29 Feb 2012

Holly and me.

I met Holly last September when she and her husband left their home in the U.S.A. to fly to India then visited London. Although I'd seen a photo of her already, I felt I knew her. We'd shared critiques of each other's work over the Internet Writer's Workshop. She was everything I imagined: calm and gentle, while at the same time strong and inspirational.

You really can tell what a person is like through her writing. Love you, Holly.

Welcome to guest blogger Holly Michael.

· Name: Holly Michael
· Age (optional): 48
· Website (if you have one): www.writingstraight.com
· Location: Kansas City, Missouri, USA
· When did you realize you wanted to be a published author?
When I picked up a crayon. I drew pictures before I could write words. One of my earliest memories was a flush of joy from discovering I could put love on paper. I’d hand my mom a picture of us surrounded by hearts and inhale the praise. Maybe it started there. When I could write words, I’d create love poems for my family. Living in a secluded rural area in Northern Wisconsin, I’d get lost in the thrill of traveling to places in books and meeting new friends on the pages. Heidi in the Swiss Alps and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm were my best buds. Laura Ingalls Wilder and I were tight. I became an avid reader at an early age, falling in love with new words and new worlds. From a young age, I declared I would be a writer.
As far as being a published writer, I blogged about the day I quit writing. http://writingstraight.com/2012/02/15/the-day-i-quit-writing/ After my pile of rejection letter overflowed from my desk to the floor, I told God I was done. I faced the possibility that no one but my mom cared about my words. So, I consulted the highest authority on creativity, the Creator of the World. I told Him I needed proof that I was supposed to be a writer, or I was done. That afternoon, an editor phoned and wanted to publish my essay. It went from there, door after door of publication opened. I became a regular ghostwriter for Guideposts magazine and was published in a variety of magazines and newspapers. I worked full time as a features writer for a newspaper and then went back to freelancing in nonfiction. Crooked Lines (soon to be out) is my first novel and I am working on two others.
Name 5 authors and 5 books (do not necessarily have to be your favorites).
I have friends who are excellent writers: Still Rock Water by Francene Stanley, Strays of Rio by Edith Parzefall, Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite and Rasana Atreya's Tell a Thousand Lies. I’m now reading Rebecca Coleman’s Kingdom of Childhood and it’s excellent. Karen Lenfestey has two great books out now, “A Sister’s Promise and What Happiness Looks like.” Walter Ramsay, Beneath the Dune. Rick Bylana's Books. Carol Kean's upcoming novel. Oops, was that more than five?
Where do you get your inspiration from?
This is an easy one. God. Life. I never once had writer’s block. Ideas come as nudges from God. He knows what I need to write. I just ask. I've also had a lot of interesting life experiences, from the excellent to the awful. I was the teenager in Crooked Lines, standing at the edge of a pond seeing her drowned sister in the water. Life’s given me moments of stretching my arms to Heaven and twirling as well as moments of anguish so deep I landed curled up in a ball on the floor.
· What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
Dedication to the craft. Every success in life requires hard work. Writing is a craft that must be learned. If you feel you were born a writer, you need to take that talent and combine it with serious time and hard work. Join a workshop or a critique group. IWW is great. The other element, for me, is the knowledge that true success depends upon the Author of Life.
· Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you'd like to share with the world, etc.)
Ohh. Last words. I hope these won’t be my last. Life is amazing. Full experiences ranging from joy to despair. As a writer, we shouldn’t ignore any experiences. We should dance with them all, then get them on paper and show others they are not alone. After all, we are all human, sharing a commonness of experiences. Shared joy and shared pain connect us all to each other.
· Challenge: How does writing interfere with your everyday existence?
It does interfere. Balance is a tough one to master. I went years without writing much because I needed to be more focused on family. Sometimes you can only write a few words a day. That’s okay. Sometimes laziness gets in the way. That’s not okay. Once, ignoring the nudge to tap on the computer keys, I had a dream where a big muscular hand holding a pen thrust itself in front of me. I took it as a sign.

23 Feb 2012

Welcome guest blogger Jo.

Name:  Jo

Age: 19

Location: California

When did you realize you wanted to be a published author?
I have always loved storybooks when I was a little kid, and, inspired by these magical objects, I decided to write my own books and illustrate them. When I found out that there was an occupation called an author, I thought, "That's what I'm going to do one day!"

Name 5 authors and 5 books.
Authors: JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, Catherynne M. Valente, Lemony Snicket
Books: Frankenstein by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb, Faust by Goethe, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Anywhere and everywhere! I think sources of inspiration are rather unpredictable. 

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
Willingness to grow.

Any last words?
If I had to guest star on any TV show, it would be Arthur, the animated show based on the books by Marc Brown, because it's one of the reasons why I'm such a bookworm. I would also love to see how the animators would animate me and have me interact with the characters on the show.

Challenge: Why do you think the world needs fantasy right now?
Fantasy--it is a word that breathes snowflakes into evergreen forests, a word that paints ships upon never-ending seas, a word that renders ink into scintillating swirls of silk from a maiden's gown. In a universe where there are uninviting mountains of jadedness, corruption, and betrayal, fantasy is the key to a door where peace awaits. Even if the escape only lasts in short intervals, imagination and a youthful heart can keep one afloat in an ocean of cruel reality.