NORTHWEST AUTHORS - The Explorer: Import

NORTHWEST AUTHORS

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Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2002 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

For every writer, there is a process that must be gone through to put words on the page -- whether that page be on a computer screen or on a yellow notepad sitting in a lap.

For four different writers living in Northwest Tucson, their writing processes can consist of anything from having a dream that eventually turns into a novel to having adventures at sea that woth writing about.

Melissa Bowersock, author of "Goddess Rising," got her idea for the book after dreaming about the plot in detail.

The book is an account of the future of mankind, or actually womankind. In this case, Bowersock's novel has a matriarchal society controlling Earth after a geological disaster destroyed most of everything on the planet. Bowersock's main character and everyone's savior is Greer, a 15-year-old girl who doesn't know her destiny.

"We all have dreams that seem important or are very vibrant, and this was definitely one of those," Bowersock said. "I had always written my dreams down. But it was so weird that every once in a while I would be sitting and then this big chunk of plot would drop into my brain and I would have to run over to my notebook and write everything down. I've never had a book do that."

Bowersock didn't actually start writing the book until a year later and after several of these incidents. She said she often had no idea where her ideas would take her but eventually the novel came together and formed a piece of work completely different from the two historical romances she had previously written.

So different, in fact, that she had a hard time getting it published until she finally used an Internet site to post the first couple chapters of the book. Soon after, the book was picked up and published. It is now available at amazon.com or can be ordered from bookstores such as Barnes and Noble or Borders.

But her excitement over getting her book published was ironically mixed with a twinge of sadness as the whole process came to an end. As she stated in the dedication of the novel, "I cried when I finished this book."

"The people in it became my friends," explained Bowersock, who makes her living as an administrative assistant at Kitt Peak Observatory. "When I ended the book I felt like I wasn't going to see my friends again, and it was painful."

The writing process itself took about two years to finish, a little longer than normal for her.

"It just so happened I was going through some personal stuff for a while and I realized I had to put all of my energy into creating me instead of creating the book," she said.

Bowersock said she reads her books several times, including the ones that haven't been published, which total around 11 different manuscripts.

Bowersock began writing at the tender age of five and has always written in a journal.

"I started writing little stories about bunny rabbits," she said. "I'm just always writing , and I'm not really sure why. It might come from a kind of solitary growing up. I'm real introverted and in my head a lot."

Jim Ostheimer, another Northwest author, also began writing at a young age after he was encouraged by a poem he wrote as a freshman in high school.

He said he chose to wrote a poem after he was assigned by an English teacher to come up with a theme project.

"After I was done, I thought 'Hey, I can do this,'" he said.

That poem led to several others, which eventually led him to receive his high school's most prestigious writing award.

"I was thoroughly encouraged, but some other people, like some of the seniors, were thoroughly disgruntled that a freshman had won this award," he said.

Ostheimer, now 80, continued to write throughout high school and into college at Yale University.

It was there where he met his biggest discouragement, though, when Ostheimer asked a professor to critique one of his poems. The professor didn't give him a very favorable review.

"After that, I only wrote about one or two poems a year," he said.

After getting some recent encouragement by winning three out of six awards in the Arizona Poetry Contest, Ostheimer chose to publish the poems he had been writing for more than 40 years since he was 15.

His book, "Blue Yonder," is the compilation of nearly 80 of Ostheimer's poems and is available online at amazon.com or can be ordered from bookstores.

"I was being interviewed by a radio station in town and the guy said, 'So you've only been writing one or two poems a year for the last 40 years for your book? It's going to be pretty hard to write another one,'" Ostheimer said.

But Ostheimer said he will be proving his interviewer wrong within the next year. He has spent the past year writing as many poems as he wrote in the past 40. He hopes to get that book picked up by a publisher soon.

Like Bowersock, Ostheimer said he often will wake up in the middle of the night with a thought in his head and the uncontrollable urge to get that thought on paper, even if it means losing some sleep.

"'I've gotten up at three in the morning and an idea will be in my head and then I'll think about it and then the first stanza is beginning to start and then I'm beginning to go crazy and I have to get up and put it on paper," he said.

And also like Bowersock, he chose to write everything out by hand rather than fussing with a

computer.

"I usually sit in the same spot on the couch with my yellow pad," Ostheimer said. "My wife is my typist."

For Patrick Ellam, his wife is also his co-writer and former business partner.

Ellam began writing nonfiction books about his sailing adventures, and the two wrote a book together, "Wind Song," that recounts the couple's adventures in the yacht delivery business, an occupation that took them all over the world sailing yachts for people who needed them to be at a certain spot at a certain time.

Ellam also wrote about his time in Britain's Special Operation Executive unit during World War II, an experience he said he had to keep secret for more than 50 years.

"No one was supposed to know it even existed, so I couldn't write about it for quite some time," he said.

The SOE was in charge of performing secret operations to stop the Axis powers from becoming too strong, he said. One of the missions he took part in was preventing Adolf Hitler from developing the atomic bomb, he said.

After the war, he spent several years working in various jobs while still keeping up his hobby of sailing, a favorite pastime of his family, he said.

In the early 1970's, Ellam said he decided he would try his hand at working in the United States and sailed over in a small boat with no radio or motor.

"Only sissies need that," he said.

In 1975, he met and married his wife, June, and a year later, began in the yacht delivery business, delivering boats up and down the East Coast and to areas in California.

The wall in Ellam's office, which is now home to his publishing company and his property management business, is plastered with maps covered with thumbtacks, indicating where the couple has been.

They finally decided to settle in Tucson after traveling all over the United States in his International Scout, which still sits in his driveway with more than 500,000 miles on it.

"We tried California, but the smog was just awful," he said. "Tucson is close enough to the mountains and the ocean if you don't mind driving."

Ellam said he first started writing because of all his different travel experiences, including encounters with sharks and all of the fascinating people he met, including the famous writer, Ernest Hemingway.

"I never read, so I bought two books to learn how to write: The Bible and "Winnie the Pooh." "After I read those, I thought, 'This is how it's supposed to be done.'"

Most of Ellam's books can be found at amazon.com, he said.

Ellam said he still doesn't have time to read, which is unusual for a writer, because his property management business and his writing keep him busy enough.

Diane Warren, another Northwest author whose first book, "How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget," made the country's bestseller list, also said some thought her writing process was a little unusual.

Warren has only written nonfiction, with most of the topics being "how-to" books, such as party and retirement planning, teaching manuals and wedding books, whose topics, she said, often require a lot of research that can be difficult to organize.

"I would go to all of these garage sales and buy all of these old, funky dressers and then on every drawer would be the title of a book I was working on," she said. "I can't read a newspaper without cutting out at least three articles about something I might want to write a book on, so I just put them all in one of the drawers. People would come over and see all of the dressers and not know what to think."

Warren got the idea for her first book after trying to plan her daughter's wedding with the limited funds she and her husband had.

After doing some research at the library, Warren found that no one had ever written a book on how to plan a wedding with limited funds.

"So I thought I better start taking some notes," she said.

Many other people found her book useful, but others, she said, were not so appreciative, especially those in the wedding industry.

Warren said she was doing an interview on CNN that should have only lasted a few minutes but wound up lasting nearly half an hour as she debated with caterers about her book.

"They would call up, since it was a call-in segment, and say 'Who is this woman?' People were calling with really abrupt things, telling me I was wrong," she said.

More than 20 books later, Warren and her husband are living in their Sun City home and driving a car that are fully paid for, thanks to Warren's book royalty checks.

"My husband and I look back all the time and think that we would have thought the idea of being writers was just laughable," Warren said. "Now I think it's just a miracle."

Warren also recently published "The Complete Book of Children's Parties," which gives people several suggestions on different parties for kids of any age.

Warren is currently working on her next book, "Single Parenting for Dummies," which she is co-authoring with a family psychologist in California, since Warren's background is in communications.

"This is my biggest, hardest book ever," Warren said. "I've been doing research on it since 1988."

That book should be out within the next year or two, she said. An updated version of "How to Plan a Big Wedding on a Small Budget" will also be available in a couple of months.

"Every book I've written has been helpful to people," Warren said. "That's what I enjoy about writing the most."

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