Okay, you asked for it. Today is promotional blog day. Yes, yes it is. We all must take time to promote, and promote I shall. I’ve had some of these on my sidebar, but not everyone looks through them. If you do, I appreciate it, and apologize for the repetition. If you don’t, well then this post is for you. Stop rolling your eyes. Focus!
I have an Amazon Giveaway going for both of my books. Another one will follow this one, so if you don’t win, you’ll get another chance. If my books are just not your kind of reads, pass the giveaway onto someone else.
To enlarge, click on the below bookmarks I created.
Book Cover Contest
My book covers are also entered in the 2016 Cover Contest on Authorsdb. If you have a few seconds, please click on both of the below links and vote for my book covers. And to go a step further, share them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Gracie Bradford. I love the name Gracie. This woman is full of energy and an inspiration for all. There’s so much to say about Gracie, so I’ll let her do the honors. Please give a warm welcome to this woman of many hats.
Describe yourself in 150 words or less.
Words to describe myself are fun loving, driven, risk taker, and daring explorer. Loves shoes and to collect unique and colorful accessories. Love football! You might see me in the stadium of a college or an NFL game cheering for both teams. Writing is a passion. My thoughts move faster than I can type. My patio adorn with a breathtaking garden of large colorful potted plants all carrying the name of my children. I have to fertilizer one plant more than others because it is the prodigal son that makes you want to keep your phone on mute. My grandson says that I am like a runaway train since retirement. I walk five miles per day, indulge in blue bell ice cream, chase it with a diet coke to eliminate guilt then off to the gym for water Zuma twice weekly and exercise class three times weekly. Oh, love dancing!
What specific moment or situation made you want to become a writer?
I always wanted to write a book eventually. Throughout high school, I dreamed of seeing my name in print on the shelf of a bookstore where I spent most of my leisure time. Three years ago after my retirement, my four sisters who are teacher/educators, wanted to go to the International Reading Conference as an exhibitor. Ironically, they did not have a book to exhibit. So, we had a brainstorming session which birthed the writing of a series of books about children with special needs. A perfect match with their education background and my healthcare experience. At least I thought so until I realized I would do all of the writing and publishing. I wrote and published my first book within three months and had a fantastic display at the conference where teachers/educators came from all over the world.
Where was your favorite travel destination?
My favorite travel destinations were Australia and South Africa. I know you asked for one, but both were equally exciting and educational.
Tell us about your published works.
I have self-published several books. The tagline for my work is “I AM….” I use this slogan at exhibits and as an introduction when presenting at conferences.
Lady Bird: Shawn’s Sixth Sense – A story about a boy, his dog, and blind friends.
Who Am I? I AM…. (A compilation of five short non-fiction stories about elementary and middle school children coping with special needs in the classroom. These stories are told from the child’s perspective. A story from a blind child, a child with cancer, a child with diabetes, a child with Downs Syndrome, and a child with severe physical disabilities.)
Through My Lens – I AM…. (This is the fiction counterpart to the above book, Who Am I? – I Am….)
Blindsighted – Extraordinary Friends –Text and image copyright by Outskirts Press, Inc. – I added the characters.
June The Prune and Lady Bird (expected release date is August 2016) – a fiction about a 10-year old girl, her dog, and her struggle with cancer.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
The one thing that I hope to achieve within the next year is to travel to the Antarctic, which will complete my goal of traveling to all continents. I would go sooner if my traveling companion stays healthy long enough to make the trip.
What’s the one writing achievement that you’re truly proud of?
Many years ago, more than I care to remember, I wrote the first rules and regulations for a new state licensure board that were mandated by legislation. You haven’t experienced writing until you have a bank of lawyers, staffers, special interest groups and elected officials scrutinizing every word. I have nightmares about when to use the words “will” and “shall.” I never realized the ramifications of these small words until I wrote those rules.
In turns of books, I think the receipt of my book, LADY BIRD: SHAWN’S SIXTH SENSE was a proud moment. The scheduled August 2016 release of my next book in the Lady Bird Series, JUNE THE PRUNE AND LADY BIRD, brings joy to my heart as well. My deceased parents would be soooo proud!
Did you go the traditional route or did you DIY publish?
I took the DIY route because agents have specific topics they are looking for, and it takes much longer going the traditional route. Although, I have plans to go the traditional route with my first non-fiction leadership book.
Is there anything in particular that you love to write about, such as sex or circuses?
Writing about sex at my age could prove to be fascinating for the millenniums. But, I prefer to write about adorable pets and about topics that need to be heard, but no one wants to talk about.
If you could have anything you want without question, what would it be and why?
If I could have anything that I want without question, it would be uncompromised love and happiness, peace, joy, companionship, grace and mercy. These things are part of the soul that money can’t buy.
However, from a selfish standpoint, I think I would want to win the Mega-Million Lottery. By doing so, I can contribute to all of my charities (my nieces, my nephews, my sisters who want to travel but never have the money, my non-profit organizations that I volunteer with and scholarships for kids who can master the courses, have the desire to go to college, but parents can’t afford to send them and of course my church).
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. For more information about Gracie, please visit her LinkedIn. You can also visit her Amazon Author Page to follow and purchase her books.
Pizza comes in all sizes, shapes, and desires. Ooey Gooey. Crisp. Stuffed pizza. Thin crust. Stuffed crust. There’s the soft, flaky crust, wood fired oven crispy, bubble crust, a butter crust, and many more. We all have our favorites. Some of our likings have probably changed over the years too. When I was younger, I loved the thin crust piled with cheese, sausage, onions, and green peppers—the oil glistening and pooling on top of the pizza. I’d eat the tiny crust ends and then go for the middle squares. Being a Chicagoan, Giordano’s stuffed spinach pizza was also a favorite of mine.
In my 20s, my friends and I went to Las Vegas. I didn’t have much money with me, so one evening, while a few friends saw a live show, another friend and I stayed in the hotel room and ordered pizza. It was the worst pizza ever. The crust tasted like cardboard, and the uncooked fixings were piled on top. At that time, I swore I’d never order a pizza outside of Chicago again.
Now, I’ve experienced pizza in Spain and Italy, and I’m in love with it. The first time I had a super thin crust pizza was at an Italian restaurant in Spain. It was a big individual pizza, but not as filling as the pizzas I grew up eating. The crust is extremely thin with crisp air bubbled sides, and thin layers of toppings. Sauce and cheese doesn’t smother the crust. When we make pizza at home, we try to get the crust super thin.
My love of pizza has changed over the years, similar to my books. The first books I read were Sidney Sheldon’s (also a Chicagoan) romantic suspense novels. I refused to read anything other him, until I reached for a Mary Higgins Clark suspense novel, and Victoria Holt’s gothic romance. Holt wrote in several genres under different pen names. These authors were the stepping-stones to various other writers and works, but at the time, I was hooked on their writing of romance and suspense.
As I recall, the only descriptive writer was Holt. The sad thing is, I can’t recall my favorite books of these authors. What I do remember is how the books glided along without in depth description. They kept my attention with suspense. From there, I moved onto Sandra Brown, another suspense writer with just the right amount of description for me. It’s no wonder my first novel turned out to be a dark, psychological suspense thriller.
Nowadays, I tend to read a lot of literary fiction; stories about ‘real’ people living or battling extraordinary lives. These are the reads I love, and for some reason can’t branch out. My favorites being, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; The Red Tent by Anita Diamant; and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. The things these writers have in common are lush characters, they can paint a picture without purple prose, and their stories consist of courage, love, trust, and strength. Since I began reading for enjoyment, I realize that I’m not one who likes too much description, which sometimes can create redundancy. The layers of these stories are evenly distributed, not too much stuff on top of the main plot, and the right amount of character build to hate or love them.
Looking back at the changes in my life, the one thing I realize is how my writing reflects my reading styles—how reading adventures have transferred into my own writing. As a writer, I try to focus on building characters, making them flawed, likeable, and in some cases, hated. I’m also one who tries to spread description out to build characters and plot without leaving clumps along the way. All I can hope is that readers like my writing style.
How do you like your pizza? Do you read books loaded with description? Does your writing reflect your preferred reading style?
I had planned to post this in April during National Poetry Month. Jeri Walker put together a post on how to write a sonnet. A freelance editor and writer, who I had the privilege of working with on my second novel, Fogged Up Fairy Tale, Jeri shares with us her knowledge of poetry and writing from her years of teaching.
How To Write a Sonnet
How to write a sonnet has been known to strike fear in many souls. Maybe you were forced to pen one back in school, or you tried composing a sonnet later in life with mixed results. Perhaps you like to tinker with free verse, but stricter poetic forms give you a headache. Since the recent twentieth anniversary of National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fun to share a tutorial on how to tackle this demanding form.
This post will cover how to write a sonnet known as the English, Elizabethan, or Shakespearian variety. William Shakespeare wrote 154 known sonnets, thus the poetic format became closely linked with his name. Other varieties include the Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnet, the Spenserian sonnet, and ones termed Indefinables in that they function like sonnets, but don’t follow a recognizable pattern (as in “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley).
Rather than use one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets for an example to discuss the components that comprise the form, I thought it would be fun to use the Prologue to Romeo and Julie instead since it happens to be written as a sonnet. Later on in the play, the two young lovers also speak to each other in sonnet format in the exchange that starts, “If I profane with my unworthiest hand.”
How to write a sonnet comes down to heeding a lot of numbers. Let’s start with the big picture. An English sonnet contains fourteen lines. The fourteen lines consist of three quatrains (four-line stanzas) followed by a couplet (two-line stanza). A problem of some sort is introduced in the first quatrain and then elaborated on in the following ones. The problem is then resolved in some fashion in the concluding couplet.
Note how every other line within each quatrain rhymes in addition to the rhyme found in the couplet. This alternating pattern of rhyme is known as a rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme of a Shakespearian Sonnet is as follows: abab cdcd efef gg. This tends to be the trickiest part for me. Often I will come up with a rhyme scheme and then see what lines I can think of to fashion the poem around.
But wait, there’s more! On top of the strict rhyme scheme, a sonnet is written in lines of iambic pentameter. Say what? Yes, time for even more math. A small group of syllables is known as a foot, and an iamb is a two-syllable unit. An iamb consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Pentameter comes into play in that each line of a sonnet will contain five of these feet. So that means each line will have ten syllables.
I totally understand if sweat is breaking out on your brow at this point and your pulse is quickening a bit. Lucky for us, the speech patterns of English tend to naturally follow an iambic pattern. The easiest way to get a sense of where the stressed syllables fall within a line is to speak the line out loud with your hand placed beneath your chin. Pay attention to when your chin drops to feel the stressed syllables. Dictionaries will also indicate stressed syllables with an accent mark if you need to verify a word’s stress pattern.
Despite how strict the sonnet form appears, they can actually be quite fun to write if you don’t let frustration carry you away. Remember, that language is an art form and contains much beauty. Not to mention playing with language can just be plain fun. So now that you know how to write a sonnet, go forth and pen one in honor of National Poetry Month.
Have you ever written a sonnet? What poetic forms are you drawn to?
Truth really is stranger than fiction, and it’s a long damn story. Jeri Walker’s short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological novels (in progress) show the influence of being raised by a bipolar mother in the eccentric North Idaho mining town of Wallace as well as the trauma of being abandoned by her Jekyll-and-Hyde ex whom she fell in love with while working in Yellowstone National Park.
She and her demanding pets call the Pacific Northwest home. In the continual pursuit of finding herself, she plans to someday live in an RV or a tiny house. She dwells online at Word Bank Writing & Editing, grateful to be charting a course as a freelancer. Connect with her at JeriWB.com or browse her books.
I apologize for the lack of posts—the lack of communication. This came about from a tragic, unforeseen phone call. On April 16, I received a call that my sister, Vivian Anderson, had passed away suddenly. She was 52-years old. That day, my sister had called me but we were in Holland. By the time we got home and settled, it was 9:00 pm in Germany, so I didn’t call her back. I figured I’d call her the next day. If only…
Death is profound—we immerse ourselves in anguish and reflection. Things we hadn’t thought about in decades floats to the surface of our conscious. Good and bad memories sift through continuous feelings with a few ‘what might have been’ or ‘what if’s’ tangled in between. People tell me that the pain will subside. The truth is that the pain burrows itself in my heart. I learn to live with every loss.
Four years prior, my mother passed away. My sister and I lost a piece of who we were that day. The void nudged its way in—a numbness that made whatever was important in our lives become insignificant. What we wanted before was no longer a desire. Death tends to be a turning point. We both found new meaning, new lives, in other parts of the world; hers in Arizona, and mine in Germany. Although we lived over 5,000 miles away, we kept in touch on a weekly basis. Through hardships and joy, we let each other know what was going on. We were each other’s lifeline to our mother.
When Vivian died, I not only lost my one and only sister, but the link to my mother. It pulled forth the pain hidden in my heart, adding to the current anguish. A perpetual silent suffering that will be provoked from time to time, enhancing the moment of loss, and triggering years of memories.
My sister and I shared a room. We brushed each other’s hair, played Barbies and jacks together. Teen posters of David Cassidy decorated her side of the room. A child of the 70s, she liked disco, long straight hair, and Angel blouses. I wanted to be like her. Vivian taught me how to ride a bike. She helped me get my license. I was her maid of honor in her wedding, the godmother to her first-born, and spent many years with her and the children. I loved that my sister made me such a big part of her life because it left me with so many memories.
Vivian was a strong, positive person, and in the face of conflict, she always saw the light at the end of the tunnel. She wore joy on her sleeve. She had two beautiful children, Renee and Zachary, which she was forever proud of. My sister was loving, caring, and smart when it came to the medical field. She was an EMT for many years, and the best phlebotomist you could ever have drawn your blood. While watching ER, she would rattle off what was needed for the patient before the actors did. As I worked on my current manuscript, I’d send her text messages asking her medical questions.
In 2007, we went to Gatlinburg, TN together. We had a great time with many laughs. I even convinced her, even though I was afraid of heights too, to take the ski lift up into the Smoky Mountains. I told her she might never get the opportunity again. A remembrance I’ll keep close to me forever.
I write this to you today, trying to catch up with life, making the things I put on hold somewhat relevant again. After reading this post, I hope you walk away knowing a little bit about my sister, Vivian, and a lesson about life and loss. Don’t be afraid to hug or say “I love you” to your loved ones. Don’t just text people when you have the opportunity to hear their voice. Make sure those that matter to you know it through words and action. And lastly, make every moment count.