WHERE TO? HOW I SHED MY BAGGAGE AND LEARNED TO LIVE FREE - Q&A with Jennifer B. Monahan @spiritevol #blogtour


Today's guest is is Jennifer B. Monahan, author of the new memoir, Where To? How I Shed My Baggage and Learned To Live Free! She is on a virtual book tour this month with Pump Up Your Book and we're very glad to have her here today to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published.  


Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Being an author was never on my bucket list.  But a bad accident and three months of disability leave where I was stuck on my couch gave me the time to write my first book, This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution. The accident also gave me a lot of time to really assess how I had been living my life, which became the starting point for my second book, Where To?: How I Shed My Baggage and Learned to Live Free.

I realized that I had been “playing it safe” with my life and my career and that I had been holding myself back from truly living the life that I wanted to live.  I vowed that I would honor my life and start living courageously and authentically…as soon as I could walk again!

It ended up taking over 14 months before I could walk without a cast, crutch or brace, but that time allowed me to really think about what it was that I wanted to create with my life. At face value, if you had looked at my life prior to the accident, you would have said that I was living a rich, interesting life. To some extent I was.  But what I wasn’t doing was following my heart, taking some risks and just living.

I knew that I needed to do more – I needed to shed the limiting beliefs and personas that I had been carrying with me for most of my life that were preventing me from being “me.” So I decided to jump right into the deep end and walk away from all of the things that had been giving me a false sense of security about my life – my job and my home – and try living the way I wanted to live.

I had quite a few people tell me that I was crazy, but even more people cheered me on and begged me to tell them what – and how – I was doing.  I had people call and email me, asking me how I was able to do what I was doing and looking for advice on how to start living their own authentic lives. It became a no-brainer to write down my experiences. Where To? tells the story of what happened to me, the lessons I learned, and the amazing adventures I had as I learned to live in a way that felt authentic and true to me.

Where To? takes place primarily in the Guatemalan jungle, but also in Japan, Cambodia and Thailand.  It tells how I lived in a thatched-roof hut in a tiny village, connected with local shamans and participated in their ancient rituals, become fully integrated into the daily life of local families, and ultimately faced down some of the greatest losses and long-buried pain I had experienced during my life.  In the book I share the six steps I took to heal and create the life of my dreams and include a workbook for readers to do the same.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I decided to self-publish after a contract with a traditional publisher fell through.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

I do.  A well-designed cover is what draws a reader in, giving them a glimpse of what the book is about and encouraging them to flip through the pages or click on the “Look Inside” button. 

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

On the one hand, this was a very easy book for me to write because it is the story of part of my life. I didn’t have to worry about plot lines and the like. But on the other hand, it was extremely difficult because it required me to share aspects of my life that my natural inclination would be to keep private.  I had to expose my thoughts, feelings and pain to the reader, because without doing so, the reader would not be able to connect with me and come along for the journey. Being that open naturally brings up fears, and I had to work through them as I wrote.

It was also important to me that readers connected with the people and places that were with me on this part of my life journey. I made a concerted effort to be as descriptive as possible when I wrote this book so that the people and places came alive in the minds of the readers.

If I could give one tip to other authors, it would be to err on the side of being descriptive and sharing the thoughts and feelings of your characters (the old, “show don’t tell” writing mindset).  I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me after reading my book and told me that they felt like they knew me or that they could really relate to a particular situation or feeling I was experienced.  Several wrote to tell me that they cried with me as they read parts of the book. To me, that is success: my readers connected with and had empathy for me and my story!

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I have just started outlining my third book, which will be a guidebook for people looking to truly live courageous and authentic lives.  I’d expect that it would be published in the next two years.  And now that I’ve shared that date, I better meet that deadline!

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

If there were just one thing that I would want someone to take away from reading Where To? How I Shed My Baggage and Learned to Live Free, it would be this: your heart and soul want something incredible for your life.  Do you know what it is? And do you have the courage to go for it?
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for the interview!  If you’re interested in reading Where To? you can find it on Amazon.

About the Author

Jennifer B. Monahan is a business strategy consultant, shaman and coach who helps people all over the world live courageous lives. Her first book, This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution (She Writes Press, 2016), has won six literary awards, including two first-place Body, Mind, Spirit Book Awards and a 2017 National Indie Excellence Award. Her second book, Where To? How I Shed My Baggage and Learned to Live Free, was published in April 2019, and describes her personal journey through Guatemala, Japan, Cambodia and Thailand as she faces down some of the greatest losses in her life.

She is a regular contributor to Medium.com, Sivana East, and has had articles published on MindBodyGreen.com and Inc.com. Her podcast, Living A Courageously Authentic Life, can be found on BlogTalkRadio.com, and focuses on a variety of topics to help others be true to themselves.

She holds a BA in Mass Communications from the University of Bridgeport (CT), an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut, a Masters in Natural Health from Clayton College, and completed an accredited coaching program through Coach U. Her shamanic training began with a Mayan shaman in Mexico and then expanded to include shamans in Guatemala and her own personal guides.

She currently splits her time between the United States and Guatemala when not traveling and is in the process of writing her third book, a handbook for people looking to define, create and live their courageously authentic life. You can find her online at www.SpiritEvolution.co.


About the Book:

Author: Jennifer B. Monahan
Publisher: Spirit Evolution
Pages: 234
Genre: Memoir

When Jennifer Monahan announced her intention to leave her well-established career as a business strategy consultant and give up her rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco to do a global walkabout for an undetermined amount of time, her friends and family thought she was insane. But Jennifer was excited about taking the time to truly explore and immerse herself in a variety of cultures, so their skepticism didn’t faze her; plus she was used to traveling alone as a woman with only one carry-on bag. What she didn’t count on was discovering all the excess baggage she had been carrying with her from her past.

WHERE TO? chronicles one year of Monahan’s life, primarily in the Guatemalan jungle, but also in Japan, Cambodia and Thailand. Living in a thatched-roof hut in a tiny village, Monahan connected with local shamans and participated in their ancient rituals, became fully integrated into the daily life of a local family, and ultimately faced down some of the greatest losses and long-buried pain she had experienced. WHERE TO? shares the six steps she took to heal and courageously create the life of her dreams and includes a workbook for readers to do the same.

"Some memoirs tell us stories and open up worlds we never knew, but some open up places in our own hearts and souls that we have wanted to explore and have never given ourselves the chance to do so. Where To? How I Shed My Baggage and Learned to Live Free by Jennifer B. Monahan belongs to the second category of memoirs...While it reads like the memoir of a woman who takes the courage to explore the world, this memoir has powerful spiritual hints. In fact, it is the story of a soul in search of itself. Where To? is a spiritual testament, a book that describes a journey towards inner freedom and authenticity. Many readers will feel the resonance of Jennifer's story in their own lives." 

- Christian Sia, Reader's Favorite Book Reviews




  1. Thank you for the interview!

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