I love going to the Arkansas Writer’s Conference. I meet other authors who share so much information about writing and marketing. Some of us set up tables of our books. Its fun to see the covers and artwork on everyone’s newest offerings. I been to a couple years in a row and its becoming liken unto a family reunion, seeing old friends and catching up. Ideas of what we are each doing to share our stories are fascinating and very helpful. I always learn something fresh and leave with new energy.
This year I was one of the presenters. I shared about my first story “Military Mommy” about my daughter who entered the United States Army. The update was she had been gone to Iraq for the past 10 months and we were awaiting her soon return to America. They were ready to board the plane to come home weeks before but a sudden scary illness had them in quarantine at the time of the conference. I am happy to say even though it was a nasty stomach bug, the soldiers returned safely this week. We had a fun family get together this past weekend and she got to see her children. As a mother, I am relieved and thankful beyond words that she is home. God bless America.
A simple poetic story about military families. “Military Mommy” about my daughter Melissa Dabney. The little book has photographs of the military base at bootcamp in Jacksonville, South Carolina and her first duty station in the Hawaiian island.
That story led to a biography of my father who was a Navyman during WWII. It was to be a short essay but turned into his whole life’s journey. A military love story “Dance Me Home” took three years and became a 70,000 word book. I shared a song I wrote for my dad called “Soldier”
My writing turned a corner after dad’s book and I started writing children’s books. I started working as a music teacher at St. Mark’s Day School in Little Rock. I love children. Raised five of my own. They are grown now and having children of their own.
I wrote a whimsical Christmas story about a mouse. “Twas The Mouse before Christmas” I spent a year learning how to illustrate. That was harder then it sounds.
After that, I was asked to illustrate some animals parables for another author. Attorney Everett Martindale. Presently we have 12 storybooks. At the writer’s conference I shared about how my music students help me in the development of songs to go with the stories. I featured “Wisdom, the Elephant Used by God”
My sister-in-law Cindy Reyes translates the animal books into Spanish. I discovered a talented musician in Rod Ragsdale and we found a recording studio and started producing audiobooks of these wonderful stories. Rod is the voice of many of the stories. We add background sounds and have a lot of fun. I recommend Blue Chair Recording Studio in Austin, Arkansas. The engineer Darian Stribling is fabulous.
I think at the end of my writer’s conference I share a song I recorded when I was just 17. I had been awarded a recording contract with Paradise Records in Nashville, Tenn after winning the national talent award as “Miss Arkansas Teen” The song “Arkansas” really describes my young life being raised on a 40 acre farm in the Ozarks. Southern roots.
Now I live and work in Little Rock and its been an amazing journey. Thank you to all at the conference for so much encouragement. I’m also thankful for the support in buying my storybooks online at Amazon and local bookstores and festival.
Oh and I am happy to announce that Rod and I will be married at the end of summer 2018.
Rod and I will be reading and singing at the Hillary Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center Saturday July 28th at 10am. Hope to see you there.
Thank you Arkansas Writer’s Conference for letting me share my personal journey.