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Archive for January, 2014

Terri Ann Leidich at the Roanoke Reg Writers ConfereceYesterday, for the second year in a row, I had the privilege of presenting at the Roanoke Regional Writers’ Conference. Today, my body is exhausted, but my mind and soul are twirling with exhilaration. Being surrounded by writers—people whose minds are ever circling with thoughts, ideas, and possibilities—is enriching, enlightening, motivating, and inspiring. One writer speaking to another doesn’t have to explain the phrases like: space beyond the mind, my characters spoke to me, asking for inspiration from my dreams. . . We all speak the same language, at least some form of it, and we’re all hungry for more thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and motivation.

A great writers’ conference, like the one in Roanoke that is created by Dan Smith and hosted by Hollins University, absolutely buzzes with energy. My mind was busy absorbing knowledge from others and teaching what I know. Competition is left at the door as writer mentors writer, and people who are part of the support team that a writer needs, willingly guide us on writing, editing, social media, photography, and things that we need to know that we didn’t realize we needed to know.

Wrapped, for a day, in a cocoon where creative minds meet and thrive, it takes me twenty-four hours to assimilate the experience before I step back into my routine where my writer’s mind reluctantly returns to bouts of scheduled writing surrounded by periods of “have to do’s”,  “to do” lists, and schedules.

Tomorrow I’ll willingly step back into my wonderful world that is a blend of right and left brain thinking, but for today, my exhausted body is recovering as my mind floats in a state of exhilaration.

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I feel like I need a drum roll, or a curtain being raised as I wait in excitement and anticipation to see what the audience will think. After all, the cover for my debut novel which will release in October, is a big deal to me.

It always amazes me how things can be happening all around us, all the time, and we don’t notice any significance until we step into those shoes. I’ve been surrounded by book covers ever since I was a young child and began to love and be fascinated by books; and I still have that fascination to this day. But, until I started working with my publisher on my own book cover, I had no idea of the love,  patience, creativity, thought, and work that goes into creating a good cover for a book. Nor did I really understand the extreme importance of a strong cover that will draw the audience to the book and then to open the pages and want to take the book (or eBook) home.

When we first started creating a book cover for Family Inheritance, I had an idea and concept in mind. Yet, as the publishing team and I worked together, new concepts started to emerge, and the characters from the book began to make themselves known in regards to the cover. (I know . . . for those of you who are not fiction writers, I’m beginning to sound a bit nutty.) Then one day, it just fit. The book, the cover, and the characters all seemed to belong together in one solid unit. Now, I can’t imagine the cover being any different than it is.

So, this phase is done. The book is in its finishing stages of being polished and honed, my marketing plan is coming together, and stage fright is starting to set in. Ahhhhh, the joys of being of author. But, I’m loving every moment of it.

Imagine a drum roll as the curtain slowly opens. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to present . . .

Family Inheritance Cover Art Smaller Family

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A week before Thanksgiving I was on my way to a poetry reading at our local Barnes & Noble where I intended to read from my book For a Grieving Heart. Before the event, a friend and I stopped for dinner at a local restaurant and starting chatting with some people we know. I mentioned that I was nervous about the poetry reading and one of the guys said something to the effect of “You do stuff like this all the time. Why are you nervous?”

My mind filled with responses like “Dah! What do my abilities have to do with my feelings?” but Mom and life have taught me to seldom speak words that quickly rush to my tongue without going through my mind to ensure they are appropriate. So, I bit my tongue, smiled, and explained that because the poetry was written during my time of grief after my son died, it was harder to read.

But the whole conversation got me thinking. What do abilities have to do with feelings? Not a thing! Just because we’re good at something doesn’t mean we know that we are, or that we don’t feel scared, intimidated, less than, overwhelmed, etc. In fact, very often, the things we are good at from the world’s perspective are the things that we feel the most frightened by. But if we can identify our fear, take steps to minimize it to the best of our abilities, and then move forward anyway, some of our greatest experiences and most pleasant moments might just be waiting for us.

I knew that reading my poetry in public was intimidating for me because I’ve never studied poetry, don’t know all of the “requirements” for a good poem, these poems are especially emotional for me, etc. and I had some fear about really making a fool of myself. So, I enlisted my good friend Betsy to come with me to ensure I wouldn’t chicken out, and to give me the assurance that at least one person there would like the stuff.

When we got to the reading I discovered that the event leader that particular night was a retired professor who had taught poetry at Radford University and the knot in my stomach enlarged to the point that it was also pushing against my throat. As panic was pulling me toward the door, Betsy’s chatter and encouragement kept me heading toward the chair.

I made it through, read my poetry, and met some delightful people. My poetry was received well. The professor from Radford encouraged me to keep writing and to even study poetry because I apparently have a natural talent for it. Who knew!

Once again, I was reminded that our fears are seldom attached to reality, but that doesn’t mean they don’t often show up in our lives, grab us by the throat, and tempt us to run and hide instead of moving forward to continually discover more about ourselves and life in general.

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