Monday, November 11, 2013

Stories from Unknown Authors

Confession time: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

While on a recent retreat with a group of sweet, closely-knit ladies, we were each sharing the details of this particular season in our lives. When it came my turn, I just shook my head and said, "I have a dog."

And they all know me well enough to laugh and nod their heads in understanding. What those ladies understood was, "I have a dog," was another way of saying, "My life is so upside down right now!"

Because this is SOOO unexpected and REALLY not part of my plan. We named our new pup "Cercie," meaning, "a surprise gift." Who knew a little furry tyke could bring so much joy?

And who could have ever guessed that writing a little suspense novel, which I thought might entertain about a hundred of my closest friends and relatives, would ever land me on a radio talk show or two?

I'm sitting here looking at my living room strewn about with dog toys and asking myself, "What happened to my quiet, orderly life?"

So here we are. The queen of the short answer, the gal whose mind will wander if you don't get to your point quickly because she has the attention span of a gnat--will be chatting on the radio tomorrow at 1 p.m. Or so they say.

Tune in to Renee Hand's show, "Stories from Unknown Authors," and find out! I'll be as surprised as anyone.

Here's the link:

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Elizabeth Westmark's Experience Reading A Higher Voice

Thank you, Beth Westmark, for sharing your thoughts! Here's what she had to say about A Higher Voice.


How do you select the next book you’re going to read?

I’m at a stage of life where, in theory, I can spend all day and all night, too, if I want, tossing back bon-bons and reading books for pleasure. I’m retired from working for other people, don’t have any kids, have a healthy self and a healthy spouse — all the time in the world, right? Except for this pesky fairy godmother writing monster that pushes me 24/7 to learn and write as though I were on some externally-imposed deadline.

I race through writing craft books, highlighting and making furious notes.  I read books outside of my favorite fiction genres because an author of a writing craft book has suggested a particular writer for “voice” or “dialogue” or “plotting.” Well, that’s cool, because as a result I’ve discovered Donald Bartheleme, Graham Green, Elmore Leonard, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Neal Stephenson, and a long list of others.  It’s a thrilling treasure hunt, with plenty of pleasure in the learning.
So, I’m reading more widely than ever before, but it’s not sitting in a lawn chair in the shade of an old oak tree kind of reading. It’s reading while brushing my teeth, getting in a few more chapters stolen from sleep, you know the kind of reading I mean. You probably all do it, too. There’s a sense of urgency, a sense of “I should be finishing my own novel instead of reading someone else’s!”
When Sheri Wren Haymore’s novel, A Higher Voice, surfaced on my radar screen, it was a moment of serendipity. You see, Sheri’s sister, Patsy Conrad, is a good friend of mine, and when she told me about Sheri’s book, I ordered it as much out of solidarity with my friend than because I thought it would be a good book. When it came in the mail, my first thought was, “Wow, nice cover.”

Sometime later that day, or the next, I started the first chapter while sitting at my desk. Then, without thinking about what I was doing, I took the book and slipped quietly upstairs to the guest bedroom, where I sat for several hours in my late mother-in-law’s blue upholstered rocking chair, and read for pure pleasure. This is a novel that strives to explore themes of hope, gratitude, and forgiveness within a Christian context. Not, however, as Sheri explains, in a “shove-it-down-your-neck, you have to believe what I believe” kind of way. Instead, she weaves a tale about Britt, a tormented rock musician who is losing his voice and struggling with inner demons and a brother out for vengeance, and Dena, his new-found true love, whose faith and devotion represent a kind of woman new to his experience. Are they too different to sustain a lasting relationship? Will they triumph over previous lives and dark forces that threaten to tear them apart?  A Higher Voice explores their struggle within the framework of romantic suspense.

A Higher Voice is a good story, well-written, with an ending that satisfies.  It is Haymore’s debut novel. Her second, A Deeper Cut, will be out this November. It will also be published by Wisdom House Books.
When you’re ready for a good old-fashioned read that will have you pulling for the main characters, I recommend A Higher Voice. Details about upcoming book signings and other projects can be found at Sheri’s website.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Funny Story Gets Funnier

Now that A Higher Voice is in print, every witty comment by a friend is followed by, "Is this going to turn up in your next book?" Finally I was asked, "Do you get tired of hearing that?" and I answered, "No, I don't pay any attention to it."

Until this week.

We were traveling in Maine with our friends Don and Carolyn, and Carolyn noticed that the man at the next table in a Searsport restaurant had begun to cry. She wondered what could possibly be wrong. And Don answered with a story that began something like this...

As Redding Pearce waited in line at the toll booth, he flicked his lighter over and over. An old habit, from his smoking years, but it helped him think. In the backseat of his dark blue '76 BMW convertible was a body zipped up in a black bag, and he needed to dispose of it quickly. When he reached the window, his eyes took in the wavy red hair of the voluptuous operator, and her name tag, which read Gwendolyn.

"Gwendolyn," said Redding, "I can tell you are a beautiful woman. I know I only have twelve seconds, but would you consider meeting me for a cup of coffee after your shift?" ...

Don's story continued throughout the evening, involving the fact that Redding was a chiropractor, Gwendolyn only had one leg, and something about a partially burned body and a mad dash for Shreveport. His tale fizzled at the end of Chapter Five with this sentence: Redding paused, mesmerized by the blue light flashing in his rear view mirror.

Fun, huh? But that's not the end of it. Our last night, in Bangor, we pulled in to a restaurant on the river, and there sat this '76 BMW:
"Redding painted his car so he wouldn't attract suspicion," said Don.

A man caught me snapping this photo after the others had gone inside, and he and I had a brief conversation about why I was taking the picture. That same man sat at a table near us, and Don said it was Redding. "Notice the shoes; he's definitely a chiropractor," Don declared.

After the meal, the man got up and left. Carolyn excused herself to go to the loo and came back. In a minute, the man came up to our table, put his hand on Don's shoulder, and said, "Excuse me, but I couldn't help but notice that your back is unbalanced. I'm a chiropractor, and I can help you with that." We all looked at each other--Don's eyes were huge. "Really, I am a chiropractor. Remember, you took a picture of my car?" I burst into laughter. He continued, "My name is John Redding," By then we were all laughing.

It seems Carolyn punked us. When she said she was going to the loo, she actually followed the man and talked him into the prank.

Good one, huh? Now if I can get Redding and Gwendolyn out of Shreveport, I might have a story...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Live Alive Book Club

Thank you to the Live Alive Book Club in High Point, NC! This lively bunch of ladies was most attentive while I read from A Higher Voice, and they asked super questions. A great time!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


A friend informed me that she had used my story to encourage her son not to give up on his dreams and talents. I suppose she was referring to the part of my story where I had talked about becoming a published author sometime in the previous century, and here, finally, I have succeeded. 

Well, hogwash! Here’s what I would like to tell him: Don’t quit your day job.

In the first place, I like to think that there’s more to my story than achieving a dream. I would like to think that, if I’m remembered for anything, it will be for these things: for loving people well; for laughing a lot; and for doing my dead-level best to live the life God gave me with intention.

And if anyone should examine my story, I hope that the lesson they might take away is this: There are seasons to life.

Some of those seasons are fun and creative—be grateful and don’t waste a moment!

Some seasons are just plain hard work— balance making a living with living life.

I’ve been through some seasons, and I’ll bet you have to, that were downright sucky— find perspective, learn what you need to, and be ready to move on.

You see, in every season you will find opportunities—if only you will look for them—to use your talents.  The season you are in right now may not be the season for you to publish your book, paint your masterpiece, sell your song, climb Machu Picchu (or whatever dream you may hold), but you can live every day well. You can lay down your life today in small ways, and live in expectation that every act of goodness is part of a plan that is bigger than yourself.

Because we’re all created for a purpose, and we’re all creative in many, many ways. So don’t quit your day job. Walk well the path you’re on right now, in this season.

But get ready, my friend, because seasons change!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Rock Star Past...

Here's what transpired over lunch this week with two long-time friends. First, Melissa pointed to my succinct bio and asked, "Is this a joke?" At the end of our two-hour visit, Jan mentioned that she'd been asked to speak at a small church. "I don't guess you've ever heard of it," she said to me. "I have--I've sung there," I answered. "I used to sing in a Christian rock band." Melissa sputtered, "And it never occurred to you to mention that in your bio for a book about a rock star?!" So there you go, qualification for writing about a rock star--I used to be one! (not!)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Anyone who knows me can tell you I'm not much of a chit-chatter. I'm a get-to-the-point kind of gal. In fact--and this is an embarrassing confession--if you don't get to your point pretty quickly, my brain has left the building.

I tell you this so you'll understand the conversation I had yesterday with a friend who has known me since second grade. She pointed to her copy of my novel, A Higher Voice, and asked, "How did you (of all people, she implied) write a novel this long?"

I just shrugged and answered, "I can't explain it."

Which brings me to my definition of talent.

Years ago, my husband hand-carved a couple of carousel horses, and we had one for sale in my gift shop. Customers would come in and rub their hands over the fine contours of the sculpture, exclaim over the beauty of the horse, and invariably ask, "How long did it take him to carve it?"

I never gave anyone a straight answer to that question. In all likelihood, if I had answered truthfully, then they would have complained that the price was way too high.

Because the truth was, it was shocking how little time it took him to carve it. And you can't put a price on talent, right?

Now that I have a novel in print, people, naturally curious, ask how long it took me to write it. I side-step the question. My friend, Gay, knows exactly how long it took me to write that first very rough draft, and that shall remain our little secret. The better question, I tell readers, is--How long did it take me to re-write it? So far, folks just stare at me. I can see the wheels turning in their heads.

Just last week at our church's monthly free meal for our community, Carolyn said the secret to the delicious chicken salad was that she used four quarts of her homemade pickles. I just stared at her and finally said, "I've never even made four quarts of pickles, let alone given them away!" To which her sister quipped, "And I've never written a novel." So there you go.

My definition of talent is this:  If there's something that you do, that you can't explain how you do it, and possibly it would shock people to know how quickly you can do it, then that may be your talent.

My talent is not making pickles. Nor is it hand-carving a wooden carousel horse. Nor is it chit-chatting, for that matter.

I know people with immense talent for encouraging others. For hand-writing notes. For humor. For listening. For gardening. For fixing things. For fixing people. For teaching. For carrying on the face of adversity.

And every single one of those talents is every bit as important as writing a novel. Probably even more so.

So what is your talent? I guarantee you have at least one. Celebrate that today. Better yet, use your talent!

Have a lovely, productive week, whatever your endeavors, friends!


Monday, July 22, 2013


Aaahh...I'm finding that the work has its rewards.

I'm talking about the many sweet people who took time from their very busy schedules to come to my booksignings this past weekend.

Several had finished reading A Higher Voice and came in to get their copies signed and purchase more for friends. This makes me happy.

Melanie, who had read the manuscript before it was published and steered me toward the perfect title, purchased an extra copy just to have one to loan out. She didn't want to risk losing her signed copy. I like that!

Here are just a few of the folks who stopped by:

I am hugely grateful to these readers plus so many more who have taken the time to tell me how much they enjoyed A Higher Voice. Your encouragement means the world to me!

Your scribbling friend,
Sheri Wren Haymore

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


     Sunday afternoon we were off on an adventure with our good friends, all six adults crammed into one SUV. The men in the group have this knack for grabbing onto the most innocuous thing I say and teasing me unmercifully. Exasperated, I fumed, “I don’t know how I manage to talk myself into these predicaments every time!” From the seat behind me came my husband’s voice, “Maybe it’s because you can’t write both sides of this conversation.”

     How correct he is! That is the privilege of being a storyteller. I get to write and re-write both sides of the conversation until I get it right. My character might have a clever comeback or she might interject a word of wisdom. Or he might just keep his mouth shut. Whatever the response, it will be appropriate for the occasion, and it will advance the story toward its satisfying conclusion.

     Not so in real life, huh? We don’t get to re-write our conversations.

     Here are a few examples of times when re-writing might have come in handy:

          The blunt comeback.  In my role as chief communicator for my husband’s woodworking business, I had been in an email conversation with a woman concerning a complicated custom coffee table she was considering. This had been going on for over three month. Yesterday I received a succinct email from the woman’s husband stating that he couldn’t tell any difference between the last two designs I had sent her. I didn’t like his tone. In fact, I concluded that if he was that displeased, after all the hours I had put into this potential project, then by golly, he could make a decision today or forget the whole thing. I didn’t quite answer his email that bluntly, but I was pretty blunt.

                In a few minutes, here came another email from the man—an humble apology. He had intended that email for his wife. He was not displeased, apparently, with our designs; he was aggravated with his wife’s indecision.

                Ho, boy. Yeap, that’s one conversation I would like to re-write. Can you relate?

                Closed mouth.  Not only was yesterday a hectic day, but I’d been on antibiotics for a week and was generally draggy and achy. Not in the mood for my yoga class last night. I entered the room closed off, in my own little world, not really interested in interacting with anyone else. While sitting on my mat in that non-yogic frame of mind, a sweet fellow student approached. In her hand she held a copy of A Higher Voice, asking for my autograph. I was able to make grateful words come out of my mouth, but honestly, would it have killed me to enter the room in a grateful frame of mind? Just having a body that is capable of breathing and moving is enough to make me weep with gratitude. 

                If I could re-write most of my conversations, I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut as much. I would open it more, and pour out words of hope and gratitude and encouragement. Wouldn’t you?

                And finally, there’s the late word. I learned just this morning that a friend’s mother had passed away last month. In my defense, it happened while we were on vacation with no internet. I’ll have to find a way to express an appropriate late word of comfort. 

                In A Higher Voice, communication, or the lack thereof, is a major issue between Britt and Dena. They both keep important information to themselves until their late word is almost too late. Have you ever put off a conversation until it’s almost too late?

                In our conversations this week, let’s write our stories well as we go along. Let’s tell our stories with the best, most timely, words possible!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Hard Work

Writing a good story is fun! The storyteller gets to visualize characters and events of her own creation. I mean, I had a rock star hanging out in my head for a time. It was a little weird, but still very cool.
Re-writing, on the other hand, is just plain hard work. All those romping good words must be picked up and examined, held to the light, and either discarded or glued back in. Think sculpting and then re-sculpting a chunk of clay. It is excruciating, but all part of the process of writing a better story.
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1.        Trust your instincts. You know what it takes to write a better story, now don’t you? When you hold your life up to the light and give it a good close look, you know what to keep, and you know what needs to be cut. Sometimes we’re afraid, or maybe just plain lazy, and we refuse to submit to the process.
I’m thinking of all the scenes that I ultimately whacked out of A Higher Voice. One scene in particular might have allowed you, the reader, a better glimpse into what I perceived to be the hard edges of Britt Jordan’s past. In the end, though, Britt’s story was better told without it.
2.       Trust the process. Imagine my shock—sometime after writing what I just knew was the best novel ever written—when I picked up my perfect story and realized, well, it wasn’t so perfect. And so I set about to re-write the story, to the best of my ability, and I was pretty pleased with the result. I sent it along to a trusted friend and author who said, basically, “You’ve got some problems, here, girl.” Ouch! I learned the lessons I needed from her, and I moved on. I re-wrote the story yet again, made it even better, and I found a publisher.
Isn’t that true in life? Just when you think you can pat yourself on the back, you find out there’s still a lot to learn. It’s all part of the process of writing a better story, my friend. Learn what you need to, and move on.
3.       Trust the dream.  If I thought re-writing was hard work, I didn’t know squat until I got to the editing process. Good Lord! It was confusing, and intense, and pure magic. Imagine creating a work of art, and then having a master artist go back over it with a fine brush. Yet even then, it wasn’t perfect. The editing process had left dangling words, a sentence here and there that no longer worked. It had to be brushed over again. And again. Even on the day I held the long-awaited Proof copy in my hands, could touch the book’s cover and smell the print, my publisher sent along yet another round of changes: “This semi-colon needs to be a comma, and this hyphen removed, and this phrase italicized.”
Can you guess what I said? “I don’t care! Just let it go!” Because my dream had been to write a better story, not a perfect one.
Thus it is with life. Every day, we can write, and re-write, a better story. We can live, with intuition, joy, and gusto, the best life we know how to live. It may never be perfect, but who cares? Your story is all you have…write it well, my friend!