Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Authorsday: Sylvia Ramsey

What is the title of your mystery book?

An Underground Jewell, is espionage, mystery novel set in a possible near- future.  The story revolves around the power of language and how it can change the way a society thinks and acts.  One reader's review said:  "An excellent read for all.  Even though it is fiction, it smacks with a lot of truth of what the future may bring. As one reads, it becomes rather apparent that this could all happen, and the last page says it all. I enjoyed reading and had a hard time putting it down. Hooray for the new writer on the block.”
The story is set in the near future when man is living as much underground as above.  All things are controlled by a central computer system.  There is no such thing as "printed" material, it is all digital.  The main character in the story, Elizabeth Jewell a sage and well-known author, finds herself caught up in a plot of intrigue.  She decides to become her own sleuth to clear herself of all accusations, and in the process discovers there are multitudes of mysteries to solve. 
One reader said, “I just read a newly release book, An Underground Jewell by Sylvia L. Ramsey. I found this book on Amazon. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down until I finished. It is an espionage novel set in the near future. The plot kept me intrigued, there were other mysteries along the way to be solved, and the main character was fascinating. I recommend this as a good read for anyone who likes mystery, espionage or even just a good novel. I usually read Clive Clustler(adventure, Michael Connely (Detective stories), and John Gardner(spy),WEB Griffith( War and Spy).This novel also reflects what William Lutz, a Professor of English at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, talks about in his book, New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore. The novel takes this current trend to manipulate language, and projects it into a future that provides a scenario where a group of terrorists realize that they can use language as a weapon to take control of our nation.”
Another reader said, "This is an excellent book. It would interest people from 13-100 years of age. Although it is fiction, so much of it could actually happen. Considering all the problems within our governing bodies, it could be happening right now! I would recommend this book to anybody."
This book is available to purchase in both soft cover and in ebook formats.  It is available online at Amazon and Amazon UK as well as Barnes & Noble.  The links to purchase any of my books, and to learn more about me is available on my Authors Den website.

Growing up in a rural area of Missouri and being the child of a father born in 1898, she feels that her interpretation of life spans several generations. This influence can be recognized in both her poetry and her short stories. She has experienced life at many levels. One of her most prized possessions is a personal letter that was written to her by Rosemary A. Thurber giving her permission to adapt her father's short story "The Last Clock" to be used for Readers Theatre.

She is presently a Communications professor and the Academic Resource Center Coordinator at GMC Community College in Martinez, GA. She describes herself as a determined scrapper who will wrench all the very best from life that she capable of conquering. Her philosophy of life is reflected in her poems. "Armor For Survival" and "A Tired Vagabond." More about the author can be found on her website or on the authors den website.
Her novel, An Underground Jewell, was a labor of love.  She explains, “The ideas for stories all come from my life experiences and knowledge I have gained along the way.  The book, An Underground Jewell, spawned from a short story that was written about a Christmas Eve in the distant future when life on earth had changed drastically.  That story was written in 1989.  The idea to create a novel originated because I let imagination loose to wonder about the possibilities of this story.
I first began by creating a character who would write the story, and the reason why she wrote it.  At that point, I began to develop other characters and a plot.  I finally began writing the book.  At one point, I had to stop writing because my husband became very ill, and I became his caregiver.  At the same time, I was diagnosed with T3 bladder cancer.  To add to the delay, my computer crashed and I had to start over.  I was lucky that I had part of it printed out.  After my husband died, I began writing again.  Finally, 20 years later, it was finished and published. “

She is a 16yr. survivor of bladder cancer, and looks at the experience as another learning peak in life. She is very much aware that even though this is the fifth most common cancer in the United States, it is very much underserved. She serves as the Vice-President of the American Bladder Cancer Society because she knows how important to provide support to those who have experienced this cancer, and how important it is to create more awareness around the world. That is why all of her royalties go to the American Bladder Cancer Society,  Her books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
When did you start writing?
I began writing when I was nine years old.  I was the reporter for our 4-H club, and a new reporter at the local paper took me under his wing.  He encouraged me to write feature article in addition to community news.  By the age of twelve- years-old, I was getting bylines and a small paycheck each month.  I have been writing something ever since. I do not remember thinking, “I want to be a writer”.  It was just a part of who I am, and what I do.
I am always writing something, but not as a “profession”.  I do a lot of writing at the college, blogging, and on my Facebook page.  Currently, I am doing a blog series on Living with Bladder Cancer for the Healthy Women website.  I am a sixteen-year bladder cancer survivor, and even though it is ranked fifth in prevalence over all, ranked fourth in males and as prevalent as cervical cancer but deadlier in women, it is very underserved.  There is little awareness in the public sector, and even the medical community as a whole is basically under educated.  I have a new blog that I just launched, Thoughtful Reflections, on which I hope to feature a variety of people in the field related to the publishing world. 
What type of writing do you do?
In the very day world at my “job”, I write lesson plans, reports and various types of writing that is done within the field of higher education.  I have had research articles published in professional journals.  In the mass media area, I have written news and feature articles for newspapers and magazines.  In the creative realm, my love is poetry.  Over one hundred of my poems have been published in literary journals.  In 2004, my first book of poetry, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World, was published; in 2009 my first novel, An Underground Jewell, and in December of 2110, my first children’s book, Merchild Land was published.  Currently, I am working on a novel that I think its title will be, The Dark Crystals of Miradirth.  I have not put myself in a peg hole by only writing in one genre.  If I have a story to tell, I tell it. 
How did you get started writing professionally?
I am not sure I have ever thought about myself as writing “professionally”, because I have been writing so long and published that it just seem as if that is what I do.  I may say something like that when I retire, and I can devote my time completely to writing.
What was your path towards publication of a book like?
The story of how my first book, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World, was selected to be published is rather unusual.  I had been invited to perform some of my poems at an Open Mic program.  It just happened that a small publisher was present, and the publisher liked my poetry enough to ask if I had more.  I said I most certainly did.  The publisher wanted to know if they could see some of my other work.  After looking at the addition poems, they asked if I had more.  When I replied that I did, they wanted to know if I would be interested in having them published as a collection.  I was excited, of course, and I said yes.  A couple days passed, and I had time to think about how I really want my work presented.  My poetry is very personal, and a myriad of reflections of over various stages in my life.  Before I would sign the contract, I made it clear that I wanted to design and create the layout for the collection.  I grouped the poems in sections: Pulse Points of Youth, …of Love, …of Reality, and finally Pulse Points of Wisdom.  I purchased the art work that reflected an Art Nuevo atmosphere.  I wanted each poem to be illustrated so that the reader would get an additional image of what each poem portrayed.  Once the layout was complete, I submitted it to the publisher for approval.  At that point, the publishing part of it was out of my hands.  
What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to pitching yourself as a writer and what steps have you taken to overcome that obstacle?
The first obstacle was the learning curve that the author is expected to do their own publicity and marketing. The next, was learning how to do this when the author has little or no help from the publisher.  An additional obstacle at that time, was time.  My job and my advocacy work are fairly demanding, but I had an additional situation that prevented me from really marketing my book, and me as a writer.  My first husband was very ill, and I was a caregiver.  The time required to take on many additional tasks was limited.  However, the book sold.  It was first published in 2004.  After it had sold a few hundred copies, and the publisher discovered that I was donating all of my royalties to bladder cancer awareness, the publishing rights were returned to me.  This was when I decided to become my own publisher.  Since the initial publishing of the book, it has sold over 1200 copies; it is still selling, and is now available in a revised edition. 
What is your best advice for getting past writer's block?
Try to write something, anything each day.  It does not have to be the project you are working on at the moment.  I find that the more I write, the more ideas I get.
What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?
Write!  Write what you feel.  Write what you believe.  If you have a story to tell…tell it in your own voice without worrying about genre. 

What do you feel is the single most detrimental thing a writer could do to destroy his/her career as a writer?
I feel that the most detrimental thing a writer could do is to give it up if he or she really loves it.  I, also, feel that went the writer’s goal becomes so focused on what “sells” and gives up his/her own voice it will tell.  The readers will lose interest because they can tell when this happens.

What other things do you do other than write, and teach?
I am a public speaker.  I have presented at several conferences over the years on one topic or  another.  Right now, most of my presentations are to increase awareness of the risks for bladder cancer.  I frequently speak on this topic to classes of nursing students at other schools.  I don’t try to be the “medical expert”, but the person who was diagnosed with invasive bladder cancer and had a radical cyscectomy with an Indiana pouch to replace the bladder I lost.  I talk about the prevalence, the risks, the symptoms, the treatments, and the “after-life”.

There two very memorable moments in my speaking career.  I was speaking to a delegation of 5,000 teachers, and my presentation was geared around decisions the current governor had made that would (as we felt) be detrimental to the education.  The speech I gave was one that denounced the governor’s plan by           comparing him to the story about the “emperor who wore no clothes.”  When I finished my presentation, I           learned that the speech was televised, and one of the governor’s aides approached me wanting to know if I had a typed copy of my speech.

One of my most memorable presentations occurred when I was the guest speaker for the White HouseCommunications Agency’s observance of Woman’s History Month. Needless to say, I was very honored.

1 comment:

Sylvia L. Ramsey said...

Thank you Chris for a great interview!