Finnish words, a man of wisdom carved deep in the wood of the Butterfly Bed. "If ye shelter her in treasures of the heart, God shall bless thee with treasures abundant in His truth and prosperity: a truth known only of a Butterfly and her cocoon."
The scribe he etched, written of pen and ink, rolled tight the scroll and hid it from sight; only the virtuous love of a Buffalo shall spin a Cocoon in shelter of a Caterpillar.
It is in their bloodlines, birthright, written and sealed is this providence, a promise of old men from long ago. Forbidding her blessing to fall on any, save one, the Bed did wait in silence for one worthy of her pledge; a girl child, firstborn upon her sanctuary, captured her soul in one quick breath.
The Circle B Ranch rests in slumber, awaiting a birth, his soul's heir; the Buffalo's heart must be lit, and reach maturity in manhood. His lands fruitful, his drink sweet, his shelter of beauty astounding to view though his loneliness forlorn; yet by an early summer's moon the cry of the newborn son stirs hope deep within his soil.
The girl grows, longing for one man to love her true, not the riches, diamonds, and gold of Demons, these swine have dangled before her. Offerings of those who would slay her should they know her rightful identity, the Knights shield her from certain death while striking down these wicked swine. Yet she knows not of the Demons' strife to reduce her existence to ash, nor of the sword that keeps these Demons at bay.
A sword of justice the Knights guard the Caterpillar, for it was prophesied that she be the chosen one to bring their Prince his rightful throne and befall the Demons to Hell. Oh, ye Knights, let thy thunder roar, for it is thy calling, thy strength of vast numbers that guard a promise, to keep Evil at bay.
Laila Doncaster was born Canadian in 1962, and raised in the Province of British Columbia (BC). Laila is Christian, the ninth of eleven children, hardworking, raised two children, and now has four grandchildren.
Laila enjoys the outdoors, and worked periodically as a traffic controller from 1981 until 2011. Determined to better her life, she cultivated skills at a logging camp from 1983 to 1987.
Laila moved to Alberta (AB) in 1987 where she achieved the GED and a certificate in bookkeeping in 1993, and then graduated with honors through a distance education university in 2004, with a minor degree in computer programming, software development, and systems analysis.
In 2006, she attended Saint John’s Ambulance, Occupational First Responder, and then worked in the oilfields, gas pipelines, and forest fires of AB and BC from 2007 until 2009. In 2009, she achieved the BC Driver’s License Class 1 with Air Brakes Endorsement, allotting her the opportunity to drive transport trucks but chose to drive a city tour bus until 2011.
Laila began writing Cocooning the Butterfly in 2002 by transforming notes into story content filled with amazing characters, vibrant plots, metaphors, and teasing riddles. A touch of Christian faith melded with the complexities surrounding the butterfly’s lifecycle, Laila holds nothing back, her heart on her sleeve, tears of joy and heartache spill, she breathes life into the characters of her book.
Cocooning the Butterfly is a fictional story of love, family, unity, truth, honor, and faith. Laila met Jeff Doncaster in 2011, and then married him in 2013, finally getting it right. She lives in Alberta Canada with her husband, enjoying her children, and looks forward to a life in the country as retirement nears. From 2002 until 2017, Laila Doncaster has delved into an imaginary world to complete her first full-length novel, Cocooning the Butterfly, soon to become a series.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It energizes me to exhaustion. The longer I can sit and contemplate a scene and its conditions, the further I can dive into the situation, the more energy I gain to discover the finer details. I can become quite enthralled in a group of characters or single factor until my mind is whirling with ideas, solutions, and conditions. Once the juices start flowing, my energy increases to move me through many hours of writing, sometimes as late as the morning sun breaking the horizon before I’m ready to step away for a rest. I cannot force it to come to me, but wait for it to flow from me.
What is your writing superpower?
Knowing my characters, who they are, and what they are. They have been with me for so many years that I know them inside and out. I know the geographical areas where I have placed my characters, the amount of time it takes to travel between or among those areas, the landscape and climate.
I developed fictional places in my imagination over the years, until I came to know every aspect of them. It was just a matter of developing the timeline, the reasoning for certain activity, to develop the story surrounding it all. I believe that knowing my characters like family, their homes and lives as well as my own, are the key to clear visuals for my readers. I must be there in my mind for my readers to be there in their mind.
Do you view writing as a spiritual or healing practice?
Yes, I do actually. I have managed to overcome much of the abuse I experienced in my life, to heal those gaping wounds. Writing with deep emotion, I am now a survivor of child abuse, rape, beatings, and abandonment. I can now express my emotions freely and clearly, with no personal horror remaining as a threat to my current physical well-being and safety. I have healed my inner child, and today she is a beautiful little girl, happy, free, content and safe.
What would you choose as your spiritual animal?
Although I am the typical female specimen under the astrological sign of Cancer, the crab, I can now spread my wings and flutter through life as free as a butterfly. My grandfather once told me, that … “It is the truth, and only the truth, that will set you free; as free as a Monarch Butterfly in spring.” - (a copyrighted quote I have included in my books). I have faced my truth, walked my truth, felt my truth in every aspect of its vast and complex existence, to become the free spirit that I am today. I am a Butterfly.
How long were you writing part-time before you became a full-time writer?
I have always kept a journal, and I still do not write full-time. I write when my energy meets my inspiration; usually, after much contemplation time has passed and my thoughts are clear. As a young woman, I started writing about my life as a form of spiritual therapy and a tool to heal my afflictions. When my therapy had begun to show signs of true healing, I started writing “Cocooning The Butterfly”.
The metaphor is as simple and as complex as the lifecycle of the butterfly. We are young, wee caterpillars striving to survive here on Earth, but we are nurtured in the darkness, cocooned in the solitude of the grave (or, depression), before we emerge as fresh and new as a butterfly - God’s Angels.
Do you write every day? How many hours a day would you consider adequate or satisfactory?
No, I do not write every day; however, I do meditate, contemplate, ponder and develop storyline and plots in my mind for hours upon hours. When I do sit down to write, there is no timer, no designated time slot or clock ticking. I write until I have written what I have been thinking about, and I do not stop until those thoughts are out. I can in no way force, put a time limit or restraint on that flow of creative juices. It comes to me when it is ready to come to me.
Do you write each book as a stand-alone, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
I suppose each book could stand alone, but the reader would miss a great deal of the story. There will be somewhere close to five books in this series, each with a voice and a point of view of its own. There are many sides to “Cocooning The Butterfly”, each with its own flavor, point of view, genre, storyline, characters and events.
Do you write to be original, or deliver to your readers what the market wants?
The story that is in me, the story that I have been writing, is original, unique, and falls into a wide variety of genres. I cannot force my storytelling to adhere to the demands of the market, other than to identify genres in demand with the genres of my original work. I wish my book(s) to be uniquely me, not uniquely market-demand.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Oh sure I do. For those who believe in a higher power, a creator of all things, a God of love and kindness, there are many secrets; seek and you will find. For those who wish to read a story of clean romance, there are secrets to life, love, honesty and lessons learned by any who seek with an open mind. Life and love are powerful things, and to learn from another’s mistakes, one can find as many secrets as one wishes to know and recognize. There is meaning and understanding in many books, not just my own; however, it is in the hands of the reader, the method of telling a tale that can or cannot reach the individual reader.
What does literary success look like to you?
Wonderful people reading the story I have written, enjoying the read, and talking about it with their friends and family. Reaching those who have suffered abuse, loneliness, or hardship and embracing them with kindness, understanding and love. Helping a worthy cause and enabling them with the means to expand their efforts in stopping child abuse, but, like any author it is that moment of accomplishment when someone you respect dearly offers honest praise of your work. Literary success to me is the knowledge that my efforts have touched the lives of those who have read my book(s).
Which authors (or genres) do you read most often, and how have they helped you to become a better writer?
I read a wide variety of genres; however, I do not read gore, violence or X-rated adult content. Books such as ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown, ‘The Green Mile’ by Stephen King, ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker, ‘Sacajawea’ by Anna Lee Waldo, and ‘The War of the Roses’ by Warren Alder are just a few of my most favorite books.
Although I have read these authors, I have not read all of their work because not all of their books appeal to my reading preference. These authors write a wide range of genres, reaching the masses and not a small niche within the market. This avenue is what I choose for my book(s) and career as an author; each book written with a separate flavor or genre mix.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I am not writing a documentary on the history of a geographical location or area relevant to my fictional places, and they are just that, fictional. However, I have researched certain geographical locations to develop the places in my book(s). Libraries and maps are an incredible source of information on the history of a place. I do not need the entire playbook on an area, and so I take what I need from geographical and historical facts to authenticate my fictional writing.
Do you base your characters on real people?
To some degree, yes, I do. Most of my characters have a bit of this or that from many people I have known over the years, and a few are based on one individual in particular or made-up from thin air. My characters are unique individuals, hosting the faults and virtues of interesting people who have come and gone, or remain in my life. Each character has a unique persona, and they have been with me since childhood, so I know them well. As the saying goes, “you could be written into a book”, but good or bad behavior does not keep you safe from that fate.
What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite gender?
I have worked with men all my life; road construction, building construction, mechanics, heavy equipment, forest fires, the logging industry, oil and gas drilling and pipelines, industrial first aid, and trucking. I know a man’s way of thinking, talking, mindset, and how they deal with emotions as well as I know women. It is not hard to write a man, when you understand his way of thinking. I take a woman, take away sensitivity and complexities, and then add physical resilience, brute force, a few cuss words, and keep his true thoughts private between his mind and the reader. Women think as a conglomerate of issues all bottled up into one big pile; everything is connected and joined. Men think as one box at a time, and do not mix the contents of one box with another; each box contains an emotion, or an issue, and stands alone, unconnected with other boxes.
Is your written work an autobiography?
No, it is not. However, the emotions, pain, sorrow, joys and tears of laughter are my own. I am an emotional being, a spiritual being and a deep feeling woman. My readers, both men and women, are connecting with my story in their own way. Cocooning The Butterfly is Halya’s biography, not my own; this is fiction.
Do you include your personal life’s experiences in your work; if so, what period of your life do you write about most?
Yes, I have included my own personal life experiences in the book; however, the book is not an autobiography, or biographical to me, but a fictional story of a young girl’s life. The big name authors say ‘write what you know’, how you know it, remaining honest in your emotions and feelings relevant to the topic at hand, and keep it real. When I write this way, my words flow like a river; there is no stress on me, or my creative juices, when I allow my emotional spirit to become master of the keyboard.
When did you learn that words had power?
The year I started school, kindergarten; dealing with bullies, my youth was not one filled with joy and happiness. Words can cut deep and leave scars that remain for a lifetime, but words can also heal and fade those scars to invisible. My grade eight English teacher once asked me to select a book of my choice. I chose ‘Flowers in the Attic’ by AC Andrews. A book I could relate to, because I felt that confined and imprisoned by the cruelty and bullying of others. When I was in my mid-thirties I read the entire collection of Shakespeare’s works; the drama, the intellect, the history and theatrical essence of his work, drew me into another world. It was then that I pursued the art of writing, and tried my pen at a story that has haunted me for decades.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teen to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would have not considered reading books a shameful attribute, but one of power and future success. I was a closet reader most of my childhood and on through my teens, due to the bullying and ridicule of other kids. Children should be allowed to pursue their pleasures and talents in a positive and healthy manner, completely absent of any degradation from their peers.
Do you think someone could be a writer even if that person does not feel emotion strongly?
Absolutely and many famous authors have told their stories in this way. Not every book needs to be an emotional experience; however, even fear, crime, and hatred stem from emotions.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Having complete silence during those long hours of needed solitude and uninterrupted creativity - it is not easy to fall into another world. I must be there, live there, grow and prosper there, feel there, see there, and smell there, to find the essence of what it is to be there. I realized several years back why writers will rent a beach house or cabin in the woods. The ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign is not required when a writer’s domicile is remote.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, very much so. My husband is supportive in my venture as an author, proud of my accomplishments and engaged in my struggles and wins. My daughters are delighted to call me Mom, and my grandchildren love me dearly. Friends and extended family cheer me on and encourage my efforts with understanding of my need for seclusion at times. I am blessed and loved.
Do you Google yourself or your book(s), and how often?
Oh, sure I do, and regularly. I need to know where my book is for sale, if there has been any breach of copyright, and discover any reviews, comments, or any concerns that may come up. In doing so, I not only protect myself, my book, and my legal rights, but also broaden my sales outlet options for my readers. My book is now available around the world, listed with every major online sales outlet, and that means I need to point my readers to a sales outlet that is right for them. Google Search does this for me, and every online sales outlet I have found is listed on my website.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Oh, goodness; a big ego will force an author’s sales to drop dramatically. For example, if Dan Brown were an egomaniac, I certainly would not buy his books because I would feel sour toward him. Dan Brown is a humble man, honorable and clean spoken, gaining my respect for him as a human being, and as an author; therefore, I enjoy his books with a greater appreciation for him, his talents and stories. I wish for my readers to feel this way about me and my books. Being humble and kind, and keeping it real and truthful, is much more powerful than being uppity or maintaining a big ego.
If you could offer any advice to young writers, what would you say to them?
Explore your interests no matter if anyone tells you that you cannot, you should not, or do not embarrass yourself or them, because this is their own insecurities, jealousy, and selfishness talking. Do not fall for negative ridicule, but believe in yourself; accept only constructive criticism for consideration and toss the ridicule to File 13 (the trash can). You do not need permission or approval from anyone to accomplish your goals or fulfill your hopes, aspirations and dreams.
If it is writing poetry, short stories, full-length novels, magazine articles, writing a blog about puppies, songs, movie scripts, or playing the drums, pursue those things that bring joy into your life. When people tell you that you are not good enough, then try harder, work harder, perfect your talents, interests, knowledge, and craft, but never, ever, give up on your dreams if it brings you joy and makes you happy. Always do what is right for you.
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