Saturday, April 12, 2014

Inspired by a Dream

Jael of Rogan inspired me to believe in the impossible dream.

Some inner part of me became an inner part of my character.  

Do I crave adventure?

Do I love to explore new roads, see where their twists and turns take me?

Yes, on both counts. But the likeness doesn't end there. Though I tried to write Jael's character as different from my own as possible--she's petite with platinum hair and blue eyes--only her outer structure differed in the end.

Oh, but she is quite a bit braver than I. That part was big-time fiction. But my hopes and dreams spilled over into her and surfaced on occasion. Maybe that's why I love her character and can't seem to forget her...
  • So here's the scoop: In just a few days, I will release the updated version of The Lady of the Haven, followed closely by the updated version of A Gathering of Eagles. They will both be available as ebooks, on all the usual networks, in their brand new clothes with reformatted interiors. They are beautiful! 
  • What do you think? I am in discussions right now about the print version. I am leaning toward combining the two books into one volume. I would like to hear your opinion of that. You can comment here or drop me a note on Facebook
And along with the launch, I will have some really nice gifts you can win by entering a contest here on my website. So, exciting things are in the works! I hope you'll stop back by in a few days. "Like" my Facebook page to stay up-to-date. I won't overwhelm you with advertising.

Thanks for stopping by!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dreaming in the Rain - Hello, April!

The month of March was a lot of fun for me as I interviewed four of my favorite authors. If you missed any of those posts, I've linked them here so you can catch up. Dreams are a vital part of a writer's life. In fact, dreams can be useful for everyone. What do you hope to achieve in life? If you can dream it, you can do it. Yes, I know dreams can be wild and crazy and maybe we don't want to go there, but some of the wildest, craziest dreams have come true.

For instance, consider the wild and crazy worlds that have been created by writers and envisioned by filmmakers - Tolkien, Lewis, Carroll, Baum, Lucas -- just to name a few. These writers dreamed a dream that caught on to our imaginations and voila! We can live these dreams by watching movies. They've become real.

I first met William du Frain, a prince of Coldthwaite, in a dream. Mortally wounded, he fell from his horse into a raging, flood-swollen river. Downstream, below a fifty-foot cascade, a young woman waited. In my dream, I gave her special powers. Enhanced hearing and acute vision. She actually heard William fall from his horse into the river, several miles away. She heard the change in the water's path as it carried the semi-lifeless body into the cascade and deposited it in the fall's basin.

I gave her a name, Jael of Rogan. She became known as The Lady of the Haven. I published the book in 2007. It was my dream, and I loved it. I went on to write another chapter of her life in A Gathering of Eagles, when the shadows of war darken the kingdom of Coldthwaite and beyond. William is called into action once more and Jael must step into her destiny.

Throughout the month of April, I will share my memories of these two stories in celebration of my dream. What became for me a wonderful adventure into a fantasy land inhabited by believers in a powerful God. Then, about halfway through the month, I'll launch my campaign for the re-release of The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles. I'll be offering a couple of valuable prizes, and showing off the beautiful new cover art for these two stories.

I hope you'll stop in often to see what's happening here at my blog. Or you can stay in touch by liking my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/betty.owens.author

I'm @batowens on Twitter and you can find me on Pinterest and Google+ as well. I hope you'll stop by and enter the contest for some really nice prizes and be around to download the books when they become available. If you like fantasy adventure that won't embarrass you or your younger family members, you'll love Jael's story. She's family friendly. I don't know about you, but that's important to me.

Here are the links for the "Dream" Interviews -

Ann Gabhart
Nike Chillemi
Fay Lamb
Elizabeth Noyes

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Writer's Life--In Pursuit of Dreams--Ann Gabhart



Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.--Harriet Tubman

I'm finishing out the month of March and my "Dreams" theme with a writer who continually inspires me to dream. She makes it look easy, but I know it's not. It's hard work and she's never been afraid of that. Every time I've been privileged to hear her speak, I know dreams can come true. They may not be the big, overblown dreams that garner the media's attention, but I never wanted to be a meteor. I want to be the twinkling star that lasts. Kind of like Ann Gabhart.

1.   Would you consider yourself a dreamer?

Ann: There are so many ways to be a dreamer. You can be a dreamy dreamer and maybe walk around in a fog all the time. You can be a focused dreamer and fix your eyes on a goal in that dream and reach for the stars. Or you can be a Walter Mitty type dreamer and just have fun imagining adventures.

Probably, over the years, I’ve been all those types of dreamers. I certainly dreamed of being a writer when I was a kid and imagined my stories finding their way into readers’ hands. Then, as I got older, I tried to figure out ways to make those dreams come true. My dreams became my goals. I didn’t just say someday I want to be a writer. I wanted to be a published writer right then. It took a few years of working toward that dream, but I did see it come to reality. I’m still dreaming now. I think it’s important to keep dreaming. And of course, I think I’ve always been the Walter Mitty type and enjoyed living in my dreams and turning them into stories. 
 

2.   Daydreams or night dreams? How else do you come up with ideas? 

Ann: I do dream at night and did a pile of daydreaming when I was a kid. I don’t daydream as much now unless you count writing fiction as a working daydream. I often dream elaborate adventures when I’m sleeping, but even though I can remember that the dreams were very involved, the actual happenings in the dreams vanish once I open my eyes and get out of bed. A few times, when something has jerked me out of sleep in the middle of a vivid dream, I’ve wanted to hit a pause button so I can rejoin the dream when I go back to sleep. That never happens. I just plunge into a whole new dream.

That question about coming up with ideas can be answered in dozens of ways because ideas come from so many sources. Everything a writer experiences, remembers, reads about, or imagines can inspire an idea. Even other people’s memories can be the idea instigator as my mother’s stories of growing up during the Depression years were the idea beginnings for my book, Angel Sister. That story led to my other Rosey Corner books, Small Town Girl and Love Comes Home (releasing in July). On the other hand, my own memories of growing up in a small rural town were the inspiration for my 1960’s setting in my Heart of Hollyhill books, Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy. Then my Shaker books were inspired by the Shaker village near my house and the many historical accounts I’ve read of their Society.

Research can light a creative fire and make ideas spring up in my mind. That’s how Words Spoken True came about. When I read about the dramatic events in 1855 Louisville, I wanted to drop my characters down into that era and see what happened next. And then, of course, sometimes I just dream up an idea with no idea of where in the world it came from. Wes and his Jupiter stories in the Heart of Hollyhill series were like that. He just showed up in Scent of Lilacs. A gift, but who knows from where? Jupiter perhaps?  
 

3.   What steps do you take to bring your dreams to life?

Ann: If you mean my dream to write and be published, then the steps I took were writing and more writing and never giving up even when I was walking through rejection valley. I just kept writing. I kept trying to tell a better story. I kept bringing characters to life in my imagination. I kept researching for story ideas. And I kept reading to grow my familiarity with words and stories.

The first book I wrote was a gothic romance. That got me the interest of an agent, but she said gothics were a waning genre and why didn’t I write a historical romance? And so I did. I took the step of being willing to try something different. I’ve done that throughout my writing career. I’ve written in several different genres for both adults and kids. When one thing wasn’t working for me, I tried something new.

Now I try to be continually working on a new idea, a new story. And I’m still dreaming about writing a story everybody wants to read and that lands on the New York Times Bestseller list. Wouldn’t that be something? A person needs to dream big and to look forward with new goals.

I love this quote from Michelangelo. “The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”

I want to aim high and not limit my dreams.  

4.   Filling in the middle: How do you keep yourself moving forward?

Ann: I’ve always been a goal setter with my writing. In the beginning, it was just to write something every day. When I was a young mother with very little free time, I found that keeping a writing journal helped me stay focused and accountable. Too many days with no entry of time spent writing would make me try harder to find those extra hours needed to move toward my goal of completing a story or whatever project I was writing. Then later, after I began to concentrate on writing novels, I set goals of when I wanted to have the book completed. I made my own deadlines as a way to motivate myself to write and move forward with my stories. That doesn’t mean I’ve always met my goals. Often, I did not. Life happens and there is always something going on to pull you away from your desk when you have a family. But at the same time, I didn’t give up even when time to write was hard to come by. I just set new personal deadlines for my writing goals. Now I have contracts for my books with publisher imposed deadlines that keep my fingers on the keyboard.

While goals and deadlines can help you stay on track, they don’t make the writing any easier. With most every story, I hit what I call the writing doldrums somewhere along the way when I wonder if the story is worth writing. I’ve found I just have to keep plugging along with my writing. Generally, the creative winds will pick back up and I can keep the story going.

Writing can be hard work. That’s something that many people don’t understand. They think writers are doing what they love–and we are–but that doesn’t mean that it’s not work. Getting the story down in the first draft is the hardest part for me. It can be exciting to have a great idea and think about writing a book, but it takes perseverance to see the story through the middle and end.       
 

5.   Do you have any advice for other dreamers?

Ann: Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. (Harriet Tubman)

When you think about what Harriet Tubman did, guiding so many slaves to freedom with danger stalking her every step, then you can get a vision of her dream. Our dreams won’t be like hers. My dream won’t be like yours. But we all have God given talents the Lord wants us to use. He gave us the capacity to dream. He wants us to dream big and use those talents to bring sunshine and joy into the world. While He doesn’t promise pursuing our dreams will be easy, He does promise to always be with us through the good and bad times, and sometimes He blesses us with stories.

So dream big, work hard, pray harder, and never give up.  

“Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.” (Louise Brown) 

ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-six novels for adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on her Kentucky farm where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or Jocie’s Heart of Hollyhill blog www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com. You can follow Ann on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or
Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.    


Summer of Joy, the third title in the Heart of Hollyhill series is now in stores and available on-line dressed up in a brand new cover. Come visit the 1960s and enjoy some true-to-life family drama, refreshing humor and lovable characters.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Writer's Life - In Pursuit of Dreams - Nike Chillemi



A Dream doesn’t become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work. ––Colin Powell

I'm fascinated by those who weave good suspense stories. How do they come up with some of their ideas?  Nike Chillemi is one of those writers who "fashions" her stories of suspense and intrigue complete with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the end. And she isn't above adding a dash of humor into the mix. It's been my honor to be among her critiquers the last couple of years and let me tell you, it's not a chore.

So how did she answer my questions? Let's find out...

Would you consider yourself a dreamer? 
Nike: I'd consider myself a grounded realist with a great imagination. When I was much younger I was a dreamer, often lost in my own thoughts, my own reality. I think that was good, and was the foundation for my creativity. But the toughness of life and life's lessons has brought me down to earth. Now I think more in terms of purpose and vision.
Daydreams or night dreams? How else do you come up with ideas? 
Nike: Interestingly enough, I often come up with ideas, sometimes entire scenes either right before bed or when waking up. If I don't have a notebook at bedside to write it down, I'll run straight to my computer before I forget. I also get great ideas for my novels in the shower. I think my demeanor at bedtime and in the shower must be very relaxed. Those are times when the cares of the day fade away and cease crowding my mind. So, creativity is better able to flow.

 What steps do you take to bring your purpose and vision to life? 
Nike: I've put in the time and honed my craft. When I started out, I took a free online writing course given by Harlequin. I still use a modified version of the character information sheet they offered in that course. I participate in author discussions online to keep up with industry trends, and I read articles on the ins-and-outs of publishing. In addition, of course, I write, write, and write.
Filling in the middle: How do you keep yourself moving forward? 
Nike: I'm excited by the novels I have inside me. I have a great desire to see them in print and to have people reading them. I hate it when newbie authors says, "God told me to write this book," and then of course, it needs a great deal of rewriting. However, my desire to have my books in print and to have them read has sustained itself. It is the desire of my heart. So, I do believe God placed that desire there.
    My big dream right now is to see my new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT, released. This novel is the introduction to my new mystery series which will have tons of thrills and chills, lots of action, as well as laugh-out-loud humor. Each novel will have its own male and female investigator main characters, so natch, there will be romance at various levels, depending upon the personality and life situation of the characters. I'm very excited and have big dreams for this new series.
Do you have any advice for other dreamers? 
Nike: Keep dreaming. It's fun to dream and stirs up creativity. But don't fly so high that you never touch the ground. You have to have you feet on the ground to take the practical steps necessary to have your dreams become a reality.
Find and connect with Nike Chillemi here:
Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Coming soon from Nike Chillemi
Harmful Intent  Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels' family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he's not so sure at first, he's on the side of this meddling, female New York PI. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.
Nike doesn't have a cover for Harmful Intent at this time. The very talented Ellen Sallas (Ellen C. Maze)* is working on it. Since the novel is set in the horse country of Texas, Nike visited a stable as part of her research. This is one of the photos she took while there. 
"I carry a digital camera with me nearly all the time so I can spontaneously snap photos that are useful for my writing research. This is one way I work. Taking photos helps me focus on my writing project(s) and also helps me dream."