Every issue, IN presents INside Authors, a look at authors from around the world who have significantly caught our attention and deserve a little space and recognition. The following two authors are this month's choices, based on the heat arising from their corners. Our hope is to provide a glimpse, a snapshot, an overview of some of the finest writers of our time making waves both tidal and ripple.
Sharon Shaw Elrod, Nonfiction Author
Background INfo: In 1966, I did the worst thing a young woman could possibly do. I got pregnant. I wasnít married and the father of my baby abandoned me when I told him. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and immediately surrendered her for adoption to cover up my shame and guilt.
I didn't tell anyone outside my immediate family. I lived the lie for 36 years. In January 2001, I drove 1000 miles to say good-bye to my favourite uncle who was dying, and the universe opened up. I stopped lying and started writing. Before that I did a lot of things that have mostly nothing to do with my career as an author. I did some professional writing as a social worker and educator, but nothing that required the creative flair. Then my passion surfaced, and the story along with it.
I was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in the little burg of New Hartford with my three best-friend sisters. My favourite subject, English, taught me how to put a sentence together according to all the rules of the language. Thatís an obvious basic for a writer. More importantly, Mother frequently told me and my sisters that we could do or be anything we chose. I grew up with the notion I could do anything. Later in life, I realized passion drove my choices.
INfluences: Writing became a passion when my baby girl, came back to find me. A dream I barely allowed myself to acknowledge began to emerge. My baby returned to find me . . . a request I left with her when I surrendered her to an unknown couple to raise her as their own. The story screamed to be written. Steve and Joan Neubauer (WordWright.biz), along with my insanely dedicated family, encouraged me to write Shar's Story, A Mother And Daughter Reunited. I knew or sensed that I had to write what happened in that incredible life experience. I think the message in that is to write what you absolutely know to be the truth, because you lived it.
Advice: When you write about your life experience, write about how it felt when you went through it. We all feel the depths of passion in our lives. Some of us may not know it or have difficulty identifying it. Talk about your story with friends and family, people who will help you identify your peculiar and idiosyncratic way of looking at and feeling your experience. If you always wanted to write, find your passion, your bliss! You'll discover success when you write about how it felt when you experienced it. But don't get schmaltzy, that doesn't work. And donít lie. Lies create failure.
On the other hand, if you think you've had a ho-hum life and don't have anything to write about, find someone in your family or among your friends who has a story you can tell. In that case, tell their story and stretch the truth! Create some passion that may not be totally accurate, and identify your story as based on a true experience. Remember: Passion is the key!
Internet Presence: My website provides a lot of information about my memoir and I encourage you to take a look at http://www.sharsstory.com. I agree with what every writer I know says about the Internet, itís the greatest communication and marketing tool around!
The Future: As a result of the success of Shar's Story, my son-in-law asked me to help him write his memoir. Heís a retired NFL football player with a poignant story to tell, and weíre about two-thirds of the way to getting his book published with the help of some football related folk in the NFL and sports-related writers. I feel passionately about his story, as does he.
Shar's Story, A Mother And Daughter Reunited. WordWright, September 2005
Doug Foshee, Cowboy Poet
Background INfo: I wrote my first cowboy poetry after attending the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas in February of 1993. I was raised in the coastal area near Houston, Texas. Each time I moved I ended up further west. I have always had a deep abiding love and respect for the real west (not what you see on TV or the silver screen). I spent 32 years in the education profession, eleven as a Speech Therapist, and 21 as a principal. After retiring in the spring of 2004, my wife, Clara, and my daughter, Joy, encouraged me to publish my collection of poems.
INfluences: Western heritage and the cowboy way of life have always been there for me. I got my first pair of boots before I could walk. I worked on ranches during the summers and part time while teaching and usually kept a few horses around. I have read, heard, and been influenced by such great cowboy poets as Red Stegall, J.B. Allen, Baxter Black, and Waddie Mitchell just to name a few.
Advice: Enjoy your writing. Have fun with it. Try to talk and write about what you know. Don't try to fake your way through a subject you know nothing about. Especially in cowboy poetry, be genuine. Be respectful and reverent about the cowboy way of life. You can have fun, but do not make fun of the life. Interject humour when it is appropriate. Cowboy poetry is family oriented. There is no room for vulgarities or crudeness in this genre.
Internet Presence: I don't have a website.
The Future: I have completed a children's book with a western theme, which my wife illustrated, that I have not published to date. I am continuing to write cowboy poetry and hopefully will have a second book of poems out in the near future.
Cowboy Heart, Soul, and Humor, WordWright, 2006
Penelope Jensen considers herself a citizen of the world, aligning herself at this moment with the purposes of IN, where you'll find her writing articles and interviewing authors, among other things. You can reach Penny at: PenJen@inorbit.com.
Steve Neubauer is a co-founder of the publishing firm WordWright.biz, Inc. The company serves as an incubator for new authors and works with professional speakers and consultants to create books about their specialty areas. Steve focuses on helping new writers establish themselves and fulfill their publication dreams. http://www.wordwright.biz/index.html