Susan’s novel When Darkness Fell won the Indie Award for best Regional Fiction. Her first novel The Bottom Rail placed as semifinalist in the Georgia Author of the Year Awards for first novel. Her memoir Possum Cops, Poachers and the Counterfeit Game Warden took first place in the Northern Colorado Writers Toop of the Mountain literary contest and second place in both the Georgia Author of the Year and the Florida Writers Royal Palm literary contest.
Two short stories won first place in their genres from the Knoxville Writers Guild. She won the George T. Youngblood award for short fiction in 2017. She has won numerous awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry at various SWA workshops. She has ten published books and one now undergoing publication.
Her stories, poetry, articles and editorials have been published in several anthologies as well as in local, state and national magazines, including Southern Living. Her nonfiction subjects have ranged from Gone With the Wind to wildlife management.
Before her retirement, Susan worked as a reporter and feature writer for a daily paper, then moved to Boston area where she wrote motivational publications and edited technical papers for Raytheon Manufacturing and later edited research papers at MIT. From Boston, she returned to Georgia and worked as writer and editor at the Centers for Disease Control. Her work-for-hire has been translated for use in Africa and Asia.
What an honor to be asked to say hello to y’all and tell you about myself as an author in the South.
Writing was a dream born before I can remember, and dreams have become a source for my writing. My aunt was an award-winning journalist and a friend of Margaret Mitchell who came to visit when I was a child. What more could anyone want as an inspiration? I had another one, in-house. My dad was an award-winning author in college and I loved his works. First poem I memorised was one of his.
Then along came a new neighbor, Flannery O’Connor. She and her mother lived across the farm fence. Our cattle became characters in her stories, as did our mutual neighbors.
Twelve published books to date. I edited three, wrote the other nine. Several books won awards, one from the Northern Colorado Writers.
One of the toughest to write was the biography of my aunt, Susan Myrick, who was technical adviser on Gone With the Wind. I almost had too much reference material: Her diary, her letters to Mitchell, and her fifty years of newspaper writings. But the result was very rewarding, for at book events I met Melanie’s “son” Mickey Kuhn who also played young Matt Garth (the young Montgomery Cliff) in RED RIVER, met and grew fond of Ann Rutherford and corresponded with “Melanie” (Olivia de Havilland).
The summer of 2017 has been a super time for me and my books. POSSUM COPS, POACHERS AND THE COUNTERFEIT GAME WARDEN in manuscript form won the TOP OF THE MOUNMTAIN award from the Northern Colorado Writers last year, and this year placed second in the Georgia Author of the Year contest and second in the Florida Writers Association contest. The Florida Writers contest is one of the most competitive and carefully judged contest I know of. Each book goes through several levels of judges who use specific criteria to provide a numerical value to each book. Pass one judge, your book moves up to another. And another. I feel quite proud of obtaining their silver medal this year. If you believe in the magic of ”keeping the fingers crossed,” please do so—this book is entered in two more contests!
This year, even more excitement: Two books of short stories, WHITETAILS AND TALL TALES and EMPEROR OF THE UNITED AMERICAN STATES, released within six weeks.
Strange titles? Strange stories, many beginning when I woke up from a dream and thought “that would make a good story.” So, I wrote. And dreamed and wrote.
Imagine: Bill and Hillary making reservations at a run-down rural motel in the middle of nowhere. A man waking up from a dream of fishing in Alaska to find fresh salmon in his fridge. The biggest-ever large-mouth bass (that isn’t) getting caught, photographed and luring the Fishery Management biologist to town. An old man explaining to his grandson how he overthrew the U. S. A. and became emperor of the United American States. A visit to the afterlife. Murder. Mistaken identity. An old woman going turkey hunting to keep out of a nursing home. (Oops). A new TV called “4-D.” A mountain turned on its side. A midnight conversation between a married couple about snoring. Poachers who get their come-uppance.
And a few more.
One reviewer called the stories in EMPEROR “black humor ranging from the believable to the unimaginable.”
Steve Berry, New York Times and international best-selling author, called EMPEROR “spicy harsh reality.” Dana Wildsmith, author, poet and writing teacher, said of WHITETAILS that like the sharp report of a rifle close by, “these stories will snap you to attention.” A Georgia Author of the Year winner said, “visual writing and stunning, profound stories.”
What more could an author ask for? A long enough life to keep writing and having fun. Now 81, I still have plans for several books.
Possum Cops, Poachers, and the Counterfeit Game Warden
The afternoon shotgun pellets plummeted the leaves around her on her own hunting grounds. Susan Lindsley did not run and hide. She took off after the poacher. Only one of many she pursued.
He did not come back. Neither did any others of those she caught and jailed.
Even Susan herself could not try to outrun the law. When she accidentally killed a doe out of season, she called the local possum copy on herself. And the word began to circulate in her community: "If you poach on Susan Lindsley and survive, you will go to jail."
She went from "I don't want to hunt" to an avid deer hunter, an expert tracker, a teacher for her friends, and a ferocious activist for game management. She writes as she lived those years: With a heart for animals, an enthusiasm for the outdoors and a love of painting pictures with words.
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It has been such an interesting and exciting year, especially here on the blog. We'll have new authors telling us their stories starting next week, but today I'd like to take this chance to thank all the amazing authors who've shared their experiences with us. We've been so fortunate to have aspiring and emerging authors, self-published and traditionally published authors, just starting out authors and New York Times Bestsellers, and everyone in between. Thanks for the stories. And thank you readers for taking an interest in all these wonderful authors! Below you'll find the links to all the authors who've participated in #WhatsYourStory to date. Check them out, add their books to your to-be-read lists and share them with your friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!
Virginia A. Simpson, Ph.D., FT has been a bereavement care specialist for 32 years and is Executive Counseling Director for hundreds of funeral homes throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is the author of the award-winning The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life (She Writes Press, 2016). Described as “touching and vividly human,” The Space Between “offers a testament to love’s enduring and transformative power throughout our lives and in our closest family ties.”
I am the perfect example of the adage “it’s never too late to live your dreams.” I wrote as a child but life had other plans for me. Decades flew by and I would tell my friends, new boyfriends, and husbands I wanted to write a book. Events and insecurity intervened. Fear of failure held me hostage preventing my accomplishing the one thing I claimed I always wanted to do.
On my way to not writing a book, I wrote in my journal and started stories I never finished, certain they weren’t good enough. I had no clue that published authors also write “shitty” first drafts but, unlike me, they keep working on their craft. Instead of continuing to write, edit, and finish a project, I acquired college degrees, husbands, boyfriends, and heartbreaks. I saw a few therapists hoping someone could fix me.
As I’m sure is now clear, I was a master of diversion, distraction, and procrastination, having successfully not written or published a book for decades. A journalism professor I met during my twenties, provided the ideal excuse. He said many writers don’t become authors until they are in their fifties. The decades of my life continued to tick away as I told myself I had time.
I was lucky because I did.
My route to writing and publishing was lengthy and circuitous, filled with potholes of excuses. My attitude and perceptions changed after my mother’s death. I was 56 years old. I stretched past self-doubt and inertia and jumped on opportunity when I read a newspaper ad announcing a memoir writing class in my community. The classes provided focus and accountability.
A slip on wet tile interrupted my progress. The resulting flight into the air ended with a direct landing on my shoulder. I seized the pain of my shattered shoulder, which left me helpless and housebound, as my chance to focus on my book. My shoulder was the (no pun intended) break I needed. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, using only one hand, I slowly plucked out the first draft of my memoir.
When I read the finished pages, I knew the story was good, but the writing was flat. I didn’t know to fix it. I’d later understand from reading Lisa Cron’s wonderful book Wired for Story that writing and reading engage different parts of our brain. Thus, prolific reading of good books does not necessarily translate into good writing.
I didn’t let this uninspiring draft stop me. I searched the internet and discovered that Jennifer Lauck, author of the New York Times best-selling Blackbird, was coaching writers. I contacted her and with hard, tedious work, recognized the elements necessary to create a good story.
Although encouraging, Jennifer was also not shy about critiquing and copiously editing my work. Instead of viewing her critique as rebuke, I began to relish the opportunity and lessons it offered for improvement. I learned to embrace critique as an important gateway for a writer to hone their craft. To this day, I apply Jennifer’s lessons when I read and edit my work.
Eventually, I joined Jennifer’s online group. Through writing and submitting eight to ten pages each week, The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life was born. When I left Jennifer’s group, I began to work with Linda Joy Myers. Linda is President of the National Association of Memoir Writers and author of the recently released beautiful memoir, Song of the Plains. With Linda’s guidance, I finished the book I had started in Jennifer’s group.
I grew a lot from writing and exposing my work to others. Good writing comes from a willingness to listen, learn, edit and rewrite until you’ve crafted the words that will make readers want to journey with you on the pages you’ve created.
While I wrote, I continued to read memoirs and books on writing. I recognized the importance of showing not telling, using only the details which move a story along, and, as Stephen King advises, “killing your darlings.” I also realized that memoir demands creating the linear story of events while offering insights learned, or what we call “takeaways” for the reader.
I hope your “takeaway” from this overview of my writing journey is that the struggle is worthwhile and you’re never too old to achieve your dreams.
Creating new dreams is part of the fun in being alive. Included in mine is my goal of meeting Dani Shapiro, Sue Williams Silverman, and Joyce Maynard, whose depth of self-discovery through beautiful writing continue to inspire me as I work on my new memoir.
The Space Between
As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. But when her own mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver.
In a quest to provide her mother with the best care possible, Virginia arranges for Ruth to move in with her―and for the next six years, she cares for her, juggling her mother’s doctor’s appointments, meals, medication schedules, transportation needs, and often cranky moods with her own busy schedule. In The Space Between, Simpson takes readers along for the journey as she struggles to bridge the invisible, often prickly space that sits between so many mothers and daughters, and to give voice to the challenges, emotions, and thoughts many caregivers experience but are too ashamed to admit. Touching and vividly human, The Space Between reminds us all that without accepting the inevitability of death and looking ahead to it with clarity, life cannot be fully lived.
Use the links below to learn more about Virginia or to purchase her book:
Where to Buy The Space Between
They say only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun. This describes Mark P. Sadler perfectly. A transplanted Brit, he finds himself in the heat of Tucson's Sonoran desert with a wild tale to tell of murder on the Mexican border. Uniquely told in his own bold and direct way Sadler welcomes the reader to a Southwestern tale of border noir,
Having started reading before I was four years old and being brought up in the English school system I have always felt like a writer. Essays were written weekly. When I was ten I wrote an essay recording the view from a train as it travelled from my rural home eight miles into the more urban setting of a nearby town. When I read it back to myself I knew I had what it took. At that moment I knew I would write a book.
I was interested in a career in journalism and took those courses at college, however family responsibilities got in the way of graduation and I took on a career in a financial field. I kept writing and free-lanced for a couple of magazines and newspapers, published some poetry and incorporated media into my life as I could. It took me a life experience after my divorce to create the fuel for my first novel, Blood on His Hands, a thriller set on the Appalachian Trail. I hiked a portion of the trail in a head-clearing motivational moment and decided, like many AT hikers, to write a book about the experience. To avoid the clutter of non-fiction written about hiking I fashioned a novel loosely-based on my own journey.
I self-published Blood on His Hands. I was discouraged by the amount of agent rejections so decided, since I had another novel brewing, to pay to get published. It was well received and reviewed but as a new writer it didn’t carry a lot of weight in the market. Like a lot of fledgling novelists I initially decided my writing was good enough that it didn’t need an editor, especially when the research into editors showed they were really pricey. If I can give one word of advice to those looking to write a book, whether it’s the first or the twentieth – GET AN EDITOR! It is absolutely essential and a good one is worth every penny.
I grew up reading adventure stories by authors like Nevil Shute, H. Rider Haggard and Robert L Stevenson, loved whodunits like Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These days Jo Nesbo and Jim Crace are some of my favorite writers. I have had the privilege of meeting many authors, my peers because I have the opportunity of reviewing for an online publication, Suspense Magazine. While other authors have little idea who novelist Mark P. Sadler is they all know Suspense Magazine and it has opened so many doors for me to meet and interview, hangout with and befriend some of the people whose books grace my shelves. One of my good friends is Paul Kemprecos, the original co-author with Clive Cussler, and through that relationship I got to meet Mr. C himself, and review his latest novel, too. The friendships I have developed has also given me the opportunity to call on some well-known names when it comes time to get cover blurbs and reviews as my novels are completed.
I was forced to use my middle initial when publishing as another novelist has used Mark Sadler as his nom de plume. Disappointing but it works. All my social media uses the middle initial too. Blood on his Hands recently had a revamped cover and is now available at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727334. My most recently published novel is the first in a trilogy and is titled Kettle of Vultures. It is the story of Tucson police detective, Nate Duarte, the son of an illegal alien and a U.S. Border Agent. The book follows his story as he not only solves some of the most heinous sex-crimes committed in Tucson but tracks down the evil Mexican cartel leader, Ramon Adolfo ‘El Perro Guapo’ Sanchez, the man personally responsible for the death of his parents. You can read more about it on my website www.markpsadler.com or my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Mark-P-Sadler-78046901586/. The novel is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Kettle-Vultures-Mark-P-Sadler/dp/193732785X/ref=nav_custrec_signin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481242355&sr=1-1&keywords=kettle+of+vultures&. You can follow me on Twitter @markpsadler.com and read more about books I review and recommend on my critic’s blog, http://damnedinsatiablethirsteternallanguor.blogspot.com/. Of course I have several projects under some form of completion including the second in the trilogy, a memoir and a great adventure story in the H-Rider Haggard-style. Keep up with me and buy a couple of books as I write the next one.
Kettle of Vultures
DRAGNET MEETS SILENCE OF THE LAMBS ON THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER NEAR TUCSON, ARIZONA.
Nate Duarte’s life is full of dark, diabolical twists. As a young boy he witnessed the murder of his mother at the hands of a Mexican gangster. Nate knows this same violent desperado also murdered his father, a border patrol agent. Putting on hold his dream of studying law, Nate becomes a police officer to help bring his parents’ murderer to justice.
In this introductory novel in the Border Noir Trilogy readers are introduced to Nate as a 31-year-old detective, working the Sex Crimes Division of the Tucson Police Department. Dealing daily with the most horrendous abuse and defilement mankind can handout, Nate must do battle with a fiendish killer, a psychopath who wants to become the worst ghoul humanity has ever seen. Nate also keeps a running chronicle on his personal nemesis, the man who killed his parents, now head of the Sonoran cartel.
Time is running out. Five women have been kidnapped and tortured. Can Nate find a way to stop the brutality before they all die? Is one of the missing women Nate’s half-sister? His mettle and valor meet up with assaults, physical and psychological, as he leads the charge to destroy this evil once and for all in a battle to survive the worst odds possible.
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Where to Buy Kettle of Vultures
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.