Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interview with Alice Muschany, and A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors Giveaway

In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I have a very special guest today --- Alice Muschany. Alice is a wife, mother, sister, an aunt, grandmother, writer --- and a 15-year breast cancer survivor!

Donna: Welcome, Alice! Thanks for being so generous by agreeing to be interviewed on my blog and for donating a copy of A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors as a giveaway.

Alice and I are writing friends who have belonged to the same critique group for several years. She is funny and warm and generous--and an excellent proofreader and editor. A few of the guys in our critique group describe Alice as having “the fastest red pen west of the Mississippi.”

Donna: In” Hidden Treasures” you write about your battle with late stage III breast cancer after being diagnosed at the age of forty-four. Your story is sad, yet uplifting with touches of humor. You are the picture of health and have been cancer free for fifteen years. Please tell us: how you’re doing now?

Alice: Other than my annual checkup with my oncologist, I’m too busy enjoying my eight grandchildren to worry about cancer. The disease taught me to live in the moment. I do try to exercise and eat right, not that I pass up birthday cake or holiday feasts. After all, you never know…

Donna: Living in the moment works for me, and I know how much you love your grandchildren. Besides you, several members of your family have been diagnosed with breast cancer, yet you are a family of survivors who have handled the disease with courage and grace. What advice do you have for someone who has been diagnosed?

Alice: I’m passionate about talking with newly diagnosed patients. I advise them to find a doctor they trust and tell them not to be afraid to ask questions. But, I admit it’s much harder when it hits close to home. Since me, my youngest sister, Betty battled breast cancer twice and my sister Jeanie just finished treatments after undergoing a double mastectomy. But you’re right—we’re a family of survivors. And Betty’s daughter is now enrolled in oncology in Boston. Our very own oncologist. How wonderful!

Donna: Great advice, and it is wonderful that your niece is studying to become an oncologist! What can you tell us about yourself: your family, your career, your hobbies, etc?

Alice: Fortunately my children all live close by which means I get to spoil my grandchildren rotten and send them back home. After 42 years at the same company, I’m within a year of retiring and can’t wait for more free time to hike, bike, write and take pictures.

Donna: I know about spoiling grandchildren. It is fun, and your being so close to retiring sounds wonderful, especially after being at the same place for 42 years. I hope you can do it soon. Now, on to questions about writing: When did you decide to become a writer?

Alice: Even as a teenager, I enjoyed creating silly poems and homemade cards. I also kept journals and still do so today. Journals make wonderful writing ammunition. I can quote stuff my fourteen year old grandson said when he was only two.

Donna: In addition to your Cup of Comfort story you are an Opinion Shaper for a local newspaper and have several others in Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as being an award-winning photographer. Please tell us about some of your publishing credits.

Alice: I’m the proudest of my first publication. So many courageous women share their plight in Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors. But most of my essays that appear in the Suburban Journal and Chicken Soup are written about normal everyday life with a sprinkle of humor. Lord knows we could all use a good laugh.

Donna: You are right about needing a good laugh. I'm amazed at how smoothly you weave humor into the essays you read during critique group. Speaking of which; you’ve belonged to a few critique groups, and I'm happy to say you have belonged to the same one as I do for several years. You are such a quick and helpful critiquer. What advice do you have for someone looking for a critique group?

Alice: Find one that fits. Some are too soft and prevent you from growing. Others are too hard leaving you intimidated and uncomfortable sharing your work. Don’t give up. There’s a group out there somewhere that’s just right for you.

Donna: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Alice: The best lesson I learned is polish, polish, polish and then polish some more.

Donna: What’s the worst writing advice you've ever received?

Alice: The worst was that my style needed to be changed. In my writing sessions, for instance, we have several who are difficult to critique simply because no one wants to mess with their exceptional voice. Even without a name on the paperwork, I’d recognize the author’s unique style. Moral of the story: Be your polished self.

Donna: Great advice, Alice. Stick to your style and don't change your voice. What does your writing schedule look like, and what are you working on now?

Alice: My motto is submit, submit, submit. Chicken Soup has had so many new call-outs, I’m constantly racking my brain for ideas. Since March, I’ve submitted ten stories, and currently have one coming out in the November Food & Love and another that’s made the first round for the March Mother/Daughter. Today I’ve sent off two essays (and yes it’s the midnight hour) with fingers crossed.

Donna: Congratulations on your recent acceptances! That's two more Chicken Soup credits to add to your long list of accomplishments. Your passion for writing and submitting is inspiring. I need to take some lessons. Last question: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Alice: Just that I am a huge believer in critique groups. If you have eight members, and all eight tweak a word here and there, it has a huge impact, especially on a short piece. I also feel I learn as much from editing as I do from fellow writers’ critiques.

Donna: I agree about learning about writing by editing. Thanks again, Alice, for your courage, for your words of wisdom, and for donating a copy to give away on my blog this week.

If you would like to win a signed copy of A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors, please leave a comment between now and October 9. The stories in the book are inspiring, and it makes a thoughtful gift if you know someone who has been diagnosed with the disease.

The name of one lucky winner will be picked at random. I will post the winner's name on October 10. Be sure and leave your e-mail address in your comment so I know how to contact you. Good luck! 

15 comments:

  1. Great interview Donna and Alice. I'm very happy and honored to be included in Alice's infinite list of friends!

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  2. Enjoyed the interview! I feel honored to have met Alice once. She is funny and awesome!

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  3. Another great interview Donna! Alice sounds like a nice gal and inspirational!

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  4. Alice, you are so inspiring and I love your writing! :) Donna and Alice, what a great interview. YAY! to you, Alice, and your health. Would love to win this book!!!!

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  5. Hi Becky,
    Thanks for stopping by. You always say the sweetest things.

    Hi Tammy,
    Thanks. You are so right about Alice.

    Hi Lynn,
    Thanks. Alice is a real sweetheart.

    Hi Margo,
    Thanks for your kind comments. Alice is truly special.

    Donna

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  6. Great interview, Donna! I always enjoy reading a story written by Alice. Congrats on your recent acceptances, and good luck on the new submissions, Alice!

    Pat
    www.critter.alley.blogspot.com

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  7. Hi Pat,
    Thanks. I agree.

    Hi Everyone,

    Alice e-mailed that she hasn't been able to post responses to the comments everyone left, but she is going to keep trying. If all else fails I'll ask her to e-mail them to me and I will post for her.

    Donna

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  8. Alice e-mailed me this comment:

    Thanks all for the compliments and thanks to Donna for making me sound famous. Ha! We writer's love that.

    If you have a friend or relative going through breast cancer, let me know and I'll send them the uplifting book. Unfortunately, the past two months, four friends and acquaintances fit that bill. It's my way of paying it forward so other 'sisters' can become survivors.

    Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary since our daughter-in-law passed away from breast cancer. She was diagnosed at age 23 during her sixth month of pregnancy and barely made her daughter's first birthday. On the bright side, thanks to all the research and public support, we've come a long way, baby!

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  9. Here's another comment I received by e-mail from someone who was unable to post:

    From Marcia:

    What a nice surprise to see the interview on Donna's blog. And a beautiful photo of lovely Alice. You are both fabulous women who have found joy within sorrow. I am blessed to count myself as your friend. You are both so inspiring!
    -Marcia

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  10. A Cup of Comfort sounds like a wonderful book, and Alice is so engaging even just in this interview. I can only imagine her writing.

    The interview was great - you can tell you two have a real life rapport too.

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  11. Oops, forgot that e-mail: elson.nicki@gmail.com

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  12. Hi Nicki,
    Thanks for your kind comments and for including your e-mail address.
    Donna

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  13. What a story! And to have so many in your family suffer from breast cancer. My grandmother died from breast cancer so I'm always doing my monthly checks but I'm glad you're getting your book out there for many to find comfort.

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  14. Hi Clarissa,
    Thanks for your comment. It is good to share our stories so others know they are not alone.
    Donna

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  15. Hi Everyone,
    Thanks for all your comments.

    Several folks have e-mailed that they have not been able to leave comments.

    I'm not sure what has happened, but I hope it gets fixed soon.

    It has also happened to me, so I go back and sign in first then leave a comment and it seems to work the second time.

    Donna

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