High Cotton Country by Leta McCurry

Leta McCurry           High Cotton Country

It is a pleasure to have Leta McCurry with us today for an Author Interview.  Leta and I have become friends through WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers Association.  I am still amazed at how technology can bring people together from opposites sides of the country, or even the world.

Leta,  when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer but I actually started writing at about twelve – from a twelve year old’s perspective obviously. The adventure, companionship, comfort and inspiration I received from being an avid reader is what first inspired me to put on paper the stories that were bouncing around in my head.

Do you have a background in writing or have you taken  any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

No. The biggest help to me has been honest and forthright critique readers. Feedback from readers always gives me clarity about y writing and is a big help in my on-going endeavor to become a better writer.

What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

Sales. I think sales taught me to take risks and put myself out there. And not to take rejection personally. And, while not work in the strictest sense, I think raising five children.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About a year and a half from writing the first chapter through to publication. 

Do you always write in the same genre?

My interest is in general/women’s fiction. I never intended to write non-fiction but at one point Prentice-Hall, New York offered me a contract to write a college textbook which I did and they published. That was just an unexpected side trip. I refer to my genre as women’s fiction but I have been told it is more general fiction. High Cotton Country has actually been read by several men and I’ve had really good geed back from them so I guess it is a cross-over between general and women’s fiction.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Women’s fiction.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I have a little cubby hole office hardly big enough to “cuss a cat” as my grandpa would say, but it works for me.  Nice big windows with a view out at the green Oregon trees and foliage and blue sky (when it isn’t raining).

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Yes. Non Fiction. College Text Book. Publisher Prentice Hall sought me out based on a recommendation from a college professor.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication on this project? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

I went the self-publishing route almost entirely because of the time factor involved in getting a book on the market via traditional sources. It just seemed that two years was a long time.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

I like to switch it up because everybody has their own perspective on events and situations. The same incident can and does have a different impact on different people. I have read books written from a one person perspective and they worked for me as a reader. I don’t know that I could make it work that successfully.  To me, the difference is one perspective is like mashed potatoes and multiple perspective is like a baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and chopped bacon.  Having said that, I’ll probably end up writing a one point of view narrative someday.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

I think an author’s voice is that life and world point of view that is particular to each of us. That voice is the culmination of our circumstances of birth, the “imprinting” we received as we grew to adulthood, and the experiences that are unique to each one. And, the voice is always changing, growing, expanding, because as long as we are alive we are continually influenced by the world and people around us and our responses to those circumstances.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s

I don’t follow an exact chronological order but I do follow a loose time framework. I do write in order though, each chapter in sequence. I have writer friends who may write chapter 20 then come back to 5 then write chapter 18 then 35 and come back to 6.  That would drive me crazy.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Query and synopsis. Lot harder that writing a novel. Now that I am in the midst of the process, writing is the easy part.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Right now, personal networking. Exploring possibilities. Marketing has turned out to be a sharp learning curve for me and I’m still finding my way through the jungle. As I said, writing Cazzie’s story was the easy part.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

About 50/50 I think.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Sit down and write. Edit later.

Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?

Elin Hildebrand – she entertains me.  Susan Crandall and Robert Morgan because I love their “voice”. They are from my neighborhood. And Ayn Rand – she makes me think. James Clavell and Lincoln and Childs– they transport me to other worlds.

Complete this sentence….. My first ever published piece of writing was….. “A poem.”

Please share a brief synopsis of High Cotton Country.

Secrets. Hidden they can destroy her from within. Revealed they can explode her world.

 Come hell or high water, Cazzie Randle is determined to leave the past behind along with the hardscrabble life of a small hill country town but finds she can’t elude the secret trauma that haunts her – an act of unspeakable horror by her mother and abandonment by her father.

A message that her father is dying sends a reluctant Cazzie to his bedside but not to reconcile a lifelong estrangement. She must make him finally reveal the secrets of the memories that haunt her. He must answer questions of “Why?”

An explosion of truth in a dusty Texas hill country town reveals old secrets and demands choices. But will she be able to choose or will she be paralyzed by all the old hurts, cruelty and betrayals that have driven her all her life? To find the answer, Cazzie must confront the very essence of who she has become and question whether the price was too high.

 

  High Cotton Country is the story of one woman’s journey to self-discovery. It is about the inherent dignity of the human being, of the burning desire to be in command of one’s own destiny, of the will, not only to survive, but to achieve, and to face adversity with courage and honor. This is not only the story of one woman’s fighting spirit, but also of the people who influence her self-esteem, shape her self-image and participate in her destiny.

Where can readers buy High Cotton Country?

Readers can read the first chapter of High Cotton Country at http://www.letamccurry.com/free-read/ and check out my blog at http://www.letamccurry.com/blog

Copies are available https://www.createspace.com/5060373 or

Thanks for having me, Joanne. It’s been fun. Leta

 

Advertisements

Two New Book Trailers

Check out my new book trailers.

Comments gladly appreciated.

A Holiday Story- The Marco Angel

island of angels - Copy (2)

Happy Holidays to everyone. Instead of an author interview, for my holiday gift to you, here is a short story I wrote a few years ago about the Marco Angels, hundreds of them, all over our island. They are a wonderful sight.

The Tradewinds

 

Island of Angels, a short story  December 2012

by  Joanne Simon Tailele

The young girl hunched down in the backseat of the car. Her nose almost touched the screen of the I-pad she balanced on her lap. Bright pink ear buds blocked out the other sounds in the car. As the car approached the crest of the Judge Jolley Bridge, her mother hollered to her above the music pounding in her ears. “Liza, look, an osprey.”

Liza lifted her head just as the bird spread its wings and took flight above the sparkling blue water. She watched as it flapped twice, and then glided on the wind. It headed across the island into the setting amber sun where the high-rises in the distance appeared to dance on the water’s edge. “Nice,” she said somewhat sarcastically and buried her red-capped head back in her lap.

This was not Liza’s idea for a Christmas vacation. Who ever heard of Christmas without snow, or friends or blazing fireplaces? If they had to go to Florida, couldn’t it be Disney World? No, Mom and Dad said it had to be Marco Island. Liza knew what this was really about. It was about saying good-bye. They thought she didn’t know, but she wasn’t a baby. She had looked it up on Google. Lymphoma. The chemo had only made it worse. She threw up all the time and her long blonde hair fell out in clumps until she just shaved it all off and stuck a cap on her head.

Gram’s house was cool and it had a big pool right off the back door inside a cage. Liza could push back the huge sliding doors and walk straight into the water, if she only had the strength. But even with a big artificial tree, and lots of lights on the house, things still did not feel like Christmas.

On the second night, Gram announced that she was taking Liza out to see the town. Big deal, Liza thought. This town sucks. She’d rather be back in New York with her friends.

As they rode down Collier Blvd, Liza noticed the angels. Beautiful silhouettes of praying angels lined the street in front of building after building of condominiums. They turned down Barfield, and then San Marco, then Bald Eagle. More angels graced the lawns of pretty homes and businesses. “What is this Gram? What’s with the angels?” Liza heart began to soften and a lump formed in her throat.

Her grandmother smiled at her. “This is the Island of Angels, don’t you know that?” She pulled the car up the steep drive to the Marriott Hotel and handed the keys to the valet. “Come, my dear. I want to show you something.”

Liza and her grandmother entered the lobby of the hotel. The most beautiful tree Liza had ever seen filled the room, surrounded by dozens of red poinsettias.  They descended the stairs and exited the double doors into the courtyard. A wedding reception was taking place and Liza smiled at the bride and groom surrounded by their friends and families seated at white linen tables in the soft moonlight. Passed the party, passed the pool, passed the restaurant on the beach, Liza walked arm-in-arm with her grandmother toward the shoreline. Those who observed them would not have known who was supporting whom. They kicked their shoes off as they reached the soft sand. The salt air tickled Liza’s nose. When the only sound they heard was the surf lapping on the beach in its own rhythmic beat, Gram spread a blanket and they sat down, shoulder to shoulder. The breeze from the Gulf was cool and Gram lifted the edge of the blanket to wrap them together in a cocoon.

Thousands of stars lit the sky and the moon’s reflection pirouetted over the water. Liza leaned her head on to her grandmother’s shoulder. “This is beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here. Tell me, Gram, why do they call this the Island of Angels?”

“Because it is.” Her grandmother stated rather matter-of-factly.  “Hundreds of years ago, the Calusa Indians knew this, and that is why they settled here. Angels look over this island and keep it safe. When big hurricanes like Wilma and Charlie, or Katrina blow toward this island, the angels all get together and flap their wings at the same time and blow the worst of the storms away.”

Liza snuggled a little closer. “Do you think angels are people that have died?”

Her grandmother thought for a moment. “No, I believe they were created to always be angels, that they are immortal, with no beginning and no end. They just are. But there is something else they do, Liza. They also blow away fear.”

Liza lifted her head from her grandmother’s shoulder and looked into her eyes in the moonlight. “How do they do that, Gram?”

“If you are afraid, just sit very still and quiet. Listen for them and they will come. When you hear the flapping of their wings, you will know that they are lifting your fear and taking it away.”

Christmas morning, Liza was too weak to open her gifts, but a special gift hung by a silver chain on the tree; a Marco Angel bowing with a candle in hand. Her grandmother hooked the clasp of the chain around her granddaughter’s neck. Liza looked up at her and pressed the angel to her chest. “I can hear them, Gram. I hear their wings. I am not afraid.”

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all of you.

2011-12-28 18.24.39

Tai and Joanne

A Christmas Gift by Kerryn Reid

My friend,Kerryn Reed,  wrote this beautiful Christmas story and she is allowing me to share it with you. I know you will love it.

Kerryn Reed - A Christmas Story  Kerryn Reid Auriti in color

A CHRISTMAS GIFT

by Kerryn Reid

©2014

 

“Is it tonight, Mama? Please say it is!” Sadie jumped up and down, flapping her arms like a robin fledging in mid-winter.

Marian Barnett smiled for her daughter’s sake. Since she had married John and moved to Yorkshire, wassail nights had been gay occasions. They would collect in shifting little knots of friends and family on Christmas Eve and sometimes again for New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night, laughing at the cold and each other’s antics. They ran to keep warm and sang very badly, yet the rich folk in their snug houses smiled, and provided hot punch for them all, and maybe some cakes, and often pressed pennies or ha’pennies into the children’s hands to be spent on toys or candy. Then the wassailers would run along to the next house to try their luck. And somewhere along the way she would fall into the snow with John, pressed close through all the layers of wool, kissing each other’s numbed lips before hurrying home to strip those layers off and fulfill the craving they’d begun outside, drunk on wassail and Christmas and the long life they would share.

John was gone close to a year now, saving their daughter from the icy swirling river. Sadie was no substitute for him, but she was all Marian had, and her little heart was set on her first time wassailing. It would be Marian’s only gift to her – any coins they received must be hoarded for bread and milk.

“When do we go, Mama? Why can’t we go now?” All morning long the questions came. Where Marian found the patience to answer calmly, she didn’t know. Finally, in the afternoon, she set aside the shirts she was sewing for Mrs. Wallace and lay down with the child. Once Sadie was asleep, she would get back to the work that brought in those few all-important shillings.

She woke up when Sadie clambered over her, humming a tune with some words thrown in. “And all the little children hmm hmmm go, love and joy hmm…” It had been a bright day, but a glance out the window showed the dusk already lowering its veil over the town. Marian sighed. She’d wasted the afternoon. Already it was time to get them both fed and dressed; John’s brother would be stopping for them soon enough.

Sadie jumped from the bench for the dozenth time and ran to the door. “It must be Uncle Peter, Mama!” But it wasn’t, it was no one at all, and the cold rushed in again to mock their little wood fire. Not that Marian could blame the child. Hungry though she must be, hard brown bread soaked in lukewarm broth could not be expected to keep her at table when there was such excitement in the offing.

Marian gave up the battle. Small meals meant small work to clean them up – in a few minutes it was done. As soon as she stepped from the kitchen corner, Sadie flew to her side. “Oh, Mama, can we go now? Is it time?”

“Not yet, my robin.” Marian scooped her up, nibbling at her neck until she wriggled with giggles. “But it’s time to put on all our warmest clothing so we’ll be ready when Uncle comes.” She sat the child on top of the shelves John had built so they were almost eye-to-eye.

Sadie stuck her feet out straight while Marian pushed on an extra pair of socks, and then another. “Will we go to the big house?”

“Lord Ryndale’s? I’m sure we will.” Who more likely to give away money, after all? And oh, how disgusting to think that way.

A miniature pair of trousers, borrowed from Peter’s little boy, went under Sadie’s skirts, the hems rolled up so she wouldn’t trip on them.

“How about the pastor?”

“Definitely.”

A second gown went on over the first, and Sadie crowed with laughter at the idea of wearing twodresses. “An’ the new fam’ly down the lane, with the baby?”

That was easy enough to guess. Aubrey was their name. Marian had seen them at church. She remembered one Sunday in particular when the pastor had prayed for John’s soul. “And for his widow, Marian. She came to us a stranger, yet she was his, and now she is ours.” And all those eyes turned her way and she tried not to cry, because most of them didn’t look very friendly at all. But Mrs. Aubrey stopped her after the service, took her hand and said how sorry she was. A nice lady, gentle and soft-spoken.

“Yes, I expect so. Now it’s time for your boots.” These were also borrowed. Marian squeezed them on over all the socks.

“Mama, they’re too tight!”

Afraid they would split apart, Marian took them off again and removed one sock from each little foot. “Better?”

“Mm hmm.” A borrowed jacket and a knitted cap, and Sadie was ready for the finishing touches when Peter arrived.

Marian lifted her down and started on her own layers. An extra pair of socks, and then her own boots; a skirt underneath her old gown; and then Peter was at the door with Jane and Tommy and some of the neighbors, stomping snow on her clean floor.

Peter swung his niece into the air. “Well, Sadie, are you ready for your grand adventure?”

Her shrieks filled the room with happiness. Marian ran over to them with Sadie’s cloak and mittens, and once they were donned, the group headed out into the near-darkness. She tore her own cloak down from its peg and followed, leaving behind her own hat and the tattered old pelisse she’d intended to wear under the cloak. Peter did not like to wait.

Seven-year-old Tommy swung a lantern, and one of the men had a torch. They were hardly necessary along the main street, with all the light shining from the windows. But the richest homes in town lay farther apart on the side roads, darker and less-traveled.

“Put me down, Uncle,” Sadie squealed again after the third house they visited, and this time he did. Tommy called her a plum pudding and everyone laughed, the description was so apt as she waddled down the street in all her layers. Sadie just grinned. Peter and Jane took one hand apiece and swung her between them until they reached the next house. After that she tottered along between Marian and Jane, then Marian carried her for a while.

By the time they arrived in the square they were sixpence richer. A bonfire had been laid for the evening festivities. The bells would ring and the children would parade around the square with drums or makeshift instruments, making “music” to welcome the Christ child. But that was not ‘til eight o’clock.

The group headed out toward Lord Ryndale’s estate beyond the edge of town, paying their luck-visits at the houses along the way. Marian’s arms and shoulders ached. Who would think a half-starved four-year-old could weigh so much? The effort helped keep her warm, though already she couldn’t feel her feet.

She made Sadie walk and the two of them fell behind, reaching “the big house” as the rest of the group left it. Peter looked surprised when they passed on the big gravel drive. “You just getting here, then? They have good cakes inside. Best hurry, Sadie, before they’re gone.”

“You go on ahead,” Marian said. “We’ll catch up.”

“No, no. We’ll wait.” He did not sound happy about it. The others had not noticed her at all, and he watched after them as they passed on through the grand gate to the lane, talking and laughing. His feet remained rooted to the gravel, but the rest of him seemed to stretch out to follow.

Marian pressed her lips tight. “Go on. We’re fine.” Peter seemed to blame her, somehow, for John’s death. But even before that, he had never liked her much.

He didn’t even look at her. “If you’re sure,” he said, and was gone, may he rot. John had been worth a dozen Peters.

Sadie got a penny and a little Yule cake. “Mmm. It’s good, Mama.” But most of it crumbled into the snow as she ate it. Marian rejected the wassail bowl so they could catch up with the rest, but took her own cake for Sadie to eat later, carefully wrapped in a cloth.

They did not catch up. Marian carried Sadie, but it wasn’t long before she felt her arms would fall off. Thank God, the lights of the town shone clearer now, individual windows pricking out of the darkness ahead. Focused on those, she tripped in a rut and fell to her knees in the frozen lane.

If only she could warm herself, she could manage the walk home. But Sadie, plopping down on her mama’s thighs like a sack of potatoes, made it impossible even to stand up. Hard to believe this night had ever been fun.

“Sadie, love, you must get off.”

“I want to go home, Mama.” She did not cry, but her voice wavered with the threat of tears.

Oh God, so did she! “We will, sweetling, we will. But first I must get up.” She had never felt less graceful, her bottom in the air as she shoved off the ground with her hands. But she managed. “And next, we must visit this house.” It stood just steps away, all lit up, the gate standing open in welcome. Light meant warmth, and some hot liquor in her belly would work wonders.

They were halfway up the walk before she realized it was the Aubreys’ house. Not that it mattered; she would ask only a few extra minutes by the fire beyond the usual wassail offerings, and she would expect that much compassion from anyone.

A footman opened the door, tall and lean – no, he wore no livery. It was Mr. Aubrey himself. At least, she thought it was. “Merry Christmas,” he said, looking out beyond her shoulder to see how many followed her. Not many went wassailing alone.

“And to you, sir.” Curtsies were difficult, Marian found, on legs frozen stiff. “I fear I’m out of breath, or we would sing for you.” Thank goodness she had some excuse! Singing was beyond her capabilities at that moment.

“I’ll sing, Mama,” Sadie said from knee level. “Wish you a merry Kissmas, wish you a merry Kissmas, an’ a happy new year!” It was not very tuneful, but she ended with a shout and a flourish of her hand, and Mr. Aubrey applauded and laughed.

“Do come in, both of you. We leave shortly to watch the celebration in the square, but you are here in time for some punch.” He led the way into the parlor. It was not as grand as Lord Ryndale’s, yet her whole cottage might fit three times into this room. But she hardly even noticed, because of the fire. She could not afford enough wood to keep such a fire alive for three days!

The contrast in temperature made Marian shudder. Oh, it felt wonderful! Regardless of how it must look, she crossed directly to the fireplace, pulled off her mittens and held her hands out toward the flames.

While Mr. Aubrey gave Sadie a cup and a biscuit, his wife came to her with a glass of punch. Their fingers touched as Marian took her glass, and Mrs. Aubrey exclaimed, “Why, your hands are like ice! Please, sit down here and take as long as you need to warm yourself. And your daughter, too. Come here, little one.” She nestled Sadie beside Marian in the big chair.

“Oh, ma’am, bless you for this. We fell behind the others, and Sadie’s so swaddled she can hardly walk.”

“An’ Mama too,” Sadie said. “She falled down.”

“Oh dear. Yes, I see your skirts are wet.”

Marian looked down, appalled to think she might soil Mrs. Aubrey’s floor. “I’m so sorry, ma’am.” She started to her feet, but her hostess put a hand on her shoulder and pressed her firmly back down before seating herself in an adjacent chair.

“Don’t worry about that, please.” Smoky-blue eyes peered into Marian’s own. “I know you, don’t I? Was it not your husband who…” With a glance at Sadie, Mrs. Aubrey changed what she’d been about to say. “…Who saved your little girl? Such a hero. And a soldier too, was he not? I don’t recall the name, I’m afraid.”

“John Barnett, ma’am. And mine is Marian.” It was a struggle to get her own name out of her mouth. Dear God, she hadn’t cried in months. But with the cold, and the wishing, and the sympathy in Mrs. Aubrey’s pretty face… She choked on her tears, and a fancy embroidered handkerchief appeared in her hand. She hated to use the thing, but it would be worse not to.

“I am Anna Aubrey. I think the pastor said you’re not from these parts? I’m a “foreigner”, too, all the way from Bristol. Isn’t it funny, how Yorkshire folk think of us that way, as if we weren’t all English?”

Marian didn’t find it funny at all, but she supposed a beautiful woman with a wealthy husband and a fine home would always receive a warmer welcome than she had found. “I’m from Exeter, ma’am. My John was stationed there with his regiment.”

Sadie had been leaning heavy against Marian’s side, sleepy with the warmth as Marian was herself. But she pushed away and slipped down to the floor. “Don’t you have a baby, ma’am? Where is it?”

“My husband will bring her downstairs any minute. We’re taking her to the town square for the parade, unless we’re too late.”

Marian scooted forward and stood, still stiff and clumsy. She discovered that her knee hurt. “I’m afraid we’re keeping you, ma’am. I thank you, ever so much…”

Mr. Aubrey returned to the room carrying the prettiest babe Marian had ever seen, plump and healthy-looking, perhaps a year in age. A maid accompanied them carrying outdoor garments for the child. Sadie waddled over for a closer look, cooing and chattering to the wide-eyed infant.

Mrs. Aubrey smiled across the room at them, then turned back to Marian. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Barnett. And if you don’t mind being a little bit crowded, we will be pleased to take you in the carriage back to the square, or to your home if you prefer.”

Did the woman not realize how far beneath her Marian was? “I could not ask you to…”

“But you didn’t, did you,” Mrs. Aubrey said. “So that’s settled.”

Though the drive took less than ten minutes, Sadie was asleep when they reached town. Kind as they were, Marian had no desire to show these gentry-folk where she lived. But still less did she want to walk there carrying Sadie. In fact, she didn’t think she could. Depending on darkness to hide the worst, she let them drive her home. They would never see the interior, at least.

Yet somehow, when they arrived, it happened. Mr. Aubrey took the child from her as they descended from the carriage. That was natural enough.

But when she reached out to take Sadie, he said, “No, let me carry her for you.” And then, in response to her protest, “It’s no trouble at all, ma’am.”

She had no choice but to open the door to the dark room, only a bit warmer than the outdoors. He said something over his shoulder to the footman on the box beside the coachman, and he took a lantern from its hook on the carriage and lit the way in.

Marian closed her eyes against the light and the embarrassment. Then she led the way to the bed and lit the candle beside it.

His manners were excellent. He said nothing about the place. She could not even tell that he inspected it. But for all that, she felt tension coming off him as he lay Sadie gently down and stood to his full height. His head bumped against the naked beam.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

He ignored the apology, yet his voice was rough. He sounded angry. “Have you enough wood, ma’am? Where is your extra supply?”

Dazed and shivering, she answered him. He jerked his head toward the footman, who went out the door and turned to go where she had indicated.

“And food; what about food? Tomorrow is Christmas.”

“We sup tomorrow with my husband’s brother. We have enough.” Her voice cracked with the jumble of emotions roiling inside her. Anger of her own, humiliation, grief for John, fear of the long future without him, all played their part.

“I shall be back in a moment,” he said. The footman passed him in the doorway with an armload of wood. He added several small logs to the fire, working it until it blazed with warmth.

“Thank you,” she said, but he was not finished. He went back out for another load, and then another.

It was not Mr. Aubrey who returned, but his wife. She cast a brief glance around the room, then came to stand a foot in front of Marian. They were much the same height.

“I have a proposition, Mrs. Barnett.”

Marian fidgeted with the ties on her cloak.

“Have you ever been in service?”

Marian shook her head. “No, ma’am.”

“It doesn’t matter. We need a maid, and I like you. Will you come to us?”

Marian blinked, shook her head again. “I can’t leave my daughter.”

Mrs. Aubrey’s eyes widened in shock. “Of course not! The two of you will share a room.”

Oh, this was foreign territory. “I don’t know how to be a maid, ma’am.”

“You can learn as you go along. We’ll sit down and discuss your duties with the housekeeper. We can begin with small things, and you will grow into the job. Can you come now?”

Marian jumped at that. She had to try twice to get any sound out. “Now, ma’am?” Her voice rose to a squeak.

“I suppose that is rather abrupt. My husband tells me you dine with family tomorrow?”

Marian nodded.

“The day after, then. We’ll send the carriage for you at one o’clock? And perhaps a waggon, in case you have trunks or other large items. Will that suit?”

Marian nodded again. She stared like a stupid oaf, unsure if she should trust her eyes and ears. Could this be happening? Perhaps she had died out there in the cold, and the woman before her was Heaven’s angel come for her? She looked angelic enough. But the sweet, gentle creature she’d talked with earlier had developed a will of iron, and Marian could no more refuse her than she could fly. And why should she?

Fear, that’s why. Not knowing what to do, what to expect. What would be expected of her.

But it was a chance, better than any other she was likely to receive. A Christmas gift, for herself and for Sadie. Food, fire, and clothes that fit. Shoes, too. A place to belong.

Mrs. Aubrey pulled off her glove and put out her hand. “Do we have a deal, Mrs. Barnett?”

Marian gazed at that soft white hand for a moment, then she slipped hers into it, rough and brown. She felt a grin form on her face, though her eyes were wet with tears.

“A deal, Mrs. Aubrey.”

Multi-published Women’s Fiction Author Kathleen Paterka says “don’t give up.”

Kathleen Irene Paterka Author

A very special welcome to Kathleen Paterka. We met through the wonderful group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers of America.  Kathleen, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I fell in love with the written word in the 2nd grade reading my first Trixie Belden® book. In case you’re not familiar with the series, Trixie was a girl detective who teamed up with her brothers and best friend Honey Wheeler to solve mysteries occurring around their little town in the Hudson Valley area of New York. Trixie Belden changed my life. It was the first time I’d read a book with a plot and no pictures. I devoured the existing series (12 books), and anxiously waited for the next one to be published. It was around that time I made the decision that someday, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden novels. While I never did tackle the world of Trixie Belden (the last book was published in 1986), I did start my own series. The James Bay novels (Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned) are set in the fictional resort community of James Bay, Michigan. After finishing those four stories, I wrote another two books set in different locations. Royal Secrets is about a family-owned Las Vegas wedding chapel, while my upcoming release, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. For my next book (which I’m currently researching), I’ll be taking readers back to James Bay.

I too well in love with writing over Trixie Beldon, as you can see from my own tattered copy. It is one of my treasured possessions.

Trixie Belden

Do you have a background in writing? What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

In school, my teachers tried steering me toward Creative Writing classes, but I dug in my heels, screaming “No, no, no!” I didn’t like being forced to write poetry or short stories. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, and I couldn’t see any point in wasting my time by writing Haiku (sincere apologies to any Haiku-enthusiasts who may be reading this). While I concede that there are basics to the craft that must be mastered (sentence structure, proper grammar, plot elements, etc.), there’s simply no way another person can ‘teach you’ how to write a book. Want to know the secret? Sit down and start. It’s as simple as that. Caveat: notice I did not say it was ‘easy’. It may be simple, but it’s definitely not easy. After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, plus a few years spent working for a local newspaper, the Catholic church, and the law, I finally settled down where I belonged: in a beautiful castle located in Northern Michigan. My job as staff writer at Castle Farms (a century old French Renaissance castle listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is like a fairy-tale come true.

Kathleen, what advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

The best advice I can pass along was given to me by an author friend when I was just starting out. This highly successful NY Times bestselling author told me: “Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent. Your belief in yourself… is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds who will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Work hard, work smart, work tirelessly. Be tough, be brave and be persistent. All clichés, yes. But when they apply to you and how much you want to realize your dream, they are very apt.” I’ve kept my friend’s message tucked close in my heart through all the ups and downs of my publishing career, and it’s served me well. Today, I’m sharing her message with you. Don’t give up!

FattyPatty ForIHaveSinned HomeFires LottoLucy RoyalSecretsCream

Tell us about one of your book in 3 sentences. Fatty Patty (my first novel) is semi-autobiographical. Though I’m now at a normal weight (and have been for over 35+ years), I weighed three hundred pounds while in high school. Fatty Patty tackles the issues of dieting, dating, self-esteem, and exposes the gritty honest truth of what it’s like to be overweight in a society that worships thin.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? My upcoming release, The Other Wife, will hit the shelves (and the cyber-world of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, plus Kobo) in February 2015. What happens in a woman’s life when her husband dies? What kind of secrets might be revealed? I came up with the idea when my own husband, Steve, actually died in front of me early one morning. I was sitting at the end of his bed in the semi-darkness when he made a strange sound. At the time, I thought it was the oddest snore I’d ever heard. Turns out, it was the infamous ‘death rattle’. Believe me, if you’ve never heard it, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up! Luckily, Steve was in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. They called a Code Blue, and the medical team managed to resuscitate him. He’s since had a triple by-pass and doing well, thank you! But that hospital experience in 2011 got me to thinking: What if Steve had been at home, asleep in our bed? What if he’d let out that horrible sound, and I’d assumed it was only a loud snore? I probably would have poked him, rolled over in bed, and gone back to sleep… what a horrible thing to wake up to in the morning. And what would my life have been like after that? Thus, a new storyline was born.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

Here’s the Prologue from The Other Wife… I hope you enjoy it!

It wasn’t much of a sound. Later, she would remember it as an odd sort of grunt. Still, it had been loud enough to wake her. Eleanor rolled over in their king-size bed, stretched out an arm, and nudged him. Richard’s snoring had worsened in the past months. She lay there in the darkness, waiting to see if another nudge was necessary. Just the other day, she’d read how snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, leading to other, more serious, health problems. Perhaps tomorrow, depending on what kind of mood he was in, she’d mention the subject over breakfast. Maybe she should insist that he see a doctor. Not that it would do much good. Richard rarely listened to her. For most of the thirty-eight years they’d been married, he hadn’t listened to much of what she had to say. He’d probably give her his usual shrug, tell her to quit worrying.

Quit worrying. It wasn’t until five hours later that she realized she’d had good cause to be worried. She should have known that sound was different. She should have stayed awake. She should have tried to rouse him. Instead, she waited another minute, surrounded by silence. Then, turning over, she laid her head back on the pillow and curled up in her spot, still warm from sleep, snuggling into the clean, fragrant smell of freshly laundered sheets changed by Martha the day before. Closing her eyes, Eleanor drifted off into the most pleasant dream… only to wake the next morning to every woman’s nightmare.

Richard, in bed beside her, was dead.

Readers, go to Kathleen’s website. There is a place where you can enter to win a FREE copy of her new book, The Other Wife. I have read Fatty Patty and Royals Secrets.  They are both fantastic.  I can’t wait for The Other Wife to come out.

Thank you, Kathleen, for being on Author Interview Friday on Writing Under Fire.

Author website:          http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/KathleenIrenePaterka

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/KPaterka

Amazon:                      http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Irene-Paterka

Barnes & Noble:         http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kathleen-irene-paterka

 

 

What is your most unique Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgving 2

I know everyone has their horror stories of Thanksgivings where family members come to blows with each other. Not my family. We were raised to be civil at all times, to never raise your voice, to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” However, just because we did not have any screaming matches, does not mean we were immune to the “unusual.”

So, here is mine. I’d love to hear yours.

First – a little background. To understand this story, you need to understand we are lily-white pilgrims. Well, almost anyway. My family first arrived in America in 1786 (I think that is right, but who is going to dispute it?) We settled on our family land where 5 generations of children were born in 1803, in Ohio, the same year it became a state.  You didn’t come to dinner in bare feet or T-shirts.  You wouldn’t dream of saying “I don’t like that.” You waited to be excused from the table by the hostess.  Cardinal rule: always be polite. Still, they (my grand-parents and parents) considered themselves liberal and “tolerant” – their word, not mine, of those people that were different than us.  Keep in mind, I never even met a black person until I was in high school, and my first Asian person was probably not until after I was married.  So, I was brought up slightly (okay- maybe a little more than slightly) naive.

But shortly after I was married, our family included a Mormon sister-in-law, a Italian Catholic sister-in-law, (I was told “if you don’t don’t date them, you won’t marry them) – I guess that didn’t stop by brother. Note: my sister-in-law, Pat is one of my favorite people in the whole world,  an Asian sister-in-law and my cousin married a black man.  So the family was pretty happy when I married a white Protestant boy from our home town.  (Well, almost happy – but that is another story.)

Okay, I am digressing. Back to Thanksgiving and my most unique one.

I believe it was 1995. We had recently moved to back Ohio from Virginia. For a change, most of my children (if not all) were in the same town. I have always been proud that Thanksgiving at my house  meant, “Bring anyone that is alone to share the day.” So I never knew who my children (or I) might bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

My son, Dru (in his 20’s) said he was bringing some guests. Great. The table was all set. Everything was beautiful, good china, lace tablecloth from the early 1900’s, candles lit, my family all around me, turkey on the table.  Dru was late (wasn’t he always?)  With him was a Lesbian Asian couple that did not speak English.  They had never seen a Thanksgiving turkey. They had no idea what to do with mashed potatoes and gravy. Dru had to do a pantomime Charades type demonstration to show them how to put gravy on top of the mashed potatoes. That in itself was hysterical.

After dinner, everyone settled in the living room to watch football.  What else would anyone do on Thanksgiving?  Our guests snuggled together on the couch, much to the chagrin of my 80 year old father, who tried not to stare, but whose eyes were glued like flies on a fly-strip.  They managed to indicate to Dru somehow that they wanted us to change to channel. When he reached for the remote (the only family member NOT a football freak), his sister, Amy said, “What are you doing?”

Dru said, “Changing the channel. The girls don’t want to watch football.”

Jumping to her feet, hand on her hip, Amy glared, voice raised (yes-raised), said, “In THIS house, we watch FOOTBALL on Thanksgiving!”

So much for “tolerance.”

What is your story?

 

Author Theresa M. Jarvela, novelist and freelance writer brings cozy mysteries

Author Theresa M. Jarvela resides in Brainerd, Minnesota. Theresa was a young mother when the idea to write a novel first struck her. It became one of her lifetime goals. Years later, her five children grown, she took an advanced creative writing class and joined Brainerd Writers Alliance. The door to the writing world opened.

Theresa M Jarvela

An avid reader, Theresa loves “cozy” novels so it comes as no surprise that she is the author of the “cozy” mystery series – Tales of a Tenacious Housesitter. Her first novel in the series – Home Sweet Murder – was published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. in June, 2012. Her second novel in the series – Home for the Murder – was published in June, 2013.

When Theresa isn’t busy writing, you might find her scooting around town during the warmer months in her Mazda Miata with the top down. In the winter months you can bet she’ll be sitting at the end of her couch with a good book and a cup of tea.

Theresa’s philosophy – “Life is full of adventures – live them, read them or write them! You’re never too old to enjoy them.”

Welcome, Theresa, to Author Interview Friday of Writing Under Fire. Tell us Theresa,  when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

When my children were young, I read a novel that wasn’t particularly good. I challenged myself to write a novel and made it a lifetime goal.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I have no formal education in writing but I took one evening course in Advanced Creative Writing.

What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

I freelance and have been published in several regional magazines. I entered one of my articles – Facebook – Friend or Foe – in the 79th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and was awarded Honorable Mention in the Magazine Feature Article category. I joined a writers group with the intention of writing my novel but came to love magazine writing, also.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I find early morning works best for me. Also, I accomplish more if I am away from home or at least outside in my gazebo (in warmer months).

Are you published through a traditional publishing house?

If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher? I am published by a traditional publishing house – North Star Press of St. Cloud, MN, Inc.

untitled

Tell us about” Home Sweet Murder”  in 3 sentences:

In Home Sweet Murder baby-boomer Meggie Moore finds life in the small town of Pine Lake, Minnesota, a little too mundane, even with her part-time job at a local gift shop owned by Vera Cunningham, a spry lady in her late 70’s. Meggie accepts a house sitting position offered to her by an elderly gentleman even though her husband objects. Her outspoken friend and side-kick, Shirley Wright, labels Meggie a nut who has lost touch with reality for agreeing to house sit in a neighborhood where there have been numerous burglaries.

You also have a second novel published. Tell us briefly about it.

Meggie and Shirley set off for Key West, Florida to house sit for a friend, but their working vacation  takes a sinister turn when a body turns up on the property. Winging their way back to Minnesota, they believe they left  murder behind them. Little do they know another murder awaits back in Minnesota.

Home for the Murder- (418x640)

Do you have another manuscript in progress?

I am working on a third novel in my Tales of a Tenacious Housesitter cozy mystery series. Meggie agrees to housesit a hobby farm before she finds out it is reputed to be haunted.

Where can readers buy your books?

www.theresamjarvela.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Theresa-M-Jarvela/286910401371856?ref=hl

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Theresa+Jarvela&search-alias=books&text=Theresa+Jarvela&sort=relevancerank

 

Learning to love among the ashes. A firefighter’s wife’s story.

Megan Kiffmeyer

 

I’d like to introduce you to one of our youngest writers. Megan (Truenow) Kiffmeyer is a 2004 graduate from St. Cloud Technical High School. She was a writer and editor for the high school paper. After graduating, she attended St. Cloud Technical College and received an AAS degree in Credit and Finance. Megan married her husband, Brian in 2007. They welcomed their first son in 2008, and a second son in 2009.

She currently resides in Kimball, Minnesota. Megan is a part of their local Fire Department Auxiliary, and is the wife of a fire fighter.

Her debut novel,  Moving On, is the first of a series that focuses on three couples who all have ties to the Hutchinson, Minnesota Fire Department.

Megan, what drove you to write your novel?

I had started reading more books after receiving a Kindle for my birthday. Out of habit, I was reading a lot of romance novels, and had a hard time finding books with the main male character as a fireman. I’m married to a fireman, and figured there had to be other wives that would want to read the same thing.

How long did it take to write your first draft?

I started writing the first part of June 2013, and had it done by the end of August. It took me a few weeks to outline the story in my head before any of it was written. I set my own deadline because we were moving, and wanted to have it done before the move.

Do you always use the same POV?

My first book is written as third person switching between the lead male and female, but I would like to try first person. It was hard using she/her all the time.

Tag Line:  After Beth’s husband dies responding to a fire department call, she fears finding new love. But sparks fly with a new member of the fire department, and Beth has to decide if she can handle a new relationship. Will she take the chance on another fireman?

Mving On

What was the hardest part in the writing process?

My husband is on our local fire department, and for me it was difficult to come up with names and situations that were not too closely related to people in our town and on the department. The characters are purely from my imagination.

Any advice for new writers?

Keep writing! If you enjoy writing, keep trying. The more patience you can have, the easier the process will feel.

Do you stick with the same genre when writing?

My first novel is considered a romance, and I will write more romance novels. I would like to write a children’s book with my boys as the characters, but I haven’t figured out what kind of story I want it to be yet.

Where can readers buy Moving On?

Blog:  http://mnfirefighterbooks.blogspot.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Megan-Kiffmeyers-Author-Page/564803140270543

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Kiffmeyer/e/B00HX89T8G/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Can you share a little from the  book?

Beth had known Josh since the first year of college. He was from Hutchinson, the town they later called home. She grew up in the cities, and wanted to get out of the busy, urbanized area. Beth had always felt trapped by the tall buildings and fast paced way of life. Both had attended many of the same general education classes, and the friendship grew into love. He proposed the week after graduation, and they got married the following April. Even at 23, she knew with him was where she was meant to be.

One thing that drew Beth to Josh was his willingness to help. It was no surprise to her that he desired to follow his dad’s footsteps and become a member of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined the spring before school was out, and commuted from Hutch to school every day. He didn’t want to miss any called and let his numbers slip. The fire department was a second family to him.  His best friend Petey, the brother he never had Josh always said, was the best man at their wedding.  It was a great source of friendship for both Josh and Beth.

They had been married 3 years when they started talking about having a baby. They were lying in bed tossing around ideas of what to name the future little one when Josh’s pager went off. He kissed her good-bye, and told Beth he loved her before grabbing his socks and getting his jeans on as he ran out the door. Beth caught part of the end of the page, hearing it was a car wreck on the main highway. Please keep the guys safe and get the people the help they need, she said in a quick little prayer. It became habit when she knew he was on a call.

A few minutes later, Beth heard the sirens. Their house was less than a mile from the fire hall, which usually resulted in Josh getting on the first rig to leave. About ten minutes later, there were more sirens. Car accidents meant at least one fire truck, the rescue rig, and an ambulance. She waited to hear the third set of sirens, and then got out of bed to get some things done. Josh wouldn’t be back for a while, longer if it was a really bad accident.

Beth worked on getting laundry done, cleaning the living room, and headed to their office in the half story of the house. The office was on the main level, and their room and a third room that was mainly used for storage in the top level. Beth went upstairs and stood at the doorway of the storage room, trying to picture what it would look like with a crib. They were ready to be parents. Josh would be a great father.

As the afternoon went on, Beth found herself cleaning the spare room. There were a lot of things kept in the room that could be moved to the basement already. She took a trip down memory lane as she flipped through photo albums of their wedding and honeymoon. Beth found a box in the garage and labeled it “Photos” before adding the albums and other pictures to it. She brought the box to the basement, along with a few other boxes.

As she came up the steps the last time, she took a look at the clock and decided to start making supper. Beth was filling a pot of water when she looked out the kitchen window and froze. The Hutchinson Fire Department car had just rolled up to the curb in front of their house. Petey got out, wearing a tired look. This couldn’t be good, Beth thought. He rubbed his face for a second, and then crossed the street and walked up to the door. The first knock on the door jarred Beth back to the present, and she turned off the water. Walking to the door, she knew Petey wouldn’t have shown up unless something had happened to Josh. She opened the door, and saw it was grim by the look in Petey’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” he asked her, leaning on the doorway.

“Sure.”

They walked into the living room, and Petey sat on the couch. Beth stood with her arms crossed.

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

Beth let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, and sat on the couch with Petey.

“What happened?” she asked, fearing the reason he was there.

“Do you know what the call was for?” Beth nodded yes, and Petey continued. “ We were out on 7 for a roll-over. The car was smashed so bad, but being the first crew on the scene, we were doing as much as we could to assess the victims’ conditions. Josh was on the driver’s side when a truck came barreling through our scene. The driver didn’t see Josh.” He put his head down in his hands. “He hit Josh.”

Beth didn’t notice the tears falling until they started hitting her arm. “Where’s Josh? I need to go see him.”

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Happy Birthday to Me

 

The earliest photo I have with Mom

Mom,  my  brothers  and  me

Today is my birthday, so I’m allowed to post about myself.  Life has taken me thousands of miles and blessed me with hundreds of friends, acquaintances, and family along the way. They haven’t all stayed in touch and that is okay. People come in and out of your life for a reason and I accept their time with me as a gift and their absence as a sign our time together has naturally come to an end and we each have different people to meet, to love, to aspire to be.

I usually ask authors questions about themselves and their writing. Today, I’ll ask myself the same questions.  Don’t worry. I will only pick a few.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I wrote my first short story at the age of ten, but I am not sure now that I really thought through the idea of being a professional writer. That didn’t really happen until fifty-two years later, in 2010, when I realized that I would like to make a profession of the passion I have always loved.  (okay, you can do the math)

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I have no formal training.  The only college classes I took were for my real estate career. But once I decided to take this seriously, I havent’ been able to stop learning. I read hundred of blogs, endless amount of books, attend every conference and workshop I can.  Since I am the president of my local writer’s group, I often have to fill in when a speaker suddenly backs out. If I am going to get up and teach a workshop, I am going to research until I know everything I can about the subject.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

I wrote my first published work in 30 days during a NANOWRIMO challenge in 2010. It took another  two and half years before it was even close to being ready to publish.  I look at it now and know I could do so much better today.

Are you published through a traditional publishing house or Indie published?

I am Indie published through Create Space and as far as self-publishing, you can’t beat it. But, I would love to find a traditional publisher and my desire it to secure one for my current work in progress. It is currently in the editing and re-writing stage.  I hope to complete that within the next six months so I can start sending out queries.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I am a planner. I write and outline and a timeline. Then I search photo sites like Istock and Photo.com for pictures of my protagonists. If I can see them, it is easier to write about them. I also write a character sketch for each of my main characters. All this said, once I start to write,  things sometimes take a life of their own. When that happens it is like someone else’s fingers are typing, and all I can do is sit back and say “WOW, How did that happen?”

Was there a mistake you made in your writing process you could share with us?

The biggest mistake  I made was publish too soon.  Even with tons of beta readers and an editor, there was more work that needed to be done on that first book.  My second biggest mistake was getting discouraged too fast and self-publishing.  I  hope I have the stamina to keep seeking an agent for as long as it takes next time.

What genre of book do you love? Do you write in that same genre?

I love women’s fiction, stories about women’s journey’s in life.  My favorite writer of all time is Jodi Picoult. I can only hope to write as well as her. Yes, I do write in that same genre.  My books are current events (typically within the last ten years). I get my ideas from watching the news.  Accident is about an alcoholic soccer Mom from the suburbs that causes a fatal car accident. Town Without Mercy’s inspiration came from the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  My WIP (work is progress) is about international adoption.

Tell us about one of your books in one sentence.

I’ll give you a peek into my current work-in-progress.    Re-homing Pigeon is the story of a Louisiana Cajun woman and an orphaned Russian child that must lose everything, including each other, before they can find what family really means

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?   A sneak-peek into the first chapter. of Re-Homing Pigeon.

If it weren’t for the voodoo curse, she would have been a terrific mother. Cecile Lafayette Boudreaux stroked the Gris-Gris amulet around her neck, and then the mound around her middle. We’ll get through this, Junior, don’t worry. Born in the Louisiana bayou, she wasn’t supposed to scare easily. The weatherman had drawn spaghetti lines that snaked through the Gulf of Mexico, all heading straight toward the mouth of the Mississippi. They named her Katrina. The die-hards planned hurricane parties. Fire up the outdoor cooker; them mud bugs were waiting for cayenne pepper, hot sauce and ‘taters. Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll.) Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation. Governor Blanco told anyone refusing to leave to write their names and social security number on their arms in magic marker so they could identify the bodies.

Cecile told herself that she’d be safe in their sturdy home in Saint Bernard Parish. Armand had boarded the house so not a sliver of daylight peeked through the plywood sheets. This wasn’t the first hurricane in her thirty years, and it wouldn’t be the last. No matter the warnings, she couldn’t leave without her husband, who had responsibilities as drilling manager for the Murphy Oil Refinery.

She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds and things that had no business being airborne. Thousands of mosquito hawks (dragonflies) flew in a frenzy, forming a gossamer purple and green funnel. It’s coming . . .

Thanks readers, for letting me indulge in a little self-promotion. Where can people buy my books?

                   https://www.createspace.com/4441710

My Husband is a Woman Now

Leslie Fabian pic

This is one of the most unusual  interviews I have ever done since starting Author Interview Friday.   As you can tell from the title, My Husband’s a Woman Now, it is quite an unusual story. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Leslie Hillburn Fabian, today’s Author. And because this is such an unusual topic, I’d like to change the order which I normally do my interviews. So hold on to your seats  readers, as I reverse the order. (just to keep you on your toes  LOL)

What shelf would we find your book if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

            With the ease of ordering on-line these days, I seldom go into book stores anymore, so I’ll have to create some shelf labels, to wit: LOVE STORIES; TRANSITION STORIES; RELATIONSHIP HELP; PERSONAL GROWTH & AWARENESS; MEMOIRS; TRANSGENDER…things along those lines.

Leslie, Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

From My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love by Leslie Hilburn Fabian, LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)

            “When I met my husband, he was wearing a dress.” I had occasionally made this surprising declaration during the first twenty years of my marriage to David. I’d been selective, of course, trusting my instincts to determine when and to whom it was safe to reveal this.

            Making this bold pronouncement, I’d been “outing” my husband as a cross-dresser, exposing his life-long secret of sometimes wearing women’s clothes. The statement was invariably shocking and confusing to others, but I had found it the least complicated, most direct way, of opening a conversation about who he truly was—or rather, who we thought he was.

            Then, in 2009, after twenty-one years together, we both realized that David was more than “just a cross-dresser” and he began moving in a much more audacious direction. His sporadic feminine expression, the act of cross-dressing, had morphed into a plan to become a woman full-time. This revelation was alarming to the majority of people in David’s life. They’d known him only as a man and it was unlikely they’d ever thought to question his undeniable masculinity, a perception based on observable details.

            …All who know David saw a skilled orthopedic surgeon, beloved and respected by hospital and office staff, patients, family, friends, and particularly by me, his wife. But the physical form, the skills, integrity, and brilliance of this individual—all that one could witness of his life—masked the inner workings of David R. Fabian, M.D.

            This transition story begins in middle age, in our early sixties. It is about the deconstructing of our previous life and the creation of a new one. My husband, David Robert Fabian, M.D., began living as a woman in the fall of 2011. This woman, Deborah Rae Fabian, has existed internally for all of David’s remembered life.

Did you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time’s?

            I have no formal training in writing, other than occasional weekend workshops and a class I attended years ago. All of the reading I’d done throughout my life, prior to beginning my book, contributed to the structure I used. There was, in fact, little structure in the beginning. My daily writing was essentially a “free-form” recording of what was occurring, both internally and around me. As I promoted my husband’s transition, maintaining a desire to remain in our marriage, emotional fluctuations were rampant.

            In the second year of my three-year writing process, the composition emerged. Working with a book shepherd was enormously helpful, as she guided me in structuring my work into the finished product that manifested. The book gradually took a chronological shape in four parts: our past, the process during the two transition years, journal entries from the first year after transition, and, finally, what I learned from the entire process.

As someone who’d never before written a book, how did you know how to start, once you believed you had something to say?

     After I’d written for a year and had accumulated 150 pages of writing, I believed I had a book-in-the-works, yet had no idea how to proceed. Fate stepped in; a book on self-publishing practically fell into my lap at a Barnes & Noble! In the midst of looking there for clues to my next steps, I read about the concept of Book Shepherds, people whose work it is to advise, encourage, and support writers. This led to four phone interviews and the hiring of my incredible book shepherd, Judith M. Weigle, Book Shepherd, Judy@JudyWeigle.com.

     For two more years, to the completion and publishing of my book, Judy was a God-send who kept me afloat and assisted me in creating my first literary work. I doubt I’d have done it without her!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Both of my parents (now deceased) aspired to write; each wrote beautiful, inspiring letters. While providing incentive, however, neither ever got serious enough to create a book.

            In the nineties, I was in graduate school for social work at Boston College, and a professor noted on one of my papers, “You are a gifted writer!” I’ve always loved writing and was pretty sure I did it well, and that short statement stuck with me until I got serious about it in my sixties. Then, with a profound transition occurring in my life, I felt compelled to write the on-going story as it unfolded. Voila! A love story emerged, and my first book was published.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

            I actually used a print-on-demand publisher called Virtual Bookworm. I consider this a “step above” self-publishing, as companies such as VBW provide myriad services, much as a traditional publisher does, for which the writer contracts. Their services are available both individually and packaged, and they are selective about what they publish.

            There are many reasons why I avoided the traditional route. Foremost was the warning of a friend who’s published several books and  found that the results of using a traditional publisher for one of them have been highly disappointing. The publisher made changes to her book with which she was not in agreement. She makes a pittance on the thousands of books sold, while the publisher makes much more. Further, the publisher now owns the book and she must buy it back if she wants to change publishers. She also warned me that it would likely take a couple of years to see my book in print, since I was a first-time, unknown author.

            I chose Virtual Bookworm after researching print-on-demand publishers and liking their services, packages, and responses to my inquiries regarding their work. They have been wonderful to work with; I highly recommend them.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

            As I said, I felt compelled to write this book, under the circumstances occurring in my life. I found the writing to be therapeutic and instructive to my own process, as I have for thirty years of daily journaling. I also knew that what I had to say could be helpful to others—to those going through similar processes, to anyone going through a huge transition, and also to those who might be curious about our situation and how my spouse and I handled it. There was no stopping my “Voice,” once the writing began!

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

            I developed this technique in graduate school, with lengthy papers to write, and it’s continued to work for me whenever I have a project of any kind. First I decide on a total time I want to write for that day. Then I prepare my work space, read something inspiring, and set a timer for one hour. I work until the timer goes off, then take a break. If I’m highly engaged in my work when an hour is up, I might continue working for another half-hour or to the completion of that piece, and I’ll set the alarm again for thirty minutes (to keep track of my total time). Then I get up and do something fun, completely unrelated to my writing, for fifteen to thirty minutes—e.g., walk the dog, grab something to eat, read something unrelated. Then I begin writing again, resetting the timer until I reach my total time for the day. This system promotes meeting my daily goal, as well as providing rewards for satisfying work.

 MY Husband is a Woman

Thank you Leslie.  This is a strange and compelling story. It took a lot of courage to expose your personal life, knowing that some people would never understand and attack your views and decisions.  Yet, it is something you felt compelled to write.  Reader, to learn more, go to her website: www.lesliefab.com

Below is a intro into her story and links to buy her book.

Nothing is more certain in life than change, and this change is bigger than most. In 2009, Leslie Fabian’s husband, David-an orthopedic surgeon who’d been privately cross-dressing for most of his life-realized that brief forays into the world as Deborah would never be enough.
This came as no surprise to Leslie. For two decades, cross-dressing had been a part of their lives; but she had witnessed her spouse’s devastation each time he returned to his male persona. To purchase, go to any website below. These are for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my publisher, Virtual Bookworm.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Husbands-Woman-Now-Transition/dp/1621374319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394127297&sr=8-1&keywords=9781621374312

(http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-husbands-a-woman-now-leslie-hilburn-fabian/1118828078?ean=9781621374312)

http://www.virtualbookworm.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH