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Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome to author Jude Urbanski, who shares a glimpse into her writing journey as well as insight about the art of aging gracefully.

Leave a comment below this post by September 30th for a chance to win a copy of Jude's book, Joy Restored.

Would that we knew our authentic self when we were young, but I think it takes a few years on the ‘ole bod’ before we know who we really are. Then, some of us never hear the siren of the authentic self inside our being. That is just the way it is with us humans. 

To become reacquainted with my authentic self and to become closer to that person within, I hung, in my laundry room, a picture of myself as an eight-year-old. I have to look at that little girl daily. Her eyes are clear and wide, her hair straggly, her teeth wide and her clothes nondescript, but I do remember that photo being taken. She represents the person within me.

I have certainly aged since then, but my fervent desire is that I have aged gracefully and that I continue to do so. But more importantly, I hope I have given myself the gift of becoming myself. My authentic self.

What do these ruminations have to do with writing? Not a lot, except to say, it is only with age I have been able to delve into my long-harbored desire to write. Oh, I’ve written in numerous and varied ways all my life, as you may have also. My theory is that writing is somehow in our DNA. My mother wrote, I write, my kids write and my grandkids write. 

To write seriously, though, and with intent of publication, goes beyond just loving or having a propensity to write. I, my daughter and my twelve-year-old grandson have been published. My mother in the 1930’s had a chance at publication, but it was a vanity press offer and we all know at that time the depression was rampant and money scarce. 

First, let me say how greatly I admire the younger-aged women and men who manage to juggle writing, family and careers. They are a special breed to be able to accomplish what they do. I was never able to accomplish what this special, young breed does so well, in many cases. My desire to write seriously went like this. I began this business of writing after my late-fifties retirement. My diagnosis of thyroid cancer a few years later only cemented my decision to commit to the writing I so wanted to do. I didn’t know what lay ahead with that diagnosis.

Thankfully, I’m a seven-plus year cancer survivor and, in that time, have had three books published, am marketing a fourth, and for three-plus years have written a column for a magazine focusing on women’s health and spirituality.

I have a good husband who supports me in my goals, a bunch of kids and grandkids who smile with me, and I worship a God, who, I think, says ‘use the gifts I have given you.’ 

Whether young or old, thank Him, and persevere.

Jude Urbanski, is the author of The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing Series (Joy Restored and Nurtured in Purple) by Desert Breeze Publishing. 

Find her at:
Desert Breeze Publishing

Don't forget to leave a comment with email address to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Jude's first book in her Chronicles of Chaunte Crossing Series, Joy Restored

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Writer's Journey Part III

Please welcome back author Peg Phifer with the continuing story of her journey to publication. Peg will tell her story in a series of posts the third Thursday of every month on this blog. (Apologies for my SECOND date error!  This is the FOURTH Thursday in August! Hopefully I'll learn to count soon!) Leave a comment after any post in the series to be placed in a drawing to win a copy of Peg's debut novel, To See The Sun.

In my last post, I ended with:

I'd been away from Milwaukee far too long to remember much about it. Besides, much I was familiar with had drastically changed. 

(If you missed Part I, click here.)

So, I moved Tori up north into an area I was more recently acquainted with.

The writer's journey is a crazy carnival ride. Pick a ride, any ride. Even the placid Merry-Go-Round keeps you going in circles. The more intense rides have you twisting and spinning in every direction, upsetting your inner "gyro's," as I like to call them.

Anyway, Tori leaves Milwaukee, a cast off and apparently unwanted wife. She flees to northern Wisconsin where her best friend, Maggie, has a summer cottage. With keys in hand, Tori enters her temporary home in the north. There's this Forest Ranger she bumps into—literally—and sparks fly. Then there's a horrid storm, then a forest fire . . .

But Tori still has a husband. How do I solve this so she can fall in love with the Ranger?

I tried everything. Her husband was dying from some horrible disease and didn't want her to see him suffer so he sent her away. Rubbish.

Nothing worked, and the more I wrote the more I realized I didn't know THIS area any better than I knew Milwaukee.

Finally, the old writer's mantra hit home. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. Okay, I thought that's what I'd been doing. But, it wasn't. Too many years had passed and I no longer had the familiarity of those places I used to call home.

Finally, finally, the Lord showed me where I needed to be: right here in my now adopted home town, Las Vegas.

So I (figuratively) packed up my bags and brought Tori to Vegas, changed her name, and worked from a whole different perspective.

And I've never looked back.

Next month, digging in and making it work.

Be sure to return for more of Peg's story on Thursday, September 20th, for more of Peg's story. Don't forget to leave a comment on any post in the series to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of Peg's debut novel, To See The Sun.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

never, EVER too late!

Today, I am excited to present a story that will inspire any writer who has begun his or her career in later years. By permission of the author, Rebecca DeMarino, I am reposting information from her blog about a writer she knows well - her dad, Howard Worley.

It was June of 2010, and my dad, at age eighty-seven, lay on a hospital bed, prepped for an angiogram. His aortic valve was just about closed, and his cardiologist ordered the test as a first step to open-heart surgery. The heart surgeon would not want any surprises when he went in to replace the valve.

Now Dad held my hand and told me he wanted to tell me the end of the western romance he was writing – the novel he began to write nine months before.He titled it THE STAGECOACH MURDERS.

He had read and owned (from the look of his cupboards) every Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey novel printed. As we wound our way through airport security on our return from The Highland Springs Resort, in Cherry Valley, CA, I remarked the resort would make a good setting for a novel.

I was writing my first novel, a historical romance set in the 1600′s, but I was thinking of a contemporary suspense. Dad said 1800′s. He’d been intrigued with the old photos of Highland Springs back in the days it was a stagecoach station.

A few days after the trip, I received an email from him. Subject: Highland Springs Story Line. The body of the email contained a complete synopsis of the story. He signed it: How about it. Love, Dad.

I wrote back, Dad, why don’t you write it? And so he did. Now it was nearly finished, and I had read each chapter as he completed, carefully printed and mailed it to me by priority mail service. A western romance, where Louis L’Amour meets Zane Grey: THE STAGECOACH MURDERS. 

I couldn’t wait to get each new package! Though he’d never studied the craft of writing, he was a natural and knew each chapter needed a hook. Dad was writing a page turner!

I didn’t want Dad to tell me the end of his story. I squeezed his hand and told him he would be just fine. He would come home to his ranch to write his ending. But he insisted, and as tears fell, I listened.

His heart surgery was a success, but his recovery was interrupted two days later when he suffered a major stroke to the left side of his brain.

My siblings and I stayed by his side 24/7, both in the hospital and when he returned home. His physical recovery came quickly, and soon he was taking care of himself and his horse, Cotton, on his own again.

But speech, and the ability to write, were a struggle for him. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, or write, but the words would come out a jumble, or sometimes the opposite of what he was thinking. He was frustrated, but determined to finish his book.

And he was blessed with a speech therapist who was determined to make that happen. When he told Dad his speech had improved to the point he no longer needed speech therapy, Shawn pointed out that there was still work to be done. Dad had a novel to finish.

He was inventive in his sessions with Dad, printing out western art and asking him to write three short sentences about the action it depicted. Then he would have Dad connect two of the sentences, then bring in the third.
Howard on his 88th birthday

And in January, at age eighty-eight, Dad finished his novel! 
He never gave up. He never said it was too late, too hard or he was too old, too tired. He has left such a legacy for his children and grandchildren! The hope he gives to others recovering from stroke, and their loved ones, is truly inspirational.

And he has proven the words on a little purple pin I put on his bulletin board afew years back. It says: Please be patient. God isn’t through with me yet. Thank you, Lord.  

Beautiful Lily MacIntyre travels west with her parents where her father will run the Wilkinson-Hall Stage Line. When the stage stops in Arizona City, Boone Osborne joins the ride. Lily is annoyed with herself for being drawn to the handsome ex-Texas Ranger, but when her father is murdered on the stagecoach and her mother dies of a broken heart, Lily finds herself bent on revenge and Boone the means to find it.

Their hearts soon become entwined and love ensues. But is it enough? Boone seeks justice, Lily seeks vengeance—both want to find the killer. If they cannot trust each other, can they trust their own heart? 


Friday, August 10, 2012

Pursue Your Passion - No Matter Your Age

Below is an excerpt from a workshop I presented at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference on August 5th. If you would like to obtain a CD of the entire workshop, or any of the other workshops presented at GPCWC, please contact me at starsongs.mag@gmail.com and I will be happy to email you an order form.

How many times have we heard “find your passion” as writers?

Whether on television talk shows, in church, or in inspirational books, we hear about worthy causes, from the persecuted Christian to social injustice to abuse of children. We embrace these causes, caught up in the moment, consumed by a fire that prevails for about as long as it takes to close the book or shut off the TV.

Does this make us bad or insensitive people? No! You are not expected to bear the burden of someone else’s agenda. Your passion may be for the young girl on your block who finds she is pregnant at 15.

How do we know we are traveling down the right road? How do we know we are hearing God’s voice?

Prayer is our checkpoint, the form of communication that serves as our spiritual GPS. We can pray in church, in the car, over coffee, with a companion, in the closet, or when in conflict with ourselves or others. We can pray from the cage of confinement.

Never been locked up?

Think again. We tend to create our own cement cellblock when we allow children, community, church, and any number of other things to bind us into chains of commitment.

How do we navigate out of the maze of meandering roadways that leaves us lost as we seek the way back to the main thoroughfare? What motivates us to market the right message?

We focus on Jesus. He jams our heads with ideas. How often we display the arrogance to assert our amazing story ideas as our own. They don’t come from us. They come from the One who designed us with the desire to write in the first place. Isaiah 50:4 says The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. 

Jesus raises the level of our indignation against injustice. He fills our cup when we join with him to ignite our readers with the message of His love. When we juxtapose our hearts with His, he rewards us with joy. When that joy radiates around us like warm sunshine, we know we’ve achieved our goal.

Even with divine guidance, if we attempted to write the story at seventeen or even twenty-five that we are now crafting at sixty, would it possess the necessary level of knowledge and maturity to sustain the sincerity it brings to the reader now?

As we older people look back on our lives, we realize that God has provided opportunities that have led us down the path that ignites our passion. We become more assertive as to our own identity. We gain self-confidence as we learn our place in the social order. As kids, we didn’t know who we were supposed to be hanging around with. When older, we learn to recognize true friendships – people who accept us for who we are.

come back for more of this presentation in future posts.
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