Why She Writes About Women – Welcome, Amy Rivers

hot sunSo, to quote a former late night television personality, “How hot is it? It’s so hot, chickens are laying hardboiled eggs.”

Yep, I don’t have to tell you that it’s hot down here in Georgia. Even my pup, Bella, won’t stay outside very long. She lies in the mulch where it’s cooler on her belly for maybe five minutes then she heads back into the AC. Don’t blame her.

So we, as in Southerners, should be used to the summer heat, but I think that this year the heat is worse. But maybe we say that every year, who knows? But for me, my go-to-bed prayers include a big fat “thank you for air conditioning.”

Today, I’d like to welcome my guest blogger—Author Amy Rivers. Amy was born and raised in “southern” New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, Novelty Bride Magazine, ESME.com and Splice Today. Wallflower Blooming is her first novel.


Amy RiversWhy I Write About Women

There’s a reason why I write about women. Two reasons actually. First, (the obvious) I am one. They say you should write what you know, right? But more importantly, I write about women because they are amazing creatures. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by strong, determined, and wise women. I was raised in a family of loud-mouthed, opinionated, generous, complicated women who laugh in the face of adversity, love with their whole hearts and understand the importance of family.

7-25 Amy WB CoverWriting Wallflower Blooming, my debut novel, was a very introspective process. It’s easy to want to write a novel about a strong woman who does all the right things, but, in my experience, that woman does not exist. As human beings, we’re fallible. We make mistakes. Sometimes very big mistakes (I know I have). We cower when we should fight. We fight when we should collaborate. Even seemingly insignificant experiences can create a tidal wave of emotions in us and we don’t always understand why. So as I wrote my main character Val, I thought less about how to make her heroic, and more about how to make her human.

My plan as a writer is to continue contemplating women and how they react in different situations. You’ll probably notice my interest in politics, social justice and psychology woven into my stories, and I hope you’ll join me and the women I write about on our adventures in life, love and whatever else is out there.

You can follow me on my website: www.AmyRivers.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Wallflower Blooming is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon. And, of course, your honest reviews are greatly appreciated. Happy reading!

Thank you, Amy.

See y’all in August when I will be sharing Part Two – Interview with A Strong Southern Lady with Jan Sheppard Kelleher.

Bye, Y’all


Part One – Interview with a Strong Southern Lady

Now don’t tell anyone, but I sometimes hate summer. I know, I know, I live in the South and you’d think I’d be used to it. Nope. I just thank God every day for air conditioning. Unfortunately, the heat has never been my friend. It not only drains me of any energy I have, but changes my appearance. Yes, what begins in my reflection in a mirror as “not too bad” becomes red-faced, sweaty with stringy flat-to-my-head hair. Although I’m a southern girl and proud of it, I confess, the heat here is unbearable. June is bad. July is worse. August – I can’t go into it right now.

Switching topics. As I mentioned before, I attended the Southeastern Writers Conference a few weeks ago, and had a wonderful time. During that period, I was fortunate enough to interview two women whom I admire a great deal and whom I believe exemplify strong southern women.

Jan Kelleher kickingToday, I am excited to share with you, the first part of an interview I had with author and new friend, Janet Sheppard Kelleher.

“Janet Sheppard Kelleher is a creative nonfiction writer, memoirist, speaker, and author of Big C, little ta-ta: Kicking Breast Cancer’s Butt in 7 Humorous Stories. Her upcoming book, But What If I Can? is an inspirational and humorous, yet poignant, look at where we find our coping skills. Her next book Big C, Belly Boobs, about her last breast cancer experience, demonstrates how “finding the funny” in scary situations helped her remain optimistic during the process.”

Me:  Jan, I believe you personify Strong Southern Women. Strong in the sense that you don’t let circumstances or life get in your way. You fight for what you want in any way you can. You have faith on your side and something inside of you that helps you rise above the negative. With that said, and with your permission, I would like to ask you a few questions.

1. Do you consider yourself to be strong? Why or why not?

Yes. I consider myself to be strong. I came from a background of strong women—both grandmothers. I probably had one of the few grandmothers who worked outside the home. My maternal grandmother owned a grocery store, and she worked seven days a week, twelve-fifteen hour days, until she found the Lord and took off on Sundays. When I went to work for her at age seven, I was so small that I stood on a Coca Cola crate to ask customers if they needed help finding things. You know the little country stores where you didn’t pick up your own can of beans, where someone else got it for you. As I worked from seven a.m. until eight at night, my grandmother taught me how to work and the value of a dollar.

My mother also worked outside the home. She was a great salesperson—selling insurance, selling Stanley home products, selling institutional foods. She was brilliant at it, and so, I also had that influence growing up.

Jan's bookNow, the other grandmother was a sharecropper on a plantation. Her husband died when he was forty-nine years old and left her with eight children. As I understand it, there was no such thing as social security back then. All the children worked in the fields picking cotton. So when my book comes out “Having My Cotton Pickin’ Say,” you can understand that I’m not joking! My dad had to work the plantation for a long time. At twenty-three, he was the first person in our family to obtain a high school diploma. But my grandmother held together the family. She made dresses for the children from flour sacks, and created mattresses out of Spanish moss. I came from that kind of resourceful woman. She did what it took to survive. You talk about strong southern women–both of my grandmothers were brilliant in the way they handled life. Nobody had it easy. They all scraped by.

Yes, I consider myself to be strong because of those women’s examples. I will say that my book, which is coming out next, “But What If I Can,” is about the influences in my life, personal characteristics I have that create a survivor mentality, and the stories behind the people who gave those characteristics to me—one little story about each person, each story about the attribute that came from that person.

A brief example: My Dad whom I told you graduated at twenty-three because he had to work in the fields for years went with me to the first and only PTA meeting in our lives. Since I had working parents, they usually didn’t have the time for things like that. I’m not sure but maybe my brother talked him into going to the ninth grade teacher conference. By that time, Dad was a successful insurance salesman who always wore a suit and tie to work, a Stetson hat and wingtips. He was dressed fit to kill that night. We were nervous since the experience was new for both of us. Fishing and hunting, now that would have been easy. That’s what we did together. So it’s time to meet the teachers and we hit the Geometry classroom first. We’re standing in line—sweating.

When it’s our time to walk up to the teacher, Mrs. Byrd says, “Mr. Sheppard, I’m really proud of Janet. She’s doing well in Geometry.”

I wasn’t sure whether he was being proud or humble, but he looked down at his shoes then glanced up a bit and said, “Well, you know, Mrs. Byrd, she ought to be good in Geometry, I took it three damn times.” You have to think I got my tenacity from that guy.

Those are the kind of people I come from.

I feel like when you have obstacles to overcome, you have to look at people in your life, whether or not they’re kin to you, and say “That example right there—I can glean something from that!” Then use it, grow in it, whether or not it’s actually in your blood.

2. From where do you draw your inner strength?

There’s no doubt in my mind that God exists. The first story I ever had accepted at Chicken Soup for the Soul was about how and where my serious faith came from. “A Child’s Faith” is about my sharecropper granny. When she received a diagnosis of cancer, they gave her six months then sent her home to die. No one told her she had cancer. I don’t know whose decision that was, one of her children or all of them. I think they did it because one of her daughter’s had died of breast cancer and she was afraid of it. The fear of cancer—most people still fear it. As I said, I worshipped that grandmother. I was fourteen years old at the time, and I remember distinctly falling across my bed all morning, all night, and praying to God to please give me the pain that she might have to endure. I couldn’t bear to watch her go through it, the kind of pain they used to have to endure with cancer. I thought, I’m young and I can take that kind of pain. I pleaded and bargained with Him with words like “whatever you can do, whatever you give me, for allowing her to live and for minimizing her pain.” Well, my granny lived the six months and everybody kept expecting her to die. But she lived a year, then two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight years. She never took so much as an aspirin. That’s the truth. There came a time when she had a situation and was rushed to the hospital. At that moment, I was 250 miles away in a hotel room when I saw an arm reach out and pull a sheet over her head. I’ve never had a vision before or since, but that’s all I saw. I didn’t see anything else; didn’t see a person–just Granny’s head, an arm, and a white sheet.

The next morning, I called my mother and asked, “What’s wrong with Granny.”

She said, “How did you know?”

I said, “Never mind, you won’t believe me anyway.

I told Mom to call George, call Jim, call the family. Tell them to get there because my grandmother wasn’t going to live. I made it there. I was holding her hand when she died. She was eighty-five years old. At that moment in time, I had all the faith that a child can have and I trusted God beyond the shadow of a doubt. And he answered. I’m still so grateful. When I have pain, when I developed cancer myself, I was not surprised, nor did I ask why, nor was I angry. I frankly said, “My time has arrived.” I am so grateful still that she had those eight years. That is where my inner strength comes from.

Thank you, Jan for your honest answers and sharing endearing excerpts from your own family history. In July, I will continue this dialogue with a few more questions for this lovely lady.

You can find Jan at the following places:

See y’all at the end of the month when my guest blogger will be author, Amy Rivers.

Bye for now,


A June Welcome to Melanie V. Logan

Hi y’all!lighthouse

mike dog beachI had a wonderful long weekend spending Friday through Tuesday at St. Simons Island, Georgia with my husband, Mike, and our mini-Australian Shepherd, Bella. After three relaxing days of sunshine, beach, and just being lazy, I spent Monday and Tuesday soaking up knowledge which flowed from the speakers at the Southeastern Writer’s Association Conference. As always, I made a few new friends, reconnected with old ones, and left the conference feeling the comradery of fellow writers. Thank you to all who make the SWA and its conference possible.

During the conference, I was fortunate to have a chance to interview two lovely ladies who represent my idea of strong southern womenJanet Shepherd Kelleher and Debra Ayers Brown. I will be sharing their interviews with you in the coming months. They were so gracious and kind to grant me their precious time. Thank you, ladies.

Now, I’d like to welcome my guest blogger, Melanie V. Logan.

6-25 melanie_bioMelanie has appreciated the land of make believe for as long as anyone can remember. Growing up in rural Virginia didn’t lend much to the excitement. With a pen, paper, and a rambunctious imagination, created adventures of her own. Nowadays, Melanie lives in the suburbs of Atlanta still crafting dreams into fictional works of art. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling with her husband, reading, watching movies, or the occasional comedy show. 


Why I Write Women’s Fiction

What I love about women’s fiction is the exploration of a woman’s journey. It’s not always about love, romance, or a happily ever after. It’s about learning and growing along the way. Getting knocked down by one thing or another, but getting right back up. Persevering over great odds whether personal tragedies, hindrances from loved ones, or some other obstacle. The journey may not take the character in that direction first set on, but doesn’t that happen in life?

What I’m Working On

I’m currently working on a manuscript for my first novel. The story focuses on a woman searching for her dream life, but blames others for her failures when she is the obstacle in the way. That may seem like a common storyline; however, there are unexpected twists and turns that I haven’t read in other books. What I hope readers walk away with is a desire to pursue their purpose, answer their own ‘what if’s’ should life change in the blink of an eye.

Where to Find Her

To learn more about Melanie, check out her website at http://melanievlogan.com or follow her on Twitter: @melanievlogan.

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next month.


P.S. Stay tuned for a Southern Comfort Recipes and Southern Sayings as well as an excerpt from Weather Permitting.

Normal is as Normal does…

snoopy summerJune means summer, the beach, hot weather, long days, short nights, sitting outside bird watching before it warms up, and cooking as much on the grill as possible. This month I have two events to attend: my high school reunion in Decatur, Georgia and the Southeastern Writers Association (SWA) Conference. Looking forward to both for two entirely different reasons.

At the reunion, I hope to see people I haven’t seen in a very long time, and dance to the oldies until I drop.

On the 17th of this month, I will be heading to St. Simons, Georgia to spend a few days of vacation before attending the SWA Conference. I look forward to meeting up with the authors I see every year and the new faces I come to expect. I always learn a great deal about the craft of writing and gain insight into different areas of publishing and editing.

Maya Angelou Normal“Normal” is on my mind today. I’ll tell you right now, I don’t think I’m normal. I’m sure there a million things I do that would not be considered normal. One thing I do that immediately comes to mind–I talk to myself. Been at it my whole life. Maybe it started when I was a child because I played alone quite a bit. Both my siblings were older and grown before I even entered first grade. I say maybe because I honestly have no idea why I do it. But it has come in handy when hashing out problems, making decisions, and generally annoying the people around me. 🙂

So what exactly does it mean to be normal?  I suppose it means different things to different people. In Weather Permitting, Sara Palmer doesn’t think she is normal and desperately tries to reach that state of being.

I looked up the term and here it is:  As an adjective, “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.  As a psychological term, “approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment; free from any mental disorder; sane.  As a noun, “the average or mean; the standard.”

Well, one glance at those definitions, and I ask, who comes close? We are all different in those traits mentioned above. To my thinking, we are as different as we are the same. We all want the same basic things in our life, and more than likely use the same emotions (except I do know a few guys . . . that’s for another blog). I’m not sure but my guess would be we are different on the inside, in our minds, in how we think and how we respond, justify, and either embrace or shun our emotions. Now this is just my muddy opinion, using my warped brain and years of experience.

normalSara Palmer wants to be normal because she thinks by claiming that title, she will somehow be adept at reinventing herself. If only she’d stop clinging to the past. If only she was “normal,” she would be happier. The truth is, she doesn’t need a label to be happy. What she needs, like the ability to forgive herself as well as those who have hurt her, has nothing at all to do with whether or not she is NORMAL.

Are you normal?

At the end of this month, I look forward to introducing my guest blogger, Melanie Logan.

Thanks for reading,


What Is Women’s Fiction? And Why Do You Write That?

I have been struggling with my current manuscript, finding the last third of the book to be the most difficult. Pulling it all together, grappling with endings. It’s kind of a slow and steady process, but the pain will be over sometime in June. Yes, June. I have a mental deadline. But today is blog day.

Feb 7 [17945]Let me welcome my Guest Blogger, Zan Marie Steadham. I enjoyed finally meeting her in person the other day when we met for lunch in Atlanta with two other Women’s Fiction writers, Melanie Logan and Emily Carpenter. It was fun getting to know these women re-emphasizing that we all go through the same journey through our creativity.

Zan Marie is a writer of Women’s Fiction whose blogging alter ego is “The Book Pusher.” She has mini book reviews on her blog at least twice a month because the second best thing to reading a good book is to share it with others. She particularly enjoys pushing books by her WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association) buddies and the members of the Books and Writers Community. She lives west of Atlanta and nearly in Alabama with her college sweetheart husband of over thirty-eight years and their two toy poodles. She’s a 2009 Georgia Author of the Year Nominee and an active blogger. Check out her weekly posts at In the Shade of the Cherry Tree. Her humorous essay, “An Occupational Hazard” was published in the WFWA Quarterly Write On! Currently, she’s pitching her first novel.


All of us know the perennial question: “What do you do?” Our answer—“I’m a writer”—is followed by “Oooh! When is your book coming out?”

I promise that to truly answer what’s behind getting a book to market will create a vacuum in their attention span. Our voices become just like the adults on the “Charlie Brown” specials—“wah, wah, wah” For my quick analogy, check this blogpost, Now You Can Read My Book.

I like to tell people that women’s fiction found me. When I woke from a dream in March 2008 with the first scene of my WIP, I had no clue what genre it was. The story of a recently widowed, retired teacher who still mourned her husband and their five miscarriages, who meets an abused foster twelve-year-old and has her life changed one hundred eighty degrees, wasn’t a mystery (Though, there is a bit of mystery on exactly what the girl has experienced and why she resembles the teacher’s deceased husband). It isn’t suspense, thriller, or horror. (Though, to be honest, some people think the abuse fits that classification.) And as a contemporary story it doesn’t fit SF or fantasy. I was left with literary and mainstream.

I scratched my head when I tried to research agents. Mainstream covered way too many types of books. I didn’t want to spin my wheels when agent after agent passed.bl wh woman reading

Then, I met Amy Sue Nathan (check out her books! They’re fabulous) and her blog was promoting women’s fiction and mentioned the formation of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. The WFWA “an inclusive organization of writers creating layered stories that are driven by the main character’s emotional journey.”

I had an Ah Hah moment. I was writing women’s fiction. My current project is Upmarket Women’s Fiction and is a perfect book for book clubs. The WFWA has helped me hone my craft, find agents to query, and bolster me when I falter.

Now, I can proudly say, “I write Women’s Fiction. Let me tell you about my book.”

Ninety-nine percent of my questioners get wistful to read my story. They wish me well, add a few prayers, and say, “Let me know when it comes out.”

I can’t ask for a better conversation than that. 🙂

You can find Zan Marie on:

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/WriterZanMarieSteadham/

TWITTER:     https://twitter.com/ZanMarieS

WEBSITE/BLOG:  www.zanmariesteadham.com

Thank you, Zan Marie.

See you in June,



Digging Deep

“A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is enabled by her scars.”
—-Carly Simon

FoxgloveHappy May! Check out my Foxglove!! Just purchased it at Home Depot and planted it under a kitchen window so I could see it rain or shine. Didn’t even know it was a perennial! I suppose you’ve guested that I do not have a natural green thumb. I’m working on it.

I love to talk about strong women. I admire them, praise them, wish to be just like a whole bunch of them. Some, of course, are famous, but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any of them, but I do enjoy quoting them.

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.” – Anne Lamott

“. . . knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

However, I do know hundreds of woman I consider to be in that special category. Some bucket and shovelhappen to be born Southern; others I’ve labeled “might as well be.” What does it take to classify someone as a STRONG WOMAN? I believe she somehow draws her on her own inner strength to overcome a life changing obstacle, make the best of a difficult situation, accept a challenge, or simply make a risky change or life decision. All in all, she pulls from within herself to create a better life for her and the people around her. We all know these women. What makes these women who they are? Where does their strength come from or better yet how are they able to draw from it?

I asked a few of these women I know to answer the following questions: What has given you inner strength in the past and what gives it to you today when you need it? Here are some of the responses I received.

  •  “Helping others. Being chivalrous.”
  • “. . . my faith in God—in the past and now. What keeps me going are my kids (I love being a Mom.) and the longing to live a life of purpose.”
  • “. . . has grown stronger and stronger over the years as my faith journey has progressed. Several folks have touched my life deeply in the past . . . as well as I have weathered quite a few tragedies. Walking through life’s valleys and knowing I will come out on the other side because of my deep faith in Christ gives me my strength.”
  • “In the past, I have found inner strength from my faith in a loving God, in the belief that the most difficult and painful experiences can bring about the greatest and often most needed personal growth, and the understanding that you must ‘Go through to Get through.’ . . . In addition . . . currently . . . my connection with strong, knowledgeable, and genuine women brings me great joy, which adds to my inner strength. That said, I do not have it all figured out!”
  • “That’s easy. God is with me every step of the way.”
  • “Two things come to mind. My strength has always been my faith. But . . . also . . . my mother gave me strength. She always believed in me and made me believe I could do anything.”
  • “I gather strength from life’s challenges. I keep my faith close, but pull from a fight in me that says never give up.”
  • “. . . in the past . . . through support of friends and family coupled with determination and my desire for independence. Presently and continuously . . . through self-reflection, self-confidence and blind optimism.”

Sara, the main character in “Weather Permitting,” doesn’t know she’s a strong woman until her marriage breaks up, and she has no choice but to find her strength. Women I read about and women I know personally amaze me with their journeys of reinvention and the ability to do more than survive. They thrive, and the older they get, the better they get.

So I’m asking you, you beautifully strong women who read my blog, what has given you strength in the past and what gives it to you today?

Stay tuned. On the twenty-fifth of this month, my guest blogger will be Zan Marie Steadham.  See you then,


The Joy of New Perspectives

Ahh . . . April. Don’t want to see it go. Cool nights, warm days. Hard to stay indoors and write, but I have no choice. My passion calls me to sit in front of my laptop hour upon hour. Today’s schedule includes polishing a synopsis for my new book (working title – Relative Consequences) which must be completed soon in order for me to enter the novel submission contest for the Southeastern Writers Association Conference held in June. Also working on a difficult chapter.

Karen Ginther-Graham (2)But first on my agenda is welcoming my guest blogger and author, Karen Ginther-Graham, who is a long-time Okie but hails from Southern California. Her writing often reflects those two places. Her livelihood includes management and renovation of apartments in a re-emerging part of Oklahoma City. She studied literature at the University of Central Oklahoma. She and her husband live in Edmond, Oklahoma.


As a soon-to-be published author, I am excited to be a part of Jody’s call for submissions. I am drawn to women’s fiction, and imagine most of you are as well. Women’s fiction has plenty of exciting scenes, but those scenes are for the most part devoid of car chases, vampires, and gun fights. They are gentler in tone, and often focus on a woman’s journey through a life-affirming experience. I love experiencing a character’s response to a particular event, and imagine my own reaction in the same situation. Sometimes I gain new perspectives from these fictional characters that come alive solely from an author’s imagination.

Writing came late in life for me. I breezed through my college lit writing assignments, and the first inkling took seed that I might someday try my hand at penning a novel. A defining moment came when someone at my twenty-fifth high school reunion recited verbatim a haiku poem I’d written for the school paper all those years ago.

I approached middle age and longed for more romances between mature adults. Of the hundreds of fantastic novels I read, few were exactly what I sought. In response, I embarked on a journey to write just such a novel.

perf5.000x8.000.inddHere is an overview of my debut romantic women’s fiction novel titled Finding Rose Rocks

When Jennifer Ellis’s business fails, she decides to leave Oklahoma in a cloud of red dust and to return to her San Diego roots. Then Troy Stanhope comes along with a solution to her company’s woes, and she falls for his velvety voice and appealing confidence. Their relationship deepens but she is called to the west coast on a family matter and decides to stay for the summer. She meets a new man and finds herself drawn to his irresistible charm. Her newfound self-enlightenment mingles with salty ocean breezes and eucalyptus-scented air to place her in his arms. Their liaison is heartfelt but brief, midlife’s last hurrah. Jennifer realizes her heart is back on the southern prairie and returns to Troy’s ranch, but she may be one adventure too late.

Happy Reading!

Please follow Karen on:

FACEBOOK:   www.facebook.com/ginthergraham
Her Blog:        http://www.karenginthergraham.blogspot.com

See you in May,


An April Salute

balloons-1300Don’t you just love the month of April? The greening of everything? The pinks and lavenders in neighborhood yards? A blossoming tree capturing your attention as you turn a corner? My yard is coming to life as I speak. Every morning my dog, Bella, and I check to see what’s new. April is my favorite month. Well, it’s also my birthday month. Yay!

th91JY168GI look at April as a beginning. The beginning of an awakening world, of warmth, of the birth of life around us, but also a beginning of new strengths I notice in myself. I seem to regroup in April, write more, clean more, read more. I do more of everything. I find strength, both internal and external, that must have been asleep during the winter months.

So we’re back to my favorite topic—strong women. I truly believe that woman have an innate strength which gets them through hard times, which comes just when they need it most, which sometimes slips away but always manages to return. This strength leads women to become, to name a few, mothers, teachers, heads of state, corporate professionals, missionaries, doctors, nurses, elder and child caregivers, business owners and of course, good friends to other women, and allows them to create beautiful art, write heartfelt stories, cook amazing food, and give back to the world in some way.

As an author, I’m always impressed with writers who exemplify the inner strength of the characters they present on the page. Doing research for this blog post, I came across an article written for the New York Times on December 18, 2014 entitled, “The Unbreakable Lauren Hillenbrand” by Wil S. Hilton. The article was magic and the subject even more so.

th (7)Lauren Hillenbrand wrote Seabiscuit and Unbroken—true stories brought to life, in this case with historical reference. I have read both of these amazing books and Ms. Hillenbrand’s way with words is both lyrical, emotional and intellectual. If you haven’t read these books, please do. You will come away with not only knowledge but also insight touched with spirit and humanity.

Hilton’s article explained Lauren’s background, her family, her creative process, and her illness. I knew she suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome to the max. What I learned was that there when she is unable to leave her home due to her ongoing symptoms, which include vertigo. Several years ago, I endured bouts of vertigo and it can be debilitating. She doesn’t just function with her condition; she writes books that require detailed background research, a time consuming endeavor and sometimes an organizational nightmare. If you have a chance, check out Mr. Hilton’s article online at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/magazine/the-unbreakable-laura-hillenbrand.html?_r=0

So here’s my salute to Lauren Hillenbrand who not only writes with her affliction, but who excels in her craft. I would love to meet her for she is my definition of a strong southern woman. (Forgive me if you think she’s not really southern. I threw in that part because she was born in Maryland, one of those borderline states.)

My next post will be introduce guest blogger, Karen Ginther-Graham.

See you toward the end of the month,


Woman Strong by Kimberly Black

Spring has sprung in my neighborhood. How about yours? Georgia pollen is everywhere though, so if I sneeze on this blog, I apologize. Let me grab a tissue.

Kim thumbnail smallToday, please welcome my guest blogger, Kimberly Black. Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle, Kim carries a deep love for the Lone Star state. After her family, her passion lies in writing, teaching Bible school, movies, and design. By day, she is a professional building designer, specializing in custom homes. She has three books in publication–LYDIA, WOMAN OF PURPLE (Buoy Up Press, 2014), and POCKETS and A FICTION WRITER’S CHARACTER WORKBOOK, both self-published–with two manuscripts in editing and two in development. Periodically, she generously releases her novel, SHOOTING STARS TRAVELING CIRCUS, to newsletter recipients on her website. She currently serves as President of the Texas High Plains Writers, an organization established in 1920 to support and encourage writers of all kinds throughout the Texas Panhandle and surrounding area. Kim is available for speaking engagements for groups, classes, organizations, and book clubs. Please contact her at kim@kimblack.net for more information.


Writing strong female characters is one of my favorite things to do. I come from a long line of tough gals in my family. My maternal grandmother was a descendant of Davy Crockett, and my paternal grandmother is a descendant of William the Conqueror. Both took their mantles quite seriously, as do I. Big shoes to fill.

I’m a multi-genre writer, published with a children’s book and a Christian historical novel. I have three more works-in-progress, including a spy trilogy with a female lead, a sci-fi western inspired by Annie Oakley, and another Christian historical. The umbrella over all my work is “women’s fiction.”

In my children’s book, Pockets, my main character explores her world and learns that the best things in life aren’t the things she carries, but the acts of love and kindness she can spread along her way.

With Lydia, Woman of Purple, I saw the ancient Greek marketplace much like today’s world Lydia Coverwhere women must be resilient to hold their place. Lydia struggles with other business owners, local officials, and her own family members as she discovers her faith and employs it to make her world better.

For my subscribers, I’m releasing a free chapter each month of Shooting Stars Traveling Circus, a sci-fi western about a young woman and her brother who must leave earth to save the lives of their now-outlawed horses. They find that space is the perfect stage for a Wild West show in rebellion of Authority’s widespread oppression.

My women have strength, faith, and a desire to be their best as they meet their flaws and obstacles head-on. I find inspiration in every woman’s story when I listen with my heart.

Please follow Kim:

My website:          http://kimblackink.com/
Facebook page:    https://www.facebook.com/Kimberly-Black-Author-218033044906913/
Twitter:                   https://twitter.com/KimBlackInk
Pinterest:               https://www.pinterest.com/kimblackink/
Instagram:             https://www.instagram.com/kimblackink/

Thanks for visiting.  See you all in April (my favorite month of the year!)


The Real Joy in Achieving a Dream

February is almost over – it’s too SHORT.  My goals were too lofty for this little month. I do hope your checklist looks better than mine. But as I promised myself, I will be blogging twice a month and including guest bloggers once a month into the summer.Camille

Today, I am happy and grateful to introduce a guest blogger, Camille Di Maio, author of her soon to be released novel, THE MEMORY OF US.  Camille lives in San Antonio with her husband and four children. She’s traveled to four continents and most of the US and is always planning her next trip. By day, she is an award-winning real estate agent, and by night, she is an author. She does pretty well with little sleep. She loves belting out Broadway tunes at a moment’s notice, shopping at farmers markets, and she will try anything that doesn’t involve heights or roller skates.


There are things you dream about as a little girl, and you can imagine them happening in vivid detail. Your wedding, for example. Your dress will be tea-length. The bridesmaids will wear lavender and have puffy sleeves. You will honeymoon in Tahiti.

Then you grow up, and reality hits. Everything costs more than you thought. The styles of your childhood have gone out of fashion. It is hard work to put together such an event.

But, it is still beautiful. Even if it looks different than what you imagined.

There are other dreams, such as what you want to be when you grow up. I always wanted to be a writer. I got there, recently, after detours through politics and real estate. But, after six years of hard work (and a shout out from Sir Paul McCartney from the Beatles, but that’s another story), I have signed with a literary agent, who got me a book deal that I’m very excited about. THE MEMORY OF US, a WWII story about a Protestant girl and a Catholic seminarian will be released on May 31.

Camille's photo Every step has been its own journey. The challenges: fifteen drafts, countless rejections, the effort it cost to make it better and better. The joys: having two agents want it, signing with a publisher, seeing the cover art, seeing my name on the cover art, becoming friends with other writers.

Those last things look exactly as I imagined them as a little girl. I thought long ago that I would be excited when those things happened. That they would be everything I ever wanted.

But, after becoming a mother, after caring for a life outside of your own, you learn one thing. Nothing you do is for yourself anymore. So, as delightful as those benefits are, the real joy in realizing this dream has been what it’s meant for my three daughters and one son. Mom has showed them that achieving their dreams and becoming anything they want to be aren’t just pretty platitudes to put on a motivational poster. They can become a reality with hard work, resilience, perseverance, and a positive attitude. And along the way, other people have told me that my writing journey has inspired them to dig up their old dreams and make them happen, too.

And that, I think is the secret to happiness. Realizing that it’s not about what you’ve received. It’s about what you’ve contributed.

Please follow Camille:
Amazon Author Page – amazon.com/author/camilledimaio
Book Trailer Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhGrvDii0g
Website – https://camilledimaio.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CamilleDiMaio
Instagram – https://instagram.com/camilledimaio/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/camilledimaio.author

See you next month,


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