Writer Wednesday – Terri-Lynne Smiles

1. Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
Terri-Lynne Smiles

2. What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
Cross-genre novels. Currently, The Rothston Series combines elements of science fiction and contemporary fantasy into a believable explanation for real world events. Next year when the series is finished, I have a number of other novels to be released, including a murder mystery without a murder, a futuristic thriller set on an isolated planet/colony, and a discovery story about a woman who finds herself wrongfully imprisoned. The commonality is that they all involve science in one form or another.

3. What do you want to pimp right now? (May it be your newest, your work-in-progress, your favorite or even your first)
The Rothston Series is what’s hot for me right now. The first book, Foreseen, introduces the college-age characters in an exciting romp into the world of adepts – people who can covertly change the decisions made by those around them. The second novel in the series, Choices, follows the two protagonists on a tense and sometimes terrifying trek around the globe as they flee for their lives. It leans slightly toward horror in some of their encounters but sets the stage for the final two installments of the series. Origins, the third book, will be out later this fall, with Common Ground concluding the series in 2015.

4. What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
I don’t have a favorite book (unless you count 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias), but I have several authors I enjoy for different reasons. I’ll spare your readers my long-winded explanations of the strengths and weaknesses of each and just stick to the list:

  • Edgar Alan Poe
  • Agatha Christie
  • Dean Koontz
  • Ray Bradbury
  • David Baldacci
  • J.K. Rowling

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I was a healthcare lawyer for over 25 years before leaving to pursue writing full-time (meaning almost every waking moment). Writing is much more difficult and absorbing than law. I’m also an active volunteer for a number of charitable organizations and the Board Chair of the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

6. What link can we find you at? (One or two please; don’t go overboard here!)
Main Website – www.terrilynnesmiles.com
Facebook – Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/TerriLynneSmiles
The Rothston Series on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foreseen-The-Rothston-Series/

 

 

 

*****

On Reading…

Reading is important for everyone – writer or not. I can’t say that enough. I read about an hour or two a day but don’t stick to any particular genre – I find that too limiting in terms of voice and style. For example, in the past two months, I finished Veronica Roth’s light YA novel Divergent, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and John C. Brewer’s international thriller The Silla Project. I am three-quarters of the way through Michael Williams’ literary Trajan’s Arch and failed at reading Brandon Sanderson’s high fantasy Elantris. I have also started Malcolm Gladwell’s nonfiction Outliers, and am re-reading from cover-to-cover 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias. During this same period, I also read two unpublished manuscripts – one romance, one contemporary fantasy – and portions of two proposed how-to books. I used to give up on novels that didn’t rivet me to my seat, but now force myself to finish if I can because each book I read provides more insight into writing – either by positive or negative lesson. Nonfiction, on the other hand, enhances my understanding of the world, which then informs my writing. That means if I’m not getting anything out of a nonfiction book by the end of the first chapter, I’m unlikely to go further.

Anyone who writes fiction has heard over and over that reading is essential to writing. This is one of the few “truths” for authors. If you’re short on time, don’t abandon your reading. If you don’t have time to read, your writing will stagnate.

 

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Book Review – My Orange Duffel Bag

Title: My Orange Duffle Bag: a journey to radical change

Author: Sam Bracken (With help from Echo Garrett)

Written/Published: 2008-2010

Format: Hardback

 

My Orange Duffle Bag is the story of a man named Sam, who was kicked out into the world by his mother at the age of 15 with nothing more than his orange duffle bag and a few clothes.  It deals mostly with his journey to not be another statistic, and to instead succeed at football and academics and later religion.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been excited to actually sit down with a copy of this book since the original self published version of it appeared at a booth I was part of during a book festival.  The self-published version was orange canvas, complete with a white zipper and full color pages and it was as beautiful and incredible as it possibly could be.

The version I finally got to review is the copy my library had; professionally published by Crown Publishing and missing the awesome zipper, but still awesome looking.

 

So, I popped a movie in and sat down with this book (ever the multi-tasker) and eventually turned off the movie and just finished this.  The book is about 200 pages long, but there’s a lot of white space and a lot of pretty layout, but it’s short on content so I finished it in just under two hours.

The book is divided into three parts – the first is a short history of his life.  Just a paragraph or so about a year in his life, boiled down to the most generic of story lines.  “Age 10 – I win my first track meet and my step-brother uses me as a human dart board”  Onto the next age.  And key points of his life – Age 18, I am baptized – are glossed over so quickly that you almost miss them.

The second part of the book talks about his time through college.  How he succeeded at football but doubly succeeded at academics because he set huge goals.

The third is over half the book and includes his “7 rules for the road.”

 

I was hoping for a little more, actually.  I think that Sam was trying to hard to be positive and uplifting that he forgot to tell us about himself.  I didn’t need a full memoir, but I wanted some sort of connection.  What I didn’t get anywhere in this book was EMOTION.

And what I didn’t get was what drew me to this book in the first place.  You see, after Echo got the book to my booth, I kept in touch with her and her brother Kevin Montgomery, who does a 50 states in 50 days concert tour to raise money for Echo and Sam’s Orange Duffle Bag Foundation.  So through them in other venues I’ve heard the stats.  Only about half manage to get a HS diploma, 2% get a four-year degree.  Over a quarter end up homeless.

And while Sam wasn’t formally in the system (he stayed with friends for random periods of time and bounced from house to house), the fact that this WASN’T him is a story that I wanted to hear along with the tips and tricks for being awesome.  Especially since a lot of these are common sense.  (The gist is want it and do what it takes to get there.)

 

Granted, the book is beautiful in any form.  Several of the pages could be really awesome motivational posters, and I wish they were.  And I think it’s a book worth sharing.

It’s not a top rating, but I’m confident putting it solidly in as a four out of five.

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