Posted in health, writers

Dr. Sam …. he brought the calm

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness…… Unknown

Dr. Sam. There are no words. Have you ever met someone that his or her very presence eased your fears? That is Dr. Sam. He is my oncologist. He walked into the exam room and said, “Hi, I’m Sam.” We asked if he wasn’t the doctor and wanted to be addressed as so. His answer, “I’ve been Sam a lot longer that I have been Doctor….
Then he took my hand. He did not shake it. He held it. Firm, but soft, I felt all anxiety begin to drift away. I had no logical reason to feel this way, even though I had read all about his impressive credentials. That wasn’t it. There is a aura about Dr. Sam I cannot explain. He made me believe I could beat this. And as my daughter, said, he wasn’t hard on the eyes either.

We got down to business and he explained the game plan. He told us why he would do the surgery this way instead of that. He spoke to all of us, me, Tai and daughter Terri on a FaceTime call. He answered all our questions and explained things we didn’t know enough to ask. And he made me smile. He wanted to do laproscopic, but not robotic. I asked why. I thought I was so smart for reading up on the latest surgical technology. “Because,” he said, “You’re little. Robotic surgery would make bigger incisions and you don’t need those on your tiny body.” Me, little or tiny? Nobody had called me that in fifty years. Two points for Dr. Sam.

“You’re going to be okay,” said Dr. Sam. And I believed him. He concluded the meeting and stood to leave. Then he reached over and hugged me, warm, sincere, like a life raft. Hubby and I left, hand-in-hand. In the car, Tai looked over at me and asked why I was crying. They were tears of relief. The weight was lifted off my shoulder.

And no more

Surgery was set for August 20. Sam would do the operation. And I was sure I would be fine.

I was going to put the surgery on a separete post, but time is catching up to me. I’d like to have you caught up before my first chemo treatment.

As they say, “The surgery was a success …. but (don’t you hate those buts?)

I thought I was relatively calm going into the surgery. From what my daughter and hubby said, I was far from it. Apparently, the medication to make me drowsy before the actual anethesia loosened my tongue. I am told I cried and cried, hung on to them, and gave them instructions on what to do after I died. I remember none of that. (Just as well)

Dr. Sam made his rounds the next day and explained that things were slightly more complicated that he anticipated. He found some parts that were “mushy” (his words, not mine) and we would have to wait for the pathology report, but now he expected that I would need some chemo and radiation. What? I thought it was going to be easy-peasy – take out the stage 1 cancer and I’d be cured.

As Lee Corso from College Game day would say, “Not so fast.”

If you are enjoying this blog, make sure you are signed up to receive them all, and share with your family and friends. Tell next time…….

Posted in travel, writers

Fairytale towns in Germany

I just received a Pinterest post about a travel agency’s favorite Fairytale towns in Germany.  My list is a little different but I’d like to share with you.  My first trip to Germany in June was breathtaking. Our time was short, so we only made a few stops.

Following our roots took us first to the town of Bacharach.  We passed under an entryway into the city dated 1322 and brochures in our hotel said the first part of the city dates back to the 1000’s.

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Bacharach is a charming little town along the Rhein River, the people friendly, the streets paved in stone.

Bacharach May 26, 3 29 20 AM

We chose to take the ferry-boat ride down the Rhein in the most scenic section of the river, between Bacharach and Boppard.

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Along the river, scenic little towns edge the water with sweeping grape arbors above and ancient castles keeping vigilance over the cities.

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If those weren’t enough to inspire fairy tales, we headed to Elk Castle in the Moselle Valley

Elks castle 1

Our roots took us to Birkenfeld, a town dating back to Roman times and the origin of our family.

Birkenfeld 2

Watch out for little devils luring the innocent sheep.

think Birkenfeld

 

From there, we visited what is claimed to be the oldest city in Germany, Worms where Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church.

 

Martin Lither shutterstock_488305228

 

I don’t think I can pick a favorite because each was unique in its own right. But buried deep in those hills and cobblestone streets, are new stories just waiting to come out. I’m thinking perhaps some historical fiction about my ancestors and their complicated lives in the 18th century before embarking for the New World.

If you had to pick one place to write about, what would it be and why? I’d love to hear from you. Anyone that leaves comments will have their name put in a hat for a free book of their choice of mine, print or ebook if in the US, ebook only if out of the country.

If you are not familiar with my stories, check them out at http://www.joannetailele.com

 

 

 

Posted in authors, children, Daughters, family, grandmothers, mother, mother & daughters, mothers, son, womens fiction, writer, writers

Mother’s Day Thoughts

As the author of mother-daughter stories, I thought for Mother’s Day, it fitting to look to some of my favorite authors on what they had to say about mothers in their books.

As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sue it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.” Kristin Hannah , Summer Island

 

“Think for a minute, darling: in fairy tales it’s always the children who have the fine adventures. The mothers have to stay at home and wait for the children to fly in the  window”                             Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

 

“I wonder if other mothers feel a tug sat their insides, watching their children grow up into the people they themselves wanted so badly to be.”                                                                                                          Jodi Picoult, Keeping Faith

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Motherhood is a complicated profession, and anyone that does not consider it a profession, most assuredly has never been one.  My own mother passed away in 1996, and I still miss her every day, The woman she  was when she left us was the not the Mom I remember. Mom was a five foot two spit-fire. She walked so fast that I could never keep up with her. Mom, clad in a red terry bathrobe, stuck her curlered head in the oven to dry her hair while she ran around  the red Formica-countered kitchen preparing casseroles to take to family reunions. Mom did head-stand contests with my brothers and I to the utter dismay of my father who would come home from work and bend at his waist to look at my upside-down mother and ask “What for dinner?” Mom never understood how I never learned to cook, when I spent seventeen years of my life perched on the red stool in the kitchen babbling away while she cooked. She said, “I thought you were paying attention.” Ugh – sorry Mom,  not.  Mom rode my brother’s mini-bike on a dare – and drove it right up a tree. We tried real hard not to laugh. Mom loved fast cars, her favorite being her 1966 red Ford Mustang.  Are you seeing a pattern here of red? Her favorite color and so fitting of her personality.

When I married, moved away and lived in multiple states, I gave little thought to my mother sitting home in the now quite house with a stoic husband who rarely spoke. Her household went from a boisterous family of six to a sedate family of two in only two years. My heart breaks for her now, and I can only hope she understands that I finally get it. One of her favorite saying to me was, “You won’t understand until your are a mother yourself.” No truer words could ever have been spoken.

Parts of motherhood came easy – the loving them unconditionally part. Others, not so much. I am the proud mother of three daughters and a son. As a grandmother many times over now, I see the short-comings I made as a mother. As hallowed as the word “mother” is,  we are a flawed species. We make mistakes – lots of them, and we carry the guilt of those mistakes with us forever. We fall to pieces easily – whether it’s a joyful or a sad occasion.  Tears are a part of who we are.  And sometimes – if we have to defend our young, we will fight to the death.  It’s a humbling existence to be a Mom. You often  feel set aside, obsolete, forgotten. But I’ll tell you this – if you did your job even half right, your thoughts, your words and actions will be so ingrained in your children, that even when they don’t think they are listening to you, their sub-conscious is.  The most we  can hope for is when are time comes, and the good Lord looks at his list, checking of “mother” as your profession, He says, “Come on in, well done.”

Tell me your favorite mother story – either as a Mom or about your own Mom – or someone that fit the bill of Mom. Being a Mom does not have to be genetic.

www.joannetailele.com 

Posted in authors, books, editing, fire, writers

Why the Name

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People have asked me why I chose the name, Writing Under Fire, for my blog. Many times, finding the time to write is near impossible with my busy life.  Therefore, even though writing is my passion, I must put my “feet to the fire” and force myself not to let  distractions like, eating, sleeping, working my day job, cleaning house, cooking (trust me, nobody want me to do that.)  Who needs that stuff anyhow?

Are you burning the candle at both ends?

Writers, do you struggle to find the time to write? What is your secret to keep you writing? Do  have a dedicated time every day to write? Do you scratch out words sitting in your car to pick up kids from school, or sitting on a bench during your child’s soccer practice?

Or if you are an avid reader, do you skip other essentials in order to read? I’d love to hear from you.

#writing #reading #passion

Posted in authors, books, characters, writing

It’s NANO time

NANO logo

It’s November 1st – that means another year of NANOWRIMO. No idea what that means? NAtional  NOvel WRIting MOnth.

Join hundreds of thousands of other authors in the writing challenge to write a complete novel in thirty days. That’s right. Thirty days. Criteria must be a minimum of 50,000 words. That’s it. Any genre, any style of writing.

For those of you already familiar with NANOWRIMO, you have probably been planning and outlining like crazy getting ready for this event. But even if you haven’t, you can still jump into the fun. Can you write 1667 words per day? You’ll never know unless you try.

My first novel, Accident, was a NANO book, squeaking through at 50,000 and a few words. By the time, it was ready to roll off the presses (two and half years later), it had grown into a grown-up novel of 80K.

A few things to keep in mind when you write your NANO book.

  1. You don’t have time to edit. (that comes later)
  2. Write with fearless abandon, whatever crazy thing comes into your head. (you can always cut the crap, and most definitely will)
  3.  Put your characters in perilous predicaments. Up the stakes but putting them through things you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
  4. Although you will stay up all night thinking of stuff to write, and rush to the PC (or Mac) or reach for a quick pen and paper, pace yourself. You still have a life, and a family that wonders what the heck you are doing. Want time to gobble down that turkey with family? Write double your word count the days before. Need three days? Then crunch the time in ahead of time.
  5. There is no one to judge what you wrote, so just have fun with it.
  6. What will you win? The satisfaction of knowing you have just WRITTEN A NOVEL. How many people can say that?
  7. Log on to the NANO website and get all the scoop. And don’t forget to log your progress. There are others out there helping to cheer you on. nanowrimo.org/

Good Luck and Happy Writing

Posted in help, life, love, suicide

#Writing through the Pain

Do you write to get through hard times? I have always found it my solace. My husband lost his God son to suicide yesterday. We are in shock and our hearts are breaking. He left a wife and four little kids. Why? runs over and over in our heads. What could be so terrible that you feel your only solution is suicide? I think we have all been through dark hours. A time in our lives that we wonder how we would make it through the next day. But suicide? He made it through multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. We all held our breath until he came home safe. Life seemed so good, if only on the outside. Now stateside, a new baby boy, finally time with his family. Then this. I don’t understand.

To Danny, you were loved. By more than we can count. Your death leaves a huge hole in our hearts. I can’t imagine how Jessica can ever explain this to the kids. We miss you. I hope that you have found peace from whatever it was you could not face here on earth. I am sorry we could not be there to help you through your pain. We did not know. We, your Dad, your brother, Jessica – we all would have helped you through this . . . if only you would have shared your burden with us.

To anyone else reading this, if you are going through a tough time right now, call someone. Don’t try to struggle through it alone. Nothing is so bad that you need to take your life. You’ll get through it. Together – with the help of those that love you. And if you feel there is no one that loves you, I’d venture to guess you are wrong. Whether it is a parent, spouse, child or neighbor, a friend from your past – there ARE people out there that love you. Value life. Choose life.   #SuicideHurtsEveryone #YouAreLoved #ChooseLife #RIPDanWenger

Posted in authors, books, coming of age, novels, teenager, writer's block, writing

The Writer’s Block Tip#7 by Jason Rekulak

writerw block

Tip# 7  Most Likely to Succeed

Many writers seem to have a rough time in high school – how else can you explain the frustrated teenager protagonists of novels like A Separate Peace or The Catcher in the Rye? The good news is, the most exhilarating – and embarrassing – moments of adolescence can be channeled into great fiction, and you can summon the memories just by opening your Senior Class yearbook.

Imagine what happened to “Most Likely to Succeed” and “Most Popular.” Write about the class clown who defied everyone’s expectations and became a celebrity. Tell us which of your former teachers initiated an affair with one of his or her students. Show us the secret life of the Cafeteria Lunch Lady. Relive the glacial passage of time in a high school detention session, or the petty jealousies involved I the planning of the school musical.

Use as many of your high school memories as you wish, but feel free to embellish or alter “the truth” as you go along. Personal revenge fantasies that involve “Most Popular” are permitted.

By Jason Rekulak

Can you recall a high school incident that you can twist into a storyline in your current WIP? Tell us about it – fully embellished – and please no real names of characters.

Posted in authors, books, characters, editing, novels, outline, pantser, planner, readers, short stories, technology, writer's block, writers, writing

The Writer’s Block Tip#3 by Jason Rekulak

writerw block

To outline  or not to outline  by Jason Rekulak

Outliners are most common among thriller and mystery writers, for obvious reasons. Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector) claims that the surprising plot twists of his suspense novels wouldn’t be possible unless he plotted out all of the details in advance; he usually spends eight months researching and writing the outline, and four months writing the manuscript itself.

But non-genre writers use outlines too. John Barth wrote: “I don’t see how anybody starts a novel without knowing how its going to end. I usually make detailed outlines; how many chapters it will be and so forth.”

On the other side of the fence are writers who prefer a more organic approach to their craft; Aldous Huxley wrote, “I know very dimply when I start what’s going to happen. I just have a very general idea, and then the thing develops as I write.”

If you are suffering from writer’s block, try changing your approach. Make a detailed outline of the story – or plunge headfirst into the opening paragraph without any idea where you are going. Either way, the change in routine may be surprisingly effective.

 

Readers, are you a planner (outliner) or a pantser (fly by the seat)?  Personally, I am a basic outliner, but I allow my characters to lead the story, which sometimes takes it into unplanned territory. One funny experience I had while deep in the writing of my 2nd novel, Town Without Mercy, the dialogue between the two protagonists seem to write itself. When I was done, I laughed out loud, saying “That is not what I had in my outline at all.” But the story was better for it.

What have your experiences been in stepping out of your routine? Surprising outcomes?

Posted in authors, fire, writer's block, writers, writing

The Writer’s Block Tip#2 by Jason Rekulak

Here is Jason’s tip #2

writerw block

“Describe your first brush with danger.”  Jason Rekulak

child and matches

Thank you Jason.

 

Readers, what about you? My first brush with danger was when I set the latrine on fire at Girl Scout Camp when I had the kerosene lantern turned up too high. Interesting that Jason’s picture and my “brush with danger” both included fire.

 

Posted in cowboys, family, fiction, love, novels, readers, romance, small towns, the west, westerns, WFWA, womens fiction, writers, writing

High Cotton Country by Leta McCurry

Leta McCurry           High Cotton Country

It is a pleasure to have Leta McCurry with us today for an Author Interview.  Leta and I have become friends through WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers Association.  I am still amazed at how technology can bring people together from opposites sides of the country, or even the world.

Leta,  when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer but I actually started writing at about twelve – from a twelve year old’s perspective obviously. The adventure, companionship, comfort and inspiration I received from being an avid reader is what first inspired me to put on paper the stories that were bouncing around in my head.

Do you have a background in writing or have you taken  any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

No. The biggest help to me has been honest and forthright critique readers. Feedback from readers always gives me clarity about y writing and is a big help in my on-going endeavor to become a better writer.

What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

Sales. I think sales taught me to take risks and put myself out there. And not to take rejection personally. And, while not work in the strictest sense, I think raising five children.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About a year and a half from writing the first chapter through to publication. 

Do you always write in the same genre?

My interest is in general/women’s fiction. I never intended to write non-fiction but at one point Prentice-Hall, New York offered me a contract to write a college textbook which I did and they published. That was just an unexpected side trip. I refer to my genre as women’s fiction but I have been told it is more general fiction. High Cotton Country has actually been read by several men and I’ve had really good geed back from them so I guess it is a cross-over between general and women’s fiction.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Women’s fiction.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I have a little cubby hole office hardly big enough to “cuss a cat” as my grandpa would say, but it works for me.  Nice big windows with a view out at the green Oregon trees and foliage and blue sky (when it isn’t raining).

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Yes. Non Fiction. College Text Book. Publisher Prentice Hall sought me out based on a recommendation from a college professor.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication on this project? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

I went the self-publishing route almost entirely because of the time factor involved in getting a book on the market via traditional sources. It just seemed that two years was a long time.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

I like to switch it up because everybody has their own perspective on events and situations. The same incident can and does have a different impact on different people. I have read books written from a one person perspective and they worked for me as a reader. I don’t know that I could make it work that successfully.  To me, the difference is one perspective is like mashed potatoes and multiple perspective is like a baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and chopped bacon.  Having said that, I’ll probably end up writing a one point of view narrative someday.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

I think an author’s voice is that life and world point of view that is particular to each of us. That voice is the culmination of our circumstances of birth, the “imprinting” we received as we grew to adulthood, and the experiences that are unique to each one. And, the voice is always changing, growing, expanding, because as long as we are alive we are continually influenced by the world and people around us and our responses to those circumstances.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s

I don’t follow an exact chronological order but I do follow a loose time framework. I do write in order though, each chapter in sequence. I have writer friends who may write chapter 20 then come back to 5 then write chapter 18 then 35 and come back to 6.  That would drive me crazy.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Query and synopsis. Lot harder that writing a novel. Now that I am in the midst of the process, writing is the easy part.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Right now, personal networking. Exploring possibilities. Marketing has turned out to be a sharp learning curve for me and I’m still finding my way through the jungle. As I said, writing Cazzie’s story was the easy part.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

About 50/50 I think.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Sit down and write. Edit later.

Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?

Elin Hildebrand – she entertains me.  Susan Crandall and Robert Morgan because I love their “voice”. They are from my neighborhood. And Ayn Rand – she makes me think. James Clavell and Lincoln and Childs– they transport me to other worlds.

Complete this sentence….. My first ever published piece of writing was….. “A poem.”

Please share a brief synopsis of High Cotton Country.

Secrets. Hidden they can destroy her from within. Revealed they can explode her world.

 Come hell or high water, Cazzie Randle is determined to leave the past behind along with the hardscrabble life of a small hill country town but finds she can’t elude the secret trauma that haunts her – an act of unspeakable horror by her mother and abandonment by her father.

A message that her father is dying sends a reluctant Cazzie to his bedside but not to reconcile a lifelong estrangement. She must make him finally reveal the secrets of the memories that haunt her. He must answer questions of “Why?”

An explosion of truth in a dusty Texas hill country town reveals old secrets and demands choices. But will she be able to choose or will she be paralyzed by all the old hurts, cruelty and betrayals that have driven her all her life? To find the answer, Cazzie must confront the very essence of who she has become and question whether the price was too high.

 

  High Cotton Country is the story of one woman’s journey to self-discovery. It is about the inherent dignity of the human being, of the burning desire to be in command of one’s own destiny, of the will, not only to survive, but to achieve, and to face adversity with courage and honor. This is not only the story of one woman’s fighting spirit, but also of the people who influence her self-esteem, shape her self-image and participate in her destiny.

Where can readers buy High Cotton Country?

Readers can read the first chapter of High Cotton Country at http://www.letamccurry.com/free-read/ and check out my blog at http://www.letamccurry.com/blog

Copies are available https://www.createspace.com/5060373 or

Thanks for having me, Joanne. It’s been fun. Leta