Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset - May 4, 2011

Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
                                                                              ---Fiddler On The Roof

Beautiful lyrics, and an appropriate start for my new series of (almost) daily posts about my last thought last evening and my first thought the morning that followed. Disclaimer: I reserve the right to give you my second thought, should I not be able to admit my first thought - but I'll let you know. :)

What were you thinking about?

Last thought, Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 11:05 p.m.
After viewing all of the photos on Facebook that people have posted of their moms in honor of Mother's Day, and nightly praying about my dad's cancer, I thought about how thankful I am that my parents are still living. That is not the case with most of my friends, and they often tell me not to take simple things for granted, like the ability to pick up the phone and call just to hear the sound of their voice.
First Thought, Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 5:35 a.m.
As I prepare to leave for the Oklahoma Writers Federation "Write Now" Conference, my mind was full of all the things I have to do today: print a synopsis, don't forget the camera, be sure to email confirmations, buy dog food and cat food, oh, and don't forget to pack my fancy purse . . . blah, blah, blah.  I looked at the clock. Oh heck, I figured. I could afford to sleep another half an hour.
Then, I heard Jubie whining from her crate downstairs . . .

Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Questions for Ruth Burkett Weeks, Author

I first met Ruth Burkett Weeks about two years ago at the Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop critique group. At the time, she was still working on her novel, Soldiers From The Mist. Her beautiful prose and dialogue defined and captured each character and I was always disappointed when she finished reading her five pages for the night. When I later learned the "story behind the story," I understood why she knew her characters so well. (See my note on "Whisperings" below.)

Now, I am looking forward to her new novel, The Legend of Dixie Dandelion. One of the joys of having writer friends is experiencing the birth of our characters with each other. I've seen a lot of Dixie in Ruth (in fact, these days, we call Ruth "Dixie,") and I was with her when she found the perfect personification for Jackson at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Here's just a tidbit of the author behind Soldiers From The Mist:

 JAN: Your book, Soldiers From The Mist was recently published by High Hill Press. Your story differs in a unique way from how other Civil War stories have been told. Can you explain how this story came to you, and how you decided to tell it in this way?

RUTH: First of all, I want people to know that Soldiers From the Mist is more than yet another Civil War story. It is unique in that it is channeled information that came to me from the ghosts that haunt my house. In fact, the main protagonist, Charles Ely, is my distant cousin. These ghosts were trapped in time and had waited for me for 150 years so that I could write their story and bring their message of love to the forefront. By doing this, they were able to cross over and rest in peace. (Jan's note: The "Whisperings" chapters in Soldiers From the Mist are fascinating. These chapters describe those moments when the ghosts came to talk to Ruth. Though I enjoyed all of the book, I could hardly wait to get the the "Whisperings.")

JAN: What have you found to be your biggest challenge as a writer, and what are you doing to overcome that challenge?

RUTH: Finding time to write is my biggest bug-a-boo. I work full time which means I do most of my writing at night and on the weekends. Trying to cram house cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying, day-to-day living, and writing into that small amount of time is a challenge. I think every successful writer struggles with this problem even if they don't work outside the home. But dishes in the sink and laundry crawling out of the hamper is a small price to pay for the next New York Times Bestseller. I'll hire a maid with my royalities.

JAN: Any new projects you'd like to tell us about?

RUTH: I am working on my next novel, The Legend of Dixie Dandelion. I love Dixie! She is a scarlet-haired, spit-fire who tames the wild west with the help of Pinkerton Detective, Jackson McCullough,the love of her life. I know I was her in a previous lifetime.
"Jackson and Dixie"
JAN: I was recently at a writers' conference where an agent told the audience, "You are not the same writer today that you will be in six months." How has your writing changed, or how have you changed as a writer, in the last six months?

RUTH: I am a more confident wrtier today than I was six months ago. As a beginninger, I questioned my voice and style especially when I heard the polished, elegant words that other writers in my critque group, The Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop, wrote. I tried to emulate them only to discover it didn't work; that I wasn't staying true to who I am. Each person brings her own uniqueness to the table and none is better or worse than the other. Variety is the spice of life. Of course having a published book that has been so well-received doesn't hurt either.

JAN: Why do you write?

RUTH: To create! It's such a high to pull characters, locations, events, and situations out of the thin air and make up an interesting story about them; to be able to escape into a different time and lose yourself in the pages. Creativity keeps your brain active and your heart forever young.

JAN: Thanks for the interview, Ruth! I can't wait to see what other stories you create from the characters, locations, events and situations you "pull out of thin air!"

Leave a comment by Monday, May 16
for a chance to win an autographed copy of
Soldiers From The Mist.
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