INtroducing . . .
By Penelope Jensen and Steve Neubauer
October, 2006, 16:00
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.
Barbara Rollins, Fiction and Nonfiction Author
Background INfo: Lawyers, educators, and judges gravitate towards words. Roll those together, add addiction to enigmas, and a writer emerges. The first fifty years I didn’t consider myself a writer. Yet I grouped words for people since the easy process perplexed them.
Internet Presence: I’m all over the Internet. On my www.Sharpwriters.com site, I blog and freelance, writing letters for a man from Pakistan and resumes for a man in the adjacent community. My new www.SyncopatedSummer.com site promotes, well, Syncopated Summer, my August release book. For writers Nancy Robinson Masters, Elaine Coleman, Jim Wilson, and JoAnne Horn as well as for the Abilene Writers Guild and two other nonprofits, I maintain websites. Nancy Masters, a whiz at marketing, credits her web presence with numerous sales and speaking opportunities.
I’m Texan to the core. McMurry University made me a Spanish and English teacher. Middle school teaching yielded to another stint as student. With a Masters in Christian Education, I tried my hand at Fort Worth’s University United Methodist. I married, and then started law school for fun. Graduating with honours, I practiced law until I found my calling as a judge. I’ve tried misdemeanants, juveniles, and civil litigants the last 18 years in Abilene, Texas. I turned waiting for lawyers into writing moments.
INfluences: My mother raised English teachers, hardwired with grammar and vocabulary. My parents read; I copied. As my boys grew, I perused their reading for parental control and the delight. I recall Lois Duncan’s books and piles of Star Wars tales. My adult choices include Michael Connelly, Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series, Nevada Barr, and many others. For writing instruction, I turn most often to Anne Lamott and James N. Frey. Julia Cameron helps with mustering mental resources. Serially obsessive and innately curious, I lurch from medieval kings to ASP programming tips, from archival Texas manuscripts to travelogues. Writers who analyzed my efforts and amplified my skills include Denise Vitola and Robyn Conley.
Advice: Millions of people intend to write a great book; fewer have tried. An infinitesimally small number have completed one. My first, begun about 1980, remains unfinished in a format modern computers would stutter to decipher. In 1995, disgusted with politics, I chose to hone my writing skills. Instead of another unfinished masterpiece, I began with stories, articles, and poems. Since I was mentoring a sixth grader, “we” wrote a book that year. It’s no easier writing for children, but fewer pages to write translates into books actually being finished before my fickle serial oppressiveness moves me on. Start short. Share your work with knowledgeable people, though a critique group if possible but at least by entering contests. When you’ve reached your best for that moment, offer the work for publication. Submit carefully; rejections happen often enough when you research the market and target the publication. Don’t invite failure by thinking guidelines don’t apply to you, or that your superior work supersedes rules.
I practiced law with two gentlemen who exemplified truths for new lawyers and new writers. Bryan researched everything that might arise in a client’s situation three or four “what ifs” down the line. Bill asked opinions of all, from a stable hand to a neophyte attorney. He didn’t necessarily take the advice, but he listened, learned, and then decided. Research thoroughly but stop researching and write when the time comes. Ask questions, listen. With the knowledge and advice you gain, decide for yourself.
The Future: I retire from being a judge January 1, 2011. By then I will have ten published books and be ready to devote full time to writing and to talking to people about books and writing. The next book I’ll finish is another children’s book tentatively entitled It’s Dingwall, Y’all. A young Texan hates then loves life in a thousand-year-old Scottish community. Another children’s book in progress tells of three women who were the Texas Supreme Court for a case in 1925. My ten years’ work on the history of women judges in Texas will eventually become She Who Must Be Obeyed. Several novel beginnings merit completion. As for my next obsession, maybe I’ll become a travel writer.
Syncopated Summer, August 2006 from Wordwright.biz
Ballistics, 2005, Capstone Press (Forensic Crime Solvers) with Michael Dahl
Fingerprint Evidence, 2005, Capstone Press (Forensic Crime Solvers) with Michael Dahl
Cause of Death, 2005, Capstone Press (Forensic Crime Solvers) with Michael Dahl
Blood Evidence, 2005, Capstone Press (Forensic Crime Solvers) with Michael Dahl
Privately published books:
Thomas McCarley and wife Isabella McKendree, Their Ancestors and Descendants (1991)
By Guess and By Gosh: The Way Your Mother Really Cooks (2000)
This is My Life, Autobiography of Sam Breedlove (2001)
L.C. Hayden, Fiction and Nonfiction Author
Background INfo: As far back as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I was one of those kids who when the teacher assigned a composition, I turned in a two-to-three page essay while everyone else turned in a two-to-three sentence paragraph. In fact, my first published article had originally been written as a term paper.
I received my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and have published over 400 articles, six books, have one with my publisher, and another one to be released late this year. My fourth Harry Bronson mystery was nominated for Best Mystery of the Year at a recent Left Coast Crime Convention. My third book has been optioned for a movie. The second one in the series was an Oprah's Online Reading Café selection and the first was a Barnes & Noble Top Ten Best Seller.
Besides mysteries, I’ve also penned a nonfiction, inspirational book about miracles and angels. It became a WordWright Best Seller. I’ve also written two children picture books (not published) and a horror novel (published.)
INfluences: Two U. T. El Paso professors have influenced my writing. Dr. John West encouraged me and showed me how to break into print. Francis L. Fugate nourished my early writing career. Other than these two individuals, members of the writing community—especially those in the mystery field—have been a true inspiration to me. They have served as my mentors, friends, and constant role models.
Advice: Proofread, proofread, proofread, and then proofread again. Be proud of your work and always strive for perfection. Proofread once for content. Does the dialogue sound realistic? Is proper viewpoint maintained? Are the characters’ actions logical? Are the characters properly motivated?
Proofread a second time for grammatical errors. Pay close attention to subject/verb agreement, run-ons, fragments, capitalization, and spelling.
The third time you proofread, concentrate on style. How does the piece read? Are there any awkward passages? Did you avoid using the passive voice as much as possible?
Internet Presence: Readers have sent me e-mails telling me that they have just visited my website www.lchayden.freeservers.com and are now interested in reading my books. Consequently, I find the Internet to be a very useful instrument that helps spread the word. Also, when I do book signings, attend conferences, or I’m going to be the guest speaker, or do anything along these lines, the person in charge of the event visits my website and gathers information about me or gets the necessary pictures off my website. This simplifies my work as well as the event coordinator’s job. Having a website is a definite plus.
Set the piece aside for a day or two. When you pick it up again, read out loud what you have written. By now it should read smoothly. If not, add, delete, do whatever needs to be done. The more you proofread, the more likely you’ll have a piece that sparkles.
The Future: My fifth mystery based on the award nominated Harry Bronson series, Why Casey Had to Die, will be released in December 2006. I’m currently writing the next Harry Bronson mystery, have started a new series about a reporter, and am working on a sequel to my angels book.
In addition to writing, I plan to continue offering workshops and speaking at conferences, for writers’ groups, and organizations and clubs. I also plan to write more children’s books. Once my grandson, who is now one year old, grows a little more, I will start looking for a publisher. This way, I can promote the books at his school. I get to promote and spend quality time with my grandson. How cool is that?
Why Casey Had to Die, Five Star Mysteries, December 2006
The Drums of Gerald Hurd, WordWright, 2004
What Others Know, Top Publications, 2004
A Second Helping of Murder, Poisoned Pen Press, (contribution to), 2003
When Angels Touch You, WordWright, 2002
Where Secrets Lie, Top Publications, 2001
When Colette Died, Top Publications, 1999
Who’s Susan?, Top Publications, 1998
Who’s Susan?, Commonwealth Publications, 1995
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 and Joan Neubauer own and operate WordWright.biz, Inc. and help develop new and talented writers. Steve focuses on helping new writers establish themselves and fulfill their publication dreams. http://www.wordwright.biz/index.html
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