Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


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SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: PATSY PARKER

Thank you, Jill, for the opportunity to share a little about myself on your blog and for having me as your guest.  I am thankful for the friendship we have shared for the last several years, and I am happy for your success as a writer.

I began my blog, Patsy’s Creative Corner, on WordPress, almost four years ago when I was looking for something new to do.  I started it in July of 2013.  At the time, I was drawing and painting as a hobby, however, didn’t occur to me to share my artwork until much later.  I draw in pencil but mainly use watercolors.  I have done some acrylic paintings as well.  A couple of years ago I became obsessed with sea turtles, so I gave myself a project of learning to draw the seven different types of sea turtles.  I also painted them in watercolors.  Here’s a link to a finished project I did quite a while ago where each type of sea turtle was painted in watercolors.  There are many, many more drawings and smaller paintings of sea turtles as well as many other works of art on my blog.  Currently I am in the process of reorganizing the navigation of my blog, but if you click on the box that says “Select Category” under the widget “Look Around,” it will help you get around faster.

If you decide to spend any time looking around there, you will see that I write about a wide variety of things.  One of the most frequent themes is mental health because I believe I have suffered from depression and anxiety for many years as I believe my family of origin did also.

Here are my answers to the three questions I picked from Jill’s list:

What is special about the place you grew up?

I grew up in Georgia, Kentucky, and California.  Georgia holds some of the most special memories mostly of neighborhood friends and lots of things to do.  For a couple of winters after I turned eight, I was a cheerleader at Midway Park nearby.  One of my brothers played football one or two years also.  I played softball for three summers.  When I wasn’t playing softball or taking piano lessons, my favorite place to be was the community swimming pool.  My favorite memory from there was becoming acquaintances with a girl, whose name I wish I could remember, who had part of one of her arms missing below the elbow.  When I first met her I wondered why she was there because I ignorantly thought she probably couldn’t swim very well.  It was amazing to watch her swim; she even beat me in races lots of times, and I was a strong swimmer!  Because of Midway Park, I guess the thing that stands out about growing up in Decatur, Georgia, was the sense of community I knew.  I honestly have never experienced anything like it since we left there when my dad’s company was transferred to Kentucky when I was ten, then again to California when I was 16.

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

When I was in my first new school in Kentucky, I was teased a lot and given a terrible nickname.  It devastated me to the point where I wished we had never moved there.  Then a terribly inappropriate and embarrassing thing happened to me in my elective art class I in Jr. High school.  I wrote about it on my blog.  It is a featured page called The Art Class.

I think getting teased and made fun of and humiliated in school all the times I ever went through it, made me hate that behavior in people.  So, over the years I became the kid who made friends with other kids whom were teased or bullied, too.  Not only did I stick up for others, but I eventually had enough courage to stick up for myself.  In eleventh grade I was picked on for being the new kid at my new school in California.  Three girls decided to begin bullying me for no reason.  I was miserable until I had enough and stood up for myself one day.  I was fully prepared to fight the ringleader if I had to, but when I stood up to her, she backed off, and they left me alone after that.

I have always been an advocate for the victim or the underdog; I’ve been that way my whole life even though there have been many situations where I was the victim.  There were times I couldn’t protect myself and suffered in horrendous ways, but after many years of counseling I became a mom to two kids who don’t ever let anyone walk all over them.  They know how to either work through problems with others or leave unhealthy relationships behind.  For this I am grateful.

What would be some of the most annoying things about having you as a roommate?

I love this question!  I am 56 years old and didn’t have my kids until I was 36 and 38 so they have grown up with older parents than most of their friends.  First, I hate clutter!  I am not a fanatic about neatness by any means; I just really don’t like it when STUFF is left lying around where it doesn’t belong or isn’t put away when it isn’t being used anymore!  Second, I am an avid reader.  I really prefer the house to be quiet after 9 p.m. at the latest unless all of us were ever watching a movie together or something.  I personally cannot read well when there is noise.  I have a slight disability in the area of comprehension.  Third, and this the most annoying to my family for sure, I tend to repeat things I’ve already told my family because I don’t remember telling them OR I don’t remember things that they claim they’ve already told me!  So as you can see, I’m a little like Dori in Finding Nemo – “I suffer from short-term memory loss!”


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SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: KATE CRIMMINS

Link to my blog: www.coffeekatblog.com

Thanks to Jill Weatherholt for inviting me to participate. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and it’s an honor to post.

In blogging years, I’m an old-timer. It’s been over five years.  It started out as a marketing tool to continue a professional presence after retirement but quickly turned into a humor blog about cats, Starbucks, stupid people and anything else on my mind.

When the evil humor demons came out of the box, I couldn’t get them back in. Once in a while, I’ll do a business project but I can’t wait to get back to my happy place at my keyboard with a mocha latte and some cat trying to hack up a hairball. And snark. Lots of snark!

The connections you make as a blogger are amazing and so are the things you learn. Unlike other social media where you post selfies or what you are currently eating (and there is nothing wrong with that), most bloggers post stories and experiences, often accompanied by beautiful photos.

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

I was one of the original latchkey kids. My Dad died when I was ten and it changed my world forever. Overnight we went from being a “Cleaver” family to a single Mom family. At that time, it was very unusual. My mother, who had been a stay at home Mom typical in the 50s, went back to work. Jobs for middle-aged women were not good paying. There wasn’t money for extras or a lot of time. I had to pick up responsibility fast. I learned to cook and during the summer, I did the cleaning and helped with laundry. My life was very different from my friends’ lives but I didn’t recognize it at the time. The need to be responsible early changed my life and made me more focused and independent.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

“Kindness rules!” The past year has been painful and I’ve seen long-term friendships ripped apart. (Yes, there are people I am still avoiding!) Getting back to basic kindness would go a long way toward healing. You don’t need to have the same beliefs. Tolerance and kindness should be a basic rule. Drop the snark (except for funny blog posts) especially on social media.

What would be some of the most annoying things about having yourself as a roommate?

I don’t like people, especially up front, personal and in my face all the time. I would not make a great roommate. My neatness is annoying. I like peace and quiet. When I moved back to my hometown 20 years ago, I lived a block from an all-women’s college campus. I considered renting out a room to a student. One margarita and I got over that idea. Privacy is important to me and the possibility of being matched with someone more outgoing was frightening.


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Summer Spotlight: L. Marie

Image Courtesy of fiftyflowers.com

Do not adjust your screen. You are not seeing things. You have just entered El Space. Thank you for traveling with us.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m L. Marie. You probably noticed that I didn’t include a photo of myself. Though I’ve published books under my given name, I established the pen name L. Marie for my blog (El Space: The Blog of L. Marie and my middle grade and young adult fiction. But I can’t say that L. Marie isn’t a “real” name, because it’s my name too.

I’m still querying agents and publishers about three of my fantasy books. So, I don’t yet have a book to go with this blog post. Sorry to disappoint. Have some virtual chocolate instead. No, I insist.

Image Courtesy of Whisper app.

Instead of three questions, I decided to answer one, since this post would be about three thousand words otherwise. But the question of where I grew up is one that resonates with me very strongly. Sometimes, you have to look back in order to see where you’re going.

Jill asked, “What is special about the place you grew up?”

I grew up on the far south side of Chicago in Maple Park—around 117th Street. For some of you, this might seem like foreign territory. Many times, whenever I’ve mention where I grew up, I’ve either been told, “I didn’t know Chicago extended that far,” or “I would never go there. I’m too scared.”

These days, Chicago gets a bad rap because of the murder count and issues with gangs. Yes, many murders have happened, sadly. And yes, gang activity has increased. But Maple Park was the womb in which I developed as a writer.

Here’s a screen shot of my old house—the first house my parents owned. They were among the first homeowners in this planned community. We moved here when I was three years old. Over the years, I spent many a sun-washed summer’s day in the ’70s riding my bike around the neighborhood.

Image Courtesy of Googlemaps

In my neighborhood, there were many kids my age and the ages of my two brothers. We shrieked, we sang, we laughed, we traded a tremendous amount of words. Because I loved books at an early age, and was surrounded by so many kids, I knew early on (at age eight as a matter of fact) that when I grew up, I wanted to write books for kids.

My elementary school—John Whistler—was six blocks away. My parents were not the hovering types, taking us to and from school every day. Mom walked with me to kindergarten once. After that, I walked with a friend to school each day, sometimes until the watchful eye of my older brother. (He’s only two years older.) I say sometimes, because he was not the hovering type either.

Dad taught my brothers and me to navigate through the neighborhood and the city. “The lake [Lake Michigan] is always east,” he’d say. “Don’t worry if you get lost. Just find your way back.”

I was pretty much a city kid, used to masses of people. I loved taking public transportation all around the city. When I was thirteen years old, I took two buses and the El—Chicago’s elevated train—to get to high school in the inner city of Chicago. Got pickpocketed a couple of times. In these increasingly dangerous times, parents today would probably balk at allowing their children to traverse a neighborhood or a city on their own. But the freedom to do so allowed me to learn my way around—sometimes through trial and error.

Images courtesy of L. Marie

First picture taken from the DuSable Bridge in Chicago. Second shows Willis Tower (tallest building), taken from a Wendella boat on the Chicago River

My parents took us to museums, libraries, live theater productions, and parks (like Grant Park) within the downtown area of Chicago. I developed a love of the arts in all forms at an early age. We went to plays at the Goodman Theater and movies at the drive-in and neighborhood theaters, and listened to a ton of albums at home: Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Andre Kostelanetz, Muddy Waters, Mozart, the Jackson 5, Mahalia Jackson, Diana Ross, Tchaikovsky.

We also went to baseball games—White Sox, since we were South Siders. My older brother, however, was a Cubs fan. (Nowadays, everyone is.)

Because I grew up in Chicago, the city makes cameos in some of the books I’ve written. I hope you’ll get to read them someday. Till that day comes, please feel free to stop by my blog.

Thank you, Jill, for allowing me to take up space here.

You have now left El Space.

 

 

 

 


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SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: NICKI CHEN

What is special about the place you grew up?

In the early 1950s, a middle-class street that dead ends at the river, kids running free until their moms call them in for dinner and then coming out again after dark to play “Starlight Starbright” seemed absolutely ordinary. Now I see how special that street was: Harrison Street. (See: When Familiar Landmarks Disappear …)

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

When you marry someone, whether you realize it or not, each of you is agreeing to open yourself up to the other person’s world. For me, that meant going beyond my small town American world view and melding it with my Chinese husband’s more cosmopolitan, Asian perspective. (See: My Interracial Marriage and Weddings Used to be Simpler … and Cheaper.

A second event that made me who I am was giving birth and becoming a mother. Soon after we married, Eugene and I had three daughters, one after the other. Before the youngest was born, a factory closure and an economic downturn, one that hit engineers particularly hard, left Eugene without a job.

The job he eventually found with the Asian Development Bank in Manila had a profound effect on my life. It turned me into an expatriate for the next twenty-two years. Being an expat wife without a work visa put an end to my teaching career, but it also opened me up to new opportunities. I studied Chinese brush painting, batik, and Chinese language. I even (almost) finished an MBA course. Finally, after many years, I turned to writing. And here I am … a writer.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

With apologies to Jill, my one rule would have to have three parts. I’ve often been accused of being hopelessly moderate. I just can’t go to the extremes that often go along with a single rule.

So here’s my rule: Be kind, be just, and be truthful.

 

My Blog: Behind the Story

I started my blog in August of 2013 in preparation for the 2014 publication of my novel, Tiger Tail Soup. As the title of the blog suggests, my aim was to provide background for the novel. I started out writing posts about the small Chinese island of Gulangyu where the story happens.Then I wrote about things like bound feet and Chinese food and maids. Because my novel takes place during the WWII invasion of China by the Japanese, I wrote about resistance fighters and collaborators and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

After a while, I started running low on topics related to my novel. Now I write posts on anything that strikes my fancy. For Valentine’s Day, I wrote about the seasons of love. Another post describes the problem I had with rats making a nest in my car engine and chewing up some wires. Recently I’ve been writing about the Philippines, one of the settings for my next novel.

If you haven’t visited Behind the Story, please consider this your personal invitation.

 

Tiger Tail Soup: a novel of China at war

When I was dating my husband, he told me stories about his childhood in China. It was a good tactic. All those exotic stories about a little boy and fierce tigers and Japanese invaders added to the romance and gave him an edge over the other young men I knew. I had no idea that years later I would write a novel inspired by those stories.

My novel, Tiger Tail Soup, tells a story of war from the viewpoint of a young Chinese woman left alone when her husband leaves to fight the Japanese. She’s responsible for her children, her mother, and her mother-in-, with only two maids to help her out. During seven long years, 1938 to 1945, she must rely on her wits and her courage to get her through.

You can buy Tiger Tail Soup on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, or Apple Ibooks.

It’s also available for sale or order at your favorite bookstore.

The Chinese translation can be bought in the US on Amazon.


102 Comments

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: JENNIFER KELLAND PERRY

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Thank you, Jill, for featuring me in your Summer Spotlight series. It is indeed a pleasure and an honour, and I look forward to reading about your other guests. Now, on to your questions:

What is special about the place you grew up?

I was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
What makes my capital city so special, besides its colourful houses and distinct culture, is its long history and unique geographical location. It is the oldest English-founded city in all of North America. Besides that, St. John’s is next to Cape Spear, the most easterly point of land in North America.
These are only some of the reasons I used my birthplace as the setting for my novels.

St.John's_NFLD (1280x265)

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

I’ve always wanted to visit the United Kingdom. First, it was Italy and France. Now that my husband and I have scratched those countries off our bucket list, England and the surrounding areas are next. If all goes well, we hope to travel there next year. Fingers crossed!

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

I believe we should work harder at celebrating each others’ differences, instead of expecting everyone to speak, think and behave as we do. If we practised more acceptance and cooperation, our world would be an infinitely better place.

More about Jennifer:

Jennifer Kelland Perry is a blogger, writer, avid reader and animal lover. She left the city behind in 2010 for the rural writing life and is loving every moment.
Calmer Girls is her debut novel, the first in a two-book series. The second title, Calmer Secrets, was released in March 2017.
Jennifer lives beside the ocean in Newtown, Newfoundland with her husband Paul and two beloved sister cats, Maisie and Vivian. She is currently working on her third novel. You can visit her here on WordPress at jenniferkellandperry.com, where she shares photography, blogger bouquets, guest posts from her cats, or posts about writing.
Both of Jennifer’s books are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon:

Calmer Girls – First love and family turmoil in a meaningful YA story.

Sixteen-year-old introvert Samantha Cross is falling in love for the first time. There’s only one problem: she’s falling for her older sister’s boyfriend, Ben Swift. Her sister Veronica is beautiful, outgoing, and confident. Samantha is used to her sister getting all the attention and everything she wants, even if she doesn’t like it. But now they’re being torn apart by love for the same boy, their parents’ separation and mother’s declining emotional state, and their move away from Calmer Cove into city life in St. John’s.
As her life crumbles apart around her, Samantha’s feelings for Ben only grow stronger. Then she finds out the boy driving the vintage Thunderbird has mysterious issues of his own. Will Samantha let Veronica keep the only boy she’s ever loved, or will she end up ruining her sister’s happiness to take control of her own? Tensions between the siblings escalate, and Samantha is torn between doing what she thinks is right and acting on her heart’s desire. One thing becomes clear: one of the Cross sisters is in for a broken heart.

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Calmer Secrets – The tale continues in this gripping New Adult sequel to Calmer Girls.

Samantha Cross is all grown up, busy with art school, and free of romantic entanglements. That’s how she prefers it, having renounced love ever since Ben Swift came between her and her sister Veronica four years ago, changing their lives forever. Quite the opposite, Veronica rides the dating circuit with every eligible guy she meets. The rift between the sisters is still intact, troubling Samantha and raising questions about Veronica’s lifestyle choices.

But when an old friend turned sexy bass player rocks Samantha into a wild infatuation, she rethinks her abstinence. While feeling out this intense relationship, Ben barges back into their world with devastating news, sending both sisters into a tailspin. Is Samantha fated to fall under his spell again, or will she side with Veronica against dire new threats facing their family?

In an explosive climax, Veronica reveals long-buried secrets of her own, secrets that could impact all their futures and any hope of reconciliation between the Cross women — a.k.a. the Calmer Girls.

Other Links:

Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads 
Amazon Author Page
Instagram


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SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: JOHN HOWELL

Many thinks, Jill for hosting the Summer Spotlight Series and for including me in your selection of guests.

Here are my three questions and answers.

What is special about the place you grew up?

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and at first blush that doesn’t sound like a place that could in anyway be special. To me, there was no other place I would have rather been. I lived in a culturally diverse neighborhood. This diversity gave me wonderful experiences and memories of people with different backgrounds and customs. I was always amazed at how differently my friend’s families celebrated Christmas for example. There was always a core sameness around the birth of Christ, but customs and rituals were varied and unique. I was also able to gain a respectable amount of experience with different kinds of food by being invited to friend’s houses for dinner. In all, I think the diverse neighborhood was very special about where I grew up.

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

There were two defining events in my life. The first was when my father died. I was ten years old and could not find a rational justification for his death. Adults tried to explain about dad being taken up to heaven, but none of their words seemed to help. I concluded that I had done something wrong this was my punishment. Of course, I couldn’t put my hand on the specific act that caused such wrath but spent about twenty years trying to figure it out. During that time, I was conscious of trying to do my best not to repeat the error and to overachieve in everything I tried. There came a time when I finally realized that my dad’s death was not my fault. The result was a feeling of freedom that eventually allowed me to begin writing. The second event was a horrific auto accident when I was twenty-two. I was hospitalized for over seventy days and spent a fair amount of time in various stages of lucidness. My first thought when I woke in the ICU was that I had messed up again. It was during this time that I had to decide on blaming myself and giving up or continuing to fight to remain part of this world. After considering all that I had wanted to accomplish I chose to fight. It was this fight that demonstrated to me that one should never give up chasing a dream. The give up part is easy. The harder road is to commit to a plan and then accomplish that plan.

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

My rule would be that everyone on the planet would be responsible for helping one other person to become self-sufficient.  Of course, this rule would apply to everyone, and there would be no exceptions. I can just imagine the kinds of activities that would be taking place as each got engaged in helping someone else stand on their own two feet. A beautiful result over time is those who needed help would slowly become extinct. Then maybe the rule could change to everyone being required to save an animal. I can imagine the possibilities from there.

 

A little about me. I started writing full-time in 2012 when I finally threw off the yolk of organized commerce. I live on a barrier Island off the coast of Texas in the Gulf with my wife Molly and spoiled rescue pets.

I have since published three books. The first My GRL has just been re-released with a new cover and updated editing. It tells the story of John J. Cannon who buys a boat he names My GRL. Unbeknownst to him a group of terrorists want the boat since it will be a perfect vehicle to go undetected into New York harbor and deliver a fatal blow to the Annapolis Midshipmen on their summer cruise. John is the only one standing between the terrorists and the accomplishment of their goal. The second is His Revenge. John seeks to atone the killing of Gerry Starnes, the woman who sold him My GRL. The action moves from Port Aransas to California and on to Ecuador. His enemy Matt Jacobs has a twisted idea that John would make an excellent spokesperson for the terrorist group. He figures out a way to get John to cooperate on a plan that is designed to embarrass the President and wreak havoc on the oil industry. John must pretend to go along hoping he can create a way to get revenge. The question remains who will get the revenge? The Third is Our Justice the final story in the trilogy. John has been keen on bringing Matt Jacobs to justice. Matt has been keen on getting John to help him in a plot to assassinate the President. He plans to use John’s hero status to get close to the President to do his duty work. Both Matt and John feel their cause is right and both want justice extracted in their favor. We must see who in fact achieves Justice, Matt, John or neither.

All my books can be visited at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

My forth book is with the editor and is titled Circumstances of Childhood and will be launched in September of 2017. It is the story of two friends and how they come to help each other when times get tough.

In addition to my novel writing I write a seven day a week blog which is filled with short stories, a top ten list of what not to do, pictures of my neighborhood, and a little philosophy. I would hope your readers would check it out at http://Johnwhowell.com.

Here is my other contact information

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell