Tag Archive for nature

Client Success: Joe Shumock’s “Briana and the Dog” Enlivens YA Readers with Unique Plot

“I develop many of my stories using a short question: what if?” said author Joe Shumock.  “What if I start with a nine-year-old who is blind? And what if she wants a dog for Christmas and her parents insist that she take care of him? And what if the dog has a disability too?”

Briana and the Dog is a young adult novel aimed at ages 8-12, but is lauded as a “children’s book for all ages.”  With the lead character and conflict in mind, Shumock researched people, places, and circumstances to develop a unique plot, while creating the book’s setting from memories of his rural upbringing grounded in the town near where he currently lives. Foley, Alabama is a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico.

“I love writing. For me, it’s great fun to develop the story and the characters. And every word should be the best one possible for its place in the sentence and the story.” His process lasted about nine months, but Briana was one of several projects on his desk, including a fifth entry in his published thriller series, the first story in a new family trilogy, and the second entry in the Briana trilogy while he also worked on publishing details for The Shepherd’s Crook, a spiritual story scheduled for publication later this year

Very grateful, Shumock couldn’t do without his readers.  “I think of myself as a writer in the southern tradition, caring about family and community.  And everyone from family to friends to my high-school classmates and neighbors is aware of my writing.”  He enjoys the questions when someone finds out he’s an author. Some are about writing, and some are about him as a writer

After serving as editor on his recent novel Sacrifice of the Lambs, this story’s tone was very different yet still exhibited his signature style while writing complex issues and thrilling acts.  Shumock said, “Through our work, the lesson for me was to see how my writing could be better with your help, to see my novel through new eyes.  Working with you, Barry Hodgin (designer), and others has made this ‘work’ pleasurable.”

To those who want to write and publish, Shumock advised, “Don’t let the unknown overwhelm you. Dig in everywhere possible and learn all you can. And this goes for marketing the book too. It’s a challenge, but like the writing, it must be done. Use social media, schedule book events, and create new ways to spread the word. Stay at it a little every day.”

Client Success: Vanderyt Publishes Memoir Sequel “Obsidian Rose”

Memoir classes scheduled in Winter and Fall.

“My inspiration for writing Obsidian Rose was feeling like I had unfinished business,” Karen Vanderyt said about her sequel to 2012’s Afterglow. “My writing process was smoother, probably because I had a bit more confidence after editing and publishing my first book, but also because I had worked through a lot of things emotionally.”

Vanderyt.Obsidian.Rose.coverAfterglow: Remembering A Life Well Lived, her memoir about commitment and family, heartbreak and loss, was heralded a love story. This exercise in remembrance came soon after losing her husband of 39 years, Bill, to incurable brain cancer. She wrote to attempt to make sense of those swift three months from diagnosis until his passing.

Obsidian Rose: Reclaiming A Life After Loss shows her reality still full of memories and mourning, but how bringing a Lab puppy into her home while navigating everyday hills and valleys reinforced her determination to create a new life for herself. The pup became a touchpoint, and in turn, the title of the book. To all who know her, she’s lovingly called Siddie.

“Writing the sequel enabled me to be more proactive about doing something about the disease that Bill died of. I have worked through a lot of anger, and I want to feel as if I have made a contribution by supporting Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure and sharing with others my own healing process.” Karen donates all proceeds from both titles to ABC2 for their mission “to invest in research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure.”

Shortly after publishing her first book, Karen began anew. “It was nice to take a break from the writing routine, but I found I missed it and started carving out a few mornings a week to write, and the process flowed.”

Her biggest encouragement came from family and friends, even strangers who identified with her grieving process. “There is a special bond that only another person who has suffered a similar loss can truly understand.”

kv.Kirby.Siddie.porch.back.cover With our ongoing creative relationship of 14 years, she credits our bond of trust and our lively concept meetings as the most fruitful part of her writing process. “They encouraged me to explore deeper levels of meaning,” Karen said. “You push writers to better themselves and their product.”

“Getting the book to print was challenging because there were several things going on at once: editing, proofing, website design, navigating social media, and traveling to visit my three grown children and my eight grands! Life does go on…” She also set a deadline to publish in May to coincide with Brain Tumor Awareness Month, which we achieved.

Currently, she is building a home in Oregon on land she and Bill bought decades ago, land where they planned to fulfill a dream of retirement, a dream she is realizing. “I’m giving myself permission to take a break from writing, and then, I’m going to explore writing a love story about my parent’s early years together based on the love letters my dad, Norm Van Brocklin, wrote to my mom, Gloria Schieve, during the special time in our nation’s history after WWII. And, either concurrently or after that, I’ll work on closing the trilogy of memoirs, writing about restoring life after loss. But I realize that requires living life for a while! And there is great fulfillment in saying ‘yes’ to life.”

And no doubt, Siddie will be right by her side.

Visit Karen’s website and order books in paperback and e-book formats.

Second Nature

Rivaling the crisp new leaves flapping in the spring breeze, their noisy excuses were abundant.

joubert

“Revisions take so long and winter was so short, and that’s my best time to write.”

“I can’t focus on writing with a stuffy head. The pollen was the worst!“

“All that rain made me blue. . .”

“And now it’s too pretty outside to stay in and write!”

Ah, springtime’s seasonal allergy of excuses that clogs ideas in your head or simply drains them away.  Too bad there isn’t a pill for that. . .

Does the season really affect your writing’s progress?  With any goal, aren’t some tasks more time consuming than others?  And can you prioritize and balance according to the changing weather of your schedule and keep a commitment to consistent writing?

Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling The Kite Runner and upcoming As The Mountains Echoed, said “There is a romantic notion to writing a novel, especially when you are starting it.  (When) you’re about fifty pages into it, that romance wears off, and then you’re left with a very stark reality of having to write the rest of this thing…what it takes at that point is discipline.  You have to punch in and punch out every day regardless of whether it’s going badly.”

AESOPUse what you are given in the moment to make your best plans.  One client accepted the temptation of a warm, sunny day to take a Frisbee and a notepad to the park for energetic fun and people-watching writing motivation.  Another writer used the weekend’s chilly downpour as inspiration to get into the mood of her short story’s Alaskan autumn setting.  Across town, I edited a client’s books and wrote on my projects to the shower’s centering patter.

Nature has been a major tease this springtime with wildly shifting weather and smatterings of blossoms instead of one glorious show.  Though somewhat unusual, we must remember that’s just nature.

A good writing practice goes with the flow as the successful writer perseveres beyond discouragement, difficulty, and distraction with dedicated focus, action and creativity.  Like breathing, the writer who persistently progresses has turned practice into second nature.

Just Now

Go. Out. Side.graffiti.3.2013

Waking up late today after a very full yesterday added to daylight savings time stealing an hour, I did my morning ritual in the afternoon — writing, drinking tea and checking in with the world online.

My intuition kept nudging me: Get in the sunshine.  Make that the priority.

Okay, okay.

No work.  No writing.  Take a break.

The feelings felt good, and I knew it was the right thing to do, so I went to walk the path from the Dekalb Tennis Center across the tracks, by the ruins of the old Dekalb Water Works, then onto the boardwalk by the stream over to Medlock Park where the little leaguers play.

Immediately, I tried to phone my sister-in-law and check in.  Got an answering machine.  The same with a friend and my dad.  I left multiple messages and pocketed the phone.  I relaxed into it.  Even alone, there were interactions between me and others, me and children, me and dogs.  Instead of talking on the phone to someone 60 or 1500 miles away, I was interacting and sharing face to face, often with only expressions and body language.

Both coming and going, I passed two girlfriends chatting about one’s new lover and how to navigate the relationship.  This contrasted with another woman on the phone who at first had turned away from the boardwalk for privacy, then when I saw her again, she had her curved hand on her forehead and was staring blankly.  I playfully thought she might be receiving a psychic message.  As I got closer, I saw she was just trying to read her smartphone screen in the mottled sunshine.  Again, I passed her without seeing her eyes.

That could have been me, I thought.

Back at the water works, structures graffiti artists use as a canvas, constantly spraying over each other’s work, I snapped some pictures on my smartphone and talked to a man as he watched his son.  He offered that he wasn’t thrilled with the ‘vandalism,’ mentioned even threatening to call the cops on a young adult with multiple spray cans and a respirator who was going for it one afternoon.

I offered my opinion:  I honestly look forward to seeing what they’ve done.  It’s like a free art gallery on my walk.  They respectfully don’t stray onto other surfaces, just sticking with these.

He looked at me and listened.

Besides, I continued, on my way in there were lots of moms and pops with kids, all talking about it, pointing at different parts, interacting with the art and one another.  Many of these people may never set foot in a museum, so that interaction may prove priceless to one of those kids.  And the artist had fun, too.  Mostly, though, the art encouraged folks to share.  So, really, what’s the harm?

Plus it got this stranger and I talking about our neighborhood.  We continued to chat, to question, to share and be heard.  Then we shook hands, smiled thanking one another, and moved on.

For all the messages I left on smartphones around the country, there were no return calls.  Great, I thought, what a beautiful afternoon to be outside.