Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
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“Cut Open the Sky is balm for the weary soul. Corliss Corazza renders the voice, attitude,
and wisdom of beloved psychic Connie Castro Jackson with style and grace. A must-read
for anyone who is beginning to suspect that all our answers lie within us.”
--Paula Coomer, author of Jagged Edge of the Sky
Connie Castro Jackson was born in the San Joaquin Valley labor camps of California during the Great Depression to her white mother, who had fled Oklahoma's Dust Bowl, and a Filipino man who worked beside her in the camps.From a very early age, Ms. Jackson recognized in herself the ability to see spirits, but also struggled against racism and a sense of inferiority. Eventually, she broke free from her beginnings to build a career as a psychic, channeler, and spiritual advisor. Author Corliss Corazza brings to life Ms. Jackson's salty wit and common-sense advice in this as- told-to story of one woman's spiritual journeyand the development of her psychic abilities.
Corliss Corazza (l) and Connie Castro Jackson (r)
“Corazza's narrative provides a complex, personal view of the political, economic, and racial realities of Depression-era California farm workers and the rise of New Age spirituality... A captivating consideration of the life of a California mystic.”
Corliss Corazza is a retired educator from Northern California and a close friend and student of the late Connie Castro Jackson. She resides in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband Dave, goldendoodle Sophia, and twin orange tabbies. For a full interview with Ms. Corazza, go to www.corlisscorazza.com.
Publisher: Black Rose Writing |
Publication Date: October 20, 2022 |
Format: Paperback | ISBN: 978-1685130503|
Price: $19.95 |
Genre: Memoir/Biography | Page count: 179
Christopher W. Miller
PR Team – Social Media & Marketing Expert
Address: PO Box 1540 Castroville, TX 78009
Interview with Corliss Corazza
Tell us a little bit about yourself and about the book Cut Open the Sky.
As a retired elementary school teacher and homeschool advisor, it is such fun for me to appease my passion for writing. I am a wife, mom, grandma, and belong to one dog and two cats. How lucky I was to be chosen by Connie Castro Jackson to write her story. Connie’s story is that of a woman born into the poverty of a migrant worker family during the Great Depression. There were ten children and not much to go around. She struggled with prejudice, feelings of inferiority, and discovering at a young age that she was psychic. She tells stories of how she broke through these obstacles while learning to share her wisdom. Her wisdom is deep, her stories sometimes hilarious and a bit salty, but always informative.
How long have you been writing?
Since childhood. Before I had mastered the alphabet, I drew pictograph stories. My first written work was about third grade when I rewrote Jack and the Beanstalk from the giant’s point of view. He was terrified of Jack. I was editor of my high school yearbook and wrote some in college but never published.
What was your writing journey like? Did you do an MFA or other professional writing program?
No MFA. Took writing courses in college, earned a B.A. degree in English. While teaching writing in elementary grades, I took all the teacher enhancement classes I found in writing.
What inspired the writing of this story?
I had been attending meditation classes, taught by Connie. We made plans to meet for lunch where she began to tell me stories of her life. I said she truly needed to have her story written. She said, “Yes and I do, and you will write it." I said, “You bet.”
What in your life prepared you to write a story like Cut Open the Sky?
For starters, there is my intrinsic interest in people and their stories, along with my loving words in general. My crazy optimism and Connie’s steadfast trust in the project spurred me on. I have been fascinated with the metaphysical since childhood. Very young, I had what my family called ghost friends. They ‘lived’ in a shed in our neighbor’s back yard but played with me all day long. Joofey and Sturfey. When I was six, I was hospitalized for three weeks with spinal meningitis. I found myself floating above my body as the doctor did spinal taps. I saw every detail, while on the curtain in the room sat a Tinkerbell look-a like. She encouraged me to be brave and not to feel the pain. Then she followed me home and spent time on those curtains. When you are a kid, you think these experiences are common. I was not shocked about anything Connie shared.
The book is unusual in that it is written as a memoir, yet it is not your memoir. Can you talk about this? What other forms did you consider when deciding to tell the story?
I never considered any other form. It was important to me that it be in Connie’s voice. You might notice some of the dialog could have been more polished but that would not have been Connie. I want the reader to know her. I admit it was difficult to achieve at some points. She was the first to admit she had a limited vocabulary, and I had to sometimes write what she meant moreso than what she said. We would discuss, she would teach me, until I could move on--with her approval. At first, I expected it to be more of a short story. But, oh my goodness, the amazing stories and profound wisdom poured from her. I couldn’t take notes fast enough, so I began to record and transcribe. Then I would read it back to her to make sure I got it right. There were many times we would spend a few hours on one concept, one paragraph.
What do you like best about the story?
Its honesty. The way her personality shines. The wisdom she shares. I have had many comments from readers about how they have learned and been helped by Connie’s wisdom. The information changes as time goes by and as our perspectives change. I’ve broken the spine on my copy so I can let the book fall open to see what’s there. I’ll re-read whatever pages open to me and see what she tells me. Because time has passed, my perspective will have changed, and the message will be new to me. Even though I wrote it!
The book has had a very unusual journey to publication, can you talk about this and share your insights with anyone looking to have a book published?
I paid to have a vanity press publish it before it was ready to go. These are presses where an author pays too much money to have their books published. I paid for professional editing and proofing, mistakenly assuming those would be done. Marketing was ineffective, royalties dismal and errors in the final product were embarrassing. If you liked the first version, I think you will truly enjoy this one, which has been professionally edited and reorganized. Connie was still living as I worked and was able to add to the story.
What other books might you compare it to? By this I mean, how would you explain to readers that if they like X, they would like Cut Open the Sky ?
I can’t think of a book I could compare it to. The format of as-told-to, the mixture of metaphysical lessons and personal stories of heartbreak and joy. The interjections of current issues—misogyny, racism, poverty, and self- doubt make it hard to compare.
Talk to us about the writing process in general. If you were speaking to someone who is thinking of writing a book, how would you tell them to go about it?
I’d start with—no outline—let the words flow through your fingers. See how the story is shaping itself and chart that as you go. Self-edit in small chunks several times as you write and pare down the word count. Use better words, not more. Research and be accurate. Keep notes of ideas that come to you such as a part of a conversation you overhear, a passage or even a word used in a book you are reading. Organize in your own way and have a quiet personal space to write and display your notes. READ, READ, READ other great writers, stories you are interested in. In short--everything you can.
What else would you like the world to know about Cut Open the Sky?
That it keeps on giving. The wisdom inside is fundamental, straight from the Universe, from God, from angels and guides. It fits all.
What are your favorite books and why? How did they influence the writing of Cut Open the Sky?
I’ve read hundreds of books, each of them having a special spark or nugget of insight. It is hard for me to name just a few. Well researched historical novels put us in the shoes of someone who lived through times we need to know about while weaving a story. Biographies and memoires let us see inside the minds of people who might not think like we do and so can teach us. Also, there are totally great books that grab my attention and won’t let go. Best of all, I love to read excellent writing. Please know this short list is a tip of an iceberg, but just to say
Barbara Kingsolver – smart, meaty, wonderful use of words and phrases
Kate Morton – weaves stories I can't put down
Jodi Picoult – writes about timely, fascinating topics and researches them well
Colson Whitehead – he is just so good
Anita Shreve – word choices, imagery
Paula Coomer – packs more interesting information on a page than most put in a chapter
Eckhart Tolle, Ann Patchet, Wayne Dwyer
Little Kids books - Dr Seuss and Sandra Boynton show that language, and therefore reading, is fun. Words can be fun. The rhyming and the cadence pull us right in.
Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom … Classic!
Talk about the writing life in general. What advice do you have for writers setting out on the path to writing a book. What are your best strategies for starting and keeping going?
Start by jotting down ideas, keep paper and pencil by your bed for those nighttime flashes of insight. The collaboration of a fabulous editor, book group, or writing group to bounce ideas around. Take breaks but no more than a few days or you lose steam. Edit every passage, page, and sentence at least four times. Watch your ability blossom. Read other authors. We are all individuals and need to find what works for ourselves. Keep your day job.