Saturday, September 29, 2012

Writers4Higher features Gale Massey

 
 
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
 
Gale Massey
 
 
Hi, Gale. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
 

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

 
Writing is alchemy. Not the alchemy of turning elements into gold but a higher form of alchemy; pulling words out of thin air and creating something that connects, heals, and inspires. Stories contain the essential elements of our lives. Once I started writing, putting together words, I began feeling like an alchemist, like I had found my path. Every one of us is wounded somehow and we all look for wholeness. Anais Nin said it clearly, “All of my creation is as effort to weave a web of connection with the world: I am always weaving it because it was once broken.”

My pocket-size book Grief… reminders for healing was a unique experience of taking a painful experience of grief and using it to connect with others. With over 800,000 copies in print, that project was more successful than I ever dreamed it would be.

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


I’ve won a few awards and I’m successfully placing pieces in journals and newspapers so I hope to continue along those lines. But the most important thing for me right now is to keep putting myself in a position of building my skill. Finding teachers that I sense have compassion and the ability to teach has been a challenge. I’ve learned some tough lessons on that journey but I’ve also found some teachers with big hearts and generous spirits. For the near future I’m focusing on a few short stories and my novel-in-progress, which won the Best of Novel award at Eckerd College Writer’s Conference earlier this year


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


Once I found a mentor who was truly interested in my work and my process I began to understand how important it is for writers to help each other. When I read another writer’s work, I take my time and I read deeply. In workshops, I treat each writer with respect and consider their work carefully. I have a good instinct for story that comes naturally to me. I do it well and I take it seriously because insightful feedback makes the difference between a project that crosses the finish line and one that gets put on the back burner. I believe this is what writers need to do for each other and how we participate in the writing community. It’s how I give back.

 
Would you like to find Gale?
Check out the links to this talented author:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Thanks so much, Gale. Tackling grief is so difficult. We appreciate your work!
 
Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.
 
Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

 

 

 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writers4Higher features Melinda Clayton


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
 

 
 

Hi, Melinda. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
 
 




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

Goodness, I’m not sure where to start. I’m the daughter of a preacher and a teacher, raised in the south with a strong disposition to give back. I remember clearly my mother taking shoes to school to give to a poor student who needed them. In their retirement, my parents continue to volunteer their time with their church, Habitat for Humanity, the local food bank, and other various causes.

I’m the oldest girl of five children. My younger brother was born with Down Syndrome in a time in which doctors routinely recommended institutionalization (which was met with a resounding “No” from not only my parents, but my siblings and me as well). Over the subsequent 32 years my brother has inspired all of us to do more and be more than we ever thought we could.

I graduated from the University of Memphis with a B.A. in Social Work in 1989, and a M.S. in Community Agency Counseling in 1993. My first years in the field were spent working with some of the poorest of the poor in Tennessee, providing case management to those discharged -sometimes after decades of institutionalization - from the local mental health institute. I worked with clients who had no electricity, no running water, and in some cases, not even a floor. I had clients who cooked over a fire in the front yard, who gathered water from the nearest pond, and who slept with a baseball bat in order to kill the snakes that slithered in during the night.

Eventually I moved to Colorado, where I spent a decade specializing in work with individuals diagnosed with both a developmental disability and a mental health disorder. I worked inpatient, outpatient, and in-home. In different jobs I served as behavior specialist, program manager, and director. I also had an ever-expanding private practice which my former business partner and forever dear friend continues to operate to this day. We moved to Florida about eight years ago, and I took time off to raise my children, complete my doctorate in Special Education Administration, and write a handful of novels.

My background heavily influences my writing. Both Appalachian Justice and Return to Crutcher Mountain, set in the fictional town of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, follow the lives of women and children who have been abused and left to overcome the consequences. Return to Crutcher Mountain also introduces Robby, a young boy with Down Syndrome who is in desperate need of a home, complete with someone to love him. My maternal ancestors are from West Virginia, which is no doubt why I’m enamored with the area.

My third novel, Entangled Thorns, also set in Cedar Hollow, follows the life of the adult children of a moonshiner from Appalachia, chronicling the struggles they’ve had to escape the ravages of their childhood and make a life for themselves. 


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


That’s an interesting question, and one I’ve given a great deal of thought the past year or so, although I’m still not sure I know the answer. I enjoy writing, be it academic or for pleasure. I’ve had several mental health/relationship type articles published in various print and online newsletters and magazines, and I would like to pursue that. I also enjoy writing fiction. I have a very rough idea for a fourth novel, and also some ideas for a series of short stories. I suppose the short answer is that I would like to pursue all of the above. I don’t really think about where my writing will take me so much as I think about what I’d like to do with it, if that makes sense. I don’t ever really think about the end of the journey; instead, I focus on the steps I’d like to take along the way. Wherever I end up…well, that’s where I’ll be.


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

I seem to be compelled to write stories about people struggling to overcome trauma. I believe in the power of hope, and in the power to overcome the challenges set before us.


When I worked directly with clients I was often amazed at the strength and tenacity displayed by people who had undergone tremendous challenges. I’m inspired by their courage. If there is a message to my novels, I suppose it’s that there’s always hope. No matter how dark the days, no matter how awful the circumstances, there’s the possibility of a second chance. Life often doesn’t turn out the way we expected it to, or even the way we wanted it to. Bad things happen to good people, and sometimes life throws us a curveball so outside the realm of what we’d expected that it may seem there’s no point in continuing. But as long as we can draw breath, we can choose to do the best we can with what we have at that moment. Sometimes we have to let go of what life was supposed to be in order to appreciate it for what it is.

On a less abstract note, my publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing, and I worked together last year to raise money for the Tipton County Adult Development Center (TCADC) in Covington, Tennessee. For several months, a percentage of the proceeds from Return to Crutcher Mountain was donated to the center. This is the center my brother attends, and funding is a constant issue. More recently, Vanilla Heart Publishing and I have discussed the possibility of a book of short stories featuring the people of Cedar Hollow, written by not only me, but also my family. All of the profits from this book will be donated to TCADC, which is currently raising funds for a new building (the old one is consumed with black mold). As you can imagine, this is a cause very dear to my heart!   

 


Would you like to find Melinda?


Check out the links to this talented author:
 
 


 
 

 
 


Appalachian Justice on Amazon.com


Return to Crutcher Mountain on Amazon.com


Entangled Lives on Amazon.com
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
   


 
Thanks for joining us, Melinda!


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


 

Rhett DeVane

Fiction with a Southern Twist




 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Writers4Higher features Smoky Trudeau Zeidel



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
 
Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

 

Hi Smoky. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
 
 
Tell me about yourself, your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
 
I’m primarily a fiction writer, and am the author of three novels: The Storyteller’s Bracelet, The Cabin, and On the Choptank Shores; I also have a collection of short stories published, Short Story Collection Vol. 1. My fiction has been inspired by a vast array of experiences in my life. On the Choptank Shores is set on what was my aunt and uncle’s peach orchard on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Cabin was inspired by a true story in my family’s history, and The Storyteller’s Bracelet was inspired by a gift my sister gave me for Christmas years ago. I even have a short story that was based on experiences I’ve had doing the wash! It doesn’t take much to get my imagination going. I think it isn’t the size of the experience, event, or object that makes for a good story. It’s how passionate the author feels about it, and I can get very passionate about the smallest, most seemingly trivial things.
 
I’ve also written two nonfiction works. Smoky’s Writer’s Workshop Combo Set is based on my years as a writing workshop instructor at several community colleges in Illinois, as well as workshops I was invited to teach at writers conferences throughout the Midwest. It contains my start-to-finish course in story writing, as well as 366 writing exercises, one for each day of the year. Finally, Observations of an Earth Mage is my photo/essay collection about my special relationship with Mother Nature and all of Creation. My goal in writing this book was to inspire people to live like an earth mage—not someone who does magic—I’ll leave that to Mother Nature—but someone who uses all five of their senses to experience the magic in all of creation.
 
All my books are from Vanilla Heart Publishing.
 
I was born and raised in Illinois, and spent the first 51 years of my life on the Midwestern prairies. But I finally succumbed to my bohemian spirit and need to live near the mountains and the ocean and moved to Southern California in 2008, where I met my husband and soul-mate, Scott. We live with an assortment of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. I have two wonderful children and two fabulous stepchildren, all adults now. I’m blessed in the kid department.
 
I’m an ardent outdoorswoman, so when I’m not writing, Scott and I spend our time hiking with our little dog Tufa in the mountains or desert, camping in the Sierras, splashing in tide pools, and fighting the urge to speak in haiku.
 
Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
 
My writing future seems very bright to me. I’m currently working on my fourth novel, a book called The Madam of Bodie. It’s loosely based on the story of a famous and tragic former bordello owner in the California gold rush town of Bodie. After that, I’m planning a sequel to The Storyteller’s Bracelet. I’ve just this year broken into the speaking circuit at California book festivals—a tough market to break into, let me tell you—and I hope to continue doing this from this point on. Through my blog, I want to continue to inspire people to adopt the ways of the Earth Mage and get outdoors and take a hike!
 
How do you use your talents/time to help others?
 
A couple of summers ago, right after Observations of an Earth Mage was released, I spent a month working with kids up in the mountain communities in the San Bernardino mountain learn how to observe nature with all five of their senses and then write about their experiences. Through my novels, I try to make readers aware of social injustices in our world. In On the Choptank Shores, I tackle the issue of how conservative patriarchal religion treats women, and in The Cabin I write about the Underground Railroad. In The Storyteller’s Bracelet, I write about the Indian schools of the late 1800s–early 1900s and the horrors some of these school inflicted on their students. Some of these problems have, of course, been resolved throughout history, but it amazes me how many people have forgotten their history lessons, or, in the case of the Indian schools, never knew they existed. And of course, there is still a lot of discrimination against women in not only conservative Christianity, but other religions as well. I don’t want my novels to necessarily teach or preach—I’m a storyteller, and that’s my main goal. But if I can make readers aware of a social issue in the process of telling a good story, I’ll jump at that chance. To quote Sir Francis Bacon, knowledge is power, and if readers happen to learn something while enjoying a good story, well then, that’s a good thing.
 
Would you like to find Smoky?


Check out the links to this talented author:



Smoky's website and blogs

Facebook Fan Page

Twitter @SmokyZeidel

Amazon author page

Goodreads author page


All Romance author page
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks so much for joining us, Smoky!
 

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


 

Rhett DeVane

Fiction with a Southern Twist




 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Writers4Higher features Felicia S.W. Thomas



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

Felicia S.W. Thomas


Hi, Felicia. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!



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

My name is Felicia S.W. Thomas. I currently live in Quincy, FL, where I was born and raised. I have been married to Baron Thomas for 14 years, and we are the parents of three beautiful children – Adahlia, 13, Anaya, 11, and Aaron, 9. Besides being a wife and mother, my greatest achievement has been becoming an author. I am an attorney by trade, but my passion has always been writing. I have been writing since elementary school and dreaming of becoming an author for years. My lifelong dream culminated in 2011 when I published my first book, a young adult novel titled “80 Proof Lives”. My life changed. I have been invited to several schools, universities and churches to discuss my novel, as well as my personal story and the importance of writing. Many local schools have used “80 Proof Lives” in the classroom. The Gadsden County School Board in Quincy, FL, will be placing “80 Proof Lives” in every middle and high school in the district. I have the distinction of being the first African American to receive an award from the Florida Publishers Association in the young adult category. I am currently working on my next novel, about which I’m very excited. I have met some wonderful people since becoming an author myself. My inspiration comes from God, my family and my fellow authors.



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



I see my writing taking me to many conferences around the nation and the world, into classrooms and movie theaters. I will write many more novels, including the sequel to "80 Proof Lives", murder mysteries, legal thrillers and children's books. I'm currently working on my second novel, another YA book. I also want to write screenplays and stageplays. I want to obtain a MFA in Creative Writing and teach creative writing in elementary schools, where I first fell in love with reading and writing.


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


I tutor. I conduct writing workshops to help students improve their FCAT writing scores. I'm on the advisory board of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Tallahassee Affiliate. I write for them, as well. I will also train to teach peer support classes. As a member of the Tallahassee Authors Network, I participate in community events that promote writing and literacy.

 
Would you like to find Felicia Thomas?


Check out the links to this talented author:













Thank you, Felicia! We'll look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
 

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

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Writers4Higher features April Kelly

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

April Kelly





Hi, April. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!




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

I’ve always been a writer, first on a weekly radio comedy show at The University of South Florida, then as an advertising copywriter in Tampa. Still in my twenties, I moved to Los Angeles to break into TV writing. I had no car, no clue, and only $1500 to my name, so if I hadn’t lucked out and found work immediately, I guess I’d be lying in a gutter now drinking Thunderbird wine out of a wrinkled paper bag. Shows like Mork and Mindy, 9 To 5, Webster, Boy Meets World and Becker kept me busy for the next few decades, but then, feeling burned out on Hollywood, I moved to the Tennessee boonies to write novels. My first book, WINGED, is literary fiction written solo, after which I teamed up with a high-profile attorney who also happens to be my best friend, in order to write two mysteries, MURDER IN ONE TAKE and MURDER: TAKE TWO, a humorous series blending her experiences with the legal system and my escapades in show biz. Once we complete MURDER: TAKE THREE, she’ll go back to penning legal thrillers and I’ll return to my first love, literary fiction, for my next book.

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

I look at this in reverse, asking myself, “Where will I take my writing in the future?” WINGED, a look at America’s love/hate relationship with celebrities, came to me in the wake of Anna-Nicole Smith’s death. Granted, her life was a train wreck, but the circus following her overdose death was truly appalling. That inspired me to craft a dark, contemporary story modeled on the myth of Icarus and Daedalus. Then, not long ago, I had an epiphany about myself, a realization that shifted beliefs I have held since childhood, leading me to the idea of my second solo novel, LINDY CARLYLE TELLS THE TRUTH, which I hope to have out by the summer of 2013. In it, a 38-year-old woman who has been telling the reader her life story, hears six words spoken at a deathbed, and those words change everything she “knows” about her own life and three generations of her family…even those events she lived through or witnessed herself. My lofty goal is to get at least a few readers to stop and go back to the start of the novel, reading it with the new “truth” significantly altering every scene. So, in the future, I hope to take my writing to the places that reflect my own life experiences and discoveries.

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

Short answer: I don’t. I’ve taught, I’ve mentored, but what successful writer hasn’t? Rather than attempting sweeping changes to improve the world, I prefer doing small acts of kindness, especially those involving a challenge. The best example I can give happened when I was still in LA. A few months after wrapping a movie with a prominent producer, she called me in for a meeting. I assumed it was another job offer, so I was happy to go. But it wasn’t a job offer, per se. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, an ironic twist, since she was about to be saluted at a star-studded, black-tie gala in recognition of her decades of fund raising for the fight against breast cancer, and they had asked her to give a fifteen-minute speech. Her challenge to me was; make cancer funny. She didn’t want people feeling sorry for her, so she wanted me to write her a stand-up comedy routine. Though I had written TV shows, Vegas acts and a lot of stand-up, I had never had such a grim topic to turn into laughs. I interviewed her extensively to get the background material and to be certain I could capture her voice, and after the piece was done, I coached her in comedy timing and delivery. She didn’t want anyone to know the words weren’t her own, so I didn’t attend the gala, but her best friend called me the following week to say she had gotten laughs, tears and a standing ovation from the Hollywood A-list crowd of 800 people.

Would you like to find April Kelly?


Check out the links to this talented author:


WEBITE ADDRESS: Flight Risk Books

AMAZON LINK TO WINGED: Winged

AMAZON LINK TO MURDER IN ONE TAKE: Murder in One Take

AMAZON LINK TO MURDER: TAKE TWO: Murder: Take Two




Thank you, April. I know others will enjoy your books as much as I do.

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