Sunday, May 27, 2012

Writers4Higher features Donna Meredith




Welcome to Writers4Higher

The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views.

Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Donna Meredith.





Hi Donna. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family.
1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
Why, my husband and some friends ask, do I want to write? They shudder and confess how much they disliked cranking out papers in English classes. Maybe I’m weird—okay, I am—but I liked the challenge of putting the right words in the right order on paper. Still do.

More than that, writing is my way of making sense of the world. It’s where I think through the way people relate to each other and explore the contradictions of our behavior, how we can act with courage and kindness one moment—and with hostility, fear and jealousy the next. It’s where I try to capture the beauty and balance in our natural world. And I write because I hope to make a difference in the world, in some small way. Vanity, I know.

I guess I liked teaching for the same reason. For 29 years I helped high school students become better readers and writers. We read literature, I told them, to understand what it means to be a human being, to journey along another person’s path and wear their skin and shoes, at least for a little while. Literature expands our world. We wrote and shared poetry and journals even though they weren’t on standardized tests because words helped vent adolescent angst. The newspapers and TV shows I advised became a home for all kinds of kids, especially for the pentagons and parabolas that didn’t fit into a school system’s square holes. They wrote copy, drew computer graphics, and held camcorders in front of their faces that served as a buffer between awkward teen and the tough world of peers.

I wrote my first novel, “The Glass Madonna,” because I had a sense that new generations were forgetting what the world had been like for women just a short time before. Even women of my generation were glorifying life in the 1950s, forgetting how many jobs were closed to women and how a wife might call police to beg for help because her husband was beating her, only to be told they didn’t get involved in domestic disputes. It’s easy to forget what it was like before birth control gave us some control over our own bodies. Easy to look down on other countries that lack rights for women—unless we remember our own grandmothers weren’t born with the right to vote. I wrote the novel because if we become complacent, the progress could slip away. I worked another concern of mine into the story: the homeless, damaged veterans, who were frequent guests when I served lunch at The Shelter. The story also explores the way addiction to nearly anything—alcohol, food, drugs, sex—damages everyone in a family.

The second novel, “The Color of Lies,” grew out of love/hate. The things I loved and hated about teaching. The kids I loved so much I could have adopted them, and the occasional one that made me wish I could stay in bed instead of going to work. The joy of reading a student’s moving poem or personal essay, balanced against the insanity of bureaucratic paperwork and extraneous duties. The difficulty of finding time to meet the needs of students while devoting time to my own family and enough “me” time that I didn’t go crazy. Every working woman has been there. The novel also grew from my love/hate of small towns. I tried to capture the close connections, the sense of rootedness my protagonist feels, as well as the frustration she feels with the slow pace of change and the small-mindedness of some citizens, including her own father. All the characters behave in ways that are morally ambiguous at times—as we all do. We are, after all, only human.

As a writer, you hope a reader sees something of themselves in the story and feels less alone. 

 

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

 


Both manuscripts I’m working on now meet my need to feel I’m writing about things that make a difference. “Magic in the Mountains” tells the true story of a woman who wouldn’t let anything get in the way of fulfilling her artistic vision. Her story deserves to be preserved as a part of West Virginia history. In my environmental mystery, “Between a Rock and a Wet Place,” a female hydrogeologist protects our water supply from corporate greed. The latter gives me an outlet to write about protecting our natural resources again, something I have missed after giving up the environment column I wrote for the Tallahassee Democrat for 18 months.

3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
One way I’ve tried to give back to fellow writers is through my involvement with the Tallahassee Writers Association. I served as vice president two years and president for two years, pouring time and energy into bringing Tallahassee outstanding writers conferences and workshops. I’ve coordinated our Seven Hills Literary Contest for the past six years and edit the Seven Hills Review, providing writers an opportunity for recognition and publication. On a personal level, when TWA members have been sick or lost family members, I’ve tried to make sure they received cards and hospital visits—small touches of support as we make life journeys together. We’re more than colleagues. We’re friends. We’re family.

At one point in a creative writing class at FSU, I questioned whether writing was how I should spend my retirement—was I being selfish? My professor, Sheila Ortiz-Taylor, responded that writing is an act of generosity, a sharing of yourself, an act of courage. Since publishing my books, I’ve come to realize how true her words were. It takes tremendous courage to put yourself out there, exposed for others to accept or reject. Even if we write fiction, the characters emerge from our imagination and world view. They are us, even the bad guys. Scary stuff.

Publishing is like giving birth—and we display our babies to the world, weak-kneed with anxiety, hoping people will click “like” or leave good reviews on amazon. Our hearts soar when someone posts that our novel is “important” or made someone laugh, and we are hopeful that we have, indeed, made a difference. Then someone posts that they found a spelling error on page 10. Our hearts are sore.

The journey has its ups and downs. All the more reason we need our fellow writers. Our friends. Our family.
******
Would you like to find Donna?
Stop by and say hello and check out this talented author's work.
Here are links:
DONNA'S BOOKS:
The Glass Madonna: The Glass Madonna on Amazon



The Color of Lies:The Color of Lies on Amazon
Thank you, Donna, for sharing with us!


Rhett DeVane
Writers4Higher
Fiction with a Southern Twist

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Writers4Higher features Malcolm R. Campbell


 

Welcome to Writers4Higher


The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views.

Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.

1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?


This issue, Writers4Higher features
Malcolm R. Campbell.



Hi Malcolm. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family.


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

My contemporary fantasies are linked to wilderness settings because nature inspires me and lends itself very well to magic or to the possibility of magic. I grew up in the Florida Panhandle where I was a member of a Tallahassee Scout Troop that spent many weekends camping at nearby lakes, sinkholes and rivers. This was my first major exposure to the out of doors and it has helped me find connections between my characters and the places where they live. Most of my career has been focused on technical writing, but I always had a manuscript hidden away in a sock drawer. The mega-corporation I was working for laid off our entire division after 9/11. It was quite a blow, but it did change my focus from describing software to telling stories set in places like Glacier National Park, Tate’s Hell Swamp, and the Missouri River.


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

After Sarabande was released last summer, I wasn’t ready for another long project, so I shifted over to writing short stories. First, it’s good practice, especially when a contest or magazine has strict word-count limits. I’ve been enjoying writing within 500-word and 1,000-word arenas. I love folktales and stories with a folktale-like approach. I’m tempted to head off in that direction. The short stories, whether they ever find a market or not, are allowing me to experiment with a lot of characters, settings and themes that connect magic, personal transcendence, and nature into adventures that could easily happen to anyone, anywhere. I’ve been having fun discovering what it’s like to set a story in my old Tallahassee neighborhood, another on a Florida highway between Tate’s Hell and the Garden of Eden, and another that features a Florida Panther and a Limpkin as its main characters.


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

I review about forty books a year on several weblogs with a strong focus on small-press books. This comes under the heading of a “labor of love” because I’m never without a novel on my nightstand anyway, so why not share a little something about the plot and themes with others? While I can’t compete with Publishers Weekly, Kirkus or The New York Times, most small press books never make it to those places. So, I hope the exposure on my blog, Amazon and GoodReads helps. The act of writing walls us off from each other and because it does, I think those of us who don’t have a big publicity machine behind our books can support each other in part by doing book reviews, using Twitter to spread the word about each other’s posts, and from time to time using our blogs and Facebook accounts to discuss writing tips which have worked well for us. It saddens me to see so many talented authors having to fight so hard for support and exposure; sharing the treasures sitting on my bookshelf with prospective readers is important to me as a fellow writer. And, it gives me a real good excuse to keep my nose in a book!



Thanks for inviting me to stop by your blog, Rhett. Now, if only there were a way to have a huge plate of piping hot cathead biscuits while I’m here.


Malcolm

******



Would you like to find Malcolm?
Stop by and say hello and check out this talented author's work.
Here are links:


MALCOLM'S BOOKS:




The Sun Singer: The Sun Singer on Amazon




Thank you, Malcolm, for your insightful answers. And I'll put those cathead biscuits in the oven whenever you stop by, hon.

Rhett DeVane
Writers4Higher
Fiction with a Southern Twist

 



Friday, May 18, 2012

A new way for authors to give back to the world!



Writers hold the key to change. We always have.


Welcome to Writers4Higher, a blog dedicated to authors who share a vision: to improve our world.

Join me as I meet these talented folks.

This blog is not about marketing or pushing products. You can google anyone on the planet and find out all you need to know about his or her publishing history. It is not set up to expound religious or political viewpoints.

Here you will learn a bit about the person behind the words--what he or she cares about, supports, showers into this tired old world.


A little about me:

My name is Rhett DeVane. I am a Southern fiction writer, author of four published books, coauthor of two others. I have been called a humorist. I wear that title well.

My vision statement, blurbs about my books and bio can be viewed on my website: www.rhettdevane.com .

Writers with a common purpose. A little crazy? Why not spread some good in the world?

With a few pinpricks into the darkness, we can shed light.

My best to you,

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

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...