Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Interview with Sylvia Ramsey

Today a guest stops by for an interview.  Please welcome author Sylvia Ramsey to the blog:

1- Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Hello, my name is Sylvia L. Ramsey. Thank you for having me as a guest. I live in Georgia, but I grew up in a very rural area in Southeast Missouri. When I am writing or blogging, I work full-time at a two-year liberal arts college. I am a communications professor and the coordinator for the Academic Resource Center/Library. I am the advisor for our campuses newspaper, the GMC Journal. I am the vice president of the American Bladder Cancer Society, and a seventeen year survivor myself.
I was a mother of two before I married my husband Tom, and now I have gained five more.  Therefore, I am a mother of seven, grandmother of twenty-seven, and a great-grandmother of six. I love to paint and sculpt.  I have some example of my work on my current book's webpage, that is the same name as my new book.  My poetry has been published in over one-hundred literary magazines, and my short stories in several more.  I have been published in academic journals as well.  I am currently working on marketing my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts. I interact with my peers on LinkedIn in various author and publishing groups, Facebook and Twitter
Many may wonder why I am so adamant in my support of bladder cancer awareness. I think it is because I remember only, too, well how badly I needed to talk to someone about it, and to find information that would help me understand what was happening to me. However, when I was diagnosed there were none of these things available. I had great medical care, but there was no informative or emotional support. I decided to try to change this if I could. Since that time, things have changed some but not nearly enough. My quest has only just begun. That is why the sales of my books are given to the American Bladder Cancer Society

2- Can you tell us about your latest book?

My newest book is a memoir, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.  The book is a journey though time from childhood to mature adulthood. The stories and poems in this book reflect the lows and highs of life. The loving memories, the hardships and the things we learn as we travel the road of life. It covers an abusive mother who had mental problems because of being abused as a child, childhood polio, a rocky marriage with a husband who was often abusive, the role of caregiving, death and grief, coping with bladder cancer, asthma, losing a home and more. Therefore, to not to scare you off with gloom and doom, there are funny stories along the way and an ending that I never dreamed would happen. My hope is that the book will bring about understanding to others, and be inspiring to even more. Our journey in life has a purpose, finding it is often the most difficult task of all.

3- What drew you to writing non-fiction and what influenced you to write a memoir-style book?

Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts, was inspired by a young man that has some very serious heart problems, and all the people I have met over the years as a teacher, mentor and a bladder cancer survivor. I have tried my best to encourage them, and to give them hope. To not give up on themselves or life. As I have traveled along life’s highway, I keep running into people who have let the rocks that have been thrown in their life’s road giving up on themselves, or life in general. The truth is that life is harsh, and it is not like the movies that give a false impression that it is smooth sailing. Being the hero that toughs it out and keeps on regardless of the situation is difficult, but with faith, it can be accomplished. It often takes a backbone, humor and a wishbone to survive it all.

4- Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I write every day, but I wouldn't classify it as a "routine." I write in my home office at the computer usually in the very early mornings, and again in the evening. My day job requires a lot of writing as well.
However, there have been times when I have had an idea, I have written things down on anything I could find. When I was working on my second book, An Underground Jewell, I drove about forty-five minutes to and from work. I would use my small tape recorder to plot out the scenes, the characters and ideas of where I wanted to take the story next. Once I had time to write, I would listen back to the recording and take it from there.

5- What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Having more time to write. I could do it all the time. I have more books and in my head, and I want to get them told; written. The next thing is marketing. I have learned a lot in the past few years, but there is so much more to learn. Time is often the biggest hurdle.

6- How much research do you do for your books?

It depends on the book? I write from the soul. I get started on a story idea, a poem, or whatever and it is as if someone else takes over. I think we call it the muse.

7- What is the best advice you received as a writer, and what kind of tips would you give to new writers?

I think the theme of my latest book says it all, keep trying, keep writing. Find your voice and tell your stories.

8- How would you describe your books, and what type of readers do you believe are your target audience?

Each book has its own target audience. For example:

An Underground Jewell is set in a possible near-future, and is about a female sleuth who must clear herself after being accused of espionage by hacking into the national computer system. What if all the western world's information is eventually located in a central computer center, and a terrorist faction has infiltrated several of our government agencies? How much worse could it be? Just recently in the news, an illegal was discovered working at a nuclear power plant. Another aspect is the change of language. We have another famous novel that covered this: Orwell's 1984. Today we have Double Speak and many other things in our high-tech world that is changing our language. Language has an effect on our perception and our perceived reality. This is a possible scenario, and I think we may find we have reason for concern. The target audience here would be people who are interested in possible future scenarios, science fiction fans and those who read espionage novels.

My children's book,  Merchild Land, is obviously for children.  However, it is directed to young children rather than older.

The poetry book, Pulse Points of a Woman's World, is a walk though life. The book is unusual into days publishing world because it is fully illustrated with art nouveau illustrations that carry the theme of each section of the book as well as each of the poems in that section. The sections are Pulse Points of Youth, Pulse Points of Love, Pulse Points of Reality and Pulse Points of Wisdom. Many people think the poems are just for women, and I felt that was probably true, however; I have had several men who have read it and have said that they think the poems are more universal.

To answer your question about current book, Traveling , may best be answered by a couple of people who reviewed the book.

"Taking the rocky road with Sylvia is a joyful challenge. It takes the reader through the most common and uncommon hardships, but at the conclusion of this delightful journey, the reader feels more joy and satisfaction: Love, faith, and incredible guts turn the rocky road into an assuring path that all of us so humanly desire. This book is so uniquely universal in every essential aspect that I enthusiastically recommend it to all readers regardless of their age, gender, and race." ~ Dr. Aman B. Kay

"This is a tale of strength in the face of adversity. How one woman survived psychological and physical blows to her psyche and health to overcome them with courage and resilience. Sylvia faced many challenges in her life, from childhood trauma, to difficult times in her marriage, then with personal health. It was heartbreaking to learn that both received news, on the same day, that each one of them faced a cancer diagnosis--her husband prostate cancer and Sylvia's bladder cancer. Sylvia was already taking care of her husband with COPD and now prostate cancer, facing bladder cancer herself, and having to deal with her full-time, job and the only wage earner in the family.

This amazing book has it all, from terrible news to lighter humor. It all happened when a large raccoon was found on their exercycle in the morning room. He was sitting on the bike with his hands on the handle bars trying to figure out how to work it. This book is a valuable addition to those suffering from cancer and at the same time for those who have their health. Many times in life we agonize over the small dramas and forget the most important thing: that we're here on earth to enjoy life as best as we can and to forgo the insignificant events in our lives. This book teaches just that". ~ Lilian Gafni

9- What’s next for you?

Right now is getting the new book launched, and marketing. In between, I will begin to write my other stories I have yet to tell. Continue being an advocate for bladder cancer support, and try my best to be as good of a role model as my father.

You can learn more about Sylvia and her books at:

Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts
(A blog about my newest book)
Thoughtful Reflections Blog
Amazon Author's Page - All books

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