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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Author Interview with Sylvia L. Ramsey

Writing has always been a passion for Sylvia L Ramsey. She began writing news and feature articles for a small town newspaper in Southeast Missouri at the age of nine. Because of the nurturing and encouragement by the news editor, she developed a love of writing and a need to write.

By the time she was working on her graduate degree, several of her poems, short stories and feature articles had been published. Since then, over a hundred of her short stories and poems have found their way into literary magazines. She has been a featured poet in several literary journals over the years. Later, her writing extended into the realm of research in the field of Human Communication and her work has been published in journals such as The Arkansas Speech Association Journal, and The Speech Teachers Association of Missouri Journal.

Poetry has always been a very special and personal experience for Sylvia whether she is writing her own, or reading works of another poet. She feels that writing poetry over the years has provided her with insight and understanding of how to navigate the many peaks and valleys that are traveled along life's pathway. She was especially delighted after her book of poetry, Pulse Points of a Woman's World, was published, and was nominated for the Georgia 41st. Annual Author of the Year Award.

Growing up in a rural area of Missouri and being the child of a father born in 1898, she feels that her interpretation of life spans several generations. This influence can be recognized in both her poetry and her short stories. She has experienced life at many levels. One of her most prized possessions is a personal letter, written to her by Rosemary A. Thurber, giving her permission to adapt her father's short story "The Last Clock" to be used for Readers Theatre.

She is presently a Communications professor and the Academic Resource Center Coordinator at GMC Community College in Martinez, GA. She describes herself as a determined scrapper who will wrench all the very best from life that she is capable of conquering. Her philosophy of life is reflected in her poems, "Armor For Survival" and "A Tired Vagabond."

More about the author can be found on her website or on the authors den website.

She is a 16yr. survivor of bladder cancer, and looks at the experience as another learning peak in life. She is very much aware that even though this is the fifth most common cancer in the United States, it is very much underserved. She serves as the Vice-President of the American Bladder Cancer Society because she knows how important it is to provide support to those who have experienced this cancer, and how important it is to create more awareness around the world. That is why all of her royalties go to the American Bladder Cancer Society.  If you want to buy her books, please do so via their website,  www.bladdercancersupport.org or her own, as that way all money raised goes to the charity.

Where do your ideas for stories come from?

The ideas for stories all come from my life experiences and knowledge I have gained along the way.  The book, An Underground Jewell, spawned from a short story that was written about a Christmas Eve in the distant future when life on earth had changed drastically.  That story was written in 1989.  The idea to create a novel originated because I let imagination loose to wonder about the possibilities of this story.
I first began by creating a character who would write the story, and the reason why she wrote it.  At that point, I began to develop other characters and a plot.  I finally began writing the book.  At one point, I had to stop writing because my husband became very ill, and I became his caregiver.  At the same time, I was diagnosed with T3 bladder cancer.  To add to the delay, my computer crashed and I had to start over.  I was lucky that I had part of it printed out.  After my husband died, I began writing again.  Finally, 20 years later, it was finished and published. 

I am currently working on two books; one is a collection of short stories that may be titled, Squirrel Tales and Other Stories.  The other book is a fantasy book that is a more adult story that was more or less spawned by the children’s book.


What is your most recent published book?

Merchild Land is a newly released children’s picture book by Sylvia L. Ramsey.  It is a perfect bedtime book for small ones that is illustrated with soft pastel illustrations of the ocean, seabed, beach, and merchildren.   They explore the sea, clean the seabed, gather shells to put on the beach for children to find, and when evening comes they sail on moonbeams in the sky to visit magical places while they dream.

How did the book originate?

Sylvia explains how the idea for this book originated, “In my earlier years of teaching, my eldest granddaughter rode to her school with me, and she always wanted me to tell her stories about mermaids.  Later, I wrote a poem about childhood and mermaids (which I have included in the back of the book), and that was the beginning of the book.  I wrote it for my granddaughter, who is now grown, but I wanted her to have something to share with her children.  The color scheme is related to my childhood, and a book that I had as a child that has been kept and cherished over the years.  My wish is that this book will be one that some other children will want to keep and cherish.”

What experiences have you had since the book was published?

Recently, I visited the Cancer Center at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA,  and I discovered that several of my children’s books had been placed in the children’s section of the center.  What an honor!  Maybe, for just a few moments when the book is read to them, they will escape the nightmare in which they live.

Do you have any other published books?

She has two other books published.  One is a book of poetry, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World, that evolved over the years.  Many of the poems in the book had previously been published in literary magazines.  The book is divided into four-sections which are:  Youth, Love, Reality, and Wisdom. The poems in the book are illustrated. 
One reader said, “I didn't know quite what to expect, but the title called to me, and I answered. Being an older woman, I was not sure I wanted to surrender myself to poetry that might expose emotions long hidden from myself and my world. I dared to enter into the author's world, and it was as if I had entered a time capsule of my own life. Cautiously, I proceeded only to find old tears still flowed, laughter rang out from hidden caverns of my memories, and once again, I shared the merriment of happy days spent long ago. Ms. Ramsey's poetry enticed me down avenues long deserted, and once again, they throbbed with life. Each line flowed like a life-giving river refreshing memories and giving them a burst of life for a fleeting moment. I want to thank the author of this poetic collection for taking me where I had not dared to go on my own. Nor would I have been able to stir these ashes without her gifted pen. Thank you for this nostalgia. For indeed emotions that die when we forget, come to life when we remember. Thank you for helping me remember beauty and sorrow that I had forgotten. I hope many woman will find and dare to read this treasure that you, Sylvia Ramsey, have put into our 'woman's world'.”
The other book, An Underground Jewell, is espionage, mystery novel set in a possible
near- future.  The story revolves around the power of language and how it can change the way a society thinks and acts.  One reader's review said:  "An excellent read for all. Though a fiction it smacks with a lot of truth of what the future may bring. As one reads, it becomes rather apparent that this could all happen, and the last page says it all. I enjoyed reading and had a hard time putting it down. Hooray for the new writer on the block.
The story is set in the near future when man is living as much underground as above.  All things are controlled by a central computer system.  There is no such thing as "printed" material, it is all digital.  The main character in the story, Elizabeth Jewell a sage and well-known author, finds herself caught up in a plot of intrigue.  She decides to become her own sleuth to clear herself of all accusations, and in the process discovers there are multitudes of mysteries to solve.
One reader said, “I just read a newly release book, An Underground Jewell by Sylvia L. Ramsey. I found this book on Amazon. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down until I finished. It is an espionage novel set in the near future. The plot kept me intrigued, there were other mysteries along the way to be solved, and the main character was fascinating. I recommend this as a good read for anyone who likes mystery, espionage or even just a good novel. I usually read Clive Clustler(adventure, Michael Connely (Detective stories), and John Gardner(spy),WEB Griffith( War and Spy).This novel also reflects what William Lutz, a Professor of English at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, talks about in his book, New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore. The novel takes this current trend to manipulate language, and projects it into a future that provides a scenario where a group of terrorists realize that they can use language as a weapon to take control of our nation.”
Another reader said, "This is an excellent book. It would interest people from 13-100 years of age. Although it is fiction, so much of it could actually happen. Considering all the problems within our governing bodies, it could be happening right now! I would recommend this book to anybody."

Merchild Land and other books authored by her are also available at:
http://www.amazon.com/Sylvia-L-Ramsey/e/B002BMJ5NI/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0


Thank you very much Stuart.
One thing I didn't add is that I am also a public speaker, and have a list of topics that I can present.  Of course, one of my favorites is on bladder cancer.  I have a great presentation with a slide show on How to Derail Your Presentation with Power Point.  I presented it at the National College Learning Center Association conference this past October, and everyone loved it. 

Before my first book was published, I set up my website, www.sylvialramsey.com , and a message board so people who needed to find information or support on bladder cancer could at least find me.  There was so little at that time.  Through the message board, I met Cynthia Kinsella and Karen Green. My dream had always been to establish a bladder cancer foundation, to create awareness of bladder cancer, provide information to newly diagnosed and caregivers, and a place where survivors could meet and give support to each other.  I did not have the money to create a 501k non profit, because of my husband's illness, and my cancer.  However, these two ladies shared the same vision.  Cynthia did have money to launch the foundation.  I contributed as I could, I have always given my royalties to support bladder cancer.  At the college where I teach, the students organized an advocacy group, and have had bake sales plus other things to help create and continue to support the American Bladder Cancer Society.  We have several members who live in Europe.  I am the Vice-President of this organization.  You can find us at www.bladdercancersupport.org.  I must say it is a dream come true, and I want to keep the dream alive for all.

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