Sunday, September 7, 2014

Meeting Janet K. Brown, Author

It is with the greatest pleasure that I am featuring my friend and fellow author, Janet K. Brown, on this post. She is taking off like a rocket in the writing world with her devotional, Divine Dining, as well as her young adult series. 

We met at the Red River Romance Writers of America group meeting in Wichita Falls, Texas early in 2009. It was a great group and full of talent. However, Janet made a positive impression on me the moment she welcomed me when I arrived that first day. I was a newcomer--not just to the group but to the region. Unfortunately, as a small group, the RRRW did not survive. We may no longer have regular meetings but the support for each other remains always available.

Janet has provided me with her story in her words. Let me share . . .

My writing journey began when I was a young mom of three. I wrote short stories and even published a few. When my girls got to be teenagers, I wrote my first novel. I submitted it, got it rejected, and promptly gave up.

Emotional upheavals plagued me all my adult life. I gained and lost weight every year and kept several sized clothes in my closet for my ups and downs, mostly ups. Depression drove me to deeper depths at the same time my job as medical coder and bookkeeper became more stressful and turned into longer hours. Writing came to a stop except for personal journals.

During a Christian weight loss class at my church, I drew closer to God. He healed me emotionally, and the weight started to drop. I retired in October, 2005 to give more time to grandchildren and writing.

I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), studied the writing craft, and began to write and submit. I wrote romance and women’s fiction. When I received a rejection, instead of working more on that manuscript, I started a brand new one. At the same time, I submitted short stories again and got a few of them published. One of the teen short stories I wrote featured a ghost legend at a registered Texas ghost town near my home. The publisher of the magazine where I submitted it asked if I’d ever considered making that story chapter one of a novel. I hadn’t, but I did. So, I wrote my first YA.

A few years ago while I was busy submitting, studying, getting rejected, and starting another manuscript, God woke me in the middle of the night with devotions running through my head. The focus was on emotional healing and weight loss. I wrote fourteen devotions before I could go back to sleep. I continued to write devotions sometimes one a week, sometimes one a day for four years. I considered the devotions therapy for me while I WROTE fiction.

 In 2011, a small press out of Oklahoma, 4RV Publishing, offered me a contract not on my romance or women’s fiction but on my one and only YA. I danced, I sang, I didn’t come down to earth for months. In 2012, my debut novel, an inspirational, paranormal YA, Victoria and the Ghost was released. Before its release, God hit me upside the head and told me I hadn’t written 300 devotions just as my therapy, but to minister to others with a similar problem.
 

After three rejections on my weight loss class curriculum based on the devotions I’d written, I pitched a 365 day by day devotion book for overeaters to another small press out of Arkansas that was starting their company with inspirational, self-help books. That was Pen-L Publishing. They offered me a contract and had the book out by December, 2012. This book is titled Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. This was truly the book of my heart coming straight from my personal journals, critical failures, and testimonies of God’s goodness.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: For the month of September, Pen-L is offering a devotion a day from Divine Dining for #FREE. If you like what you read, you may purchase the full 365 devotion book right on the site, but there’s no obligation. All you have to do to receive your #FREE devotions for a month is click on this link:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/468985
My writing journey marches on.

In 2013, I signed another contract with 4RV Publishing for the sequel to Victoria and the Ghost. (Got to stick with what works, YA and ghosts). The working title of it is A Ghost for Shelley that should be released soon.

In early 2014, I signed a contract with Pen-L to publish (finally) a women’s fiction. We titled it Worth Her Weight. This book releases in November, 2014. Here’s the elevator pitch:

 
Lacey’s addicted to overeating.

Toby’s a controller.

Mom’s anger seeks to destroy everything in its path.

Each must let go before God can heal.


I stay active in ACFW, Faith, Hope and Love (FHL) the inspirational chapter of RWA, and Oklahoma Writers Federated International (OWFI). I take online courses, go to workshops and conferences as finances allow, contract to write short stories, and promote my books with the help of a host of wonderful new friends I’ve made through my writing. One of those new friends is Winona Cross.

Please feel free to connect with and/or follow me at the following links....

Twitter: @JanetKBrownTX
Victoria and the Ghost: Available at http://www.4RVpublishingcatalog.com/Janet-Brown.php
Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. Available at www.pen-l.com/DivineDining.html


Monday, August 4, 2014

AGING PRINCESSES

August 4, 2014

AGING PRINCESSES
 
 
 
Once upon a time there was a woman, aging by princess standards, who finally had the opportunity to go to a kingdom in a land called Disney World where magic and fairies and princes who rescue princesses really exist. She had three small princesses by her side to help grant her access to those places where her age and size might have raised suspicious eyebrows otherwise. At least that's how she felt.
 
Beneath a magical arch everything changed. How could a place, such a crowded place, be such fun and so exciting at every turn? A twenty foot tall breathtakingly beautiful woman made of vines and branches walked out of the tress circling the crowd with such grace silence overtook them. Colors never imagined by this aging princess blended perfectly with those in a crayon box. Everyone seemed happy and patient with the exception of an occasional ogre. Long lines were the fact of the week but most often they were entertaining or we held special Fast Passes.
 
Of course, she had dinner with the real princesses.  Her reaction and that of the small princesses when Snow White skipped past their table was captured. Every special Disney princess moved through the dining hall talking and acting royal before having a parade including the younger princes and princesses in attendance. The aging princess wanted to be in the parade but, alas, she wasn't able to do so without sustaining the chagrin of the other adults in the group.
 
 
 
 
 
A week of magic, some mayhem, and lots of entertainment left the aging princess feeling very old. As a matter-of-fact I he ended up in the hospital shortly after she returned home. But, she said this-- all the aching muscles and bones, and fatigue was worth it. While she was in the hospital she wrote the scribbles of a "poem". One of the members of the group was her age. She couldn't help but compare herself to the other woman. She don't usually write poetry but she will share this bit with you. It's longer than she would normally post to her blog but it tells a story.
 
Life is uncertain. There will always be times of confusion, sadness, fear, and uncertainty. Just as surely there will be times of wonder, happiness, undisguised joy, certainty, and even magic. Try to smile through the worst times and the laughter during the good times will come straight from the soul. A girl can be a princess at any age. It's true.
 
 
“63”
Winona Bennett Cross
 
I know a woman who makes me laugh yet makes me sad. She’s my age—sixty-three (63). We’re Vietnam era girls, graduates of classes of 1969 and as different as they come. Perhaps because of geography, family, or society.
According to modern society I look, act, and sound like 63. This woman is just the opposite living in a perpetual flower child world.
I’m living, as I have all my life, in a “what will they think of me” world.
Her hair is colorful. It varies like a color wheel spinning in Vegas. Turquoise, hot pink, green, or blue. I wonder if it’s ever been boldly striped? Her style is spiky and funky.
My hair is dirty blonde with graying temples, simply cut, and styled in something easy. No pizzazz. No youthfulness. I do not like growing old.
She wears strapless sundresses and camisoles with short skirts. Her wardrobe is a canvas for the embellishments she adds through the day. Dangly earrings, large hoops, bracelets of gold and silver, fabric, beads, and leather almost to her elbow. Scarves drape her body including a dedazzled belly dancers sarong around her hips. She is comfortable and dances through the streets and stores.
I wear matronly capri pants or jeans and T-shirts with sleeves. My jewelry is gold and classic with a few pieces of appropriately suitable costume pieces added for bling on special occasions. Without my jewelry I feel naked. I try to hide behind “invisible” clothes.
She smokes small dark cigars. They remind me of something Greta Garbo or Katherine Hepburn would have smoked in eras past.
I have never smoked. Anything! I wonder what it feels and tastes like. But, I’ll never try it. My parents smoked and I lost my mother to lung cancer.
This woman, my friend, glides through life just high enough most of the time to make others smile at her antics. Free Bird. Flower Child.
I always do what I think is right. Often feeling stifled. When I do let my feelings soar someone will tell me I’m acting silly. So, I stop and retreat into some  of the shell I have built.
I wonder what happens to her in the night when she falls. Is it a desperate dive? A fully dressed, spread-eagled splat? Or, is it a subtle wilting of the flower as she awaits the morning dew and sunlight to decide what kind of ornamental blossom she will become that day.
I simply crawl beneath the covers, read for a while, then fatigue takes over and I sleep.
How can two women of the same era be so different? I sometimes wish for some of her free spirit but not the problems that accompany it.
I wonder if she ever wishes for some of my so called normal life?
We are different but forever bound by the love of two little blonde, blue-eyed girls. Granddaughters.