- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview an inspiring author from Wisconsin.
Welcome, Sandy ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND
YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I am a mother of 5 grown children and 1
stepson. But way before motherhood, I loved to write. This journey started when
I was in elementary school. After high school, my writing was delayed for a few
decades as I raised and schooled my children, (and a whole lot of life
happened.) Then about 6 years ago, my
children all suggested I begin to write my adventures and life experiences down.
Then a close group of women friends said the same thing over a week long
retreat in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I signed up for a Creative Writing for
Publication class, and here I am today….continuing the journey.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A
I’ve said, I have enjoyed writing and drawing since I was a little girl. I took
writing classes in school, I journaled daily and kept journals of my
adventures. I also wrote long letters to friends and family whenever I had
interesting tales to tell. I had letters to the editor of several local papers
published, along with an article about my dad after he passed, accompanied with
the Journal artist rendition of my story.
I helped my (ex) husband write political material for his campaigns and
because he was an offset print shop owner, I sometimes helped to create text
for his customers. My brother is also a print shop owner and occasionally I’ve
edited or copywriter text for his customers.
WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN
EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
my memoir (currently writing), I had a sort of outline of main life events to
write about in a timeline kind-of-way. Then I just mostly began writing from
memory and from my journals. But I have some backlash memories within the
story. For my children’s book I just sat down and wrote the first draft. Then
modified it and presented it first to my writing class, then the publisher.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A
When I read Sammy and Goliath—my
book about bullying—to school children, I love the interaction they have with
my characters. I love that the book has a purpose and we have real life
dialogue and brain-storming solutions for their own experiences. And of course
I love that people want to buy it! As I share my excerpts from my memoir with
my writing class and get positive feedback, that is a reward, as is growing as
a writer. It is a boost of confidence when I think what I just read sucks, but
the consensus is overwhelmingly positive from the group. It keeps me going. I
mostly love that the books I hope to write will leave an impact and bring some positive change, aside from being
engaging and entertaining. I also love to learn and improve, gain new words, to
refine and write more richly than I have the year before.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT
BEING A WRITER?
the work of really talented writers, and becoming discouraged that mine is not
good enough—that I have a long way to go to be THAT good. And also sitting here
at my computer every day to continue on, to forge ahead in the midst of a
zillion distractions. Then there is the marketing aspect of book selling….
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE
YOU BECAME A WRITER?
calling myself a writer, I was a mother, a school teacher, a campaign manager,
an artist, a traveler, a mountain hiker, storm surviver, river boat sailer,
bicyclist, volunteer, Bible teacher, narcissist surviver, avid gardener and
played a few other roles, most of which I didn’t get paid for in cash. But
those experiences did yield a harvest of character building and honing my soul
into something better than I was.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING
I think it will be my memoir when I finish it!
I’m on a slow track while I live life to the fullest, however, I want to
complete all drafts this year.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE
memoir and another children’s book. I also interview people at my church ( a
very large church in Wisconsin), who have interesting, life-changing stories.
This is a new thing and I enjoy it very much. I write down the story after
several hours of interaction and questions, and some of these stories are then
made into videos for a larger audience.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
story itself inspires me to write. I think this book will entertain (my
harrowing experiences while adventuring), but also help other women and men who
have experienced emotional and psychological abuse from an intimate
mate/spouse, and found strength spiritually, to move on and find the victory.
My writing friends and classmates also inspire me to continue writing. Outside
of writing, bringing hope and worth to people in various settings is
inspirational. The reward of seeing smiles on people’s faces. I just love
engaging with people from all walks of life.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
my memoir, I don’t have a specific genre. I think I’d like to get into fantasy
children’s stories, I have some non-fiction spiritual works I’d like to write,
teaching materials, and maybe dabble into fictional novels. I don’t want to limit
myself once I get this memoir completed!!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW
am a new writer! But I’d suggest joining a writing group. My grammar and
writing skills have improved tremendously since taking this on-going class. We
give constructive criticisms, learn from one another, improve skills and have a
lot of fun. Plus, it is very encouraging to hear positive feedback from the
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Even when writing my own story, it is often hard to fine the next starting
point. Then I have to just begin, edit, cut and paste a lot!
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING
have certain days that I TRY to set aside to write. I have a fluid schedule
between jobs, so whenever the morning or afternoon opens up, I try to utilize
those hours for writing.This is another reason a writing group is fantastic…if
you have to have a piece to read, then you are forced to write.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WRITING
artroom/office is where I do most of my writing. However, I have a strong pull
to stop typing and go create an art piece instead, so it is a bit dangerous. I
have two sunny windows, so this works fine. Until summer weather calls me
outdoors…so many distractions. I finally bought another (working) laptop so I’m
not confined to my room anymore.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN
Besides what I’ve stated before, a great
joy is writing something very profound. When I use compelling words or
analogies that hit the mark in a smart way. Then I feel I’ve accomplished
something, and it is satisfying.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND
can’t say I have a favorite. I like a book that absorbs me, whether its fiction
or non-fiction. I’ve been reading some of Erik Larson’s books. I like his books
because he tells a great story while highlighting a little piece of history. (I
hope my memoir will be something like this…a moving, living story), I like
memoirs that show survival and overcoming tremendous circumstances, and
survival stories in general. I recently finished Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU
EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
Sammy and Goliath, one comment I loved was, “William loved your book. We
read it over and over.” And the nice reviews I received on Amazon. With my
memoir, it was a comment from a classmate who said, “This is so captivating! It
reads like a movie!”
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A
I have not had any negative comments to my face about Sammy and Goliath,
and I’ve had many comments from my writer’s group suggesting changes, or
received the big question mark and the word, “clarify!” next to a paragraph.
Some comments are biting, because writing expresses who we are and it is a very
vulnerable thing to reveal yourself through writing. But I usually take
the remark and make the necessary
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY
THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
if anyone is following this dialogue, then you know I’m writing my memoir. My
life has indeed influenced who I am today. And I believe it is interesting
enough to write down and share because I’m sure plenty of people will relate.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU
Foremostly, (I know that’s not a real word, but sometimes
you have to make one up when it makes sense in the moment)…foremostly, I love
God. Through the whirlwind of life, and dark seasons, I have come to know Him
as personal and good, even when He was greatly misrepresented to me in a warped
way. And many times I didn’t understand His ways. But I’ve learned to trust
over the long-haul. I love my husband, who has supported me and given me back
an identity that I lost in my first marriage. He believes in me. I love my
children. And people in general. I love Outside. Gardening, kayaking, hiking,
strolling, swimming, sitting in the breeze looking at a lake, reading, taking
warm baths, a good glass of wine, good conversations, helping people….I love a
lot. I also have a passion to serve, I volunteer in a number of organizations
that help people—homeless and marginalized people (find their dignity and
worth), mentoring students, inner city ministries….very rewarding. I’m the more
blessed by it.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS
PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
my children’s book. It was semi-professionally edited by my classmates. And
they’re pretty good. I think I will with my memoir.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
best day would be one in which I sleep in until about 8a.m., my husband brings
me a cup of coffee with frothy milk on top, I sit outside on my patio in my pj’s
listening to the birds for an hour or so. I plant something colorful before it
gets too hot in the day, then take a scenic paddle in my kayak down a slow
moving river with whoever else is up for it. We stop for a picnic. Maybe a swim
if the river has a nice sandy bottom and is
clear. Later on I read a good book in the shade somewhere, and my
husband and I find a rooftop restaurant to have a beer or a refreshing
Margarita. (This is a summer scene of course. I could live perpetually in
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND
WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
might need Mark Watney (Martian character) to use his scientific skills to grow
some food in the desert sand. Or Matt Damon, the actor who played his character
would be a good substitute! —In truth, my husband, John, of course. He is my
best friend, I trust him, he has boy scout skills :) He is my cheerleader and confidant. We would
do the hard thing of survival together, and have fun doing it.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE
CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
lieu of Billy Graham’s recent passing, I’d say, listen to what he had to say.
He was the twentieth century’s most influential world leader and global
spiritual front-runner. His words were powerful—calling on politicians to lead
with integrity and to work together in global crises, but they were also
eternal. There is a Being who brought about the Universe and holds it all
together. It would be wise to seek Him for direction in the grandiose as well
as the detail of human purpose and survival.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I publish my book, I hope it will become a springboard to speak at some events
(church conferences and other events) about aiding rather than shaming women
who are in emotionally abusive relationships, and talk about the adventure
parts of my story as well. I also want to write more children’s stories, and
Christian-based books as tools for overcoming hardships. I want to continue to
adventure and do more meaningful trips with the purpose of helping people
(mission trips, organizations that help immigrants, street kids, wounded women
etc.) I want to laugh a lot, keep playing outside, watch my children develop
their lives and hope to experience grand-parenting.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY
haven’t really watched book trailers, so I guess that speaks for itself. I like
book recommendations more than anything. But if someone has has had success in
book trailers then I suppose they sell books. I don’t think I’d invest in
marketing my book that way unless I knew and trusted an author who has found it
to be a great marketing tool.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR
I’m the main character. Once my memoir is completed, I hope to write some
fiction, and would create other versions of myself in the story to one degree
or another. It is experience after all, that brings to my mind stories that
others could relate to, or want to relate to. Or pretend to relate to!
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY
I wish it was simpler, and less time-consuming to market a book and get it
seen. I also wish it was less expensive when going the self-publishing, or
Indie printing route. I think there are many good Indie publishers, but they
are costly and I haven’t found one that does much in the way of trying to help
authors promote (without running up an astronomical marketing bill). Trying to
go traditional is tough for new writers, because one has to be proven first, an
oxymoron. I’d like to experience traditional publishers that see the value of
investing in new authors, and giving us the time of day.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
haven’t thought of quitting because I have too much invested at this point. I
do get discouraged a lot.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT
I’d have to say this memoir, since it is the real first manuscript I’m writing.
My children’s story was not a long endeavor. My memoir poses challenges
(length, research, quotes) and I’ve been working on it a number of years. It
will be highly rewarding to see the completed work. I think it will not only be
entertaining, but informative and give other readers hope and direction who
might find themselves in similar relationships.
And perhaps spark good memories for the sailing, biking, hiking exploits
in the book.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
say you are successful as a writer when your work improves and you can easily
draw your reader into your story—when the emotions, the people and places are
viewed from the reader’s eye because the story is vividly penned. And of course
selling the story is a fine example of success too! Sometimes success is merely
writing a good word. Then a sentence. Followed by a paragraph, and then pages.
And voila—the book emerges.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM
YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
books will be successful if the reader walks away believing they have gained
something by reading them. In Sammy and Goliath, I want students to have
tools to fight bullying and feel confident in public places. I want them to
have learned the lessons outlined by my characters, and learn to be
kind-hearted to everyone. In my memoir, I hope readers will feel the tension in
my harrowing adventures, the very spray of the water, the heat on my back, and
flies in my face—to feel my emotions, my frustrations, my doubts, and root me
on to the end. I want them to gain a sense of triumph with me. I hope to
portray some Spiritual truths that will dispel false representations of the
Christian faith, and aid others in their quest for worth and truth.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS
MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
love to see my memoir made into a movie! It has the external elements of harsh
environments on a timid, novice adventurer, (battling hurricane winds on a
sailboat in the North Sea, flooded waters of the Mississippi, and a strenuous
cycling trip loaded down with gear). It also reveals the internal struggles
brought on by an oppressive marital relationship, my efforts to comprehend
spiritual (perceived) mandates, my failures, my internal conflicts with who I
should be and who I wanted to be, and the intertwined love/hate story. To
summarize, it is a true life story that consists of exciting adventure, a love
story, twisted complications and much tension. There are endings and
beginnings, with personal growth and revelation. With a dynamic ending. But no,
I have never written a screenplay. (Well I wrote several for Sunday school
classes, but that doesn’t count.)
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING
A BOOK COVER?
a vision of what I wanted on the cover of my Sammy book as well as this
memoir pretty early. The illustrator captured the heart of what I explained for
the children’s book. I hope the same for my memoir. I do believe the cover
should capture the attention of the reader. I see too many book covers that
look the same.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
dream has always been to write a best seller that moves people, and becomes a
classic. I also would love to be an awesome motivational speaker. I’d like to
be a world changer on an individual level.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING
YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
like to speak in different venues to whoever could gain something from my
story. I’d do interviews, radio shows, conferences, and blogs like this to gain
more of an audience. I would attend authors’ events where I could read an
excerpt of my story. I already visit schools to read Sammy and do book
sales and signing, and find local book fairs. I’m open to travel to market my
book(s). But beyond marketing my book(s), I teach Biblical truths, and lead
studies on various topics.
ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
and Goliath is published by Orange Hat publishers, an
Independent publisher. I’d love to submit my memoir to a traditional publisher.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
thoughtful, spunky, artistic, helper
WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
done to children, especially at the hands of parents. It is unthinkable, and a
terrible tragedy beyond words.
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK
YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
was absolutely fabulous. My husband read it and suggested I read it.
WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D
in the course of time—after the dark adverse days caused by injuries from
others, and the clouded nights due to failures of her own, and during the
sunshiny, golden hours of the dawn—she lived an abundant life, finding sweet
honey within the bitterness. And stepping into eternity, she heard the words, “Well
done, my good and faithful servant.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW?
CARE TO SHARE?
observe my children successful in their lives; not necessarily devoid of
hardship, but able to persevere and gain strength, fortitude and show integrity
of character in the midst of their trials. To know they are settled in their
spirit with their Creator and finding
peace and joy in life.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
you Clancy for inviting me on your blog spot and introducing me to your readers.
I hope you will invite me back when my memoir is published! But in the
meantime, for those who would like to purchase Sammy and Goliath for a child,
grandchild, niece, nephew, student, library or to support a starving author,
you can find it at amazon.com
under the title or on my website at www.sandykegel.com,
(mention this article when you purchase from my website and I’ll give you free
shipping and sign the book!) You can also find me on LinkedIn and Wisconsin
Writers Association here: https://wiwrite.org/sandy-kegel/
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Sandy, and good luck with that memoir. Good for you for writing a book about bullying. I have done the same, but sadly, bullying in all its shapes and forms continues.