Monday, September 17, 2018

A Visit with Ann Gabhart



Ann Gabhart is back! It's always a pleasure to have this sweet, talented author and fellow Kentucky resident drop by the blog. Ann and I live just a few counties apart, so that makes us almost neighbors, right? I did get to see her again in person last spring when she visited with readers and talked about her books. That was fun, and ever interesting to see how her stories come about. 

This week's theme is Ann's latest book, River to Redemption. We're featuring an interview with Louis, one of River to Redemption's main characters. But first, here's a little about the story: 

Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She's determined to find a way to buy Louis's freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she'll face an uphill battle.

Based partly on a true story, Ann H. Gabhart's latest historical novel is a tour de force. The vividly rendered town of Springfield and its citizens immerse readers in a story of courage, betrayal, and honor that will stick with them long after they turn the last page. 


Welcome back, Ann. Congratulations on A River to Redemption! I appreciate you sharing this character interview with us. 

Thank you, Karen! It's always fun to stop by! 

Louis, why did you stay in Springfield and care for the sick during the cholera epidemic? 

Well, ma’am, I didn’t feel like I had much choice, being a slave and all. I ain’t never thought about running off. Well, maybe I have thought about it, but I don’t have it so bad working for Master George and who knows what might happen to me if I were to run off and get caught. Most likely I’d get dragged back down here to be sold downriver. Things is worse than bad down there in the south. Besides, once I knew that the old cholera wasn’t gonna carry me off to glory, I could feel the Lord tellin’ me I should stay put and help them. Plenty there was I couldn’t help except by givin’ them a proper burial. I reckon that’s the last service any man can do for another person. I did say words over every single grave and I don’t have no doubts about the Lord listenin’ in. I did hope all of them that died were folks that knowed the Lord. 
 

You did the community a wonderful service. I admire that. What was your greatest personal challenge during this time? 

The soul weary sadness of it all was heavy on my heart. If’n all them that sickened and died had been old folks or even folks my own age that had had time to live a while, it might not have been so sorrowful. But there was younguns who hadn’t hardly lived no time at all that got the sickness and died. And color didn’t matter none either. It was like a wicked wind swept that bad air through our town and some breathed it in worse than the others. Those worse ones passed on to glory. Some fast like. Sick in the sun comin’ up time. Dead by the time the sun went down. I’m prayin’ the good Lord finds a way to stop the cholera from killing folks. 

I do tell you one thing for sure, ma’am, I was glad as I could be to find the little missy, that Adria child, still breathin’ when I went to her house after the doctor’s wife told me there was some sick ones there. Course all the rest of her family had done been took by the cholera. But Matilda and me, we pulled that child through. I don’t reckon I’ve ever been blessed more by any single human being than I was by that little missy. It was like as how the Lord give me that child to help me hang onto hope whilst burying all those folks. I know she’s white and I’m black, but back when she was a little thing there was times I felt like I was her uncle or something. Related by heart anyhow. I best not be sayin’ that where any white folks can hear. True or not, that wouldn’t be acceptable talk at all. Get me in awful trouble for certain. 


Well, I won't tell, alright? ;) What did you learn from this experience? What would you share with others about dealing with hardship?
 
That’s not no easy question, ma’am. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve got too many answers. First off, as I done told you, I found out the cholera disease wasn’t no respecter of person. It took whoever it wanted to take, rich or poor, young or old. Fifty-five of them in that first epidemic in 1833. Another epidemic in 1849 carried off thirty-three more. I learned that a man keeps digging, he can get a bunch of graves dug, but he does have to keep digging. I know I couldn’t a done any of it without the good Lord’s hands holding me up when the wearies were ready to overtake me. 

I guess that’s what I’d share with you folks about hardship. The Lord, he went through some hard times. He knows about them kind of bad times and he’s ready to step right up beside you to somehow get you through yours. When things get hard, think on that. Depend on the Lord and when you pray, pray believin’. The Lord can get you through them bad times. Even if he can’t make them go away, he be right there with you every livelong step of the way. 

Yes, ma’am, that’s what I would share with them ready to listen. 

Thank you, Louis! That's good advice. :) Now here's a question for you, Ann. What prompted you to write this story? 

A few years ago when I was trying to think up a new story, I came across this story about Louis in a book about little known Kentucky heroes. Reading about Louis and what he’d done for the town of Springfield and then what the town of Springfield later did for him fired up my imagination. What kind of man was this who could do what he did? Who in the town led the campaign to free him for what he’d done? 

I couldn’t find much information about Louis other than what I read in that first article. So my story surrounding that true bit of history is completely what I imagined might have happened. I’ve written often about true historical events, but I always dropped my fictional characters down into those times and let them live out their stories. But writing this was different since I needed to bring Louis back to life to play an important role in my story. I think readers have been touched and inspired by his character just as I was when I first read that piece about him. 


It sounds like an inspiring story and I'm looking forward to reading it soon. Thanks so much for coming by this week. It's always great to have you visit!

Thank you, Karen!


About Ann Gabhart 

Ann Gabhart, who is the bestselling author of over thirty novels, has been called a storyteller. That’s not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. Ann’s historical novels, including her popular Shaker series, have Kentucky backgrounds. Recently she headed to the Appalachian Mountains for These Healing Hills while her new release, River to Redemption, was inspired by a true story that happened in a small Kentucky town. Ann also writes about family life, love and sometimes mystery (as A.H. Gabhart). She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and enjoy life out on their Kentucky farm. 


Connect with Ann

Twitter - @AnnHGabhart
Find River to Redemption at Amazon and other booksellers


Giveaway Info 

Ann is giving away a print copy of River to Redemption to one of my followers. Here are the details:

  • Open to U.S. residents only.
  • Please leave a comment and your email address.
  • Giveaway ends Thursday, September 20 at midnight EDT.
  • Winner will be notified and must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

Do you have any questions for Ann? How is September going? What are you reading this month?

Happy writing,
Karen
 
 




Monday, April 2, 2018

Three Ways Shy Writers Can Boost Social Media Presence





 
Here is a post from the archives, slightly updated of course, because the inner editor thinks her job is to constantly tweak things. It's been extra busy around here, so thought I'd share this favorite bit of advice. :)

Social Media: Love it or Hate it? 

Do you enjoy using social media? Those close to me know I'm a reluctant social media participant. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy meeting new people and interacting with family and friends. There are great benefits, from blogging and Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and more, I've connected and shared with great people all over the globe.

Social media is an excellent marketing tool, one that's necessary for freelancing, writing books, business, and all things related. There are dozens of potential benefits, many of which I've tapped into.

So despite these great benefits, why am I still not a big fan? The two main issues I have are:

1) The constant perceived demand on one's time. We've become a society, as a whole, that thinks everyone should be available 24/7. This translates into pressure for many people. And while it's our choice to partake, the draw and demand are still there. It takes personal discipline and sometimes a steel will to avoid getting drawn in, buckling under the pressure, and spending too much time meeting the demands, whether real or perceived. (See more on the importance of saying no in this post.)

2) The "TMI - ATT" syndrome. Too Much Information - All. The. Time. While not everyone is prone to sharing too much personal info, social media offers the perfect forum to do so. Call me old fashioned, but I think that there are details of one's life that aren't meant to be spread about everywhere. Certain conversations are best left one to one, with family or a close friend. In many ways too, I think this hinders a quality social media experience.

If you are a big proponent of social media, please don't be offended by my thoughts here. That's not my intent. I value and understand the benefits, and realize that some people are more wired for social media than I am. They're outgoing and enjoy and often need that interaction with others. I get that, and mean no disrespect to those who feel that way.

So this is where I'm coming from - I'm a shy writer who's never been a social butterfly, ever. One who's happier with her nose in a book than at a party of a thousand of her closest friends. My conscientious self wants to help everyone I can, but social media can set me on overload.

That said, what can one such as I do to better engage on social media? Where does the balance lie? It's different for everyone, depending on whether promoting books, freelance writing services, or simply to engage in a little socialization.

What's a Shy Writer to Do?

No matter what kind of social media fan (or not) you are, perhaps these three tips will lend a hand.

1) Spread the love by sharing. If I enjoy the content of a blog or website, I usually share it with others by sharing on Twitter, posting on Facebook or Google+, or pinning on Pinterest. Most sites have share buttons somewhere on the screen, and it only takes a few seconds to do so. It boosts your visibility on social media while sharing good info with others.

2) Schedule posts in advance. Social media management sites provide free tools to schedule and manage tweets, posts, etc. on your most used outlets. My favorite is Hootsuite. I take a little time each month there, scheduling tweets and posts in advance. It's a big time saver, and provides exposure for whatever I wish to promote, whether it's friends' or my own work/services or other links and items worth sharing. Other sites, such as Facebook now have scheduling options as well.

3) Make it do double duty. Many social media outlets allow you to post through them onto other sites. For instance, I set up my Facebook author page's posts to automatically appear on Twitter too. Others, such as Pinterest and Instagram provide the same options. Check the settings to see what options are available. One word of caution - if you are, for example, a frequent pinner on Pinterest, and it's linked to Facebook, your feed can be flooded with posts. So check the settings and see how much you want to share, or not.

Whether you're a shy or outgoing writer or other creative, there are dozens of handy tools available to strike your right social media balance.

A Break

It's time for me to take a break. There are new things happening here, old things that need attention, and a heart that needs quiet space to focus on some spiritual things. As much as I dislike placing a temporary hold on blogging, it's necessary. Lest you think otherwise, all is well. Just realized recently that I'm close to going from the "want to blog" to the "have to blog", and that's not good. So it's time for a hiatus. Please know that I love you all and appreciate your support more than I can say. See you in September. :) 

Your Thoughts 

Do you enjoy social media? Why or why not? What helps you balance social media time with other parts of life? What's on your writing schedule this month?

Happy writing,

Karen 



Photo credit: Pixabay

Monday, March 26, 2018

Miscellaneous Monday





 
How has spring been treating you so far? Many of us here in the U.S. got a good dose of snow last week, greeting the new season with a chilly start. It's inevitable; warmer days will be here before we know it. In the meantime, here are a few links to ease us into spring writing.

Do you have challenges making decisions? Author Susan J. Reinhardt offers her insight and tips in this post, How to Overcome Decision Paralysis. Susan has great suggestions to help us gain perspective and balance.

Sometimes the smallest things trip us up when writing and editing. Author Laurel Garver of Laurel's Leaves discusses their proper use in Editor on Call: Using Then/Than and Lose/Loose. Her examples will clear any confusion right up.

Considering attending a writer's conference in the coming months? There are many benefits, as veteran freelancer Jennifer Brown Banks describes in 5 Reasons to Attend a Writer's Conference this Year. Let us know if you have plans to attend one! :)

Queries. Love them or hate them? They can be a bit intimidating, so I was grateful for L. Diane Wolfe's advice in her recent post, Checklist for a Great Query. Having worked in the industry for years, Diane's advice is always solid.

Other News 

I recently received the Sunshine Blogger Award from Lisa Ricard Claro. Thanks so much, Lisa!  :D If you aren't acquainted with her, Lisa is a long time blogger and author of several books. You can find out more about her writing services at her site. We really do make wonderful friends through blogging, don't we?

And Just for Fun
.
This is totally off the writing topic, but if you're looking to get the exterior of your home in shape for spring, check out Checklist for Spring: 5 Steps to Get Your Home Ready. Yes, when I'm not writing posts here or doing the nine thousand other things I do, I'm blogging for this local business. :)


Did you get snow on the first few days of spring? What are you writing this week? Have any special spring plans?

Happy writing,
Karen



Photo credit: Pexels










Monday, March 12, 2018

The Importance of Saying No







Not long ago, I was asked to help with an upcoming event. My response was a quick and resounding "No". The speed at which I delivered this reply actually surprised me. My style in years past was to hedge and/or apologize. But time and experience have taught me a few things, and it's gotten easier to say no. (I must give credit to my husband too. He sees my stress level escalate and encourages margins.) I felt badly about turning this opportunity down, but saying no was the right choice.

This got me thinking - what causes us to say yes when we should say no?

  • We feel guilty.
  • We want the approval of others.  
  • We think it'll further our cause or career. 
  • We want to help family, friends, community, etc. 
  • We're afraid we're missing out on important opportunities.  
  • We think we can handle it, not fully grasping the effects of another commitment.

Why is it important to say no? Because it offers opportunities to properly align our priorities and life. If we don't, it will affect our quality of life, spiritual growth, relationships, health, and work in a negative way. Many of us are too busy, not allowing enough margins or down time. When we set boundaries by saying no, we open the door to time and possibilities - to think, pray, brainstorm, learn, daydream, recharge, do quality work, and build lasting relationships. More time, less stress - the benefits are obvious.

Saying no sounds good in theory, but what can we do to put it into practice and see resulting benefits? Here are a few things that help me.

Define priorities. What are the non negotiable, must-do commitments? It helps to first fill the schedule with people, tasks, and items that reflect our beliefs and what's most important to us.

Don't respond immediately. While it's courteous to reply to the request, we don't owe anyone an immediate answer. Ever. And if they expect one, that's their problem. Take time to think on it, pray about it, and consider all the angles.

Think about the consequences. Consider how you'll feel once you commit to this new thing. Do you imagine feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, stressed out, and otherwise agitated? Or is this a good fit, something you feel led to do? Is it a long or short term commitment? How will it affect your life and family? It's always better to feel peace versus angst about a decision.

Find your good balance. Sure, there will be busier times, extra favors or necessary tasks for others, interruptions, and emergencies that arise that complicate and clog your days. But what's your bottom line? What has God placed you on this earth to do? Use that as a guide and aim overall for the structure that is the best fit for your faith, family, health, and other priorities.

Set boundaries. If you don't define your parameters and priorities, someone else may do it for you. Defend your space. Allow yourself grace. And guard your time. It's a precious commodity and once it's gone, that's it. You don't get it back.

No regrets. Will saying yes cause you to have regrets over doing it, or not having done something else? Consider how you want to spend the remainder of your life. With whom do you want to spend it? Go and live life. A real one. 

Remember this. When you do say no, it gives you the ability to say yes at just the right time. Who knows what great things are just around the corner! :) 


What would you add to this list? Do you find it difficult to say no? How do you manage your priorities and time?

Taking a week off to catch up on some things. Will return on March 26. Enjoy your week! 

Happy writing, 
Karen




Image credit: Pexels

Monday, March 5, 2018

Celebrating Magnificent March






Well, here it is, March already. How is that possible? I've barely adjusted to 2018. Guess that just goes to show that time marches on whether we're ready or not. (No pun intended, but hey, if it works...:) So rather than playing catch up for the year, I thought it best to focus on what's happening this month.


Did You Know?

March 5 is National Cheese Doodle Day. Who knew? But any excuse to indulge, if you happen to like cheese doodles, can be a good thing.

March 7 is National Cereal Day. Do you like cereal? What's your favorite kind? I'll take Multigrain Cheerios, no milk, straight out of the box, any time of day.

March 8 is National Proofreading Day. More than likely many of us will be doing some kind of editing or proofreading that day.

March 12 is National Napping Day. Since it's the day after Daylight Savings, we all might need one.

March 14 is National Write Your Story Day. Who wants to get their story down?

March 20 is National Ravioli Day. Nuff said. I'm in, are you with me?

March 28 is National Black Forest Cake Day. Yes, there's a food theme here. I'm hungry at the moment. :)



Women's History Month

What memorable women in history come to mind? There are so many who made magnificent contributions large and small, not only in their day but for future generations.

Off the top of my head, individuals like Clara Barton, known as the "Angel of the Battlefield", who I did a report on as a 6th grader, stand out. Then there's my long admired favorite Harriet Tubman, champion of freedom, mentioned in last week's post. Harper Lee impressed this high school sophomore some years ago too, after reading To Kill a Mockingbird for English.

The most influential women in my life would have to be my mom and grandmothers. These lovely and inspiring women left a wonderful legacy; they loved my three sisters and me deeply and taught us much.

How about you? What great women shaped your life in a positive way?



A Blogoversary

March marks nine years of blogging here at Write Now. My goal, when starting, was to gain blogging experience. I've gained that and a whole lot more. The best part about it has been making friends with all of you. Wouldn't trade that for anything; you're treasures, all. Thanks for making this such a wonderful adventure!


What are you writing this week? What women were/are most influential in your life? How long have you been blogging? What magnificent things are you doing in March?


Happy writing,
Karen





Photo credit: Pexels


Monday, February 26, 2018

February Fun






The fact that January is National Soup Month was completely lost on me until I saw Pen and Prosper's post celebrating it near the end of the month. I am a fan of soup and have a handful of homemade favorites that my family likes. In discussing this with P & P's Jennifer Brown Banks, she suggested I share a recipe on my blog.  So I thought, why not? Better late than never, right? So if you're hungry for soup, I invite you to try it. :)


Santa Fe Soup 

A friend shared this recipe with me and it's become a family favorite. When the whole gang visits, I double or triple it.

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 2 packages ranch dip/dressing mix
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (or other brand tomatoes with chilies)
  • 3 cans beans - your choice, a combination of kidney, black, northern, or pinto
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 small package frozen corn (1 can works too)
  • shredded cheddar cheese 
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips

Brown ground beef or turkey, drain. In large soup pot, combine cooked beef/turkey, water, taco and ranch seasonings, and both cans of tomatoes. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Drain beans and add to pot, then add corn. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. When serving, top with sour cream and cheese. Some like to eat it like soup, some like a dip with tortilla chips - either way, it's delicious!


Black  History Month 

I did remember that February is Black History Month, so I'm not totally out of the calendar loop here. :D  The Underground Railroad and those who made it happen have always been an interest of mine. So imagine my delight when I learned that Harriet Tubman frequently visited southern New Jersey, just minutes from where I grew up.

Harriet often worked in Cape May, NJ, a shore resort town, to earn funds to help rescue friends and family. It's exciting and sobering to learn that I've walked the same streets as Harriet did. When history becomes more alive like this, learning interesting tidbits and such, I appreciate it more. If you like, you can read the full article here in Cape May Magazine. Many thanks to my cousin Edie for sharing the link!


Winter Reading

What does your winter reading list include? I'm always reading several books, and this month the stack includes Laura Frantz's The Lacemaker, You've Already Got it! by Andrew Wommack, and Rosanna White's The Lost Heiress. I'm also rereading Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf - you might recall January's post, Training Your Brain where I mentioned it.

I recently finished These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart. Ann stopped by for this post in November to share about her latest release, but I hadn't had a chance to read it then. I've enjoyed all of Ann's books, and this one was no exception. Here are a few of my thoughts about it:

This story had me staying up way too late to finish chapters! But I'd say that means Ann Gabhart wrote another good, engaging story.  I enjoyed reading about and learning the history of the Frontier Nursing Service. I also enjoyed getting to know the characters, Francine, a "city girl" and Ben, the "country boy". The secondary characters were fun too, and added much, from Woody and Sadie to Granny Em and Betty. In addition to being rich in history, this book reflects some of the struggles we all face at times - decisions, direction, and following our heart. I give it two thumbs up! I'd enjoy seeing another book that continues Francine's and Ben's story.


Are you a fan of soup? Do you have a favorite you enjoy during the winter months? Have you come across any great tidbits in relation to Black History Month? What's on your reading list for February?  

Happy writing,

Karen

  


Photo credit: Pixabay

Monday, February 12, 2018

3 Reasons Why Breaks Reduce Stress





Most people would agree, a break in the routine can be a good thing. We spend hours devoting our lives to work and creative pursuits, family and community, and other required and voluntary commitments. While these are all noble, good, and necessary, we need a change of pace on occasion.

Take writing and blogging, for instance. They both require big chunks of time and energy. Inspiration and creativity are necessary too, to yield good results. When you add these activities to an already busy schedule, sometimes it's all you can do to keep up.

I think that a pause in the routine, whether a quiet afternoon alone, a long weekend or vacation, a blog break, a night out with your spouse or friends, a walk in the woods, a leisurely drive, a day trip, or whatever else you enjoy, is a good thing. Here are three reasons why: 

1) Mental and physical space are essential to function well. 

With today's technology, we're potentially connected all day, every day. There are benefits to this, but hazards as well. Do we want this connectivity and screen time to consume our waking moments? Influence relationships (or lack of them) with important people in our lives?

Real life happens to some degree on our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. If we're honest though, genuine living happens mostly apart from these devices. So we need to set boundaries and allow healthy space between us and them. We need uninterrupted time to think, to communicate in person, breathe fresh air, and see sunsets and other amazing wonders in God's creation. These are good and necessary activities that refresh, stimulate, and stretch our minds and bodies.

I read an article recently (sorry, can't recall where) that said that due to too much screen time, some adolescents have difficulty functioning in real life. They don't know how to communicate effectively or how to form and maintain relationships. They are experiencing high levels of depression and dysfunction. While there are other causes for these issues too, it's sad to see how the potential overuse of technology negatively impacts these young people.

We can't run on the hamster wheel 24/7 without feeling the effects. Setting parameters for mental and physical space will benefit our relationships, productivity, and quality of life. 

2) We need to get away to maintain health and peace.

Years ago, I heard a pastor say it's important to "Come apart, before you come apart." Being self employed for over 30 years, my husband and I've learned that this is true, and essential for our health and sanity. Getting away from the routine does wonders for one's perspective, allowing time, space, and rest to breathe and regroup. 

3) Rediscovering our creativity is a wonderful thing.

Life's constant demands can leave our creativity high and dry. I liken it to being on a treadmill. While it has its benefits, it has its limits too, and it only takes you so far. When we step off the treadmill, our world opens up, offering creative refreshment and opportunities.

While all this is nice in theory, it's harder to practice. What can we do to facilitate more breaks in our routine?


1) Just do it. 

Treat breaks like any other item on your list of commitments. From a vacation to a day off, add it to the schedule and go for it.  Be open to a spur of the moment hiatus too, once in a while, for a breather and change of scenery. Call a friend, meet for coffee, take a brisk walk, or whatever floats your boat.


2) Be purposeful.

This is your time off! Be determined and stick to it. Set boundaries, limit time on social media, do whatever is necessary to ensure that you actually get that break. Make a list if that helps, stay focused, and don't stress. Your break is intended to produce healthy benefits.


3) Get off the treadmill.

We often don't realize what we're missing until we get off. The world around us has much to offer and is worthy of exploration.


4) Remember that it'll all be there when we return.

Life as we know it will continue to move forward in our absence. And that's okay. We can jump back in when the time is right.

Speaking of breaks, I'm taking a short one next week for President's Day; will return on February 26. See you then!

How do you get a break and recharge your creativity? What kinds of breaks will you take this month? I'll be taking some walks outside to enjoy February's scenery. Anyone care to join me? :)

Happy writing,

Karen


Photo credit: Pexels