Sometimes a story comes along that immediately connects with us in a secret place. Some way or other, this author, a stranger, has found out your inner workings and put them on a printed page. Even better, when a story makes you aware that those experiences we work so hard to hide or deny, are universal. You’ll find yourself calling a friend or turning to a spouse or chatting online, because a door has been opened. It’s like we’ve been given permission to explore, to speculate, to share and to cherish that which, of course, turns out not to be so hidden or secret after all.

Author Sheila Deeth’s latest novel, FLOWER CHILD, is one of those stories; a brave exploration of the “curious relationship between a grieving mother and an unborn child who’s not quite ghost or angel.” The novel begs many questions. In the midst of such loss, do emotions distort reality? Could you let yourself believe the impossible if it could restore the one you loved? You’ll lie awake contemplating to what lengths you might go to preserve your own life, and whether you’ve known love great enough to lay down that life for someone else? Deceptively simple and poignantly effervescent, this gentle novel speculates over the limits of memory, the fine line between faith and fantasy, and that place where intellect fails us, revealed only in dreams.

Recently, Sheila said something to me in an email that I believe will represent the wisdom and unique perspectives found in this beautiful piece of fiction.

“Sometimes I think reading is a window into the needs of other souls.”

I couldn’t agree more, Sheila. I’m so glad you’re here today for this interview. Welcome!

What is your favorite quality in a person?   Trust probably. I admire people who are trustworthy, and admire them more if they’re also willing to trust.

What is your least?  Always expecting the worst is probably my least favorite quality–in others and in me.

As a child, did you dream of becoming a writer?
Once I got over dreaming of being a trapeze artist (it was never going to happen) I decided to be a writer. Somehow I became a mathematician instead, but I still had dreams, and stories.

Who/what influenced you to pursue your dreams? My Mum influenced me a lot–she’s always been my greatest fan. My oldest son insisted that if I was going to tell bedtime stories they had to be in a book, so I guess he influenced me to believe it was worth writing something–not that he’d dream of reading my writing now. And the author Jane Kirkpatrick influenced me–oddly enough, I “won” an hour of her time a few years ago and she told me I was a writer. Her encouragement helped me keep going when the rejection slips stacked up.

What is your greatest love?  My faith I think. With a Catholic Dad and Methodist Mum it was something I always had to think about, and it always seemed to reward the time I spent thinking. I love reading the Bible. I love science and math and history. I love words. I love telling stories. Oh, and I love dogs!

What is your greatest fear?  Rejection–that’s a crazy fear to have as a writer–those rejection slips do pile up. But rejection’s always been my greatest fear. Of course, I’m also scared of spiders, moths, wasps and other such things.

What is your favorite place? Anywhere I can curl up with a book? My Mum’s favorite place is that path in Yellowstone where you stand right on top of the waterfall–not a good location for reading, but it’s probably one of my favorite spots too. And the glaciers in Alaska–I saw them for the first time last month. And the Grand Canyon… How many answers do you want? The advantage of curling up with a book is it can take me anywhere.

If you could give a bit of sage advice to novice writers, what would it be? Keep writing. Keep reading. And never be afraid to delete something.

Where to find Flower Child:
Her website
Amazon
Smashwords


About the author:Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and son, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers’ group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.
Sheila describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Her short stories, book reviews and articles can be found in

VoiceCatcher 4, Murder on the Wind, Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.

Find her on her website: http://www.sheiladeeth.com

or find her books at: http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com

Last week I was surprised to be challenged by fellow bloggers extraordinaire, Jolina Petersheim and Julia Monroe Martin, to the 7 Links Challenge. Well, folks, the first challenge was to figure out how to link something to my blog. Yes, it’s true. I am lost most of the time when it comes to point and click. So, see those little highlighted names back there? I’m proud of that. Hope it does the trick.

Now that I’ve already broken a sweat this morning, here are my seven links — a true feat, considering my blog is fairly new and I’m just happy to be here, telling my stories!

Thanks, Jolina for such a sweet encouragement!

Most Beautiful Post: The Wonder That’s Keeping The Stars Apart

I was pleased with this post and found so much beauty in the legacy of this woman. The image of her, looking beyond herself and her world in search of something greater, moved me.

Most Popular Post: What She Would Have Said

I’d like to think it was because of my wit and deft command of language, but really this post was most popular because it was my first and many friends and family came out to support the new blog. Either that, or people liked the picture of this tough little woman.

Most Controversial Post: A Story That Seeps To The Bone — Alma Katsu Interview

Now, the interview itself may not be controversial. But Alma is one of a kind and that tends to turn hairs. Her novel may not be for everyone, it may be a tough read, tackling the darker natures of mankind, but that’s why I chose to celebrate her. She is a strong-minded woman who is a gifted writer and her work may make you cringe or turn away, but I guarantee it will also make you think.

Most Helpful Post: Endurance And Authenticity — Jessica McCann Interview

While all of my interviews are helpful, this post exemplifies what I’ve found most authors have in common — not only the kind of characteristics that I believe can make you a successful writer, but also a successful person. People like Jessica, improve the world.

Most Surprisingly Successful Post: Hemingway Would Have Bought Her A Drink

Apparently, ghosts and Hemingway and drinking will get you some attention. I had a good time sharing the account of watching this woman at the Hemingway Bar in Paris. Here is the seed of a story. She still enchants me.

Post That Didn’t Get Attention: The Band Played On

All right. I know. It was a sappy memory. But it was one of those posts that sneaks up on you, unplanned. And it made me cry, listening to that old recording.

Post I Am Most Proud Of: She Began To Sing To Me

I probably should have been most proud of the post where I mentioned my wedding anniversary, but that would have been a post about my greatest blessings, not a matter of pride. So, I chose this post, which includes the first excerpt from I’ve shared from my upcoming novel. If you know me, this is a big deal. I’m just learning to talk about my writing with others.

And now here are five other bloggers (boy, this was hard!) who I enjoy reading and who I now nominate for the continuation of the 7 Links Challenge:

Amy Sue Nathan: Women’s Fiction Writer’s

Erika Robuck: Muse

Robin O’Bryant: Robin’s Chicks

Misty Barrere: Writing And Research: What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into

Susanna Kearsley: Not-A-Blog

The Band Played On

October 5, 2011

There’s a song in my head since I woke up this morning. I haven’t heard it since I was a little girl, a long while now, but it’s still there. Just as clear as a bell. I know every lyric and I am taken back to a time when I twirled in sock feet across the slick top of my grandmother’s living room coffee table. She had an old record, so thick and stiff it was like glass. I loved the sound of it, the hissing and scratching when she’d put it on the enormous record player, the needle touching down with a little gasp before the music would start. And then, I’d watch my grandmother’s face. One breath, two. No matter how many times I made her play that song, or how she protested and begged me to settle for a different tune, no dice. Because none of her other records did what this one could do. With the first strains of that melody, the corner of her mouth would lift.

Magic.

There was a story in the song. It was simple: a boy and a girl, dancing, thrilling to one another. That was enough to make me love it. And trust me, I didn’t need an excuse to get up on that table and perform waltz after waltz, all dolled up in my grandmother’s square-dancing slip, delighted with the way those skirts billowed out around my little legs. I knew my grandmother was smiling at me. I was a little queen, then. But she had another smile, a secret smile, one I’d never seen before. It puzzled me and bothered me and made me dance harder and wilder, trying to pull her attention back to the wonder of me.

For the first time, I must have realized the woman in the little farmhouse – the person I thought I knew everything about, whom I believed had set her days to revolve solely around our family – had lived a life before us. Each time she played the waltz, I caught a glimpse of that girl. A stranger. A mystery. A pure wonder.

She taught me to make biscuits. She taught me the Lord’s Prayer. She taught me other things, too, like how to manipulate or regret decisions. She was quick to laugh, quick to judge, full of such pride in her family and weighed down with sorrows for brothers she couldn’t redeem. She loved her work, but never felt she was a smart woman. She loved her husband, and they were a gruff pair. She could work like a man in the summer garden, always lamented that she couldn’t grow a rose, and she never missed an epidsode of ‘Dallas,’ come Friday night. I knew all of this and I remember her that way to my children.

But today, I’ll put on a waltz. Because I know the corner of my mouth will lift, so like hers. And my daughter will wonder. She’ll watch me and weigh all the things she understands about my life against all the things she fears and hopes for her own, and she will tuck away the seed of what my grandmother’s waltz taught me.

She had a secret…

The Band Played On

I’d been trying for weeks to write this blog post. On a recent trip to Paris, I was lucky to visit the Hemingway Bar and was charmed all round. But my memory of the place felt like a troubling dream. The details of the bar itself were clear in my mind, but I kept trying to recall something more visceral – a feeling, something out of joint with the rest of my experience. It remained just out of reach. I stared and stared at the photographs, trying to rediscover what troubled me.

“Why do you look like that?” my husband asked while I scowled at the photo. He was annoyed that I was obsessing. “It was just a bar. A good drink. Expensive,” he said. He didn’t remember anything out of the ordinary. “What do you think? It was haunted?” he teased.

And that’s when I realized, I hadn’t been looking for a detail in the photograph. I’d been looking for a person.

She was sitting at a table in front of the bar, smack in the center of the room, the first thing you’d see when you walked in the door. But I didn’t see her, not at first. I was too busy looking at the memorabilia, the bust of Hemingway, the old typewriters in alcoves, the framed postcards from his world travels, caught up in the nostalgia and half expecting to hear Papa himself whisper a dirty joke in my ear.

It was dark and so was she, her hair, her clothes, her skin, all black. She was thin, with long arms and long legs, impossibly languorous. She must have been there when we came in but we’d been sitting at our table – and I was facing her, mind you – long enough to order our drinks and take in the atmosphere, before she uncrossed her legs. That small movement drew my eye and it seemed like she appeared out of nothing. I swear, she was like one of those pictures you look at once and see an old man and then blink and see the hidden image of a horse and cart.

I waited on my drink, but I wasn’t talking to my husband or imagining Paris being liberated. I was watching the woman, how still she could be, how she occupied space without disturbing it. Except for the occasional sip from her drink or a nod of her sleek head, she never moved. An older gentleman approached her table, asked if he could take a seat. She was gracious, but not interested. She was young. She was not anxious.

But I was. I started straightening my clothes, worrying about my jet-lagged complexion and my fuzzy hair. I took a drink from my gorgeous, rose-adorned glass and swallowed wrong, coughed. I smiled for a couple of silly photographs with my husband and then we paid the bill. And all the while I kept watching the other woman. I was an American tourist, out of place, giddy and too friendly. She could have been anyone. Or no one. If I blinked, she could disappear altogether. How did she do that?

It was a secret she wasn’t sharing. Still isn’t.

Look. Right there she is, in the photograph I took of the bar. I hadn’t even noticed her yet, and maybe that’s why I’d forgotten her when I went back to look at these images. Do you see her? A dark outline? Will you wonder about her the way I do? Is she a ghost? Is she waiting for someone? Is she lonely?Most probably at some point in her life, she will be all of those things. But for me, every time I look at this photograph, I search her out. Mesmerized by never knowing.

Wouldn’t Hemingway love that? He’d have bought her a drink, I bet. He’d have given her a thousand names.

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