The Person Underneath

Over the past few months, I’ve been interviewed and asked to write guest blogs on publicity, marketing, promotion and the processes of a writer. I think it’s about time to talk a little about who I am aside from that. We’re all a giant ball of a thousand things that make up the whole. Like a well developed character in a novel, we have layers of personality, likes, dislikes and obsessions that make up the image we portray to the world. Everything  buried has a prominent mark on what we do, how we do it and why. I thought it might be a good time to peel the onion and tell all (well some). This won’t take long, I’m not that interesting. 

Business PartnersThis is a picture of my cousin Charlene and me (that’s me in the stylish plaid jumpsuit). We grew up almost in each others pockets, had the same friends, the same teachers and on at least one occasion, shared the same boyfriend. She was the adventurous one, I was the follower. Once at around seven years old she sprinted across the street and I actually trailed after while her father charged to catch us. He caught my ponytail, thinking it was hers. We were so inseparable even Uncle Charlie couldn’t tell us apart. 

Charlene liked to dabble with the unknown and take the challenges; I liked to tag along (knowing full well we’d both be in deep doo doo if we got caught). She was the opening for me, the expansion that created the me I am today. 

Life and adulthood took over, we each married, had children and went our ways but we talk on the phone often. She lives in Florida, I’m in California. I miss her, or perhaps it’s just the craziness of our youth together I miss. These days I follow seldom and blaze my own paths, although I’m still glancing over my shoulder every now and then to see if Uncle Charlie is barreling down on me. 

This is the landscape of my life now. Aside from being a publicist and writer seeking publication, I’m a retired chef, mother of a grown son, grandmother, friend and roommate. Three years ago I moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, yes drastic and the time between making the decision and actually moving was less than three weeks. At that point in my life, it was time for a BIG change. 

I’ve been married and divorced twice and to the shock and amazement of many, would actually try it again. I like the yin and yang of marriage, the symbiotic partnership and the dream of “happily every after”. Here’s the kicker, I also like the independence and empowerment of being single. There has to be a middle ground for this but I’m not sure I’ll find it in this lifetime. 

GOOD_F__VMy loves include English bulldogs, cooking and entertaining, experimenting with ideas and presentation, with deep thoughts and the ever present “what ifs” of life. I’m a problem solver in every room in my house from the kitchen to my home office, with a tight household budget, a tough cut of meat or a difficult client issue. 

I’m a spiritual person, a bit Catholic, a lot seeker and I’ve studied under a Native American medicine man. Everything in my life seems to focus on a spiritual guide post of some sort … an enlightened friend, family member or tarot card reader. I’m a universal believer, a Christian aware of the vast number of paths toward salvation. 

I love chocolate (who doesn’t?), the ocean, mountains and (yes) big cities. I love nature when it intrudes boldly with intense weather, something I sorely miss in Southern California. 

I’m not political and spend a mess of time seeking the center for any given situation. As a Scorpio that seems like a contradiction. An argument or heated blow-up has never helped me make headway in anything, so long ago I chose to pass on the drama. Maybe I’m a Scorpio by mistake. 

I enjoy movies, the black and white ones especially, and I think Russell Crowe is brilliant. I’m a stagnant music lover and never have been progressive in my preferences. Everything from classical to crooning 50s and up to classic rock fits the bill to accompany my work. Meatloaf, Beethoven, Rusted Root, The Eagles, Bing Crosby, Counting Crows. Yeah, not a big explorer where music is concerned. 

I love my family, so far away now, and talk to my three grandsons as often as possible. And … I wonder everyday what made me move so far away. 

I don’t get extremely sad but I can reach ecstatic panicles of joy over a clear winter California day when I can see snow on the San Gabriel Mountains from my house. Guess it just doesn’t take much to please me. 

I am a bunch of contradictions. I’m a social animal who seldom leaves the house. I love to laugh but often find myself deep in serious conversations of a metaphysical nature. I am creative and prolific with a client’s goals and budgets but can’t balance my own checkbook if my life depended on it. I totally adore counterpoints in flavors, ideology and personalities. I’m an acquired taste. 

There … see. Told you I’m not all that interesting but writing this all down has reminded me that I’m more than a publicist and struggling writer. I’m a whole person and I’m hungry, starving everyday for the success looming for my clients, finding publication for my own writing, the prospect of flying home for the holidays, and the simplicity of working effectively in my home office exactly fifteen feet away from my bed and thirty feet away from my coffee brewer. 

What makes you what you are? What sits under the surface that defines the person you are and the profession you’ve chosen? Come on. Share. Otherwise I’ll feel like a goof for writing this blog.

About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

8 responses to “The Person Underneath

  • Rebecca Rose (Becc)

    My family makes me who I am. As a fiercely independent teenager, I lived the life of a gypsy. I believe I’m an old soul and this explains how I know so many things without actually learning them. When I met my husband, settled down, and had children I began an entirely new life that I wouldn’t trade for anything! They’ve freed me to be who I am. 🙂

  • Amber Polo

    Can I add the dogs to the interview you’re doing for me?

    Amber Polo

  • Ed Lane

    Hi Debs,
    There’s nothing like opening yourself up to your adoring public. I admire your energy and your determination, plus of course your eternal optimism.
    By comparison I have a fairly relaxed life but even so find ever less time to write or indeed work up the enthusiasm to write. Reading your story gives me some hope that I might stir my bones in that direction, taking comfort, somewaht vicariously, from the energy that flows from your metaphorical pen.
    Thank you for the insight into your life. It made interesting reading.

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Ed! How are you! I miss you buddy! And … I wish I really was interesting, LOL. We really need to rock and roll with Cranky Critics, don’t we. I’ll see when I can kindle that flame a little. Look for an email and take care!


  • Ann Raina

    Hi Debbie,
    thanks for sharing an insight on your life with us.
    As for me, I live in a very happy marriage (22 years seem very short when you love each other), have two children (my son just came cuddling and was disappointed that mom’s at that damn computer again…), and enjoy riding when I don’t grind my mind about a new plot for a story.
    Concerning these stories, I’m in the wonderful position to have a muse who is constantly close to me (two miles don’t count, I guess) and helps me with ideas, characters, and the story line if I get stuck or want to write something that is not logical enough (in her opinion). We, too, grew up together and luckily neither of us ever left the district. We both got married, have two kids and enjoy life in a way only few can do. It’s my greatest joy to have such a friend who never wavers.
    Here’s to all those friends, who have become the second half of another one’s life!
    Have a great day,

  • yearzerowriters

    I couldn’t possibly share with the group as some of the people responsible are still alive!

    Let’s just say as an only child, elevated into the role of the adult from an early age as a parent regressed into infantilism, I have always been an observer of behaviour – usually having to monitor it in somebody else. I didn’t read books when I was young, I just read people. Addicts mainly.

    My first and formative books were Kafka, Camus, Burroughs & Selby Jnr. Note, none were British. I have an ‘A-Level’ in English Lit but have never read Hardy or Dickens and don’t intend to do so now.

    I bitterly anted to change the world when I was growing up. Now I’m too old and curmudgeonly to do more than snipe at it from the sidelines in my writing. I think my dreams of being a bass guitarist in a band have probably passed me by as well.

    I have a family of my own now and they are very verbal because I always answered their questions or at least tried to. But I don’t write under my real name to protect them if ever I got published, cos I WOULD UPSET SOME PEOPLE if I were.

    I am afraid of death and with its evil twin time, am constantly haunted by them in my drive to write.

  • whitewolfindulgence

    Anger and seething hatred for what others can’t have because they won’t take the chance. Bitterness at the 24 hour work day. Sadness at my lack of a happy ending because I want it NOW damnit, but that’s why I write. Because I can give someone else these things…

    Snobbery, I’m a wine/alcohol snob. Hell, I’m a snob in general. what’s the point of living if you’re settling for sub par?

    Desire for the good life. And drive, to get that good life myself.

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