moment. I'm really uncomfortable with that and I'm trying to migrate people to my newsletter. It's slow, so for now I still have a big presence. Facebook changed their algorithm and stopped showing these book pages. The suddenly things people. There are many, many fewer people saw my book page and I read somewhere.

Speaker 1:

A couple people said well, you need to start a group Now I'm going to have to start over. And so I just did and started inviting people from my book page to come join the group. I took a while but I realized because they were group members, they were able to post things themselves and I made it of an Easy Walks group and then I started saying here's what you really need to be posting. That would be helpful to others. It grew maybe to 1,000 people, probably after a year, and then the pandemic happened in 2020. Well, suddenly people couldn't do things indoors, the only place to be was outside and the trails became jammed. I started making just sort of sharing this trail is closed, you can't go here, watch out for this, safety kinds of things, helpful kinds of things. And also here are places that you can go that are maybe less crowded even though I didn't really want to make them more crowded, but just as a tool to be helpful. And before I knew it, I was up to about 9,000 followers and then, through the pandemic, it just kept growing.

Speaker 1:

At this point, people have gone back to school, sports and other things like you were describing. The growth is not as substantial, but the members really contribute more material than I do now and I've really structured it so that we need to know trail surfaces, we need to know the name of where you are town, state because we're not just in one state, there's all over New England and beyond that. I have people that bring things and say here's an easy walk and they need to tell you whether there's roots or rocks. That the what you asked me before what's an easy walk. So it's become a very vital community that I have. I have administrators that help me manage the amount of people coming through, so it's actually taken on a life of its own.

Speaker 1:

I don't throw a lot about my books out there. I'd rather it be a resource and when I feel it's appropriate I do say hey guys, the things you're talking about, my book helps you, and so you know I don't have a buy my book by my book approach. When it's appropriate, I remind people, or other people will say hey, you really need to look at Marjorie's books there, it's all there what you're asking. So that's word of mouth too. But that takes time and it doesn't just happen that you can't snap your fingers and make it happen. True?

Speaker 2:

So why did you move from? You know those guides to writing your memoir. Why did you decide to do that? And you know Sure.

Speaker 1:

I had a lot of material. I didn't really know what to do with it. I felt like there was value in it and one of my interviews that I did with a college alumni magazine they interviewed me. It's a Christian college on the North Shore in Massachusetts and we didn't really talk about faith per se. We talked about the journeys and the things that I've lived through and the lessons learned.

Speaker 1:

And when she wrote the article it was a profile of me in my books. She titled it A Liturgy of Easy Walks and I thought, oh, my goodness, where did how did she get that? And I talked to her and she said, well, it just kind of came to me. It really, you know, the things you were talking about felt like meditations and just felt like a way of looking at things. She even described what I was talking about, made her look at things differently when she walked a matter of attention and noticing even if you're walking around your neighborhood that it was a level of attention that she had never deliberately thought about. But it changed how she walked. And that's when I said I think that's the title.

Speaker 1:

Now how am I going to fit what I've written into that? And so I started looking at all this 30 years of writing and started picking out the ones that had nuggets of wisdom, insight, reflection, struggle, you know, things that I hoped would resonate with people. Not just here's my story, folks, but here's your story. Here's things that are universal, that are, you know, at the core of our hearts and our minds and our experiences, so that again it wasn't just read my book, read my book, but here's a story I bet you might hear something in it that touches your heart. That was my hope. I've told, I've been told that happens.

Speaker 2:

Oh, which one of your books is selling the most? Is it the memoir or the guide?

Speaker 1:

The trail guides sell more. The. You see, the liturgy is selling. I'm still experimenting with ways to get it out. I actually recently figured out that I could just make an easy e-book out of it and did that Once.

Speaker 1:

Recently I had read something about changing your e-book to a 99 cent for a limited time. The purpose of doing that is not just so people will buy your book, but if you can get those people who buy your book for that limited time, they're motivated as opposed to just well, I'll do it sometime. I did it for about six days and then I said it's only going to be six days, so don't wait. When they purchase that for 99 cents, amazon considers them a verified purchaser. A review from a verified purchaser is a real plus in rating your books or in even all the algorithms that Amazon uses. So if you can get somebody, even for 99 cents, to be a verified purchaser and then if they write a review, I get a lot more benefit from that than the maybe dollar more that I might get from selling an e-book for 299-399. So there's a strategy there. Again, it's a marketing strategy, but don't just lower your price.

Speaker 2:

So Amazon allows you to change it to 99 cents for the e-book and it's not with the e-book. Oh, that's good to know.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to try it For a limited time. You don't want to just discount it because that doesn't really serve your purposes as an author. You're wanting to get some verified purchases and then encourage people to write a review, even one or two pages. One of the other suggestions was, when you're asking people for that, don't say you have to read the whole book. Just say, read part of it and one or two sentences. It's still a review and it's really valuable. So you know, making it as easy as you can for your readers.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to try that.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, you're welcome, robbie Samuels, I would give him the credit for that and he wrote a book called oh golly. The title is not no More Bad Zoom, but that's the tagline, robbie Samuels, and he does a tremendous amount of marketing for authors as well. Robby Samuels, robbie Samuels, yeah, I think.

Speaker 2:

I saw her. So it's fascinating that you follow the newsletters for book marketers and then you apply what they tell you.

Speaker 1:

Sure, whatever feels like is something I can do. There's tons of things out there that feel more than I could take on. I don't do a podcast like you're doing. That feels like more than I'm willing to take on technically or even just it's a lot of work. What you're doing Podcasts.

Speaker 2:

People don't realize there is a lot of work and I do it like for free. I'm not making any money from it and I, you know, paying out of my pocket my editor and all the subscriptions, but I love it and it's I get to meet people like you, so it's honest, thank you. It's worth it.

Speaker 1:

And you know that's what each person has to decide. Yes, I've spent money on editors because I feel like that's a really good investment for me to make sure that we don't end up having typos. There's still typos, every book is going to have them, but making it the very best you can and those are the investments. You have to decide for yourself what's going to be the most important for you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and what's also the most rewarding as well. I mean, for me, the podcast is very, very rewarding. I was more time to spend on it, but I do what I can. I find being interviewed on podcasts is very rewarding.

Speaker 1:

I really enjoy meeting podcast hosts, people like you who are. Everyone has a different take, so it's not like I'm just talking about the same things or parroting phrases. You've asked some really good questions that I don't feel like other people have really asked me about, so that's been fun and thought provoking. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

My background is in journalism, so I'm used to asking tough questions to politicians.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but you get to ask all sorts of nosy questions that otherwise I feel like, oh, I couldn't ask that. But with my little journalism hat on, I can ask all sorts of questions, all sorts of questions.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you. I think that's as a compliment. Absolutely Thank you. So another nosy question is Do you think your health crisis was a blessing in disguise, because it changed the trajectory of your life to you know, you became a published author and you let it completely different, fulfilled life because of that health crisis.

Speaker 1:

In retrospect I can say that it certainly didn't feel like it at the time. It was a really hard thing. I wasn't grateful for the first two years. Physically, I was in a tremendous amount of pain Financially. I learned what it was like to go on aid for families with dependent children Very humbling, very humbling, very scary. I did not become homeless, but it felt like there was the risk that I would. Those were really really hard things.

Speaker 1:

I don't take lightly saying that it's been a blessing. I feel like it has given me an opportunity, through difficult times, to learn that all of us have something to give. At one point I felt like all I was doing was taking. I was in such a needy and hard place To the point of seeing, and actually really having it confirmed, that I had something to give. That's life giving.

Speaker 1:

I try to encourage anyone I speak to that you have something to give. You may not even recognize it now. It may take a long time for you to understand or even to see, or for other people to recognize that everyone has something to give, and discovering what that is is a gift to me myself. Being able to feel like I can offer something that's worthwhile and helps others. It's a giving and receiving, which is the best kind of relationship that you can ask for. I don't know if that answers your question. I'm ambivalent about saying that it's a blessing in disguise. It certainly stretched me far beyond anything that I probably would have volunteered for. Just say, sure, sign me up.

Speaker 2:

Or maybe to refrave it. You realize that, in a sense, everything happens for a reason just a bit too spiritual. There was some sort of wisdom behind the challenges that we go through.

Speaker 1:

I am cheerful with that too, because I know there are people who are put in situations that there just doesn't feel like there's any redeeming whether it's people who are in war zones, people who with devastating accidents or illnesses, parents who have lost children. I would never tell them this happened for a reason. I can't go there. If I can find reasons that I can have gratitude and find something in that, that's good. I would be very hesitant to ever tell someone else well, everything happens for a reason, because it can be a very callous thing to tell someone who's in the midst of loss that can't be replaced. I'm pretty careful to I can say that for myself, but I would not say that to someone else.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, it makes sense. So what's next for you?

Speaker 1:

I'm working on another trail book. Okay, well, actually I'm working in a collaboration. I met a couple through my Facebook group who her husband is visually impaired, so they walk as a couple and she's his guide and they go out almost every day but they live in an area adjacent to the other trail guides that I have and they were going to all the places that I would wish for, but I don't have the stamina to drive that far and walk that far and do all the research that is right in their backyard.

Speaker 1:

And so I would say it's also in Massachusetts, it's much closer to Boston. So this one next one is going to be Easy Walks, south of Boston, and then it's about 16 towns that they're finding two to three to five trails in each town. I've got a template for them to fill out and they fill that out for each place they go, they take pictures, they send it all to me and I'm right in the process right now of filling out that template for every single trail. Our goal was about 50 trails in those 15, 16 towns.

Speaker 2:

So do you talk about the health benefits of walks, the mental and the physical benefits of walks?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I don't harp on it, but when I see articles or I have written articles for, let's see, there's a website called Travel Massive and I wrote an article for 10 things that you need to know when you go out hiking, or 10 things you need to bring with you, and it also focused on how can travel writers help people with disabilities to get more benefit from their writing. What are the things that writers are overlooking when they write about different locations? What are the things that, when they're on site, they could pay attention to and provide in their articles that would make it more valuable for people of all abilities? So I've gotten published in these kinds of newsletter, magazine, websites focusing on that.

Speaker 1:

Otherwise, I share other people's articles that are talking about the health benefits, the forest bathing, lots of different outdoor concepts, outdoor kindergarten you know, children doing schooling outdoors. I like to share any of those on the theme and I expect people who will take what they need and if it's not something that connects with them, they'll just pass it by, and that's okay too. How did it affect?

Speaker 2:

you physically and mentally the walks, and how often do you take these walks?

Speaker 1:

I walked close to daily as I was healing. I have a lake that my house overlooks and there's a paved road that goes right alongside the edge of the lake. So in those early years I walked pretty daily, typically with somebody else. I would invite friends or my kids would take me for walks. They'd say let's take mom out for a walk, kind of like taking the dog for a walk. Only, let's take mom for a walk, okay, they would get me down along the lake.

Speaker 1:

Nearly 20 years ago I met the man who's now my husband. I was a single mother when I became ill and was raising my kids, so that was another hard thing, and then it got harder when I became ill. But I met John about 20 years ago and he is an outdoor person. So he wanted to take me to outdoor places and very quickly he saw how hard it was for me to be out off pavement or off rail trails and he said you might want to try these hiking poles, that they might really give you some more independence. And it took a little while.

Speaker 1:

I was resistant to it. Everything new felt hard, but he encouraged me and now we keep hiking poles in both cars. They're always there wherever we are, so I can say yes to all sorts of places that we want to explore. So that's and, yes, it's really helped build up my stamina, it's helped build up my balance. The hiking poles it's like walking on all fours, that you've got four points of contact, and so that's given me more confidence in the outdoors. I probably would not have done the trail books if I didn't have that independence to go and explore places. So it's had all sorts of impact in my life, various different ways. But, yes, writing the books and feeling like it's something that's helpful to others has given me a confidence level that I honestly didn't have before then, which has been really nice physically and emotionally and spiritually.

Speaker 2:

Well, marjorie, this has been fascinating and inspiring. Any final thoughts you'd like to say? For anyone who's listening or watching, they can find all your books on Amazon and on your website. Correct, right, we can join your Facebook group. But any final thoughts you'd like?

Speaker 1:

to see. I would just thank you for focusing on writing and reading and golly, it opens doors. It opens doors and I would just encourage people to take that editor off your shoulder, just write and know that whatever you write, you can rewrite. And if we want it to be perfect, the first time you got to change your desires and understand the first time is a draft. I always, when I send things to clients or editors, I always say this is a draft and it kind of takes the this is perfect and then they can't criticize it. I already say I know there's things that need to change, so just tell me and be honest with me, being receptive to change. Don't feel like you have to be perfect. Don't feel like what you write has to be perfect. Writing is rewriting. That's the bottom line.

Speaker 2:

That's true.

Speaker 1:

Well, it sounds like you know that for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, been there for many years. Yes, well, thank you very much for joining my show and for anyone who's listening or watching. Thank you for joining us on this journey of Read and Write with Natasha and until we meet again, thank you. Thank you for tuning in to Read and Write with Natasha. I'm your host, natasha Tynes. If today's episode inspired you in any way, please take the time to review the podcast. Remember to subscribe and share this podcast with fellow book lovers. Until next time, happy reading, happy writing.

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