Friday, September 21, 2018

Writers4Higher Pays Tribute to Piggy the Muse Cat


Writers4Higher Pays Tribute To Piggy
The Muse Cat



If you are an animal lover as I am, you understand two basic truths: all pets are special, and most are more noble than the majority of humans. Every now and then, one particular critter shares your life, one that can practically read your mind, one that digs deep into your heart and shares your spirit.

Such was my muse cat, Piggy.

He came to our home at eight weeks of age, a fuzz ball, gray tabby born in a lumber mill. The name we provided the vet was Sisko, but he rapidly outgrew that title. For the next seventeen years, he answered to Piggy, based on the fact he never met a food bowl he didn’t love. One of his kitten pictures shows him sprawled across a pie tin half-filled with kibble, face down, satiated, and fast asleep. I posted that picture on Facebook years ago, and it traveled around the globe. A while back, I found Piggy in that full-on face plant pose, nestled among other snapshots of equally funny animals. The title of the slideshow compilation: Have you ever been so tired that . . . ?

Piggy was no ordinary cat. Even folks who normally didn’t warm to felines liked him. He came when called, drank from the bathroom sink, ate nearly every human food allowed, carried on animated conversations, and was happiest when he was close to his people. I wrote thousands of words with him reclining next to the laptop, watching me with huge green eyes, commenting every so often.

In winter, he doubled as a toasty lap cover during TV time and a pillow hog in the night hours. Did I mention he was an alarm clock? Oh yes. When he was young, and could still hear the coffeemaker crank up, he initiated a daily, pacing meow-a-thon that nothing could thwart. In his senior years, when age diminished his abilities, he slept in the threshold to the kitchen so he wouldn’t miss the end triple-beep of the Cuisinart. He saved energy enough to hop onto the bed to awaken the lazy two-legged creatures. Humans do serve a function, you see. They possess opposable thumbs for opening cans: vital, since no edible vermin or birds share the interior of the house.

For the past two years, Piggy battled failing kidneys and pancreatitis. Aided by the kindest veterinarian anyone could wish for, Piggy pushed away from the Reaper time after time, with a fierce determination to live.

But a guy gets tired. And he did.

On his last day, Piggy managed to pad down the hall, meow the alarm, and meet us in the kitchen. But he ate only one bite. And, as he had for the past three days, he barely touched his food and did not drink.

This past Wednesday, on a morning as ordinary as any, we had our final chat. I am not sure what he said, as I am a mere human who can’t decipher his language as well as he could mine, but I believe it was last-minute instructions on how to carry forward without him. Along with the other felines and canines that shared this earthly passage, he will be waiting, and it will only be the swish of a furry tail before we meet again.

Godspeed, Piggy, sir. You were a good cat, a faithful muse, and one heck of a friend.







Saturday, September 15, 2018

Writers4Higher Welcomes Cameron J. Quinn




Writers4Higher features
Cameron J Quinn



Hi, Cameron. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!


   
 1.     Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

    I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. You know the play "Our Town"? It's based on the place I grew up. Seriously. And a lot of the people there are more interested in making sure your historic home is painted the proper shade of white and keeping out drive-throughs than getting to know their neighbors.     
    It was a happy place to grow up (mostly). Whether it was because of the lack of McDonald's or in spite of it, I'll let you decide. As my dad warred with his neighbor, the town zoning board member, about whether or not he could run a scrap metal yard out of his house I was playing in the woods, making up stories, and playing with my three older siblings. This place inspired a lot of my writing. It is truly a beautiful and magical place to grow up with big fields, enormous pines, and mountains on the horizon where ever you turn.    
    My mom is the reason I love reading and books. And the reason I started writing. She used to write these stories for children about a little frog. I literally remember nothing about the frog. I remember sitting in the living room by the computer completely captivated by this story and the woman who'd created it. She was my mother. I've been obsessed with stories ever since. Writing my first series of books in first grade. And attempting a few novels in high school. I always received good feedback for my short stories but I wanted to write a book.     
    When I met V.S. Holmes (Author of the Reforged Series and The Nel Bently Books) and we became close I never imagined we'd end up where we are.    
    After high school, I got married and followed my husband to Camp Le Jeune North Carolina where he was a machine gunner in the Marines. V went to college in Canada, we kept in touch but it was mostly out of sight out of mind. Then, after I had my first child, she reached out to me. "Remember that book I was writing? I finished it" I'd also been working on my book so I offered to exchange first chapters. When I got the email I was incredibly excited. When I finished reading it I was horrified. She'd written these beautiful passages and a compelling story and I'd just sent her a bunch of drivel! She inspired me to keep going and keep honing my craft. And never called me out on the crap I sent her. (Her next chapter was not so polished so I felt better about sending her pieces).    
    Fast forward a few years, I have three kids, have published 7 books (a serial The Starsboro Chronicles), V has published 5 and we own and operate a publishing company.     
    My books are all based on myths and legends. Two things I am absolutely fascinated with. (Except the one that's inspired by serial killers. I wanted to be in the FBI prior to having kids).

    2.     Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

    On the open ocean. My husband and I have a had a rough go of it. Not that I have a problem with that, adversity helps you grow, but when we decided to shift our focus from living in a house to buying a boat, life's possibilities truly opened up. Traveling with three kids is expensive and well... horrible. But, if we live on a boat, it costs about $25k a year and we get to go where ever the wind takes us.     
    But, you need ways to make passive income. That's where online business and books come into the equation. I write because I love to, but if I can finance the majority of our living expenses with the press and my books, as I write from the trampoline of our Catamaran (they are pretty expensive don't be thinking you can get a Cat for $25K lol that's living and travel expenses) then I will be living the life.

    3.     How do you use your talents/time to help others?

    I love marketing. Especially book marketing because it's truly easy to get behind the product. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to sell something that's really not worth it. You feel gross and just want to run and hide in a dark corner somewhere. Books are different. Working with an author and their books is like working with a puzzle. You need to take their personality and preferences and figure out how to best showcase their talent and their work. Sometimes it's a battle. All authors say they want to sell books but most authors are also scared. Scared that their book isn't worth reading, or scared of rejection and bad reviews. It's sad when they let that fear control them. I had the opposite problem with my first book. I just wanted to get it out there and I didn't understand how editors worked. I thought they were the typo police. The editor I hired for that, left a ton of typos and I had to hire another. And she helped me with the story a bit and I thought all was well but I was rarely seeing sell through. So after a lot of contemplation, I pulled it. And I put it through The Story Grid. And that made all the difference. But I'm not the norm. If you had a structural edit from a true professional, you revised and you went through the steps, your book is worth reading. So swallow your fear, read the one-star reviews of your favorite books, and let's do this thing.     
    I also have a podcast (The Amphibian Press Podcast) where I help readers find authors and vice versa through author interviews and books reviews.  And I have a blog for authors to help them navigate today's publishing challenges.     
    And last (for now) I'm working with a local high school to create a workshop for students so they can see the benefits of being a writer. It's not true anymore that you can't make a living from your writing. So, I teach them different exercises and then at the end, we compile and anthology and I publish it. This is the first year but I'm hopeful about the prospects.


Would you like to find Cameron?
Check out the links to this talented author:



Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist





Sunday, June 10, 2018

Writers4Higher welcomes singer/songwriter Deanna Squeaky Miller



Welcome, Deanna. 


This time, Writers4Higher takes a slightly different direction, highlighting the artistic writing and singing talent of Deanna Squeaky Miller.

Writing and giving back are the backbone of so many artistic endeavors. Enjoy learning a bit about his multi-talented entertainer! 


Tell me about yourself. Your songs(s), your life, your inspiration.

I am a Tallahassee native. My city is my living, and I love it! Family, friends, community, and music is right here for me. Everything here inspires my art as a singer, songwriter, and performer. I truly believe God is Love and we should show love to one another through our actions, and words. My lyrics come from my heart. Some people see it as being too positive, but I think there’s enough negative music adding fuel to our burning fires. Spiritual soul does the opposite, uplifting and inspiring the listener to believe in the power of Love. So, when they hear “Give to You Love”, “Keep On Praying”, and “Good Medicine” the message is about gratitude and living in love.

Where do you see your singing career taking you in the future?
Well, it’s only been three years as an indie artist and this journey has opened some awesome doors. I’ve been blessed to share the stage with artists/musicians like Royce Lovett, Tim Guitargoodness Clark, Cody ChesnuTT, Isabel Davis, D Swint and international opera singer Mr. Curtis Rayam, Jr. ,to name a few, and many others I highly admire.

I see myself collaborating and writing with some big names in the music industry within five years, and want to do some touring , after I release my first full album. Hopefully that will be this year! It’s not an easy thing.... putting an album together. I am learning as much as I can about the art of singing, too.....I just want to be a better Deanna Squeaky Miller in every new opportunity presented to sing for the people!

How do you use your talents/time to help others?

Serving through singing means everything to me! That’s my purpose and I understand what is required of me to fulfill it! You have to have an unselfish mindset to serve, and I  thank God that comes easy for me.

I perform at fundraisers and community events all the time. I mean to witness the joy on individuals’ faces, you know are in need of a moment to forget about their problems just gives me a sense of purpose! I love people and I love to serve. That’s why I call my music “love ministry”. It’s all about showering love in action through music to inspire and heal our community.


Wish to listen to a bit of Squeaky's magic voice? Tune into her YouTube channel or join her on Facebook:






Thank you, Deanna. Best of luck and love to you and your singing career.
Rhett DeVane, blogmaster
Southern Fiction author

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Writers4Higher congratulates Randy Wayne White


Congratulations to our Writers4Higher

author and friend 

Randy Wayne White


Writers4Higher has featured the author Randy Wayne White in the past. Can't say enough good things about this fellow. He's back with another wacky Doc Ford Novel, Caribbean Rim.

Doc Ford fans, hold onto your sunshades and make sure your beverage of choice is fresh. Randy Wayne White is ready to take you to the wild, reckless, non-touristy Caribbean, the side cruise ships don't count into their shore excursions. Murder, sunken treasure, pirates, and general mayhem add to the quirky cast of characters.

Here's his bio:

Randy Wayne White is a New York Times best selling author of thirty-six novels, four collections of non-fiction, a cookbook, The Ultimate Tarpon Book (with Carlene Brennan) and a PBS documentary, Gift of the Game, which won Best of Show at the internationally respected Woods Hole Film Festival.  He is also an Editor At Large for OUTSIDE MAGAZINE, which was founded by ROLLING STONE.

Caribbean Rim is the 25th book in his highly acclaimed series about Florida Marine Biologist, Doc Ford. Previous titles have enjoyed lengthy stays on best seller lists such as The New York Times, U.S.A. Today, the Washington Post and the L.A. Times. More than one million copies of the Doc Ford novels are in print.

White is also partners in three popular Florida restaurants named after his protagonist: Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grilles.

His series of novels about fishing guide Hannah Smith has also received critical acclaim. HAUNTED, the third in the Hannah series, and DECEIVED, were both awarded the Florida Gold Medal for General Fiction -- the only time in history when an author, or consecutive books in a series, have won this prestigious award. White was especially delighted because Hannah had to beat out his Doc Ford novels to win.

Over the last decade, all of the Doc Ford and Hannah Smith novels have appeared on the New York Times and other best sellers lists, and are wildly popular around the nation. White's novel, SANIBEL FLATS, was chosen by the American Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of the Hundred Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

In 2012, Randy was honored by the Florida Historical Society as a Literary Legend. He has been awarded the Conch Republic Prize for Literature, along with such notables as John Cheever, Peter Matthiessen, Jim Harrison, and Thomas McGuane. He also won the John D. MacDonald Award for Literary Excellence, as have Carl Hiaasen, and Thomas Cochran.  He is one of only five Editors at Large for Outside Magazine, along with Jon Krakauer, David Quamman and Tim Cahill, and was a contributing editor and columnist for Men's Journal and National Geographic Adventurer.  In 2009, Randy was elected an American Fellow by The Explorers Club, New York City.  In 2013 Gulfshore Life Magazine honored him as Man of the Year.

Randy is also active in Florida civic affairs. He spent four years serving on the Florida Judicial Nominating Commission, and also four years on the Florida Bar Association Grievance Committee,  appointed by the Florida Bar.  He was also a co-founder of Big Brothers in South Florida.

Randy was a light tackle fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina, Sanibel Island for 13-years, did more than 3,000 charters, and draws heavily on those experiences for his novels about marine biologist Doc Ford and his quirky pals at Dinkin's Bay.  In 2003, he became one of the founding partners in Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille, with restaurants on Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, and soon to be South Seas Resort, Captiva Island.

Randy and his wife, singer/songwriter Wendy Webb, live on Sanibel, where he enjoys paddle surfing and hanging out with old baseball buddies.


I don't know about you, but I gave up counting the times "also" appeared in his official bio. Goodness!

Kudos to you, Sir, from the Writers4Higher family. We wish you the very best on this new novel.

Here's where you can find info about Randy Wayne White:


FACEBOOK 


WEBPAGE:






Blogmaster
Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Writers4Higher features author and blog master Darrell Laurant



 Hi Darrell. Welcome to Writers4Higher.
Tell us about yourself.


I am something of a hybrid creature, geographically speaking. While I lived in Syracuse, NY from third grade through high school, I was born in Sanford, NC, and lived in Atlanta and New Orleans early on.  Later, I went to college just outside Charlotte (Belmont Abbey College) and worked for newspapers in Columbia, Charleston and Lynchburg, VA. Thus, I have most of the iconic southern cities checked off.  Moreover, I spent several childhood summers with my grandmother in Raleigh, NC. 

The result is, I have always been able to philosophically straddle the Mason-Dixon Line, with a keen sense of the peculiarities of both northerners and southerners.

Most of my writing career has been in the newspaper business, including 36 years with the News & Advance in Lynchburg, VA. By the time I retired in 2013, I had written over 6,000 columns and another 4,000 or so feature articles for that paper, and I still freelance for them on a regular basis although my wife, my 93-year-old mother and I now live in Lake George, NY.

Remaining in one place that long was highly unusual, since journalism is normally a nomadic profession.  I did have offers from larger papers, but by then I had become very much part of the Central Virginia community and didn't want to uproot our two children. Later, of course, they uprooted themselves, my son settling in Colorado and my daughter moving to Ohio.

It pains me greatly when I hear people lump together all the myriad and diverse newspapers, TV stations, radio programs and Websites into "The Media," as if we all take our marching orders from the same source. I, too, have issues with the way news is often presented, especially on television, but I can also say that in several decades with the News & Advance, I very rarely saw any political or social agenda lurking within a news story. Only twice in 30-plus years did I hear of one of our writers actually making up facts, and both of those people were fired.

As a columnist, my job was primarily to write stories that fit somewhere into that vague but rich  territory between "hard news" and editorials. Sometimes I expressed my personal opinion, other times I just stuck to the facts. I made it a point, whenever I could, to write about people just because they were interesting, not because they had necessarily done anything "newsworthy" in the usual sense.

Among the things I'm proudest of are starting a campaign to name a local expressway after Desmond Doss (a Lynchburg man who was the only conscientious objector ever given the Medal of Honor), pushing for funds to put an elevator in a three-story YWCA residence, and convincing a regional bank to forgive a debt owed by a man who had been in a coma for several months with a head injury (they were going to foreclose on his house).

Before I beat readers over the head with my opinion, though, I always made it a point to hear both sides of any issue. Sometimes, doing that changed my mind.

For the most part, my newspaper let me pick what I wanted to write about. Although I worked in a relatively small community, I was able to cover two national political conventions (including driving cross-country to San Francisco in 1984 and writing columns along the way), the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, a lengthy and contentious coal strike, the Miss America pageant, the NCAA basketball Final Four, Pope John Paul II's visit to Columbia, SC, and any number of stories revolving around the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Lynchburg's best-known citizen. I covered Lynchburg-related stories in Guatemala and the Czech Republic.

Since retiring, I have started a blog called "Snowflakes in a Blizzard" (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com) which I describe as a "unique, author-friendly and absolutely free book marketing project." Go there, and you'll see what it's about.

While with the newspaper, I always tried to engage in at least one community-oriented program at a time. Over the years, I volunteered for a soup kitchen, a suicide hotline, a home for recovering alcoholics and a rural arts center.  "Snowflakes in a Blizzard" is a continuation of that. All of these activities have paid me back far more than the time I expended.

My writing career has been varied, if not necessarily wildly successful. I quit my Charleston newspaper job to start a statewide sports magazine that went broke after two years. I've published five books, and just finished my second novel, titled "The Last Supper League." Several more books are rattling around in my head, anxious to be released.

We moved to Lake George to take care of my Mom, who has dementia. This has taught us patience, never a bad thing.

My wife Gail is an artist. We've been married for 45 years and we complement each other beautifully.

Where to find Darrell Laurant:



Best to you, Darrell!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blog master


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Writers4Higher features author Bob Ieva


Hi, Bob Ieva. Welcome to Writers4Higher.


Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. I grew up in the '40s and '50s in the Bay Ridge Area of Brooklyn. There are four sections in that area, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and Bensonhurst. Most of the big families came from those areas.

I moved to Long Island, with my family, when I was 17.
My father and my Godfather introduced me to the teamsters and I started driving semis, and also became an automotive technician.

I didn’t start writing until I was 71 when a friend asked me to write a story about myself. She told me she would put it in book form.

I wrote the first three books in five months and loved it. These are works of fiction and in the organized crime family genre. Those first three books are, The Hitman, The Franchise and The Final Offer. Not long after I was introduced, by another friend of mine, to a great publishing company, DocUmeant Publishing in New York City. Ginger Marks, my publisher, is the owner. I asked her to put these three stories into one book and it is titled, The Other Brooklyn, and we named the series, The Joey Toranetti Series. The Other Brooklyn became an award winning number one best seller and also won the national 2015 FAPA Presidents Award. Book four is The New Breed, and my newest, book five in this series, is The Italian Vendetta.

Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

I firmly believe that my series will eventually end up as a TV series. I have a lot of confidence in my tales and believe they are action filled enough to warrant that commercialization.

How do you use your talents/time to help others?

All my life I have helped people build their business and met great people and learned how to understand what people want. They just want to be treated fairly. When I am asked about my writing and what my best piece of advice is for others who want to become published authors my answer is simply, “Everybody has a story to tell, so don’t sell yourself short. Just write it!”
I also own a travel agency where I am known as “The Godfather of Travel” and my goal for my clients is to help them create a great memory. I make their vacation easy to book, pay, and enjoy. That is my sole purpose in life, Make everything as easy as possible for everyone that I meet.











Would you like to find about more about Bob Ieva?
Check out these links:

Author website: Bob Ieva's Website
Twitter: @bieva

Thank you, Bob. I wish you continued success!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blog master


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Happy Summer from Writers4Higher


Golly. It’s Summer. Already.

I know many of the Writers4Higher family of authors keep plugging away, even if they, like me, live in a steam-sauna state. My muses despise the heat and humidity. They’ve packed up and headed to their retreat in Canada. Meanwhile, I settle into my editor’s role and work on endless, mind-numbing but necessary revisions. Hey, it can’t all be first-draft play, right?

I have no worries; those misfit muses of mine will bounce back into town in late October, full of characters and plot lines, ready for me to sit down and follow their lead.

Recently, after I birthed my latest novel Parade of Horribles, I took a moment to check in with my author family. A few jotted emails to catch me up on their projects.

Jeff Weddle has a new book, Comes to This, a poetry collection.

Angela Yolanda Hodge’s latest book was released in March: Daybreak: 100 Powerful Breakthrough Moments for Women.

Scott Archer Jones has been busy, with two books released since he was a feature on the blog: The Big Wheel and A Rising Tide of People Swept Away.

Diane Sawyer has been promoting her book The Tell-TaleTreasure, and she had the honor of speaking at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, in April.

Malcolm R. Campbell has released two books in his Florida Folk Magic Stories series, Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos released her latest children’s book, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.

I find it comforting, knowing the rest of the gang is out there writing in spite of work, family obligations, births, deaths, the zoo of news, and the other countless blips circling the radar screen.

As for me, it’s a good thing air conditioning was invented. I shall dash from one cool cubicle to the next as fast as my feet will carry me. Mama always said “women don’t sweat, they glow.” If so, you might be able to see me from wherever you are, some clear evening.

I wish you a healthy, fun-filled summer and the best to your continued success.
Love to you!

Rhett DeVane,
Author and blogmaster


Writers4Higher Pays Tribute to Piggy the Muse Cat

Writers4Higher Pays Tribute To Piggy The Muse Cat If you are an animal lover as I am, you understand two basic truths: all pets...