Jun 062017
 

While employed by others, I spent a lot of years maintaining strict boundaries and everyone’s privacy. In many of my work environs, it was not a good idea to become part of the story, and any information shared outside of the office qualified as TMI. So, as a highly introverted advocate-turned-author, one of the things I struggle with is how to connect online without sharing too much about myself. The idea of “TMI Tuesday” felt right, so, here’s my first attempt. (I hope the questions don’t get more difficult later on!)

As an introverted advocate-turned-author, I struggle with how to connect online without sharing… Click To Tweet

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I have been lucky enough to have dinner with some pretty extraordinary people over the years — some famous and some just plain fascinating. Right now, my dinner guest of choice would be my youngest stepson. Having him here would mean his passport woes are behind him and he’s getting to spend time with the American half of his family. (And, yes, we’d appreciate all the good vibes you can send in our direction, please.)

2. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

You mean aside from waking up on the right side of the dirt???

So far today is pretty close to perfect. I got up early, caught up with some friends on social media, and found this blog idea, all while drinking slurping not spilling savoring my first cup of coffee. There’s a gentle rain outside. I’ve got the windows open, the birds are singing their heads off, and the garden is full of fresh new growth. There are no outside commitments on my calendar and no critical end-of-the-day deadlines. I have two exciting, active projects in the works and lots of ideas about what I’ll be able to get to add to them today. And I’m only minutes away from My Favorite Husband returning from the gym. He almost always brings me a latte. (It’s the best of both worlds — like getting room service without having to leave home.)

It's the best of both worlds -- like getting room service without having to leave home. Click To Tweet

I also enjoy perfect days exploring new places… or new looks at old, familiar places. I’ve got a few of those on the calendar.

3. How much do you like your personality?
(pick just one)

a. A lot.
b. A little.
c. It needs work.
d. I am annoying sometimes.
e. I am difficult, and people have told me so.

I’m going to have to go with “c” — my personality needs work. While there are parts of me that are pretty OK, there are some parts that could be best described as “a hot mess.” I try not to injure others with those parts, to be at least a little bit better every day, and not beat myself too mercilessly when I screw up. I’m consoled by the fact that my dogs love me — or at least pretend until they get fed. Progress, not perfection, right?

quote on fiery background "If I'm not the problem, there is no solution."

4. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

Neither. My mind is a whole lot better than it was at 30. My body? Eh… I’d look even more ridiculous. Seriously? Everybody’s got challenges. Whether physical or mental, I hope to keep learning from mine.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any ability, what would it be? Click To Tweet

5. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any ability, what would it be?

Wow ~ so many things. To be kinder. To lose fat and build muscle. To run long distances or return to downhill skiing without requiring another knee surgery. To write something that sells millions of copies….

Maybe the best new ability I could hope for is to keep up with the ideas I have about trying things!

picture of Mary Oliver quote "instruction for living a life:
How about helping me out and making this more of a two-way street by answering one of these questions in a “comment”? (I really DO want to know.)

Apr 172017
 

Today I’m happy to feature my talented friend and neighbor, Florida author Nancy Blanton. Her award-winning historical novels are set primarily in 17th century Ireland and her latest, The Prince of Glencurragh, (published in July 2016) has already won three awards and is a finalist for two others. I put on my interviewer hat to share about Nancy Blanton and her latest release.

I put on my interviewer hat to tell you about @NancyBlanton and the Prince. Click To Tweet

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Picture of Nancy Blanton with my husband.

Author Nancy Blanton and  a different prince.

Nancy, what made you decide to focus on historical fiction?

It is what I love to read. I like to learn as I read, and I feel my time is well-spent. Recently I posted about my favorite book, the first historical novel I read: Gone with the Wind. I learned so much about America’s Civil War and its aftermath. I was fascinated and hooked. Many writers avoid historical fiction because it requires so much research, but for me, that’s the best part. It’s a treasure hunt to discover the details that will bring history to life.

Why did you choose 17th century Ireland?

My father emphasized our Irish heritage when I was growing up. We heard the music, sang the songs, wore the green, marched in the parade—all that. Our family toured Ireland when I was 15, and he sent me to Ireland for a summer study during my junior year in college. That I would want to write about it seems only natural. But when I started researching, I realized books about the 16th and 18th centuries were prominent, but not so much the 17th. A study for the Historical Novel Society found that the 17th century ranks 7th among time periods readers are most likely to choose when buying a book. This surprised me because it’s an exciting time of sweeping change: the Irish clan system is overtaken by the English plantation system and Cromwell led his bloody march. I saw a niche for myself and made it my mission to illuminate this period.

Most novels set out to explore a question. What question did you have in mind when writing The Prince of Glencurragh?

In 17th century Ireland, many hopes and dreams were destroyed, so I was asking, “Is it possible to reclaim a dream once it is lost to the mists of memory?” In this book, a young Irishman faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve his father’s dream of a castle and estate called Glencurragh.

Dreams are sometimes fulfilled in ways we do not expect. Click To Tweet

The premise is interesting on two levels. First, everyone has awakened from a dream so beautiful they want to hold onto it, but the longer they are awake the faster it recedes. And second, many of us have seen the sacrifices our parents made and then tried to live their dream for them, only to realize later that it doesn’t satisfy. And dreams are sometimes fulfilled in ways we had not expected.

What themes does the book address?

In many ways, this book is about friendship, the relationship between best friends from childhood. The story is narrated by Faolan’s best friend Aengus O’Daly. I have some very deep and lasting friendships of this kind, and those relationships informed this story in ways I didn’t realize until the end. I am deeply grateful to my friends for that.

This story is also about hope. In great difficulty, when you have no power to change a painful circumstance, hope — the most human part of us — is what we rely on to get through.

What will readers find most appealing about this book?

This book captivates readers right away because it is fast-paced and rich with interesting historical detail. The 17th century is rife with conflict, disaster, invention and change.

The story also is relevant because it focuses on issues we still face today, such as the oppression of ethnic groups and women, the struggle for survival and the struggle to achieve one’s dream. It is also a very personal struggle that most of us can relate to. Faolán is tested, just as anyone is who aspires to a goal. You want this thing, and it seems the mountain grows suddenly higher, the road more rugged, forcing you to show just how much you’re willing to fight for what you want.

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The Prince of Glencurragh by Nancy Blanton, is available in e-book, softcover, and hardcover on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and from other online booksellers.

 

Apr 052017
 

Favorite books. One would think that would be a fairly easy topic of conversation, right? It isn’t. The question “What’s your favorite book?” immediately brings about a feeling of dread. Novels or non-fiction? Recent or classic? What if the person asking the question really wants to know? What if I’ve temporarily forgotten one that has truly served me? Yikes!

I think of book recommendations as a sort of serendipitous matchmaking. After all, how many times have you picked up a book and fallen in love simply because it was exactly what you needed at the time? And as a lifelong learner who believes that really good books become part of us? My lists go on and on. (I feel vindicated by none other than Thomas Aquinas who is reported to have said, “Beware of the person of one book.”)

I write mostly non-fiction and most of the time that is what I prefer to read. But there are times that a good novel is exactly what is called for. So here, in no particular order, is some of my favorite fiction.

Beware of the person of one book. Click To Tweet

It was probably a high school reading assignment that introduced me to John Steinbeck. My guess is that we started with The Grapes of Wrath and, while I may have grumbled about the assignments as much as anyone else, guess who dominated my independent reading for some time after? I’d be hard-pressed to choose between Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat, and Travels With Charley. I loved each and every character and was hooked on the feeling transported to a completely different place and culture.

If you’ve visited my blog before, you know I’m fascinated by thinking. And brains. I’ve noticed that, as I think about various books and authors, they show up as a category. For example, when I was a single Mom with a young child, we were fortunate to leave New England in early spring and visit relatives in the sunny South. At the time, John Grisham’s releases coincided with those trips and became a bit of a tradition for me.  Runaway Jury comes to mind.

... prose as forceful as a hollow point bullet. Click To Tweet

That leads to my love of series. Andrew Vachss’ Burke series is full of honest, gripping stories and compelling characters. It has been described as “prose as forceful as a hollow-point slug.” When recommending a starting place, I can’t choose between Flood, Blossom, or Hard Candy. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough) is as silly as Vachss is revealing.

And of course, there are my friends who write. I love them — no only for the feedback and encouragement they share but for the work they produce. They keep me traveling to genres that I might now always choose for myself. I enjoy David-Matthew Barnes short plays and romances. (Ambrosia is pretty funny.) I turn to my sometimes-neighbor Barbara Bond for mature chick-lit that takes place on my island home… although I’m going to a launch party for her new release Everyday Enemies next week. And I can’t thank Nancy Blanton enough. Sharavogue — the first book in her series of 17th-century Irish historical fiction — boasts well-drawn characters and enough “action” to make me a fan of a previously untasted genre! There’s something wonderful about knowing The Prince of Glencurragh is waiting for me on the bedside table.

Tell me about some of your favorite novels in the comments, please.

This post was originally part of a “Favorite Books” blog hop — a collaborative effort by several different authors. The links below are other posts on the topic.

 

 

 

Mar 272017
 

One of the very best things about attending book events is the opportunity to connect with other authors. I’ve been looking for a way to share them with you and have decided to try a Visiting Author series. (Please be sure to give me your feedback about this idea in the comments.)

I recently “met” someone who is successfully doing something I’ve considered from time to time: RV-living. She has maintained a roving lifestyle — with husband and dog — for over five years. She wrote in her blog:

“Living in close quarters can be difficult. But I think I’ve found a solution. One day I had a thought. Was I looking at this all wrong? Was there a solution to our size-challenged abode? Could it be as simple as changing my attitude in my place of residence?

I believe a change in attitude IS the answer – wherever you live. In an RV, an apartment or ginormous mansion. For me, I asked the Lord for an ample supply of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and an extra measure of self-control. Adding these attributes made our journey much more joyful.”

I believe a change in attitude IS the answer - wherever you live. Click To Tweet

Janetta Fudge Messmer is an author of two Christian comedies (Early Birds and Southbound Birds). She also has a historical romance, Chords of Love, which is the book she shares with you today. She’ll take it from here.

Abigail Jane Thompson is sassy and certain she’s not singing. Anywhere. Imagine her delight when she spies the Central City Opera House in total ruin. Noah Presley, owner of Presley Mercantile, has a plan to restore the once-celebrated building. Fate throws Abigail and Noah together. Will they see beyond their differences, or will their love end on a sour note?

Everyone in the writing world tells writers we MUST make our characters memorable. From the first page of Chords of Love, Abigail tends toward sassiness. No one, including Abby, knows what will come out of her mouth:

“Daughter, is there something you want to tell me?” Papa slowed his horse to a stop next to her.

Abigail had to tell him the latest or she’d burst at the seams. Without a moment’s hesitation she said, “Papa, we’ve only lived here a little more than a month, but what I heard Mama say to the owner of Presley Mercantile yesterday is sure to twist the ends of your moustache.”

Papa turned in his saddle. “What did she say this time?”

Abigail cleared her throat and sat higher in her side-saddle. “Now, remember, Papa, I’m quoting Mama. She said, ‘Mr. Noah Presley, I despise this dirty, desolate town of yours.’”

Her father’s eyes twinkled as he glanced sideways at her. Abby knew she’d gotten away with a little sassiness on their riding excursion, but when they returned to Central City, one of his stern looks would shush her right up.

“Oh, how I love that woman.” Papa chuckled, then his expression grew more stern. “But tell me she really didn’t say those things.” He stroked Dancer’s neck. His horse stayed steady on the rocky path leading out of the little mining town.

“Yes, and there’s more, Papa. You’d better hold tight to the reins for this one.” Abigail did the same, as if she needed to get ready, too. “Mama also told Mr. Presley, ‘You people can’t even keep your opera house running. It’s simply disgraceful.’”

As you can see, Abigail’s a tad feisty. What would you say your personality type is? Funny? Bossy? Introvert? Extrovert? For those of you who have never taken a personality test – I highly recommend it. It’s lots of fun.

Now it’s time to learn a bit about me. My dream from an early age was to write. With pen in hand, and now a computer on my lap, words come forth on the page. Truly, writing has been a love of mine from an early age.

Abigail Thompson, on the other hand, had to deal with her mother’s dream. She wanted her daughter to sing on the stage of the Central City Opera House. Abigail felt more suited for praising the Lord in song on her outings in the mountains of Colorado. Her new home.

Another snippet I’d like to share is an encounter between my main characters: Abigail Thompson and Noah Presley. When they bump into each other at the mercantile, more than sparks fly.

“Mr. Presley, excuse me.”

Noah’s jabbering came to a halt when he heard the female voice. Seconds later, something tapped him on the bottom of his boot. When he lay on his stomach to fill the lower shelves, he didn’t realize his size 12 feet stuck out from under the curtain between the back room and the front of the mercantile. He scrambled to stand up and flung open the divider and said, “May I help y—”

Miss Abigail Thompson stood smack dab in front of him, her nose a mere two inches from his chest. The only thing Noah could see of the new arrival was the top of her flowered bonnet and some blond curls peeking out from underneath the wide brim.

He stepped back after he recovered from almost knocking the attractive girl flat on her behind. Abigail did the same, then tilted her head to look up at him.

“Yes, Mr. Presley, you can help me.” She scooted away from him and headed in the opposite direction. “I need you to reach something for me, if you please?”

Noah let her lead the way and could only imagine he resembled a dutiful pup following after his master. But in this instance, he made sure he walked far enough behind her that he didn’t step on the hem of her ruffled skirt.

He also couldn’t help but notice anytime Abigail entered the mercantile, her presence turned his mind to mush. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, and what came out didn’t resemble words in the King’s English.

“Mr. Presley, ah, Mama’s in need of some, ah, let me see. There it is.” Abigail pointed up at the next to the top shelf at a row of kerosene bottles. “The hurricane lamps she unwrapped today need oil.”

Noah nodded and stepped up on the ladder to retrieve the merchandise. He wondered why it had taken her mother so long to unpack her lamps. Night had fallen more than once since their arrival. If he’d known, he’d have taken some to them the day he went to call.

He reached his long arms up as high as they would go, but he still couldn’t reach the bottles. Noah needed to talk to Adam about his placement of certain items. Top shelves. A location which required a ladder.

Help me, Jesus!

Taking another step up meant he would venture into uncharted territory…

Noah was about to take a step out of where he felt comfortable. Think of time you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone. Did you survive? I’d say you did, if you’re reading this, and you’re happy you did.

And as a writer, stepping out takes courage, gumption… @nettiefudge Click To Tweet

And as a writer, stepping out takes courage, gumption…and it takes an IDEA. In my case, Chords of Love came to me when a dear friend and I brainstormed about a story set in the 1800s. Of course, my love of Colorado inspired the setting. Visualize someone twisting my arm (wink, wink) when research called me to Central City, Colorado.

Those who know me, know I’m lying. I moved to Colorado in my early 20s and spent over twenty-five years in Boulder and surrounding areas. And loved every minute. If you’ve never visited, make it a point to go. GOD OF ALL CREATION LIVES THERE.

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Janetta Fudge-Messmer’s books are available on Amazon. She is also on Twitter and Facebook.

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