Jill Weatherholt

Pursuing a Passion for Writing


Summer Spotlight: Yolanda McAdam

I feel very privileged indeed to be part of Jill’s wonderful Summer Spotlight Series! I have enjoyed getting to know you all.

Ok so a little about me…

Hi I’m Yolanda and I was born and raised in South Africa to Portuguese immigrants. My parents’ marriage was spectacularly unsuccessful (no adjective can truly describe how awful it was). One of my earliest memories is of my dad arriving home from a night out on the town (he was a notorious gambler and womaniser) to a barrage of verbal insults and flying plates. The trouble you see is they were both far too young and too tempestuous for a serious commitment like marriage. When eventually they parted ways (in very dramatic fashion – locks changed, suitcases left outside, father hammering on windows, police intervention) my father moved to another city and my mother went on to live the life of a single lady.

My sister and I were mostly raised by our grandparents. I started working ‘to pay my own way’ at fourteen years of age. At the time of course, I was resentful of the fact that I had to work if I wanted Corn Flakes for breakfast or a Duran Duran cassette. By the time I was twenty I had worked as a wedding photographer’s assistant (great job – when I think back I can still sometimes smell the chemicals in that dark room), waitress, receptionist and dental hygienist.

Eventually I saved up enough money for university and went on to major in Counselling Psychology but I didn’t practice until I was in my early thirties. Although I now work in marketing I am and always will be passionate about the benefits of therapy and personal development.

Writing has always been an escape of sorts for me. I write to make sense of my thoughts and my feelings and I also write to make sense of the world. I started writing stories when I was eleven or so and I would share them with my friends and one of my English teachers who was very encouraging of my future career as a romance novelist. In high school I had a number of my poems (very dark, mostly inspired by dead poets like Owens and Plath) published in the year books. I should have gone on to become a famous poet or a Mills & Boon author (I have a high school friend who went on to do be just that) instead I went to work for ‘Big Corporate’ and got caught up in ‘making money’. My blog, Scribblings, is my way of committing to the craft of writing – expect to read random posts on thoughts about family, nature and life. There was a time I felt a sense of extreme urgency to ‘get published’ thinking at the time that I was ‘a prodigy’ waiting to be discovered, but countless rejections have since proved otherwise. Now all that matters to me is that I write something that moves people.

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

John Stamos. I think it’s the dimples. Also I have had more than one male friend tell me I look like Mariah Carey. You should know said friends were not sober at the time and this was back in the early 90s when I still had a big voice. Um, big hair.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I would love to play the guitar. My eldest son plays beautifully but is an impatient teacher and I have short, stubby fingers. I love dancing and find it impossible to sit still when some Guitarra Latina is on the radio (or Spotify and Songza) for example but I move to just about any beat.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

My sister and I spent many happy hours baking mud pies and climbing trees in the African sun. I used to entertain myself, my younger sister and my friends with tales of wild adventure. I read Enid Blyton growing up, so there was always the possibility wasn’t there, of finding buried treasure in our backyard or that our neighbours were smugglers (despite living in a land-locked city)?
I miss the innocence. I miss my childhood friends, most of whom were boys. Two of them died in their teens in car accidents. I miss reading comic books and looking cool doing so. Nowadays you’re a nerd if you happen to know the difference between Green Lantern and Green Arrow. I miss that feeling of rolling in cool mud on a hot summer’s day. We (kids) were always dirty. I wish more parents embraced dirt and encouraged their children to run around in nature barefoot. I miss being small enough in the bathtub pretending I was a mermaid. I miss holding my breath underwater (now I just worry I’ll stop my heart). I miss the smell of ozone just before a Summer thunderstorm.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

I would have to say that following my heart was the hardest thing I have ever done (oh how cliché I hear you say)  My husband and I intended to move to Canada soon after getting married (20 something years ago) but family members were understandably upset at the prospect of us moving and we allowed ourselves to be held back. If we have any regret now is that we didn’t move sooner. We love North America.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

Refrigeration. I know… I should have gone with ‘The printing press’ because what would life be without books and more books but I really do love my swanky refrigerator. So do my boys. I’m all for things that make my life easier like the internet and email and plumbing – oh yes, plumbing. I am very grateful for plumbing.

Thank you for reading.

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Yolanda. I love your thoughts on getting published, I feel the same. Up next week it’s Sherri Matthews.


Summer Spotlight: Shel Harrington

 Over the past few months, I’ve really enjoyed getting to see who’s behind those miniature pictures next to the comments on Jill’s blog. I feel privileged to be able to have the same opportunity to show you there is more to me than red glasses and a “You’re kidding, right?” facial expression. Thanks, Jill!

Living in a house named Dragonroost with my beloved spouse of almost 37 years, I spend most of the work day practicing Family Law. You know – divorce, custody, child support, etc. About 20% of my practice is representing children whose parents are going through divorce or custody disputes. It’s a world that has touched most of us in one way or another. While there are often rainy days in that world, there’s a lot of positive work to be done and, as you can imagine, it is rife with blog fodder!

As if the day job’s not enough of that stuff, I’m an adjunct professor teaching Family Law at a law school in Oklahoma City. I also authored a book for attorneys on the subject. And that is why, when reading for pleasure, I most often retreat into fast-paced thrillers and suspense novels that allow total escapism.

My writing life began at an early age with reams of bad poems, angsty essays, and dramatic diary entries that kept my mother on her toes for years (I thought the woman was psychic!). I always felt like I was ‘suppose’ to write, but squelched the notion as I dealt with the heavy reading and writing requirements of my profession. Until about eight years ago. That’s when I started going to writing conferences for the sole purpose of doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I learned, grew, met like-minded people and got motivated.

But I disdained social media. I thought blogs were on-line diaries. Hearing about people tweeting each other made me giggle like a 5th grader hearing the word ‘penis.’ And Facebook entries were things I used as evidence in custody battles.

Finally, upon hearing for the 193rd time that a writer can’t make it today without having a social media presence, I bit the bullet. I signed up for Facebook December 2012 and was delighted to learn that it could be used for other things besides making a public ass out of oneself. By this time I knew that blogs could be a wonderful way to communicate and, having a passion for talking about how NOT to get divorced, I started the ShelHarrington.com blog. After a year of enjoying the benefits of getting out info, getting in helpful feedback, and connecting with other bloggers and readers, my best friend and I started another blog to stay connected from our respective states and to poke fun at where we are in life. It’s called Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce. While you don’t have to be over 50 or have a fat bottom to hang out with us there, a sense of humor is mandatory. Although I don’t care who knows I co-author it, my name is nowhere to be seen on the site. It is my assumption that when potential clients Google my name they would prefer to see references to what a fierce attorney I am rather than references to my age and body type.

Taking on Twitter is on my to-do list. I plan to get right on that. As soon as I can say “tweet me” with a straight face.

And now for the Q and A portion of our program.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Two events tie for that distinction. First, early into my marriage, my husband and I moved from suburbia – a Michigan world where we had spent our entire lives surrounded by family and friends – to the alien land of Oklahoma where we knew no one and worked opposite shifts because we only had one car. My first week in Oklahoma I heard “I’m Proud to be an Okie from Miscogee” about 32 times, experienced the horror of a half-mile wide tornado coming toward our apartment with no idea where to take shelter, and had to deal with a surprise visit from a nude Peeping Tom. [When the police questioned me regarding the latter incident, I explained that he was so close to my window that I could only see him from chest to knees. They asked for a description. Really? I again explained the limited portion of him that I had seen. When they asked the same question for a third time, in frustration I snapped: "Apparently he was brunette with naturally curly hair." Who knew a cop could turn so red??] Months later, in an attempt to alleviate the saturating loneliness, I looked through the phone book and found a person with my unusual maiden name, called him up and asked if he had relatives on the east coast. The surprised responder said he thought so. It was a short conversation.
The second event was being diagnosed last year with invasive lobular breast cancer. While there were some emotional and physical hurdles to jump, the most difficult part of that situation was seeing the pain in the eyes of those who loved me and knew they couldn’t fix it for me, and knowing I couldn’t fix that for them.
Both events were filled with blessings, lessons learned, amazing people, enhanced faith, incredible growth and positive outcomes. I wouldn’t have chosen either. Nor would I change anything.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

Picking one of anything isn’t my strong suit. I would love to hang out with Barbara Bush, Jimmy Carter, Pope Francis, and Ted Koppel. Not because of religion or politics, but in spite of them. When I analyzed my choices, I realized the common denominators were that each comes across as a straight-shooter, humble, compassionate, authentic and has a broad-world view because of their life experiences that I am fascinated by. I listened to books on tape by Jimmy Carter and Barbara Bush that they read themselves. When they were over, especially with regard to Barb’s (as I came to think of her), I was saddened that my new friend would not be driving to work with me anymore.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

The certainty that adults are good, right, and know everything. What a rude awakening that was to find out how human they all were. And what jerks some of them were.
I also miss how big everything was. For instance, when we would visit New Bedford, Massachusetts as kids, one whole day would be devoted to going over to the “French side” of town to visit my mother’s relatives, then over to the “Portuguese side” of town to see my father’s relatives. We stayed a half-hour or so and drove all the way to the next stop for another half hour, covering six or seven relatives on a good day. Visiting as an adult, I was appalled how everything had shrunk. Apparently everyone lives within blocks of each other. And their houses had gotten smaller, too.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

Hay balers. For round bales. Seeing a field full of randomly placed hayrolls absolutely makes my day. Hayrolls bathed in sunlight, hayrolls shrouded in morning haze, hayrolls sillouetted against a sunset streaked sky . . . I am ridiculously smitten with hayrolls. And I’m pretty sure I can be heard for miles around at the end of the season doing one of those slow-motion “nooooooooooooooooooo” wails as the hayrolls start to form lines in preparation for being sold, moved, or winterized in white plastic jackets like jumbo marshmallows.
The ‘cut and paste’ feature on a word processor is a close second.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Zip off witty retorts that would knock people’s socks off in the moment instead of receiving the brilliant insight after the phone has been hung up, the person has walked away, or the party is over.

Thank you so much for participating in the spotlight, Shel. You were great…as I knew you would be! I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Up next week it’s Yolanda McAdam.


Summer Spotlight: Maria aka Brickhousechick

 71546_771273103591576898_oMoochas Gracias Jill, for letting me take part in this fun Summer Spotlight Series. Although summer is officially and sadly over, I am happy to be featured during this most delightful autumn month. You have yourself some fascinating and talented followers, Señorita Jill! I have enjoyed reading their bios and learning about their accomplishments and hobbies.

I call myself brickhousechick, not only because of my mighty proportions and dimensions (ahem), but mostly because I have weathered several devastating storms throughout my life and I am still alive and kicking (and kicking some more).

Some of these storms have nearly crushed me to pieces and pulverized me to the ground. Yet somehow, my brick exterior and stubborn demeanor have managed to protect me, thus far. For this, I am quite grateful.

I am the happiest when I am laughing, eating, dancing and drinking Sangria. My favorite song to dance to is none other than, Brick House by The Commodores.

I was born in Puerto Rico and came to live in the US at the age of 9. I didn’t know English when I arrived but was able to pick it up quickly. I am fully bilingual and have noticed that as I age, my first language (Spanish) dominates, particularly when I am angry or in distress. As a result, I am proud to be able to swear like a sailor, in my native language.

I studied Psychology in college and have always been fascinated with human behavior. I like to try to understand what drives people to behave the way they do (when I figure it out, I will let you know.) Naturally, I ended up working in the banking industry for 11 years, after I graduated. I can’t think of a better environment in which to practice my schooling than stone buildings filled with catatonic anal-retentive, rule following co-workers as well as schizophrenic and usually angry, bank customers. Often times, it is through experiences that the real educating takes place.

I live in a fairly recent emptied-out nest with my remarkable husband who didn’t realize he was marrying the queen of “high maintenance”. My two wonderful kids are in college and must be missing me like crazy, right about now.

Ay, where did the time go? I better get to answering Jill’s questions.

1) Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend? How much space do I get for my answer? I don’t understand and/or comprehend how my (I don’t want to generalize) significant other, after 25 years of marriage and 10 dating, still makes the same mistakes over and over again. In particular, commenting on my food portions and telling me that I will never be able to finish my meals. “Don’t fill up on bread or you won’t be able to finish your meal”, says he. Hello? For crying out loud, when have I ever not been able to finish a meal?

2) What celebrity do you get mistaken for? She is not a star per say, but I have been told that I look like journalist, Elizabeth Vargas. When I was younger, people (mostly my mom) told me that I looked like Elizabeth Taylor. I guess I should have been named Elizabeth.

3) What do you miss most about being a kid? After answering question #1, would you be surprised if I said I miss eating everything and anything without gaining weight? As a toddler, I actually went through a period where I did not want to eat (imagine that?) and my parents had to trick me and force feed me. I think that phase only lasted a day or two and then I was cured. I miss eating Pop Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Squirt-on cheese, Cheez Whiz and SteakUms. Those were the days…

4) What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Without getting too serious, although this question screams seriousness, giving birth and fighting a serious illness, are up there. I can actually say however, that neither of those was as hard as my attempt at saving my 19 year-old niece from herself. I took her into my home, gave her unconditional love, sacrificed my relationship with my own daughter, provided her with all the professional help available to her and lost myself along the way. To no avail. She is currently living in the streets and does not want to be saved. I do not regret trying, but damn was it hard.

5) If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
There is a lot more learning to be had, let me tell you. As they say (who is they anyway?), it is never too late to learn something new. Now that my nest is empty and much cleaner than when the chicks were in it, I have a list of activities and things I would like to try. There is no ONE thing, just a whole lot of things. Some of these include learning to speak Italian, learning the Art of Meditation, cooking exotic foods, eating exotic foods, making exotic cocktails, drinking exotic cocktails and while I am at it, writing a book.

Enjoy your weekend and thank you for reading!

Thank you for taking the spotlight, Maria. You’re an inspiration to those of us living with a chronic illness. Up next week, it’s Shel Harrington.


Summer Spotlight: Pauline King

In a serendipitous turn of events Jill gave me my guest post spot on my birthday. Not just any old annual event either, a momentous birth anniversary. The one where society deems you ‘a senior citizen’. An older person, a past-your-best person – an old age pensioner, a retiree, a person with no place left to go but down..

Yes, I have reached the age of 65, from today I am officially retired and now all my time every day is mine and mine alone. Happy dance!! Tango, waltz, hip-hop, jive or jazz – dance with me, celebrate with me – I have never felt younger, or more together, or more content. I laugh out loud everytime someone says the word ‘retired’. I feel like I am playing a monumental trick on the world – I now get paid by the government to live every day with nothing to do but make myself happy?


Bring it on!!

So please – enjoy a sip of champagne, a glass of wine or a shot of whatever you fancy. Help yourself to a tasty morsel of your favourite cheese. Have some of these fresh strawberries….. please, do take a slice of double chocolate gateau birthday cake while you have a quick read.

I’m not a writer – I’m a tad imposterish here amongst you lot – these denizens of the written word. But I do love books and I do love language and I love a good story! I’m a crafter, a creator, a mixed media painter. I do over, do up and make do. I recycle and upcycle, but no longer bicycle.

I started my blog ‘The Contented Crafter‘ eighteen months ago. I knew little about the blogging world or how it operated. I’d read some blogs of artists and a couple that friends keep about their professional lives. My intention in starting my blog was simply to keep a record of the creations that were coming out of my craft room because, as a reckless and totally in the moment creator, once given away there was no recall, no reminder, no sequence to refer back to.

I soon found myself blogging about other events in my life apart from my creative work – I wrote a post about my cats addiction to Catnip, another entitled ‘I Like Blogging’, yet another about a shocking meeting in a store, one about my traumatic early years, all interspersed with a variety of work that recorded a definite progress from one genre to another.

The whole experience has been a bit like Topsy – and just keeps right on growing! It is fun, it is lively, it keeps me [almost] artistically on track and has delivered some lovely new friends into my life – I still love blogging!

 I live a busy life – though there was just me and my Maine Coon cat Orlando until recently. Then I adopted a Shih-Tzu X boy I named [in a moment of inappropriate grandeur] Sid-Arthur, a play on Siddhartha because I thought he was quiet and gentle and deep. I was wrong!

Two months have passed by though, and now he is pretty much the best puppy in the whole entire world and blogging stopped being about anything else much except him. If you do decide to pop in for a visit you will surely meet my boys.

Now to Jill’s questions:

If you could learn to do anything what would it be?
Dance. Any and all kinds of dance. I am a ballerina, an accomplished ballroom dancer, a whizz at jazz and contemporary dance. All in my imagination. I dance every day – but it is the boppy, dippy kind of dancing you do in the privacy of your own home when nobody is watching.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Learn to be contented with life as it is in any given moment. Learn to live and breathe and work with joy. Learn to see that my cup is always, and at least, half full. It’s taken a life time and is still in process.

If you could visit anyplace in the world where would it be?

I’d choose to go back to Italy and the Meditterranean countries – I love the vibrancy, the passion, the community and the life style! I love the way the people shout and wave their arms about and gesticulate when two scooters almost collide. I love the way everybody disappears at midday and reappears three hours later. I love the art, the architecture, the rolling green hills and vineyards, the markets and the history. I love the warmth of the people and the crazy volubility of families interactions– and I love how mama gets to rule the roost!

Life as an animal – which one?
A pampered, over-indulged and much loved cat! There’s brushing and petting and stroking and eating all done at a leisurely pace between bouts of sleeping in the best spots in the house. What a great life it is – and you get to live it with a look of disdain and a flick of the tail for all unwelcome intrusions on your comfort level as well!

Is there anything about the opposite sex that you just don’t understand?
Someone else has answered this question in this way before: ‘Everything!’
I love men. I love the company of men and their intellects. I love their humour and their practicality. But I don’t understand their inability to solve all the problems of the world whilst in the shower. This is clearly a fault in the mechanism and would have been grounds for an instant recall had the creator been a woman!

Thanks so much Jill, for this opportunity to meet so many new people. I have enjoyed reading every week and have visited where possible, though there have been times when life has interrupted my blogging!

Thank you for taking the spotlight, Pauline. Congratulations on your retirement, I know you’re going to love it! Up next week, it’s Maria…aka Brickhouse Chick.


Summer Spotlight: Mark Anderson

Thanks, Jill, for what has truly been a delightful Summer Spotlight on your blog. I have very much enjoyed meeting so many talented and interesting people each Friday. Before I answer a few of the questions, I think I should introduce myself.

I’m Mark Anderson, a retired middle school language arts teacher, who has not had one iota of a problem grasping the whole retirement scene! It has always amazed me that there are those folks who, once they finally retire, can’t seem to figure out what to do with themselves and all of their new-found freedom.

A long time ago, I told myself that when the day finally came that I could retire, I’d be that writer that I’d always dreamed about being. When that wonderful day rolled around in June of 2007 after thirty-five years of teaching, my wife Carolyn and I sold our house in Naperville, Illinois, had a new place constructed several miles further west in northern Illinois—out among the corn and bean fields—and have enjoyed the simpler, quieter, less-hectic lifestyle ever since.

Soon after our move, I resurrected many old half-started manuscripts, jottings, doodlings, and other rough drafts from the large file box I’d kept in the back of my closet for many years. Most of the scribblings I found sparked many memories—for better or worse. The mere act of opening up that kind of “time capsule” was all the impetus I needed to get my writer’s mind moving toward the novel and short stories I’d vowed to write for as long as I could remember. Here was stuff I could use to ignite ideas and propel me into the writing mode.

As a result, in 2010, I published Black Wolf Lodge. That experience gave me the confidence that I could actually write a book—start to finish—and sell a few copies. Of course, I realize the formatting was not very good, but I’d learn all about making it so much better in my second novel a few years later.

And about this time, I discovered the challenging project known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that fills up November with the efforts to produce a 50,000 word novel by month’s end. The result of that experience was the draft for my second novel, The Good Luck Highway, published in the spring of this year. Talk about a fun book to write and put together! By this time, too, I’d discovered and learned the fantastic writer’s software known as Scrivener, making me a much more organized and efficient writer.

Currently, I’m enjoying more reading than writing while spending time up at our 101-year-old cottage on a wonderful lake in southwest Michigan. Though summer has proven to be less productive overall, I’ve still managed to get well into the draft of my next novel, a story featuring the main characters from Black Wolf Lodge.

Besides devoting my time to writing short stories and novels, I have a blog named Down Many Roads (http://cortlandwriter.wordpress.com). And when I’m not writing or reading, I am usually plying the waters on our pontoon or splashing in the water with our two grandsons. It’s all very special—this life—and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else!

Now, onto Jill’s questions…

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

For a very long time, particularly as I’ve aged, I have had a romantic notion that it would be neat to hook up with all of my ancestors (living and dead) and be able to get to know them and what exactly their lives were like, and the interesting twists and turns in their lives—their stories—that eventually paved the way to my entering this world. I would be most interested in seeing the people I most resemble and, perhaps, behave like.
I would love to have one more family gathering—like so many holidays past—with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins in attendance. Those who have gone before me, I’d love to be able to tell them what they meant to me and how they each have an influence on my life even now. I’d hug my dad and thank him for all things I might have failed to thank him for back then. I’d hold my mom and let her know that she’s not forgotten even though she lives away and not getting any younger.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
I miss those afternoons and evenings, playing baseball with my friends, in the hot Indiana summers until it was too dark to see, and having to be reminded a million times that it was time to come home! I miss the love of a wonderful mom and dad and all of the very special things they did for my two sisters and me. My dad always found time to play catch or hit me fly balls or take me to hockey games in Fort Wayne in the winter or to White Sox games out in Chicago in the summer. At the time, I wasn’t always so appreciative, and I regret that very much, especially since he passed away suddenly in 1978, just before he turned 50.

If you could go back in time to change one thing what would it be?
I think I’d enjoy having applied myself much more diligently as a student growing up and not been quite such a class clown. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but that was the problem most of the time, especially when I was supposed to be learning multiplication, fractions, and long division. I could never see the importance of stuff such as that, so I goofed off instead. But I regret that now and wish I’d learned it then. It wasn’t until later, when I was working on my master’s degree during my teaching career, that I buckled down and actually earned good grades.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

Without a doubt, the greatest invention was the typewriter/keyboard. Without either one, I would have fallen far short of becoming a writer, especially if anyone has had the pleasure of trying to decipher my handwriting! To this day, I consider my high school typing class the most important class I ever took. It’s the one skill I learned, honed, and put to use more than any other (not counting learning to read or to write, of course).

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Playing the piano. I have always imagined myself walking into a party, with a room full of people having a wonderful time, and sitting down at a piano and reeling off all kinds of tunes—boogie-woogie, ragtime, jazz, classical—and bringing the entire room to silence as they all turn, spellbound, totally captivated by my unleashed talent. Of course, I’d really just enjoy being able to play for myself whenever the spirit moved me.

Thank you for taking the spotlight, Mark. I love that you’re enjoying retirement and fulfilling your dream of being a writer. Up next week, it’s Pauline King.


Summer Spotlight: L. Marie

It’s Me, L. Marie

Hi, I’m L. Marie. Everyone so far has been a tough act to follow. I’m a little nervous, so please bear with me. Um, let me see. You want to know about me. Perhaps this would go more smoothly if you asked me questions before I answer the ones that Jill provided. I’ll pretend that you did.

You: I’m guessing you’re some sort of blogger?

Me: Yes. My blog is El Space: The Blog of L. Marie. I blog about writing and life. Both are broad topics, so that leaves me with plenty of subtopics on which to write. So of course I’ve chosen topics like the perfect bathroom reading and the use of hand puppets to brighten one’s day.

You (momentarily stunned into silence by that remark): Um, moving on, what’s with the name L. Marie?

Me: L. Marie is a pen name (hence the Scaredy Squirrel photo rather than a photo of me). Over a year ago, I established my blog under it, because I plan to publish fiction under that name. I’ve published books under my “real” name before. They’re very different from my current fiction. I’m used to writing books mainly for kids 9-12. But I’m currently working on a young adult fantasy series—not something I’d want my young readers to read. It’s fairly violent, but not gratuitously.

You: What’s your background?

Me: Glad you asked. I’ve been a ghostwriter, a book editor (fiction and nonfiction), a writer of devotionals, curriculum writer (I currently write curriculum for Pre-K-Grade 8—mostly pre-K and Kindergarten now; I’ve written textbooks for public schools), production editor, proofreader, copyeditor, and a manuscript reviewer for publishers. During my years as a manuscript reviewer, I read about 21,000 manuscripts. Yes. You read that right. I’ve also worked as a technical writer.

You: Um, could you answer Jill’s questions now?

Me: Certainly.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
Definitely C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Because of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’m a fantasy writer today. I love the fact that their series can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I also love their approach to fantasy. Both were fervent admirers of fairy tales, but never saw them as stories only for children. I also love fairy tales. My parents used to read them to me at bedtime.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I’d learn Mandarin. Though I spent a summer teaching in China (in WuJiang, a city near Shanghai), my Mandarin was fairly bad. I meant to improve, but I haven’t so far. One of my nephews, however, studied Mandarin in high school.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
The freedom to lie around in the backyard and daydream without worrying about deadlines, rent, or other bills. I also miss having a family in the same house. My parents and older brother live in a different state, so I don’t see them as often. My younger brother and his family live close by.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Becoming a writer full time. My parents hoped that I would be on the fast track toward success, which in their eyes meant being an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer. In that way, I could live the American dream. But I’d begun writing stories when I was eight years old. They didn’t encourage my story writing and were quite dismayed that I went into the writing program as an undergraduate. They were afraid I’d wind up a broke writer eating a can of cold beans in someone’s garret. They weren’t the only ones. Others encouraged me to switch my major to “something useful.” Ha ha! I can’t say that the life of a writer is the easiest life. After years of trying to get a manuscript sold, I almost considered taking the LSAT while working at the American Bar Association. But I left that job and became a full-time editor. That’s when I published my first book. When I returned to grad school four years ago for an MFA, no one tried to tell me to switch to a more “useful” major.

If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?
Everyone who knows me knows that I would love to go to Italy. I’ve wanted to go there ever since I was a kid and saw the movie Three Coins in the Fountain on TV. I’d stay at least three weeks. I’d also stop over in Ireland and Scotland.

Thank you for taking the spotlight, L Marie. I’m so happy you’ve pursued your dream of being a writer. Up next week, it’s Mark Anderson.


Summer Spotlight: Theresa Hupp

I’m Theresa Hupp, and I’m delighted to participate in Jill’s summer guest blogging series. One of my pleasures as a blogger has been getting to know Jill through her writing.

As I say on my Twitter profile, I am a writer, editor, mediator, human resources consultant, and attorney, and also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague. That pretty much sums me up. I worked as an attorney and in Human Resources for Hallmark Cards for 27 years, then retired to become a writer. I have a husband and two grown children.

As you can see, I have many facets to my life, and I struggle daily with how to balance them. At the moment, I am trying to spend more time on writing, but volunteer work and family matters—also important—keep creeping in.

I blog at Story & History: One writer’s journey through life and time. The title of my blog provides me both focus and freedom to post about the many facets of my life.

I am working on a series of historical novels about travel along the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush—that’s my journey through time. Some of my blog posts are about my research process and the history I have learned writing these books.

I also write about my family and personal experiences—that’s my journey through life.

Almost everything I want to write about fits within the themes of journey, life and time. If it doesn’t fit these themes, it probably doesn’t belong on my blog.

In addition to the historical novels that are still works in progress, I have a contemporary novel published under a pseudonym. It is a financial thriller, and reached #1 in that category in the Kindle store this summer.
If anyone is interested in reading it, please e-mail me at mthupp@gmail.com, and I will send you the link to buy it.

Here are my answers to some of Jill’s questions:

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?
I don’t get mistaken for anyone these days, but when I was in high school, a friend started calling me Jane Fonda. Soon many of my other friends picked up the nickname. I don’t look anything like Jane Fonda, but during my junior year of high school (circa 1971), I wore a pair of green crushed velvet bellbottoms with a purple floral print top. My friend said, “That looks like something Jane Fonda would wear!” and it took off from there.
My friend even took me to see Klute, an R-17 movie, sneaking me in when I was still 15. That’s about the baddest thing I did as a high-school student.
This anecdote is part of my journey through life. I tell other stories in my blog posts, from all decades of my life.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
I had a good childhood, but there isn’t much I miss about it. I have been fortunate in life to (mostly) choose what I wanted to do in my education, in the careers I pursued, and in the family life I’ve led. That doesn’t mean my pursuits have been easy, or that my path through life has always been what I expected, but I have taken charge of my own life as much as I could.
One thing I have missed about childhood is the carefree life kids lead. Starting around the ninth grade, I began worrying about grades and class standings, then about where to go to college, what profession to pursue, what job to take, etc. And also about marriage, raising children, and doing well enough financially to educate my children and plan for retirement. Kids don’t have to worry about any of that.
Now that I’m retired, I’d like to find that lack of responsibility again. But life doesn’t work that way. There are parents to worry about, adult children who still need my guidance (though they may not think so), volunteer organizations to run, books to write, and my own future aging to prepare for.
I’ve concluded I will never be carefree again. Once an adult, always an adult. (Unless dementia strikes, which has happened in my family, and you can read about that on my blog also).

What do you think the greatest invention has been?
There are so many! The Internet—we now have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips! Other developments have also fostered the dissemination of information, such as the printing press, the typewriter, the telegraph, and the personal computer.
But I have to give the nod to indoor plumbing. First of all, anyone who has been camping knows how awful it is to be without indoor plumbing on a cold or rainy night. More importantly, public sanitation has decreased the spread of disease throughout the world, thus increasing life spans.
I have thought often as I’ve written about traveling the Oregon Trail how the pioneers had to dig latrines every night along the way. The cholera epidemics along the trail were largely due to contamination of the rivers and streams where they stopped. Diseases caused by lack of sanitation wreak havoc on the lives of my characters in 1847.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
This question stopped me. As I thought about the things I really want to learn, I realized they are all within my capabilities, if I chose to pursue them.
• Learning Spanish—I’ve learned other languages, and could learn Spanish if I took the time.
• Learning to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”—I used to play the piano, and could do so again if I took the time.
• Parasailing—I’ve always wanted to try it, but I chickened out the one time I had a real opportunity. But I could do it if I wanted. I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, but I’ve come to terms with that.

Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend?
There are many things about the male of the human species I don’t understand. One of them is why they can’t just apologize when they’ve done something wrong. I had this explained to me once in a gender diversity seminar. Every male, I was told, wants to be the alpha dog. None of them wants to put himself beneath the other dog. That means they won’t apologize, because that would be admitting they had been wrong. It would sure solve a lot of relationship issues if men could get over this.
P.S. I know I’m generalizing about men . . . but really, isn’t this true? They don’t apologize. At least not effectively.

* * * * *
Many thanks to Jill for this opportunity, and I hope some of Jill’s readers will follow me on over to my blog, Story & History, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you for taking the spotlight, Theresa. Congratulations on your novel! I’ve got it on my Kindle and I’m anxious to read it. Up next week, it’s L. Marie.


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