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.

 

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

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.

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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.

 

Oghma Family Gathering

’Tis the holiday season here around the Oghma house.  I’ve told you more than once, and tried to show you as well, that Oghma is one big, mostly happy, family. And just like any other family, we celebrate our joys and sorrows together . Now, right here at Christmas, we have experienced our biggest changes of the year for our family members. As you gather around with your family, we invite you to gather around with us as well.

 

First the celebration. A week before Christmas, our President and fearless leader, Casey Cowan, got married. His new bride Amy is a beautiful woman, inside and out. And I believe she is the rudder that Casey needs to stabilize himself before he burns out in his never-ending pursuit of perfection for Oghma Creative Media. She has already put her proverbial foot down, and commanded that he take time for himself and his family. She has achieved more toward making him take care of himself, and by extension, the Oghma family, than the Oghma staff has been able to achieve all year. They are currently on a honeymoon cruise, and Amy has refused to buy Wi-Fi, making sure Casey has time to rest and enjoy the important things in life. Congratulations Casey and Amy!

amy cake

And now for our greatest sorrow this year. A week ago today, our patriarch of the Oghma family, Dusty Richards, along with his lovely wife Pat, were involved in an automobile accident. They are both in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. We know that we cannot be as deeply affected by this as their children are, but I guarantee we not far from those emotions. Dusty has been an incredible influence on many writers, both those in our family, as well as other writers around the area and the country. The Richards family members have  touched countless lives with their kind hearts and generosity, and many, many people have written to ask about their condition, offering prayers and support for them and their family. It is at times like this that one can recognize the basic kindness in the people around the world. Because of the ongoing updates we receive form their children, we are able to celebrate each small victory Dusty and Pat achieve on their road to recovery, as well as keep others updated. We are doing our best to find a balance between informing the fans and protecting the privacy of the family at this difficult time. The family has granted permission for us to share their mailing address, so if you would like to send a card of encouragement, their mailbox is being checked daily:

Dusty and Pat Richards

PO Box 6460

Springdale, AR 72766 USA

It is going to be a long, slow road to recovery for both of them, but we believe in our hearts that they will recover and come home to their family, near and far.

Dusty rail