Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mini-Interviews: Three Authors, Same Three Questions

Greetings! Allow me to introduce Sarah McNeal, Maeve Greyson, and Shirley Kiger Connolly.


Sarah has retired from Emergency Room nursing and now concentrates on "this thing that brings me such joy—storytelling." With her four-legged companions by her side, she is now able to devote more time to developing new stories, creating interesting characters, and communing with other authors who have a passion for the pen.


Maeve writes paranormal romance filled with magic and love, mysteries of time-travel and legends, all with a Celtic flair. She's certain she was in Scotland and Ireland in a past life. Her writing partner is her sweet little dog Jasper. Her husband provides loving support in their secluded hide-away.


Shirley writes historical fiction romances nonfiction devotional books. She is an active mom and grandma who loves cross-stitching and watching old movies with her husband. As a part-time farmwoman, she cares for her chickens, dogs, and cats.

Let's see how the three authors answered my questions:

1. How have your published novels benefitted you personally?
SARAH: I worked for years honing my craft as a writer, taking classes and getting rejections at rocket speed. When I received my first contract, it validated me. I became an author. I became published. Every new contract since then has given me the validation to press on, work harder and become better with each new published story.
MAEVE: Seeing my novels actually published gave me the affirmation I needed to keep writing. Often times, getting that first story sold is much like scaling the crumbling side of a sheer cliff. When you hold that publishing contract in your hands it’s like finally dragging yourself up to that safe ledge and plopping down to take a breath. Whew! I made it. I actually made it. I’m a REAL writer.
SHIRLEY: Just by the blessing God gives me for a job well done, and also that something I have written can hopefully minister or become a blessing to whoever reads it.

2. What do you do when you lose confidence in your ability to write a note-worthy novel?
SARAH: Writing is a job that requires that we work alone and, in our isolation, we tend to compare ourselves to others. The best cure for loss of self-confidence is a new contract. Talking about it to trusted colleagues and receiving validation from authors we respect helps to renew our belief in ourselves and our work. Give each story your whole heart.
MAEVE: I give myself a good hard shake and say, “Where was your writing career a year ago? Look what you’ve overcome so far. Snap out of it and get busy.” No wait. That’s what my husband tells me when I moan that I’ve lost the gift of words. I’m the luckiest writer in the world. My family supports me 200%.
SHIRLEY: I pray. I go for walks, spend time with my animals, or in my greenhouse, or read something by someone else.

3. What is the oddest thing on your desk, something that doesn't belong with your writing materials?
SARAH: A Jack-In-The-Box Pez dispenser and my Marine Band harmonica. They both cheer me up.
MAEVE: A pair of ear plugs. I need complete silence when I purge my dreams from inside my head and pour them into the keyboard. If I’m not home alone, I shove ear plugs in my ears so the rest of the family can go on about their business and I can disappear into my worlds.
SHIRLEY: I don't use a desk. My husband built me a laptop caddy so I can sit in my comfortable chair or wherever I feel like sitting. As I look at the table on my left right now, I see my camera, my checkbook, my coffee cup and some BILLS! LOL

Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride


Beyond a Highland Whisper

Say Goodbye to Yesterday
(coming August 2011 through Desert Breeze Publishing)


Sunday, May 22, 2011


Do you love your book? I wrote ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS very quickly, in about three months. I knew the characters, I knew the plot, and I sat down and just wrote. And wrote, and wrote. When I thought it ready for someone to read, I entered the first chapter in a contest. Although I did not place, I did receive nice compliments…except for a few negative comments. “The opening needs to be deleted. Have Cynthia and Ricardo meet in the first paragraph.” “Under no circumstances have Cynthia musing to herself.” “POV is all over the place. Clean that up, and you might, just might, mind you, have something to work with.”

Suddenly, I wondered if my story was as good as I thought. In reality, I became insignificant as a writer, and I wondered if I was good enough to continue. I was afraid to ask anyone read it, as I had all my other rambling stories. But…I loved my story. I could see it in book form.

I loved my book, whether anyone else did or not.

Did your mother ever say to you, “You’d better change your attitude, young lady!”
Ohhh, mine did, especially during my teen years.
Usually, I obeyed relatively well, and life generally ran smoothly in the Davis household.
Sometimes, when she asked me to do something difficult, I might reply with a dramatic whine, “I caaan’t!” Her answer? “Can’t never did anything.”
A good attitude shows our positive side. As an author or writer, “attitude is everything.”

Do you love your book? Do you believe in it, even if an editor or publisher doesn’t? Does a rejection letter seem personal, as if the words on the page describe you? “Sorry, not good enough.” (Interpretation: Sorry, you’re not good enough.) “We like your book, but we don’t love it.” (Interpretation: We don’t love you.) “Your manuscript might be good, if you re-write the entire 300 pages. Make your hero the villain, kill off your heroine, because she’s not worth the paper she’s written on, and while you’re at it, think up a new plot.” Ugh, you say, this goes in the trash.

However, if you write a story that contains three key elements—urgency, intensity, and drama—soon you will sell your book to an editor.

I grew up as the middle sister. Daddy wanted us three girls to look pretty every day. He’d tell Mother to curl our hair, buy new dresses (she made all of them), and tell us to “act pretty.” Since he told us every day we were pretty, I believed it, and although I was shy, I still thought well of myself. I had confidence even as a child.

Confidence is Job Number One for success in the writing business. It means you are a good writer, and you feel competent. You take pride in each accomplishment. If you keep this attitude about yourself, soon you’re willing to take scary risks to reach beyond who you are now. Confidence is acting that way, even when you are not.

Keep telling yourself, “I’m good, and my book is, too.”

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


You’ve all read stories of how this or that author finally broke into print. Anyone can find these stories in any number of books.

John Grisham took three years to write his first book, but couldn’t sell it. When he found a publisher, the book they bought wasn’t his first one. And the rest is history. Now, he’s a household name and earns about a gazillion dollars a year.

Maybe some of us one day will be another Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, or Nora Roberts. Or perhaps you don’t really want that much notoriety.

Nevertheless, we all have a story—our own dream, our journey to publication, or our on-going quest to have that first one in a saleable form. Maybe our desire is to move on and up, or maybe we’re satisfied to continue on our familiar path.

Today is about YOU. Tell your story!

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do Authors Need a GPS Device?

A few years ago a dear friend of ours, a retired university coach I'll call Coach M., bought a new Buick. He invited a buddy to lunch and volunteered to pick him up. When they arrived at the restaurant—Herbert's Taco Hut, which has been a small popular restaurant in town for decades—Coach M. said to his friend: "Before we get out, I want to show you this amazing little gadget that came on this car. It's called a GPS and believe it or not, it will guide you to your destination, in case you get lost. I haven't used it, but I know how it works. Now. Watch this."

Coach M. reached up and punched a button. A woman's voice came on and asked, "How may I help you?"

Coach M. replies, "I need to know how to get to Herbert's Taco Hut."

Pause…then the woman's voice said, "Sir, you are in their parking lot."

We've all laughed at this story many times. But you see, he had reached his destination. He did not need the GPS device, at least for the moment. However, he might possibly need it when traveling to a new destination.

I thought of this story because, you see, I may have lost my way. Maybe I made a wrong turn back there somewhere, and now find myself wandering around, wasting a lot of time.

Does some company make a GPS device for authors? Some little object we can carry with us, store in our memory, or install as a pop-up on our computer screen? STOP—YOU'RE GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!

For three years, I did nothing but write. Not knowing one thing about publishing, I only had a grand time finishing one novel-length story and beginning another. To date, I have eight releases with two more waiting in the wings. Ten books. Five publishers. I knew where I was going.

The fast pace of the last few years may have knocked my world a little askew. Now, I wonder what to do next; I begin one thing, lay it aside and begin another; I write one genre, then switch to another, wondering which should get all my attention.

So, I need to quiet down a little. Things are just a little too hectic. Maybe then, I can understand what's important and stick to it. I need clear boundaries and make them work.

We have an internal GPS system, but we need to listen to the directions. If we hear only silence, maybe our batteries have run down. If we hear: "You have reached your destination," then reset the device to guide you to the next one. A new one always, always waits.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Mother, My Home

I prefer to remember Mother as she was when I was growing up on the High Plains of Texas. At age 94, she doesn't communicate anymore and cannot do anything for herself. During the forties and fifties, though, she had plenty to say and much to do. She never slacked off any domestic duty—our home was truly her castle.

She was very pretty. Really, she had lovely features—thick black hair, expressive dark eyes, and a somewhat voluptuous body. I did not inherit any of these characteristics. Believe me…none. I was always proud of her when she dressed up to go to church in her suits—often red—and heels, and red lipstick. She could carry off those colors. Me? Pinks and lavenders and turquoise to go with my mousy brown hair.

Hair. Oh, mine was straight as a board, cut in a Buster Brown until I was four. Daddy said one day, why don't you curl Celia Ann's hair? I got my first permanent with one of those horrid machines with wires hanging down from the helmet to attach to each roller in my hair. When Mother discovered Home Permanents, I endured them on a regular basis until I turned thirty. Finally I rebelled and have had straight hair ever since.
Mother sewed like a professional on her little portable Singer Featherweight. She kept all three of us girls dressed to the nines in new clothes, our hair always curled and "fixed," and shoes that Daddy polished every weekend. "Look at those Davis girls," people would say, "shining like a new dime."

Like all good mothers of the fifties, mine taught us how to run a household.
We learned how to wash clothes in an agitating washing machine in the garage, with two big square tubs, one for rinse water, and one to collect the wrung out clothing. The wringer was on a swing arm attached to the washer. Mother left us alone in the garage to "do the wash," admonishing us not to get our hand caught in the wringer lest we got our arm torn off. That was fine by me—not putting my hand in the wringer.
In the summers, Mother took me and my little sister out to farms who offered their produce for sale. The only catch was that the buyer had to pick the food. So, we donned our shorts and sleeveless tops, and picked black-eyed peas, cut okra, picked tomatoes, gathered yellow squash and corn, and occasionally, a watermelon or two. The bad part was back at the house, all that shelling, slicing, chopping, and shucking. Then came the last chore—canning. I never learned how to can, just watched Mother. As a wife and mother, I chose to shop at Piggly Wiggly.

I was pleased that Mother took food to shut-ins, sat with sick and dying people in the hospital, and took the elderly to Bible study or to church. Even though she told me not to volunteer her as a "room mother," I always did anyway. I wanted her to come to my school—and she did, pleased that I wanted her there.
Bless her this day, on Mother's Day.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas