Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
And with a really snazzy drum roll. Hey, you can't hear it...so I can call it snazzy, even though in actuality it may sound more like a seizure of finger tapping on my table...you'll never know...any-who, here is Steph!
Thanks for popping in. What is "A Polish Heart" about?
A Polish Heart' is a short story in the Victory Tales Press Spring/Easter Anthology. It is a "sweet" family/inspirational. Darrin Riverton is an architect that is hired by a Polish construction company to help work on the National Stadium. (Warsaw's Soccer Stadium") There he meets Sophia Buraczynski, his interpreter. As they work together, Darrin realizes he's attracted to Sophia. Will her faith give him his heart back?
Why did you choose Poland for the setting of the story?
I enjoy writing international contemporaries, so I knew I wanted an international setting. Since I'm part Polish, I knew from my own experience that Easter is an important holiday, that draws the family together so I tapped into my heritage and my knowledge of Polish customs to set the story in Warsaw.
Did you do a lot of research?
I did online research. I wanted the story set in Warsaw and did a Wikipedia search. From there I discovered the National Stadium and that's how I decided Darrin had to be an architect. I also researched the Easter basket, Polish customs, and a little about the language.
Have you been to Poland?
Once in 1997. I went to a Polish border town and visited a pottery factory there. It was like stepping back in time to the 1950's. The buildings were older, coal was used more frequently, and I saw a man delivering coal using a horse and buggy. Gas was delivered in above ground pipes.
Do you have an ebook reader?
I have a Kindle. I love the text to speech feature because then I can listen to books going to work.
Tell us a little about your day job.
I work as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. It's a very stressful job. I hear a lot of stuff on the phones from a shooting in progress to a loud party. It's very rewarding work knowing I've been able to help people, but it also has an "unsung" quality to it because dispatchers usually don't get recognized for a job well done.
What's the last movie you saw?
The King's Speech! I absolutely loved it. It's a very inspirational story. George VI was a very courageous man.
Can you share an excerpt with us?
Steph. Sure. After this quick goodie time...Leave a comment and I'll pick one lucky poster to win an autographed print copy of the anthology. I'll be back tomorrow to announce the winner.
Sofia smiled and spoke to Dracek. Their conversation seemed to last forever and Darrin was impatient to talk to her. Finally, she gestured toward the door and they walked out.
"A Polish Heart" is a sweet inspirational/family romance in the Victory Tales Press Spring/Easter Anthology.
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC6_397PerU
Print Book: Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/3579108
Ebook: Lulu: (PDF) http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/a-springeaster-collection-sweet/15166166
Smashwords: (multiple formats) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48682
Find me on the Web at:
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This week I thought I'd share a little from my currently halted SF-Mystery manuscript, Lilly's Journey. I started this one around the same time as Ending Eternity, to help break up the monotonous state of the series. It's also where I found out a trilogy will be about as long as I'll hang with the same characters. Though, I think I could do a series that swirls around a world, but just not a fixed set of characters.
So, here we go:
I'll be finishing this up after I complete my current WIP and am looking forward to delving back into it.
It should be raining, Lilly felt as she glanced up at the sky. The world should be raining to match her mood. Of course, as with everything else, the world defied her. Sun shone down from clear blue-green skies and basked them all with warmth that couldn’t reach past her skin to heat her aching heart.
Able Abe rested his big iron-like hand on her shoulder in a gentle manner. “It’s time, Lilly Girl," he mumbled.
Hope you enjoyed it!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Don't get me wrong, when the subject of aliens come up my little conspiratorial mind always freaks out because I think they'll be coming in with their ray guns blazing in one hand and a "Human Pickling Jar" in the other. I have to scold myself and then vent about the box we have put ourselves in.
Because by assuming they will be either the Master or the Mentor, we are assuming they are in some way superior. Why do we so often and readily put ourselves in the inferior, victim role? Is there a lack of confidence in ourselves, our society, and our human race which is so overwhelming? Is the reaction of distrust so deeply seeded in our neuro make up?
...Well, what if these aliens are just average Joes and Janes? They could be another race just trying to understand and grow, both individually and as a civilization. Who knows, we could end up being the ones who are more advanced, break out of the Earth's hold, and venture out to explore...
Ah, there is a thought. Is our natural inclination of aliens coming in as Master or Mentor really an imposing of our very nature? Is it because if we were the firsts out of the gate we would take the superior role with anything or race we found out there?
It has some validity through history. Wars, distrust, and the need to "win" (whatever that constitutes) is prevalent in us. Of course, that doesn't mean we as a people are confident. I often find that those with the drive to always win, react in war, and be suspicious are those with the most self doubt. They assume the others are thinking they're inferior and have to prove themselves as superior.
I don't know the answer, and in actuality have only scratched the surface of the discussion here. What are your thoughts on this?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I'll pull something from my current WIP, Book 3 of the Telomere Trilogy, Ending Eternity. This'll be out next year. The first in the series will be out this October though, which is exiting. 'Kay, here we go...
"I'm not paying you all to be frightened, Rafferty."
He leaned forward, waiting for Reith to break eye contact. "It ain't fright that keeps people away from the demon planet…it's common sense." He sneered. "Ain't no one going to go near Asatru. I was lucky enough to get a couple vessels once they heard Bonney's made 'em allies."
Friday, March 18, 2011
The King of Mars declares war on Venus to set fear [MOTIVE-"GOAL"] into the hearts of the Venusians because the residents of Venus tease them too much [REASON-"BELIEF"] .See? The reason gives justification to the action which gives purpose to the motive. People can have all kinds of reasons for believe things and never develop a motive to do something about it. But, most of the time, people working for something have a reason why they're motivated towards it.
"So, where am I going with this?" you're probably asking.
Well, I took this "ah-ha" moment and reviewed my antagonists to see if I clearly developed accurate reasons and motives for their involvement in the story. I found a couple antagonists with motives that don't tie to any clearly defined reason.
ACK! How do I fix this in a way that will both strengthen my story, yet also strengthen my storytelling ability for future works? Well, I had to ask myself a couple questions, which boiled down to this…What are the key roots of reason and motive for an antagonist? Or in another way, what things does reason and motive stem off from?
I came up with two main things. Temptation and Delusion.
I created this little visual for myself. Now, remember, it's not perfect and I am no expert. Don't assume I'm correct in this in any way…'cause you all know what assuming can lead to. (No? Just add a couple dashes and a few connecting words…it can make an ASS-of-U-and-ME).
Yes, the smiley face is Evil Joe Smoe the pre-evil mastermind, because face it, no one is born evil. He is an average human and somewhere along the line he experiences something(s) that trigger(s) his brain to turn against someone/a group. It's delusion in the sense that it becomes him against "him/her/them". For either minutes or years he goes along believing this and evolving it further into his favor.
Then the temptation arrives, either through an internal making of his own or an external opportunity to "prove himself right and the world wrong". The motive now becomes clear from tying his reason to his temptation…and of course the reward is the "enemy" (from a single person to the whole galaxy) either needs to suffer, be under his control, or be destroyed all together.
And, if you don't believe me that a regular guy can become a monster of his own making…just look at Charlie Sheen. Whether he was troubled from childhood or just developed from adult experiences, he went from "Well Meaning Bad Boy" to a "Him against The Man" mentality.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
...Let me explain before any odd ball notions get planted here. Too late you say? Oh, well...(heehee)
I sat down at lunch break and checked my personal mail.
What did I find?
The first round edits from my editor. I read through the email that contained overall pros and cons of the story and my writing. Then I peeked into the document and found all the red marks of the change tracker throughout the file.
What did I do?
I stood and did a little gleeful booty dance. That's what I did.
Now, why would I dance at the mark ups of my work? My precious piece of art that took a little sliver of my soul? There's a couple reasons. The first is my day job. It's a business setting where I work with management to come up with ideas that will keep the organization solvent. Then I build proposal and try to "sell" my executive team on them.
By its very nature this comes with a lot of technical review, political mumbo jumbo, and praise or criticism. They'll either love it or hate it. Rarely does the project fall into the middle "okay" ground. I've had to learn to accept this, and respond in a professional and non personal level. Sometimes that's standing my ground, sometimes it's compromising, and sometimes it's knowing when to let it go.
Writing is more personal. Yes, yes. I know you're thinking that. And you're right. Several years ago, I probably would've cried if this came back to me from an editor or critique partner. Okay...I did cry the first time this happened to me. It is personal. I poured out my creativity and tapped into emotions to make this story how I envisioned it.
But at the end of the day, I want this book in the hands of a reader, preferably lots of readers. To do that, like in my day job, means a couple specific things:
- Checking my ego at the door
- Putting my work into the hands and review of others
- Accepting those professionals have my work in their best interest
- Understanding the revisions of my work will result in a better portrayal of my vision
So far, these key points have not failed me. The end result of editing rounds has always been a better story.
Let's face it, I've read through Duty and Devotion hundreds of times. My eye is not catching another mistake or weird sentence. It's just not. The fresh eyes of my editor spotted things that, if published as is, would've been embarrassing or confusing (which leads back to embarrassing).
So, yes, I did shake a little excited booty and am ready to find out all the errors of my ways with Duty and Devotion. It's going to be exciting and challenging...and ultimately rewarding.
How do you all take criticism of your work? Are there specific points you follow to keep the experience positive?
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Okay, here we go.
None of it sent her emotions into giddy delight and wonder as it had always done before. Tears streaked her face, and fear chilled her spine. Grief and guilt weighed on her heart.
Journey was dead.
Danny was missing.
Monday, March 7, 2011
As I think most of you know, in my “day life” (which bleeds into evenings and weekends sometimes….okay, often) I’m a project manager. So, for the most part, I have organization, time schedules, productivity ratios, and all sorts of tips and tricks in my toolbox of life that keep me well balanced. (And, my brain is just kind of wired this way - It’s a sickness really.)
But lately, I’ve been feeling the squeeze.
I won’t go too much into here - in the public eye of the World Wide Web - but a lot is happening on the personal front which has impacted my ability to manage the workload. In turn, a lot of the peripheral activities and tasks are getting dropped. It sucks really, but it is the way it is for now. For the most part, everyone is very understanding and I have a super duper supportive circle which makes the slips easier to clean up and repair.
And that’s the core of it really, don’t you think?
As writers, sometimes we can become so zoned into the fiction inside our heads, we forget the real life stuff happening around us. And a lot of times writers don’t take the time to build on the core of their circle that is family, friends, and community. So, when the hard times hit, a lot of writers can end up in a very difficult spot…all alone.
My question for today is…Are you spending enough time in the real world? Are you making time for you or is it all going to the characters of your imagination?
If not, will the characters be there to help you when you need a helping hand?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Okay, here they are:
Well, to be fair, stuff had happened -- just not the kind of stuff she thought was important. Hank and Todd's community garden feud, a long standing part of the colony's history, had yet again boiled over. This time over how many rows each vegetable should receive. The disagreement resulted in a sword fight of sorts, hoe versus shovel, with two concussions, a cut ear, and severely bashed up knees.
Oh, her old patrol unit was surely laughing at her now, Marie thought miserably. Of course, it was her own fault.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I checked my e-mails and found another one.
Of course it’s not my first, yet this one really hurt. It was a rejection for one of the books I’d previously contracted for with an electronic publisher. That particular publisher closed up shop for new releases and I regained the rights to the book. I guess I let myself believe the story was so wonderful no one could possibly pass it up. I was wrong. I actually cried after reading the e-mail. I literally cried. In fact as soon as I saw the editor’s name, I sensed I didn’t want to read it. I just knew it wasn’t going to be good news.
I got tired of it all. I’d been writing for over twenty years and I still had nothing to show for it. I felt like just giving up. Never before had I allowed another person’s words so much control over my emotions. Why bother writing anymore at all? Why put myself through the millions of downs for one tiny up? Why not just say ‘I tried’ and let it all go? Why waste the next twenty years of my life trying to fulfill a dream I should've let go of a long time ago?
Then I'd realized something important–I love writing. I could no more stop writing than stop breathing. It’s in my blood, in my heart and soul. I need to write.
And I’d realized something else–I’m not a bad writer because yet another person didn’t like my story. I’m not a bad writer because I’ve gotten yet another rejection. I’m not a bad writer. Even I realize now this particular book is not one of my best. I lost the last half of the book when my hard drive died on me so I had to rewrite it. While rewriting it, I decided to change a bunch of things around to make it shorter. My writing is so much better now because of all the extra work I did on this book.
And that rejection wasn’t all bad either. The editor had left me with some nice comments and articles on how I can fix the problems she found in the manuscript. The majority of which, thanks to a bunch of wonderful ladies who'd critique my work, I was already aware of.
No, I didn’t plan on giving up.
And I didn't.
That happened five years ago, and now I write for three different publishers. I have three books out and a fourth coming out in April. This book happens to be book one in a series of five.
So no matter what happens, never give up on your dreams. It may take a while to achieve them, but you never will if you give up trying.
About the Author:
Theresa Stillwagon has been writing most of her life. Since one of her teachers praised a poem she wrote for a class assignment, she's been putting words together in the hopes of seeing them in print. Not caring if anyone other than herself ever read them. Her dreams came to reality in 2008 when she signed her first writing contract. She's now just signed her fourth one and isn't looking back.
A former resident of the state of Ohio, Theresa now lives in her RV in the sunny city of Savannah, Georgia with her husband of twenty-seven years, Mike, and her two cats, Fred and Barney. She's currently seeking for a job while still hard at work on her next romance
Find out more about her journey at
What about your journey? Have you ever wanted to give up?