Please help me welcome my featured guest, Diane Rose, The Amazing Quilter. Ms. Rose has been vision-impaired with glaucoma and became blind resulting from an accident in 1994. She is a motivational speaker who shares her life experiences and helps encourage others through her Rose of Sharon Ministries. "The way I look at it, if I can do what I have done, without sight, how much can you do?" she said.
One of Ms. Rose’s many achievements, even without sight, has been her experience as a journalist as she covered the country music scene. Another awesome fact about Diane is that one of her quilts hangs in the office of President Bush’s Texas ranch. For more about Diane Rose, visit: The Amazing Quilter Website
You need to check out this link to see some of Diane's Custom Quilts. She is an amazing woman and I’m inspired by her life story. If you’d like to see some photos of Diane’s journeys and speaking engagements, please check out this link: Diane's Scrapbook.
I'm very pleased to welcome Lila Munro to The Mustard Seed today.
I would like to start off by saying thank you to Joanne for having me over today. I remember when I first met Joanne, some months ago, as we both started out with a small press in Tennessee and met online through that contact. It seems that was our common mustard seed and while our mustard plants are now growing, we’ve grown in all sorts of directions, yet our paths still cross. Remarkably, it seems they cross each time a new seed falls. J It is my immense joy to be here today and share a bit of my journey and how my mustard plant has rooted but seems to constantly need trimmed and hedged.
It was a few days ago that I read a post left by someone in cyberspace that went something like this, and understand I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist of it. If you find yourself having to compromise your morals to accommodate those around you, perhaps it’s time to change those around you. While I agree with the meaning of this catch phrase in that I don’t think you should ever compromise to meet someone else’s requirement, I’m not completely clear on the changing the people around you part, because that part of the phrase actually carries a double meaning. Did the author mean get rid of the people around you, or did the author in fact mean lead by example? Or, maybe there’s a third option. Maybe you’re supposed to dig deep in your heart and discern for your own life and situation what exactly it does mean. Whatever you determine, when I saw this phrase I thought of the post I told Joanne I would write for today. I told her several weeks ago that I’d like to post about staying true to one’s heart. Then this fitting phrase just happened to jump up and bite me and the post began to take shape.
Long ago and far away when I first began my writing journey I had a vision, as I imagine all fresh on the journey writers do. That vision entailed writing a certain thing a certain way and never compromising my beliefs, wants, desires, goals, or morals. What I found out is that walking the path of writing can be one of the most corrupt and brutal paths known to man. If you let it. That’s the key really. No one can corrupt your vision unless you allow them to, much in the same way no one can steal your joy, you in fact allow them to take it away.
The path to weaving from the path I found didn’t even start with the writing. It started with, well, social networking. Yes, I would have to say that the seed that was being untrue to myself was planted along the social highway. Don’t get me wrong. Social networking can be a powerful tool, however, it’s all in how you use it that makes the difference. It can in fact be a bandwagon of trouble if you don’t monitor your use of it. The social network is where you are tempted to be herded like the other sheep into this clique or that clique or this group or that. It’s also the place where once in those cliques and groups you notice there’s a lot of backstabbing, gabbing about others, and general nastiness going on. Do you float along with the crowd and “sort of join in with your fingers crossed behind your back?” Or go against the grain and risk losing out on all the cool kid things that are happening? It’s there that you see the worst of people erupting in the form of flirting with people they don’t even know, speaking ill of one another, and I’ve even witnessed online fights and arguments. Not savory. People get intoxicated and post things they probably would never otherwise be caught saying in a million years. They’re negative, negative, negative. And after a while, well, guess what…you become negative and sink into some sort of indescribable funk.
And that’s really just the beginning to be honest.
I just finished a seven part series on my own blog about the seven deadly sins and how they can tear our career down around us a brick at a time. And I didn’t deny my own shortcomings in these posts. To the contrary I owned up to them, admitting the times I’ve been jealous over someone else’s achievements, or been gluttonous wanting more and more and more. It’s so very easy to fall prey to these things in this world, because let’s face it, writers tend to have enormous egos that need fed. It’s in what we feed those egos that we either succeed and float to the top with the crème or fail and find ourselves stuck at the bottom in a muck pit.
Through a series of the things I’ve mentioned above, a few months ago a light bulb went off and I realized that vision I had at the beginning? The one that I’d never compromise my beliefs, wants, desires, goals, or morals for was indeed corrupted. And action was required immediately.
I took a good long look at the things I was doing. Almost 2000 friends on Facebook? And I actually only new about a hundred of those. A handful were people I could call acquaintances and writing contacts—of the sort I wished to keep anyway. What was I doing? What had driven me to accept so many requests from people that had no more interest in me as a writer than the man in the moon? I am now down to less than 300 and most of them are true friends and family and the rest are either fans or people that I actually want to foster a meaningful relationship with. Someone that is a positive influence rather than a negative one. You see, I figured out in this case, the message for me was clear—I needed to actually move away from the people around me as there was no way they were changing and who was I to ask them to anyway? They have their path and know what they are willing to do to make it to the end and I have mine. Living in a negative cesspool is not a viable means of fostering my career. Changes had to occur and I changed things. In this case I hope I led by example. Maybe others will follow.
Once I made up my mind to clean house, so to speak, it was as if the skies opened and I could see the sun for the first time in a while. Other revelations came pecking on my door and I figured out that while I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve written and wouldn’t change a thing (for those of you that don’t know me around here—I write very saucy stories to say the least, but because I present them in the light and context of an actual romance they fall on the romance side of the line), my heart was discontent because I missed my military heroes so much. At some point during the melee, I’d wandered away from what I consider to be my calling. To bring Marines to life on paper and give an insight to what it’s like to live this life every day and somehow still find romance and a happy ever after. Another correction had to be made and is being fertilized as we speak. I have a couple of pieces to finish up then it’s off to the races with several military romances I have in the works.
As a result, I’m a much happier writer today. I’m not discontent and unhappy every morning when I get up and my goals are evolving and growing to accommodate that. At one point I was at a stalemate with no direction really. Now my train is back on its tracks and the things I have planned…and their coming to fruition as a result of staying true to myself and either changing my environment by leaving one for another, or setting an example for others.
Where does your heart lie and what is it telling you? Listen carefully lest you weave away from your path and your mustard plant get out of control…
Lila Munro currently resides on the coast of North Carolina with her husband and their two four-legged kids. She’s a military wife with an empty nest and takes much of her inspiration for her heroes from the marines she’s lived around for the past fifteen years. Coining the term realmantica, she strives to produce quality romance in a realistic setting. Her genre of choice is contemporary romance that spans everything from the sensual to BDSM and ménage. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum and aquarium, taking field research trips, and soaking up the sun on the nearby beaches. Her works include The Executive Officer’s Wife, Bound By Trust, Destiny’s Fire, Salvation, Three for Keeps, the Force Recon series, the Slower Lower series, and the Identity series. She’s a member in good standing of RWA and Passionate Ink. Currently she’s working on sequels to several series to be released throughout 2012. And has a brand new line scheduled for winter 2012-13.
Pamela S. Thibodeaux is a guest at The Mustard Seed today and she's doing a book tour with a giveaway so you'll want to stick around for more details on that.
Before we find out what Pamela thinks about eBooks and trends in the industry, let's meet her...
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction and creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
Pamela's Thoughts on the eBook industry and current trends
Much like other areas of fashion and entertainment, there are always industry trends, fads, and hot topics. It is simply the way of life and progress. Since the invention of laptop computers—heck before that to home computers!—the world has become more and more reliant on electronics. Think about it. Our mothers and grandmothers used hand-cranked, wringer washing machines, and now those appliances are digitally programmed. Cars are run with computers in lieu of the old fashioned engine that nearly any guy could take apart, repair and put back together in a single day. Reading is no different. At some point I even believe e-books will replace print books in many areas, especially with our young children so heavily exposed to the digital age. The computer/digital age is here to stay and so is the e-book trend. I adore my Kindle mainly because it is so much easier to carry several books compared to lugging them around in your purse, back-sack or suitcase. That said, I am a print book aficionado. Nothing, and I mean nothing beats curling up in a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine (or chocolate), soft light, and a good book. Well....some things beat that, but not much LOL!
Now, let's chat. You write romance novels, but is that your preferred type of book to read for leisure?
PST: Oh yes! I love a good romance novel – just about any sub-genre of romance (historical, western, suspense), but I’m also a great fan of inspirational/spiritual non-fiction.
I'm a huge fan of romance as well, especially romantic suspense. Are you a true romantic at heart or not really?
Yes, very much so. I believe in romance…flowers or cards for no reason, notes in lunch box or on the pillow. I believe in loving someone with every fiber of your being – when the thought of what you can do to make his/her day special is the foremost thought in one’s mind. I still have the “Love Is” comic strips my husband (now deceased) used to cut out of the newspaper and the rock (no, not a diamond – a rock) he gave me while declaring his love as "like this rock…strong, solid, unchanging and one of a kind."
Love your romantic sentiments and that's such a precious memory to hold in your heart. What is your all-time favorite romantic movie (comedy or drama etc.)?
Pretty Woman. I just love everything about that movie…the humor, the reality, the flawed yet redeemable (and very identifiable) characters and the promise of HEA.
Can you share with us about your book, The Visionary? I must share with readers that I read your book and absolutely loved it. I already posted by review here back in November, but would like to share it again.
A visionary is someone who sees into the future, Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives? Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God’s love heals the most wounded of souls
Can you share with us an excerpt from The Visionary?
Pam took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. “I love you, Trevor. Why won’t you talk to me? Tell me what’s wrong.”
“You have no idea what love is.” He hissed through teeth clenched as tightly as the fists by his side. “Most people have no inkling as to what true love is. True love is sticking together when your whole world is falling apart, trusting each other when you can’t depend on another living soul, and being willing to die or kill for each other.”
Pamela, thanks so much for guesting today. I enjoyed your visit and chatting with you.
Okay, readers, now it's time for the giveaway details. Pamela is giving away an autographed copy of The Visionary to 4 lucky winners on December 17th.
What do you need to do? Comment on this blog post to be entered to win. You can follow the blog tour and comment along the way–because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win! The Visionary - Blog Tour 12/9 - 12/16
Blair McDowell is a guest at The Mustard Seed today and she's doing a book giveaway. So glad you could all join us. Let's meet Blair...
Blair McDowell lives on Canada’s scenic west coast in the quaint fishing village of Gobson’s Landing, where she runs a Bed & Breakfast during the summer months. During the fall she travels to favorite destinations in Greece and Italy. Winter finds her on a small island in the Caribbean where she has had a home for many years.
I am eminently qualified to offer these tips on writing fiction, not because I’m a vastly published author of fiction. Quite the reverse. My first novel, The Memory of Roses, was released on October third, 2011, and my second, Delighting In Your Company, is scheduled for release in March, 2012, both by Rebel Ink Press and available through Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. I’m working on my third .
I’m a rank beginner in the world of fiction. That’s why I’m able to write first-hand about the pitfalls and perils of creative writing to all who may be just venturing forth. I’m still doing battle with these demons myself every day.
So what are the problems awaiting us as we enter this new and exciting world of make-believe, creating people, putting them together in interesting places and situations, getting them into and out of trouble? It’s a heady feeling, playing God.
1. POV. How many times have I seen those pesky initials in the margin of my manuscripts! Simply put, we may not jump from head to head in a scene when writing. We have to decide from whose point of view the scene, or the chapter, or even the whole book is to be written. And once the decision is made we have to stick with it. We can’t let our hero’s thoughts intrude if the scene is from the heroine’s POV. Easier said than done.
2.SHOW, DON'T TELL. This is one of the hardest things to do initially. Our heroine can’t just be sad, or look sadly at the hero, she has to do something that shows she’s sad. Maybe her eyes fill with unshed tears. Maybe her shoulders slump, her steps falter, she sighs, or sobs and covers her face with her hands. One way I check for “telling” is to do a computer search for the words “feel” and “felt”. Every time I find one of these, I delete it and try to rewrite the scene to show how the character’s actions tell the reader what the character is feeling
3.USING ALL FIVE SENSES. In real life we use all our senses constantly. We see people on the street. We hear a truck lumbering by. We smell the acrid smoke from the nearby lumber mill. We taste the rich dark chocolate. We touch the baby’s soft skin. Our characters must do the same if we don’t want them to be one-dimensional.
4.DIALOGUE. Dialogue isn’t everyday speech. If we were to write down what we hear around us in the grocery store or at Starbucks, the result wouldn’t be dialogue. It would be full of fillers such as “uh” “so” and “like”. Dialogue is a written substitute for speech, but it isn’t really speech. It is both more precise and more stylized. However it must seduce the reader into hearing it as speech. There-in lies the rub.
5.VOICE. Every good author has an identifiable voice. It is what distinguishes Hemmingway from T.H. White, Nora Roberts from Fern Michaels, Shakespeare from John Donne. Each one of us has our own voice, our own sound, our own way of putting words together. If we call a relative or friend on the phone, they recognize us, not just by the timbre of our voice, but also by the words we use and the way we put those words together. It is that uniqueness of the individual voice that we must somehow translate to the written word.
6.CREATING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS. This is closely related to #5 above. As we must make our central character identifiable through his/her voice, so we must give our other characters voice characteristics that help the reader know who is talking without the constant and intrusive use of dialogue tags. This can be done in a number of ways. Is the character well-educated, with a large vocabulary? Or is he/she more likely to use simple words? A waitress will probably speak differently than a college professor. Is the character soft spoken? Bombastic? Characterization begins with voice.
7. DIALOGUE TAGS. How many ways can we say “he said, she said”? I came up with fifty words I could substitute for said when I was first writing. But I now believe that simpler is better. The best way is not to find another word for said, but to make who is speaking clear through some action. John plopped down in the kitchen chair. “What’s for dinner?” Is there any doubt in the reader’s mind that John is speaking? And in multi character scenes, if we must use dialogue tags, simpler is probably better.
8.PLOTTING. As a reader, nothing annoys me more than loose ends. I hate getting to the end of a book and discovering that a plot point mentioned on page seventeen has never surfaced again, never been resolved. If we know where we as authors are going we’re more likely to arrive in a timely manner at our intended destination. I’m a great believer in advanced plotting, deciding ahead of time where the crisis points in my story will occur and when and how they will be resolved.
9.PACING. This is one I’m still truly struggling with. I know I should be getting on with the story. But I like to stop and smell the roses. I love setting a scene. I like painting verbal pictures. In The Memory of Roses my setting is the Greek Island of Corfu. How could I not describe the color of the sea, the dark lush groves of olive trees, the picturesque hill villages? This book is almost as much about my on-going love affair with Greece as it is about the lives and loves of my characters. I must constantly remind myself to move the story along as I write. Setting plot points and writing toward them helps me with that.
I’m sure there are many pitfalls I haven’t mentioned here. Many I have still to encounter. But isn’t it a great life, writing? We get to build our own reality, day by day, and book by book.
Blair, thanks for sharing such great advice...very helpful!
So, let's chat. What's your preferred type of book to read for leisure?
This can change a dozen times in any given month. But at the moment I’m enamoured with the writing of Michael Dibdin. He is the author of a series of books featuring a Venetian detective in Rome. Three of these books were recently made into television dramas shown on Masterpiece Theater. Dibdin’s writing in descriptive passages is simply gorgeous. He is a master of the craft.
What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?
Has to be the one on a deserted beach on Corfu In The Memory of Roses, although a close second is the one on a beach in the Caribbean, in Delighting In Your Company, my book that will be out in March, a paranormal romance featuring an irresistible ghost lover. I’m a sucker for love on a beach, in spite of sand getting into uncomfortable places.
Sounds very romantic. What is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?
The Torres Strait Islands. There are about five hundred of them, only a few inhabited, between the Northern most tip of Australia and southern coast of New Guynea. I was researching the folk music of the native islanders there. Grass landing strip. No scheduled flights. No hotels. Near the equator and no air-conditioning. But wonderful people with a disappearing language and a unique folk music.
My trip to the northern coast of Iceland on the longest days of the year when the sun never sets, comes a close second.
Thanks so much for sharing. I enjoyed chatting.
Blair, can you share with us about your book, The Memory of Roses.
When renowned archaeologist Ian McQuaid dies he leaves his daughter, Brit, a villa on the Greek Island of Corfu. He asks that she deliver a package to a woman he once loved there. Brit had known nothing about either the villa or the love affair her father had while married to her mother. At thirty-two, after a disastrous love affair, Brit finally admits to herself that she is desperately unhappy. Left with only questions, Brit has a dawning sense that to live her own life free of shadows she must trace the path of her father’s past.
Her journey takes her from San Francisco to Athens, to the villa on Corfu, and, finally to Venice, where she discovers a truth, long hidden, with the power to destroy lives. During the course of her odyssey she meets Andreas Leandros, a young Greek archaeologist, and while uncovering the secrets of her father's past, she discovers her own future.
Very intriguing. Going on my TBR list. Can you share an excerpt? I understand that in the following scene, Brit McQuaid sees, for the first time, the man who may become the love of her life.
She caught her breath. Standing almost in front of her, absolutely still and gazing down the arcade as if expecting someone, was the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. He was well over six feet tall and his head was crowned with an unruly mass of curly hair so bright that in the sunlight it looked like spun gold. His face was classically Greek, broad brow, straight nose, strong jaw. But it was his eyes that were most arresting. They were a startling blue with streaks of deeper blue, like lapis shards, and were surrounded with dense dark eyelashes. He was long and lanky, and his jeans and short sleeved knit shirt did little to conceal the ripples of his muscular body.
Brit could hardly take her eyes off of him. My God, she thought. It’s Hermes, the messenger of the gods. It’s the marble statue from the Archaeology Museum in Athens. He’s come to life.
She had loved that ancient statue since the moment she’d first seen it at fourteen years old. Her father had teased her about it. Teased her about falling in love with a Greek god at an age when other young girls were swooning over rock stars.
Unable to tear her eyes away, she watched as the young man stood as motionless as the statue he so resembled, adding to the sense of unreality.
Then a small dark haired girl came rushing up to him and, taking his arm, burst into a spate of rapid Greek, the gist of which Brit understood to mean that she had been shopping and had lost track of the time and was so, so sorry, and would he forgive her?
The spell was broken. The statue gave way to a laughing young man. “Of course I forgive you! Don’t I always?”
With that, the pair strolled off, arm in arm.
Thanks for sharing. Where can readers find your book online?
Kathryn Meyer Griffith is here today to share about her writing journey. She's also doing a eBook giveaway.
Let's meet Kathryn... Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres.
Truthfully, what started me off as an author was simply this: As a child, about eight or nine years old (the same time I began to draw pictures in pencil and years before I began to dream about being a singer with my younger brother Jim), I began reading books, science fiction, historical romances and scary books from the library. I had six brothers and sisters and though I had a loving mother and father, a loving family, there was very little money. I can’t say we were poverty poor, but we were poor at times. Sometimes our meals were scarce and we never had extra money for many toys or outside entertainment. I think in my whole young childhood my father only took us out to eat once. Try paying for seven kids and two adults. So we learned to entertain ourselves. Played outside. Climbed trees and hid in deep dirt gullies. Sang, howled really, outside at night on the swing set.
I loved to read. The library books were free and plentiful. I’d sit on my bed, especially during the long summer days and evenings (after chores were done, of course) and read one amazing book after another. If I was lucky, with a chocolate snack or cherry Kool-Aid nearby. Those books, those words on the page, took me away to other places, times and worlds. It was magical. I got lost in people-on-a-spaceship-going–to-some-faraway-planet science fiction books. There was this one horse book when I was a kid that knocked me out, made me cry, and laugh with joy at the end it was so real to me and so full of pathos because I loved horses so much. It was called Smoky. Loved that book. Sigh. I never forgot how those wonderful books made me feel…so free. So adventurous. So rich. Like I could be or do anything someday. And when I grew up I wanted to create that magic myself for others. So…that’s why I began writing. And when I get depressed over my writing at times, I remember that.
I remember vividly one day at school (I must have been about 10 or so) when a big box of Weekly Reader books were delivered and we each got to pick one to read. The smell of those new books in that box as I looked at them, the excitement and awe of the other kids over the books and the reverence for those authors, and I thought: Wouldn’t it be something if someday a box of these books were mine…written by me? Oh, to be an author. People respect an author. It was the beginning.
Then there’s also a second part to the question: Why do I keep writing after 39 years? Because I can’t not write. I can’t stop. The stories take over my heart and mind and demand to come out. It’s sort of like birthing a baby (I have one real son and two grandchildren myself). You carry them for a while, a short or long time span, and then once they’re born (published) they go on to be their own individual entities that sometimes continue to amuse and amaze you. Or disappoint you. Whatever.
This is what it’s like to be a published author.
It’s not like anything you would imagine. There’s excitement, the passion and feeling of being right with the world, as the story is being created and the words are tumbling out into the computer; there’s the exhaustion of writing hours and hours, the doubt that your words will mean anything to anyone and why am I doing this? that creeps in but that you have to chase away; there’s the pride in seeing the finished book, either e-book or print, and finally there’s the feeling of unexplainable happiness when someone says they read it and liked/loved it. The best response I love to hear is: I couldn’t put it down. The characters were all so real. I got carried away with it. Didn’t want to leave the world you’d created. Wow. That makes the sometimes low pay and grueling hard work all worthwhile. Because writing is hard work. The creating and promoting anyway. Hour and hour, day after day, year after year. It’s your life you’re using up. Precious time. You have to truly love it to give all that up…to strangers.
Sometimes people ask me: is it still fun?
Fun? A strange way to put it. Sometimes, rarely, it’s fun. Mostly it’s hard work and lots of solitary time alone. Writers live so much of their life in their make believe worlds they get lonely. Lonely for the real world, real breathing people and adventures. I know I do. But the writing won’t leave me alone until I write down the words, tell the tale. The easiest way I can put it is when I’m writing or dealing with my writing I feel like I’m doing what I was born to do. Yes, I believe a writer is born to write – like an artist is born to paint and draw; a musician to write or play music. As an artist myself I know I’m not really happy, or fulfilled feeling, unless I’m writing, drawing or singing. Creating. Though the singing and the artwork have gone more by the wayside as I’ve become older…writing mostly takes all my free time now. Yes, writing does make me happy. Grin. Except the rare times someone hates one of my books…and that happens, too. I’ve finally learned that reading and loving a book or short story is subjective. Some people love my stories, get them, and others…don’t. And that’s okay. We’re all different people. That’s a lesson a writer must learn. One person’s criticism is not a blanket criticism of all your work or even that one work, it’s just one person’s opinion.
Is it lucrative?
That’s a loaded question and (though I don’t know why) most writers will not talk about how much they make or a book makes. Maybe (this is just my theory) it’s because most of us make so little it embarrasses us. There’s no way we could ever live on it. It’s icing on the cake. Trim on the woodwork. The mid-level writers anyway. The top (very rare) writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and many other writers (especially some romance authors) make a very good living, but most writers don’t. Ever. Oh, in my heyday in the 1980’s and early 1990’s I made fairly good money with Leisure and Zebra paperbacks (and though at the time I didn’t think it was good, comparing it with now, well, it really was good) , because back then the distribution and print runs were so large. I got a smaller percent in royalties but there were more books out there selling for me. So far the e-books and PODs (Print on Demand) aren’t selling that well, but I get a much larger percentage. I’m hoping in the next year by having all my old 10 novels out again (rereleased between June 2010 and July 2012) and 2 new books I’ll see a gradual increase in income. It’s an experiment, sort of. Selling a small quantity each 3 months of 12 or more books might add up to a nice sum. Or so I’m hoping. I’m marketing (a whole new thing in the Internet world these days) a lot, seeking and getting great 4 and 5 star reviews, joining reader and writer loops, guest blogging, etc. It’s never ending. Thing is I don’t know how much it all helps. Eventually, I figure, I’ll find out. I’m an optimist always.
Do I still enjoy writing?
Sure. I love it. It’s like breathing, eating, dreaming. It’s become part of me. Second nature. It took me 39 years to say: I’m a writer. And really feel like I wasn’t being a pretentious so-and-so or outright lying. Took me all that time and 14 published books, 7 short stories (and more to come hopefully) for me to feel deserving of the title. Even without the money telling stories is what makes me feel…complete. Happy. Hey, look at me I’m a storyteller! Ha, ha, now I just have to figure out a way to make it more profitable, as well. Working on that. As one successful writer recently said to me: Just get the books out there…nothing else matters. (Presumably good books, I’d add.) The rest will come. Gosh, I sure hope he’s right. Cause I’m been working soooo hard.
Written by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith this sultry August 24th day of 2011 firstname.lastname@example.org
A word about Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, July 2012) The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition out Nov.7, 2010) Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2012) Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011) The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010) Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011) The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2011) The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011) Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003) All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006) Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in August 2011) Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in September 2011) The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in November 2011) Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella and bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out again from Eternal Press in January 2012) BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Out from Damnation Books June 2010) The Woman in Crimson (Out from Damnation Books September 2010)
What is your preferred type of book to read for leisure?
Anything spooky. I love a good old-fashioned (not a lot of sex or unnecessary brutality) ghost story or a vampire story where the vampires are still the evil, wicked creatures of the night. I also love to read any well-written contemporary slice-of-life stories. Truth is, I like about any kind of fiction as long as it’s well-written and from the heart. Are you a true romantic at heart or not really?
I’m a true romantic and always have been since I was a child. It shows in my books, too, I suppose. Because love, or good, always wins out. I’ve been called a goody-two-shoes a lot in my writing but I don’t care. The world’s a harsh place and there needs to be a make-believe world where that isn’t always so. Then again I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and all you need is love seemed to be the fabric of our very lives, or to me, anyway. I’ve been married to the love of my life, my husband, for 33 years and we’re as happy as the first day we met…older and more stable, but as happy. Life without love of family, friends and a husband would mean nothing to me. Love and hope are what make us humans different from the animals.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Running barefoot down the summer dirt roads searching for wild strawberries, free from school and worries, playing in the woods and fields behind our sprawling old childhood home, with my six brothers and sisters. Soft summer nights. The sounds of the night crickets and frogs. Breezes in the open windows. Car rides with our dad. Watermelon slices on a hot July day. Homemade ice cream. Our life in those early, poor but love-filled, days with my whole family around me can still bring me joy…and tears to my eyes. Memories of my beloved storyteller Grandma Fehrt, my parents young and happy, my brothers and sisters still children, before all the troubles came, there to love me are my best memories. I dreamed of being a singer, an artist…a writer…and all my dreams over the last sixty years have come true in one strange way or another. I smile when I think of all those I loved now gone. But I still have the memories.
Please tell us about your book, Egyptian Heart...I understand it's an ancient Egyptian time travel romance from Eternal Press
Maggie Owen is a beautiful, spirited Egyptologist…but lonely. Even being in Egypt on a grant from the college she teaches at to search for an undiscovered necropolis she’s certain lies below the sands beyond the pyramids of Gizah doesn’t give her the happiness she’d hoped it would. There has always been and is something missing. Love.
Then her workmen uncover Ramose Nakh-Min’s ancient tomb and an amulet from his sarcophagus hurls her back to 1340 B.C – where she falls hopelessly in love with the man she was destined to be with, noble Ramose, who faithfully serves the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton and his queen Nefertiti.
She’s fallen into perilous times with civil war threatening Egypt. She’s been mistaken for one of Ramose’s runaway slaves and with her blond hair, jinn green eyes and fair skin she doesn’t fit in. Some say she’s magical and evil. Ramose’s favorite, Makere, attempts to kill her.
The people, angry the pharaoh Akhenaton has set his queen Nefertiti aside and he’s forced them to worship his god, Aton (instead of their many Egyptian gods), are rising up against him.
Maggie’s caught in the middle of it in a dangerous land and time she doesn’t belong in.
In the end, desperately in love with Ramose, will she find a way to stay alive and with him in ancient Egypt–and to make a difference in his world and history?
Because Maggie has finally found love.
Can you include an excerpt?
My eyes flicked back to the far away pyramids. There were always tourists around them. Oohing and aahing. Climbing. Taking pictures. Like ants everywhere. Oh, if only those stones could talk. The things they’d seen over the millennias: the lovers who’d met besides the huge structures or walked, kissed and wept tears in their shadows and the history that happened all around them.
I was woolgathering again. I couldn’t seem to help myself. Since I’d arrived I kept hearing ghosts whispering on the breezes around me of long ago passions and secrets.I couldn’t make out what they were saying but they haunted me. My fingers dropped to sift through the glittering grains at my feet. Something about this place, the humid heat, the exotic smells in the air and the warmth of the sand brought out the long dormant erotic side of me. I hadn’t felt so alive, so sensual, since I’d been a teenager. My skin tingled it was so strong at times.
Egypt had cast a spell over me. That was it. It was bringing the woman I could have been, but never had been, out in me. I found myself staring at the men in the excavating crew and having the oddest thoughts. What did their tanned bodies really look like underneath those desert robes and headdresses and, at the end of the day, I mused, which ones were going home to please wives or lovers under the Egyptian moon.
The past. Love. Yearning. Passion. I saw them everywhere. ***
Thank you for sharing this excerpt. Sounds like an intriguing book. Where can readers find your book?
Hope you all are having a great day today. Winfield H. Strock is here at The Mustard Seed to share about his writing journey. Let's meet Winfield...
Can you share a little about yourself?
After a successful 23 years as a navy submariner I struggled for a new career and identity. A massive brain tumor taught me the importance of love, faith and hope. With my bride of twenty-five years beside me, I plunge headlong into my second love, writing.
Growing up with my head in the clouds, I’ve largely been happiest alone with my thoughts and dreams. As strange as I seemed to other kids, they seemed equally strange to me. I could not understand the allure of their interests. My imagination served as my longest and closest best friend. We enjoyed each other’s company more than baseball, wrestling, or fishing. Exceptions came occasionally.
With few close friends and fewer prospects for employment in West Virginia, I joined the navy. Eventually I set aside my imagination for ‘more important’ things. I kept my daydreaming to myself.
When I finished my naval career I didn’t easily slip into a second career. I jumped from job to job. Once I could confidently and proudly tell people, “I’m a submariner,” or, “I’m a chief in the navy.” Without those labels, without that uniform; I felt lost, without an identity.
As a hotel desk clerk, in the middle of the night, I searched for ways to stay awake while simultaneously seeking a new career and a new identity. If only I might turn my daydreaming distracted mind to some useful purpose. On of my few epiphanies struck. I know, I’ll write.
Clueless and thrilled I wrote. Long solitary nights behind the hotel desk became therapeutic and productive.
Bills piled up so I changed jobs often, each time earning more, each time writing less.
A brain tumor diagnosis sent my life for a loop. Again I wrote less.
December 5th 2007; a lengthy surgery and a short coma later I emerged altered. Aside from the obvious physical changes, my spirit also changed. I didn’t know it then. I denied it any time my actions came into question. Early in my new life denial reigned supreme.
Only in retrospect, years down the road I looked back amazed. The paths chosen provided irrefutable evidence. I left the hospital a different person. Some say I’ve become emotionally immature. They might be right in general. Passionate conversations come more readily. The rudder of my heart makes tighter turns, leaving a larger wake. The biggest, the best alteration in my life’s perception came with a deepened desire to pursue my passions. My love for my wife ran deeper and my drive to write burned brighter.
One day I spied a poster; a writer’s workshop. Giddily I go. Reading my work to others for the first time set me all aquiver. Patiently they listened. Anxiously I heard their critique afterward. My clumsy first works garnered few positive reviews. Well imagined tales failed to leap from my mind to the page without losing something along the way.
Driving home from those initial meetings I recognized the first sign of being on the right track by writing. Most times I tried learning something new, initial failures dashed my hopes and deflated my desire. This time critical commentary excited me. Instead of stinging, the exposed flaws offered hope. Though awful at first, I sought to salvage each sliver of universal truth from the trash heap. Each encounter helped hone my skills and sharpen the focus of my story’s purpose.
As my fervor grew to write I also diversified my projects. I put aside my science fiction manuscript and wrote short stories on a variety of subjects. I wrote articles for my company’s newsletter and the local newspaper.
Looking back now I smile. Writing seems so obvious a path. My identity lost is now an identity proudly found. And now as a writer a new dream dawns. I dream of others reading my work and falling in love with my characters as I have. I dream of putting a smile on a reader’s face, a tear on their cheek, and a gasp in their throat.
Winfield, thank you so much for sharing your writing journey and letting us know why you write. Very inspiring story.
If your book was made into a movie, which actors do you see portraying your characters?
a. For the lead role, Pittsburgh reporter and Civil War veteran, Solomon Hanson: Chris Evans. I’m looking for a hero who can balance action and a sharp sense of humor. Any guy that makes Captain America look that good has my vote.
b. British doctor, explorer, Henry Wells: David Hyde Pierce. His role as Frazier’s brother as well as his voice acting for ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ nailed it for me. He has a calm presence in the midst of chaos. He seems able to portray a man smitten by a woman whose desires he no longer satisfies.
c. The doctor’s wife, assistant, and love interest for my lead Regina Wells: Karen Gillan. Regina Wells is more woman than her husband Henry can manage. Solomon Hanson’s frontier experience makes him an ideal partner for the brave and bold Regina. This Scottish actress portrays the courageous Amy Pond in Dr. Who. Opposite the iconic doctor Karen’s character shines a light of her own on the adventures they take through time. Her beauty, courage, and calm in the midst of adversity make her the perfect choice.
d. Russian engineer and revolutionary Nikolai Kibalchich: Colin Farrell. An intense misunderstood man who’s lost touch with his humanity; I figure who better to pull this off?
e. Bodyguard and mercenary, Claude Dufresne: Mark Strong. This guy shows a silent strength indicative of the character. He’s scary, in a good way.
f. Bankroller, expedition’s ‘leader’ and coward, Julian Turleau: Gene Hackman. While all smiles at the dinner table, Julian bites off more than intended with his unfathomable expedition. Dustin’s age is about right and he plays the agitated ‘man in over his head’ well.
Sounds like some great actors and reasons why you'd think they'd play the parts well. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?
In the navy, aboard a nuclear powered submarine, we set out to sea and weathered a hurricane from hundreds of feet below the waves.
Not sure I could ever go in a submarine...I've very claustrophobic. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?
In a world devoid of men, Nikolai regains his humanity in a tender moment with a lunar native. He share a passionate kiss and in the process renews his own appreciation for love.
Can you tell us about your book, Adventures Above the Aether? What secrets justify hiding from history mankind’s first foray into space? In 1881, in an age of steel steam and innovation, an eclectic collection of adventurers gather. As resources pour in and hints at breakthrough technologies leak out, one man is sent to investigate.
Follow Solomon ‘Hap’ Hanson, Civil War veteran and Pittsburgh reporter as he uncovers a maze of mysteries. Deeper and darker events become. As his story unfolds more dangerous the perils become, more rewarding the venture grows.
An enigmatic message along the way keeps Hap focused on his task: “Save this adventure from itself.” Who will be this voyage’s downfall? Will it be the swarthy terse soldier, Claude? Surely the sallow British doctor, Henry Wells, and his beautiful, brave, resourceful wife pose no threat to the voyage’s success. The most obvious danger lies in the expedition’s most brilliant member. Nicolai’s nihilistic views come to the fore as tensions rise and crises converge. But as Hap joins the chaotic crew he wonders, will he see the crew and voyage to its doom?
Worlds beyond our own, Earth’s nearest celestial neighbors, beckon to be explored. Join in the voyage textbooks cannot know happened. Learn why such an epic event goes unwritten until the dangers of our past no longer threaten to destroy the future. Discover the lessons learned on distant worlds a century ago which serve as harbingers of horrors hanging above our hectic globe.Where can readers find your book online?Purchase Link for Adventures Above the Aether
Winfield, thank you so much for stopping by to share your writing journey. I enjoyed chatting with you. Hope you all can stick around and chat for a while.
Pam Hillman is here today at The Mustard Seed to discuss eBooks and industry trends. Let's meet Pam.
Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her debut book, Stealing Jake, won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest and was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family.
With ebook sales rocketing skyward, established publishers, authors and readers alike are taking a second look at electronic publishing. Several factors lend credence to the fact that ebooks are not just a fad, but will be a mainstay in publishing from now on.
In May 2011, Amazon reported that sales of ebooks had surpassed print books just four years after unveiling the Kindle. While Amazon isn’t the only game in town, they do command a significant slice of the pie. Barnes & Noble is doing a brisk business selling ebooks for their ereader, the Nook. Contented readers tout the superiority of both devices.
Recently, a young friend told me she read my debut novel, Stealing Jake, on her iPhone on a road trip. I was very honored that she’d spent her trip reading my book on that tiny device! Young, hip consumers are more apt to grab an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Kindle, or Nook when they want something to read. People don’t carry books around with them (well, some of us do!), but if they have a digital device with them, they’re more likely to actually connect to the internet, download a book and start reading it, than they are to go in search of a print book.
Those of us who grew up with stacks and stacks of print books by our beds, on the floor, spilling out of our shelves, still love our print books, but we’re also embracing ebooks as well. Readers, regardless of age, are getting hooked on the fact that they can stuff a Kindle or Nook in their bag on the spur of the moment. These days when I travel, I grab my Kindle and I’m ready to go. I can carry hundreds of books with me, not have to limit my choice to two or three. I have several versions of the Bible, fiction, non-fiction, and games. All at my fingertips and ready to go wherever I do.
Elderly readers have the option of reading their books in mega-size font. My husband’s 93 year-old grandmother has read my Kindle and enjoyed the experience very much. It’s easy to adjust the font to whatever size to accommodate her aging eyesight and the learning curve is not difficult at all. With a little ingenuity, a friend in the nursing home with extremely limited motor skills can read her Kindle. Since she can’t hold the device, it’s attached with Velcro to a “pyramid pillow” purchased on Amazon. A ribbon strap holds the pillow in her lap so her Kindle doesn’t slide off into the floor.
Free sample chapters and many times offers of free books are exposing readers to new authors, an opportunity that might not have arisen with traditional print books. And instant download capabilities fit right in with today’s drive-thru mentality.
From an established author’s standpoint, ebooks are offering an option for breathing new life into old backlists. Fans who missed their favorite authors’ earlier works are grabbing them up as ebooks. In other cases, authors are partnering with their publishers to re-package their backlist as ebooks. And the icing on the ebook cake is when an ebook is offered for free for a limited time. The author gains new readers, and those readers are more likely to purchase that author’s newer releases. It’s a win-win situation all around. Cliché alert. I suppose this means we can have our cake and eat it too!
Ebooks have given unpublished authors more opportunities to be published than ever before. Yes, right now there are some growing pains, and sometimes it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, but quality will rise to the top, and readers will sort it all out eventually. With established and well-respected publishing houses partnering with unpublished authors with programs like Tyndale’s Digital First Initiative, readers know they’re getting a quality read they can trust.
As long as people believe in storytelling, ebooks will continue to rise in popularity. The programming platform and the devices themselves will change, but the fascination of story will draw readers back time and time again.
Regardless of format.
Pam, thank you for sharing on eBooks. I enjoyed hearing your insight on this topic. Can you tell us about your book, Stealing Jake?
When Livy O'Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.
Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy--literally--while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town--as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off--Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.
Interwoven throughout is a group of street kids arrested in Chicago and sold as child labor. Leading this band of ragamuffins is young Luke, a scared, determined orphan intent on rescuing his little brother at any cost.
I already read Stealing Jake and loved it! Where can readers find your book:
Janet Perez Eckles is a guest today at The Mustard Seed and she's discussing how as a writer, she perseveres and doesn't give up. I hope her story is as inspiring to you as it is to me.
Once I lost my eyesight completely, Jesus came into my dark world and opened my spiritual eyes for me to see the best of life. Faith replaced the bitterness, anger and fear I once held.
Freedom to live life to its fullest fueled my desires. I longed to tell others about my transformation. And although I didn’t know how, I knew whowould guide me through this process.
The journey began with the technology God provided—a voice synthesizer to operate my computer. But learning the skill to operate it equaled the challenge to master the writing craft.
“Lord, you’ll have to guide me,” I pleaded as I slipped my hand in His. My limitations then turned to opportunities, and my insecurity to confidence in Him. My heart beat faster with a desire to shout what God had done for me. I wanted to show how He turned my pain and darkness to peace and light.
My writing began. At times, I fought inadequacy that clouded my enthusiasm. But fueled by the commitment to obey God’s command to trust in Him, renewed confidence nudged me forward, and a desire to inspire others danced in my soul.
My fingers skipped on the keyboard, and I paused only to wipe tears when relating details of my pain. Then I continued to string words describing how God brought victory and triumph when my world tossed violently in the midst of enormous storms: my sudden blindness, the tragic loss of my son, the pain of infidelity and financial devastation.
I learned diligence not only in working in my writing craft, but more importantly in seeking God first. I directed my efforts first in spending time in reflection pondering upon His promises. I saw how each of them came true displaying the radiance of His faithfulness. He opened doors I’d never imagined: my articles published in local, regional and national magazines, 17 anthology books featured my stories and 20 chicken Soup for the Soul titles include my writing.
Losing my sight sharpened my memory. I remembered the rough terrain the Lord had carried me through. I remember His whisper to never give up because He’d be by my side. I recalled His loving nudge when faced with limitations to review printed material. And the recount of people in the bible flashed through my mind—flawed, insecure and timid—yet God signaled them to move forward. I do remember His direction when, with clammy hands, I hesitated not knowing which way to turn. Yet he ushered me through obstacles and hurdles only He could see.
God’s grace equips even the blind. With gratitude swirling in my heart, I see how His hand, in the darkness of my world, placed a sparkle of joy. The joy that weaves through the tasks He puts before me.
I must say it again, I'm awed at your truly inspiring journey and so blessed by you sharing it.
What’s your List of Top reasons why you can’t live without writing?
1. Stories threaten to explode within me. 2. I delight in inspiring others with my writing. 3. My desire to create is satisfied. 4. The feedback I get from my readers. 5. Life’s episodes beg to be retold. 6. Creativity invigorates me 7. I meet someone who needs encouragement 8. My commitment to write my columns 9. I keep episodes of life alive through my writing
That's a great list. Thank you for sharing. What's your favorite childhood memory?
When my abuela (grandmother) would take my brother and me to a special room in our old house in Bolivia. She would grab a key from the myriad of keys that hung from her belt. She would slip it into the door of a large glass book case and pull out “Aesop’s Fables.” My brother and I sat mesmerized by the details of every story.
What a wonderful memory to cherish. What are the Top Five Random facts about you?
1. I’m from Bolivia. 2. Although blind, I love to travel on my own. 3. I just went para-sailing 4. I love to cook…in the dark. 5. I make up my own nutritional recipes
I'd love to have one of your nutritional recipes. I hope you can share one with me some time.
I know we'd all enjoy hearing more about your book, Simply Salsa. Can you share with us?
Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta, Judson Press, August, 2011
What keeps women from dancing to the sweet freedom God offers? With a bit of sass, humor and a uniquely passionate “Latina talk,” Simply Salsa exposes the lies and misconceptions that imprison women today. Simply Salsa is not just a book, but a delightful experience to discover the joy lost in life’s struggles, the freedom from fear and with each engaging story, restore confidence to face Tomorrow.
No matter the degree of adversity or pain, Simply Salsa will have you dancing to Gods melody of victory over what burdens you today.
Sounds like a book I'm going to read. Can you share an excerpt?
Excerpt from Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta.
“.., for now, turn down that salsa tune, grab a cup of café con leche, and settle into that overstuffed chair. We’re about to find out what to do with broken plans and melted dreams. No matter where you are, even if your world is jammed with trials, God promises to reveal the secret to success, to lives of purpose, contentment, and confidence. ...Hold on to your sombreros…we’ll be heading into the sunshine of freedom…”
J. R. Lindermuth is here today at The Mustard Seed discussing role models and he is also doing a book giveaway. Let's meet J. R.
A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania. Since his retirement he has served as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with research and genealogy. He is the author of 10 novels and his articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines, both print and on line.
Books: Fallen From Grace (March 2011), Wild Oak Being Someone Else (July 2010), Whiskey Creek Press
Do you have a role model?
I don’t know about a specific role model but I’ve been inspired by many other writers. Some I’ve met in person. Others I only know through their work.
One I knew and who inspired me at a time when I most needed it was Richard Wheeler. No, not Richard S. Wheeler, writer of westerns, mysteries and other books. He’s an inspiration, too, though we’ve never met.
The Richard Wheeler I’m talking about was a fellow Pennsylvanian best known as the author of a series of authoritative military histories.
I met Dick in 1984 when I was a reporter and was assigned to interview him on publication of his tenth book, “A Special Valor,” a history of the Marine Corps in World War II. He knew his subject. He served with the corps and was wounded on Iwo Jima .
At the time we met, I was a single parent, working a full-time job and struggling to get my own writing published. Dick’s career was a prime example to keep me trying.
Some 30 years earlier, Wheeler had quit a paying job, built a one-room cabin in the woods and set out to become a writer. As I wrote in the article following our conversation:
“Without the advantages of money, college degrees or connections, he struggled to learn his craft. He knew no other writers, no magazine editors, no agents, no one at all connected with the field. Alone, sustained only by his vision and the faith of his mother and sister, he gleaned knowledge from books and magazines and worked at applying it to his task.
“But, he knew, just as one can only learn to drive a car by getting behind the wheel, one can not learn to write from a book. Daily, filling blank sheets with words, words, words—the only way a writer truly learns to write—he pursued his goal.
“And, ultimately, his perseverance was rewarded.”
It didn’t come easy. His only income at the time was $50 a month, government compensation for the wounds incurred on Iwo Jima, and increments he earned for an occasional article or light verse accepted by a small magazine or newspaper. Like most of us, he suffered many rejections. His first book was accepted on its 18th trip to market. His eventual output included more than a dozen books on wars from the American Revolution to World War II, a collection of his verse and even one on pirates.
Wheeler was in his forties when his first book was published. He was philosophical about his late start in his career. “Late bloomers are accustomed to hard knocks. Early success can make a person (particularly a writer) optimistic to the point he is unprepared for the setbacks that, sooner or later, will come. I know of writers who enjoyed great success with early works who were unable to handle rejection when it came; they faltered and quit. The late bloomer has a better chance of hanging on.”
A writer Dick knew well was the Pennsylvania novelist Conrad Richter. The two men became friends, though Wheeler stressed their relationship was social and not influential. Their goals in writing were different.
Dick died in 2008. He never became rich or famous (I don’t think he cared to). He lived his life doing what he most wanted. Many of his books remain in print and still attract readers. I’d call that success.
He seemed to like the article I wrote and offered advice, much of which I’ve followed. I don’t mean to infer we became best buddies. Our contact afterwards was sporadic. But he has remained an example to me and I treasure the memory of the conversations we did have.
Two of the virtues he passed on to all who aspire to write were to have faith in yourself and persevere.
Thank you for sharing...love that about having faith in yourself and always persevering. I always enjoy finding out what other authors read. What's your favorite genre?
I read a little of everything. I’m seldom without a book of some kind. My favorites would be mysteries and historical fiction.
I relish a good mystery novel too. Would you consider yourself a true romantic at heart?
I believe I am a romantic in the same sense that Poe, Blake, Beethoven and Turner were romantics, inspired by all that’s beautiful and mysterious and inspiring in life.
Where is the most exotic place you've ever visited?
South Korea . I’ve paraphrased Melville elsewhere to say the Army was my Harvard and Korea my Yale.
Can you tell us about your book, Fallen From Grace?
As the 19th century winds to a close, Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman of the small Pennsylvania town of Arahpot ponders his biggest problems: finding a new deputy and convincing his true love, Lydia, to marry him. But an early autumn day finds Arahpot’s usual tranquility shaken when a stranger is fatally stabbed. Upon seeing the victim, Tilghman recalls witnessing a strained encounter between him and Valentine Deibert, an obese man with a wife half his age who had recently moved to Arahpot. The sheriff questions Deibert who denies knowing the victim. Tilghman is unconvinced, but lacks a connection until the widow arrives in Arahpot. Suddenly Sylvester is plunged into investigating two murders. As he works through an abundance of motivated suspects, Tilghman finds himself in danger. And worse -- Lydia is pushing her obnoxious cousin as a candidate for deputy.
Sounds like a book I'd put on my TBR pile.Thank you for sharing. Where can readers find your book online?
I hope you all had a nice Labor Day Weekend and I'm glad you stopped back at The Mustard Seed today. Brenda Fiorini is here today to share with us about her writing journey. There is also a book giveaway...more details at the end of this post.
Let's meet Brenda...
Brenda has been a teacher for 20 years with teaching experience at the elementary and secondary levels. She is currently a high school Business teacher and Reading/English teacher in Northern Illinois. Her husband is a teacher also, and they have one daughter and one senior dog. Her passions include reading, children, and pets. As a family they like to swim, bike, and golf. Her website is Joyful Journey. Her twitter account is PetBooks15, and her blog is Joyful Journey Books . Why I Became a Writer
I decided to become a children’s book writer to support causes that I deeply believe in – helping homeless animals and helping children. In the process, I have three goals with my stories - to promote humane education, teach character education, and improve literacy skills.
I am a member of our local animal shelters as well as national and global humane organizations. In the past I have volunteered with shelters and have participated in rescue efforts as well as fundraising efforts. There are so many homeless and abused animals, and I have witnessed the dedication of many volunteers who help to save these animals. In an effort to continue helping homeless animals, I have turned to writing children’s stories that promote humane education. I believe that creating a better world for animals begins with children. Pets and children often go hand in hand, and I believe we need to teach children proper treatment of animals. Children need to understand the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. A pet is one of God’s living and breathing creatures that depends on humans for its survival. In ‘Rescue Pup’ Meg promises to care for Buddy at the end of the story when her family adopts him. It introduces the basic needs that MUST be met for our pets to be happy and healthy. As an extension of ‘Rescue Pup’, I also offer “Buddy’s Story Time Felt Set” – an interactive felt story-board that allows children to talk about all the things needed to care for Buddy. Please visit my website to view the felt story pieces
‘Rescue Pup’ is great for building character. Virtues such as compassion, loyalty, kindness, friendship, love, and responsibility become a huge part of what I hope to instill in the readers of my books. ‘Rescue Pup’ brings about awareness of homeless animals and the dangers they face. Readers learn that abandoning a pet, a friend, or someone you care about can have serious and dangerous consequences - they will end up getting hurt in some way. Readers learn to empathize with Buddy, and they learn about kindness and helping others. Animals have feelings too, and it is important to show love and compassion toward all animals. ‘Rescue Pup’ teaches the importance of developing a life long friendship and that loyalty to friends is important because you can be there for them and they’ll be there for you! Teaching virtues at a young age helps children grow into kindhearted adults. They learn that life on earth is about GIVING BACK. They learn to be loving and self-less not cruel and selfish. Through ‘Rescue Pup’, readers build positive character.
Finally, as a reading teacher and a member of various reading associations, I believe that promoting literacy skills is important. There are many reading strategies that are packed into ‘Rescue Pup’. Not only should children learn humane and character education at a young age, they need to develop a love for reading and knowledge. First of all children will connect in so many ways with Buddy. They will share his feelings and understand many of his situations such as: loneliness, fear of the dark, feeling hungry or thirsty, feeling hurt or scared, feeling happy to have a friend, belonging, and much more. Through Nathan Behmlander’s beautiful illustrations, the reader will connect with Buddy’s emotions. The book has many opportunities to predict. Before you turn the page, there is always something to wonder as the story creates anticipation. Children easily learn to make a prediction for what will happen next. “Quickly…let’s turn the page to find out what happens next!” The story offers many opportunities to make inferences and problem solve – “What should Buddy do?” or “Why do you think Buddy was abandoned?” This is where critical thinking comes in. Children learn to think deeply, contemplate, and develop their own opinions and answers. Developing higher-level thinking strategies ensures success in school and beyond. ‘Rescue Pup’ helps children do this! The story encourages children to ask questions. They learn by self-questioning and researching. Many children have pets at home that they must help care for, or they wish to have a pet some day. Pets are always an interesting topic for children and perfect for further investigation. Perhaps field trips to the vet, an animal shelter, or even the zoo will encourage further literacy education while developing humane and character education. There are also many opportunities for children to write their own stories and draw pictures of pets on many levels. In addition to all the reading strategies that appear in ‘Rescue Pup’, teachers will find that all the story elements: Character, Setting, and Plot fall nicely into place. Create a plot diagram with ‘Rescue Pup’ and children will be able to plug in specific story information for exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The story of ‘Rescue Pup’ teaches children HOW to write a story. Please see my website for free downloads – printable activities (LA, Math, Social/Emotional).
So, when I decided to write a book, I knew I needed to have a topic that I truly believed in and a strong passion for. I wanted to make sure that it was packed with important lessons that would make a difference in the world and the lives of its readers. I have taken my passion for helping homeless animals and children and wrapped up (what I feel are) three very important lessons in one little book – humane education, character education, and literacy education. Through ‘Rescue Pup’, children learn at an early age how to treat animals, begin to build important characteristics that will help them grow into caring and virtuous adults, and start to develop critical thinking, reading and writing skills that will promote success throughout their education and life!
We walk this earth for such a short time, and it is our job to figure out our purpose and how we can leave a positive impact in some way that will help others. This is what life is all about! So, by writing a book and sharing it with everyone, it is a way to leave your ‘mark’ on the world that will last forever and promote a message that will make the world a better place. Choose your passion, your belief, and then START WRITING!
Thank you so much for sharing with us. So, let's chat. As a children’s author, how do you formulate your ideas?
My ideas all come from my own experiences. I think that good stories all have unique properties because they are specific to the person who wrote it, and readers can relate because they may have had something similar happen to them. That is the beauty of writing and reading – the connections that readers and writers make.
Love what you just mentioned...the connection between readers and writers is a beautiful thing. What’s your Top Ten List of reasons why you can’t live without writing?
1. I hope my writing will make a difference in the world. 2. I write to support causes I believe in. 3. Writing is one of the best ways to express yourself, ideas, and feelings. 4. Everywhere you look, there is a story waiting to be written. 5. Writing educates others. 6. It feels good when you know you have written something that is good. 7. Writing unlocks doors you never would have expected to travel through. 8. Writing gives you a sense of power and accomplishment. 9. Communication through writing is one of my strengths. 10. Writing keeps my mind sharp.
Some very good reasons on your Top Ten List. What is your favorite childhood memory?
I remember going to my grandma’s farm in the summer and taming kittens that lived in the barn. I liked to feed them milk from a doll bottle. They fell asleep in my arms as their mufflers rumbled softly. We still go to the farm and there are kittens in the barn.
That's a wonderful memory. Can you share with us about your book, Rescue Pup?
Buddy is abandoned in an empty house and breaks free, only to be faced with many dangers on his own. He eventually finds himself in an overcrowded shelter where he fears he will never be noticed and adopted. Meg visits the shelter and notices this “special” dog. She promises to care for Buddy if only she can adopt him.
How about an excerpt?
On the far edge of town in the thick of the woods curved a long winding road where a tiny house stood.
Inside of that house sat a pup who was sad. There was no one to play with, no friends to be had.
In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging & endorsements, I want to post this disclaimer. From time to time, I do purchase and review some novels. However, most of the novels I review are given to me as a complimentary review copy by the author or publisher. I do not receive monetary compensation for the reviews I complete.