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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Guest Blogger Linda Lee Greene on Heritage as Identity

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Please welcome guest blogger author, and artist, Linda Lee Green. She was born in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio in the farmhouse bedroom of her maternal grandparents. The farm sat on the rim of the enormous star-wound there that forms the bedrock of one of the largest earthworks in existence: the world-famous Great Serpent Mound. She has two children and is the grandmother of two grandsons. She resides in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to being a best-selling author, she also is an award-winning artist. An extensive exhibition of her artwork can be viewed at www.gallery-llgreene.com. Her award-winning blog, “In Good Company” can be read at http://Ingoodcompanyohio.blogspot.com. She is also co-host on the blog, “The River Time” at http://therivertime.blogspot.com.

Heritage as Identity

I was born on the rim of a star-wound.  Called crypto-explosions or astroblemes in the jargon of science, the one hundred or more star-wounds currently charted on the surface of Earth are round craters caused by meteor strikes millions of years ago, and range in size from one half to forty miles in diameter.  The best-known star-wounds in North America are the Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona and at astroblemes in Indiana and Ohio.[1]  As star-wounds go, mine, located in Adams County, Ohio is rather impressive by virtue of its extremely faulted and folded bedrock which is unusual among the typically flat-layered rocks in Ohio.[2] Another unique feature of this particular star-wound is the Great Serpent Mound lying within its five-mile crater bed.  Believed to have been constructed as many as one thousand years ago by aboriginal human beings, it is the largest and finest effigy mound in the United States of America.

Radiocarbon dating shows the serpent effigy to be the earthwork of the prehistoric Fort Ancient Indians, one of several early mound building cultures of the indigenous nations.  The most sophisticated people north of Mexico during the period of 1000 BCE to CE 1500, the Fort Ancient Indians spanned a territory from Northern Kentucky to Southern Ohio, and built mounds ranging north and south from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and east and west from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River…[3]

The italicized paragraphs above represent the opening of Chapter Two of my latest historical novel, Guardians and Other Angels.  It is the chapter that establishes the setting of the book.  The facts about the star-wound and the Great Serpent Mound are good examples of the types of exciting information writers discover while researching the subjects of their historical literature.  It is certainly one of my favorite perks associated with writing in the genre.  This is because learning new tidbits like these makes me giddy with joy, and in the process my imagination jolts into high-gear and crafts greater dimensions to my stories.

Prior to my research for the book, I had never heard of crypto-explosions, astroblemes, or star-wounds.  I knew of the Great Serpent Mound, of course.  After all, it is in the same league as the pyramids and the Taj Mahal in terms of the wonderment it instills in its visitors, and I had been one of those sightseers a couple of times.  All that had remained in my memory about the mound was that it had been constructed by American Indians, and that it is a source of abiding curiosity for archaeologists and other students of ancient cultures.  I didn’t recall whether or not the connection between the star-wound and the mound were included in the available literature at the site of the mound.  I have since discovered that in large part, information about the mound is oddly lacking mention of the star-wound in which it lies.

These physical facts represent only a portion of the pay-off I receive from the process of research, however.  A further bonus is the emotional involvement that takes hold of me—no, it’s more than that—it’s a spiritual connection with the people-of-old that overtakes me.  Sometimes I think that I must be the Marlon Brando of writers because like the most famous method actor of all time—method acting described as transforming oneself into the person portrayed—for a time, I take on the identity of the individuals in my stories, as well.  In relation to the ancient builders of the mound, almost like I was one of them, I know deep in my soul that they were a people mindful of their weighty role as the originators of the enduring mystical epic associated with them and their fathomless serpent.  And now that I have spent countless hours studying it, the Great Serpent Mound seems to me a realm of omens.

Now when I visit this sacred place, I feel a quickening in my spirit as a thick mist drifts across the untilled floor of the crater, ground that these days is dense with grass that rolls out like a plush green carpet beneath my bare feet.  It is a pearly haze that delicately ascends and veils the white man’s Appalachian Foothills, noble rises that form the distant quarter of the crater bowl.  At once the mist seems to me to hold within its airy coffers the mystery of the meteor strike, the first human beings to set their own footprints here, and their inscrutable earth-formed serpent.

As a child on the farm of my maternal grandparents located on the rim of this star-wound, while folded in the lap of my grandmother, or as time went by, while finding my own footing in this soil brought to Earth in the molecules of a star from Heaven, my imagination feasted on this fairytale landscape and the storybook yarns about the mound and other unique qualities of this place, tales spun by the hill people here, stories great and indelible that emerged six decades later as the heart of my novel, Guardians and Other Angels.  Those images and dialogues of the long ago days of the guardians and other angels from whom I descended, wondrous, and at the same time haunting, days of the Great Depression and World War II, as well as the history that gave rise to them, scripted themselves at my hand as if they were returning, intact and of their own volition, to reclaim their time through the novel I was writing.

Returned from my day-long sojourn to the mound and its surrounding topography, and while ensconced in the swing suspended from the ceiling of the porch spanning the front of the old farmhouse of my ancestors, a structure that opens to the view of the entire crater of the star-wound, I watch …a fire glow in the clear and silent night sky above the rim of the star-wound where I was born.  In my mind’s eye I transform into an archaeologist whose job it is to unearth the secrets of the Fort Ancient Indians, to find the bits and pieces of their lives contained within the great mound of the serpent lying in the cradle of the debris of that long ago meteor strike.  With the delicate tools of the trade in hand, I imagine myself beginning to dig.  “Will I find her?” I wonder.  “Will I find that other woman, that Indian woman who like me was born on the rim of this star-wound?”  Among arrow heads and shards of pottery, I imagine I find a small bone, a section of one of her fingers, and then remnants of her jawbone lying beside a rock that reveals itself to me to be a pillow for her head.  A group of four small and nearly matching stones fairly tumble into my hand when my trowel scrapes away a knot of finger roots of a tree.  Each one of the stones is punctured with a little hole at its center, the jewels for her necklace, I realize.  Yes, four stones—the sacred number of these early people—the number four symbolizing the four directions of the world—the four seasons.  “Did she have her own Mommaw and Poppaw, her own Uncle Dean, her own Uncle Bussy?” I inquire of the mantle of stars lighting my way.  I declare kinship with that Indian woman, and in our new sisterhood, I feel buoyant and lifted, taken above and beyond this material world as our joined spirits float on the silver mist blanketing the panorama before me…”[4]

DisclaimerGuardians and Other Angels is a work of fiction based on a true story.  In reality, to date, archaeological digs of the Great Serpent Mound have not uncovered cultural artifacts of the kind suggested in the italicized paragraph above.  It is a paragraph of pure fiction given rise from my imagination and that is the preamble to the closing lines of Guardians and Other Angels.  Rather than a burial mound, experts speculate that the ancient builders of the serpent effigy used it as a ceremonial structure or as a religious icon.

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The Great Serpent Mound Crater viewed from the front porch of Gaffin Farm, owned by Linda’s uncle.

Although the initial draft of “Guardians and Other Angels” was a big and enchanting story all on its own, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my concept of the novel I wanted to publish. I was aware of the existence of a collection of old private letters dating from 1936 to 1946 written by the principles of my story, letters that I arranged to borrow from their owner for the purpose of gleaning them for material that I might use to deepen and broaden my story. However, as time passed, it became apparent to me that the actual letters had to be a part of the book. Over the course of the following six years, I transcribed the letters spanning 1936 to 1941 (the balance of the letters to be featured in another book) and merged them into my story while I also conducted extensive research of the history of Southern Ohio, the Great Depression and World War II. In this way, I expanded my story further, accomplished by inventing experiences for my characters built around actual historical events. For this, and other reasons, the book is categorized generally as historical fiction, although it is just as strongly a family saga, and a fictional biography.

“Guardians and Other Angels” has inspired two other books on which I am currently working. One of them is a non-fiction book titled, “I Received Your Letter …,” as well as book for young readers titled, “Bussy Gaffin and His Champion Roosters.”

My first novel, co-authored with Debra Shiveley Welch, and an Amazon best-seller, is “Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams,” the original draft of which I wrote in the year 2000. My college instructors had encouraged me to write professionally, but life got in the way, and the idea settled into my consciousness as only a pined-for dream that seemed doomed to remain unfulfilled. But fate stepped in one morning while I was lying in bed suffering yet another flare-up of the Crohns Disease that had plagued me for nearly a decade, the morning that I had decided that I hadn’t much left of life to cherish any longer. Fate got me on my feet and sent me to the shower, and while there, the story of “Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams” flowed over me as if the words were contained within the molecules of the water. I returned to my bed with a notepad and pen, began to write, and in those few moments, my life suddenly had meaningful purpose and authenticity again.

I am currently at work on two additional books that will launch a series. Book one in the series is a mystery novel titled, “My ‘Aumakua” [In Hawaiian, “A Spirit Guide”] and a spiritual odyssey and love story set in Australia titled, “Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.”
Thank you for taking the time to visit my page. I hope you enjoy reading my books and viewing my artwork. I hope you stop by my blogs, as well. Since good reviews are the life-blood of authors, I hope you take a few minutes to post one for my books.


[3] Guardians and Other Angels, Linda Lee Greene, Saga Books, 2012, p. 10

[4] Guardians and Other Angels, Linda Lee Greene, Saga Books, 2012, p. 227.

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Thank you for guest blogging. I’m sure readers will find your writing and artwork interesting. It has been a pleasure having you on my blog!

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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Guest Author: Regina Tittel Talks About Her Latest Inspirational Book

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Please welcome Inspirational Suspense Romance author, Reginal Tittel. Her works include The Ozark Durham Series with study guide. Here she tells us what inspired the story for the fourth volume, Cherished Stranger.

In this novel, Lucy Durham brings her sponsor child from Romania, along with the girl’s father, Dorin, to her farm in the U.S.

This book tackles two spiritual messages. The first brings awareness to the need for child sponsorship and the often brutal truth of poverty. The idea came to me through our sponsorship of two children and their needs. After further research I learned about the horrific reality of sex trafficking and knew I could do something about it. Even if this book only grows one more sponsor or one more dedicated supporter of women’s rights in third-world countries, it has done its job. But I believe God has bigger plans for it.

I was careful not to dwell on sex trafficking too heavily; after all, the book is a romance. That being said, I had to continually check myself to see whether or not the message was clear without being too depressing or overwhelming.

With the second spiritual message I wanted to awaken readers to the importance of a Christ centered church. This desire stemmed from personal experience. Today’s churches are changing, and they’re not all going in the right direction. I hope Lucy’s experiences will warn them if they happen to be in a similar situation. I also included a list in the back of the book of what to look for when choosing a church.

Cherished Stranger tackles some important issues, but it’s also fun and suspenseful. Dorin and Lucy’s personalities clash from the start, and each time he speaks in his native tongue she feels defensive because of her lack of understanding. Speaking of which, this was the first time I included a foreign language in a book. It proved challenging, as I didn’t want to leave my readers aggravated not knowing what was being said, but it was also fun to research and try to hear it in my mind.

Following is an excerpt from the back cover:

Lucy Durham Watson lost track of her sponsor child during Romania’s flood. Now that the Christian organization has located her again, she’s not about to lose her a second time. Disregarding advice from her family, she helps Anika and her father gain U.S. citizenship to live on her farm.

Life in Romania’s poverty is a stark contrast to the comforts of the Ozarks. A fact proven by Dorin, the father of her sponsor child. Governed by his pride and his disapproval of Lucy’s spontaneous and often reckless personality, they clash from the start.

But when Lucy becomes the target of a stalker, everything changes.

Thanks for allowing me to share with your audience, CaSondra. It’s always nice to meet other like-minded individuals… And to those reading this please feel free to leave your questions or comments as I always return responses and to show my thankfulness for your support I’ll add your name to a special drawing for a free e-version of Cherished Stranger! To learn more about Regina and the other books of The Ozark Durham Series go to reginatittel.com.

“Changing the world for Christ, one reader at a time.” -Regina Tittel

Thank you for taking the time to share your latest release with us. I’m sure it will touch many hearts.  Below are links to where you can purchase Regina’s books on Amazon. However, her books are available in all formats and wherever books are sold.

cherished-stranger-facebook abandoned hearts coveted bride

love for lenore unexpected kiss a self publisher's journal

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Guest Bloggers, Uncategorized

 

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Traditional vs Self-Publishing

The following article is not an all-inclusive comparison between Traditional and Self-Publishing. It is meant for a starting point for the reader who is exploring the options before them.

My first book, Torn Hearts was published by Tate Publishing. They are a small traditional publishing house that isn’t afraid to take a chance on first time authors. I learned much from them as my book progressed through each stage of publishing and Torn Hearts is still under contract with them.

However, I had the desire to spread my wings a little farther with my second and third books, Calling Me Home and Finding Home Brian’s Journey. I chose to self-publish them under Ballad Publishing and have had rewarding success in doing so. So much so, that my husband and I are in the process of opening Ballad Publishing for submissions from other authors!

Each author has their own reasons for wanting to publish their work(s). I hope this article is of useful information for you and the links that are included add to you making a knowledgeable decision.

If you would like to keep up with what I’m working on or have a question for me, you can friend me on Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Traditional Publishing versus Self -Publishing

 

There is so much information on the web for publishing. To be honest, it seems a bit overwhelming. There is no doubt the publishing industry is undergoing major changes. Technology has a lot to do with a vast majority of these changes and that should prompt authors to change as well. However, even with the digital uprising, older authors in particular, cling to what they’ve known since childhood…paper, ink, the traditional way of publishing. This is changing as younger generations enter the world of writing. They are growing up with Kindles, Ipads, and Nooks, not 4-color press ink printed books.

So what does this mean for Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing (Vanity Presses)?

When you think of Traditional Publishing the tendency is to imagine getting a sizable advance on the manuscript you’ve poured your heart and soul into, maybe even get a movie deal. There is also the prestige of having one of the major publishing houses, Random House, Simon & Schuster, or Hachette Books Group stamped on your work. They pour thousands of dollars into promoting your book and you get to bask in the glory of the sales with the affirmation that the world loves your writing.

In truth, most writers do not even get looked at by the big publishing houses because they don’t accept manuscripts that do not have an agent. Even those that are fortunate enough to have an agent soliciting their work get turned away. The best way to get your foot in the door is to have an author who is already signed with a publishing house endorse your manuscript.

So let’s say you got your foot in the door. When you sign the contract and accept whatever advancement on your manuscript that has been agreed upon, what does this mean? It means you have sold your copyright. Yes, you get to have that major publishing house stamped on a book you wrote, but no longer own. Yes, the world will recognize you, even among the strictest in the industry, as a published author. You won’t get a royalty check until you have sold enough copies to cover the advancement and then, the royalties are 6-15% of sales. They are in control of the editing, although you will work with the editor to make the changes you are told to make. The publisher, also, has control of what the cover art will look like. The biggest let down is that your book may not be released for 2-3 years, maybe more. All publishing houses are in the business to make money. The big guys, like mentioned above, know the market well. They have some of the best in the industry working for them, but the most valuable resource they can offer you is marketing. They have all the right connections already in place. You, however, will still be expected to promote the book. Having a platform to do this is a necessity. 

Self-Publishing has its appeal and its hurdles. Some of the appeal is you maintain all copyrights to your work. That which is published is what you dreamed it would be, delivering the message you intended. You can avoid having to write a query letter and synopsis. Although, I highly recommend anyone considering self-publishing to write each with every work they complete.  Your royalties are 30-80% of sales. You can pump out books as fast as you can write them. There is no waiting for the market to be just right. You will have complete control over all aspects of the book including, editing, layout, cover design, and pricing. You can even have Ingram as a distributor! It all sounds euphoric for some, but in reality, self-publishing is a great deal of work. Yes, you get all the benefits and all the responsibility. You’ll need to find a great editor (critique groups can work, if they have an eye for details), a cover designer, a layout designer, a printer, a publicist, and a marketing representative. Or, you can save a ton of money and do the work yourself.

This sounds a bit taxing when reading it, but it can be fun and quite rewarding. Even traditionally published authors are now self-publishing, such as, Barry Eisler (he turned down a $500,000 contract) and Jennie Nash. You will need to educate yourself before diving in. There are many websites that specialize in each area of the publishing process, as well as, small publishing houses that specialize in helping new authors without giving up copyrights or creative license. Do your homework on them, ask questions before you sign a contract, and you should be fine. If you want to do it all yourself, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords, Pubit, KDP, and NovelNook, among many others are great places start. Some of them can help you with cover design, as well. The important thing is to make sure you put out a professional product. If you self-publish and your book doesn’t have a professional looking cover and the copy is littered with spelling and punctuation errors, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will lose the small audience that took a chance on you as an unknown author. You CAN NOT afford to be sloppy. And if you are, you have no one to blame, except yourself.

In the end, the biggest difference is marketing ability.  Either way, traditional or self-publishing you will have to promote your work. There are hundreds of thousands of books available for consumers; the key is setting your work apart from the crowd. Find a successful self-published author, find out what she/he did, and repeat the steps for your book.

E-books, in particular, are worth the time to self-publish. According to The Association of American Publishers in the first quarter of 2012 adult E-Book sales were $282 million while adult hardcover sales were $229 million. In 2011 hardcover sales out-sold E-books. If this trend continues printed books will continue to go down. It doesn’t take much work to convert your book into the various E-book formats. It’s all about the marketing and getting your book noticed.

Here’s a thought…

In many ways, the new traditional publishing is self-publishing and vanity publishing is the traditional route. What do I mean this? Well, aside from what we discussed already, some authors holdout for the endorsement from one of the big New York publishing houses. They want that name stamped on their book, even if they don’t sell many copies and it ends up making them unmarketable later. That is vanity, is it not? Here’s a good article to elaborate on this point.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/the-new-vanity-publishing_b_1821945.html

For a final thought on Traditional versus Self-Publishing ponder this…many of the traditional publishing houses are scanning the Bestseller Lists for successful self-published author.  Why not? The author has already established a platform for marketing, has a following, and most importantly has proven they can sell books. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/technology/personaltech/ins-and-outs-of-publishing-your-book-via-the-web.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Now all that’s left is you to ask, what do I want in a publisher?

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Blogging and Book Features

Hop on over to Regina Tittel’s  blog, Faith of a Mustard Seed to read an article I wrote on Traditional Publishing versus Self-Publishing. I was honored and humbled to be asked to be guest blogger for her. The article is meant to be informative for those interested in the pros and cons of each. I will be re-posting it here at a later date.

After you’ve checked out Regina’s blog, skip over to  Bargain Ebook Hunter to get your bargain copy of Calling Me Home that is being featured today.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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