Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Author, Kim Watters

Today's Guest Author is Kim Watters, fellow Rose and one of the contributors to the Much Cheaper Than Therapy blog. The mother of two young children, Kim likes to write stories with children and animals in them, and not always the animals you would expect...Dog Days of Summer, Discovering Jenna, Scales of Love...a dog, a dinosaur and a snake. All of them short and sweet and poignant and perfect for a summer day reading break. Kim also has a free read, Wallflower, you're welcome to download from The Wild Rose Press.
Last, but certainly not least, on Friday May 8th, Kim got "the call" or in this case an e-mail asking her to return a call. After she finished hyperventilating, she called the editor back. After several years and more than five manuscripts, Kim is thrilled to announce a long-awaited sale to Harlequin Enterprises. On Wings of Love will be a February 2010 release from Steeple Hill, Harlequin's inspirational line.
Way to go, Kim! Congratulations and Happy Writing for Harlequin!
Now, on to the interview: Who are you?

Who am I? Great question Liana. Some days I’m still trying to figure that one out. Let’s so, by day I’m an accountant at a local golf resort, and at night and on the weekends a mom of two wonderful kids. In between it all, I call myself an author that writes stories from the heart. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago but relocated to Arizona in 1992. I always wanted to write a romance novel, but finally had the time once I moved here.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I like to write sweet and inspirational stories that really play on the readers’ emotions. I tend to delve into some emotional topics that really strike a chord with people.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I like all types of contemporary stories. I have read some paranormal and historical, but since my reading time is limited, I prefer the modern day romances since that is what I write and like to keep current on the trends.

When do you write?

I get up at five in the morning and write for two hours before the kids get up. Sometimes I’m lucky and get to write on the weekends, but I usually reserve those days for family activities.

When do you read? Where?

I usually read on a loveseat in our master bedroom after I put the kids to bed.

Where did you get the inspiration Scales of Love?

Believe it or not, when I was at a festival day in the town where I live. They had a reptile show there. While I was holding a boa constrictor I talked to the woman who ran the show and discovered that she was the owner. We talked about most people’s reaction to her pets and how many problems she had finding a date when she was single because of what she did. She then introduced me to her husband and told me a funny story of how they met. Bingo. Scales of Love was born. Thanks Deb. I used a lot of artistic license, but the essence of her story is written into Scales of Love.

Where do you go to think?

Think? Oh, yeah, that. When I walk the dog in the morning, or when I’m driving as long as the kids aren’t with me. Cliché alert-the shower is a good place too.

How did you come up with the names for your hero and heroine?
I love the name Rachel and Haskin is a family name. As for the hero, it just popped into my head and stayed there. Sometimes characters do that. They grab hold and won’t let go.
How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?
It took eleven years before my first publishing contract, but I didn’t work at it full time. I published two books quickly and then had another baby, which changed my focus for a bit. I really got back into the writing world two years ago and haven’t looked back since.

Why do you write?

Why do I breathe? Because I can’t not write. (how’s that for a double negative) It’s part of who I am. As a child, I made up stories all the time. As an adult, I’m blessed that people will actually buy what I write.

At twelve years old, I fell in love with romance after I borrowed a romance novel from my older sister’s bookshelf. An avid reader, I was soon hooked on the happily ever after endings. For years, I dreamt of writing my own romance novel, but I never seemed to have the time until I relocated to a small town in Arizona where there are no sidewalks or public transportation and the cowboys still ride their horses to the bars. The wide open spaces of Arizona gave me the inspiration to begin to write. The rest as they say, is history.
For more information, and for information on Kim's latest releases, go to

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Guest Author, Paty Jager

Today's Guest Author is Paty Jager, fellow Rose and EPPIE winner. Paty and I tied for the contemporary romance EPPIE in 2008--I have the envelope that says so!!--and Paty was the one to let me know. (I never did hear from the EPPIE people, until the award arrived in the mail many weeks later.) But Paty was there, and was kind enough to share the news :)

Paty has a wonderful historical series about different professions in petticoats and I have to confess that it never occurred to me that she was writing about a woman, as in Marshal in Petticoats. Her latest release is Miner in Petticoats, and is available now at The Wild Rose Press (for 10% off!). She also has a free read available, Standoff for Love, so for a good deal from an award-winning author, check it out.

Who are you?

I’m a dreamer. Have been most of my life. I spent my summers riding my horse and making up stories in my head or sitting beside the river under a cottonwood either reading about far-a-way places or writing. All those years ago I never dreamed of being a writer, yet, looking back I should have know. The love of words and stories always fulfilled me. I read under the covers at night, when I was vacuuming- scenes and scenarios reeled though my head like ordinary thoughts at all times of the day. And now, I get to live my greatest dream, to bring my stories to others.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I write westerns, historical and contemporary. Why? Because I grew up in the west, loved learning about the history of my area, and I believe I’m more in tune with the western lifestyle than any other. I know lots of people who can write about exotic places without setting foot there, but I like to “walk in the shoes” of my characters and that’s hard to do if I can’t either read historical facts, have experienced it, or interviewed people.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I’ll read just about anything except sci-fi, werewolves, and vampires. As much as I dream, I just don’t get futuristic books or shows and I’ve always been scared to death of things that go bump in the night. To read a book about werewolves of vampires would have me not sleeping for days!
When do you write?

I’m an empty nester. All the kids are grown and gone. The hubby is off to work by 7 am, so I sit down at the computer catch up on e-mails and read blogs. Then I get breakfast and get dressed and spend the rest of the morning writing. After lunch if I don’t have chores to do (harrowing, raking, baling) I’ll write some more. A good day is 10 -12 pages.

When do you read? Where?
I read for pleasure mostly in the winter time. Early evenings, a hot bath, a good book. But I am always reading research books. When I’m cooking dinner, waiting for the hubby to come home, or when he’s watching a show on TV I don’t like.
Where did you get the inspiration for Miner in Petticoats?.

Miner in Petticoats is the third book of the Halsey brother series. Since I started the series with a woman in a predominately male occupation I had to keep the theme going. So Aileen, the heroine in this book, is a widow working her husband’s gold claim. I had to make conflict between her and Ethan, the oldest Halsey brother, so, he needs a piece of her land and she has a very good reason not to sell and refuses. He’s already promised other miners and his brothers he’ll get a stamp mill up and running. And he has never broken a promise. His determination to get a stamp mill running is just as adamant as Aileen’s to not sell an inch of her land.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

See above. LOL Again the title had to match the series titles. And the hero had to be the oldest brother because the heroine is a widow with a twelve-year-old boy so I had to use the oldest of the brothers. Ethan’s name just came to me when I wrote the first Halsey brother books. As I was writing it and determined there would be four brothers for that hero (Gil) I just kind of rattled off names and Ethan ended up being the oldest. For Aileen, I looked up Scots names because she is a displaced Scots woman.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I wrote seriously for about eight years before my first book was published.

Why do you write?

I write because there are stories and characters in my head that want to get out for others to see. And my husband says I get cranky if I don’t write. In a way, I write for sanity.

Award winning author, Paty Jager began her writing career as a freelance reporter for local newspapers, found RWA (Romance Writers of America), and after eight years broke into the publishing industry with The Wild Rose Press. Her western historical books are Gambling on an Angel, Marshal in Petticoats, Outlaw in Petticoats, and recent release, Miner in Petticoats. Her contemporary western, Perfectly Good Nanny, won the 2008 EPPIE for Best Contemporary Romance.

To learn more about Paty, her books, and to enter her website contest go to

Monday, June 15, 2009

Remembering Gary

You know, just writing yesterday’s blog has brought back a ton of memories. Mostly about Gary Provost, whom I heard several people speak highly of at this year’s conference as we reminisced. Gary, also known as The Writer’s Writer, spoke at the conference I coordinated in 1989, then came back to speak at Pennwriters in 1995.

The Pennwriters conference is usually the second weekend in May, unless that weekend celebrates Mother’s Day. In 1995, Mother’s Day was May 14. So the Pennwriters conference was moved up a week that year. Gary was our special guest speaker. I was outgoing president, and sat next to him at dinner on Friday night. He wasn’t feeling well. He had a tremendous backache. I and the others at the table felt for him. What writer doesn’t have back problems, or get a backache that ‘just won’t quit’ now and then. He had also been traveling a lot, he said, and that can be hard on anyone’s back.

He completed his workshops the following day—another example of an author dedicated to delivering what he promised--and left the conference as soon as he could to go home and rest. Three days later he was dead of a massive heart attack. I later learned that backaches are a little known (at the time, anyway) symptom of what is called an asymptomatic heart attack. Today every heart attack website I checked lists back pain and nausea as something to watch out for. Not all heart attacks start with chest pains.

He was only 50, the same age I am now. Shocked along with the rest of the writing world, I wrote an article for the newsletter in his memory. Looking him up again yesterday, seeing the legacy his kind and gracious widow Gail has carried on in his absence, brought back all those memories. Gary and Gail asked me to be one of the first distributors of their Video Novel Workshop—an idea well ahead of its time. But, not being a salesperson of any kind of stripe, I didn’t do so well for them. In the end, I donated my copy to the Pennwriters library.

Still, my quote is on their video novel workshop promo page, and it lists me as the author of Ashton’s Secret, the same (but hugely improved, thanks to all I learned from Gary) book that is currently available on Amazon (with the purple cover) and will be released in ebook by The Wild Rose Press on June 26.

I’ve listened to all of Gary’s cassette tapes, over and over and over again. Watched the Video Novel Workshop. Read most of his books on writing. Corresponded with him directly. As I said yesterday, Make Every Word Count was my favorite of his books, and I recommend it to this day. I noticed just now when I clicked on the link for it from Gary’s site, it took me to the same Amazon page I had been on yesterday, and the number of copies had gone down by two.

Coincidence? I think not. Bless you, whoever you are. Your writing will improve immeasurably, I guarantee it.

The only thing left for me to do now is attend Gary’s Writer’s Retreat Workshop, a ten-day workshop currently running $1650, all materials, meals and lodging included. Not this year—I’m already going to RWA nationals in July, but it’s certainly something to think about for 2010. And it’s within driving distance….how could I have missed that all these years? I really need to step away from the keyboard now and then and see what’s going on in the world.

So anyway, that’s my little trip down memory lane, and I’ll be back some other time with memories of this year’s conference. I found the program, by the way. After looking for it for an hour, it was within reach from my keyboard. As my mother says, “If it had been a snake, it would have bit you.” I found it accidentally (of course), while searching for something else (of course), which I still haven’t found. Definitely time for a serious office cleaning.

P.S. I did find out why Tim Esaias was tossed out of the organization during the 2009 conference. It was at the Saturday morning business meeting. Apparently during a polling of the membership on some issue, he was the only NAY-sayer. So the president disenfranchised him on the spot. I’m sure he’s back in the organization’s good graces by now, especially after his wonderfully inspiring keynote speech. More on this later, too :).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday's Inspirational Quote

Four weeks ago today the 2009 Pennwriters conference ended. Amazing how time flies. But between recurring car troubles and my parents visiting for a week and several other projects I needed to get off my desk, I simply haven’t had time to sit down and reflect on the conference. I do know it was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended anywhere, and for that, kudos go out to Annette Dashofy, conference coordinator extraordinaire, who managed to make the whole weekend look effortless. Check out her Diary of a Conference Coordinator blog here.

My biggest surprise was to check the conference schedule the night before and find out it started at 9:00 a.m. on Friday instead of noon, as it has in years past. (Although not in recent years past, but I was fixated on noon for some reason.) I managed to get there around 11:00 a.m. and check in before heading on down to a delicious—best conference food I’ve ever had—Published Author’s Luncheon with two guest speakers.

The first was copyright attorney Heather S. Heidlebaugh who impressed upon us the absolute necessity of having our work registered with the copyright office, and the second was former Pennwriters keynote speaker D.L. Wilson, author of Unholy Grail, whom I was unfortunately unable to stick around for, as my workshop on dialogue had inadvertently been scheduled next door at the same time.

So I slipped out of the luncheon to prepare myself for my workshop, which was the best attended of my workshops for Pennwriters over the years, and went off without a hitch, except for the fact that due to chemical sensitivities to perfume and such, I developed a tickle in my throat and started to lose my voice during the presentation.

Finally I had to ask if anyone had a piece of gum or cough drop with which to keep my throat lubricated so I could get the words out. I didn’t plan to give my talk unprofessionally chomping on a piece of gum, but you do what you have to do, and I kept thinking of friend and fellow author Susan Meier, another past president of Pennwriters and former keynote speaker I had once witnessed giving an all-day workshop in the midst of a horrendous cold, and the image of Susan gamely carrying on and delivering what she had promised the group despite her obvious misery inspired me to keep going.

The workshop went well—I handed out 19 of my 20 handouts, and just before the end D.L. Wilson stopped by for moral support and asked a question about dialect I had skipped during my presentation due to keeping an eye on the clock, enabling me to deliver my workshop in full. Thank you, David :). After that, I headed upstairs for my editor/agent appointment, which as anyone who has been to one knows can be a harrowing or even devastating experience, both of which I have survived in the past, but this time went extremely well—her last words to me were, “How soon can you get it to me?”

It doesn’t get any better than that.

After that, I was free to relax and enjoy my weekend. Which is exactly what I did. Twenty years ago I was the Pennwriters conference coordinator. How things have changed since 1989! When I did the conference, it was an optional Friday night cocktail party—I still remember Susan’s awesome dress!--and a one-day conference on Saturday, with one headline speaker--in my case the late and totally great Gary Provost—lecturing for most of the day. My, how we made that poor man work. But we wanted to know everything he could possibly tell us about writing. I still regularly recommend his book Make Every Word Count, which is long since out of print can only be found on Amazon, used. The other speakers that day were Victoria Thompson, Carla Neggers, and Alice Orr. But we only had one speaker scheduled at a time.

Now we start at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and closing ceremonies are at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, with three choices of workshops to attend at any given time, a slew of editor/agent appointments, a banquet with a headline speaker, a business meeting breakfast, an awards luncheon, the aforementioned published authors luncheon, an authors’ autographing tea—loved those brownies!!--a cocktail party or some other social event (in previous years we’ve gone to the racetrack or on a riverboat cruise, or had a murder mystery play or masquerade party—come as your favorite literary character), and read and critique sessions long into the night. Not to mention the bookstore, merchandise table, basket raffles, writing contests and numerous other activities in the hospitality suite. See what I mean? Annette and her committee did an amazing job. See Annette's photo album of the conference here.

I’ve attended 19 of the 22 Pennwriters conferences to date. That’s a lot of people met and a lot of memories to relive, and relive them we did. I can’t remember when I spent so much time laughing and just having a non-stop good time. I spent most of my down time hanging out in the lobby, reminiscing with old friends about conferences past, and making new ones, including my roommate, fellow Wild Rose Press author Sharon Donovan. The hotel we were at was the same one we’ve been going to in Pittsburgh for years, despite many name changes, and there never fails to be a wedding or a prom night full of elegantly-dressed attendees to entertain us and fuel our writers’ imaginations as we sit in the lobby schmoozing.

My only regret from the weekend is that I didn’t get enough one-on-one time with some of my favorite people, fellow writers I only get to see once a year at the conference. It was like my high school reunion. Never an idle moment, and much too short to fit everyone in. But I did my best to catch up with everyone I could, despite attending more workshops than ever before, because the line up was just too good to pass up. In years past, I was on the board, and so busy attending meetings and dealing with moment-to-moment glitches, that I missed the entire conference. Nobody realizes how much goes on behind the scenes at these things until you’ve been in the trenches, volunteering your heart out for the good of the organization. There were other conferences where I was so busy kibbutzing in the halls or hospitality suite, that I didn’t make it to a single workshop.

Not so this year. But I’m afraid I’ll have to tell you more about that next time, because to refresh my menopausal memory, I have to find my conference program, which isn’t happening this morning. Apparently a thorough office cleaning is in order :). I even checked the Pennwriters website, but all the information has been taken down in preparation for next year’s conference.

So more on the workshops, and the inspiration of banquet keynote speaker Lisa Scottoline and awards luncheon keynote and fellow (albeit currently former) Pennwriter Tim Esaias next time. (Tim seems to think he was thrown out of the organization—all in good fun, mind you--during the conference). Since I’ll be contacting him this week on another matter, I’ll see if I can get the scoop :))

Until then, consider attending a writer’s conference near you. You never know what will come out of it, and you’ll be making memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guest Authors Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance

Today's Guest Authors are part of the Goddess Fish Young Adult Blog Tour, Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance. Charity and Darcy are two friends and collaborating authors who took an unconventional path to publication and finding their own way.
Please welcome Darcy and Charity, who will be giving away a Geek Girl prize basket to one commenter randomly drawn at the end of the tour. They are also offering an awesome Best Friends Forever contest. All you need to do is go here and tell the story of how you met your BFF. If you win, not only will you win a bag, but your BFF will as well. The bags contain:
An autographed copy of The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading, The new iPod Shuffle, A mix tape (CD) of songs about friendship, DeBrand's Chocolates, Matching T-shirts...and a few geeky surprises. Good luck!!
And now, here's Charity!

Writers, I think, have a fascination with publication stories. I know I did--and still do. I think we tuck away this strategy or that in the back of our minds. If only I write my query letter like this, or pitch to editors like that. Then, *then*, I’ll make it.

But it never seems to work that way. I’ve heard other writers remark that publication is no more difficult than the right manuscript landing on the right desk and the right time.

Sure! Simple!

Thing is, if you’d told me five years ago how I’d end up with a young adult novel on the shelf, I wouldn’t have believed you. First, I’d put that project away, never to look at it again. I did this, despite what my good friend and critique partner Darcy thought I should do.

A year or two later, I pulled it out again. This time, it was as a writing exercise. I reworked the entire novel using Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. I did every single exercise. What did I have to lose? The manuscript wasn’t going anywhere in its current state and despite my previous banishment of it, I still liked the story and the characters.

I wasn’t necessarily going to send this version out, either. But when I finished the revisions, I gave it another try. At this point, I entered the land of the almost-but-not-quite rejection. I was close, but something was off.

At that time, Darcy was also sending out her manuscript. Through one of those weird twists of fate, she ended up talking to an agent who had rejected my manuscript but remembered it--and urged her to convince me to consider revising and resubmitting.

But I’d already retired the story for a second time. Darcy cajoled. She urged. You might even say she pestered. Then she committed a writer sin: she rewrote my first chapter in an effort to show me what the agent had meant.

She claims I didn’t speak to her for three days.

Truth be told, it was the shock. I wasn’t angry at Darcy, but I was devastated. I could see what she’d done, but was at a loss to do it myself. I was even more convinced that this particular manuscript was a dead end.

Darcy kept on revising, in secret, although a few months later, she confessed by sending me the three or four chapters she’d done. I saw her point. But call it pride, or my own sense of inadequacy, I just couldn’t bring myself to work on the manuscript.

Then something awful happened. Darcy’s twenty-one-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. He had a tumor on his tongue, one doctors weren’t sure they could completely remove.

Darcy lives a few states away from me and I felt powerless to help her. I couldn’t even give her a hug, never mind bring over a hot dish for dinner, or offer to wash a load of laundry.

But then I realized that I did have a hot dish. I sat down at the computer, printed off the first several chapters of the manuscript Darcy had revised, then created a group on Yahoo for the two of us. I called it YA Hotdish and I sent Darcy an invite: “Let’s work on this together.”

Tragedy can make you reevaluate everything you thought you knew. The only thing standing in my way was me. Learning about Matt’s cancer knocked all the pride and ego out of me. It wasn’t about me anymore; it was about Matt. It was about the possibility of selling the manuscript, of being able to help Darcy with the medical bills I knew were already piling up.

In a way, it was both empowering and freeing. I saw what Darcy was doing could take the manuscript from unpublished to something you’d find on the shelves. It wasn’t quite there yet, but we were getting close.

We worked on it together, learning how to blend our voices while Darcy drove her son to countless doctor appointments. By the time Matt was scheduled for surgery, we were done with most of the book.

When he went into the hospital in late May, I went on a mission. I revised the query letter, compiled a list of fabulous agents, and started sending out letters and partial manuscripts.

The agents who were interested were *really* interested and we had requests right away. By August, we’d selected an agent and were working with her to revise the story.

And by the time Matt’s doctor said everything would be okay, our agent had sold The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading to Simon Pulse.

If there’s a lesson in this for other writers, I think it’s this: The path is not always the obvious one. Keep an open mind about what you can do and where you can go--in writing and your life. Sometimes going boldly forward is the right thing to do. And sometimes, it isn’t.

As I wrote to Darcy in one of the first messages in our YA Hotdish group:

I'm sorry it took me *so* long to get over myself.

But considering how everything turned out, I’m glad it did.
~Charity Tahmaseb, co-author of The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading

Here's the blurb and a short excerpt to The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading:

When Bethany -- self-proclaimed geek girl -- makes the varsity cheerleading squad, she realizes that there's one thing worse than blending in with the lockers: getting noticed. She always felt comfortable as part of the nerd herd, but being a member of the most scrutinized group in her school is weighing her down like a ton of textbooks. Even her Varsity Cheerleading Guide can't answer the really tough questions, like: How do you maintain some semblance of dignity while wearing an insanely short skirt? What do you do when the head cheerleader spills her beer on you at your first in-crowd party? And how do you know if your crush likes you for your mind...or your pom-poms?

One thing's for sure: It's going to take more than brains for this girl genius to cheer her way to the top of the pyramid.

Winter Varsity Cheerleading
Call-Out Meeting
Go Panthers!!!!!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a high school boy in possession of great athletic ability must be in want of...
A bowl of oatmeal.
At least on a cold November morning in Minnesota. And maybe a carton of orange juice on the side, but definitely not a girlfriend. Jack Paulson, mega basketball star and crush extraordinaire, did not date. Just ask any girl in the Prairie Stone High School junior class. The cheerleaders, the preps, the drama queens, the band crew, the art nerds, the skater chicks, the stoners, the loners, the freaks, the cool and the not-so-cool, all of them had tried.
Including me.
I was hoping to try again that day, if only my best friend, Moni, would show up already. Ever since her parents divorced and her dad moved to Minneapolis, it was like he took Moni's punctuality with him. She'd been totally unreliable. So I wondered, could I pull it off? Could a lone geek girl linger by the cafeteria door in a casual manner? Not likely. You see, every school has a danger zone. At Prairie Stone, ours occupied the space in the lobby that was an equal distance between the cafeteria, the gym, and the girls' bathroom. It was the spot where all the popular kids hung out. A place the rest of us tried to avoid. Moni and I called it the gauntlet.
We discovered that term last year, in word origins class. In case you're wondering, gauntlet (noun) = a form of punishment where the victim must endure suffering from many sources at the same time. It comes from the Swedish word gatlopp. In Sweden, apparently, they used to punish reprobates (n. those who are predestined to damnation) by making them strip to the waist and then run between rows of soldiers who were armed with sticks and knotted ropes.
That sounded about right.
And so I stood at the edge of Prairie Stone's gauntlet, close enough to the gym to sniff the delicate aroma of sweaty socks, near enough to the cafeteria to catch a whiff of oatmeal -- and the promise of Jack Paulson. One more step and I would officially enter gauntlet girl territory.
Chantal Simmons, the queen of cool and gatekeeper of popularity at PSHS, stood at the apex of it all. She turned her head in my direction, her blond hair flowing in a way rarely seen outside of shampoo commercials. Her glance made me consider climbing the stairs to the balcony and crossing over the top instead of pressing my way through -- but only a coward would do that.
Which is to say, I've done it plenty.
Chantal had a radar for weakness. One wrong move and she'd find yours and use it against you. Forget those sticks and knotted ropes. Chantal could annihilate the hopes and dreams of your average high school junior with just a whisper. And once upon a time, back in the dark ages of childhood and middle school, Chantal Simmons was someone I had told all my secrets to. In retrospect, that was kind of like arming a rogue nation with a nuclear bomb. No risk, no reward, I told myself. If I wanted an early-morning glimpse of Jack Paulson (and I did, I really, really did), then I needed to cross into enemy territory. Alone.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday's Inspirational Quote

Yesterday we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland—and yes, my car got us there and back again with nary a hiccup :). It was amazing. (The museum--not the car trip. That, thank God, was blessedly uneventful.) Because I am a writer, I could relate to a lot of what those musicians went through. Not all, but a lot, since writing is a solitary endeavor, and creating music is not—not if you want anybody to hear it. But the part about "I play music because I can't not play it," oh, yes, I could relate to that. How it rises up from the soul and just won't go away until it is released...

A familiar theme I read about over and over again.

What amazed me the most was how so many of them gave up everything for their art. And how many of them were social outcasts before they became rock stars. As Bono said at one point in a taped interview, something to the effect of, We’re just doing what we’d be doing anyway, what we’d be doing for free, but now we’re getting ridiculously overpaid for it. The stories were countless about people sleeping in their cars, facing eviction, and just scrambling to make ends meet so they could continue to play. So they could continue to grace us with their gifts of inner knowledge and self-expression.

For them, it was all about the music. For me, it’s all about the words. So it comes as no surprise that my favorite parts of the tour were the handwritten pages of lyrics for songs I’ve listened to through the years. To see them written on their legal pads and spiral notebook pages, scrawled all around the page, words scratched out, paragraphs scratched out, new words written in…alternate words listed to the side…to witness that creative process, to know that a song that touched millions of lives started as just scribblings on a piece of paper…I looked at those, and thought, “That’s how I start my books!” and was inspired.

So this morning I’ve found a few quotes from Hall of Fame Inductees you might enjoy. None truly captures what I want to say, but they’re all good in their own way.

Have a blessed week.

Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can't help but move to it. That's what happens to me. I can't help it.' Elvis Presley

Without a song, each day would be a century. Mahalia Jackson

I said, other people can write songs, let's see if I can. So the first 400 or 500 wound up on the floor somewhere. Then I wrote one called Melissa. Gregg Allman

Your success story is a bigger story than whatever you're trying to say on stage. Success makes life easier. It doesn't make living easier. Bruce Springsteen

It was my 16th birthday - my mom and dad gave me my Goya classical guitar that day. I sat down, wrote this song, and I just knew that that was the only thing I could ever really do - write songs and sing them to people. Stevie Nicks

When you sit down and think about what rock 'n' roll music really is, then you have to change that question. Played up-tempo, you call it rock 'n' roll; at a regular tempo, you call it rhythm and blues. Little Richard

If I hold back, I'm no good. I'm no good. I'd rather be good sometimes, than holding back all the time. Janis Joplin

I just managed to convince my grandmother that it was a worth while that was something to do, you know, and when I did finally get the guitar, it didn't seem that difficult to me, to be able to make a good noise out of it. Eric Clapton

I always believed in the music we did and that's why it was uncompromising. Jimmy Page

When I'm dead, I want to be remembered as a musician of some worth and substance. Freddie Mercury

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guest Author, Nancy O'Berry

Our guest today is Nancy O'Berry, author of the Sweetbriar Academy Series with Red Rose Publishing. Find out where Nancy does her best work, what authors she enjoys reading, and why her heroes have always been cowboys. Welcome, Nancy, and enjoy your day.

Who are you?

I am a dreamer by nature and a writer by trade. I didn’t start out to be a writer, all though I have kept a journal all my life. I have a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies where I majored in Social Studies and Science and can teach school which I did for twenty years in any grade pre K through 6th. I am a member of a local chapter writing chapter and a member of RWA and Hearts through History. I have published with epubs and currently I have a series of books out with Red Rose Publishing set in the Wyoming Territory of 1870.

I make my home in Tidewater Virginia with in 30 miles of the first permanent English Colony, near the beautiful plantations along the James River, and a two hour drive of the heart of the Confederacy – hence my overwhelming since of history. My small farm is in habited by two bovines who think they are dogs, an Australian healer, and two cats along with a husband and son.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I became a writer because I was often not satisfied when the book ended. I wanted “MORE”. I wanted the author to extend the lives of the characters I had come to love and feel a relationship with. I wanted further adventures. Then, I played what if and my own characters began to emerge from the shadows. They're make up bits and pieces of movie heroes, tv heroes, and just characteristics I admired in people and strive for myself.

I love westerns. Yes, my heroes have always been cowboys. I admire their grit, their determination in the face of adversity, and their devotion to their job, their ranch, and their women. I think we still have some of the same issues they faced only with a modern twist. Human nature being what it is, we often do not learn our lessons from history and repeat. I love the idea of exploring these lofty goals and telling a good tale.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

Anything and everything I can get my hands on. I love a good western. I am so glad they are beginning to make their comeback. Cheryl St. John blew me away in her latest novel. Also Katherine Albright’s story of the three battle for Texas were spellbinding. When I go on that Regency kick, I pick up Cathy Maxwell, Delilah Marvelle and Andrea Pickens. A good fantasy series that I read and re read come from Judi McCoy who wrote a Goddess series. Zeus on a computer sending emails breaks me up every time. Of course J.K. Rowlings, I am a “Potter head”. But when I want to sit down and come to touch with hometown life, I pick up and devour Debbie Macomber. The stories from Blossom Street are wonderful.

When do you write?

My morning routines are rise between 5:30-6 a.m. open one eye long enough to fill the pot with water and find a tea bag. Then listen to the morning news make notes and get the men folk off to work. The notes are something that catches my eye whether locally, nationally or internationally that might work in a story. Then after one sweep around the house I write from 10 to 12. Then it’s a break, lunch, dust, fold laundry, come back at 2 and work till 4 when the computer cycles through its update and I get back to writing checking emails 8-12 p.m. Because I’m not working “outside the home” I needed to set up my own schedule. I keep a log of stories I’m working on when submitted etc so I try to stay focused. But like with all writers there are days...just days I get sidetracked.

When do you read? Where?
Ok, so this is going to sound strange. We all know that water conducts electricity. So I take my books, notebooks and pens fill up my tub with warm water and plenty of bubbles and soak, read, and make notes. Yep, in the bathtub. Other than the cat opening the door cause I’m out of his eyesight, no one bothers me. My family actually calls the bathroom the “library”.

Where did you get the inspiration for your current book?

Oh my, this one came out of my subconscious. I think we all grew up looking at Miss Kitty and wondering what sort of life she leaded. She was sort of the bad girl gone good. So I started thinking, what if? I already knew life was hard for women after the Civil War. If you were alone, you were fair game for marauders coming through the country side. So who took care of these women after their downfall? Sometimes women had to live on the streets for losing homes, an awful experience, and that song by Reba McIntire about “Fancy” played on and on. So I did a bit of research and set my story in Pather’s Landing, a mythical town at the end of a railroad spur where big rollers come to enjoy the company of high-end courtesans. So far I’ve done three stories about my “ladies,” each not afraid to love and finding that love enough to last the years and grabbing the brass ring.

Where do you go to think?

Well I’ve already stated I do it soaking in the tub. But when the weather is nice I go out to my deck and sit with my feet propped up on the rail and dream…

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Character names have to fit the story. I can’t have a girl named Bambi in a story set in 1870. So, I look at the character points. Is she independent, no fluff, a wild child, and then the names come. I do have problems at times with last names but thank heavens for the phone book.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I began writing fan fiction back in 1969 and then it progressed. But I put it away for a bit when the children were coming along. I told them the stories instead of writing them down. However, in 2003 it was like a blocked volcano. Suddenly the stories erupted. I wrote and wrote and wrote but never showed it to anyone because I didn’t think I was good enough. I wasn’t a writer. I was a mom, a teacher, a wife. What did I know about life? I did however join a local writing group. Here I listened and practiced until I got my nerve up to show one of my stories. I sent it to an epub where it was accepted two years after it was written and in 2007 it was published. Now in 2009, I am with Red Rose Publishing and I hope a much better writer. I am also learning so much from the other talented authors in the group. I have other work out in submission and hope to be announcing that soon.

Why do you write?

Because I have to. Writers don’t write because they are good at it. Writers write because the story, the characters, and setting tell them to. I am often blank to what my fingers will do. I sit down I know the characters names maybe the premise then suddenly my fingers take over. I am but a passenger on this long ride just like the reader. I never know what will happen. I know that I zone out and suddenly on the screen I have mayhem, mischief, girl in danger, man against nature, or lust going on. I can tell you the lust is the most surprising. Cause I’m easily embarrassed and can’t imagine writing those “Things”.

Nancy O’Berry lives in Suffolk, Virginia with her family and a ménage of animals on five acres situated between the James River and the Nansemond River. She lives and breathes stories. Her works Sweetbrier Academy Book One Having Faith, Book Two Holding on to Hope, and Book Three Giving in to Charity are all with Red Rose Publishing.

Book One Having Faith is out in print and coming soon to Amazon so check the link below for its release and that of Book Two Holding on to Hope the second in the Sweetbrier Academy Series.
You may contact Mrs. O’Berry at or feel free to join her authors group at