#RRBC Spotlight Author, Gracie Bradford

Hello, bloggers!

I am pleased to welcome this month’s RRBC Spotlight Author, Gracie Bradford


DO YOU LOVE WRITING BUT HATE SELLING?

Me too. Indie authors must be a jack of all trade. Like it or not, indie authors are entrepreneurs. Your book is a product. Your marketing is a service. Who has time to write and sell? Most authors prefer to write and leave the selling to someone else. Is it necessary to be hands-on in the selling process? As a businesswoman, I say absolutely.  It takes far less time to write than to sell. Once the book publishes, the most difficult challenge begins.

THREE WAYS TO GET PEOPLE TO BUY MORE FROM YOU

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS AND YOUR PLATFORM FIRST TO BRAND “YOU” NOT THE PRODUCT, “YOUR BOOK”

Increase your followers to get more honest and positive reviews – strive for more than 100 reviews the first month of launch.

Entice your followers with topics of interest to return to your point of sale – strive to build your email list to 5000 or more followers.

Join an active book club to help promote books.

Become involved with community professional and social groups – Be seen as an influencer or contributor.

Build networks through educational conferences, webinars, seminars, critique groups, etc.

BE YOU!!!

BECOME COMPUTER SAVVY

Spend time improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to your point of sales.

Leverage the power of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Website).

Stay on top of analytics by analyzing visitor’ patterns and time on sites.

When books first launch, try to get up to 1000 copies sold within the first few days (giveaways, free copies, gift with purchase, contract with libraries and bookstores) to move up on book sellers engaging elements of their site.

Keywords, categories, and hashtags must match your brand and audience to increase visibility.

 

EFFECTIVELY MANAGE TIME

Respond to your followers – stay engaged to maintain your buyers – install an autoresponder as your assistant.

Design and be ready to launch your FREE enticer on the same day of book launch- a freelancer is helpful in this area.

Develop an airtight marketing plan – carve out time and be consistent in implementation.

Develop an alluring pre-order interaction ahead of the game.

Hire reasonable cost subject matter experts in areas that you can delegate to someone else.


Book Excerpt

June, who was a ten-year-old feisty girl beyond her years, creates imaginary friends because she gets lonely in her isolation room at the cancer center. June explains to Chemo and Rad, her imaginary friends, her understanding of what is happening with her.

Chapter 9

  “The doctor told us that her goal was to shrink the size of the mass in my head, which was pushing against an area that controlled some of my mental and physical functions while at the same time reduce side effects and maintain my quality of life during and after treatments. She said that surgery was not an option that she wanted to take at this time. I was so glad to hear that they were not going to shave my hair off and cut my head open.

   She explained that they would not cut open my head, but they would have to insert a plastic tube called a “shunt” to drain fluid from my brain and have it flow to another site for ease of elimination from my body. My mom did not want to hear this unsettling news. Frankly, neither did I.

   The doctor told us that she and a radiation oncologist would determine the best drug for me. The drugs would be very potent ones (chemotherapy), which would run through my IV tube for a defined period in an attempt to destroy the bad cells. Then she would check my vitals after the first round of treatment to see if the mass in my brain was getting smaller. She explained that the chemotherapy treatments as a whole could last up to six months. The side effects might be unbearable sometimes. Sometimes the therapy might make me sicker than I was when I first came to the hospital.

   I interrupted her to remind her that I was only ten years old and told her she was frightening my brother. I noticed he looked like he was turning green. But the real reason I reminded her of my age was that she had scared me out of my mind.

   I looked at my parents and thought that my mom might pass out at any moment but noticed a smirk on my stepfather’s face. I looked over at G-Mom. She was the only one who seemed to be holding it together. I expected G-Mom to question the doctor in many ways to get everyone to grasp how serious this was and how long it would take to see results. In a kind and compassionate way, my grandmother grilled the doctor like a drill sergeant!” My doctor gradually realized that G-Mom was the stabilizing force in the family as well as very knowledgeable in medical terms. The doctor would frequently turn to my grandmother, seeking assurance that she was doing well explaining to the rest of the family and me. My doctor did not want to frighten my brother or me, but she felt we needed to understand the journey we were about to go on. I knew it would not be like the trip we had six months ago. I also knew that G-Mom would insist that I keep notes in my journal about my illness just as she did on our trips. I could not tell G-Mom that I had forgotten how to write.”

Expect to see the 3rd book of the Lady Bird series late 2018 addressing Autism.

You can pick up a copy of Gracie’s book at http://amzn.to/2gfLCEJ.

Author Photo

Like and follow this author through the social media platforms below:

Blog: www.free1592.wordpress.com
Website: www.authorgraciebradford.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorgraciebradford/
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/graciebradford5/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamxordinary
Facebook: www.facebook.com/gracie.bradford.58
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/authorgraciebradford/


Thanks so much for visiting with us! Please continue supporting this month’s RRBC Spotlight Author by visiting the website, where you’ll find more awesome information and other blog stops.

Until next time……………………………… Love & Blessings!!

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Spaghetti Man Writes – @robertparlante

Hello, bloggers!

We have a returning guest today, Robert Parlante. Robert is the author of FINDING EMMELINE, and you can find his other guest posts here:  Plotting A Different Ending & Write Like A Movie.


Spaghetti Man Writes

If you are expecting this blog posting to be about cooking, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Even though I know how to cook (worked as a short-order cook while attending college), this post is not about foodie delights, using bizarre ingredients or trying to prepare all the dishes in Julia Child’s French cookbook in 365 days. My written views of life are more a collection of musings and autobiographical reflections with no order except to suggest this is how I view the world while I sit in a rocker on a porch looking down to the lake of life. You may say, “I have no interest in your life or your mental meanderings.” So be it, then just sit back and wait for the next blog ___ maybe that one will be your sweet spot and spark your creativity.

It took me a long time to name my writer identity because everything I chose did not work. They were either domains already taken or they just didn’t feel right. Absorbed in Thought, View from the Porch, Where are My Clothes? Each of these final three almost made it to the top, but I selected SpaghettiManWrites. (If you’re curious about the Clothes mishap, I’ll consider a posting about that event one of these days.)

Now the story behind Spaghetti Man Writes. The obvious connection is that it has something to do with being of Italian heritage. That’s partially correct, but there’s more. We all tend to label people rather than try to know the person ___ now what label will you slap on me? Stop right there for a moment. Here are some personal observations to consider before you make your decision.

I am getting older, while my brain feels younger.

I’m an engineering person and a creative person. (Is that an oxymoron?)

I have had many failures that led to successes.

Being a writer toughens and prepares you for rejection.

I believe Jesus is the Lord of my life, but there were times where I challenged that belief.

Went on a blind date only one time and met my wife who was a last-minute substitute for someone who backed out.

Whatever label may have crossed your mind will never fully characterize who I am as a person because it would take so many labels. That’s how the moniker “Spaghetti Man” was birthed. Someone tried to affix a single label on me that turned out to be wrong. It all began 12 time zones away, near the Mongolian border of Siberia. I was in Krasnoyarsk as a member of a team distributing New Testaments to schoolchildren.

Not able to speak Russian, I was assigned a translator named Anne, an English teacher at the city university. She told me her father was Jewish. She was married to an Armenian and had one child.

I told her I was married with three children. That my mother’s family and my father came from northern Italy. That’s when I first noticed the cool shift in her conversation. Had I said something wrong? Maybe she didn’t understand me.

Nevertheless, through our week-long stay, we learned to work well together. Our first presentations were shaky and laughable. I talked too fast. She didn’t understand American idioms. Yet we learned to respect each other. More important, I sensed she was being touched by the gospel message as she translated the team testimonies.

At our last evening together Anne felt the need to be honest about her initial dim view of me. She related how she even told her husband that, of all the American missionaries in Siberia, she ended up with a spaghetti man! (In case it’s not obvious that was an ethnic slur.)

It seemed that in this distant part of Russia, a spaghetti-man label applied to Italian men is associated with laziness, stupidity, and sitting around all day drinking Chianti wine. My first reaction was anger. It was not so much a personal hurt, but the fact that she ___ like others ___ make sweeping characterizations.

When Anne saw none of the labels applied to me or the enthusiastic mission team, she asked for forgiveness. That was a big step for her.

As it turns out, the spaghetti-man label is not unique to Siberia. One definition in the current Urban Dictionary indicates it is a very thin, tall and bendy man. (I am short, dough-boy like and cannot touch my toes.) Another definition is an Italian male who is a hit with the ladies due to his diet of spaghetti and olive oil. I cannot wrap my head around how a spaghetti and olive oil diet translates to being a hit with the ladies. The aroma of garlic, used in cooking, comes right through your pores. I guess some people like that earthy fragrance, and maybe somebody should consider incorporating it into cologne.

Given the peculiar definitions, why then stick with a writer-name including the reference to Spaghetti Man? It’s simple. I want it to be a reminder to me and the readers that we are always more than a single word or a dismissive phrase or an ethnic slur.

Robert Parlante

Author of A Letter From Miss Wingate;  Up From the Ashes;  The Reflection in the Mirror;  Finding Emmeline

Contact Info:
SpaghettiManWrites.blogspot.com
rpeverett@aol.com
Facebook.com /Robert Parlante
@robertparlante


Thanks so much for stopping by! Please leave your comments below.

Until next time………………… Life & Blessings!!

Introducing #Author Fiona Glass – @F_Glass_Author

Good morning, bloggers!

I am so happy to see you on this beautiful day! (Even if it’s an unfortunate day outside, you can still greet the day with the most positive attitude! ;)  )

Today, I have a lovely guest for you to meet, Fiona Glass. If you enjoy spooky reads and things of the supernatural world, then you’re going to enjoy what she has to share…


 

If Heyer did horror…?

You could say Georgette Heyer is one of my guilty pleasures. These days she’s not rated as highly as many other writers of her generation, either for her Regency romances or her crime novels. Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers are far more likely to be raved over; Heyer seems to have rather fallen through the cracks.

But I’ve always loved her books, and have read dozens over the years. And whilst I lapped up both the romances (Frederica, These Old Shades) and the more serious crime like Penhallow, my absolute favourites are actually some of her more lighthearted books, like Why Shoot a Butler, Death in the Stocks, and in particular, Footsteps in the Dark.

All of these are full of breathless action, sarcastic characters, flippant humour, numerous interwoven plot threads, and sheer fun. Although they still have a strong crime element, they mostly lack the psychological themes of her darker crime books. And Footsteps in the Dark, in particular, is a riot, with a sinister baddie called The Monk, lots of dashing around in secret passages, and even – you guessed it! – spooky footsteps in the dark.

In Heyer’s case the book veers away from actual supernatural to a more logical outcome. But when I started writing Got Ghosts? a couple of years ago, I wanted to capture that same zany, breathless sense of madcap action and fun. In my book there really are ghosts, lots of them in fact, who inhabit an ancient English manor house called Greystones Hall, and act as unofficial guardians to its young artist owner Emily. But when a TV company come to film those ghosts, their resident medium stirs up something she shouldn’t, and chaos ensues. It’s not so much lights – camera – action, as lights – camera – inaction, as everyone bumps into something scary and all of them try to run away in different directions at once!

Even though my plot involves the sort of Gothic horror Heyer herself never went in for, I’m hoping I managed to bring some of her wonderful quirky atmosphere to my ‘haunted house’ story. You could say it’s my tribute to her, for giving me so many happy hours reading her books over the years.

If you’ve never read Footsteps in the Dark I can thoroughly recommend it, as long as you park your disbelief at the door. And if you’d like more information on Got Ghosts? then please head to my website where I have a whole page with the full blurb, an excerpt, links to various guest (ghost?) blog posts, and of course, that all-important information on where you can buy a copy!

And a big thank you to Marlena for giving me the opportunity to waffle on about myself, and making me feel so welcome.

got ghosts front

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Fiona_teaFiona lives within stone-throwing distance (never a good idea in Glass houses…) of England’s largest lake. When she isn’t being a pane in the glass, she writes dark contemporary and paranormal fiction. This is mostly in the shape of short stories, but she’s also had two paranormal romance novels and two novellas published so far. Her latest book, Got Ghosts?, a ghostly romp involving a TV production crew in a haunted English manor house, has just been published by Fox Spirit Books. You can find Fiona lurking on the internet at her website or Twitter. Please come and say hello!

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram


Thank you so much for joining us today. Please help me in supporting today’s featured guest with likes, shares and comments. And don’t forget to check out her links and her book!

Until next time……………………… Love & Blessings!!!

A Q&A with @Ray_Britain – Author of ‘The Last Thread’

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to another beautiful day at Life As I Know It. I am so pleased to welcome Author Ray Britain to my site. We have the pleasure of enjoying a lovely and entertaining Q&A with this fabulous author…


Tell us a bit about yourself, Ray. You were a detective I understand?

Thank you, Marlena. Yes. I had a successful and interesting career in both uniform and detective roles. This was in the UK. I completed my career in a high rank but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie amongst detectives was my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations and I was also a police Negotiator too, on top of ‘the day job’.

Why have you adopted a pen name?

For privacy mainly, but also for family security. I locked up many criminals during my career, some of whom were unpleasant characters.

You were a police negotiator as well? That must have been interesting work.

Yes, for about fifteen years and very challenging on occasions. The full title is Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role in addition to one’s day to day responsibilities. And for no financial reward, either, which often meant being ‘called out’ of a warm bed in the middle of the night to drive many miles to support police colleagues facing a variety of difficult situations.

Why did you want to be a negotiator?

To help people and because it’s endlessly fascinating. You never knew what you would be facing next. Often it was within a firearms incident where negotiators try to achieve a peaceful resolution such as a controlled surrender to armed officers. More usually, it was spending time, sometimes many hours and often in precarious situations, persuading someone to step back to a place of safety and to get them help. Less often, fortunately, it was negotiating the release of frightened hostages being held at gunpoint or other weapons.

Why did you write ‘The Last Thread’?

Like many people I’ve always wanted to write a book and the common advice is “stick with what you know”. There were other reasons too. I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in television dramas on TV. Whatever the complexity of the crime, they’re always solved within impossible time frames and, seemingly, with the most sophisticated technology immediately available.

How did you approach the structure of ‘The Last Thread’?

I’ve worked hard to create a story that’s interesting, immersing the reader in the welter of information which can easily overwhelm an investigation whilst keeping them guessing, hopefully, right up to the end. It’s authentically grisly in describing the murder, the crime scene and the post mortem. And there’s also a complicated love interest too, so it has something to offer all crime fiction lovers.

So where in the UK is the story located?

It’s located in and around the beautiful city of Worcester, England, and its surrounding countryside. Anyone with a little knowledge of the area will recognise many of the landmarks referenced in the story.

The story is marketed as having adult content. How adult are we talking?

That’s more to do with Amazon’s guidance, which I’m happy to observe. People in relationships have sex, so why would my protagonist, Detective Chief Inspector Stirling be any different? Also, a significant element of the plot has an adult theme but nothing too offensive, I hope, and reflects what happens within some relationships. In short, it reflects real life and how complex relationships can have devastating effects on people’s lives. To say more would spoil the story.

You mentioned your principle character, DCI Douglas Stirling. What’s he like?

DCI Doug Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character who is notoriously private and has an intriguing, untold back story. He is a consummate professional who expects his people to work hard, but works harder still. Stirling’s drawn to intelligent, interesting women and if they’re attractive, then even more so, which causes complications when his private life collides with the demands of his professional responsibilities. For their part, women find Stirling attractive and interesting but are frustrated by his reserve and his avoidance of an emotional commitment.

So, he’s not one of the dysfunctional, socially ill-at-ease characters we often read about?

No. Stirling’s a good-looking, powerfully built man with a certain reputation for the ladies. He takes pride in his appearance, but is impatient of vanity, in either sex!

And are your female characters simply ‘bit players’?

No, not at all. The story has four prominent female characters, each of whom has a strong personality.

How accurate is your story to real investigations?

The day to reality of investigations is quite different from how they’re portrayed on TV with Senior Investigating Officers juggling scarce resources, with limited investigators and making tough choices about how they spend the budgets they’re allocated.

Without spoiling it for our readers, what’s it about?

Well, perhaps the easiest thing to do is to give you the synopsis:

“Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must watch as the incompetent CI Ballard who is intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location where they discover a burnt-out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. With a shortage of experienced senior investigators available, ACC Steph Tanner risks her own career and appoints Stirling as the SIO, throwing him the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation.

But, with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation? Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Doug Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things were already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?”

So where can I buy ‘The Last Thread’?

It’s available at www.amazon.com  – see the link below – and on all good e-readers such as KOBO, Apple iBook etc. or simply visit my website and you can buy it through there.

Sounds great, Ray. Have you started your next book?

I certainly have. I use mind-mapping software to capture my thoughts, ideas and whatever research is needed all in one place. It keeps me organised and helps avoid inconsistencies in the storylines. I particularly enjoy plotting the various twists and turns so that the reader will want to stay with the story to the end. I’ve got about 20,000 words down so far.

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About the Author:

Ray Britain’s debut novel ‘The Last Thread’ was published 17th September 2017. Following a highly successful career in policing it should be no surprise that it is a complex crime investigation story.

As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led many investigations, some of which engaged specialist, national capabilities. For fifteen years he was also a Hostage & Suicide Intervention Negotiator responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily.

In ‘The Last Thread’ Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex investigation with all the uncertainties and realities of modern crime investigation which will keep the reader guessing to the end.

Ray’s interests include: mountain walking, rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading and sailing.

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Book details:

Word count: 170,000
Genre: Thriller, Detective, Adult, Mystery.
Available: http://www.amazon.com
ISBN: 978-1-9998122-0-1
ASIN: B075CWW1J4

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Contact details:

Email:  info@raybritain.co.uk
Website:  http://www.raybritain.com/
Facebook:  raybritain@raybritain.author
Twitter:  @ray_britain

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threadThe Last Thread
by Ray Britain

A teenage boy is dead. DCI Doug Stirling is accused of pushing him to his death. Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered in an isolated spot. Stirling must investigate. Two events seemingly unconnected, or are they?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Accused of pushing a boy to his death, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered. Taking a professional risk, ACC Steph Tanner throws Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation and appoints him to lead the investigation. But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, somehow connected to the murder?

THE LAST THREAD is a complex crime investigation written with real life experience that will keep you guessing to the end!

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Review extracts:

5* – “The Last Thread is an outstanding debut novel with an exceptional plot …”

“A crime novel with integrity and intelligence which rattles along nicely …”

“Gritty realism drawn from real investigative experience. Well crafted!”


Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting with us today. Please help me support today’s guest author with likes, shares, and comments.

Until next time……………………………… Stay Creative!!

Walk like an Outlander, with Mindy McIntosh-Shetter – @outlanderbotanist

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to another beautiful, fall day in Alabama. I am absolutely in LOVE with this weather. I sincerely hope it’s just as beautiful wherever you find yourself today.

As per usual routine, I have a fabulous guest for you today. I am so happy to introduce  you to Mindy McIntosh-Shetter


Walk like an Outlander

Ok, I know if you are old enough you are hearing that song from the Bangles. You know the one – Walk like an Egyptian, which was playing today while I was out for my run. Oh, how the world works and serendipity pokes its head through the curtain of life.

As a child of reason, which we all are of that era today, I have never really found much use in neither love stories nor simply hoping for something to happen. I was raised to believe that hard work was the solution to everything-including dreams but some dreams are harder to achieve as I would learn later on in life.

Serendipity’s head would poke out again one evening at my dad’s. After a long day working on the farm, we settled down in front of the brain cell sucking machine called a television to watch a new series produced by STARZ called Outlander. As my great Scot-Irish luck would have it, one of the most scandalous episodes would be on. Please keep in mind that this is not an Outlander spoiler free zone if you have never seen the show or read the books. Now that you know that let’s move on. Well, it was the prison, Jamie, and Black Jack Randall episode that was quite graphic. Well, in just, I was embarrassed to watch this with my dad. I mean, it covered topics that I really did not want to explore nor talk about with my father but here we were, sharing time together so go with it. In the mist of hiding behind pillows and a blanket, I heard lavender oil. Lavender oil I said. Really, I do not think they used it for this purpose I said to myself. I mean I had written about lavender and knew the scientific reason why it works. See this is what I do for a living, I teach people gardening skills, horticulture, botany, and science through blogs and videos. So making a mental note about the plant, I decided I would do my own research into the topic. I mean, I could be making a mountain out of a mole hill. The author of the Outlander book series could have simply just put that in without researching if the plant was used for this purpose.

The next day, I started doing my own research and yes lavender was used for this purpose among other things in the 1740s. This is where my journey began.

Diane Gabaldon’s journey with this story started off when she asked God to help her write something that affected peoples’ lives, which she has. The series of books continued to grow and are labeled historical fiction. The popularity of the books was a reason why STARZ adapted the books into a television series, which is one of the most successful to date. While I could go on and on with accolades for the book series and STARZ show, you may be wondering what this has to do with lavender.

Well, the more I did research on the plants mentioned in the books and television adaptation the more I became intrigued. There were plants I had heard of and others I had not. I researched their use in the story and in real-life. I gathered information on how to grow the ones I was not familiar with. All the while just for me, just to have that information but……..a nagging idea kept popping into my head. You know the one, the one idea that hovers around your brain never really leaving but you can push it away to get work done and then it reappears when your mind is quite. That idea, the one that you feel a calling to do either from God or Spirit guides leading you to where you need to be.

Before going on let me say this, one of the things on my bucket list was not to write a book. I have done a lot of writing as a blogger for over ten years but I never thought of writing a book. What gave me the courage to just looking into it was the female main character in the Outlander series Claire. She was a “thinking outside the box,” non-conforming woman like me. The type that society tends to define with an unlady like term used in dog breeding. Yes, my aggie background is coming through. I really wish society would define a woman like that as a female cat, which is a queen. Anyway, I could see myself in Claire and have been in many situations just like her, except the time traveling. When in college, I was frowned down upon by my male classmates solely based on the fact that I was the only woman in the class. I have also been in the classroom when race and sex became an issue. I have learned the lessons of conformity, which never end well and for Claire forced her to change who she truly was in both the 1940s and 1740s. While the conformity in the 1740s was for survival, the poker face she kept on in the 1940s was for her child. But even the best makeup cracks, this is what happened to Claire. Whether society or her husband of the 1940s was ready or not, Claire was going to live her life being true to herself regardless of the cost.

As so many times, nonfiction ends up mimicking life so was my journey with Claire. We seemed to be one in the same. Forget the love story, the Scottish history, and sexy men in tartan, I was interested in courage, which can be defined as having the belief in oneself to the point that you can leap over that comfort zone and never look back. For Claire that meant hiding who she really was in the 1740s to marrying a man she, at the time, did not love. It also meant leaving her cosmic lover for her child and going back to a man that she no longer knew for her child in the 1940s. Once there in the 1940s trying to conform to society’s standard of what women were supposed to do. As you can image and as the name applies, she was an Outlander defined as an outsider, which was not a compliment.

This was a mirror image of me-female aggie in a male dominated world who thought “outside the box.” In the past, this character trait, as with Claire, was not something I treasured but as I explored the idea of writing a book on herbs, it became clear to me I needed to follow this path regardless of where it lead. I did my homework as Claire did when she was planning her journey out. I placed all the facts on the table and then scattered them to the wind. I have never approached anything with caution and I was not going to start now. At that point, I frankly ran over that comfort zone. I kept going until it felt right. At that point I started writing The Unofficial Book of Herbs. Once again I was an Outlander-a nobody in the book and publishing world, but I really did not care. It was a path that I was meant to take. Just as Claire was destined to be a doctor, I was cosmically and/or spiritually moved into this direction as an author.

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Today, I straddle the past, present, and future very much like Claire. I dress in 1740s clothes to do videos on modern equipment for the future. My journey has lead me to create my own YouTube channel the Outlander Botanist by which I teach people dressed in 1740s clothing basic gardening skills along with how to grow the plants mentioned in the Outlander books and STARZ show. While the underlining message is not one from Outlander it is one of caution. If you do not learn about these plants today, they can be gone in the blink of an eye and to taking a saying that has been tossed around lately; yes “plant lives matter.”

Yes, my story is different and some may say unique. I have learned a lot of Outlander life lessons. Yes there are life lessons in historical nonfiction if you take the time to look. Just like me, Claire was and continues to be an outlander. Yes I said continues since the story is continuously being written with no end in sight, which is great. The most valuable part of Claire’s character is the fact that she can be a role model for all those girls out there dying to be true to themselves but really not knowing how. In response to Claire getting into medical school and graduating, several people posted pictures of women in their families who “walked like an Outlander” and became doctors. One favorite example was a photo of a woman in her graduating attire representing the first female doctor to graduate from this particular medical school. Yes, this is a prime example of what it means to be an Outlander-an outsider. But not every walk needs to be as drastic or defined as the first of whatever. “Walk like an Outlander” can simply mean stepping outside your comfort zone, taking a chance, and not worrying that it will work out as serendipity pokes his/her head through the dark clouds of self doubt. I have learned that I may not understand why at the time but later on the pieces of the puzzle come together to create that moment. That moment when everything is right in the universe and I have again figured out that this is where I am supposed to be regardless of what my family or society thinks.

So in just, take a chance in life. Hold your head up tall and take that first step toward “walking like an outlander.” Yes, it is scary but believe it or not it will be a journey of unforgettable experiences that will span a lifetime.

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