WHERE I BEGAN MY JOURNEY
Because I’ve authored and published four novels, I call myself a writer. However, sometimes I still have trouble believing that’s me. I’ll be candid. I’m not like most of the writers I know. I never had a burning desire to write stories when I was young. Instead of curling up with a book as a child, I spent most of my time with furry critters, domesticating kittens, exploring creek banks with our family dog, or riding horseback around the farm. I grew up in Kansas flyover country, where my roots run deep.
Though I’ve lived in different states, Kansas is where I feel at home. I’m in my vintage years. It sounds surreal today to admit my earliest education echoed the TV show Little House on the Prairie, where I attended a rural one-room schoolhouse in the 1950s. I was the only child in my grade for most of those eight years. However, Mrs. McQuillan, my teacher for most of those years, gave me both individual time and often juggled my lessons with other grade levels.
My high school years were before area schools consolidated. Our class consisted of five students for those four years. Of course, there were disadvantages to being in such a small school; however, I now realize the most significant benefit. Every student was encouraged (perhaps even obligated) to participate in various activities: sports, music, speech, plays, etc. There were few tryouts where anyone was cut from a team—we were the team.
I had no desire to attend college. Instead, I studied a general course at a business school. I learned business skills like typing, dictation, bookkeeping, and composition of professional business letters. It wasn’t exciting. It was practical and useful when I found employment with an insurance company after marrying my high school sweetheart. It also gave me the confidence to own my home-based business when my children were young.
When the kids left home, I sold my business and delved into the creative side of myself by taking art lessons. I loved learning to use oils, pastels, watercolors, and acrylics. However, my walls began sagging with my artwork. That’s when a friend asked me to join her creative writing group. I was a wanna-be artist, not a writer. Yet, Mary kept pestering me until I accepted her invitation.
I started with simple stories and descriptions that soon led to exploring my emotions. I found it could be therapeutic to share my thoughts with the group. And the best part was—I was having fun. The more comfortable I became with using words, the more I let my imagination take me on journeys with characters I had created. I became thirsty to learn more about the craft of writing, so I started reading some of my stories at our library’s open mic night. And when they offered an author workshop, I signed up.
The American crime novelist, Nancy Pickard, presented a program that inspired me. I’d bought the book she and Lynn Lott had written, Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path. However, before I had time to study that writer’s guide, on my drive home, I already knew I wanted to develop something more from a short story I’d written. So I told one of my writing friends and my husband. And then, for the better part of the next year, I hid in my office over my second cup of coffee most mornings. I wrote about the heartache of a child taken away from her family. I studied the skill of writing, developed characters I loved, and achieved my selfinflicted challenge to write a full manuscript. I accomplished writing my first rough draft of The Rocking Horse.
I found this video on what happens when you or I order a print copy of a book from Amazon. Click here
"Historical fiction readers will be impressed with the attention to detail this book carries. It stays in tune with the timeline right down to the dialect. I will also encourage romance genre readers to give this book a try. It will not disappoint."
See the complete review from Online Book Club.
This year, I received an early Christmas gift when I was notified that my latest novel, Never Waste Dreams, has been awarded an indieBRAG Medallion. It’s a special recognition because I now carry this honor on three of my independently self-published books. Here’s why I’m so proud to be chosen as an honoree:
B.RA.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation
Independently published authors are invited to nominate their books by submitting them to a selection process. This entails an initial screening to ensure the author’s work meets certain minimum quality and content standards. If the book passes the preliminary assessment, it is read by a selected group of indieBRAG’s global reader team members. Each book goes through an evaluation phase and is judged against a comprehensive list of relevant literary criteria. If a book is considered worthy, it is awarded a Medallion and listed on their website.
I’m a reader as well as an author. While many of my own reading choices are written by traditionally published authors, I’ve found some first-rate books from many independent authors.
If you want to find some good reads in a genre you enjoy, I encourage you to check out some recommended books from indieBRAG
Several years ago, I had the privilege of being the invited author to a book club to speak about my novel, Never Waste Tears. Last week that same book club asked me to discuss its sequel, my latest novel, Never Waste Dreams. Both times allowed me the opportunity to hear how readers perceive the words I write.
When I get involved in developing my characters, they become real people in my mind. But, of course, I have my favorites: Mathew, the abandoned child, or Carl, the man who found him. Maybe it was Hannah, the woman who thought of Mathew as God’s blessing. However, when I asked the club members who their favorite character was, I was surprised when one said she liked Anna the best. Even though Anna didn’t have her own voice in the story, I found it rewarding to hear a reader’s insight into Anna’s personality. It led to further discussion on the traits of some of the minor characters in the book, too. That involved strengths and weaknesses, including the topic of forgiveness.
That was an eye-opener for me. I’d written a story where a whole lot of forgiveness was needed for a variety of reasons. Many in the room shared the emotions they felt for the individuals in the book. While most agreed that forgiveness helps the forgiver the most, it’s not an easy thing to do.
Because life doesn’t always give us a reason for where it takes us, I often leave my readers the opportunity to come to their own conclusion about the outcome of a situation. Besides, our personal life experiences can lead us to a variety of findings. For instance, did the princess lead the man she loved to another fair maiden or his death in the story of The Lady or the Tiger? I remember that short story because the author, Frank Stockton, never revealed the outcome of the choice made.
Thank you, Andover Book Club for having me as your guest. You help me become a better writer.
Mark your calendars so you don't miss this promotion. Order it here.
I want to thank author Jim Potter for his review of my novel Never Waste Dreams. You can read his thoughts on his website at sandhenge publications.
Nancy Julien Kopp supports and shares her thoughts on writing. She recently asked me to guest post on marketing my self-published books. See it on Writer Granny's World.