Monday, December 19, 2016

A CONVERSATION WITH DAVIDA

This week I am sharing a conversation I recently had with Davida, the main character in my novel, Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. This is a biographical novel based on the love affair between my great-grandparents. If I could sit down with my great-grandmother today, this is how I imagine our conversation might take place.

Karen: "I am so happy to finally meet you in person. I have dreamed about you and tried to imagine the life you had."

Davida: "You have been a wonderful granddaughter to my son, Louis and to me, your great-grandmother."

Karen: "There is so little known about you so I have many questions, if you do not mind. First, what is your birth name?"

Davida: "My birth name was Albertina Hultgren and I was born in Stockholm, Sweden."

Karen: "Oh my goodness. I had your correct name, but not your birthplace."

Davida: "My life in Stockholm was very harsh and difficult. My recently widowed mother had to marry Mr. Hallgren so we would have a home in which to live and food to eat." Davida pauses and wipes a tear that is gently falling down her cheek. "I was with you every time you were writing your story. You may not know it but I was whispering ideas in your head of the way I wanted my life to be as a child and young girl."

Karen: "So many times as I was writing I felt like I was transported to a different time and place. The words just flowed off my fingertips onto the keyboard. It was all very magical and beautiful." The room grows quiet as Karen takes in all that has just been revealed. "I could not find any record of your arrival into the United States. How did you get here?"

Davida: "Mother worked as a cook for a very wealthy family in Stockholm besides running the house of Mr. Hallgren. She would hear such exciting stories about America from her employer that she soon realized this was where she and I needed to go." With a smile on her face and light in her eyes, Davida continued, "Mother kept hiding some money over several years until she had enough for us to board a freighter that was going to Canada. From New Brunswick Mother and I made our way to New York City."

Karen: "That was a long journey for two women to travel alone."

Davida: "Yes, we had some fearful times. Mother was very beautiful, but very strong physically and emotionally. She kept us safe and was very smart how to manage our frugal situation. Once we were in New York, Mother got a job as the cook for the Saint-Gaudens' home and that is how he and I met."

Karen: "Your love story is so beautiful. It is too bad that it was in the late 1800's when the morality of such a love affair was not acceptable. My heart goes out to my grandfather who suffered his whole life as the "bastard child" and to you and Gus who were never able to marry."

Davida: "Louis was always a sweet and gentle child who continued to be that way as a man. He grew up without a strong male role model and I think he had ill-feelings towards his father, Gus for not leaving his wife and marry me. Gus had a difficult choice to make and as much as it hurt, I think he made the right one."

Karen: "My sister, Joan and I loved our grandparents very much. They were very important to us and helped us through some difficult times. As an adult now I see that Pa (Louis) never learned how to be a father, and therefore his sons did not learn it either."

Davida: "I loved Gus with all my heart and was always faithful to him. I did the best I could raising Louis basically alone. Gus provided for us financially and he loved us, but art was his 'real mistress.'" 

Karen: "I have so many more questions and things to say. Perhaps you could come back someday soon and we will visit some more. You are everything I dreamed you to be and I love you."

Davida: "I am always with you, Karen. We will get together again soon."


Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is available at goo.gl/68D6QT.
Or, order signed paperback copy for $4.99 from www.kareningalls1941@gmail.com.

Please check out the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNLHvrnlqRY&feature=youtu.be

Saturday, December 10, 2016

WRITERS ARE LIKE ARBORISTS


It is with great pleasure that I introduce Maretha Botha, my guest author for this week. She is an active member of RRBC, a retired librarian, and a lover of books.
Enjoy her story about apple trees and her journey as an author.




                                              Apple Trees

     I always wanted to plant an apple tree, something by which my children would remember me, but we lived in Gauteng – South Africa’s smallest province situated approximately 6,000 feet (1,753 metres) above sea level. There, so-called black frost would quickly destroy delicate blossoms during dry frosty winters in July and August. So, planting an apple tree remained at the bottom of my bucket list for years, but things changed when we immigrated to the United Kingdom three years ago.  We lived in a small, damp one-bedroom apartment for almost two years before moving to a house with a large overgrown garden.  There, I found two tall apple trees far at the back of the garden! They struggled, competing for sunlight with a privet "hedge" which had grown to gigantic proportions all around them. As soon as we were settled, I tackled the garden with renewed zeal, especially when I saw that the apple trees were covered in the most delicate, fragrant blossoms! Suddenly, I had to rewrite an item on my bucket list: Rescue the apple trees . . .


     After carefully removing a few dead branches, and regularly brushing the Wooly Aphids' frothy wax off their gnarled branches as far as I could reach, the apple trees received their first TLC for many years.  Even though I didn't like it much, I dug in decomposed vegetable peels near their roots. The results were promising as you can see from these photos.  Despite a few marks left by Codling Moths, the trees rewarded us with organic apples, this season.

     Sometimes I like to sit under the apple trees, contemplating life's complexities. Yesterday, the last apple high up in one of the apple trees fell to the ground when a Blackbird pecked at it.  I suddenly had a, what-a-lovely-Sunday-lunch-and-I-ate-too-much feeling of satisfaction, thinking about my marriage, our children and now, grandchildren, who perpetuate the circle of life – almost as if they were apple trees planted next to streams of water, providing fruitage for the next generation. Of course, a little contemplation often leads to more contemplation and I thought, Writers are like arborists who plant a new apple tree and nurture it for years to come, every time they begin a book and successfully complete something which is appreciated, read and reread by many.

     Caring for apple trees can be hard work – just like writers and/or illustrators who work endlessly without seeing immediate results.  However, they never give up, because they know that if they do their planting, watering and pruning right, they and generations coming after them, will enjoy the fruits of their labour.  However, you might be surprised to know that I only recently became such an arborist.

      After my post as a librarian at a private school in Gaborone, Botswana was localised, I felt as if my life had changed forever. My daughters were both married, the grandchildren were no longer babies and I no longer had my wonderful job. After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I began pulling out all my notes on animals and birds which I've kept for years. I also added more. Unknowingly I began cultivating the soil for apple trees to be planted. My apple tree project suddenly gained momentum when I discovered a painting which my younger daughter did years ago, as part of an art project. The red-roofed farmhouse became the homestead of the free-range cattle farm in a place which I called, Molodi (a derivation of The Mmokolodi Game Reserve) and before I knew it, FAUNA Park Tales came into being.




      So, I would like to present some of my apple tree products to you:  A gluten-free apple crumble and glimpses of Fauna Park Tales – the Series. 





     You have already seen the first three books, but here is the cover for book four, “An African Adventure: Trails and Trials”. 




     It is now in its final stages of formatting and proofreading. Just to add a bit more.  I’ve had the cover for book five done as well, as I would like to include all five books in a book trailer, which I hope 4WillsPublishing will do as soon as I’ve saved enough for this project!  Speaking of a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, I’m sure many of you share my sentiments about our awesome club. We are just like devoted arborists who share and meet, supporting one another, and sharing the ups and downs which come with the job – planting and nurturing lovely “apple trees”.




BIOGRAPHY
Maretha Botha is a South African Italian, born in a small town called Montagu. She grew up in nearby Worcester in the Western Cape – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among snow-capped mountains. Worcester had a small library. Young Maretha’s visits were limited to three times a week, because the librarian told her, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.” 

Nothing much has changed, because she's still a confirmed bookworm who constantly strives to raise more bookworms who enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up.  She admits to being a chocoholic and unreformed coffee addict, a keen gardener and bird watcher, who likes to walk on the moors where the stiff breeze coming in from the sea, quickly clears her head, making way for more inspiration.





Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM BEING A WRITER

Books have always been an important part of my life, starting in early childhood. My grandmother Edith worked at a library and she introduced me to the love of books. But I did not realize what it took to be a writer until I began to seriously pursue my love of writing stories. Since being a published author here are some things I have learned:

1. It is can be quite time consuming. 
             **Time to put down in outline form the initial plot,
                   characters, places, and timeline.
             **Research is critical
             **Sitting alone at the computer uninterrupted.
             **Doing rewrites with the editor.
             **Finding a publisher or self-publish
             **Marketing is probably the most time consuming.

2. It can be lonely.
              **I work best undisturbed.
              **My door is often closed.

3. It is a time of creativity and inspiration...or writer's block.
              **Such joy when the words and thoughts are flowing.
              **I step away from the computer for varying amounts
                    of time when writer's block sets in to either meditate,                
                    exercise or do other activities and then return to the
                    computer later on.  
              **I accept writer's block has a fact of life and do not
                    get upset or frustrated.
              **Sometimes talking to my husband or editor is all I
                    need to do to stimulate the creativity.

4. Marketing is the least favorite part of my job description.
               **It means spending inordinate amounts of time on 
                    various social media sites.
               **I enjoy book presentations and launches.
               **I love to write my two weekly blogs.
               **It is challenging to "think outside the box" and be
                    creative in marketing ideas.

5. Editing is a critically important part of being an author
               **Do not be your own editor.
               **Hire a reputable & experienced editor
               **Find an editor with whom you can easily communicate
               **My editor, Angela Wiechmann met 

6. Belong to book clubs, author organizations
               **Join and participate in as many as possible.
               **I belong to Rave Reviews Book Club                                  

               **I joined several Internet author groups
               **You must participate and give your time to these          
                       organizations.  

7. A book cover and interior
                **Must  reflect the theme of the book
                **The cover must also grab the potential buyer's
                        attention so that he/she will pick up the book.
                **The interior must be clean, orderly, and readable.       

8. Seeing the final published book or article is exciting.
               **Does the cover reflect the story or message?
               **It is a time of pride and celebration.




From Dec. 1-3 Rave Reviews Book Club had its first Writer's Conference & Book Expo. There were author booths, vendor booths, sessions on a variety of subjects, prizes, and much more. Such an exciting event and was a great way to meet other authors, even through the virtual medium.
Thank you to Angela Wiechmann, Dara Beevas, Amy Quale, and Jay Monroe my editors, advisers, and cover designer for their support, guidance, and expertise while I walk the path of a writer.
Thank you, Rave Reviews Book Club for all you do for authors and avid readers. The support, promoting, and opportunities are like none other.
I cannot close this blog without saying "thank you" to 4WillsPublishing for creating wonderful videos and providing blog tours.        

Thursday, December 1, 2016

AUTHOR BOOTH FOR KAREN INGALLS

My name is Karen Ingalls, an author, blogger, retired nurse, 
and cancer survivor. Welcome to my author booth.

My first book is a two time award winning non-fiction about 
CANCER
A dreaded word that creates fear, but it is a fact of life.

OUTSHINE: AN OVARIAN CANCER MEMOIR
is more about how to cope with cancer;
to not let it rule your life;
and what it is like to have cancer.

goo.gl/K9x33h

My second book is about a young man's search for love and respect from his father.
However, he unfortunately uses anti-social behaviors
such as lying, cheating, and alcoholism.
Every father needs to teach his son about being a father himself someday, but not all fathers know how to do this.
Based on a true story and men I counseled as a nurse therapist Novy's Son
will hopefully bring to light an important social issue.
goo.gl/s9UCCU

My third book which won the Pinnacle Award is titled 
Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens
This story is based on a true story about the love affair between America's premier sculptor in the 19th and early 20th Centuries and his model, Davida.

goo.gl/68D6QT

I am a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club and I am happy to now offer my e-books to you at special price of
0.99

OR
the paperback copies are available also.

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE SALES 
GO TO
OVARIAN/GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH

Thank you for visiting my booth today.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

INTERVIEW WITH ANGELA KAY


I am happy to introduce Angela Kay, author and blogger. She is one of twenty-three across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act play "Digging Deeper." She has a professional writing degree from Augusta State University and she states she is a "southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people."

What inspired you to write your first book?

      I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was little. I wanted to write even before teachers told me that I was a natural. I’m not that good at a lot of things, but, although I tend to be critical of my writing, I know that it’s a God-given talent. I wrote short stories and poems as a child, and when I was in my last semester of college, I took a Creative Writing course. In that class The Murder of Manny Grimes was born. The first two required chapters ended up being my exit portfolio out of undergraduate studies. I wanted that novel to be the first thing I ever published.

How did you come up with the title?

      I’m not even sure. The title was the first thing I came up with. I knew that the victim’s name was going to be Manny Grimes. And as I began writing, my main character, Lieutenant Jim DeLong, was going through a lot in both his professional and personal life, the title just fit. Although the novel is about solving a murder, it is also about DeLong rising above his own troubles.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

     No.

What books have most influenced your life most?

     The Bible.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

     Rewriting. It’s evil. I wrote the first draft of my debut in less than a year. Although the class raved over the first two chapters, and my mom raved over my other two completed drafts, I was never satisfied. Despite my mom urging me to send it off, I never believed it was publishable…until now.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

     It’s all a process. Writing takes time. Sometimes it takes seven years, as was the case with Manny Grimes and sometimes it takes less than thirty days as was the case with another novel I completed. I also learned to let a book “season” while I work on another project. I have my mom reading the context of my second book while I finish the sequel to Manny Grimes. After the sequel is finished, that’s going to sit while I rework my other book. After a novel sets for a little bit, I found that I may miss something important. That happened often with Manny Grimes. I also learned to stop focusing on 2,000 word counts a day. If I make that goal, great. If not, then I don’t need to beat myself up as I tend to do. As long as I write something every day, then I’m good.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

     Everyone knows that above anything else, writers should write for themselves. However, if a book is to be sold, I think writers also need to focus on their readers. When I’m in the rewriting stage, I think to myself “If this was in a Nora Roberts’ (or any authors’) book, how would I like it?” I’d end up doing one of the following: rework that scene, take it out completely or decide that I absolutely love it. I like to pretend that I’m reading someone else’s work. Also, do plenty of research. For the first draft of my FBI novel, I researched serial killings and the FBI so much, I started having nightmares. My mom recently told me that she could tell through my writing that I did my homework. Finally, if a scene is removed…SAVE IT. I can’t count how many times in the original script of Manny Grimes that I wished I had kept a scene to use in another story. I now have a folder entitled Scenes from previous drafts. I save it under a brief description of the scene and include the name of the novel it was drafted from.

Please give us an excerpt from one of your books:



Chapter 10

“We don’t have the time to go searching for a missing person that hasn’t yet been reported missing.”
Captain Stewart had listened intently to DeLong’s story before shaking his head in annoyance.
“But, sir,” DeLong protested, “the kids reported him at the school and—”
Though he already knew the answer, Stewart asked, “When you investigated, did you see Grimes at the school? Or any evidence that corroborated these children’s claims?”
“No,” DeLong admitted.
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant, but I’m not going to allow you to run around town, searching for a man that more than likely got out of Dodge. I don’t appreciate the fact that a member of my team," Stewart jabbed a thumb toward his chest, "entered another person’s home without permission. And convinced a civilian to do the same.” The captain glared from DeLong to Calhoun and back again.
“Captain Stewart,” Calhoun put in. He had been seated quietly, listening as the lieutenant recounted once again what had happened the day before. Now he rose to put in his two cents. “I believe that something happened to Grimes. I went to his house on my own accord. Everything Jim just told you, I stand by. Something happened to this man. We have a duty to find out what. Captain, if we come up with nothing, or we find out we've been chasing our tails, then I'll eat my jacket."
Stewart narrowed his eyes in Calhoun's direction and crossed his arms. “You think this is funny, Calhoun? I would have thought better of you than to be involved in a wild goose chase. Entering a man’s premises without a warrant? I should throw the book at you.” He glared at DeLong again. “Actually, I should throw the book at both of you.”
He sighed and leaned back in his chair, uncrossing his arms and linking his hands behind his head. He continued to glare between the two men.
“All right," he said after minutes passed. "DeLong, I’ve known you long enough to know that ninety times out of a hundred, your instincts are sound. You want to search for the man, then fine." He held both palms in the air, then slowly lowered them flat on the desk and leaned forward. "But do not, I repeat do not, do anything that would require a warrant until you have probable cause to actually get a warrant. Keep me posted. I’ll give you two days to either find Grimes or hard evidence that he is actually missing. Two days. That is all.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, Captain,” DeLong said with a satisfied nod.
“Yes, thank you,” Calhoun echoed.
“I have to run out for a little while,” the captain said with a sigh. He rose, straightening his shirt uniform. "Try not to waste too much of my time. Or yours."
"Yes, sir," DeLong acknowledged as he left the office.
“Where do you want to start?” Calhoun wondered, trailing after him.
“I suppose we should go back to the schoolyard,” DeLong said, halfway out the door. “Maybe between the two of us, we'll find something I overlooked when I first looked around." Outside, DeLong blew into his hands to warm them. "Honestly, I just wanted to get out of the station a little bit. But I didn't want to go home. Sam has me sleeping on the couch these days. Anyway, I wasn't really sure what I was looking for. The body wasn't there. The snow we had would have destroyed most, if not all the evidence."
At the truck they slid inside. DeLong adjusted the heat as Calhoun set the gear in motion. "I just want to be sure we've covered all our bases. Then let’s go back to the Walkers'. I want to know more about Jonathan Walker’s friendship with Manny Grimes.”


Facebook: Angela Kay's Books
Twitter: @angelakaysbooks

More Fun Facts About Angela Kay:

  1. I love Jesus with my whole heart and soul!
  2. Maggie is my calico cat. She gets her namesake from Elizabeth Taylor’s character in one of my favorite movies, A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Honestly, as she sits next to me, I realize I don’t know what I’d do without her
  3. I live and breathe Star Trek. Yes, I’m that kinda gal!
  4. I’m a fan of the classics. James Stewart, William Holden, Leave it to Beaver, Andy Griffith, you name it. If I haven’t seen it, I’d definitely want to check it out!
  5. I love video games. I have a Wii, a PS 3, and a PS4. My favorite game is the Unchartedseries. I really don’t  play games often, but it does put my creative mind to work!
  6. I like all kinds of movie genres. I don’t really have a favorite. I just love movies.
  7. I love working out, although it can be a stretch getting me out of bed in the morning.
  8. My favorite food is shrimp!
  9. I love love love chocolate! And goldfish. My two downfalls when it comes to eating healthy.
  10. I’m more of a summer person, and love eating and/or writing outside.
  11. As a teenager I took martial arts lessons. My teacher was a good friend of Chuck Norris. I was so good at the sparring, that the boys with higher belts were afraid to go against me. While taking martial arts, I joined the Chinese Split club and earned a first place metal at the Olympics my karate school held. Much like writing, martial arts was a passion and I miss it.
  12. Although writing was what I wanted to do when I grew up, I went to school to be a child psychologist. However, sadly, math and I didn’t get along well, so I couldn’t handle the statistics. I changed my major to Professional Writing. It was a new program at Augusta State University, so I was one of four to graduate with that degree.
  13. I’m a major Astronomy buff.
  14. I have three things on my bucket list: become an author, visit New York, and visit Ireland. At least one of the three can be crossed off!
  15. I love the ocean and the mountains. However, the mountains are where my heart is. I haven’t been since I was a teenager.