I'm SO excited to feature Melanie Selemidis on my blog not only because of her extraordinary passion & talent for poetry & prose, but also because she was brave enough to make a lifelong dream come true in the name of art. Specifically, Mel saved up the money to return to her family's ancestral homeland in Greece on her quest to explore her heritage & to fuel her artistic inspiration for her first novel Sirens of Santorini. If you love to live out loud, you will want to visit Mel's beautiful website at http://melanie.selemidis.com. But until then, sit back, kick up your feet, and enjoy a mini "soul vacation" with the gorgeous photographs Mel shares that were taken on her recent pilgrimage to Greece where she found the "soul home" she had always been treasuring in her heart.
Author Carey Corp
The famous Brig O' Doon medieval bridge in Scotland
Multi-talented author Marilyn Dieckmann not only writes spellbinding fairy tales (like her novel EVERWUD), she even builds fairy tree houses! The following is my interview with this immensely creative woman who is an inspiration to us all. For information about her book & fairy houses, visit her website at www.weetreehome.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find EVERWUD at Amazon
So what inspired you to write your own fairy tale EVERWUD about a ten-year-old boy who discovers his fairy heritage? Tell me a little bit about your process of discovery that led up to writing this book, Also, what was the writing process like for you? Did you have to do a lot of research, or did most of it just flow from your imagination?
About 20 years ago, I happened upon a quaint gift shop tucked away in the back corner of a shopping mall. As I walked in the door I noticed an old stump off to the side being used as a shelf for delicate tea sets and floral pieces. My first thought was, what a waste of such an amazing piece of wood…and then an idea was born. It remained safely tucked away until about seven years ago. First of all, NO live trees are harmed, and I use only select pieces. I can’t explain how I know what design will take shape, only that each piece speaks to me. Some houses will take weeks, and others I see instantly. Ideas come to me in my dreams! If I close my eyes, I can put together an entire house without ever touching a twig. I’ve constructed door hinges, cranks for wishing wells, and shuttered windows. My imagination truly knows no limits, and I’ve made 79 fairy houses that are scattered around the world. Each house is one of a kind and has it’s own life and story, and I believe there is something magical about my houses. At one time I had 9 (lighted) houses in the shop, and the dusty cluttered mess (sticks, sawdust, twigs & moss etc.) became a fairy haven. I would sneak down to my shop, turn on the lights and sit quietly, bathed in the glow from my fairy houses. Right now there are 11 pre-cut homes ready for a touch of magic in my shop. The White Birch Castle is nearly finished, and Hickory Dickory Clock House is next. Prices start at $350 and I will take custom orders…all I need is a theme. You can order them at my website at www.weetreehome.com.
You used to be a school teacher, and then you wrote EVERWUD about the journey of discovery of a ten-year-old boy. I hesitate to label EVERWUD as a "children's book" because it's so well written that it can appeal to readers across a broad spectrum. But I'm interested to know how being a former teacher influenced or shaped the book you eventually wrote?
I love it that you are a daydreamer who admits that she "dreams all day long." Did you ever get in trouble at school or at home for that? (I certainly did!) Where do you think this creativity & imagination comes from, and did it take you a while to learn to channel this to productive use? You are so multi-talented in writing, music & art—how did you become such an expansive person who's motto is "There are no limits to my thoughts"? Tell me a little bit about your journey as a creative individual.
And finally, what advice do you have for writers, artists & dreamers who are just starting out? And tips or bits of wisdom that you'd like to pass along?
Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. I tried so many different outlets for my imagination, and nearly gave up countless times, but I didn’t. My mind and it’s ceaseless prattle forever haunts me.If you have an idea…write it down. Keep a journal. I don’t regret any of my quirky ideas and projects. They are who I am. Above all…dream. Dream BIG!
You wrote a charming book titled Bertha-Size Your Life! about an empty nester who suddenly attracts a roommate named Bertha who helps her to fill the void in her life and to orient herself towards self-fulfillment and joy. How did the idea of the wonderfully over-the-top, living-in-full-color Bertha character come to you?
You always seem so up and positive. What brings you joy in life, and how do you keep up your positive outlook? What prompted you to become a life coach so that you could impart buoyancy, strength, and a sense of purpose to others? Give us some insight into what are the hardest things and the most rewarding things about being a life coach.
What might people be the most surprised to learn about you?
If you could be a casting director, who might you cast as Bertha and as the narrator if your book were to be made into a film? (I think the costume department would have a ball with Bertha's wardrobe! : ) Any special music you'd love to have featured in such a film?
Katey Sagal would make the PERFECT Bertha! Now I have to go listen to that Sister Hazel song again, too ; ) So in conclusion here, your eager fans want to know if you plan a follow-up or sequel to Bertha-Size Your Life?
Breakout Star Colleen Hoover!
She may not wear a cloak,
I'm convinced Laura Howard has magical powers—or at the very least, a fairy godmother! How else could this New England native be a novelist, mother of four children, and still keep up her incredibly popular blog Finding Bliss? I mean, this is a woman who runs author interviews, advice, and juicy tidbits on writing & the publishing industry nearly every day. So unless she foregoes sleep entirely or has her own personal genie, Laura has most certainly become the master of time management and artistic output. All by myself, I figured I have a lot to learn from Laura! So the following is my interview with her & discussion of her forthcoming debut novel The Forgotten Ones:
Hi Laura and welcome to Bandits Ranch! You hail from New England and you're the stay-at-home-mother to four children. How, in the midst of all the mommy craziness, did you come up with the idea to run a successful blog on writing and publishing? Did you have any experience to bring to the table, or did you just hop in?
Thanks Diane, not just for inviting me here, but for making me sound so "together"! I'll start by saying that in the early days, my blog didn't have a focus. I just posted random stuff or blog hops because I wasn't sure where to go with it. Over time, I received the advice, "If you're not an expert, learn from the experts." Since then I stopped posting random bits about my daily wordcounts or what writing challenges come up. I save those for Facebook... [grins]. I've pretty much just asked people who've been there done that to teach me about their experience, and then shared it with anyone else who wants to learn.
What challenges did you face when you first started your blog and how did you manage to overcome them?
When it started, I had no posting schedule. That stressed me out because I would go days and days without posting. Now I blog M/W/F and Saturdays ALMOST religiously. That keeps me focused, which makes it much more satisfying.
If all that weren't enough, then you decided to become a writer yourself with your debut novel The Forgotten Ones! Had you always wanted to be a writer? Tell me about your journey towards publication and how you mustered the courage and tenacity to go for it.
One thing is that I started writing The Forgotten Ones three and a half years ago. I'm a mother first—I didn't write every day. Sometimes it would be weeks in between. But these characters and this plot have their hooks in me very deeply. All the time I spent away from the manuscript, I still thought about them every single day. That's how I knew that this story needed to be told. Whether people love it or not, it has to be put out there.
When do you actually write? Do you carve out certain hours of the day when the kids are sleeping or at school? I'm utterly amazed that you managed to squeeze this in—do you have any time-management tips you can share with readers for making your writing dream a reality?
I can't say I have a schedule because my two year old would laugh at me. I write when I can, whether it's during naptime or TV time for him or after everybody's asleep. My husband has been pretty good about giving me kid-free writing time on weekends, too.
So tell us what your debut novel The Forgotten Ones is about and how you came up with the plot idea and the characters.
I'm not entirely sure how it is for other writers, but this story has morphed into what it is from a variety of experiences: the people I've known, books I've read, and my love of Irish mythology and history—all of these things live in TFO.
What was the most difficult thing about writing this novel—and the easiest?
The most difficult is excising the scenes or characters that aren't working. The easiest is researching Irish mythology—I'd do it anyway!
When will The Forgotten Ones be released, and where can people buy it?
The Forgotten Ones is expected to be released May 15, 2013, and it will be available on Amazon.
In closing, I'd love to hear you name a few things about blogging or writing that you wish you'd known before you began. Any final tips that you can pass on to future bloggers or writers?
For blogging: keep putting out the posts YOU'D want to read. Whether it's once a week or everyday. If you keep putting good things out there, people will start to notice. It won't happen in a week, but after a couple of months of consistency, it WILL happen. For writing: it's rather similar. Keep writing whether it's once a week or every day. Each word moves your story along, just don't give up. Trust your editor, but listen to your heart.
For this edition of Artisans & Outlaws We Love, I have the great pleasure of introducing Stephanie Berget, a unique writer of Ranch & Rodeo Contemporary Romances set in the beautiful Northwest. But Stephanie doesn't just talk about western life—she lives it! She's an accomplished cowgirl who has spent many a year competing on the rodeo circuit. The following is an interview of Stephanie Berget conducted by Kari Lynn Dell for her gorgeous western blog Montana For Real. For more information about Stephanie Berget and her new novel Sugarwater Ranch, please visit her lovely website at www.stephanieberget.com.
Also, if you're looking for a realistic view of life on a working ranch, tempered with a touch of humor, visit Kari Lynn Dell's blog, Montana for Real.