I’m honored to feature author and poet Sharla Shults on my blog today. Not only is she an amazing person, she is also a very prolific writer, and her poetry tells the story of America and the great sacrifices our forefathers made to enhance our lives. Part of the proceeds of her books are donated to our brave military veterans.
Sharla, please tell us about your writing.
I write inspirational and historical poetry, which to me is the personification of freedom. It is the freedom to see life at its best or at its worse, reflect on happiness as well as sorrow, be an adult or the child that is in all of us and expose nature as a diamond in the rough. It is a means for sharing love, dreams and inspirations to send a heart racing, free a heart of grief or perhaps even offer a path for forgiveness. Whisperings from the past deliver messages that reveal themselves as happy whisperings from the heart, melancholy whisperings from the mind, or quiet whisperings from the soul.
What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?
Reading is individualistic. As for my thoughts, readers today want mystery engrained with suspense and crime, and of course, sci-fi. Vampires still reign from way before the dawning of Dark Shadows to the emergence of Twilight. This is a different age, a different world, a modern world filled with intrigue and violence on a daily basis. Unfortunately, blood and guts are as common as ketchup and shredded onions. Readers of the past wanted more romance, poetry, and definitely tales of the Old West.
Of course, you may already be wondering where does this leave me and why would my writing be more reflective of poetry, rather than fiction more reflected of modern times? Stories before, during, and after war have always been popular since they embrace the past with visions into the future. Thus, enters Awakenings. In reading on, hopefully a light bulb will appear and perhaps even an ‘aha’ moment, a trigger of inspiration.
Tell us about the book you want to feature in this post.
Awakenings from Then ’til Now, Embrace the Past, Empower the Present, Enrich the future
Awakenings from Then ’til Now is historical poetry. Yes, that is correct, poetry and of all things, history! Oh, my, I may have stepped out onto a ship’s plank awaiting my destiny within a watery grave only to rest among ghosts of times past. Not so, for through whisperings of the past, we hear echoes of the future.
Oh, sea, mighty warrior of all times
Let loose your triumphant vessels
Relinquish the esteemed memories
Once washed away like sandcastles
History books have often been classified as boring whereas history by its own nature is very poignant. As with the verse above that echoes of the sea, Awakenings echoes of America’s past over five centuries within times of tremendous sacrifice, times where hope, faith and courage were the cornerstones. From European shores, families traversed treacherous seas enduring sickness, disease and suffering in search of a better life. Little did they know the hardships had only just begun…
Does this wonderful book have a message?
Yes, indeed! There is an immediate need for a wake-up call ensuring the principles and honor upon which America was built remain steadfast. Thus, the title: Awakenings from Then ’til Now. Our life’s blood stems from our fathers whose fathers’ fathers lived and died to make this country free. And, their mothers endured pain and suffering beyond our imagination. Within the pages of Awakenings are accounts of extreme sacrifice and heart-rending emotion. At the heart of Awakenings are verses echoing the blood and guts of America’s freedom: Freedom that came with a price. We, as descendants of the early pioneers, need to remain forever gilded in rays of hope, faith and courage.
“In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, bridge to our future.”
Therein lays the ultimate question: “What is your place in America’s ancestral chain?”
Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work?
I had two manuscripts accepted by a traditional publisher. My knowledge of independent publishing was non-existent at that time. I have learned a lot over the past year mainly due to wonderful connections with other authors who have openly been willing to share their successes and pitfalls of self-publishing.
How did that work out for you?
So far I have been very pleased with my publisher having encountered only one major hurdle which resulted in setbacks for the official release date. In reflection of setback, this may have been a blessing in disguise for it allowed additional time for review and editing that opened a window for my own discovery and pointers for personal reflection.
What do you do to promote your writing?
Write, write, write! That’s right, one of the best ways to promote my writing is for me to keep writing. I maintain two blogs, write short stories for Storylane, compose poetry and develop articles on demand. One of my biggest challenges has been participation in a free write which on occasion takes me totally outside my comfort zone. I also promote other authors on my blog sites and participate in online interviews such as this one as often as possible. Newspaper, magazine and blog talk radio interviews are in the making, which hopefully will broaden communication specifically about my latest book, Awakenings.
I do my best to keep my name circulating on a regular basis maintaining an active social network, i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Scoop.it, Pinterest, etc. The more incoming traffic on my web sites and blogs, the more my name or the name of my book will come up in search engine results.
What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?
If you have a dream as a writer, wake up and bring it to life! When you have random thoughts, write them down, keep pen and paper handy or simply let your fingers stroll across the keyboard rhythmically placing the words as they naturally flow. Think of the words as ingredients which when melded together could form the most delicious recipe. Each thought imbues an important taste of life. Who knows what recipe might be created from any one single ingredient, or combination for that matter, necessary to enhance its flavor, perhaps a mystical spice, a romantic zing, a blackened horror or even poetic essence of love.
So beautifully explained. Tell us about your next project.
Already on the writing board is catnipoflife. This venture returns to the inspirational realm of poetry. Catnip represents people with dreams, places filled with awareness and things thoughtfully remembered. . .
. . . Dreams filled with hope, faith and courage
. . . Places where random thoughts, fleeting comments and quiet whisperings come together to offer solitude, comfort, friendship and even laughter
. . . Things whispering of the past, present and future where souls meet, rivers cross and hearts entwine
Captivating moments are right before our eyes, music to our ears, within our very grasp and under our nose waiting to be enjoyed. These are the essence of catnipoflife.
How would we benefit from buying your book?
If you want to know more
about the hardships endured in the founding of America and establishing her freedom but do not want to resort to the informational text of a history book, then this is the book for you.If you want to learn more
about ‘from whence you came’ with a better understanding of your ancestry, then this is definitely the book to read. If you want to experience
the sacrifices, feel the emotion, relish in the joys and sorrows from the past in order for you to enjoy the freedoms America has to offer today, then, do not miss reading this book.If you want to make a personal connection
to past events, then not only read this book but also engage in the opportunities within the text for personal journal reflections.
LAST, BUT BY ALL MEANS NOT LEAST. . .
If you want to educate your children about their personal connection to America, read this book, complete the personal reflections and pass it on to your son(s) or daughter(s) to read. Not only will they learn about America in a much different format from that which is presented in school but they will learn THEIR connection to America – Awakenings past, present and future.
My childhood experiences revolve around a small southwestern Georgia town where education played a most important role. I followed in my dad’s footsteps and attended Troy State University, Troy AL in pursuance of my teaching degree in mathematics and science. At the time I was in school, Troy was (is still BTW) very well known for studies and entrance into the education field. After graduation, I taught for four years and then, in light of a very substantial pay increase, left teaching and ventured into the railroad industry. This in turn, led me to my soulmate and eventually a return into education until my retirement in 2008. Even in retirement I still work in education but as an Online Education Specialist (fancy title for teaching online instead of in the classroom). The difference is that now my students are teachers. What makes it really special are the times I encounter those who were once my classroom students are now my students again but in a totally different environment. Now that is having come full circle! What a blessing!
Being a mathematician by nature is a strange beginning for a writer of poetry. As a child and even into adulthood, never did the vision of becoming a writer materialize. Not until much, much later in life did this gift emerge. How DID it begin? Well, one day an angel sat on my shoulder and began whispering in my ear. Days and nights ran together as the words poured from my thoughts onto paper. That, of course, would be any kind of paper on hand at the time. It was not unusual for the quiet whisperings to come at any hour of the night, perhaps even in dreams, and if not written down at the moment faded as swiftly as the rising sun. My passion for writing persists to this day and I never know when a random thought, a fleeting comment or a whispering from the past will trigger the next verse. For you see, I am not the writer, but only the messenger from His hand to mine, from my heart to yours. . .
To my husband, my soulmate, who inspires me in so many ways and still remains able to sometimes get a good night’s sleep, all is not lost in my dreams.
Through my writing, I invite everyone to open your heart, mind and soul to opportunities to remember, discover and reflect. . .
NOTE: Awakenings from Then ’til Now is dedicated to those who laid the foundation and established the platform for our American freedom: those who have served in the past, presently serve, or will serve our military forces in the future. Proceeds from sales of Awakenings benefit the Wounded Warriors Program and Veterans of Foreign Wars. This is purely a personal decision and in no way connected to either program for advertisement or endorsement.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?