Not long ago I went to a meeting of fellow writers and heard about the Author’s Blog Chain. Theresa Hupp tagged me giving me an opportunity to tell you a bit about myself. Theresa is in the midst of editing two exciting and fact packed novels about the Oregon Trail. She has written and published a contemporary mystery, as well as Family Recipe, an anthology of stories, essays, and poems well worth the read, and available on Amazon.com. Theresa also writes a great blog , Story and History. You can follow her on Facebook and twitter to learn more about her work.
Here are the four questions I’ve been asked to answer.
What are you currently working on?
My first real attempt into the world of fiction writing was a novel, JAZZ TOWN, the story of the struggles of jazz musicians and Kansas Citians during the 1920′s and ’30′s. Filled with actual events , JAZZ TOWN is a thriller, a love story, and an action-packed novel all rolled into one.
After it’s publication, I turned to a new passion, ADAM’S NEEDLE. It is about a young, Ozark farm boy who fights injustice and discrimination in an attempt to save the lives of his new neighbors. Folklore has it that Adam used the spiky leaves of the yucca plant to sew clothes to cover Eve’s nakedness. In my novel, ADAM’S NEEDLE is a rocky cliff where yucca plants grow and where long ago, the Ku Klux Klan place a large, white cross.
Ever since my miraculous recovery from back surgery, I’ve been obsessed with the metaphysical. I’ve just begun a third novel—this one about a young girl who, with her dog, embarks on a quest for life but stumbles into a world that encompasses mind, body, and spirit.
Buried under all the fiction is a cookbook lurking. Mine would contain instructions brought by a German grandmother on the Barnett side of my family. In my early married life, I had so much fun watching Grossmutter’s techniques and learning her secrets. I hope to be able to document those experiences while retaining the unusual and delicious recipes.
My daughter, Lynn B. Barnett, is a social worker and president of Mid America Family Treatment Center. She has written many amazing, informative articles. They contain numerous tips on how to parent children with emotional problems such as attachment disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome. I am pleased that she has asked me to help her get them ready for publication.
How does your work differ from others in the same genre?
There is much truth in all of my fiction. I love researching, and I often spend hours doing it, but most of my novels are based on real-life experience. The other day, I read about a woman who was a ballerina and an actress before becoming a literary agent. I totally understand following your heart when it comes to making career choices. Wife and mother came first for me. Then farming in the Ozarks, followed by medicine and sales which took me to faraway lands. All have a great impact on my writing.
Why do you write what you write?
Much of what I write has to do with nature and the human experience. I care about injustices and find myself fictionalizing real-life events. My joy at waking up every morning is only surpassed by my need to know what each new day will bring. For me, life is a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes fitting the pieces together is hard, but the quest catapults me from one learning experience to the next.
How does your writing process work?
My handwriting is so bad, even I can’t read it. The computer has changed all that. Because of this incredible piece of equipment, I can do what I love. I write in Microsoft Word which keeps me glued to my computer either creating or trying to figure out the complexities of the program. Cut and paste has added a new dimension to my life. I used to have trouble crossing out even one of my precious word-babies. Not anymore. I can casually cut portions big and small, because I can save or delete them anytime I want. I wish I could work from an outline. I always know the basic plot. I usually know how it will begin. Like many of my peers, my characters often have minds of their own and take me down unintended paths. I love happy endings.
I am tagging another author to continue this author blog chair, Pamela Boles Eglinski. To date, she has written two spy thrillers, Return of the French Blue and She Rides with Genghis Khan, exciting mysteries full of romance and history. Pam has also published two anthologies, Mother’s Red Fingernail Polish and Father’s Fried Egg Sandwiches. fun filled books of short stories. Pam is hard at work on a novella. Be sure to visit her blog to read more about what she is doing.
Writing a synopsis is much harder than I thought.
I must distill 85,000 words into a pithy, succinct, exciting, unputdownable description of ADAM’S NEEDLE in five hundred words or less.
That includes one sentence that tells the whole story in a nutshell . . . .
and a captivating, mesmerizing, enchanting, short paragraph about myself.
I’m working on it.
Yesterday I finished the last chapter of my new novel, ADAM’S NEEDLE.
I’ve begun the exciting process of line editing, writing an irresistible synopsis, enticing an agent, and getting published.
I’ll keep you informed.
During the Christmas season, we scurry to find our loved ones unique gifts, suited to their personalities and interests. I read recently that the best gifts are not what people would buy themselves, but luxuries or experiences to take them out of their everyday world. See Don’t Be a Lousy Gift-Giver, by Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2013.
Books are a staple on my gift list. Most of the people in my family are big readers, so books might seem to be things they would buy themselves, and many of them don’t wait for Christmas to buy their reading material. Therefore, I am challenged to find books they wouldn’t buy for themselves.
But I have an “in” to finding unique books—I know a lot of authors. Books by local authors, people I know, are a good choice for family and friends. I have often already vetted the books, watching their development from first draft to final product. I know the care and craft that has gone into these books.
I hesitate to recommend any books in particular, because there are so many good books by talented authors in my community. But here are a few books by Kansas City area authors I recommend. All of these have been published within the last year or two. All of the links are to Amazon, but some of these books are available on other online sites and in bookstores as well. Most are available in both paperback and ebook versions.
Beth Lyon Barnett (an author featured before on this blog) published Jazz Town. This novel depicts Kansas City’s rich jazz history so powerfully you want to sway to the music. The jazz era comes alive in a riveting story with interesting characters.
Pamela Boles Eglinski (also featured last year in a guest post on this blog) published the second novel in her Catalina Bonhomme series this year. She Rides with Genghis Khan is spellbinding historical fiction full of suspense and seduction.
Norm Ledgin, a prolific local author, has written a novel about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, entitled Sally of Monticello: Founding Mother. Researched in great detail, this book will make you think about our third President in a new way, and consider how love and freedom are intertwined.
Sara Rickover has published a new novel of corporate intrigue, Playing the Game. Debuting in the top 100 in Amazon’s financial thriller category, this book features a heroine in Human Resources—someone I could really relate to—along with murder and mayhem in a struggling family-owned business.
Young Adult and Children’s Fiction:
I have a hard time finding books for boys, because I don’t read this genre typically. C.M. Lance writes fantasy that combines magic and science. Lance’s second book in the Wizard Dawning series, Wizard’s Sword, features strong characters from humans to werewolves to Amazons. Try this for the fantasy-lovers on your gift list, from teenagers to adults.
Rita Roth tells the story of a young Jewish girl during the Great Depression in 444 Pine Street. In this book, Hannah’s family struggles to survive and maintain their values and traditions in the face of both religious discrimination and serious illness. A good gift for middle grades.
Phyllis Westover has written a story of a boy and the horse he wants in Sold to the Highest Bidder. Young Jed needs friends and family to help him achieve his goal. This book is perfect for the new chapter book readers on your list, or for children who like to be read to.
Sally Jadlow, another prolific local author, has a recipe book, Family Favorites from the Heartland. I can vouch for several of the recipes from the book, which you will enjoy along with Sally’s stories. Easy to follow directions.
Deborah Shouse has written a book about her own family’s experience taking care of her mother with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a powerful and moving collection of essays entitled Love in the Land of Dementia, with both spiritual and practical lessons for caregivers.
You may know authors in your area with new books. Consider supporting these authors by giving their books as gifts this Christmas.
Even if you don’t know any local authors, most bookstores have a “local author” section. Ask the salespeople in the stores to help you find it. You will probably find a treasure, and check another gift off your list.