Thanks so much, Allan, for inviting me to be a guest on the South Branch Scribbler. I appreciate your support and am honored to be among so many talented authors.
I’ve been many things in my life: a singer-songwriter; RN; activist; shaman apprentice. Like many authors, I began writing at an early age. My sister and I composed little ditties that we sang to our parents. I received my first guitar at age 14 and began performing publicly in high school. As an RN I’ve worked in the areas of med-surg, hemodialysis, psychiatry, geriatrics, clinics, and with the California State Dept. of Health Services. I did stints with Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth, which ushered me into activism for those less fortunate. I began working with a medicine woman in the early 1980s and maintain a solid spiritual practice. I love walking in nature. I do so every day. Nature inspires me and nourishes my spirit. I also enjoy reading, playing my guitar, singing, listening to music, dancing, arts and crafts, camping, and working crossword puzzles.
I’m most inspired to write by my desire to help make the world a better place. My novel, Plateau: Beyond the Trees, Beyond 2012, is mystery and adventure fiction for young adults to adults. I wrote it after watching one too many "doomsday" documentaries regarding the supposed end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012. I was determined to put forth a message of hope into the world. The underlying message is that if we keep our hearts open and act from love instead of reacting from fear – if we practice gratitude and compassion within every moment and with every breath – we’ll raise our vibratory rate and help elevate the human species to a higher consciousness, facilitating personal and global peace.
Brief synopsis of Plateau: While honoring the wisdom of her elders, a 15-year-old tribal female learns to face her fear, trust blindly, and overcome adversity. Her will is relentlessly tested as she discovers her strengths and destiny. She ultimately comes face-to-face with herself in a battle that would shrink the will of the most intrepid warrior, unaware that realizing her destiny will irrevocably impact all beings on earth and beyond. Her people inject humor and wisdom throughout this tale of mystery and adventure.
My children's book, Gabby and the Quads, was inspired by my niece having quadruplets. A child’s moral compass develops early in life, and I wanted to write a book that was ethically as well as traditionally educational. For example, Gabby’s family includes two pit bulls. So I explain that pit bulls are gentle by nature and become mean only when mistreated. The story is loosely based on my niece and her family, and I include photos of them at the end of the book so kids can see the real Gabby and quadruplets.
Brief synopsis of Gabby and the Quads: Gabby is an only child who is about to become big sister to quadruplets! How will she handle this? Her parents decide on a unique approach to introduce her to and help her accept this awesome experience.
I’ve always been a storyteller. As a child, I would delight in making up stories to entertain my friends. And I was especially pleased if I could scare their socks off! When my oldest nephew was little, he would nestle close to me on the couch and say, “Tell me another story, Aunt Tina.” I’ve always loved reading. I attended parochial schools, and the nuns were expert in fostering this in their students.
The biggest challenge for me as an independent author has been marketing and promotion. It’s endless! And as I’m sure you know, even traditionally published authors are now expected to market their own books, with little help from the publisher. Another challenge is earmarking specific time periods for writing. Promotional work, due to its ongoing nature, can consume all of your time if you let it. I’ve heard many authors say, “I have to get back to my writing!” Writer’s block can also be stifling, but I’ve been fortunate not to have encountered it very often.
Oh, I’ve had days when I’ve wanted to quit. Haven’t we all? I’m reminded of that fabulous scene from the movie Julia where Lillian Hellman - played by Jane Fonda - has a cigarette hanging from her mouth while madly typing, and then becomes so frustrated that she throws the typewriter out the window!
But I think the way out of writer’s block is the way in. Just write ~ anything. Let your thoughts flow without interruption or an expectation of perfection. Rewriting is a key to good writing, so giving oneself something to edit is never a waste of time.
I think the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer are tenacity; optimism; learning from constructive criticism and disregarding what doesn’t apply; taking copious notes from the world around you; and taking breaks. A walk in nature always resuscitates and refuels me.
So my advice to new and aspiring writers is: Listen to your inner voice! Your intuition is your best guide. Don’t be disheartened if you encounter writer’s block. Just put down your pen for a period of time. Take a walk. Listen to music. Visit with friends. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you return to your writing. Sometimes we have to take a step back in order to gain momentum to move forward. And whatever you do, don’t listen to critics unless their criticism is constructive. If it is, learn from it. If it isn’t, turn a deaf ear and continue writing. Above all, follow your passion. It will lead you to your heart’s desire.
Authors need to support each other. I’ve met many wonderful authors who have become friends. We share each other’s work on our blogs and social network pages. I’ve also met a few authors who ask for promotional support but give little if any in return. I don’t harbor ill feelings toward them; I don’t like to internalize negativity. I’m content in knowing that what goes around comes around. We can’t give anything away; it’s always returned threefold.
I love connecting with other authors, so please don’t hesitate. I wish everyone health, happiness, and many blessings...
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Thank you Tina for sharing information about your work as well as the keen advice to other authors.
Stop by the Scribbler next week for the 4Q Interview with Mohana Rajakumar of Qatar. A splendid author and interesting lady.