Today it’s my pleasure and privilege to host author, and RRBC Member, Tia Shurina! Without further ado – over to you Tia… 😀
Thank you Jan for your generosity of spirit…& space! And my thanks to the team at the Rave Reviews Book Club who coordinated this tour for me. Funny, I didn’t even know what a blog was when I began the journey to birth a book. And now, how beautiful to be participating in one.
I’ve had such serendipitous surprises as I have stayed committed to going with the flow… kicking & screaming a bit as I flowed along that path to becoming a published author. This book club is one of them. Given some of the sensitivities surrounding the spectacular-ness of my ordinary story, I was very afraid of the publicity I knew would eventually be needed to sell it…just like any author needs. Nobody can buy a book they don’t know about, right? A literal “join the club” moment when I crossed paths with a real & true RRBC angel, Stephanie Collins, on twitter. It’s because of her & her story, & her unsuspecting, unplanned path to becoming an author that I wound up a member of this lovely club myself. It was then that I began to allow myself a bit of excitement about promoting it myself…one babystep at a time. The potential push back from everybody who loves the real Raymond who might not want to accept the true Ray scared me. I understand the resistance…where does that leave those fans who felt so connected to him for so many years if he was as unhappy as he joked about? What did that mean for all those who looked to him as “one of them”…a normal average “Joe” of sorts, living a very traditional “American dream”. I’d been one of that group for awhile in my life. But even in my empathy for them, their potential judgment, ridicule & anger petrified me. That fear upon my back, already wearied from the journey of the few years prior & actually living the life I would eventually write about, slowed me considerably. Even as proud as I was, after having stayed committed to my intentions for the story & actually holding that labor of love in my hands, circumstances, experiences, & people, had instilled great fear in me for “talking”. Family secrets & other fear filled “stuff” should stay in the closet, many felt, & made sure I was made aware of that. Some of my own family abandoned me as I stood firmly in faith next to the man I had promised privately I would not leave his very true side, even if day to day reality wasn’t able to show that to everybody. And, some not only abandoned, but tried vigorously to block my movement. It exhausted me, it pained me…but, it also propelled me as my dad held my hand from heaven & whispered in my ear.
N.N. Light (princessofthelight.com) is another of what I like to call, Wink&Nods from God. They were one of the 1st professional reviewers I hired. And on my birthday in April of last year, while sitting by myself, waiting for my baby sister to join me, drinking a bloody mary in an outdoor café in Greenwich Village under a beautiful blue sky, an email popped into my inbox from them, with a Happy Birthday message & an accompanying paypal invoice for their services. I took a deep breath & thanked my God, & my father, feeling was a good sign, & blessed birthday gift indeed. Just before Christmas, I received word that my book had been chosen by them as the winner of the best non-fiction award of 2016. A few years ago, Ray won a Peabody Award because of me…my sharing, my story, my heart & soul…gifted to him, very privately, yet profoundly & powerfully. It was so beautiful, but oh so bittersweet to watch in silence, hiding in the shadows, just as he did while crafting those episodes & writing those “love letters” of a lifetime back to me. A very public, very sad “hiding in plain site” to balance an incredibly intimate inspiring love story. To receive an award for the book that shares the story of just how that happened, well, a holy honor of a lifetime.
Mr. N reviewed my book, which, quite frankly , scared me silly since my target reader is a middle aged woman in a long term relationship who may be struggling with some mid life issues. Mr. N is one of the happiest souls I have ever been blessed to cross paths with & adores his equally joy-filled wife, who I ultimately did an interview with. The book, the path to it, & from it, has been a journey to intimacy. For a woman who long felt she had much to hide inside…it was a right & perfect journey to take indeed & as I share my interview with her, I thank each of you for taking the time out of your own busy lives to get to know a bit more about me.
We all want a happy ending in life, like Cinderella and Prince Charming, but sometimes Cinderella has to go through pain/suffering and discover her own path to a happy ending. Tia Shurina, author of Everything and a Happy Ending, is not only a talented writer but an inspiration. She’s got amazing inner strength and is proof-positive that when you spread the Light and Love to others, it comes back to you hundred-fold. Her book moved us so greatly that she won the 2016 N. N. Light Book Award for Nonfiction.
In honor of this award, she agreed to sit down with me for a follow-up interview. Everything and a Happy Ending talks about the three men in her life, her journey to self-discovery and working on her own happy ending. It’s my pleasure to re-introduce her.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
I’m a very sentimental woman, & because of that:
I’d cast Brooke Shields as me since she holds very significant meaning to my story.
I would cast Ray Romano as my dad. The physical physique & resemblance is stunning, &, as the 3rd man in the trio, I feel that casting would add an incredible full circle beauty & intimacy to it. Plus, as a gambler, dedicated golfer, softball enthusiast & avid all around sports fan, I feel he would really, & truly, be able to capture the spirit & essence that was my father’s heart & soul.
I would cast Tony Danza as Larry, my ex-husband.
And as Ray I would cast George Clooney, again, because, like Brooke Shields, he has an extraordinary special significance in the book.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishment is my 3rd baby, Everything and a Happy Ending. It accomplished the 2 most important things in my life…
feeling I came full circle as a mom to my 2 boys as I gave birth to my memoir. As my boys grew, & my dissatisfaction in my life grew, I hid a sad sorrowful feeling of disappointment that I was short-changing my children by letting my fears push me to settle in my life. My dad’s death was the catalyst & catapult to a transformation & metamorphosis long in the making. As they watched their mom face her fears & follow her heart for the 1st time in her life, I became the example I wanted to be for them. In that experience & thru that process, I am now ecstatic & feeling so proud they are well on their way to happy “everythings” in their lives…relationships, careers, experiences, at least with the things that are within the realm of their own control, of course.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Five years?! Oh my. Seems like a mini-lifetime away! I have to be honest, I’m holding a vision very close & clear in my mind for much sooner than 5 years right now. The last 7+ years that I have spent struggling to turn onto a different course in my life, & change an ending to a story I wrote for myself when I was much younger, much less mature, & certainly much less spiritually strong has been challenging, exhausting, emotionally draining, & very painful at times & I am now eager to finally, fully, turn that corner & step firmly onto that path. But, since 5 is the lucky number you asked about, let me say that in 5 years, I see myself having long climbed completely out of the financial hole that I dug myself into as part of the extraordinary gift of “everything” that I freely, & faithfully gave to another in a spectacular, sacred gift of trust. I see myself long enjoying a blessed, blissfully happy very intimate romantic relationship with excitement & much joy & laughter with a man I am madly, crazily, fantastically in love with. I was blessed with an answered prayer when I was given the opportunity to make some new choices for myself at this certain age in my life. It is the reason I finally faced down my fantastic fears & rose above them by ending my marriage. I will not let that gift be in vain or go unwrapped or unlived & I have full faith that the Universe will deliver us to one another…whomever that someone turns out to be.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I have read each & every review that I’m aware of, so far. Who I am, tho, struggles to NOT let the 1 negative comment out of 100 positive ones eat me alive so, can be draining. In my life, I’m getting better at not engaging, or co-creating with other’s harsh criticisms, so, I keep the faith I will move to that place with the book as well.
In my heart, Ricky Nelson’s song, Garden Party, is my theme song (you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself)…but my head sings a different song many days! I won’t plan on responding to the negative. Constructive criticism is one thing…an important valid tool and as an inexperienced, nonprofessional writer I accept they will be a part of the process, but I will do my best to let negative mean-ness “walk on by” (that’s Dionne Warwick…& yes, I love music & find it to be a very powerful inspirational tool!).
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
My least favorite part of the process has been the marketing & publicity aspect. The book was a Plan C for sure (maybe even Plan D). I had no desire or plan to share my own personal story so publicly. When came time to promote that sharing…my book…a lot of old “stuff” seemed to circle their wagons. I went kicking & screaming a bit to go with that flow I was so desperate to swim with finally in my life, instead of bucking that flow for so long in my life. And, I’m so outside my comfort zone in soooo many areas of my life right now as a result. It has brought a happiness & peace of heart I have never felt, yet, I am also exhausted from the journey I chose to take almost 8 years ago at this point. Because I’m so beyond my limits, “running on empty” at this point (with Jackson Browne singing back up for me!), & beyond in some important places, this particular part has hit me especially hard. Ive been incredibly protective & especially particular about making sure the story ripples outward in the same energy & intention it was written in…and that is, of course, the spirit of LOVE, & because of that, I continue to wear many hats as I move along this beautiful journey I embarked on after my dad passed. It has worn me out in some aspects, yet, in some other all important areas it has energized me & gifted me with a re-birth that has been so fulfilling. What a rollercoster ride it has been. Good thing I have always loved them!! And, a good thing indeed I finally accepted the possibility that maybe this was something important I do & face & embrace in my life.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
The situation I find myself in right now. My ex & I have a very Modern Family kind of living arrangement. He moved out for quite awhile after we split & then became my roommate after his dad passed away over a year later…a gift to my ex, wanting to be kind & help him out, even as I was trying to honor myself 1st & foremost, finally, in my life. That choice was also a gift to Ray, which is all detailed in the book as to the why’s I made them. At the time, I trusted was going to be for a short amount of time & felt certain was a positive healing choice & opportunity for my ex & I…& our 2 boys actually, after they witnessed a bit of tumult between us in the time before we finally split. But, it passed its circle of healing at a certain point & rounded back to an un-healthy situation again, & I’ve been struggling mightily as a result as my circumstances have changed through the years as I tried to do what was best for Larry, best for Ray & honor myself at the same time. I gave everything to Ray, as I promised him I would…and, he accepted my gift, which continues to make me so happy, but, it has also wreaked havoc on my life in many, many ways. And, because I was giving to Larry at same time too, all of our choices have co-created a firestorm that is indeed scorching me now. Its a difficult time, but, I am so devoted to myself…&, as my father’s daughter, am rolling the dice & placing a big bet…on me!
I’m currently in full swing of trying to get myself out, on my own…the book is part of my attempt to gain back some of the financial security I gifted to Ray, part of my offering of trust.
What is your biggest fear?
Well, to piggyback off the last question, I will share that on a difficult, dark day, I will allow the fears to have their moment & take me to my knees in fear & worry that even a tiny remote chance exists that I will be unable to get myself onto a firm financial foothold & start the new life I so desperately wanted for myself when I made the decision to end my marriage is definitely topping the list these days. After I allow myself to be human, however, I am well aware of the importance to get up from my knees & walk away from those fears so that energy does not get to stick around me. It is so unhealthy to wallow in it but I am also aware of the importance of allowing feelings & acknowledging emotions as well, after a long time in my life of kinda stuffing them away. It’s a balance, for sure. There’s a powerful scene in Eat Pray Love where Elizabeth is on her bathroom floor, distraught, praying to her God for help. It’s a beautiful scene of surrender, and faith…& I’ve certainly been there, as I’m sure many have. But, for me, balance is so important…& in my ordinary/extraordinary, divine but very human “story”, there is a scene where it isn’t the quiet of night but the bright light & busy-ness of day, in my bedroom, with neighbors downstairs & kids in the next room to hear me, even as I have closed the door to try & maintain some privacy & dignity, screaming to my God, in devastation & despair, feeling betrayed & forsaken. So disappointed in a divine Universe I felt could never be capable of, or allow, such selfishness, such unfairness, such cruelty. That scene is my best way to articulate my biggest fear in a visual, to accompany the words about the state of affairs that my ALL-IN choice & promise to Ray created. To wind up back in that place, & not be able to get out.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to become invisible. Sooo much mystery & more than just a little angst too, would no longer exist in my life if I were able to do that.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Giraffe Hotel in Nairobi Kenya
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Besides above, which gets me to Africa, I’d like to visit Alaska & Hawaii, which were places my dad wanted to get to, drive cross country & see the Grand Canyon, a visit to a few other of the Wonders of the World (either classic, new or natural), a Mediterranean cruise, learn to speak a little French (which I find to be a very sexy language), learn to play the drums & piano, mentor…& since I have 2 sons, I’d like to mentor a girl, & lastly, have a book I wrote made into a screenplay!
Everything and a Happy Ending, an award winning memoir published by Mascot Books, details the soulful shift of a story as Tia shares her holy grail & trail she took to transform her life. After moving through her own metamorphosis she then helped an old friend, Ray Romano, move through his own transition, going with the flow very privately, but most profoundly.
“My journey almost destroyed me”. Almost. Boy, have I come to like that word. What a pleasurable word “almost” can be. You may almost be ready to buy my book. You may almost be ready to begin an exciting new journey of your own. You may almost be over that rainbow Judy Garland sings about. What great potential “almost” can hold if you can flip your way of thinking. Just imagine, controlled pessimism, doubt & fear flipped into blind optimism, faith & love.
That flip helped Tia move to a place where heaven meets earth…the pearly gates of her own happy ending. Changing the ending for her story brought a pure, precious peace of heart, but kicked her butt a bit as she made her way…committed to keeping her faith. The book was a plan C, maybe even D, but Tia was determined, after a dedicated intention & divine decision to start swimming more with the current of her life, instead of bucking that flow. Her ordinary, relatable story took an extraordinary, fantastical turn when she showed the Universe she was committed to her intention & her desire to be given an opportunity to make some new, different choices for herself. EAAHE is a memoir that shares the “how’d that happen?” & the “how’d she do that?” in a holy hope of helping others to see life in a new way.
EAAHE recounts 3 interconnected relationships & stories that enable Tia to love truly, deeply, & most of all, love herself. Three special circles she rounded with Ray, her dad, & her ex-husband. A woman’s full circle journey to learn how to really trust, how to “thine own self be true”, &then, the “real & true” love it led her ‘round back to. It shares how the power of love & a journey to intimacy helped her make a faithful flip which began a sacred circle and new chapter…one that would allow a different ending for a story she had begun writing for herself when she was much younger. One that Tia feels strongly will inspire other women of a certain age keep faith that it’s not too late to write a new ending for their own, as they embrace their history, not try to re-write it.
Tia is, most days, filled with joy. She is, every day, filled with peace. She looks forward to a happy ending each new day now, however it unfolds, whomever it holds, & whatever way the Universe molds, as she continues to create a new “happily ever after”, staying committed to rising above her fears, moving out of her comfort zones, & going with the flow of her life.
The tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.