Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Hair...and Best Wishes from Writers4Higher

Holiday Hair



At times, I can feel my life shifting. My feet planted in the St. George Island surf. The waves sluicing around the scalloped edges, chewing away at the sand, depositing it across the tops until only the arches show.
I thought about this as I thumbed through old photo albums, searching for bits of captured Christmases. I wanted to write a poignant piece about family and love and good food and Mom with her homemade eggnog, some with the whiskey-ed “nog,” some without. And nobody ever got poisoned from drinking raw eggs. Imagine. Different times.
Remember those thick books of photos? When we actually printed out pictures and pasted them on pages, instead of zipping them to some magical cloud where they linger like digital ghosts? When hardly any of the shots were perfect because we didn’t have redo’s if Grandma decided to blink, or if the baby was distracted by the dog chewing up tinsel.
We didn’t have planned “photo bombs” where folks inserted themselves into otherwise perfectly posed shots. All of the pictures contained random elements and the unexpected. No need to fake a bomb. Every family gathering was a ready minefield.
I thought about how life is picking up the pace, with more runway behind instead of out front. How people have blipped from this side of the veil to places I can sense, but not see or touch. How nothing remains the same.
Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes not so much.
Then I noted one element in all of the pictures. One wonderful, magical, delightful element.
 Holiday Hair.
The first picture.
Me at six. Printed flannel P.J.s and fuzzy boot slippers. I wear twin six shooters. A Roy Rogers shirt and pants lie in a ripped box at my feet. Good job, Mama and Daddy. Who can be a proper cowgirl in a fringed and very sissy Dale Evans skirt? I straddle a long box, tearing at the paper. My expression is intense. A stick pony with a white vinyl head waits inside. I will ride to The Great Plains and back on that horse.
And the hair.
Toni home perm hair.
Naturally flat for the first two inches, then frizzy as a scared cat’s tail for the next six. Someone has tied a red bow around one clump. To quote the Grinch, that frill “will be the first thing to go.”
Photo number two.
Skip ahead a few years.
Outside after the gifting frenzy, before the family dinner. I pose, legs planted again, only this time on either side of a Stingray bicycle with chopper-curved handlebars and a banana seat. The trees behind me, stripped of leaves. It’s gray and cold, judging by my puffy coat with the rabbit fur-lined hood.
Do I have that hood snugged over my head? Oh, heck no. Wouldn’t want to mash down the basketball mound of rat-teased hair. My older sister must’ve had beauty salon leanings. There’s enough Aqua Net shellacked on that ’do to stop a meteor.
I must like it. I didn’t bother covering it up.
Photo number three.
The last picture of my family of origin before some faded away. Only we didn’t know it then.
I stand, my feet planted on either side of my sweet Golden Retriever Omega. I lean toward the La-Z-Boy recliner where my father sits. My mom perches on the other side on a chair we dragged from the dining room, leaning with her arm curled around his. My older brother and sister stand behind Daddy’s chair. We manage to all smile at once, no lidded eyes, no distractions. Even the dog faces the camera and grins.
My hair looks normal. But I know it’s not. Beneath the fuzzy Santa hat, hides my version of a mullet. Didn’t recall ever having one, but the pictures from that time prove me wrong. Memory has a way of shading in the not-so-attractive times.
Daddy tells me I’m beautiful, that I look just like Farrah Fawcett. Which I do not. I am tall and a little pleasantly plump. And my straight hair will not do all that wispy, curled layering Farrah managed to carry off so well. And I’m not petite, or famous.
Thank God for Santa hats. And fathers with eyes of love.
I think this year, that I shall fashion some wacky style. Maybe add some streaks of color. The advantage of this time period: loads of hair products guaranteed to lift and separate, and my over-fifty self, devoid of shame.
I’ll put it in line with the rest of the holiday hair masterpieces.
Picture number four.
Make them wonder one day, “What was Aunt Rhett thinking?”
*****
Whatever you celebrate--I wish you safe, wonderful holidays filled with joy and laughter, and maybe some Holiday Hair. 
Tune in next year, when I welcome more talented authors to the Writers4Higher family.

Rhett DeVane
Creator and moderator for Writers4Higher
Author of Southern fiction and Middle Grade fiction



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Writers4Higher features Nancy Hartney

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

Nancy Hartney




Hi, Nancy. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!


Tell me about yourself. Your book, your life, your inspiration.

Washed in the Water: Tales from the South is my debut collection of short stories. Roughly, the collection is a collage of people and events garnered from different places over time liberally dusted with fiction. I grew up in the Deep South on a tobacco farm in north Florida. My mother was a high school history teacher and one of three liberals on the faculty. My dad was a hog farmer. I had a horse during those years and rode the dirt roads in my community with abandon until I left home for college. (People still ask if I have horses. I do.) My years growing up were years when the South was experiencing racial, social and political upheaval. These struggles colored my perceptions with a broad brush. The grinding poverty, complex civil rights issues, cultural challenges, and the people found in my work exist in the South today. They wear slightly different clothing but are nonetheless still there. The good coexist with the bad, the kind with the harsh, and the beautiful with the ugly.

I left home after college and moved, first to Georgia, then west, living for various periods in Texas and California. As I have grown older, I have come to respect and value that humid mosaic called home. In fact, the South takes on the role of a character in my tales.


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

I do not have a vision nor compass for my writing. I write because I enjoy it. I love honing words, distilling thoughts, poking around in the past, and seeing the world in word pictures. Reading and writing transport me to other realms. Publishing is a way of validating my thoughts and perceptions. I do not consider a book an end in its self. But, having said that, I hope to write another collection of tales set in the South, a collection of stories set in the racing world, and maybe more western short stories. I hope my readers walk through a new door and begin to see the South differently.


How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I belong to two critique groups that meet weekly. Through those groups I support and mentor other writers. I listen with a thankful heart when other people talk about their ambitions. I offer workshops and readings. I volunteer in the community, support local business, and make every effort to stay connected with friends.

I try to write daily – usually in the morning. I get grumpy when days go by and I don’t get to "write" despite doing "writerly things." Example, recently a community wide literary festival was offered to the general public largely hosted by my library. As part of that, I wrote speaker introductions, PR clips, info on our workshops, and assisted with the full day author presentations. Although exciting, I felt exhausted from all the new information and ideas and grew anxious to get back to my own writing. Stories come in all shades and shapes at all times of day and evening. A word, a phrase, an interaction, an overheard conversation, a reflection pops up and a story starts to spin out. I carry a notebook and jot down ideas, words, and phrases – whatever strikes me.

At one time I rode to the hounds over fences, English style. The rallying cry in the hunt field was "Kick on," meaning to ride forward no matter the trappy terrain or height of the jump. Now I shout "Write on!" Same idea. I plan to write so long as the distilling of experience gives me joy and makes my readers think.


Would you like to find Nancy?

Check out the links to this talented author:
  

Nancy Hartney's Website


Nancy Hartney's Blog


Order Washed in the Water: Tales from the South





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


Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist





Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Writers4Higher


Thanksgiving…hmm…gosh, there’s so much to be thankful for, I have a hard time picking out just one. Health, love, family, friends, food, shelter, job and a love for writing. Thank heavens, I am blessed to have a heaping share.

No matter if I grouse a bit about not being a svelte woman, or having an elephant’s share of smile lines, or dealing with texting drivers—any of the minor complaints peppering daily life—I really don’t have anything monumental to tally. Everyone snarks a bit. Keeps us from blowing up. We are human, after all, and thus flawed. Don’t the imperfections make us unique? I think so.

One of my favorite people came into the office this past week. Advanced age has robbed her of her eyesight and strength, but not her humor or love of life. She’s a writer too—we’ve shared many talks about this over the years—but can no longer pen her poetry, or read, due to failing vision. Still, she listens to audio books and comments about how “lovely” the words sound. She still has her British accent, even after many years in the United States. Her polished speech pours out, light and musical. I could listen forever, if we both had more time, which I fear we do not.

Her daughter and son recently culled her best poems from her computer files, compiled them into a collection entitled Pieces, and self-published a few copies. The day I received my copy in the mail, I cried. Though she had shared the lead poem “Pieces” with me, I had not read the others. Beautiful words from a beautiful woman. I cherish the book.

“Different people have told me which poem they like the best, as if I wrote that one just for them,” she said. “Poetry does that, resonates somewhere deep inside.”

So this Thanksgiving, I offer up praise for the people I have been honored to know. Such a variety of folks, all ages, all unique. 

The “lovely” line-up of talented authors that have joined me on this blog.

I thank God for allowing them all to grace my life.

Happy Thanksgiving.




Rhett DeVane

Writers4Higher blog administrator and fellow author.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Writers4Higher features Marcy Luikart

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

Marcy Luikart




Hi, Marcy. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!


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

It’s always hard to know where to start with a question like Tell me about yourself. As an author I have no problem telling my characters stories but ask about me and I get a bit tongue-tied and shy. Basic facts: I grew up in the Midwest but moved to Santa Barbara when I met my current husband on a backpacking trip in Yosemite. I find my inspiration in so many places. I paint, I play the fiddle, I love to hike and camp, I do agility and obedience with my dog, I own a business, and I write.

It was an adventure with my husband that led me to write my current novel, River Braids. My husband and his brother had always talked about building a raft and rafting down the Mississippi River, Huck Finn, style. So in 2005, they flew to Hannibal Missouri and built a raft made out of an unwieldy piece of plywood mounted on oil drums. There was a bit of a railing around the outside and two oars to help steer, and they were ready. I flew out to join them and we spent two days floating down the Mississippi River. We went through a lock and dam and camped on one of the islands. When I got home I started a short story about two brothers rafting down the Mississippi River. While doing some research to refresh my visual memory of some old photos I’d seen in a very picturesque old bar, I found myself reading books about the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition and the 1904 Olympics. I read about the Ethnology Exhibits and discovered that Native Americans were not allowed to participate in the 1904 Olympics, but instead they participated in something called the Anthropology games. And that led me to the big “what if?” I found myself exploring the character of Joseph Barton who had gone to the Olympics to row and instead found that he wasn’t allowed to participate. My original story about the two brothers dovetailed with the story of 1904 and my novel River Braids was born.

For me, that is the magic of storytelling, taking my characters into imaginary places and finding the truth in them. I like to think that I paint the heart of humanity through my words.

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

Each story that I tell is an adventure and an exploration, I’m never completely sure where it will lead me. When I started River Braids I had no idea it would take me on an adventure into the past. My challenge to myself is to remain open to the story my character tells. Although I have to admit that I am secretly hoping to tackle a mystery, but who knows. That’s the fun!


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

I just recently found that I enjoy working with kids and helping them explore their own voice and storytelling. I did a workshop with a group during a summer program and came up with some fun exercises. The trick is to help them find the words to describe even simple scenes specifically. (Sorry about the alliteration). When I paint I am always working to paint what I see not what I think I see. Writing creates the same challenge, to allow myself to slow down enough to write the story that I see, not what I think I should see. And giving kids the chance to work with that idea is very exciting to me.


Would you like to find Marcy?


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





Saturday, October 19, 2013

Writers4Higher features Ann Marie Bryan

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

Ann Marie Bryan





Hi Ann Marie. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!


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

It gives me great pleasure to impart knowledge into the lives of others. I wrote my novel, “Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along” to empower my readers, especially those who are waiting for a most significant gift – a husband. 
Writing a book was nowhere on my list of things to do.  While I enjoy editing, reading and writing, I never thought of publishing a book.
 
So, what made me decide write a book?
Here is the answer! 

After I got married, several of my friends and relatives (some living miles away) wanted to know how I met my husband.  They knew that I had been single for some time.  So, I had to share my love story, over and over again.  Of course, no one wanted to hear the short version of my love story.
Six months after I got married, I was stretched out on the sofa at home on a Sunday afternoon, still recounting my love story.  After hanging up from my call, it hit me…Write a book!
A long deafening pause ensued!
A book! A book!

Every reason not to write this book came to mind. Yes, every reason.  But, I knew that I had a story to tell. So, I took the matter to God and felt the peace to proceed.

I am extremely excited about my writing journey. My inspiration comes from God, my family and fellow authors. I have met many wonderful people since becoming an author.  Now, I definitely want to write more books.  I am in the process of writing another book.  Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along is the first of the Circle of Love Novels. The other Circle of Love Novels will also be based on real-life events to empower and inspire readers through relatable characters. 

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

My writing projects must inspire, motivate, educate, and empower others.  My desire is to tell great stories that positively impact societies.  I believe in working together, the exchanging of ideas and sharing of resources, so I hope that my writing takes me all over the world to share at conferences, seminars and workshops.  

I am always excited and thankful for the opportunity to share with others.  Since I wrote my novel, I have developed a base of very wonderful supporters who cannot wait for book 2 in the series.  I love this.  I enjoy the interaction with my supporters at family gatherings, book signings, workshops, church, seminars, or on the street. Our engagements can only be described as priceless. 

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

Approximately two years ago, I combined all that I am passionate about and established Victorious By Design, LLC to deliver top quality professional writing services, comprehensive personal and professional development programs and exceptional performing arts services to meet the unique needs of individuals and organizations.

I spent a lot of time editing and mentoring aspiring writers who do not know where to begin. I also enjoy supporting my fellow authors from Tallahassee Authors Network, Tallahassee Writers Association, Goodreads and other online writers’ groups.

My creativity fuels my enthusiasm not only for writing but also for training and the performing arts. In my community, I provide customized personal and professional development programs, specifically designed to satisfy the needs of individuals and organizations. While I enjoy all categories of the performing arts, I have a special love for dance. I have choreographed dances and hosted dance workshops for organizations in Florida, Maryland, and the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Grand Cayman.


Would you like to find Ann Marie?

Check out the links to this talented author:


Website:         http://victoriousbydesign.com
Twitter:           https://twitter.com/victoriousbydes
Blog:               http://victoriousbydesign.com/?page_id=4895

Book listings:







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

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist





Saturday, October 5, 2013

Writers4Higher features Laura Cogdill

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
Laura Cogdill




Hi, Laura. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!

Laura chose to answer the three questions in an essay. Thank you Laura!


Trying to separate my life into the three categories covered by authors on this blog was like amputating limbs. The pieces that make my life are so interwoven, it’s hard to disconnect them.

My journal question-of-the-day recently asked, “What are you called?”  I listed the obvious first: daughter, sister, aunt, writer, teacher, musician, history buff, gardener...widow.

The last word is the hardest to embrace, but because of it, a new realm of my life has begun.  John died two years ago of a brain tumor.  His wild ride to the end is the making of my published book, “Liquidating Life.”  I included equipment we needed and when, medical terms, and lots of levity in hopes it would be a guide for anyone journeying through brain cancer or end-of-life issues.  

As a Tallahassee native, I knew our town before we honored our heritage with the restoration of old homes and the birth of many museums.  A story of my childhood romps on the porch of the Murat house ran in the “Tallahassee Magazine” in 2010.  My first solo driving jaunts took me past the San Louis Mission when it was covered in vines and mostly hidden by trees.  Beyond Tallahassee’s history, I grew up traveling and enjoying National Parks, monuments, and museums, which is why the novel sitting on my bookshelf is an historical romance set in 1870’s California.

It must have been at Godby High when I fell in love with Russian history.  The closest I’ve gotten to my “bucket list” city of St. Petersburg is Kiev, Ukraine.  Soon I’ll go on my fourth mission trip there to work in an orphanage school and learn heart lessons to bring back to my first grade class.  I’ll put together and distribute food packets to widows and pensioners and clean their apartments.  We also have the opportunity to partake in Ukrainian culture through ballet and opera, which feeds the musician in me.  But most impacting is seeing WWII through the eyes and stories of those who lived during their country's occupation.

I’ve written stories since I was very young.  The Tallahassee Writers Association has given me knowledge and confidence, and I now lead the Havana Writers Group. 

The best therapy through every up and down in life has been my yard.  My latest ongoing project is turning my backyard into a fruit garden with limes, figs, bananas, blueberries, and a yet-to-be-identified citrus tree.

I hope I continue to have the courage to walk through whatever doors open next. I never know where they’ll lead and it makes for an exciting life.  I should write a book.

Would you like to find Laura?

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





Saturday, September 28, 2013

Writers4Higher features Gary "Dutch" Hinkle

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

Gary "Dutch" Hinkle



Hi, Dutch. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!


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

For my high school yearbook, I was asked what is the best description of my life that was unfolding before me. Decades later, I saw my response again in writing. I had said, “To uniquely fulfill my destiny”(It really is !). If asked today, what is my measurement of living up to my response as a young man?

I am a martial arts “master” with an extensive background that spans 
over 45 years, and includes training in over two dozen different martial arts in the U.S., Europe, South America, and the Orient. With advanced Black Belts in over 9 disciplines and a PhD in Oriental Studies, I am considered an authority and an expert on self-defense and martial arts. I still teach martial arts to Black Belts from many disciplines every week.

I have been on over a dozen radio programs, one nationally syndicated program, as a special expert guest. Can be heard as FREE MP3 audio files on YouTube and iTunes) I have written several books and many articles on the internet on specific areas of self-defense and martial arts.

I am also an experienced, internationally Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and business fraud investigator. While I ran my own business consulting company in Oklahoma, I also became a Licensed Crime & Fidelity Bond Adjuster. I have conducted many presentations to many business organizations in the areas of business fraud detection and elimination. I have several books in various stages of preparation on the subject of business fraud. 
I am a past Fortune 500 Corporate Manager.

I am also a world traveler. Not only have I either lived or visited every state in this country, I have visited and lived for a time in Canada, and many countries in Europe, South America, and Asia.

And finally, I am a published author. As a three time “#1 Bestselling Author” on Amazon, my books are being sold around the world in 5 continents and 7 international markets.

2.   Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
If you could go back ten years into my past and ask me if I would write a book, I would have given you a dozen reasons why I was not qualified and unworthy. But here I am, a published author of many books and articles, with people around the world benefiting from my knowledge and experience. As you see from my experience, I have a wealth of ideas to draw from for the books to come.

It has become hard at times to keep up with potential book concepts and ideas. With four books complete, several being translated in many languages and into audio books, and with many books in various stages of completion, I have never been so successful, and bound out of bed every morning with a drive to do more…


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

I sincerely believe that my existence in this world is to make a difference to others, to inspire others, and to improve the condition around me by helping others. I do this by sharing my knowledge and beliefs in the vehicle of writing books, giving presentations, and teaching classes. Not only do I teach martial arts and self-defense classes, I also teach classes on beginning Japanese language, beginning Japanese writing, assisting authors in writing books and getting published, and assisting those in business in the areas of business fraud, business ethics, and ancient Chinese strategies that are being used in business every day.


Gary "Dutch" Hinkle, AAS, BS, PhD
6th Degree Black Belt Master Ju-Jitsu Instructor (Kyoshi)
Expert in Martial Arts and Self-Defense
45 years of experience / over 9 Black Belts 

1.           

Would you like to find  Gary "Dutch" Hinkle?

Check out the links to this talented author:





"Secret Wisdom of the Orient" on Amazon


 Master "Dutch" Hinkle's author webpage on Amazon


"Secret Buttons of the Hand" on Amazon









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...