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Archive for the ‘Writers’ Category

Leidich, Terri Ann_Thumbnail.jpg We all like to get “up close and personal” with our favorite writers and authors by finding out more about them and why they do what they do. This blog is a part of a virtual blog tour that is giving us the opportunity to do just that with people we know, and introducing us to people we might want to know.

I was invited to participate in this tour by Sarah Beth Jones, a dynamic, fun, creative business coach and blogger that I met at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference in 2013 and then reconnected with again at the same conference in 2014. Sarah Beth and I delight in the fact that we are extremely different, yet delightfully compatible. We learn differently, approach the world from divergent perspectives, yet when our minds and approaches of life are put together on a project, a many dimensional, informative product emerges. 

Sarah Beth Sarah Beth has a casual, laid-back approach to life that truly comes out in her writing. Check out what she had to say in her contribution to this tour here.

As I mentioned, my part of this blog tour is to give readers a chance to get “up close and personal” with me, discovering things about who I am as a writer and author. And, the vehicle to deliver this sneak peek is a list of standard questions. So, here we go. 

1. What Am I working on?

As with many new writers who have not yet “made it” to the degree that they can devote their entire life to writing, I have a day job that keeps me extremely busy. Along with that, my debut novel Family Inheritance releases on October 1st so I’m learning how to go from being a writer, where all we think about is creating stuff, to being an author where we also have to put energies into promoting the stuff we create. So a huge part of my time is now being taken up with that.

But, writers are always working on something, and I am working on my second novel. I had written the basics of the novel in 1995 and had then shoved it into a file cabinet for some future time. Well, that future time is here. I’m not yet ready to reveal the title or a synopsis of the book, but hope to have something to my publisher by the end of the year. I feel a bit of pressure to get it done because of the wonderful comments some reviewers of my debut novel have made about “looking forward to reading more from this author.” Great words to hear, but if I don’t apply the discipline that writers need, I’ll be a “one novel” author. So, a little pressure can be a good thing when it comes to writers.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve been told that I write emotions well, pulling readers into what my characters are feeling. My books are often described as “requiring a tissue box before opening.” I blame that on the stories I choose to tell and my characters, who get a hold of me and then just “take off,” pulling me into their experiences. I often teasingly ask the question – “Am I a fiction writer or am I a schizophrenic?” Luckily, the voices only appear when I’m lost in the middle of creating a fiction story or novel. Whew!

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’m all about relationships, life experiences, and overcoming the obstacles that we all have thrown in our paths by this curious journey called life. The ideas for my fiction come from the stories of people I know, people I read about, or general trends or problems in our world. I like to read stories about strong, determined, unbeatable people that, while they may be battered by life or the experiences that are either thrown in their direction or brought about by their own choices, still beat the odds and figure out a solution, figure out a away to overcome or move forward. And those are the kinds of stories I like to write. 

4. How does my writing process work? 

 Ideas for stories come to me at various times and in various places. I write them down and keep a file of ideas that have been jotted in a notebook, on a napkin, on a grocery store receipt. Then, when I’ve finished a project, I dig into the file and the idea that grabs me at that time is the one I go with. I begin with an outline and an idea of who my main characters are, but after that, my first time through a story is what I call a “creative dump.” I just let the story flow and let the characters take over filling in the blanks. Once the first draft is done, that’s when I get busy with making sure the story has an arc, the characters are fully developed, and I’m “showing” readers, not “telling” them. Part 2 usually takes the most time. After that, I go back in and edit and hone to the best of my ability. Then it’s time for a professional editor to help me, guide me, show me where the flaws of my story are and what I know about the characters and story but am not relating to my readers. Creating a finished book takes a village, and I’m lucky to have a wonderful village of talented people who help me and teach me a lot along the way. 

Writing isn’t really a choice for me. It’s a part of who I am. The choice is in when I’ll do it and what I’ll do with it once I’m done. 

Thanks for reading to this point and being interested in who I am and why I do what I do. Now, I want to introduce you to three amazing authors who will be following me with their own stories. Check out their websites and follow their blogs so you’ll be sure not to miss what they have to say. 

 John Daly, author of From a Dead Sleep, Book 1 in the Sean Coleman Thriller series. (Book 2 is done and soon to be in the hands of John’s Publisher.)  Here’s a bit more about John. 

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 A lifelong Coloradoan, along with his wife and two children, John Daly graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in business administration and computer information systems. With a thirst for creative expression that went beyond the logic and absolutes of computer programming, John developed an interest in writing. His first novel, “From a Dead Sleep,” was released last year, and he’s currently working on the second book in the series. He writes political, cultural, and media analysis columns for BernardGoldberg.com and weekly parenting columns for GreeleyTribune.com. Check out his author website

Tamika Christy is the author of Anytime Soon, a coming of age, new adult novel that was published last year and this year won a Finalist Award in the African American Fiction category of the Indie Next Generation Awards.  

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A Bay area native, Tamika began writing at an early age, prompted by the gift of a journal one Christmas. With pen in hand, she continued writing throughout college where she realized her talent for creating intriguing plots and multidimensional characters. Tamika continued to nurture her love for writing while attending law school, where she gave birth to her first novel, Anytime Soon. Tamika describes her writing as urban prose — funny, warm, soulful with blunt dialogue and familiar realism. Learn more about Tamika on her author website.

Ameera Unveiled, the first novel by author Kathleen Varn, received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Beach Book Festival in the general fiction category this summer. 

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Kathleen Varn’s love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to read. As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. Eventually, Kathleen dove into journaling, which helped her find solace when life through lemons. Throughout her journey to pursue personal growth as she raised her children and juggled a career. She explored the idea of freedom through allegorical short stories. Kathleen is now very happily married to her soulmate. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an adoption attorney for twenty-three years. With her two children settled in adulthood, she is exploring a beautiful world, from scuba diving in Fiji or photographing in Alaska’s frozen tundra. Check out her author website

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2013-10-30 picture 4  My last few months have been filled with speaking engagements and book festivals, along with conversations and meetings with other writers and a myriad of people in the publishing industry. Somewhere in one of those conversations, and I don’t remember exactly where or who asked the question, but the question was asked.  What are three words that describe the theme of your writing and who you are as a writer?

It didn’t take me long to answer. All I had to do was think of my books that have been published or are in the process of being published: From a Grieving Mother’s Heart; For a Grieving Heart; and my debut novel, Family Inheritance, and my three words were clear: Relationships, Connections, and Overcoming.

As I thought about it, those three words pretty much cover the gist of who I am. My relationships with the core people in my life are what keep me grounded and glad to be alive. My connection with my Higher Power, the energy of those who have passed away, and the endless possibilities of life are what help me understand my purpose and the impact I’d like to leave when I am gone. And I believe that overcoming is one of the greatest opportunities that life consistently offers to all of us. I give credence to the approach, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done, tell me what it’s going to take to do it.”

It amuses me that three words can meld together all of the different facets of me and my writing and paint a pretty strong picture of what my books and I are all about. That is the wonderful, amazing power of words. With the correct word, we can convey a legion of thoughts, ideas, and emotions. With the right word, we can chisel a character’s personality. With the appropriate word, we can set the tone for our story. Oh, what power and responsibility to be someone who is choosing and stringing together words to inform, entertain, and move people.

What about you? What are three words that describe you as a person, and if you’re a writer, describe your writing as well? It’s an interesting exercise and an eye-opening one as well.

 

 

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Image I don’t consider myself a poet—even though I have written some poetry—and I certainly don’t like all poetry. But I have to admit that there is something wonderfully magical and even spiritually healing about writing and/or reading it. Only in a poem can three or four lines resonate with feelings that don’t have to be explained, a back story that doesn’t have to be told, and a voice that is simply accepted for what it is.

I’m not a person who memorizes poetry or even the names of poets, yet I have several poems that are earmarked for easy access, and each time I slowly read them out loud, they calm and mesmerize me.

I love the writings of Kahlil Gibran and often read Song of the Flower. I will share the first six lines with you and highly recommend that you seek out this poem to read it in its entirety.

I am a kind word uttered and repeated

By the voice of Nature;

I am a star fallen from the

Blue tent upon the green carpet.

I am the daughter of the elements

With whom Winter conceived;

Yet, with all its beauty and wisdom, poetry is not as well read as fiction and poets have fewer outlets in which they can share their talent, their craft, and their appreciation for beautifully written verse. That’s why I love it that April has been designated as National Poetry Month. During thirty full days, poetry can take center stage to revel in its own beauty, and poets are encouraged to come to the forefront. It’s a time that those of us who dabble in poetry from time to time are encouraged to slow down, clear our minds of things we have to do or characters we are creating, to let the words flow in lyrical verses that we can then hone and tweak to be shared or set aside to be enjoyed in quiet moments.

From time to time, I’ll come upon a verse whose simple words guide me daily in how I want to live, and I’ll end this post with one of my favorites from Longfellow, A Psalm of LIfe:

Lives of great men all remind us

                  We can make our lives sublime,

 And, departing, leave behind us

                 Footprints on the sands of time.

If you are a poet, or someone who dabbles in the craft, BQB Publishing is sponsoring a poetry contest worth checking out. The information is posted on their Facebook page.

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We all have those relationships in our lives that one day are absolutely fabulous, and the next day we wonder why we even bother. Well, I’m having one of “those” types of relationships with social media. I didn’t grow up with it, don’t have a natural affinity for it, and just about the time I think I understand it, it changes on me.

I know that in today’s world, social media is important, especially for a writer and new author. It’s one of the best ways that we can let a wide variety of people know who we are, what we write, and why they just might want to check us and our book(s) out. But, as simple as that sounds, it sometimes isn’t that simple for me.

My biggest challenge is allocating the time away from my writing and my day job to keep up with social media. I know that every serious writer needs to spend at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour or better, on social media each day, but it’s a mindset that I’m having a hard time developing. During that allocated time, my mind keeps wandering to my overloaded “to do” list, the beauty of the outdoors outside my window entices me, I think of a myriad of other things I would rather do, or I’m just tired of sitting at the computer—period. Plus, social media “conversations” come in small bites, and I’m having to train my mind to think in small chunks while at the same time making those small chunks interesting, thought provoking, informative, or a combination of all three. Days like that are my “bad relationship days” with social media, and they do pop up.

Then, there are those days when the interactions come easy, I’ve connected with someone really interesting, my social media friends encourage me, or I read a quote or tidbit of information that is just what I needed at that moment in time, and I really get it. On those days, I’m thankful for the amazing minds that created these formats of connection and communication that allow us to reach out across cities, states, and even countries to discover and relate to a wide variety of people with varying thoughts, cultures, and ideas. It is on those days that I love social media and the whole virtual kind of existence that we now have available to us.

Then on other days I find out that Facebook is changing its format, I get behind on my tweets, or I’ve got a looming deadline for a blog, and my mind gets fuzzy from trying to make sense of all the data and requirements that are being tossed at me. On those days, I think my daughter and grandchildren wonder what planet I came from because social media comes easily to them and is a strong part of their daily existence.

On the good days, I relish discovering new ways of connecting and new people to connect with, and I’m excited about being a writer and author in this fabulous time when the entire world can absolutely be our oyster. I love that I have the ability to chat with writers and readers from all over the US and in countries like England, Australia, India, Italy. . . and the list goes on. My world is expanded and my mind is stretched, and new concepts and stories are forged into my imagination. I love those good days between me and social media. They are the reason that I continue this relationship through the not so good times.

Today, social media and I are on very good terms and I’m glad I’m in this relationship.

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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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