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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Visiting with Debra Duneier and talking about Her Book, EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience

Tell us about the genre of your work.  Why did you choose this genre?

I did not choose the genre of the book… it kind of chose me. This is my first book so I hired an editor early on to guide me through the process. My first objective was to write a business book. After all, I spent most of my career building businesses and so I thought I should write a book that would help businesses. When I sat down to write, the words were flowing through me like a natural spring. There were stories to tell and they were at my fingertips. These were stories about people. These people faced challenges in their personal or professional lives and when they heard about EcoChi they were excited to call me to consult with them.  The stories get even more powerful after EcoChi was implemented and I felt like these stories had to be told. I submitted my first chapter to my editor and she said things like “this belongs in your autobiography-not this book” or “save this for your novel!” This confused me. What kind of book was this? I called my son Jamie in LA who is a writer for NBC’s “Parenthood” and explained to him my creative process. Jamie listened patiently and then said, “Mom, remember to stay honest and true to your own voice.”  Even today those words help to navigate me through the most challenging days of writing. I sat, I wrote and the book became a self-help book because that was the story that wanted to be told.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

My new book creates awareness that life is lived the way it is designed and offers readers the tools to create indoor spaces that support their goals both personally and professionally and at the same time propagate environmental integrity. Readers learn how to do this through story telling-getting a glimpse into people’s lives and to see how they designed their interiors to lift them above their challenges. There is also a call to action, tips and an educational component to the book as well. There is movement to a self-help book and when done well it becomes more than entertainment-it becomes ingrained in one’s life.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I write 5-6 days a week. I have 3 blogs, I have 1 column that I write weekly, 2 monthly columns, I am a guest writer for a variety of websites and of course there is always… the next book. My most well-known piece before “EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience” was my article about preparing the White House for President Obama before he moved in, called Feng Shui for the White House. The media really liked this article and it got picked up all over the world. My published articles are all about living a better life through better choices whether the subject is feng shui, green and sustainable living, environmental psychology or wellness.
Can you tell us more about your book, and where we can find it?
 EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience Released September 17, 2011
“Scientific and mathematical studies dating back to ancient far eastern tradition prove that the space that surrounds us is not easily separated from who we are, how we feel, and each of the life choices we make. Debra Duneier’s EcoChi System is built on a solid foundation of classical feng shui, green and sustainable living, healthy choices and environmental psychology. EcoChi goes beyond design and materials. It is about the kind of life that can be achieved when our spaces and surroundings work for us rather than against us. In her book, Debra invites you to share her journey and read the honest, open, revealing stories of her clients, who have experienced the power of EcoChi firsthand…”
Hard cover 4/color eco-friendly Limited edition for purchase
All E-Versions are available: , Apple's iBookstore,, Sony's Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Borders Books, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions.
ISBN 978-0-9748103-8-6
Where do you get your ideas for writing?

My ideas come from my life experience and extensive studies. This has created a deep desire within me to share what I have learned and to enrich people’s lives while at the same time propagating environmental integrity.

What is your favorite thing about your book?
 My favorite thing about the book is that the physical form of the book embodies the EcoChi concept. It is a 4/color, hard covered, eco-friendly book certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It is small for easy transporting and is beautiful to look at- creating an experience for the reader.
Why and when did you begin writing?  Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write?
 At age nine, I wrote my first poem, which I called “A Room with Four Walls.” At that age writing was a personal outlet for me. I had a difficult childhood and there was no one to talk to. A blank page was the safest place for me to express my fears and pain-it couldn’t lash out at me. I was out of harm’s way when I was in school and also the public library. Books became my first love. The novels that I that I read acted like a magic carpet ride creating possibilities of a better life ahead, in my mind and in my soul.
What is your writing schedule?  What atmosphere do you need to write?
I have to fit writing in around my busy schedule of promoting my book, TV interviews, radio, book signings, speaking engagements, chats and podcasts, as well as EcoChi consultations. I make a list in order of priorities and writing is on that list. For my creative pieces, my favorite place to write is in my outdoor office on the North Fork of Long Island. Surrounded by organic farms, vineyards and the Long Island sound with my feet firmly planted in nature my creative juices flow! This is where my first book, EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience was written as well as many of my columns-usually the best ones!
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

My next book will be EcoChi Recipes for a Better Life. These recipes will include step by step EcoChi instructions for interior design, creativity, work life, celebrations, loss, wellness, life crisis and turning points. My Monthly columns are for
in there Green Living section for the New York area.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and be published?

First-The publishing business is quickly changing. By the time you read this article it has probably changed again, so be sure you do your homework before you decide whether to self-publish or look for a traditional publisher. Talk to other authors who have been through the process recently. Join online chats and groups. Make an informed decision. As for your writing, take my son Jamie’s advice and stay true to your own voice. Let your passion flow and the readers will follow…

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Every artist knows that the toughest critic is oneself.  Those of us, who are lucky, we have had moments when we feel that we are just an instrument of a story, that demands to be told. These are true moments of inspiration so do not let anyone tell you to “save that for your next book” or that there is no reader for your subject. Your job is to tell the story well and to believe in your work. Do not allow others to dictate your art.
What do you do when you are not writing?
In addition to my EcoChi consulting business, and columns, I am a keynote speaker and also run workshops and seminars for a variety of corporations and trade organizations.

Creating the EcoChi system and writing EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience, was a journey. One that started when I was in a crisis in my own life and went to a Chinese Master for acupuncture for a frozen shoulder:

Gently and with great skill the Master strategically placed the needles into my skin. It felt strange, like a pinch, but it was not as painful as I anticipated. I could feel a wave of energy moving around the needles and all over my body, inside and out. Suddenly, the Master broke the silence: “You have a gift.” I held my breath, hoping he would say more. What was he talking about? After a few moments had passed, he added this: “Do not waste it.” That said, he walked out of the room and closed the door behind him. Stunned by his words, I lay there, reflecting on my life, and on what in the world my “gift” could be.” Excerpt from Chapter 1

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

  • One of the first women to become a certified gemologist in the US
  • Presenting a colored gemstone seminar for J.C. Penny’s first satellite conference
  • Featured guest for Martha Stewart Radio ½ hour show
  • My article picked up by the Associated Press
  • Featured by
  • Mistress of Ceremonies for Green Initiatives Conference
  • EcoChi feature article on Sierra Club homepage
  • My column picked up by the Huffington Post
  • EcoChi system implemented in a new construction project in Harlem for the largest and oldest minority, owned construction company in the US.
  • Gave birth to 2 children who are the light of my life

Check Debra’s links to learn more about her and book.

You can visit my other blog at: that features a preview to my new book that will be released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.


Kenna said...

I very much enjoy this blog, Sylvia. I see that you are a survivor and the natural greenness and beauty of your soul must have had something to do with it. I will certainly bookmark your blog.

Peggy Strack said...

Great interview. I am currently trying to turn my home into a more peaceful setting. This was helpful.

Thoughtful Reflections said...

Thank you for the compliments. I feel that if we help each other, it will help us all.

Thoughtful Reflections said...

Thank you for the compliments. I feel that if we help each other, it will help us all.