Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Seanachaí’s News

Starting this Sunday and every last Sunday of each month, I will be compiling “Seanachaí’s News," a status report that will assess my work during the current month and also formulate my plans for the upcoming month. It will also give you a peek at my works in progress.

My Work During the Current Month

    1. I’ve been busy promoting my new book, Dead Bird in the Weeds. In my July 5 blog I delved into this work of historical fiction to give the reader a deeper understanding of the characters involved during the Irish fight for freedom in 1798. For more information on this title, check out the July 5 blog and Sunflower Footsteps.
    2. On July 12 guest author E. Michaels blogged with us. Michaels discussed The Mysterious House, the first title in the Fox Mystery Series for children. For more information on this title, check out the July 12 blog and Sunflower Footsteps.
    3. Haunted Voices from My Past: True Narratives of an Ohio Family: If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have been working steadily on this new project. I am nearly finished with Part III. For more information on this title, visit Sunflower Footsteps' forthcoming titles.    
My Plans for the Upcoming Month

    1. I’ve been steadily gathering research for my new book, Haunted Voices from My Past: True Narratives of an Ohio Family. I have one more family member to interview for Part IV, and then I will be focusing exclusively on writing instead of trying to juggle both meetings and writing at the same time.
    2. If all goes as planned, Haunted Voices... will be finished as a first draft by the end of August.
    3. Also, a word about my colleague: Michaels is hard at work on Turtles and Shells and Things. For more information on this title, visit Sunflower Footsteps' forthcoming titles.

We have covered a lot of ground this past month, and we have a lot of interesting things planned for the fall. I hope you’ll be along for the ride.

For more information on Sunflower Footsteps, authors, and titles,



As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line.  In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It’s contagious.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Size Shoe Does a Sunflower Wear?

Q: What size shoe does a sunflower wear?

An object’s size can be measured in different ways with the aid of various tools. Similar methods can be applied to assess the size of an idea. One can measure its scope through the analysis of its birth, growth, maturation, and rebirth. My idea began at the age of seven and continues to thrive through the power of teamwork.

The idea?

Its symbol?
A sunflower.

The birth of an idea

Ideas can be created from the analogy of one’s surrounding environment, the musings of the imagination, or the gentle whisper of the wind.

When I was seven years old I unearthed a heavy black case from the bottom of a cluttered closet. Inside the dusty black leather was a shiny, powder blue typewriter with yellowed keys. My young fingers, despite their many scrapes from slipping between the keys, quickly learned to convey my imaginings onto paper. Let me back up...this became possible after my mother showed me how to roll the paper into the revolving drum. TEAMWORK.

Many stories and decades later I was a student studying English and publishing. Not only was I writing and receiving feedback from professors and peers, but I was also learning how to give help to other writers. TEAMWORK.

The growth of an idea

Like the birth of a seed, an idea requires patience and nurturing to grow.

I began writing short stories and small works of creative nonfiction. These were satisfying to a point, but the urge to create a larger, more involving work haunted me. Years passed and despite my yearning, I did not have the courage to begin. Then, a voice from a dear friend, E. Michaels, pushed me.

“Write,” the voice insisted.
“You know what to do. Just write.”

That’s what I did. I took the advice and wrote my first book, Dead Bird in the Weeds. TEAMWORK.

The maturation of an idea

Many times there are setbacks, but once the plant has matured, it will flower.

My book was finished, but life seized me and hindered the further development of my progression as a writer. Years passed and numerous obstacles barred opportunities. Then, a calamity turned into a breakthrough. It was not unlike the Twilight Zone episode wherein Burgess Meredith had to steal time to read. After a tragedy he has all the time in the world and is content to sit upon his mountain of books. However, unlike the fatal conclusion to his world, my “broken glasses” could be mended. Suddenly I had all the time in the world and the ability to use it wisely.

One morning over a leisurely bowl of cereal (I had all the time in the world, remember) I recalled something a cousin of mine said during a hot, boring summer evening.

“Wouldn’t it be great to own a bookstore, a small, quiet little place where people can read stimulating books?” she said.
Was she kidding? Who wouldn’t want to own a place like that?

She had given me an idea. TEAMWORK. I had to set it in motion, but I couldn’t do it alone. TEAMWORK.

I put down the cereal and contacted E. Michaels.

“Remember that book your wrote for your kids?” I challenged.
“What about it?”
“Get it ready for editing,” I said. “We’re going to have an online bookstore, ‘a small, quiet little place where people can read stimulating books.’”

Our creative brainstorming went on for hours, days, weeks. It could not be held back. TEAMWORK. Books were edited, proofread, and designed. Nearly a year had passed, but it had gone by quickly and productively.

Finally, we were ready to open the bookstore...except for one minor detail. What were we going to call this endeavor that had possessed us? I like gardening and sunflowers, and Michaels likes paths that lead to enchanted places. The answer was dancing before us. We were obviously and undeniably:

“Sunflower Footsteps”

Notice the five-headed flower and the two prints below it. TEAMWORK.


Mature plants bear seed.

This little garden we have planted has now matured into two published books:

It has also born seeds for four new books. This is more than amazing when I look back at my life and think of the fear I once had to write one book. Had it not been for TEAMWORK, I would be entangled in a quagmire of weeds and brambles.

That brings us back to the initial question:

Q: What size shoe does a sunflower wear?

A: It wears many different sizes because its measurement is constantly changing and unfolding before us.

For more information on Sunflower Footsteps, authors, and titles,
drop by our little bookstore at:



Thank you, teachers & professors, for believing in me:
Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Rankin, Mrs. May, Dr. Steffel,
Dr. Proaño, Larry, & Marcia

Thank you, Jeff, Ryan, Mandy, Sam, & Didi

Thank you, Mom, Dad, Granmaw, Pa, Beej, & A.J.

Thank you, God


As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line. In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It’s contagious.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

E. Michaels Discusses The Mysterious House

Hello, all. I'm so glad you could join us today. This Sunday I have a special guest, E. Michaels, the author of the new children's mystery: The Mysterious House.


Hi, this is E. Michaels of Sunflower Footsteps. I have published my first children's mystery, The Mysterious House, the first book in the Fox Mystery Series. The story is about three neighborhood kids that are in the fifth grade. They soon discover that a seemingly ordinary abandoned house becomes the center of a mystery. They become involved in the mystery and soon learn that they need to make some decisions about how far their involvement must go.

The following is an excerpt from the book:

“Oh, no!” whispered Sheila. “Someone is coming inside.”
The moonlit shadow advanced. In the shadow’s hand was a large flashlight. It flashed over the barn before it fastened on the trap door handle on the floor. The barn door slammed shut and once again the inside of the barn lay in darkness. The sole light came from the flashlight outlining the trap door. As the figure neared the trap door where Jimmy lay hidden, Sheila’s fingers gripped Mary’s shoulder. Mary, hiding the terror she felt, put a reassuring hand over Sheila’s and gave it a squeeze. Mary’s teeth were tightly shut, and her jaws ached as the scream rising in her throat was swallowed. Her thoughts were of Jimmy, trapped in the underground space, who was soon to be exposed by this figure with the light.

The Mysterious House was written to entertain my two school-aged children several decades ago. After rewriting and adding several scenes it has become a story of which I am proud to say I have written.

This is an entertaining story for eight to ten-year-old children. If you are a parent and you care about what your child reads, this would be a good book to encourage them to read.

I am currently working on a book for younger children. It is a story with activities and pictures to color. This should be completed within the next two months, and then I will begin work on my next story about the first day of school. Both of these books, entitled Turtles and Shells and Things and Little Duck Gets Ready for School, are from my Feel Good Series which inspire self-confidence in younger children.

To learn more about The Mysterious House, Turtles and Shells and Things, Little Duck Gets Ready for School, and other titles, visit Sunflower Footsteps at www.sunflowerfootsteps.com.


Thanks, Michaels, for taking the time to be with us today to discuss The Mysterious House. We're looking forward to more of your work and wish you the best of luck in your endeavor.

Join me next Sunday for What Size Shoe Does a Sunflower Wear? where I will discuss Sunflower Footsteps and its impact on publishing, writing, and my life.

As always, I love to hear from you. If you're in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line. In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It's contagious.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Birds no longer whistle in the trees. They lie dead in the weeds.

Birds no longer whistle in the trees.
They lie dead in the weeds.

According to ancient Irish tradition, the wren would command the birds and the king would become the pauper for one day. For life to be restored to its natural state, the wren must be hunted and slain.

Dead Bird in the Weeds relates the tale of trodden people rising as wrens to win freedom from the tyranny of England during the 1798 rebellion in Ireland.

This is the story of one such wren named Aisling Doran, a peasant in Wexford, Ireland. Compelled by the murder of her father, the loss of her faith, and the yearning of her being to end the anguish she must endure, this daring young woman joins the revolutionary United Irishmen. Throughout the fields, hills, meadows, and mountains, she and her family wage war for liberty.

During this struggle for independence, Aisling finds the courage to love, to die, and most importantly, to live.

I have always enjoyed tales of Ireland and revolution because of my Irish heritage and interest in history. Along with my love of folklore and nature, these qualities instilled the desire to pen Dead Bird in the Weeds, a work depicting the 1798 rebellion in Wexford, Ireland.

Dead Bird in the Weeds is more than a story of rebellion. This piece of historical fiction guides the reader through a journey of courage, self-worth, betrayal, and love. These enduring aspects of the human existence are characterized in the lives of five valiant friends who fight for freedom.

Aisling is the tortured protagonist of this novel. The daughter of a peasant farmer in Wexford, Ireland, she wishes for nothing but to abandon her misery and the poverty plaguing her people. Her only outlet is through the mythical stories she creates for her family; however, the material for her tales is gathered from the nightmares haunting her.

Michael, a strong man with a big heart and a wooden whistle, joins the rebellion to protect Aisling, the cousin he has loved since childhood.

Lorcán returns home from north Wexford where he is hunted for conspiring to usurp England’s hold upon Ireland. As obsessive with his desire to dominate Aisling as he is about instigating a rebellion, Lorcán leads his men in the fight against tyranny.

Cara, a sprightly young woman with a contagious smile, finds herself on the march to freedom because she loves her brother, Lorcán, too much to stay at home. Her love is tested when she is presented with a difficult choice.

Finn, Michael’s brother, is involved in the rebellion by accident. Suffering from an injury and his betrayal of his family, his only means of survival are to cling to the song of the wrens and Cara’s pledge of friendship.

The reader will not only follow these brave individuals marching upon the path to liberty but will also experience the characters' ability or inability to learn from the obstacles before them. Along the way, key battles such as those at Oulart, Enniscorthy, New Ross, and Vinegar Hill will be enacted, and prominent revolutionaries such as Fr. John Murphy, Edward Roche, Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, and Miles Byrne will be met.

Dead Bird in the Weeds is a story of courage and hope, love and friendship, and the partaking of a mission to win dignity and freedom.

For more information on Dead Bird in the Weeds,
visit Sunflower Footsteps at www.sunflowerfootsteps.com