International Thank an Author Year

WRITERI am declaring today the beginning of “International Thank an Author Year”. To my knowledge, this has not been previously declared, and I believe it is long overdue. And since Earth does not yet have an international government, I believe that I am as qualified as anyone else to declare this event.

Think about it for a moment. How many of you have a favorite book? Or an author that you absolutely adore? Have you ever learned an amazing fact by reading a book? Did you find a great recipe in a new cookbook? Has a favorite children’s book allowed you to spend quality time with a child or grandchild? Have you browsed travel books or novels with exotic locales, visiting those places in your mind? What about that special series of books, whose characters feel like your best friends? When life gets a little too crazy, do you escape between the pages for much needed relaxation?

SCREAMIf you answered YES to any of these questions, you should THANK AN AUTHOR. Without the efforts of those writers, you would have missed out on having some wonderful experiences. Just imagine how empty your life would be without books! On second thought—don’t imagine it. It is a horrifying image.

REVIEWYou may be asking, “How do I go about thanking an author?” I have several suggestions, but the most gratifying one for most authors is to WRITE A REVIEW. Just about everyone has an Amazon account, and that is probably the easiest way for anyone to leave a review. Many people also use Goodreads, or other reading-orientated sites. Many libraries also allow reviews on their websites. The advantages of writing a review are many. YOU get to tell the author how much you like the book, and even if there are some things you liked more than others. The AUTHOR gets thanked for all their hard work creating that book for your enjoyment. And POTENTIAL readers can be pointed in the right direction to find their own new favorite book.

Does the author have a website? Sign up for their newsletter. Newsletters will keep you informed of upcoming public appearances, new books coming out, and other news about the author. Authors love communicating with their fans. ONCE

Do they have a blog? Follow the blog, like, comment on, and reblog their posts so that others can get to know your favorite writers. This also lets the writer know that someone is reading what they write, and allows them to learn what topics people are most interested in.

FRIENDDo they have an author page on Facebook? “Like” their page, and invite your friends to like it too. This is a quick and easy way to show the author you are paying attention, and are interested in what they are doing. The same principle applies to Twitter. Spread the word!

Is an author appearing at a public venue for a book signing or lecture? Go see them, buy a book, get it autographed, and say “thank you” in person. You will probably be able to have you picture taken with them as well.

So go forth, fellow readers, and kick off International Thank an Author Year!THANKS

Advertisements

Spring has Sprung!

thJRZL9AXPSpring is a time to celebrate renewal—the flora begins to come alive, the animals that migrated or hibernated for the winter are seen again, the sun seems to shine brighter, and the breezes carry the promise of new beginnings. And these changes can affect the creative spirit as well. We will finally plant that garden, paint that picture, write that novel or poem—the possibilities are endless.

To celebrate the renewal of the spirit, and push that creativity along, I recently attended the annual Free Conference for Writers in Northwest Arkansas. This is a one-day conference held every year in mid-March, and in my mind marks the beginning of the conference season.

Although the conference lasts for just eight hours, the organizers always manage to pack the day full. The conference speakers this year were Linda Apple and Velda Brotherton, and the theme was using your own experiences to shape your writing. The final portion of the conference was devoted to sharing stories and remembering our good friend and local author Dusty Richards. Published authors from around the area were present as well, with books to sign and advice for new writers. bee

Linda Apple is known for her inspirational writing and teaching, and has been a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup books. Linda spoke about the importance of writing your own story to share with others. You may want to write your memoirs to leave for your family, or write about specific experiences to share with others. Sharing your experiences can help you to come to terms with events, as well as inspire and encourage others. It is very true that we can never know what is happening in another person’s life, and you can never know how sharing your story can help others.

Velda Brotherton is an experienced writer of fiction, from romances to westerns to mysteries. Velda taught us to use our own experiences to help shape and improve our fiction writing. Basing your characters on real people can help to cement their traits in your mind, and provide a more believable character. Using the name of a friend or family member can be your way of giving a nod to someone dear to you (although you might want to check with them first, to avoid potential embarrassment). And don’t forget the everyday touches that make your scenes realistic—the scent of a pie baking, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of traffic outside the window. Taking time to smell the roses can really pay off when you are trying to create a scene in your next book.

thWWWQLNM3So to celebrate the first day of Spring, go ahead—write that story. Share your inspiration with others, whether you choose nonfiction or fiction for your platform doesn’t matter. We all have stories to tell, and as I’m fond of telling my friends—it’s your story, tell it how you want to. The important point is that you DO tell it.

 

My Guardian Angel

20180215_185715 (1)When I started this blog, my purpose was to give readers a look behind-the-scenes at the world of writing and publishing. To let others see what writers go through to write their books, to get published, and to promote the books they have written.

I spend my days communicating with many writers, both those that Oghma Creative Media publishes, as well as those that publish elsewhere, and some that don’t publish at all. Some writers are seasoned veterans, others are just getting started.

Along the way, and as an expected hazard of my job, I caught the dreaded writing bug. The beginnings of this blog are rooted in that illness, and I thought that the blog would cure my illness. I was unbelievably mistaken. My dreams have taken off, and I am now planning a cozy mystery series, a biography, and various articles to be written.

I communicate with writers daily. I look for ways that writers can promote themselves and their work. I look for new avenues to promote Oghma Creative Media as a company. I read constantly and offer suggestions to others. I encourage everyone to be the best person they can be, the best WRITER they can be.

And in the course of all this – I forgot to write. No excuses, I simply forgot to sit down and do it.

Luckily for me, I have a guardian angel. I’ll call her Brenda, because that is her name.

Brenda and I met at a writer’s conference last year, and I felt an instant connection with her. She came there to learn, and to pitch her book idea. I was there to represent Oghma Creative Media. We spent some time talking, and have kept in touch ever since.

A couple weeks ago, Brenda sent me an email with the beautiful picture featured here. She said she felt led to send it to me, and wasn’t sure why. When I received it, I admired the picture and had thoughts of writing about it. I framed a post about her generous gift of a lovely image, another post about how writers need someone/thing to light their way, another post about using random images to spark a story.

But you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write.

Every day I encourage others to write. To simply put their butt in a chair and get to it. And I somehow neglected to apply that to my own life.

This week my guardian angel nudged me again. She didn’t nag, she didn’t criticize, she simply encouraged me to sit down and write.

So I did.

Brenda gently reminded me of the most important thing a writer must do. To be a writer, one must sit down and write. It doesn’t have to be great literature, nor does it need to be hundreds (or even dozens) of words or pages at a time. But we must write. Let the stories out onto the pages. Don’t worry about what will happen later –the editing, the publishing, and the marketing. Those things are necessary tools that we need. But not right now.

I hope that all of the aspiring writers in the world can find their guardian angel to guide them gently down the path to success. But a word of warning—stay away from Brenda. She’s mine, and I need her.

angel-writing-granger

Let’s Talk About Love

Now that it is February, everyone’s mind is turning toward Valentine’s Day. Hearts, flowers, roses, boxes of chocolate, sappy greeting cards. The one day a year we are reminded and encouraged to pay special attention to the ones we love. And yes, I know many of us say we don’t need a Hallmark holiday to remind of us of what’s important, but we still participate because we enjoy it.

Before the internet gets overwhelmed with Valentine’s greetings and stories about Cupid, I want to talk about a different perspective on love. One that isn’t all hearts and flowers.

Author65

The matriarch of our Oghma Creative Media family is known for writing romantic stories. Velda Brotherton has been writing hot and steamy stories for years. Whether the setting is the Ozark hills, the western plains, or somewhere in between, her writing is said to be sexy, dark, and gritty. She does just write romances, but those are what I want to talk about today.

Because I’m working on a couple of projects with her, I’ve had the chance to spend a little more one-on-one time with Velda, and get to know her. She’s been around a little longer than some of us have, and experienced a few more things. And no matter how arrogant we are, we’re going to have to admit that she’s bound to know more about love.

I don’t know much about Velda’s personal life, and all that she has been through, but I do know that she was married to one man for many years, and was always true to him. Think about that. One man. In today’s world of transient relationships that’s something special.

Right now Velda is working on a sequel to a book she wrote in 1985, but didn’t publish until a few years ago. This book is called Beyond the Moon, and is dear to her heart. Recently I read this book for the first time, and I was stunned by the depth of love portrayed by her characters.

Cover5

Beyond the Moon is the story of a Vietnam POW who comes home and ends up in the local VA hospital because he just can’t find his way back to the world. It is the story of an artist who recently lost her husband, and is trying to build a new life without her longtime partner. It is the story of these two people finding each other in a world that is new and strange to both of them, and learning what REAL love is. It is not always hearts and flowers. Sometimes it is tears, and nightmares, and fears of the unknown and the unknowable. It is standing beside the one you love, not because you should, but because it is the only thing your heart will let you do.

Beyond the Moon is a book I would recommend everyone read. If you’re a woman, a man, a person who’s been in love, a person who thought they were in love once, a person who’s never been in love—this book is for you.

Yes, there is romance. But above all, this is a love story.

 

The Best Characters are Real

The advantage of working in the publishing industry and meeting writers from different genres is that I get to meet the most interesting people in the world. I have the opportunity to learn more about different geographic areas, different time periods—past, present, and future—and meet incredible characters.

As readers, I know that you have favorite characters. Characters that you just can’t get out of your mind, that steal your heart, that you wish were real and you could learn more about after the book is finished. If you are very lucky, the character is part of a series that you can follow along with. If you are incredibly lucky, the character you adore is real.

In January 2018, I became an incredibly lucky reader. I met a character in a book, a young girl named Avery. Avery is very real, and very brave. Let me introduce you to her.

14494897_10155188923616393_2830604104258456605_n

Avery lives in Canada, a country that I dream of visiting someday. A few years ago her mom Jodi looked at Avery’s back, and noticed that it looked, well, different. Jodi noticed that Avery’s spine appeared to curve a bit more than it should, and in a direction that it probably shouldn’t. A visit to the doctor confirmed their fears. Avery was diagnosed with scoliosis.

Personally, I knew very little about scoliosis before reading this book. I thought it was just something that people lived with, or at worst they might have to wear a back brace for a while. But not in Avery’s case. Her prognosis was so severe that surgery was her only option.

Imagine if this happened to you. You’re going along in life, don’t even feel like anything is wrong, and the doctor tells you that you have to have surgery. And not just a little surgery, like having your tonsils out, or your appendix removed. The doctor wants to cut your back open along your entire spine.

Now add the fact that you are a preteen girl. I don’t know about you, but I’d be terrified.

I don’t mean to minimize the effect of this news on her parents, or on her brother. This is their story too. This is the story of an entire family and how they acted and reacted to the diagnosis. As a mother, and a former preteen girl, I followed their story with trepidation and couldn’t help but think of how I’d react to the situation. And let me say, I don’t think I would have been as strong as they were.

1976993_10153022632186393_2067770278_nOne of the things that they did was turn to the internet for information. Not just medical insights—the doctors could provide that—but real-life anecdotes about what to expect during the process. And you know what they found? Almost nothing. So in an effort to help others, as well as deal with their own fears, they started a blog. On the blog, they took turns telling their story, so readers got different perspectives. And from that blog grew this book.

But don’t worry—this book is much more than a collection of blog posts. Yes, there are a sprinkling of blog posts throughout. This is a great way to experience the thoughts and feelings of the family throughout each step of the journey. The book also includes medical information about the journey and pictures. Lots of pictures. Pictures of the family, and before and after pictures of Avery’s spine.

15676397_10155426083881393_4236558607674142387_oThat’s right folks—this determined girl not only courageously faced major surgery, she allowed her family to take pictures of her back, both before and after surgery, and she allowed the pictures to be shared. With total strangers. Around the world. Because she wanted to share her story with others who might be facing the same thing.

I don’t know about you, but there are very few pictures in existence of me at that age. I was awkward, and shy, and did not want pictures taken at all. And certainly not pictures this personal. And if someone did take a picture, I didn’t want anyone to see.

26994281_1848231171904836_4567534554302099517_nThe title of the book is Bent But Not Broken, which perfectly sums up Avery Butters. When you get your copy of the book, you’ll notice that she graciously allowed her father Andrew to place his name as the main author, and her mother Jodi to have her name as an author as well. They did contribute significantly, and they wrote many of the words between the covers of the book.

But Avery is the real author of this story. She lived it, she wrote it, she shared it with the world.

So buy her book—she’s a character you’ll never forget. And best of all—she’s real.

 

The Cowboy Rides Away…

15448

As I sit down to write this, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve always been told to start the story at the beginning, yet I’m not sure where the beginning is in this case. Did it begin with me growing up in the hills of Northwest Arkansas? Or my love of horses, rodeos, and all things both country and western? Did it begin when I first got to meet my local cowboy hero, Dusty Richards? I’m not sure where the story begins.

Today, just a few days after I wrote about the passing of Pat Richards, beautiful and gentle wife of legendary author Dusty Richards, I learned that Dusty Richards himself passed away. One of my first blog posts was about my excitement over meeting one of my childhood heroes, and finding out what a real-life hero he has been for so many people.

Dusty was larger than life, yet always humble. An expansive  storyteller, as well as a great listener. A teacher, yet always willing to learn. A mentor, a friend, an inspiration. When I asked him how he got started writing, he said he always wanted to write, and had done a little now and again all his life. Writing western stories was his dream. One day, he made the decision to make that dream a reality. His advice to all was “If you want to write, you just have to do it. Write. And keep writing. Keep writing as long as the stories are in there.”

Dusty rail

And that is exactly what Dusty did. He wrote, and he wrote, and he wrote. Story after story, novel after novel. And the stories just kept coming. Dusty Richards was a master storyteller above all else. Not just the written word, but spoken words as well. Stories about cowboys, both real and imagined. Stories of his life, his travels, and his family. Stories of adventures with his beloved wife Pat.

The last few times I visited with Dusty we spoke about writing his biography together. His emails contained stories he remembered and wanted to include in the book. Although he didn’t get a chance to tell me all the stories he wanted, in the past few weeks, I’ve heard hundreds of stories from people across the country. Stories of Dusty and Pat, and their love and generosity. Stories of Dusty helping writers, and farmers, and friends. Story after story after story.

Although our hearts may be heavy down here on Earth, I have no doubt that Dusty and Pat are rejoicing together tonight. Dusty finally has the chance to meet his cowboy heroes and swap stories, with his beautiful bride of 56 years by his side. And I have no doubt that he is still telling stories, because I’m sure he wasn’t finished.

I still don’t know where the story began—but I have no doubt that this isn’t where the story ends.

FB_IMG_1516297174406

 

Introducing Michael Lee — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? Michael Lee -What genre do you write in? Currently, American Western fictional history. -What drew you to this genre? I wanted to write about something, I had some knowledge of. -What book(s) have you written? Del Rio completed and at Publishers, in pre edit. I am currently under contract for 4 […]

via Introducing Michael Lee — Ninetoes Loves Books

The Woman Behind the Man

FB_IMG_1516058493665

I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks, because when my emotions are highest, my voice is the softest. As most of you know, a few weeks ago, right before Christmas, our dear friends Dusty and Pat Richards were in an automobile accident. The accident was dreadful, leaving both of them in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.

They were listed as stable but critical, and the prognosis was hopeful but guarded. There have been small gains, and small losses. Our emotions have been riding a constant rollercoaster. We have tried to carry on business as usual at Oghma, but I’m sure you all understand that is almost impossible when family members are going through trials. And Dusty and Pat have been family since the beginning of Oghma.

We worried about their conditions, waited for any and all updates, wondered what the updates meant for their futures, wondered if we were hoping for too much, or too little. We agonized as Pat went through surgery for her back, her arm, her wrist. We waited for news of Dusty regaining consciousness, regaining memories, we wonder if he will ever again be the Dusty we know and love. We agonized over infections, celebrated the removal of ventilators, celebrated as Pat began rehabilitation and we were told she might regain some movement in her legs after all, and not be completely paralyzed.

Last week, unexpectedly, we received the news that Pat had passed from this world. It was her birthday that day. I choose to view this as a positive sign. Everyone who ever met Pat Richards can attest to her strong spiritual nature. What better way to begin a new phase of her spiritual journey than to celebrate her heavenly birthday on the same day as her earthly birthday?

Today we celebrated the life of Pat Richards at her funeral. The family provided photographs of beautiful memories to help us celebrate with them. Wedding pictures, family vacations, community events, glimpses into a life well-lived. Friends and family sent beautiful flower arrangements to remind us that life is indeed beautiful, yet fleeting, and should be celebrated.

Yes, we are devastated to lose her. But our tears are for ourselves, for all of the things we won’t say, the times we won’t see her, the events we won’t enjoy along with her. And we cry for Dusty, who lost his partner of 56 years, her daughters who lost their mother, her grandchildren, her extended family, her friends, and her community. Pat Richards lived a beautiful life, and her spirit was strong, her faith stronger still. There was no need to cry for Pat, because as long as even one person remembers her, she is never truly gone. And knowing she touched so many lives, and so many generations, she will live on for many years here on Earth, as well as in Heaven.

FB_IMG_1516058428413

Introducing J C Crumpton — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? JC Crumpton -What genre do you write in? My most common answer to that question is whichever one I can get paid in. But my favorites are the ones wherein I most often read: science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. -What drew you to this genre? What I love about all three of […]

via Introducing J C Crumpton — Ninetoes Loves Books

Introducing Darrel Sparkman — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? Darrel Sparkman -What genre do you write in? Frontier Western, Traditional Western, Post-Apocalyptic and General Fiction-Action Adventure -What drew you to this genre? No matter the time frame or point in history, it’s all Frontier Writing. Back to basics where a person oversees their own destiny and doesn’t rely on someone […]

via Introducing Darrel Sparkman — Ninetoes Loves Books