Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Since we are upon the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I feel I must acknowledge and highlight the meaningful part this powerful storm played in my first novel, All Rise.

For the residents of the Gulf Coast area both in Louisiana and Mississippi, the devastation from this record-breaking hurricane had a deep impact on every one of us, regardless of whether we experienced severe property damage or not. Unfortunately, everything I’ve seen on television this past week focuses on New Orleans, particularly the failed rescue attempts, the debacle at the Superdome and the tragedy of the 9th Ward.

While these dreadful situations did exist, there’s a whole lot more to the mournful story of the Gulf Coast devastation than just the New Orleans area. The North Shore (Slidell, Covington, Mandeville and Lacombe) of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana experienced the same life-threatening flood waters as New Orleans. Also, the Mississippi Gulf Coast region (too many towns to name) literally lost entire cities or neighborhoods to the tidal-wave surge waters of Hurricane Katrina. The accounts of these devastated areas should be told with the same heart-felt emotions as the poignant tales of New Orleans residents’ experiences.

In my novel, All Rise, the reader will learn a little about what it was like to live in these less publicized areas during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As the reader follows the daily activities in the lives of the victim and the accused while the high-profile trial unfolds, he or she will be able to glimpse into the behind-the-scenes moments of, not only the main characters, but also many others living in the area. Hopefully, the reader will come away with a more realistic understanding of what it was like for all the Gulf Coast residents of both Louisiana and Mississippi to live through the aftermath of the most powerful hurricane in U.S. history. May I just say, it brought out the best as well as the worst in all the people living in the area.

In conclusion, the reader should recognize and understand the fact that this fictional story was written by someone who actually lived in the area and personally experienced what the novel reveals concerning the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At that time, my husband and myself owned a newly-built home in Lacombe, Louisiana as well as an established cattle ranch in the Picayune area of Mississippi. Additionally, my mother-in-law lived in Slidell, Louisiana where her home contained eight feet of flood waters for several days. I could go on with many more sad tales of our family’s personal experiences but I won’t. Suffice to say, I know of which I write in All Rise. I hope you’ll read it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Write What You Know

One thing the reader of my novels may not know is that I use my painful past experiences and embarrassing personal failures in all my writing. When I first made the decision to become an author, I began to hear the phrase, “write what you know”. Once I seriously reflected upon this instruction it seemed variations of this admonition began to present themselves to my awareness every where I turned. Slowly I learned that if one desires to write effectively, one can only write about things she or he knows. Also, to continue to write one must continue to learn … to experience.

I read somewhere recently that there is a significant difference between the following two statements: write what you know and know what you write. The first statement is actually much wiser than the second. If one knows about something from personal experience, she will be able to write in a way that communicates the real and sometimes raw emotions involved in that particular experience. However, if one attempts to first learn about something in order to be able to then write about it, the story would probably lack authenticity.

My first novel, All Rise, is a fictional account of a crime mystery. While the crime itself is purely a product of my imagination, the emotional experiences of the victim, as well as the perpetrator, are genuinely my own.

Probably we’ve all heard the old saying, “Failure is the best teacher.” I’ve come to fully and passionately embrace this premise. I’ve learned more from my failures than anything else. And, I’ve already experienced so many different types of failure that it’s very likely I’ve learned enough to teach a college course on the subject! All kidding aside, what I’ve learned from my many failures is truly the driving force behind my writing. I passionately desire to share what I’ve learned with my reader.

Currently, I’m approximately half-way through writing my second crime-mystery novel. As I go about weaving together the overall concept with the details of the storyline, I’ve come to discover that my second novel more clearly reveals the emotional pain involved with my past experiences than my first novel. When I read over what I’ve written I feel utterly exposed.

Sometimes I have to fight the overwhelming urge to hit the delete button on my keyboard and remove whole pages of my story. What stops me from doing just that is the conviction that the authenticity of what I’ve written may help someone who happens to read my book. My sincere hope is that my novels will not only entertain the reading public, but perhaps a particular reader will also come away with a better understanding of how to overcome a painful emotional experience in his or her own life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My First Royalty Check!

Today I’ll deposit my very first royalty check for my premiere novel, All Rise. Tate Publishing distributes royalty checks once each quarter. Since my book was released only three months ago, this would have been my first opportunity to receive any royalties.

I fully expected that I would NOT receive any monies for the first quarter. However, I was wonderfully surprised. Granted, it was quite small … but it’s a check! And, since I didn’t expect to receive anything at all, this is very, very encouraging. I’m excited!

As I’m writing this post, my TV is on, muted, in the background. A John Grisham book that was made into a movie, The Client, is dancing across the screen. I find this fact extremely interesting because, as an author, John Grisham is my role-model. I’ve always loved his books. I find they are not only well written with a suspenseful plot, but always contain a multitude of colorful characters as well. Additionally, John Grisham usually writes about Mississippi and Louisiana since this is the area where he grew up and practiced law.

One more characteristic of his books that I model my writing upon is that all his books are “G” rated. Mr. Grisham does not include any foul language, unnecessary violence, or explicit sexual content in his stories. I like that a lot.

My first published book, All Rise, can be given to readers of any age. Any other book I write will be held to the same strict standards. Thank you, Mr. Grisham, for setting the bar high. I’ve always admired your work and am grateful to have you as a role model.