The Winds of Change are Blowing

Summer is here, and Oghma Creative Media has seen incredible changes since the first day of Spring. Our staff has grown by leaps and bounds, our horizons have expanded, and the books just keep rolling out.

imagesFirst and foremost, our Spring/Summer issue of Saddlebag Dispatches hit the virtual shelves last week. Chock full of stores of the West, poetry, and fantastic photographs, this issue is also a tribute to Dusty Richards, the man who lent his dream to the creation of the magazine. And on a personal note, you will find my first published story in this issue—in the form of a feature article about Dusty’s life. Available in paperback and a special hardcover commemorative edition, get your copy now at saddlebagdispatches.com, and wherever books are sold.

images3Dusty Richards wanted to create a magazine that brought together stories of the Old West, the spirit of the New West, and everything in between. Oghma Creative Media is fully committed to keeping that dream alive, for Dusty, for the fans, and for ourselves. We’ve had staff changes and additions with the magazine, to keep up with the steady flow of submissions we are getting, and to make sure that each issue is the best we can create. At this time, the magazine is published twice each year, and each future issue will be themed. Look for the Autumn/Winter edition in mid-December, focusing on the world of rodeo.

Speaking of staff growth, this summer Oghma Creative Media hired a new full-time editor to help with the work load, and ten interns for the summer and beyond. Because we are growing and moving forward so quickly, we need the extra help. And because of our humble roots, we want to continue to help others succeed in their dreams by teaching them how to succeed in the publishing world. We have six interns in the editing department, helping with story development, editing, and quality control. We now have three creative interns to put the books together and add those fantastic covers you see on our books. And we’ve added a wonderful intern to our marketing department, to help us get the word out.OghmaLogo2small-3

So many exciting changes… but wait, there’s more news. We have expanded out distribution channels, and all of our books are available everywhere English is spoken. Libraries, bookstores, and online retailers across the globe now carry our titles. This is especially exciting to us as we continue to add new, talented authors from around the world.

What next, you ask? Well, as soon as we have a moment to catch our collective breath, we will be pursuing foreign language sales. After all, we want to make sure that everyone has access to our fantastic and ever-expanding catalog!

If you haven’t yet done so, go on over to oghmacreative.com and saddlebagdispatches.com, and find out what you’ve been missing. Happy Reading.

 

Advertisements

The Hills are Blooming… with Books!

It’s Spring… the time when a young girl’s thoughts turn to books. Okay, so I’m not a young girl. And my thoughts are always on books. But that doesn’t change the fact that I had an absolutely wonderful day at the annual Books in Bloom festival in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

For those of you not familiar with Books in Bloom, it is an event made possible by the Carroll and Madison Library System with the help of area sponsors. Held every May on the grounds of the historic Crescent Hotel—billed as “America’s most haunted hotel”—this event features some of America’s most popular authors, as well as newly discovered local talent.

Because there are so many authors in attendance, it is impossible to hear all of their presentations, but they are available to chat with visitors and sign books when not otherwise involved. Even so, I didn’t have a chance to engage with everyone.

20180520_152752The first new-to-me author I encountered this year is local talent from Arkansas, and she has already earned a place among my favorite authors. Amanda McKinney writes what she dubs “sexy mysteries”, and the emphasis is on mystery. I started with her book The Storm, and was immediately hooked and contemplating the rest of her books. Engaging characters and plots full of twists make this author one to watch.

Deborah Crombie, author of the British mysteries featuring Duncan Kincade and Gemma James, was also at this year’s event. As a lover of detective stories, I have no idea how I’ve overlooked her for so long, but I’m happy to report I had her autograph the first book in that series, A Share in Death, and look forward to following these two in their adventures. Who would have imagined a Texas gal would write British mysteries?20180520_153003

For those wanting nonfiction books, David Welky was among this year’s speakers. I picked up a copy of his latest book, A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier which chronicles an early 20th century Arctic expedition. Having recently A1LB4ENwU0L__UX250_finished In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides, I’m excited to get this book as a companion to that story.

My husband was especially excited to meet Marcus Sakey. Since I’ve apparently been living under a rock for the past several years, this is someone whose work I wasn’t familiar 20180520_153318with. I’m told he has several award-winning books, and some movie deals. I really must pay more attention to the world around me. Maybe after I finish reading Afterlife. Which I’m told will also be a movie someday soon.

So if you have the chance next May, make the journey to Books in Bloom–I’ll be there, and there is no telling who we might meet!

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

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.