Flowers from Afghanistan: MWSA Contest Finalist

Flowers from Afghanistan is a finalist in the Military Writers Society of America 2018 contest. The actual awards (Gold, Silver, or Bronze) will be announced at MWSA’s General Membership Conference on November 9, 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Interview with Theresa Lynn Hall

Friday’s Feature with Suzy Parish

Flowers from Afghanistan

by Suzy Parish

Today is Suzy’s much anticipated “Release Day” of her debut novel, Flowers from Afghanistan. I’m thrilled to have her here today answering a few questions and letting us get to know more about her new novel.

Welcome, Suzy! Let’s get started.

Q: Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.

Suzy: My favorite character was a surprise to even me. As I wrote, one secondary character kept stealing lines, butting his way into scenes and asserting himself quite boldly. He is a riot. He worked so hard to claim his space that I decided to give him his own book. The next book will feature him.

Q: Do you read the reviews and comments of your readers?

Suzy: I do. I like to remind myself of this quote by Benjamin Franklin; “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” If we take the good reviews too much to heart, we risk getting the big head. If we absorb the negative reviews, we risk shutting down our creativity.

Q: How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Suzy: That’s been a question I’d like to research among authors. If we write what we know, then there are bound to be many experiences and emotions that we share with our characters. When I have a character that is going through something, I think back over my life to times I felt similar emotions. I want my writing to be authentic.

Q: Some people believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?

Suzy: Being a published author is hilariously fun! It’s like a trip to Disney. But to arrive at Disney, there is a great deal of sacrifice. You must plan, save, educate yourself on the layout of the park, or you possibly will miss some of the most thrilling rides!

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? Have you met any of them and found yourself having a fan-girl moment?

Suzy: Homer Hickam and Andrew Greer. Fan-girl, no, but I was impressed by both of these author’s down-to-earth demeanors. Homer resides in my city, and he and his sweet wife Linda regularly volunteer at a cat adoption center. They clean the cages and play with the cats.

I met Andrew Greer at a retreat. He was engaging and just a regular guy. I think those humble qualities say a lot about both of these authors.


Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.

Get your copy today!

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About Suzy

Suzy Parish wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times and has been published in Splickety Magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes strongly in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park.

You can find Suzy online here:

Suzy Parish Web Site

Suzy Parish on Facebook

Suzy Parish on Goodreads

@SuzyParish on Twitter

Suzy Parish on Instagram

Suzy Parish on Pinterest

What’s It Like To Be Greg Rabbitt, Creative Director?

Maddie and Greg at Canon Beach

I love researching my novels. It’s a mix of history, geography, and of course fascinating people! I’m fortunate to be able to interview people from all over the world. While researching Flowers from Afghanistan, I was privileged to get to know the creative director of a major gourmet food company. He caught the vision for what I wanted to accomplish in Flowers and stayed the course with me until the novel published. There are people you meet in your life who go above and beyond, and Mr. Rabbitt is one of them. Many thanks!

Now, you may be thinking, what’s it like to be a creative director and how did he find that path…

Q.How did you get into the business?
A. I wanted to draw comic books in High School. I was inspired by cartoons in the Sunday paper. In college, I had a comic book published which was featured at SanDiego Comic Con 2000. I was able to attend Comic-Con and sign copies.
I liked the way the art looked, and it was a great experience, but I found it to be a demanding profession. You had to be very good and very fast. A career counselor in college recommended design classes. The counselor said,

“I know you like to create comics, but do you like to eat?”

I enjoyed manipulating imagery and ended up doing a lot of freelance web design, which led to professional work from my instructors.

Q. What aspect of your job is the most frustrating?
A. I don’t find actual designing to be frustrating; it’s challenging. The parts of the process outside of design are frustrating; for example, packaging. Sometimes the finished design has surprises in production that can’t be anticipated. Currently, the packaging is produced at an off-site printer. In an ideal world what I provided would be sent to press, and I could check the color when the bags came off the press. That doesn’t happen frequently. In the end, we are talking about something subjective.

Q. What aspect of your job brings you the most joy?
A. Designing. You could get in a rut and use techniques that you are good at as a crutch. In the company I work for now, I get to design in many different types of media, especially in my current capacity. It’s a stretch and improves your brain.

Q. What is your favorite motto or quote?
A. I have two. The first is from my Uncle. He was a Night Stalker Black Hawk pilot on the first Night Stalker team. The motto he taught me was NSDQ, Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.
The second motto is from the Boy Scouts. My brother and I are both Eagle Scouts, and the Boy Scout Motto is Be Prepared.

If you are prepared, you are not surprised. Have a plan B because bad decisions are made when you are surprised.

That carries over into the design.

Q. Who is your favorite character in a book or movie?
A. Don Draper in Madmen. His character arc is interesting because he is so flawed. As the series progresses, he violates his own code.

Q. If you could be doing anything, anywhere right now, what and where would it be?
A. Maddie is my dog who is a black German Shepherd mix. She is a rescue who was poorly treated before we got her. I would love to take her to a national park and let her off leash to play.

Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A. I have thought about this before because I am into comics. Telekinesis would be the most useful!

Q. If you had five minutes to grab five possessions, what would you grab?
A. Oh man, that’s fantastic. Three things come to mind: I have a challenge coin given to me by my Uncle. They held a court of honor when I made Eagle Scout. My Uncle gave a long speech and presented me with a coin made for me with NSDQ.
The second thing would be the copy of the book Ender’s Game that I had as a kid.
The third thing would be a gift given to me when I reached a certain level of training in Martial Arts. My instructor presented me with a Japanese short sword.

Q. What do you wish someone would ask you?
A. It’s not a question, but I like it when I can tell someone, “I didn’t know that.” It blows people away.

People like to feel they are contributing to your life.

Q. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to appear on my blog. I enjoyed our interview, and your answers were thought-provoking. Didn’t you also have a play produced?
A. Yes, the latter three years in college were huge. I had two comic book stories produced, and a play I wrote was selected for production.

Q. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
A. That was kind of the thing, I could have gone three different ways. Design was the best compromise between having an interesting job and being able to monetize it.

Thank you, Mr. Rabbitt.

Greg Rabbitt is a creative director based out of Portland, Oregon by way of Long Island and the Bay Area. He regularly posts at:

Who Grew The Flowers Featured On The Cover Of Flowers From Afghanistan?

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Last August I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Frances Brosemer of Brosemer Farm. Mary’s table is one of the first stops in our local farmer’s market for me each Saturday and now I can tell you why. Her flowers are the vibrant ones in the boot on my book cover! I wanted something bright, and the purple, pink and orange flowers express for me the love the Afghan people have for beauty. They contrast well with the dusty, tan, weary look of the boots. Mary’s flowers symbolize hope, as the subtitle says, “Hope Blooms In Unexpected Places.” If you look closely at the flowers on the book cover, they are not uniform. They are not perfect. They are grown in a field and as such are exposed to the elements of wind and heavy rain that greenhouse flowers do not have to endure. What an excellent illustration of life in Afghanistan. Hope blooms. Not perfect, but vibrant and hardy.

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In celebration of the August 10th release of Flowers from Afghanistan, I’m posting a throw-back blog post from August 2012.

What’s it like to be Mary Frances Brosemer of Brosemer Farm?

Q. How did you get into the farming business?

A. I was raised on a farm and lived in seven states all over the country. I decided to raise flowers. I’ve always had a flower and vegetable garden. I couldn’t imagine working in a cubicle. We also have bee hives.

Q. How many hives do you have?
A. Twenty-one.

Q. Is it difficult to raise bees?
A. Half the bees in the country have died off. I think it’s due to pesticides.

Q. What aspect of your job brings you the most joy?
A. I like to see customers enjoy the flowers and appreciate their beauty. It makes the hard work worthwhile.

Q. What aspect of your job brings you the most frustration?
A. The weather. Also, when you have people who are supposed to show up for work, and they don’t.

Q. If you had a superpower what would it be?
A. To be perpetually young.

Q. What is your favorite motto or quote?
A. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Q. What is your favorite book or movie?
A. I like Homer Hickam’s, The Keeper’s Son. Homer sent letters to two of my grandsons in Atlanta when they became Eagle Scouts, so I appreciated that.

Suzy Parish: Bailey Cove Market is bustling. People come to sample and purchase locally grown produce and home-baked goods.
Mary Frances Brosemer distributes more than flowers and honey. Her superpower, perpetually young, is evident in the way she greets customers at her flower booth. Mary Frances hands out compassion with each bouquet. She focuses on every person as if they were the only individual at the market. Her warm personality matches the bright shades of flowers that nod in the breeze at her sale table. If you are not able to attend the farmers market, you can make your purchases directly from Brosemer Farm at their open house. Brosemer Farm holds an open house the first Sunday in October.

 

What’s It Like To Be Sammy Horner Of The Sweet Sorrows?

Sammy Horner Musicionary_1

MUSICIAN:

a composer, conductor, or performer of music;  especially: instrumentalist

MISSIONARY:

plural: missionaries

A person undertaking a mission and especially a religious mission 

Welcome Sammy, and thank you for taking time to appear on this blog!

Let’s start with the obvious. I love the term “musician-aries.” How did you come up with that title?

Kylie and I call ourselves musician-aries because The Sweet Sorrows tour to make a living and to raise funds for projects. I’ve been coming to Thailand for 12 years. I’m going to be 60 this year and I’m a qualified electrician. I’m also qualified to teach in a foreign language. We call the projects “Trade-off.”
So, roles you fill are minister, musician, electrician and instructor. You are very busy!
I have a lot of strings in my bow.
I understand Kylie works with the local population while you are teaching the electrician class?
Yes, we work with different people. Kylie is a nurse so she does the medical part of
things.
Sammy electrician class
I loved the photographs of you teaching. I noticed the participants received tools and a certificate. That’s part of the giving, isn’t it?
Ever since I finished my apprenticeship I don’t charge. It was always part of my pastoral work if someone needed something fixed. I’ve put a lot of ceiling fans up in my time.
One of the joys of having this blog is that I am able to spotlight people who are truly helping others. I want to thank you for making yourself available to the local population when you tour.
The wife and I have a lot of life skills we pass on.
If someone supports your music, they are in turn supporting these works. What is the best place to purchase your albums?
In addition to Australia, The Sweet Sorrows will be touring the United States.
Here is a link with the tour dates:
Now, I have a few questions I always ask my guests:
 How did you get into the music business?
Music business? ha! If you could call it that. My dad played lap steel a bit and sang a lot (mostly at home) so music was always around me. I bought a bass when I was about 15 in a bomb sale (yeah…the music shop had been blown up in Belfast) I joined a country band and that was it…loved it and just kept doing it…I never expected it to be a real job…but here we are. I also always had a great love for poetry and story.
What aspect of your job brings you the most joy?
I love performing and the creative process. I am still unsure where a song actually comes from. I guess the letters and emails I get about how my songs have been used at key moments in people’s lives.
What aspect of your job, if any, is most frustrating?
Traveling is the worst part of the job. Long flights and jet lag and different beds overnight…gets harder as I get older.
What is your favorite motto or quote?
Well, the one I use most is just a funny one my dad would say after we ate a meal…he’d say, ‘Will that do ye ’till ye get something to eat?” lol.
Who is your favorite character in a movie or book?
I love the Scrooge character in A Christmas Carol…truly chilling and inhuman then transformed…beautiful.
What’s one thing you’ve had to overcome in your life?
Self doubt continues to plague me…not sure I have overcome it yet.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Superpower…I am Irish…that is a superpower.
If you had five minutes to grab five possessions, what would you grab?
Probably a guitar my mother bought me…and my mom and dad’s wedding rings…the rest is just stuff and photos etc. are stored online!
What is the one question you wish someone would ask you?
One question? Hmm…I suppose people look at my life and think I live the dream. But perhaps the question of how life really is for most artists, might give more insight to others.
Thanks Sammy, it’s been a joy interviewing you.

Trade-off is Sammy and Kylie’s way of plugging in with others in need, practically, supportively…Using their various career skills to aid, educate and further others who desperately require a hand-up rather than just a hand-out! Sammy is a trained electrician, teacher and ordained minister and Kylie has nearly 3 decades experience as a registered nurse with diverse tribal people groups in different settings. Projects are being pursued in Thailand, though there are also opportunities in Europe and India. They are also cultivating an environment to teach song writing, music production – arrangement/recording and performance.

Where to find Sammy:

The Sweet Sorrows

The Sweet Sorrows on Facebook

The Sweet Sorrows on Twitter

bandcamp to purchase songs

 

Interview With Theresa Lynn Hall

Wednesday’s Writer with Suzy Parish

Hope blooms in unexpected places

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.


Thank you for being here today, Suzy. Your book sounds like a very touching and emotional read. I absolutely love the cover. PBG always has the best covers! Let’s get started with our interview.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

When I was eight or so, the local bookmobile rolled onto our street and set up shop on hot summer days. A clanky air conditioning unit kept the vehicle crisp-cool. I remember pulling a book off the shelf and sitting on the floor, reading for hours. Most days I found a raised medallion on the book jacket. It was the John Newbery Medal, a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). I’d run my fingers across that medal and dream I was being awarded one for a book I’d written.

Out of all the characters you’ve written about, is there one that is your favorite?

One of the characters in Flowers from Afghanistan turned out to be a particular favorite of mine. He was outspoken and uncontrollable. I never knew what he’d do or say next. He will show up in another book!

Have you ever won any awards for your writing? Pip, Tuppence and George won a spot for publication in Splickety Magazine’s Flash Fiction contest. Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis Awards at ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers.

Do you have a special place where you like to write?

A local coffee shop called Angel’s Island is my current hang-out. The atmosphere is laid-back and the aroma wonderful!

Have you ever received a rejection?

Let’s put it this way, I once started a pile back when paper rejection slips were mailed. My most treasured rejection came from Guideposts Magazine. The editor took time to send a very encouraging note, which we know is rare. Unfortunately my dog ate the rejection slip. (Really) I took that as a sign that I shouldn’t track rejections, but encouragements.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer?

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”Winston Churchill

Do you take time to plot and outline your books? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I am a plotter.

Do you ever talk about your next project or do you like to keep it a secret?

I will drop a few hints, but for the most part I prefer to keep it a delicious secret.

How long does it take you to write a book? Someone recently said, “As long as it takes.” I love to research, so that time will vary from project to project.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Spend time outside in God’s creation. Give away books through Nonni’s Place, a Little Free Library in our local playground.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? Inspiration comes from brave and honorable acts that people carry out during my lifetime.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will relate to?

A quote from one of the characters, a local barber in Afghanistan named Gul Hadi: “Awlaad-hoy-e watan, omeed-e watan.”A nation’s children, a nation’s hope. Edward Zellem was kind enough to translate my character’s parable into Dari from English. This quote was picked up and re-tweeted by Afghan citizens. I think I am happier with this line than any other in the book. I employed traditional Afghan proverbs in my novel with permission from Mr. Zellem, but this proverb was one original to my character. The first time it was tweeted out by Afghans was the first time it was read by the Afghan people! The other reason this quote means so much to me is this: it embodies a theme in the book: that nations are not all that different when it comes down to the common people. We all want to raise our children in safety and provide the best life we can for them.


Where to find Suzy

Suzy on Facebook

www.suzyparish.com

@SuzyParish on Twitter

Socially Responsible Fiction

Wednesday Words – Suzy Parish

Wednesday Words graphic

Please welcome my fellow Pelican Book Group author Suzy Parish to The West Corner!

~~

Socially Responsible Fiction

In 2011 my husband spent a year in Afghanistan, training locals to become police officers. He was stationed at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. His emails and Skype sessions with me became the eyes and ears necessary for Flowers from Afghanistan to come into existence.

Previous to that, he served in the United States Army, and then retired after 26 years of service in our local police department.

Flowers from Afghanistan is a work of fiction, but many scenes in the novel are true-to-life. It will be released by Pelican Book Group, August 10th.

Recently I was in contact with a scriptwriter, and when she read the novel, she suggested that I line up resources for spouses of military and police and their significant others who may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD.

That communication led me to create a “Resources” page on my website. If anyone reads Flowers from Afghanistan and recognizes symptoms of PTSD in themselves or others, there is help available. Symptoms include Anxiety, sleeplessness, rage, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, guilt/shame, avoidance, isolation, hopelessness and emotional numbness. Serve and Protect is a unique and cutting edge 501(c)(3)non-profit corporation based in Brentwood TN, reaching Internationally. They facilitate trauma services for public safety professionals, locating the right resource to address the real issues they face. I feel it is essential as writers to give back to our community. One way for us to do that is to point our readers in the direction of help that is available for situations our characters encounter. I hope that Flowers from Afghanistan informs, challenges and makes readers think but also gives them a healing ending.

About the Author

photo of author Suzy ParishSuzy Parish is an author at Pelican Book Group. Suzy wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Her novel, Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest for 2013. Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Flowers from Afghanistan cover artBook Description

Hope blooms in unexpected places

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.

Flowers from Afghanistan is available from Amazon.

Nine Tips For An Office Away From Home

Published in Southern Writer’s Magazine, tips to make writing away from home more comfortable…

Coffee Shop Survival Tip For Writers

Flowers from Afghanistan: Release Date!

Tentreleasedate

We have a release date! Flowers from Afghanistan will be available in digital and hardback formats. I’ll give you a date when it’s available for pre-orders!

There are so many people I wish to thank. People who prayed for me, encouraged me, and stuck by me when I felt weak. Just know I am thinking of you today!

Right now my head is swimming with joy! God is good, and his promises are faithful and true.

Psalm 89:8 Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

“The Lord bless you

    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”Numbers 6:24-26

Suzy

Badge of Hope Ministries

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Coming this summer to the KC metro! Get registered today!

Law Enforcement Marriage Seminar

About
Badge of Hope Ministries is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to the support of Law Enforcement Officers and their families through encouragement, support and the love of Christ.

Congratulations To Our Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Sharon! You’ll receive an email confirmation soon so we can send the Green Beans Gift Basket your way! Thanks to everyone who entered. Our winner was chosen at random by Rafflecopter. You should receive an email shortly confirming that you have subscribed to the newsletter. Be on the lookout for trivia and news on the upcoming release of Flowers from Afghanistan.

Blessings,

Suzy

 

Win a Green Beans Coffee Gift Basket!

To celebrate the soon-to-be-released novel, Flowers from Afghanistan, I’m giving away a Green Beans Chai Lovers Gift Basket. Part of the magic of a novel for me is incorporating actual places and businesses in the story, as I’m able. Writing Flowers from Afghanistan, I felt as if I were sitting at the table outside Green Beans Coffee with Mac, Glenn, and Gul Hadi. The mountains towered in the distance. The smells of diesel fuel from MRAPs competed with the warm, homey aroma of fresh coffee. I was happy to include Green Beans in my novel because the real Green Beans does something pretty awesome. They have a program titled “Cup of Joe for a Joe.” For $2.50 you can send a cup of coffee to a service member serving overseas. 15 minutes of home, is what they call it. That’s something I can get behind. Please sign up for my newsletter and a chance to win this gift basket. You’ll receive a newsletter four times a year, with updates on my latest project and special trivia and a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to complete a novel.

If you’d like to send a Cup of Joe for a Joe, that would be pretty cool too!

https://www.greenbeanscoffee.com/products/cup-of-joe-for-a-joe

Here’s the link to sign up for my newsletter and give away!

http://gvwy.io/khqm1e9

 

 

Blessings!

Suzy

 

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