Book Blog by LindaR

BOOK BLOG

Book Blog by LindaR

Private Newsletter Leads To Published Author

by Linda Rigsbee on 05/31/16

    In 1984 we moved into a little house on 8.5 acres near Cave Springs, Arkansas. It was overrun with brush so I bought goats. I had ulcers and goat milk was supposed to help. I don’t know if it was the milk or the country living, but my health improved. The only thing that I am certain of is that the purchase of goats ultimately led to my entry into the world of published writing.

    Information about goats was difficult to find, but I like to research. I used the library, the county extension office and any experienced people I could find to glean information. After a while, people started asking me for information. I was even respectfully referred to as “The Goat Lady.” That was when I decided to start a newsletter.

    I started my newsletter in January of 1986 with basic information on selection and care of goats. At that point it was called “Dairy Goat Newsletter.” With no journalistic training or experience, I began writing about the most frequently asked questions. I arranged the newsletter in a way that I found easy to read. As I became more comfortable with the project, I thought about making changes.

    In December of 1986, I published my first issue of “Goat Udderings Newsletter.” The name change was due to the fact that the material wasn’t simply about dairy goats, but goats in general. I wrote about anything that might be of interest to anyone who raised or considered raising goats.

    My crew included me, myself and I. I made the contacts, interviewed the people and took photos for my articles. I did all the research, wrote the entire newsletter, edited it, and published it. I even used my limited artistic skills to draw illustrations and comics. I had a Smith Corona Selectric Electric typewriter with a daisy wheel that could be changed for different fonts. I typed each page individually, attached the pictures and made copies of it. I typed address labels and affixed them to the newsletters. I folded them, stapled them and mailed all of them. What I was doing was unique enough that a local newspaper reporter heard about it and came to my house to interview me. Flip Putthoff wrote the article and it appeared in The Community News on Sunday, September 4 1988.

    In the beginning, the newsletter was circulated locally to people and to the county extension office. Gradually it went national and even international – all with little more than word-of-mouth advertising. At its peak, I was sending out 75 copies a month. At some point in its 5-year life, my newsletter went to almost every state in the union, including Hawaii. Internationally, it found its way to Australia, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Bahrain and Puerto Rico. I even received a letter from a doctor in New York, asking about the composition of goat milk. In the time before internet, that was quite an accomplishment, I think.

    When I started the newsletter, I had already been writing privately for about ten years, but I had never attempted to publish my work. In 1989 two articles I wrote about goats were published in two different national magazines. My article “All The Little Children,” about the Jr. Showmanship class at a goat show in Russleville, Arkansas, was published in The Dairy Goat Journal. My article entitled “Angora Farm Is Scene of TV Show,” based on an interview I did with the owners of an Angora farm which appeared on an “America’s Most Wanted” episode, was published in United Caprine News.

    Finding a publisher in the late 1900’s wasn’t as easy as it is today, so I began experimenting with methods of home publishing my books. I wrote the stories, formatted them for books, printed them, designed the covers and bound the books in my home office in Rogers, Arkansas. By 1996, using a personal computer, I was home publishing my books and selling them as handcrafted items at craft shows. In 1997 I started writing short stories and poems for a zine I called Dear Tales. By the turn of the century, I had gained enough confidence to enter writing contests and actually won some awards. In 2013, I began publishing my books on Kindle and in paperback through CreateSpace.

    I don’t think I realized it at the time, but I believe the newsletter provided the confidence I needed to publish my work. People told me they waited for their newsletter every month and sat down to read all 6 pages as soon as they got it. I think I believed all the encouragement I was getting at the time was due to the fact that information about goats was so difficult to find. Looking back, I know that if my newsletter had been poorly written, it wouldn’t have been as well received. What I lacked was confidence and the experience gained through writing the newsletter.

    I used to joke that I would publish through a traditional publisher when they came knocking at my door asking for submissions. The fact is; I like the freedom and control of independent publishing. There was a time when anything self-published was assumed to be inferior. That attitude is changing and I hope the next generation of writers don’t have to spend a lifetime of writing before people are willing to read some of their works.

    I no longer publish the newsletter or the zine, but I write continually. In fact, Dear Tales is now a web site where people can read many of my stories online free. I am now a multi-genre writer. I write clean romance, westerns, science fiction, young adult, children’s books and non-fiction. I write in story lengths from flash fiction to full length novels. I have gained skill with each book, but the confidence I have gained in the experience is responsible for the fact that I am now a published writer. I think confidence is the most important asset for new writers. Never be afraid to try something new. You never know where it will lead.

 

Why Cinco de Mayo is Important to Me

by Linda Rigsbee on 05/06/14

     Cinco de Mayo translates to "The Fifth Day"  - May 5, 1862, to be precise.  In 1861, the year the Civil War began in the United States, a French army invaded Mexico.  As they marched toward Mexico City, the Mexican army gathered forces at Puebla.  The French army was much larger, better trained and equipped than the Mexican army, but in the end, the Mexican army won the battle.  Unfortunately, the French army later regrouped and went on to overtake Mexico City, but the battle at Puebla has been celebrated ever since.  Interestingly enough, it is celebrated more by people in the US than in Mexico.

     I have mulled over this fact and wondered if the cause might be that United States citizens value freedom more because of their constitution, though sometimes it doesn't seem so.  Then it occurred to me that immigrants might actually value freedom more than United States citizens.  That was some food for serious thought.

 

     For me, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo has another special meaning.  Against all odds, these people fought - and won.  Sure, it was only one battle, and they lost the next, but it was their courageous fight against overwhelming opposition that makes this battle memorable, as it was with the Alamo.  People face odds like that in their personal lives as well.  (This is the heart of my book "Another Mountain" to be published in May of 2014.)  When a person, or a group of people, is determined enough, they can accomplish things others might consider impossible.

     Cinco de Mayo is another symbol of courage and tenacity for US to use as an example.  If we take our freedom for granted; if we become apathetic or complacent, then we lose everything.  Each of us is still a part of the whole, whether we are talking about family or country.  "United we stand, divided we fall" isn't merely about the War Between the States.  Cinco de Mayo isn't merely a Mexican holiday.  It's a celebration of honor, courage, dedication and sacrifice.  So, when I celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I'm paying tribute to all those people who have, or are currently putting forth the time, effort and sacrifice to sustain or improve quality of life, not only for themselves, but for others as well.

     Happy Cinco de Mayo!

"After The Blast" by T. L. Knighton

by Linda Rigsbee on 04/23/14

            Not everyone gets the novelette/novella purpose, but T. L. Knighton certainly did with his book, "After The Blast."  The synopsis looked interesting, so I bought a kindle copy with the intent of reading a few pages.  I figured if I liked the writing style, I'd read it in my free time.  Good luck on that idea.  A few pages led to another chapter and the next thing I knew the hours had flown by and I had completed the book.  I was scolding myself for not getting anything done, but I was doing it with a satisfied grin on my face.

            I could relate to Jason in this post apocalyptic story.  As a victim of "The Little Red Hen Syndrome" personality myself, I could imagine making the decision that no one else was doing anything, so I'd best figure on doing the job alone.  Jason's reaction to the situation was not only believable, but also underlined the fact that we never know what we are capable of until we are put to task.  At one point I actually stopped and mathematically calculated the possibility of one of Jason's accomplishments.  It would have been a real push, but Jason was motivated enough to make it possible.

            Knighton didn't get sidetracked with details, yet his story contained all the pertinent facts.  It is a gripping story that entertains for a few hours and leaves you feeling like the story is finished, yet pondering all the possibilities later.  Knighton captures the good, the bad and the inevitable ugly part of human nature without getting bogged down with gory details.  "After The Blast" was an entertaining and well written read that I recommend for anyone from young adult up.

Romance Stories in the 21st Century

by Linda Rigsbee on 03/18/14

            When I tell someone that I write romance, I often get a leering expression from the listener.  Many will say they don't like to read romance.  Usually their reasons describe the old concept of the genre - weak women, graphic sex, unrealistic plots, etc.  Today the umbrella of romance genre has grown into a huge tree.  Certainly the romance stories of today cannot be thrown into one small bucket.

            Romance stories can be in any place or time.  They can be wrapped in mystery, history, fantasy, science fiction or any other genre.  Sometimes they are multi-genre.  What defines a romance is the simple theme of love and romance.  What defines the sub-genres and categories is usually how much of what.

            If the romance setting is in the future, it is called futuristic romance.  If it is set in the present (which includes anything after WWII) it is contemporary romance.  Romance set in the past could go back to cave man days, which would be indigenous or primitive romance.  British Regency Romance takes place in the regency period of 1811 to 1820; and other categories might include Colonial, Frontier or Western.  Historical romance might include any period.  Another sub-genre is time travel romance which might combine past, present and future in the same book.

            Romance genres are also determined by mood.  Gothic romances are dark and broody, while Humor Romance is shot full of humor.  Romantic Suspense could be considered a mood as well.  Any of these could be within other genres.

            The sub-genre most frequently associated with Romance is erotica, sometimes called women's porn.  Even in this sub-genre, the sex can range from explicit hot sex to steamy seduction.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is Christian romance, which advocates or promotes Christianity specifically; and inspirational romance which is more spiritual.  Sweet or Gentle romance contains no sex at all, while the conservative romance might contain only reference.  The more conservative romance stories focus on building relationships based on respect and compatibility rather than physical attraction.  Sex might be referenced, but never described, and they have an overall moral tone.

            While all romance requires imagination, some stories have enough to be considered Fantasy, containing impossible or improbable feats of the imagination, which might include science fiction.  Paranormal romance includes speculative fiction and things science has yet to confirm or disprove, such as ghosts and mythical figures.  There is even a separate category for vampire romance.  Any romance that doesn't fit into one of these subgenres or categories (or combines them) is generally considered either mainstream or literary.  New genres are being added all the time, though.

            In addition to the subgenres and categories, romance books are also divided into single title, series and short story collections.  Single title would be stand-alone books.

            Even though all these subgenres and categories exist, it is still often difficult for authors to determine what genre their story best fits.  It used to be that people wrote to a specific and rigid genre.  Now authors are free to write a good story and then find the genre it fits.

            In my romance stories, all are free of offensive language and explicit sex, but sex isn't something I avoid.  I simply don't get graphic about it and it is never casual.  Premarital and extramarital sex is not condoned.  My characters are realistic and the plots are believable.  My main character may be religious (though not necessarily Christian) or the book may be void of any mention of religion.  Readers most often think of my stories as clean, wholesome, or conservative romance.  I generally refer to them as either conservative or simply "clean romance."

            Regardless of the genre, subgenre or category, romance stories today have the opportunity for more heart and substance than in the past.  Saying all romance stories are the same is like saying all dogs are the same.  If you know nothing about dogs, it might seem so.  Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of people know more about dogs than they know about books.

The Symbols of Christmas

by Linda Rigsbee on 12/22/13

As I admired the beauty of all the Christmas decorations, I began to wonder how they symbolized the occasion - the birth of Christ.  An evening of internet research revealed some interesting facts:

The Christmas tree:  The first documentation of a Christmas tree being used was in 16th century Germany.  In 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (who was German) were sketched in front of a decorated Christmas tree.  They were an inspiration to Britain and then to East Coast American society, who followed fashion from Britain.  Interestingly enough, America had a history of shunning both Christmas trees and caroling as pagan practice.  The first documented Christmas tree in America was in the 1830's when it was displayed by a German immagrant family in Pennsylvania.  So, while the Christmas tree was not always an American custom, it was a custom used to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The Candy Cane:  The first candy canes were all white - and began in Germany where they were presented by clergy in celebration of the nativity - the birth of Christ.  The white candy was shaped into a shepherd's staff.

Christmas Lights:  As we know, December 21st is the shortest day of the year.  With the dreary short days, it is no surprise that candles added cheer.  It was in 17th century Germany that candles were first used as lights on a Christmas tree.  In America, the first lighted Christmas tree was used by Thomas Eddison to advertise his light bulb.  Some believe that the lights on the Christmas tree represent the star of Bethlehem that shown brightly during the birth of Christ.

Christmas Gifts:  We all know that the three wise men brought gifts to Christ, but the gifts we give today represent the greatest gift of all.  God gave his son in the birth of Jesus Christ.  Giving gifts to one another is a reminder of the love.

The Colors Red and Green:  Red represents the blood that Christ shed, and green represents evergreens - eternal life.

Bells: Church bells ring for important annoucnements, and the birth of Christ was that.

Angels: Biblical angels were not people who died and went to heaven.  Biblical angels were messengers sent from heaven.  In this case, to announce the birth of Christ.

Santa Claus:  Saint Nicholas was a devout Christian who obeyed Jesus when he said to sell what you own and give to the poor.  Saint Nicholas' parents died when he was young and he used his entire inheritance assisting the sick and needy.  His reward for a lifetime of sacrifice was to be persecuted for being a Christian and to be imprisoned, as were many Christians of that time.  Santa Claus was a spin-off of Saint Nicholas, used first in 1821 in a children's book.

For me, St. Nicholas was the most touching, I think because his dedication and sacrifice to follow Jesus and Christianity was punished.  I think of events today and wonder if we will return to that.  I know that this year, in addition to thinking about Christ, I will also be thinking of all those who sacrifice to bring the word of God to others.  I will be looking at each symbol and thinking about what it means.  

For more information about the connection between Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas, this is a great website: http://www.stnicholarscenter.org/pages/origin-of-santa/   To learn more about the symbols of Christmas, here is an interesting site I found  http://www.rollanet.org/~anderson/christmassymbols.html

 I hope this blog inspires people to search further and to enjoy Christmas in a way they might not have before.

 

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