“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
Please welcome Gayle M. Irwin to this AuThursday edition of the Clog Blog. Gayle, go ahead and tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve been an author since 2007, and prior to that, I was a journalist for small-town newspapers. I enjoy sharing stories that inspire, educate and entertain children and adults. I am also a freelance writer, contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and I’m a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I grew up in Iowa and now live in the Rocky Mountain region, having been in this area for more than 40 years. In addition to writing, I enjoy spending time in nature, traveling, and taking photographs. I am also an advocate for pet rescue and adoption, serving as a volunteer for various animal welfare organizations and weaving that passion into some of my writing, including my new novel, Rescue Road.
How do you make time to write?
I work part-time, three days a week, and therefore, I use many of my two weekdays and some of my weekend hours to write. My husband and I have no children, except for the four-legged kind, therefore, I have a lot of quiet time to think and compose. My husband has his own business so he understands and respects my need for time to write and work on my business. I’m a morning writer so I use those hours to compose and afternoons for marketing/learning. Adjusting to time change, however, as we did recently when we “fell back” takes a toll on me now that I’m older, so I’m re-synching my body clock again.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe we can all come to a point where we have to put a manuscript away for a while and come back later to work on it. Rescue Road is a product of several years. I would talk myself out of finishing the book, whether self-doubt or a new project “calling me.” Also, during the past year, I’d be so involved in the Rescue Road story that I’d meander or “rabbit trail.” So, I had to stop, put it away for a few days, and come back later to focus again. There are various reasons we can’t always “motor through,” and I think that’s okay. I set myself a deadline to complete the final first draft by early summer and turn it over to an editor (I’m an Indie author), and I met that deadline. Now, the book is out, in both e-book and print formats, and I can see the result of my perseverance. To me, that’s what writing is all about, whether a book, short story, article or blog post – a writer must persevere, because we are distracted by so many things and we have “regular life” to do as well. Setting deadlines works for me, likely because of my journalism background, and even though I planned to complete the novel a few years ago, timing wasn’t right, I guess; I had other (children’s) stories to tell first, which I did. Now is the time for the novel, especially this month as November is Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month, and since my novel weaves pet rescue and adoption into the main romance story, the release is optimal. I donate part of my book sales to rescue organizations, and I have a shortlist of rescue and adoption groups at the back of the book. Again, this month’s release is a benefit for the type of book I’ve written.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I started as a children’s author, writing chapter and picture books, and I still have manuscripts for kids in the works. I enjoy sharing animal stories with children, and each of my books weaves an important life lesson or two into the work, such as courage, perseverance, friendship, and appreciation of nature as well as pet rescue and adoption. I’ve written devotionals based on living with dogs, and now I’m graduating into writing novels. I love each genre because I love to inspire, educate, encourage, and entertain. Stories, no matter the genre, can accomplish those aspirations. Rescue Road is my first contemporary, clean romance novel, and it won’t be the last; I plan a series I’ve titled “Pet Rescue Romance,” with Rescue Road being Book 1. I’m already working on Book 2, tentatively titled Discovering Love at Compassion Ranch, with a release planned for Summer 2020.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
I am primarily Indie published; I do have one book, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned With My Blind Dog, traditionally published. I enjoy Indie publishing for several reasons, including (1) freedom and (2) publishing more quickly. Perhaps also I’m a control-freak, stemming from being an only child and working independently for many years. Indie fits my personality.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I’m primarily an introvert, but the past several years, I’ve become more of an extrovert. I’ve given presentations in schools, for various civic and faith-based groups, and even taught a few classes at the local community college. I’ll be doing some speaking events in the coming months with the release of Rescue Road. I believe “getting out there,” whether speaking or doing other forms of marketing, helps increase awareness and sales of books, therefore, as an author, I need to tamp down my fears, square my shoulders, and let people know about my work, whether through a speaking event, online marketing, or Facebook Live (horrors! HA!). I’ve certainly grown a lot over the past decade, and I enjoy sharing my writings and pet rescue passion with others!
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up, persevere. We all have a purpose in life, and if you believe you are called to write, then write. Try new things, like article writing and short story creation. A novel, even a picture book, is a big project to undertake; sometimes it’s best to start small. Or, like me, write articles and short stories while you’re also composing your novel, middle grade, chapter or picture book. Grow in the craft of writing as well. Learn from others. Challenge yourself to get better every year and to try something new every year. This work is a journey, not a race, and we can all contribute something wonderful if we persevere and grow. And, have confidence and hope, as Helen Keller said – we need those traits to help us persevere.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Author Website: http://www.gaylemirwin.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/GayleMIrwin
Pinterest (under Waggin’ Tales): www.pinterest.com/gaylemirwin
Amazon Author Central Page: amazon.com/author/gayleirwin
Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2MCklLl
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Excerpt from Rescue Road – Pet Rescue Romance Book 1 (750 words)
by Gayle M. Irwin
Rhiann stood on the porch of the mid-century ranch house. Cup of coffee in hand, she watched the blazing orange sunrise. Streamers of light cascaded on the mountains west of the property, casting a rosy glow on the rocks and patches of snow upon the higher elevation. October’s morning danced with the browning grasses of the nearby pastures as touches of frost shimmered upon tan sprigs surrounding the house. Overhead, a flock of Canada geese in traditional V formation honked as they winged their way south.
Rhiann observed them and whispered, “We have something in common. We’re starting over.”
As he drove closer to the ranch house, Levi noticed a small, red dual-cab pickup parked near the building. His eyes squinted. He remembered seeing a similar vehicle at the Twin Bridges Campground yesterday. He parked next to the truck.
“Who in the world could that be?” he murmured as he exited his pickup.
He looked at the license plate. He didn’t remember George knowing anyone from Washington state. He saw a heart-shaped sticker on the side. Levi scowled. He meandered to the driver’s side and saw the “Rescue Road” emblem.
“Can’t be,” he muttered.
He looked up when he heard the front door of the house slam. He stared.
“What are you doing here?” he and Rhiann asked simultaneously.
Rhiann couldn’t believe her eyes. Left hand on her hip and straw broom in her right, she glared at the man she had met yesterday.
“Well?” she questioned, looking Levi in the eye. “Answer my question. What are you doing on my ranch?”
“Your what? YOUR ranch? This is my land,” he snapped.
“Uh, unless your last name is Kelly or McCallister, I don’t think so.”
Levi stalked toward the front porch. Rhiann took a step back. She looked into his smoldering gray eyes as he said, “George Nelson left this place to me. Just who are you to come claim it as yours?”
Before she could respond, he rushed on, “Are you related to George? I didn’t think he had any kids or grandkids. Are you a niece or something?”
Rhiann shook her head. “I didn’t know Mr. Nelson. I’m the granddaughter of Mary Martha McAllister. She was born here, in that log cabin over there.”
She pointed to the two-room dwelling to her right.
“That’s my house,” Levi said.
She detected the curt tone, and she responded in kind.
“I don’t know why you keep saying you own this property. That cabin, this place, has been mine for nearly four months and was in my family for two generations. I’m just now getting here after settling the back taxes.”
Levi’s face blanched. “Back taxes? What are you talking about?”
At that moment, his cell phone rang. She watched him pull the device from a back pocket of his jeans. He turned away from her.
“Mr. Williamson, Yes, this is Levi Butler. You have news for me?” He paused in his conversation. “I see.”
Rhiann continued observing him. He gradually turned toward her. His eyes darkened, and his teeth clenched. Rhiann took a step back, holding the broom in both hands. I’ll swing this thing at his head if he takes one more step.
“Yes, yes, I’ve met her. In fact, I’m looking at her right now.”
His icy statement sent chills up Rhiann’s spine.
Levi gripped the cell phone tighter. His mind tried to process the words spoken by George’s attorney. A few moments later, he said, “I see. Not the news I expected to hear but thanks for letting me know.”
He clicked off and stared at Rhiann. He noticed she held the broom as if to fend off an attacker. He wanted to punch something but knew he couldn’t. He took a deep breath and clenched a fist. He exhaled a ragged breath. A moment of silence ticked by. Levi inhaled again, trying to steady himself. As he released the air and unclenched his fist, he spoke in a terse, but controlled tone.
“Someone who knows nothing about this place, it’s history or the man who lived here … I guess it’s yours after all.”
Levi stalked to his pickup and jumped into the driver’s seat. He backed the Chevy toward the Y junction and stomped the accelerator. He heard a large spray of gravel as the truck tires dug in, and he drove from the house.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Tina!!
Thanks for joining me, Gayle!