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Savannah Sweetwater

Mystery Author

Sweet Thoughts

Recommended Book - The Scent of Distant Worlds

Where do you find the next book you just have to read?

I rely a lot on recommendations from friends. One day a friend might tap me on the shoulder (often digitally) and refer me to a book they have just read.

Of course, that goes the other way, too. Plenty of times a bad review from a friend has steered me clear from a book.

Life's short, you know. Read good books, I say.

That said, I've got one to recommend to you. If you like science fiction at all, you are going to love The Scent of Distant Worlds by W.D. County. This guy, he's one hell of a writer.. Originality is definitely one of his strengths..

But so is relatability. This is not a sci-fi world you will get lost in. It is one that you will find characters you can root for, or hate, or sit on the edge of your seat and wonder how they will make it.! 

In The Scent of Distant Worlds a ship from earth travels to a distant planet with a small crew. The main character is a Native American scientist who is in it for the science and discovery. But when they get to this unknown place they soon find that all is not as it seems. 

And that's all I'm going to give you. Seriously. Give it a read yourself.

From the blurb:

The Scent of Distant Worlds explores an astronaut's inner struggle between science and spirituality that mirrors her battle for survival with a race of intelligent plants.
 
For exobiologist Cassie Clearwater, the chance to explore the planet Obsidian is the opportunity of a lifetime. The austere black world has liquid water and a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere that might support life. She discovers a mysterious species of plant that emits copious quantities of complex chemicals. Her colleagues on the mission care only about the diamonds they've discovered, but Cassie wonders how these plants, and nothing else, thrive in such a dark and barren environment. It's a puzzle that recalls lessons from her wise shaman grandfather. 
 
In the society where young sprout Pepper lives, knowledge and memories are preserved in the thick trunks of the Elders, whose growth rings go back thousands of years. The Elders don't appreciate the upstart Pepper, whose new ideas challenge ages-old wisdom, and they communicate their displeasure in a variety of odors. But when members of the grove are mutilated, abducted, and killed by a scentless and undetectable force, Pepper's penchant for original thought becomes their only hope for survival.

Side Gigs

Last night I wrote this long post about the actor Geoffrey Owens, once a Cosby Show regular, and his recent foray back into the news cycle after a woman spotted him bagging groceries at a Trader Joe's.

And tonight, I accidentally deleted the whole damn thing.

Since I failed to back it up with a copy on my PC I can tell you only this: I have a problem shaming artists for working side gigs between jobs. It hits me in the guts. I write daily. Every. Single. Day. But I sure don't sell books every day. 

For years I worked for small, locally owned newspapers. I freelanced, because in this digital world that's the best you expect, at least I was told. I've written ebooks for lawyers and therapists, composed newsletters and written content for fundraising websites, even published in magazines, both print and digital. I've ghostwritten, edited, even had my own column for a little while. But I still wouldn't have made it without my husband's job backing me up.

After a bit, I grabbed a couple of state-level journalism nods. Those were bucket list moments, letmetellya.

But now it's come down to this: I left the newspaper and freelance world behind. Now I have a day job, a regular ol' job that requires no writing. I'm home every day and I write all afternoon and evening. If my family comes to visit, they know I'll have a laptop or tablet nearby. It's just what I do.

So Mr. Owens was found bagging groceries and some lady decided to snap his photo and release it out into the wild blue cyber yonder. You know what? I don't care what her intentions were. What she did makes her a jerk in my eyes. Like most people, the man in the photo she grabbed on her cell phone has aged, gained some weight. I'm sure he didn't sit in the makeup chair before his shift that day.

What she released into the world was a slap in the face of hard-working artists of all stripes, actor, painter, writer all. There is not a fantasy life on the other side of a publishing contract, or a TV gig, or even a journalism award.

I struggle to sell and market the books I write. But that's okay. Someday, I'm sure it's going to pick up. Thing is, with my day job I don't have to make my words make money. I've had weekends over the summer when my two-day word count was over 10,000. In a single weekend. That's a big deal for me. 

So, maybe to the world at large, there's shame when you work between creative gigs, maybe doing the things I do every morning to put food on the table makes me something worthy of shame, or worst, pity.

I hope I've recaptured everything from that original post. It doesn't really matter. Whenever the news cycle forgets Geoffrey Owens he'll still have some new gigs lined up and for that, I say let's raise a glass. And for him and every other artist out there, whether it's a side gig or the real deal, keep working at it. Maybe none of us will win huge awards or sell millions of books, but at the end of this road, I'm pretty sure that's not what will matter.

Brown Beans

Like most writers/authors, there are elements of my own life that comes out in the characters I write. A lot of the words I write reflect my personal life experiences, as do many of the characters that come to life at the end of my fingertips.

The most beloved people in my life have impacted the characters I create.

In the Country Girl Mystery Series main character Hope Atwood has been raised by two very different but strong women. Both Aunt Roley and Aunt Smitty reflect the impacts a couple of amazing women have made on my own life from a very young age.

While no character I’ve written has ever been based solely on a single person, there are attributes of very specific people that come through in some of my favorite characters. Strong, stalwart Aunt Roley, for example, is a force of nature much like my own Aunt Ruth. Since my earliest years, my Aunt Ruth has been one of the best examples to me of maternal strength and female independence. This strong woman has battled cancer and worked in the criminal justice system. She’s marched in Washington, D.C. for the things she believes with a ferocity and determination unlike most people I’ve ever known. But she’s also a soft place to land for the people she loves.

I can recall a special conversation I had with my Aunt Ruth when my father was in the hospital. I realized in those wonderful moments that much of my own do-it-my-own-way spirit comes from her. While writing the Aunt Roley character, it became important to me to showcase the strength and determination of a good woman despite her circumstances.

Like my own aunt, Aunt Roley set example after example for her young niece of standing up for what is right, and how to keep standing upright when everything starts to go wrong.

In Fall’s Hope, the second book in the series, Aunt Roley’s status as a pillar of strength takes center stage. In the end, it is that strength that sees Hope through one of the darkest times in her life. There are even times when it’s the light from the love her aunt has for her that is the only thing that keeps her moving forward.

Possibly one of the most fun characters I’ve ever had the chance to write has been the ying to Aunt Roley’s yang, the loveable Aunt Smitty. Without a doubt, Aunt Smitty is the heart of the Hope’s unique family. When I wrote the “good brown beans” scene I thought of none other than my own Aunt Becky, who had quite the hand in raising me when I was a very small girl. My parents divorced while I was in Kindergarten, but life remained somewhat more normal than it could have been for me when my Aunt Becky took care of me through the summer when my mother went back to work and through the beginning of the school year.

Like Aunt Smitty, nothing would stop Aunt Becky from making the people in her home feel welcomed and cared for. Aunt Smitty’s “brown beans” is a nod to my aunt’s ever-ready generosity of spirit, a trait she no doubt inherited from my beloved grandmother.

I relate to Hope in a lot of ways, one of which is in the lack of a consistent solitary mother figure. The older I get the more it becomes clear that while my own mother/daughter relationship has had its challenges, I have not been left adrift alone at sea. I’ve fought hard to break the cycle with my own kids, and the like Hope, the other mothers in my life have played an invaluable role in shaping me and my own values.

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

-Michael J. Fox

She walked to Work

In the first scene of Hope and Fate, Country Girl Mystery Book 1, Hope Atwood happens upon quite the scene when she discovers her beloved aunts dancing around the backyard in a rather interesting state of undress. The whole scene was a hoot to write, but the serious side of me had to include one thing: the value of hard work.

Hope walks to and from her job at a diner in town. At home, Hope has learned to pitch in and help without complaint. Not that she doesn’t have complaints, but she’s learned to pitch in and help anyway. Respect is a common value among country folk, taught young and reinforced almost as soon as a little one is able to understand.

Even before my first paying job, I walked to the local newspaper beginning at age 14 just to learn the ins and outs of the thing I loved the most. Every day after school I walked down the road to the paper where I learned to cut out and file clips, talked to the reporters and the managing editor, and reveled in the rhythms of the newsroom.

My first job came before my first car. At 16 I walked several blocks to a local fast food joint, filled out an application and was promptly hired. Rain or shine, snow or wind, I walked, dressed in the ugly uniform, to serve hamburgers and shakes and earn an honest paycheck.

Maybe it sounds a bit like an old-fashioned, preachy notion, but I don’t think so. In every generation, there are kids who rise to the top determined to work hard for what they want. My father did it. I’ve done it, and so have my own kids. Like Hope, I think we all learned that if there’s anything worth having, it’s worth working for.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. –Stephen King

Country Girl Mystery Series

 

Life for Hope Atwood is plain and simple until the appearance of a dead man in the creek behind her aunt's house changes everything for this simple country girl. With the help of her zany aunts, Hope tries to survive the mystery that suddenly surrounds her.

Get your copy of Hope and Fate Country Girl Mystery Book 1.

 

 

 

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