Once in a great while we’re given the chance to meet our heroes. As a writer who keeps a gratitude journal, I know that everyday we get to meet heroes. Our parents, our siblings, the woman who helps shuffle students safely across the crosswalk on their way to school, the gentleman who holds the door open for the mother pushing a stroller – these are all heroes we see everyday and most of us take them for granted.
But what about the ones that inspire us? The ones that remind us of the things we dreamed about as kids! Recently I attended a book reading and signing by Wisconsin author, Michael Perry. Having interviewed Perry just a few weeks ago, I know he thinks that living as a writer is no big deal. In his words, he told me:
I always say I’m a writer with a small “w”, and I figure most critics and people would agree. My family is just as interested in my writing as they are interested in my brother’s corn crop or my sister’s factory job and that’s how it oughta be. My daughters know their dad is self-employed and gone a lot, but they also know that truckers and soldiers are gone a lot more and under much tougher circumstances. I love what I do, I’m grateful to do what I do, and it may be a calling, but it’s not a HIGHER calling.
Little does he know, it’s his humble attitude that inspires me. At the reading, he was very down to earth and welcoming – the traits his writing voice creates as well. A woman sitting next to me asked, “Is he really as good and kind as his books make him seem?” I answered, “I think so.”
A Letter to Mr. Perry:
Dear Mr. Perry,
Thank you for taking a chance on a stranger who read your books, and for agreeing to be interviewed by her.
When I was growing up in a small Wisconsin town, I thought nothing interesting ever happened in Wisconsin and I couldn’t wait to travel elsewhere. I burrowed away in my room with my mom’s old typewriter that the ‘n’ key didn’t work and wrote stories that were then acted out by puppets. I built forts out of blankets and pretended I was an orphan, running the streets, stealing food to survive and living dangerously – but that’s probably because I watched Aladdin everyday for months.
When I got to school and started writing, it was my teachers who acknowledged my skills and encouraged me to write more. This lasted, I am grateful to say, through my college years.
But when classes were over and the “real world” hit, I stopped writing for awhile. Years, even. When I started blogging, a desperate attempt to write something, anything, it was one of the scariest things I ever did. But, something wonderful happened. I found a whole community of writers and readers and people who shared my dreams and were going after their own! Over time, this little old blog became my place of respite. And with some courage, I threw myself out there to various writers whose books I’ve enjoyed and asked to interview them.
Thank you for saying yes! It is meaningful to me that you shared your story and your time with me. Each and every writer (established and new) is an inspiration and a push to go after my own writing dream. And, Mr. Perry, writer with a small ‘w,’ I intend to return the favor. Meeting a gracious and giving person such as yourself, inspires me to do the same for others. For now, I’m only able to offer that camaraderie that comes with plugging away at the writing process as any new writer knows is full of trial and error. If and when I can accomplish publication, I fully intend to be that person that says “Yes” to new writers, thank you to those that come to see me, and chat with everyone that is willing to stand in line just for an autograph.
Thank you from the small town, Wisconsin girl who thought her mom’s old typewriter was the coolest thing ever. It was a pleasure meeting you.
And just for fun:
It’s only one week away – the next edition of The Redhots!
Next friday, Marcia and I interviewing our first author for The Redhots! His book has been getting lots of 5 star reviews! Tune in on October 26th to see who it is!
Until then: We’re kicking off Halloween with a fun photo contest! You could be a winner of one of 6 prizes!
What you need to know to enter:
1. There are three categories you can enter one time each:
- Costume – your best ever, be it scary, cute or funny
- Outdoor decorations – your scariest or most creative
- Party room decor – you can include your Halloween tablescape, your unique pumpkin carving, and your room decorations
2. Post your pictures, up to 3 only, at our Twitter hashtag: #TheRedHots between October 19th and October 30th. The winners will be announced on Halloween!
3. For extra chances to win, you can choose to do the following:
- “Like” Marcia’s and my Facebook pages
- Tweet about the contest three times between the 19th and the 30th linking to our posts
- Subscribe to our blogs
- Grand prize will be an autographed print book by our indie author plus a Halloween Goody Bag.
- 5 bonus prizes of a Kindlegraphed ebook from the author
Excited? Inspired? Halloween plans? Heroes that inspire you? What’s on your mind?
I love NPR. Almost every program peaks my interest. When I’m driving, listening in to Chapter-A-Day, or Dr. Zorba, or Here On Earth, or the late night radio show programs with old school sound effects (one of my faves!), I like to imagine what other people are doing while they’re listening in. I would imagine in today’s day and age, most are driving just like me. But then some might be making dinner, doing work outside, exercising at the gym, rocking a child to sleep.
Yesterday’s guest was author, Michael Perry. If you’ve never read his work, you must! If you’d like a recipe for country living, equal parts back woods advice and survival 101, you’ll find it in his work. His background as a male nurse, EMT, and volunteer firefighter who grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin gives him an unreal edge to describing catastrophe and humor in the same scene. One of his first works about his hometown is called Population: 485. I read it this last fall. Since that book, he has continued his story by writing about marriage and family life in Truck: A Love Story and Coop: A Family, A Farm, And the Pursuit of One Good Egg.
Throughout the conversation, Perry comes off as very likable, humble, and down to earth. He jokes about speaking engagements, and he sincerely thanks his fans (the pockets of them that come forth, he says). He really does a great job of promoting his work, without sounding like a PR agent. He has a website and blog about his work, and he says yes (cause he needs the money) to as many speaking arrangements as he can. But I loved his honesty and interest in what his readers, or in this case callers, had to say. He appreciated their input.
One caller flattered him immensely by saying he was asked what book he would recommend if you were going to lend a book to President Obama, and he answered Truck: A Love Story. The caller’s reasons were that “Truck” depicts the everyday man of rural living and he would want the president to remember the mid/working class individuals who were just getting by and not be completely consumed by the political world.
I kind of trailed off from the rest of the program for a bit, cause I kept thinking “What an interesting question!” What if you could give a book to the president? What book would you choose and why?
I think that’s really hard to answer. If I had to pick just one, and make it really good one, I’d say The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. If ever there was a book that followed the generations of a family who struggled, and dealt with politics of race, class, education, and health care, this book is truly moving. I believe, and maybe I watched too many documentaries on Martin Luther King Day, but I really do believe that if we turn our eyes away from history, we are doomed to repeat ourselves. I think this story is one everyone should know.
What book would you recommend?