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Monday, January 30, 2012

Fun n Sun Book Club

I'm a reader and I love to talk with other readers. As the speaker at the Fun n Sun Book Club in Harlingen, TX, last Saturday, I enjoyed that opportunity. I loved sharing my books with them, answering questions about the people I write about, and talking about books.

I introduced the group to the fabulous ladies from the Sharon Rogers Band and told the story of the Sunchon Tunnel massacre survivors. John Bax, the subject of my current project, lived at Fun n Sun for a number of years. Many in the group knew him and went birding with him.

Glen Hindman said, "John was the Pied Piper of birders. We all followed him and learned from him."

John captivated a lot of people with his beautiful films and passion for his work. There's a lot of interest in his story. I heard new stories that I will include in the book.

An amazing thing happens every time I talk about the subjects of my books. I have the opportunity to re-live the time I spent with them and I fall in love with their stories all over again. Biographies allow the writer an intimate glimpse into another person's life. It's challenging and rewarding work. Through them, I always meet interesting people who, like me, are fascinated by good stories.

Thanks to a fun group of people at Fun n Sun. Marianna, thanks for inviting me. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writers Forum Jan 2012

Last night, Paragraphs on Padre Blvd hosted the January Writers Forum. The group is unique because we always have visitors. Winter Texans and vacationers bring new ideas each month.

To start the evening, the Sarah Book Publishing Company from Brownsville presented their publishing program, following by a critique session by attending writers. For all the writers out there, a bit of good news. A young man, Chris, shared his love of reading and his belief that many young people enjoy reading and love to have their own book collections. Good news, right? Chris certainly set a positive tone with his enthusiasm, intelligence and willingness to share.

Several new attendees shared their current projects. From young adult to romance and poetry, writers introduced us to several books in the making. As others commented on each story, I thought of the uniqueness of the reader as well as the writer. In one particular story, we each responded differently.

I realized that an author can never predict how a reader will respond to his work. Since each person responds from his own perspective and experiences, the author simply has to remain true to his story and hope his words and message touch readers.

We also spent time discussing publishing alternatives for new writers. All in all, lots of creativity energy led to a delightful evening.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Texas in WWII

Last Thursday evening I attended an excellent workshop sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission and the South Padre Island Historical Committee at Paragraphs on Padre Blvd.

William McWhorter, Texas’s military historian, gave us excellent information and story ideas about the state’s World War II experiences. From internment camps and prisoner-of-war camps to artillery emplacements and the Coast Guard’s Sand Pounders on Padre Island, he captured the diversity of the war effort throughout the state, and most likely throughout the country.
None of us can imagine the chaos, constant fear and sacrifice of the war years. In today’s world, if a soldier goes to war, it’s far away and truly only impacts the lives of his friends and family. The average American has never known the sacrifice involved.

We’ve never lived through rationing of food and everyday supplies. We’ve never known the real shortages of goods – steel, leather and nylon are only a few - that typified the war years.
The Texas Historical Commission is committed to preserving as much of the history as possible. McWhorter’s challenge is to gather the stories and fill in the blanks of known history. The workshops are one way to encourage citizens to find the stories while the people who lived them are still with us.

It’s an effort that is ongoing across America with various programs. Steve Hathcock, South Padre Island’s own historian, has spent years researching the history of the island and surrounding areas. Visit his website (http://southpadretv.tv/here-lies-red-lady-85/) for more information on the Coast Guard Sand Pounders, the beach patrol units that guarded the island – by horseback and jeep.

When we consider government efforts at all levels, private citizens like Hathcock, WWII-era authors writing their memoirs as well as historians and researchers nationwide, we are making a huge impact on preserving the history. As we all know, time is short for those who lived through the war years.
If you know anyone who lived in that era, please help keep their stories alive. Record their stories. If you need help, there are plenty of us willing to interview and write about the events that shaped today’s world.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Events at Paragraphs on Padre Blvd

Another exciting week. Tomorrow I'm attending a Texas Historical Commission workshop on WWII oral histories. I'm always interested in new people and ways to keep the stories alive.

Saturday is our Mystery Event. Author Bob Doerr and I will be talking about the mystery genre and introducing our books. Tomorrow I will post a review of Bob's latest book, Another Colorado Kill.

Both events will be held at Paragraphs on Padre Blvd. If you're in the area, come join us on Saturday. I'm not sure what other authors are attending. You'll enjoy meeting Bob and being introduced to his action-packed series.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Valley Byliners, Writers Group in Harlingen, TX

Valley Byliners members
Good writing, good folks and willing participants! That’s what I found at the Valley Byliners, the Harlingen, TX writers group, on Saturday. We started our meeting with a writing exercise that quickly showcased the talent in the group.

I had a great time discussing the elements of creative nonfiction. A good writers group can attract people with imagination, enthusiasm and a passion for writing. I sensed those characteristics in the Valley Byliners.
Thanks for the invitation to speak to your group. Keep writing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Cover for Luke's New Book

I’m finishing one fun project. Luke the Detective Dog’s interviews will soon be available as an e-book, entitled Dogs Speak Out! How appropriate is that!

I’ve had a great time working on the cover because all those different dogs make me laugh. Who can resist the charm of a dog’s expressive face?

Luke has made many new friends. We both look at dogs differently when we’re searching for interview subjects. Well, I look at dogs differently. Luke simply bounces all over friendly dogs and growls appropriately if he thinks a dog looks mean. There have been a few stand-offs but Luke can’t keep the puppy enthusiasm tamped down for long.

We'll let you know when it's available.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Stories, Stories Everywhere!

I'm immersed in stories! I can't keep up with all the wonderful opportunities to learn about people's lives and the challenges they've faced. I received an email from a Pearl Harbor survivor a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I was asked if I'd like to interview the man who flew the first US plane over Tokyo in WWII - guess what my answer was! I'm working on two biographies - John Bax and Rudy Rudolph, writing two resumes for job seekers and reading three books to review - with another arriving any day.

My head is spinning and I'm loving every minute of it! I hope you have as many irons in the fire in your life. As long as I don't get everything all jumbled up, it's working.

Can you imagine a resume that includes Pearl Harbor, a WWII vet listing of job qualifications or a misplaced mystery? Maybe I can have author Bob Doerr's retired AF Special Agent protagonist, Jim West, meeting the WWII pilot or the lady who grew up in Germany during WWII going on a birding trip with nature cinematographer John Bax.

Maybe I should hope for less-jumbled thoughts.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Write, Read, Write!

“I ponder things for a long time before I write about them,” Joyce told me. “You just write.”

I thought about that statement. She’s right. She ponders for years and produces incredibly deep and well-thought out characterizations to bring her ideas to life.
Me – I just write. My pondering takes place as my fingers move across the keyboard. I make changes, revise multiple times and sometimes throw it away and start over. Joyce thinks it through and starts with a plan. I play it by the seat of my pants. In fiction, I’m not sure what my character is going to do until I feel I’m in his brain and thinking his thoughts. I hear stories and can’t wait to get them in print.

Joyce and I write together and we write separately. As I started on today’s blog post, I thought about the uniqueness of writers – in the way we work as well as in what we write.
People often tell me they want to write but can’t get started. Whether it’s pondering, procrastination or just lack of motivation, it’s an issue that many face.

Are you writing every day? Did you make writing every day a New Year’s resolution? If you answered no to either question, it’s time to get out the wet noodle, slap your hand and get motivated.
The best cure for not writing is writing. I find that when I can’t get started, I just start. I pick any subject that comes to mind and hit the keyboard. If my mind is empty, I check out some blogs and, invariably, I’ll find something to ponder.

Pondering via the keyboard is a great way to get your mind working. Your thoughts might not make sense and you may do a 180-degree turn before you finish, but you’ll find some great material in your own thoughts.
If you don’t have a blog, start one. It’s a great tool to keep you writing and to connect you with others. I don’t know the measure of success in a blog but I’m not sure it matters. Focus on the writing and the readers will eventually find you.

In my I Write My World blog, I chose a format that allows me to blog about a variety of issues. Like most of us, I have varied interests. I love people and their stories, writing, travel, nature and photography. I blog about all of them.
Read other blogs and learn about other bloggers. Other writers can be your best supporters. They understand the writer’s need to be read.

Read, read, read. Reading a great story or blog post will inspire and motivate you. Write, write, write. You might produce a great story or blog post that inspires other.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012

Luke the Detective Dog took me for a walk on our first morning home. While he sniffed everything in sight, I smelled the Gulf's salty air and felt the morning sun and a gentle breeze wafting across my face.

Sea gulls serenaded us while nearby a silent egret stood in regal stillness. Characters and settings flowed unbidden through my mind.

I am home, it's 2012 and I feel creatively energized.

I wish each of you a 2012 filled with the joy of creativity, the appreciation of the world around you and many productive, fulfilling endeavors.