Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 Questions with Gutsy Writer Sonia Marsh (@GutsyLiving)

This week's Author Spotlight features Sonia Marsh, author of the travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island.

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story®”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family—with teenagers—to reconnect on an island in Belize.

Her memoir has received 3 awards at the 2013 London Book Festival, the 2013 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2013 Great South West Book Festival.

Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – andconsiders herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke, and their rat terrier Cookie.

1. How did you get into writing?
I always wanted to become a journalist as I’m curious, and love to interview people from different parts of the world. After my family’s year of living in a hut in Belize, I knew I had a real story to tell that was unique and would spark people’s interest. When we returned to the U.S., I decided to take classes, attend writing conferences, and hire editors, to mold my journal into a commercial travel memoir.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I like “connecting” with people and expressing my inner thoughts and honest feelings. I do not write fiction (yet) so I enjoy sharing part of myself and covering issues that I believe can either motivate or help people question and think about things in a different way. I do this through my blog posts at www.SoniaMarsh.com.

What I like least is the “fear” of not coming up with a second book that can match the adventure and uniqueness of my first memoir. I always approach my writing in terms of, “how does this differ from all the other books out there?” I guess I look at things from a marketing perspective from the start. This comes from years of studying the publishing business, and listening to editors and agents at conferences.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
Since I published my memoir in August 2012, I spend most of my time promoting and booking events, rather than writing my next book. I started my own publishing company: Gutsy Publications, and am working on publishing an anthology of the “My Gutsy Story®” series I started on my blog in October 2011. As far as my preferred way of writing, it would be keeping a journal, and transforming it into a memoir.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Augusten Burroughs for being so “raw” and “honest.” I also enjoy Nigel Marsh, (no we’re not related) for writing  Fat, Forty and Fired, about quitting his job and staying home with his 4 young kids. I am reading Key West, an indie-published book right now, and I love a mixture of humor, travel and getting to really know the narrator.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I believe in using it.

7. What is your book Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island about and how did it come to fruition?

"A suburban family discovers that trading materialism for a simple life on a tropical island helps them reconnect in unexpected ways."

What do you do when life in sunny Southern California starts to seem plastic, materialistic and just plain hellish?

For Sonia and Duke Marsh, the answer was to sell their worldly goods and move to an unspoiled, simpler life with their three sons in Belize, Central America, a third-world country without all the comforts and distractions of life in the developed world.

Sonia hopes the move will bring her shattered family back together. She feels her sons slipping away from her, and her overworked husband never has time for her or the boys.

This is the story of one family’s search for paradise. In this memoir, Sonia chronicles a year of defeats, fears and setbacks – and also the ultimate triumph of seeing once-frayed family ties grow back stronger from shared challenges and misfortunes. For Sonia, paradise turned out not to be a place, but an appreciation of life’s simple pleasures – a close-knit family and three well-adjusted sons with a global outlook on life.

My friends encouraged me to keep a journal in 2004 when we left for Belize. I started my journal a year before our move. I knew this would be the best way to keep my story authentic. I wanted to capture every important moment, emotion, and keep the dialogue real between my three sons, and everyone we encountered. 

8. What’s your current writing project?
Publishing an anthology of the “My Gutsy Story®” series. I trademarked this and you can read the first 3 online versions here. A print version will come out in September, 2013.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Key West, by Jon Breakfield

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

Experiencing adventure through travel, and always planning a new way to move abroad for awhile. I like to read and write about a new experience, a different culture, and a new lifestyle.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I welcome new friends, bloggers, writers and readers at Soniamarsh.com.
Contact me at: sonia@soniamarsh.comFacebook, or Twitter @GutsyLiving

My memoir is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, at
Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook, and at Indie Bookstores.

Do you have a “My Gutsy Story®” to share?
If any of you are writers or published authors, and wish to share something "Gutsy" you've done that either:
·        Changed you
·        Changed the way you think about something
·        Made your life take a different direction

Submission Guidelines:

·        Written, no more than 1,000 words
·        Check out guidelines and prizes. http://soniamarsh.com/my-gutsy-story-contest

Kindle                    Paperback


  1. Ryan,

    I thank you for interviewing me and loved your questions. What a life you've had from writing to screenwriting to wanting to become a pilot, to returning to writing and publishing. Congratulations on your marriage and I look forward to hearing more about your goals and would love you to join our "Gutsy Indie Authors" group on Facebook.

    1. Glad you had fun with the interview, Sonia. It was great having you. Thank you for sharing your gutsy experience with us!

  2. Thanks Sonia Marsh for giving such a inspiring interview. The answer of the your question is very interesting. It is full of inspiration to me.

    Mark Duin
    Motivational Speaker

  3. Mark,

    Glad you enjoyed the answers. Are you writing or planning to write a memoir or a novel?