Saturday, August 31, 2013

MK Meredith: Why Do I Write?

Why do I write? Why do you write?

The answer to that question can determine your level of tenacity. Because this is the thing, writing isn’t easy. Writing requires a large time commitment, a tough hide, and self-motivation. And if you aren’t doing it for the right reasons, or rather, if your reasons aren’t strong enough…writing is easy to quit.

For me, I can’t imagine doing anything else. And that’s the key. I am driven to write. I have stories to tell. When I’m in the middle of writing a book, stepping away from it to engage in the rest of my life, is very difficult. And I love my life! However, I could be cooking dinner or on a date with my husband, my best friend, but  one leg still remains stretched out knee deep in that book. I can’t wait to get back to it. I’m antsy and long to feel the cool, smooth buttons of my keyboard. The story calls to me, my characters beg for me to resolve their issues or challenge them with new ones. Not until I write the words, ‘The End’, am I able to break free. For a second.

Until the next story grabs hold and demands itself to paper.

Writing makes me happy. Filling my life with joy is a dream come true. Why would I ever stop? I wouldn’t. I won’t. I am tenacious.

With every rejection from an editor or an agent, I take a day, medicate myself with peanut butter (my comfort food) and soak in the pain. But when the sun rises the next day…I write.

Stay in the fight. Don’t give up.

When the writing gets tough…get tough on your writing.

Write a business plan, with goals and actions. Write a vision statement. Consider the industry and your craft. What do you still have left to learn?


Cheryl St.John, a wonderful romance writer, mentor and friend, gave me the best advice. “Be a constant student. Don’t ever think you’ve learned all you can learn.” Her words are permanently engraved in my brain.

I practice and research and write, write, write. I study the industry, and participate in my local writing community, critique groups and workshops.  My schedule is full and I love every stinkin’ minute of it. Because I’m a writer.

If writing is really what you want as your career. If regularly publishing in your genre, and someday making it onto the New York Times Best Sellers list is your dream. Then write. Don’t give up. Each day is a new day and a new opportunity to write your best work.

This industry is subjective and the traditional route leaves much of the control in someone else’s hands. But, what you do control is whether or not you write. Whether or not you learn.

Your success stems from your level of tenacity. Your ability to stick with it and grow and improve until the day you are published. Because that day will come. And it will come soon.

If you keep writing.

MK Meredith is an aspiring contemporary romance and paranormal romance author. She is the conference director for Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2014 and the president of Pikes Peak Romance Writers out of Colorado Springs, CO

As a member of Romance Writers of America, Romance Authors of the Heartland, PPW and PPRW, she considers herself a constant student. Currently she has multiple manuscripts under consideration, and she's working on two series. Loving motherhood, when MK is not writing she's snuggling her two children and harassing her husband, all of whom suffer from her spontaneous explosions of affection.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jean's Storytime Remembered: My Visit With "Miss Jean"

Norma “Miss Jean” Schnase still finds it remarkable that people remember her. “I thought it was only my children and family who were watching,” she told me, speaking of the television show she hosted. But generations of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri children enjoyed the music, puppets and Biblical teachings presented first on Sunday mornings and later at 10 am on Saturday mornings.

In 1956, a KMTV director who was searching for a host for a children’s show selected 26 year-old Norma out of 25 other women because she had a desire to teach children about the love of God. Norma became “Miss Jean” and proceeded to teach children for the next 38 years until health reasons caused her to turn over her position to her daughter-in-law, Maribeth. Jean’s Storytime started out in black and white on live television and saw the advent of color television and pre-taped programs before it ended in 2011 after a remarkable 55 years.

Miss Jean kept many of the thousands and thousands of letters and drawings she received over the years. On the show she encouraged children to draw a picture and send it in, and then, using the drawings for the lessons, she wrote and often adlibbed the stories. If she received 100 drawings in a week, she used all of them so every child’s drawing was shown. She remembers the name of the first little boy who sent her a photo of himself. Her heart was for the children, and her love for them is still evident. Initially she got over her camera shyness by imagining one child and speaking to that one child. She imagined the studio was a Sunday school class, when she was actually speaking before a camera crew, two puppets and the puppeteer--her son, Fred.

I hadn’t thought about that show for a long time until a couple of weeks ago when I held a drawing for books and one of my readers, Darlene, wrote to mention her aunt. She told me that at age 91 “Miss Jean” loves to read. I was delighted to learn about the children’s show host I remembered. With the help of my RWA chapter, Romance Authors of the Heartland, many who also remembered her, we put together a basket of autographed books, videos, tea and a cup and saucer, and I made arrangements to go calling.

Norma’s gracious daughter, Eileen ushered me in, and I spent almost an hour and a half with the two delightful ladies. Cheerful and full of warmth and joy, Norma was as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. She had read my books, and she was full of questions. We shared our love for telling stories and how it’s always a surprise to be recognized by someone you’ve never met. Once when Norma was touring the temple in Salt Lake City, she and her husband were on an elevator and a little girl spoke up. “Are you Miss Jean from Miss Jean’s Storytime?” As it turned out the family was from Omaha and were also visiting, but she recognized Norma’s voice.

Norma’s son lives with her, and her daughter and niece are often present. She told me about the delicious muffins her son makes for her breakfast. Norma proudly displays photos of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and shared how much joy the children bring her. A stroke has made it difficult for Norma to have much mobility, but nothing has diminished her sparkling personality or her love for people. When I prepared to leave, she activated the lift on her chair and Eileen asked, “What is it you want to do, Mom?” to which “Miss Jean” replied, “I’m going to walk my guest to the door.” And walk me to the door she did.

She thanked me for my time in visiting her, but the pleasure was all mine. Norma asked me to send special thanks to Romance Authors of the Heartland for their gifts. I assured her it was only fitting that children with whom she had shared the gift of storytelling had grown up to return the favor.


Fun Fact:
Dr. San Guinary took over Miss Jean's set. Watch this fun video.