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Don’t Miss Part 2 of my Interview with Heidi Jon Schmidt

Heidi Jon Schmidt, best sellers, interviews,

Photos from Heidi’s album

Part two of this writer’s world will appear on my blog on Tuesday, Dec. 10th and the final installment on Thurs. Dec. 12th

DON’T MISS IT!  

 

Click here if you missed Part I

 

Heidi is a beautiful, thoughtful writer.  Her characters jump off the page and remind us that we are all so…so human. heidi.oyster more »

Writing and then ‘Hearing’ Wild Violets

NOW AVAILABLE in AUDIO BOOKS!!!    “Wild Violets”

fiction, women, flappers, prohibition, San Francisco, roaring twentiesFrom the author:  It was great fun writing this book about a young woman so ahead of her time.  Basketball star, speakeasy owner, flapper who literally worked all day and danced all night.  The story about her red evening gown is true and her friends would make her change into it before going out on the town.  The story about playing poker with a Catholic Bishop is true.  She ultimately had five husbands, but always said the first one didn’t count as they never consummated the marriage.  She went on to be the champion women’s bowler in California.  She had three kids which she didn’t take very good care of.  She was human with many flaws, she was selfish and generous in turns, she was wild and ladylike……she was my mother. Sometimes I ask myself:  ‘did the apple fall very far from the tree?’

Writing it was fun but hearing her ‘voice’ and that of the other characters was amazing.  When you hire an audio professional the author remains in control (quality) and can ‘proof’ ever word.  It’s crucial that you hire the right narrator as your book sounds different from the written page. It’s important that the narrator is willing to work with you on edits, add on’s, and you can ask this upfront before you choose from the audition pieces that you receive.

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Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander…a review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing    5 out of 5 quills     A Review of Tasha Alexander‘s latest Release

I don’t know about you but I love the characters in a story ‘below the stairs’ as much as the main characters in stories such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs and of course in all of Alexander’s  ‘Lady Emily Mysteries’.  This author has always given her best sellers, writers, best selling authors, Victorian, mysteryreaders a little taste of the servants’ lives surrounding her main characters: investigators, Emily and Colin Hargreave.
But in Behind the Shattered Glass we get to walk behind the ‘green baize door’ and join the servants in the kitchen.  And what wonderful characters they are!

This is a tangled murder mystery and I think, one of Alexander’s best.  A beautiful country home, love is in the air, and the rich aristocrats are doing what rich aristocrats do; shooting, drinking, dancing seducing, riding, and sleuthing.

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Got Secrets in your Family? Write about Them!

family stories, family secrets, story telling, writers

(left to right) Brother, Jack, Mom, me, Sister, Doris

Secret:  I was the baby in the family, born 11 and 8 years, respectively, after my siblings. Not until just a few years ago did I hear that my mother “farmed out” my sister and brother to strangers. The term usually referred to children who were sent to a relative back in the day, but in my siblings’ case it was an indenture. My brother and sister had to work for their keep, ages six and 11.

They told me these stories as part of my research while writing, ‘Wild Violets’,  a romanticized version of my Mother as a flapper and entrepreneur in the 1920’s in San Francisco. As I was writing and the family secrets unfolded, the romanticism flew right out the window. And that’s okay; remember what I told you before  about your story taking hold and telling itself?

history, family stories, Wild Violets, writing

Violet’s Fulton Bar & Grill in San Francisco, 1929

But the enormity of my mother’s actions still didn’t really sink in….grab my heart. ‘It happened so long ago, it happened in a different time, it didn’t happen to me’, I told myself.
Until.…I began to actually write that part of the story. Here were these two little kids dumped at the front door of a farm house by their mother and her current boyfriend. The kids had no warning, no time frame, didn’t even know if they would ever see their mother again. And for no good reason. The family wasn’t destitute….she owned a bar and grill in San Francisco. There were no addiction problems unless you counted our mother’s addition to men.

As I wrote those pages, I finally became invested in what had happened to my brother and sister over seventy years ago. And my heart broke. To finally see why, in part, they became the people they are today. Why, at times, my sister bitterly resented me. Why my brother was an overachiever and obsessed with family.

In my own way, I too was abandoned by our mother. No, she never farmed me out. Nothing so overt as that. But she chose her men over me, time and time again. Her desires always trumped my childhood needs.

family histories, family secrets, story telling, writers

My Mother, Violet and me (age 5)

I was a left-over.  A possession that she could put down or pick up again on a whim. Show off to her current beau or friends and then set in a corner, like an old broom.

And if you, my readers, hear bitterness leaking through my words….it’s not for me and how I was raised. Because I have overpowered my past and empowered myself to be the fierce, tough and resilient woman that I am today. Seeking and honing my talent and achieving my goals. (Yes, I still have abandonment issues).

The bitterness and heartache you hear,  in my voice, are for those two little kids dumped at a stranger’s door!

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Read my new blog on InspireMeToday.com

self-help, inspiration, wisdom, happiness  “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”  A sign I have worn for a few years!

As a contributing writer/blogger to this inspirational site it is my pleasure to share my wisdom.  Lessons that life has taught me as I traveled the sometimes bumpy road of life.  You can survive the bumps; the real trick is to avoid falling into the ten foot holes.  Frequently there is no one there with an eleven foot ladder to help you out.

Excerpt: ‘A famous psychologist (his first name is Phil) talks about the fact that we all have pivotal points in our lives; Crossroads if you will where we can turn down a path of self-pity, victimism, feeling angry at the world and an urge to ‘give up’. Or turning the other way and seeking empowerment, happiness, and a full life.

In August of 2006 I experienced a harsh, heartbreaking pivotal point in my life when my husband of thirty years died suddenly.’

Yesterday InspireMe posted another of my blogs.  Enjoy!!

http://www.inspiremetoday.com/blog/

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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and will feature an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNealMark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.  Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter.

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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

Don’t miss the final segment with best selling author!

interviews, best selling authors, fiction, new fiction  This coming Tuesday will conclude our interview with Susan.  Her newest book, “His Majesty’s Hope” will be available for sale on May 21st.

This has been a fascinating and funny interview and I know you join me in wishing Susan great success with her new book.Susan_Elia_(c)_Lesley_Semmelhack

‘For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war—and of her own past.’

MacNeal’s publishers, Random House have asked me to review it so look for that in May.

Coming Soon! April 2nd will start off my interview with Mark Childress whose books were made into movies!
(Crazy in Alabama!)
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen, Mark Childress, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sue Grafton, Amber Winckler, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert MacCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

Mr. Churchill’s Cat….research can be a joy!

Winston Churchill, WWII, Hitler, war, short plays for teenagers, world history, history,                      Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

I had just finished reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and his cat, Nelson.   Ms. MacNeal referred, in passing, to Mr. Churchill’s pets being allowed free rein to wander the war rooms at #10 Downing Street during Churchill’s time in office.  I could clearly see  the rotund, shambling figure of the Prime Minister with two pugs yapping at his heels while Admiral Nelson, the cat, silently observed the general hysteria of dogs, from high on a side table.

Churchill was a master not only in crafting the English sentence but also in the coinage of words.  His tongue-in-cheek comment:  “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” is a favorite of mine.  In a World War I speech, (1914) Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty coined the phase ‘business as usual‘.  Saying the maxim of the British people is “business as usual.”  Churchill gave the world the phrase: “Iron Curtain” in his speech in Missouri in 1946 when he said, “..…an iron curtain has descended across the continent.

Having grown up during the post-war years, I knew something of Mr. Churchill.  A historic figure that was a great statesman, orator and leader.  But I really knew nothing of the man.  And once again, (as I have mentioned before) I began a project and then started my research.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  Ms. MacNeal was fortunate enough to have several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.  The novel’s heroine, Maggie, saves the Prime Minister from certain death by breaking a Nazi code.  And this brings me to the fashion advert that actually ran in the London Times and was full of Nazi messages.  All the stitching (around sleeves and hem) was Morse code for attacks at #10 Downing and St. Paul’s cathedral.  Winston Churhill, Nazi,spies,WWII, mysteries, short plays

“German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files. Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.”  (actual advert from the London Times)

If not for my love of reading, my passion for writing, and the need for research, I would never have delved into Churchill’s life and his time in office. (my interests don’t generally take that path).  It’s an unexpected delight to learn more about this amazing statesman.  He was quirky, irritable, brilliant, and very funny.

And all because I had begun writing a short play about Mr. Churchill and his cat!  I love when that happens!!

Recommendations: DVD  “Into The Storm” starring Albert Finney as Churchill.
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill by James C. Humes  (paperback)
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Start your Month Off right!  with MY NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other BEST- SELLING AUTHORS!   Early February we shall visit with Jo-Ann Mapson, best selling author of “Solomon’s Oak”, “Blue Rodeo” and new release, “Finding Casey”.
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog.  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on join my blog“.  You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ .  Thanks!

blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  

Hope that your story doesn’t come out the way that you had planned!

Lillian Hellman once said, Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.”

As a writer, that has happened to me over and over.  At first, in the early days of writing, I was appalled that the story was going somewhere that I had not planned for.   The characters would lead me down paths that I had no intention of going down or writing about.  Now I accept this strange phenomenon that happens not just to me but to other writers as well.

I’ve been dying to tell you this story.  But I had to wait until a segment of my novel was posted so that I would not spoil the shocking surprise in Part 42 . (Dec.21st)

women's fiction, prison, love, family, writing,     A glaring, or perhaps glorious, example of a story taking an unexpected turn was when I was writing “Women Outside the Walls”.  My plan for the story line was that this would be a cozy little story of three very different women coming together while visiting their men in prison.

A third of the way through this project, Charlie, while sitting in the visiting room of the prison, jumps up, grabs Kitty and holding a shiv (knife) to her throat,  takes her hostage.  I  sat at my keyboard and literally wailed aloud, “No!  No you can’t!  I don’t know anything about hostages……or hostage negotiations!” Too late! He’d already dragged Kitty to the back wall and pandemonium had broken out.  The prison went on emergency lock down and there was nothing I could do! There I sat at my keyboard, dead in my tracks.

It took me four months of research on hostage negotiations before I could resume working on my novel.  I had not the faintest clue as to how I would finally resolve this room being taken hostage.  And I want to stop here and thank the federal and state hostage negotiators who assisted me in my research. While they would not share any of their techniques, they agreed to look over my story and tell me where I was off base.They allowed me to send them this segment of my novel for them to critique and assisted in keeping my portrayal accurate.   Before you CO’s jump all over me about the gun, I did take dramatic license with that.

I have learned to anticipate and enjoy it when the story takes on a life of its own.  It’s my fondest wish to become the ‘typist’.  When my characters take control and tell me the story!

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In remembrance….9.11.12

I wrote this poetry (Haiku) after visiting the rebuilding site at ground zero September 2011.   The grief was still fresh but there was hope mixed in….   

Ground Zero 9.11.11

Heartache fills the chest
Terrorists murdered thousands
Pain is fresh and new

Haunts walk the gardens
Four hundred trees, firemen all
the fountain of tears

Green leafed trees stand tall
Names carved never to forget
Red, white, blue flies proud

and

Anniversary 9.11.11

I wait to exhale
will terrorists celebrate
with their big loud bang?

walking among us
to celebrate what they did
murder innocence

today, a grief day
remember a bright, fall day
ten short years ago

 

My Review – The Orchid House

writing, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fictionwriting, creating, reviews,fiction, children's books, fiction for adults, women's fiction

 Rating: 4 quills

The Orchid House by  Lucinda Riley  is an intricately woven story of real men and women.   How the author weaves their stories and brings them all together at the end is indeed brilliant.  From a ‘grand house’ of rural England to war torn Thailand and back again.

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

When the last thread is snipped the reader is satisfied and well content with a very good read.writing, authors, review, WWII, family, fiction,love