Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Faye Rapoport DesPres’ Message From a Blue Jay {+Giveaway}

Message from a Blue Jay coverOne of the pleasures of blogging is meeting new friends and authors. I’m delighted today to welcome just such a person as author Faye Rapoport DesPres makes a stop on her virtual blog tour for her latest release, MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY.

Faye has graciously answered some questions about your writing for me. In addition, to celebrate the tour her publisher is hosting a giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY:

         From an astonishing blue jay to a lone humpback whale, from the back roads of her home town to the streets of Jerusalem and the Tower of London, debut author Faye Rapoport DesPres examines a modern life marked by a passion for the natural world, unexpected love, and shocking loss, and her search for a place she can finally call home in this beautifully-crafted memoir-in-essays.
          Three weeks before she turns forty, nothing about her life fit the usual mold. She is single, living in a rented house in Boulder, Colorado, fitting dance classes and nature hikes between workdays at a software start-up that soon won't exist. While contemplating a sky still hazy from summer wildfires, she decides to take stock of her nomadic life and to find the real reasons she never settled down. The choices she makes from that moment on lead her to re-trace her steps both in the States and abroad as she attempts to understand her life. But instead of going back, she finds herself moving forward to new love, shocking loss, and finally, in a way that she never expects, to a place that she can almost call home.
          Readers who love the memoirs and personal essays of such rising contemporary writers as Cheryl Strayed, Joy Castro, and Kim Dana Kupperman, will appreciate Faye's observational eye, her passion for the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it, and her search for the surprising truths behind the events of our daily lives.

Please join me in welcoming Faye to Thoughts in Progress.

Mason - Looking back over your published book, was there anything about the writing and/or publishing aspect that surprised you?

Overall, I was pretty prepared for the hard work, persistence, and time it would take to write, submit, and publish a book. I had been working on many of the pieces in MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY for almost four years before I brought them together to form of a cohesive narrative. During that time I earned my MFA from the Solstice Creative Writing Program and Pine Manor College, where I learned a lot about writing and submitting both shorter works and manuscripts.

One thing that did surprise me, though, was the way I connected with my publisher. I had an agent and went the usual route with some submissions, but in the end I connected with my publisher through Twitter! I had been communicating regularly with a writing group on Twitter that included MaryChris Bradley, the publisher at Buddhapuss Ink, and one day she suggested, with a tweet I’ll never forget, that I send her my manuscript. The tweet said simply, “Have you sent it to the cat?” (The press has a black cat as a logo.) I feel very lucky and happy that Buddhapuss solicited my work—their press is a perfect match for me.

Mason - Please tell us a little bit about your writing process for MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY.

I started by writing individual personal essays during my MFA program. I revised them numerous times over many months and polished them to the point where I felt ready to submit them to literary journals. It took time and persistence to get my work published, but once literary editors began accepting individual pieces, I started to think about combining them into a book-length manuscript. It took several attempts at ordering and editing the pieces before they worked together as a cohesive narrative and a memoir in essays. I’m really pleased with the final result.

Mason - What would you say is the biggest advantage and disadvantage to being a writer for you?

I think the biggest advantage is that I have a creative outlet. I have worked at a wide variety of jobs over the
years, but none of them has ever defined me or fulfilled me the way writing does. Thinking of myself as a writer gives me a sense of purpose and an opportunity for real fulfillment. It also gives me a chance to touch others’ lives in a positive way, which is part of the reward.

As for the biggest disadvantage, I’d say that the rejection most writers have to deal with during the submission process is hard. I’ve had to develop a pretty thick skin to be a writer. Also, it’s tough not to be able to focus all, or most, of your time on what fulfills you most—I still have to work other jobs to make a living.

Mason - What lead you to become a journalist and from there on to writing fiction?

I am a life-long animal lover and environmentalist, and I've always loved writing. I initially planned to combine those interests by becoming an environmental journalist. Instead, I ended up working in the public affairs and communications departments of environmental organizations. Eventually I found my way back to journalism by freelancing for some newspapers, and then becoming a full-time staff writer at a weekly in Denver, Colorado. After a number of years, however, I missed creative writing (I’d written a lot of poetry in my younger years.) I had always dreamed of publishing a book. So I enrolled in an MFA program to force myself to spend two years focused on creative writing. 

MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY is creative nonfiction, a genre that came naturally to me because it combined my interest in telling true stories with my desire to be creative. I do write fiction also, however. My publisher is currently considering a fiction manuscript that is very different from my memoir…but I’m not saying a lot about it until I learn whether or not it will be published. Creative nonfiction requires a lot of soul-searching and can be very intense. For me, fiction is more like pure fun.

Mason - Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Since I finished my fiction manuscript, I have started working on some new personal essays. I have a sequel in mind for my fiction manuscript, also.

Thank you so much for interviewing me! It's been fun, and I hope your readers will enjoy MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY.

Faye, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into your writing process. I especially like the way you found your publisher. Social links play major roles in our lives these days.

Now let me share a bit of background about Faye.

Faye Rapoport DesPres is the author of the new memoir in essays, MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY. Her essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and reviews have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines, including Ascent, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Eleven Eleven, Hamilton Stone Review, Platte Valley Review, Prime Number Magazine, Superstition Review, In the Arts, Fourth Genre, and the Writer’s Chronicle. Faye earned her M.F.A. from the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. 

To read more about Faye and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY is available online at Amazon or stop by your local independent bookstore and ask them to order some copies!


This is the tenth stop on Faye’s virtual book tour. Don’t miss her next and last stop tomorrow (Wednesday, May 28) at Between the Lines.

Faye’s publisher (Buddhapuss Ink) is giving away a personalized, signed copy of MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY plus swag to one lucky winner selected from her virtual tour giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment below (be sure to include your email address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile). 

For more chances to enter, please visit the Buddhapuss Ink or Message from a Blue Jay Facebook pages and click on the Giveaway Tab! You can also visit the participating bloggers below to enter.

Buddhapuss Ink
Chloe Yelena Miller
My Machberet
Fonts and Fiction
Perennial Pasttimes
Lisa Romeo Writes
Mariam Kobras
This Is Who I Am
Between the Lines

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever written any individual personal essays? If so, have you had them published yet?

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. That's cool you met your publisher through Twitter.
    Hope you can continue writing books about animals and nature.
    Congratulations, Faye!

  2. Faye, thanks again for visiting. I enjoy learning the back story of books. Wishing you much success.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Faye.

    Faye - Congratulations on your release! I wish you much success.

  4. sounds like a touching and moving and inspiring book!

  5. Love the book cover.

  6. Congrats, Faye! And I'm with Alex. How cool to meet your publisher via Twitter!

  7. An interesting post and a wonderful book which sounds memorable. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. This memoir would be fascinating as Faye's life is certainly filled with many travels and a talent for writing. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  9. I love the title and cover picture. Looks like a very interesting read.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.