Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do You Really Want to Throw that Article Away?

I don’t like to throw things away, unless I find absolutely no use for them and they’re cluttering up my space in some manner. My environment must be neat, with no extra trash or litter lying around my desk or my workspace (or my kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or garage.) So, last week, I tackled the dreaded “Folders filled with important articles about writing I might use one day.”

The astounding number of printed/copied articles stared me in the face. I lugged numerous folders—those plastic kind with pockets—to my kitchen island so I could go through each one. My first thought was: “I’ll just empty these, remove paper clips and staples, stack it all up, and carry it to the garage to the recycle container for paper.”

Instead, one caught my eye. “Mmm,” I thought, “I don’t remember this one.” And I sat at the island and read it. Another looked interesting, so I read that. After an hour, I had a new stack of articles to save—once again.

I’d love to tell you about every one of these great re-saved articles. Instead, I chose the top five. Drum roll, please.

#5- The Element’s of Style, by Stanley Bing, FORTUNE, August 20, 2007. Stanley writes: “So anyways, I’m having this discussion with a bunch of folks about how’s it matter whether a person knows the difference between you and me vs. you or I in a sentence and the whole subject of correct use of the English language comes up, and boy, do people get hot.” (Do you see why I love this article? Celia)

#4-How to Lure Readers to Chapter 2, by Les Edgerton, Writer’s Digest. Les writes: “It’s a well-known fact that a tremendous number of manuscripts never get read by agents and editors. Wait. Amend that to: A tremendous number of possible good and even brilliant novels and short stories and other literary forms never get read beyond the first few paragraphs or pages by agents or editors. Why?” (Les Edgerton’s book Hooked is one of my favorites. Celia)

#3-Blinded by the Light, by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, Writer’s Digest. Leigh Anne writes: “Don’t let your creativity get in the way of your productivity. Here are nine tips for overcoming Too Many Ideas Syndrome.” (An excellent article written with humor. Celia.)

#2-Getting Your Act Together, by Ridley Pearson, Writer’s Digest. Ridley writes: “Do as the Greeks did: Use this time-honored method to give form to your fiction.” (This idea is so simple, it’s brilliant. I’ve re-read it more than once. Celia)

And…#1-Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle, from the New York Times, Writers on Writing Series, October 1, 2008 when he turned 83. Elmore writes: “Being a good author is a disappearing act.” (I’ve worn out this one printed page with the ten rules of writing. I received it from an author who judged one of my RWA contest entries. She gave me a high score and highlighted four of the ten for me to study in detail. I have been forever grateful. Celia)

Celia Visit THE BOOK SPA Read: ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Texas Historical Romance-Available in eBook from The Wild Rose PressAlso available in print-- and Amazon

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cheryl Pierson is here!

One word comes to mind when I’m searching for a way to describe Cheryl Pierson—Exciting! Months ago, I began to see her name on the Cactus Rose blog for The Wild Rose Press when her book appeared as a Coming Soon novel. Every time I read the blog or posted, I’d see the startlingly beautiful cover for Fire Eyes, and wonder—who is Cheryl Pierson?

Now that I know her, I believe we are kindred spirits in many ways. She’s a native Oklahoman and I’m a native Texan, and while our favorite football teams meet at the Red River for an annual showdown, we pretend the border isn’t there. After all, how different can we be?

But she is different. She has a full portfolio that showcases her talent and life as a writer and teacher. In addition to a full-length novel, Cheryl is the author of several short stories published by Adams Media for their Rocking Chair Reader Series; many articles for the premiere newspaper of the state, The Oklahoman; and numerous short stories for the Chicken Soup anthologies. She is also co-owner of her own editing/research company, West Wind Media.

As you can see, she is a woman with many talents. Her novel, Fire Eyes, is a western historical romance filled with heinous outlaws, innocent young hostages, a courageous U.S. Marshal, and a beautiful, brave young woman with unique skills as a healer. What more could you want? I read this book, not only to follow the plot, but also to learn “what makes Cheryl tick.” Cheryl does everything whole-heartedly, all-out, to the max, and full-tilt. Fire Eyes gives the reader the full effect of her writing efforts.

I love this story! The main thing I appreciate is the intense emotion the author pulls from the reader. Jessica has the heart of a warrior every bit as much as Kaed does. Neither character gives up. As a fan and author of Western Historical Romance, I highly recommend Fire Eyes. Try it—you will be happy you did!

Now, let’s meet our guest.

Cheryl, what was the name of your first novel—whether published or not—and what happened to it?

“Oh, that one was the love of my heart, and the one that got it all started for me! I called it “Brandon’s Gold” but my husband said I should have named it “Matamoros” since that was the location of the “showdown.” I’m still kicking it around, wanting to re-edit it, and shorten it some. It was my first one and quite an undertaking—and it ended up being around 1000 pages long! A western historical takes place over roughly a one-year time span. Here’s the blurb for it:
Gunslinger Johnny Brandon is tall, dark, and lethal. Now, a dangerous secret has caught up with him, and it’s up to Johnny and his tenderfoot brother, Nick, to settle old scores, save the fiery Katie McLain, and learn to forgive in the unforgiving badlands.
It’s going to be a rough sell because of the length, unless I do it strictly e-pub first. I’m still looking at all the options. I’m working through revisions on some of my later stuff and getting it ready to submit. “Brandon’s Gold” is still the one that’s nearest and dearest to my heart. My baby!”

Good luck with Brandon’s Gold, and I prefer that title, if my opinion is worth anything.
I know you co-own a media/research/teaching company. When faced with a class of new students, what is the first thing you tell them?

“Usually, we try to let them know that writing a book is not for the faint of heart. Most people who have never tried it believe that they will “knock it out in six months” and be on the NYT bestseller list shortly after that, with Hollywood producers knocking on their door to option the movie rights. That scenario is very, very rare—but you can’t believe the people who come into class with those kinds of ideas about writing. We let them know that it is going to be lots and lots of hard work, very time-consuming, and that out of every 100 people who start writing a novel, only 3 will ever finish writing one. So even if your novel isn’t published, to FINISH one at all is beating some astronomical odds, and should be considered a success story. We want to be encouraging, but we also want our students to realize that they are going to really have to want it to make it happen.”

I knew you would have an interesting answer—especially the statistics. Back to Fire Eyes. Marshal Kaed Turner could be the prototype for a hero in a romance novel. Of all his sterling characteristics, which might set him apart from other mythical heroes?

“I think what sets Kaed apart in some respects is his ability to deal with what life has dealt him and yet keep the ‘human’ side of him. When he first meets Jessica, he is not looking for love at all; in fact, he’s pretty well written off that part of his life after the tragedy that befell him years before. But Jessica brings out the teasing side of him, the love, and the need that he thought was long gone. As tough and strong as he is, he is still human, with wants and desires, and to discover that side of himself again comes as a surprise, and leads him to a lot of introspection considering what he wants out of life from that point on.”

Jessica Monroe is a natural healer of the body as well as the heart. Did you have a model for her character—a woman in history or one of your ancestors? Or did you just create her in your mind?

“I’m smiling at this one, because I always say that in a Cheryl Pierson story, you know one thing is going to happen: the hero is going to be wounded somehow! It’s like on Star Trek when the landing party went to the planet’s surface—you just knew the guys with the red shirts wouldn’t be beaming back up to the Enterprise. All joking aside, I think a lot of Jessica’s character is just created from my mind. I always wanted to be a nurse when I was younger, but my parents discouraged that, so I didn’t go through with it. But I’ve always been fascinated with medicine and the healing arts. I think, in my family, through the generations all the women have had to be healers. My grandmother had eleven children, and raised them all to adulthood. My great-grandmother had a large family as well. Many of the skills they used were passed down through the generations.”

We know your h/h have the requisite characteristics for a romance novel. Does either or both have a flaw? A weakness?

“Yes, I think that the hero and heroine must always have some kind of flaw or weakness, or they don’t seem human. Kaed’s flaw was his putting the job before everything—he was a “workaholic.” He buried himself in work and the law to try to forget what happened with his wife and kids. I think, also, after he gained his vengeance, he felt that he would carry a badge and do the right thing for others, too. This was never stated in the book, but in one of the conversations between Jessica and Kaed, she lets him know that she doesn’t fault him for what he did—she understands. If he had continued on in that vein, though, it would have been seen as lawless—the reader understands that, and so, too, do the characters.
Jessica’s flaw is a little tougher. In a way, she has shoved her head in the sand by staying there on the homestead that she and Billy had started together. I would say stubbornness was her flaw. It’s obvious that what she’s doing is dangerous, because Fallon is still out there, and she is a single woman with a baby trying to survive alone there. Even the Indian chief, Standing Bear, is worried about her! LOL”

Cheryl, I thank you for agreeing to being my first “live” guest author on my somewhat new blog. Please hang around in case a reader leaves a comment. Celia
(See the Blurb for Fire Eyes below.)
Beaten and wounded by a band of sadistic renegades that rules the borderlands of Indian Territory, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner understands what the inevitable outcome will be for him: death. But Fate and a war party of Choctaw Indians intervene, delivering him instead to a beautiful angel with the skill to heal him. Jessica Monroe has already lost a husband and a brother to the outlaws who tortured Marshal Turner. As the rugged lawman lies bleeding on her bed, she faces a difficult decision. Can she afford to gamble with her heart one last time? For when Kaed recovers, he is sworn to join the other Territorial Peace Officers in their battle to wipe out the renegade gang once and for all. When vengeance is done, will Kaed keep riding? Or will he return to claim his future with the beautiful woman the Choctaw call "Fire Eyes?"
CONTACT Cheryl Pierson here:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mountains, the Ocean, and Body Piercings-Firsts for a Texas Girl

Decades ago—(just make a rough estimate)—when I was eight years old, my parents decided to drive from the West Texas Plains to Long Beach, California to visit Mother’s sister and her family. Imagine the days of no commercial television and no air conditioners in cars. We owned an old Ford, and knowing that we would drive many miles across desert, Daddy bought a canvas water bag to hang over the radiator cap. “This might save our lives,” he said, “or we might need it if the radiator boils over.”

So, off we go across New Mexico, Arizona, and California to the coast. I am the middle of three sisters, so I usually had to sit between them in the back seat, with the “hump” in the floor under my feet. The life of a tourist in those days does not compare to the joys of a modern road trip. While it wasn’t as bad as circumstances were for the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, the hours and days couldn’t have been pleasant, yet I only remember having a good time. I suppose this is God’s way of taking care of innocent children.

When the first mountains came into view in the far distance, the blurry sight entranced me so much, Mother made one sister trade places with me. She probably did this because I was near-sighted but did not own a pair of glasses at that time. Since the temperature soared to around 110 degrees, we drove with all the windows down. To have the best view the mountains, I stuck my head partially out the window. Even though the wind almost blew my head off, if I squinted I could make out the shape of the peaks and the snow on tops of a few. I’ve never forgotten the thrill of seeing my first mountains.

After three days of grueling travel, we arrived at our aunt’s house in Long Beach. Her name was Irene, but we called her Aunt Sister, because Mother called her Sister. Now I can’t remember if Aunt Sister called Mother by the same name, or if she just used Mother’s real name. The beach wasn’t visible from her house, but late in the day, we walked down to the edge of the water. The roar of the ocean, the gentle splashing of the waves, and the blue-gray water almost scared me to death. I’d never seen anything so immense, so vast. I found my first shell and created a crude sand castle.

The day before our visit ended, Aunt Sister took me by the hand and led me to a back bedroom. She closed the door and told me to sit on the dresser stool. “Sweetie,” she said, “I have some beautiful gold earrings I bought the day you were born, and I’ve saved them just for you. Would you like to see them?”

“Uh-huh,” I said, loving earrings, because Mother always wore a pair in her pierced ears. I thought they were very pretty.

The earrings lay in a small white leather case lined with felt. She opened it and let me see. “They’re so beautiful,” I told her, and asked, “Can I touch one?”

Aunt Sister explained that the small 18-karat gold hoop earrings were mine, as soon as I allowed her to pierce my ears. I jumped up from the stool and said, “Do it now.” She questioned me a little until she was sure. Then, as I sat on the dresser stool and watched in the mirror, she pierced my ears. (Those with a weak stomach may hit the mute button.) First, she put clothespins on my earlobes to deaden them. Then she dipped a needle with white thread in alcohol, removed one clothespin, held a cork to the back of my earlobe, and shoved the needle through the lobe. She repeated the process on the other side, tied the threads in a loop, and dabbed each one with Campho-Phenique. She opened my hand, placed the case in my palm, and kissed and hugged me. All this time, no one knew Aunt Sister had pierced my ears—not even Mother.

On the drive back to Texas, I carried my special gifts in my hands—the small case that held the earrings in one, and a bottle of medication to dab on my ears every few hours in the other. And in my heart? Precious memories of love, generosity, nature’s wondrous creations, and a road trip I’ve never forgotten.
Celia Yeary

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Texas Historical
Available in eBook: The Wild Rose Press
Available in print:, B&N

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Her name was Katherine.

I am fortunate enough to have a group of long-time friends—girlfriends, if you want to call them that. But we’re not girls anymore. Our relationship goes all the way back to the early seventies, when most of us began teaching at a wonderful boarding school in Central Texas. Since then, we’ve added one friend here, one there, none of us ever knowing how this person became one of the group. Once every six weeks or so, we have a gathering, called such by one of us, and the name stuck.
The conglomeration of women constitutes as many different personalities as the number of members. None of us is alike; yet, all have and hold one firm purpose in common—to love and support each other with undying friendship. An odd thing, though—none of us becomes angry with any other. Oh, yes, we discuss, argue, and laugh with great emotion and passion, but even so, our love always comes through. We share a thousand stories, maybe more, memories from years past that cause us to laugh, and sometimes, cry.
We lost one of our friends years ago, but we all remember her as if she sat right there with us, laughing in her robust way, until tears ran down her cheeks. Her name was Katherine.
This woman acted as counselor and best friend to each of us, but as far as I know, she never asked for nor needed such from any of us—not even from other faculty members. I’ve often wondered about that. She had the blessed ability and God-given talent to make each person believe “I am her best friend.” She was a listener, and when you talked, she gave her complete undivided attention.
Last week, our group held a gathering at a member’s home. We brought our covered dishes, presents for the two who had birthdays that month, recent photos of our grandchildren or latest trip, and stories to tell.
One member brought a box. At the end of the evening, she stood and placed it in the middle of the dining table. She told us it held some of Katherine’s knick-knacks that no family member wanted. Previously, they had selected treasured items and had taken them home. But here was a small cardboard box filled with a few assorted useless items. She invited us to choose something as a remembrance.
An item caught my eye. A small book, 4 by 6 inches, a green hardback covered in a linen-like material, the edges outlined in gold, an ivory cameo outlined in gold centered on the cover. The title: Kathrina. Inside, the presenter had written, to Katherine, with love-1989.
Goosebumps skittered over my arms. You see, I own an identical book, differing only in the title and text. I bought mine several years ago in an antique bookshop somewhere in Kentucky for two dollars. My title: Reveries of a Bachelor. Both books had been published by Scribners, with first copyrights in the mid-1800s. Both have pen and ink etchings opposite the title page.
To a skeptic, this probably means nothing. But there’s more to the story. She owned this book long before I bought mine, but she did not buy it. A mutual friend, a lovely lady who once owned an antique shop herself, gave it to her in 1989. So, the three of us share the odd connection of the twin books and a wonderful, longtime friendship. Now, both books are in my care, holding a prominent place on a shelf, as if they symbolize the unbreakable bond of friendship.
How odd, how mysterious that I walked into an antique book shop, six states away, in a small town off the interstate where we pulled off to explore, and among the many antique stores, I chose the one which had this book for sale, among thousands of others, stuck in a dark corner, on a lower shelf where I barely saw it.
You tell me the meaning of this coincidence. And don’t burst my little bubble of happiness.