Introduce Yourself – Introducing Guest Author Lynda McKinney Lambert

 

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Lynda McKinney Lambert. Welcome to the PBS Blog! Let’s get started.

 

What is your name and where are you from?

I am an Indie Author and visual artist, Lynda McKinney Lambert. I live and work in The Village of Wurtemburg, located in western Pennsylvania.

What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?

First, after my sight loss, I wanted to share my experiences with others. Since it took me 2 years to be able to use a computer again, I thought that creating a blog would be a good achievement for me and I would use the blog as my way of connecting with other people. I wanted to share my experiences in sight loss and give encouragement and help to others. That is why I called the blog, Walking by Inner Vision. This, of course, led me to write the book almost 7 years later. I had no way of knowing when I started this blog in 2009 that I was beginning to write a book that would be published in 2017.

Miss Opal in my office, checking out the travel brochures. Photo by Lynda Lambert, 2018.

Visitors awwue. Sounds like you already have the perfect writing room! But tell Miss Opal I know she don’t like being around us humans but I’m gonna need her to smile or something. Sheesh lol. 

Lynda, are you employed outside of writing?

I am a retired professor of fine arts and humanities. I retired over 10 years ago after I suddenly lost most of my sight from Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. This new challenge opened the door for me to work full-time in my writing with the aid of adaptive technologies for the blind.

So sorry to hear you lost your sight, but what a blessing that came from it! Inspiring. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

My entire career has been an amazing adventure. At the age of forty-two, after raising our 5 children, I returned to the university to pursue a degree in fine art. Shortly after I started this program, I knew I wanted to “go all the way” with my academic education. I worked on the BFA degree in painting, for 4 years at Slippery Rock University of PA. Following that accomplishment, I earned an MA in English at the same university. I needed a terminal degree because my intention was to become a professor. This aspiration took me to West Virginia University where I earned the MFA degree in Painting. This combination of degrees was just what I needed to attain my dream career. I earned my 3 degrees over a period of 9 years which were the most intense years imaginable.

At Geneva College, I taught across disciplines in English, Fine Art, and Humanities. I created and taught a summer program in Austria. Each July, I took students on a month-long adventure in Europe in a course I called, “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.” In this course, I could teach both art and writing, my two passions in my own life. It was the ideal job for me.  Teaching this course led to the publication of my first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage. (Kota Press, 2003).

Lynda’s FIRST PLACE AWARD. “The Dragon’s Healing Breastplate” mixed media fiber art InSights 2107, Louisville, KY. October 2017. Lynda creates talismans and wall pieces using gemstones, beads, and fiber.

 

Wow. I bet it was intense indeed. It’s intense just reading about it lol. Your accomplishments are awesome. Does blogging help you to write?

I created 2 blogs.

First, after my sight loss, I wanted to share my experiences with others. Since it took me 2 years to be able to use a computer again, I thought that creating a blog would be a good achievement for me and I would use the blog as my way of connecting with other people. I wanted to share my experiences in sight loss and give encouragement and help to others. That is why I called the blog, Walking by Inner Vision. This, of course, led me to write the book almost 7 years later. I had no way of knowing when I started this blog in 2009 that I was beginning to write a book that would be published in 2017.

Second, in 2014 I created a second blog that covers a variety of topics.  I started SCAN in 2014 and it is a celebration of people, events, and places. Writing my blogs is one way I can share my own discoveries and give back to others.

What’s your favorite food?

I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian since I was in my late 20s.

What is a lacto-ovo vegetarian if you don’t mind me asking?

Lacto-Ovo means a vegetarian that eats milk and eggs. Not a Vegan who eats nothing from an animal.

Ahh. I see.

My personal favorite foods are Austrian desserts.

Ice Coffee, in Austria, is so delicious.  It comes in a large parfait-type of glass. Icy cold strong coffee is poured over scoops of delicious vanilla ice cream.  On top of this mixture is a heaping dollop of real fresh whipped cream.  I limited myself to only 1 a week when I was in the country because I didn’t want to come home with excess weight on my body. This way, it was always a special treat.  I also like the Austrian noodle dishes, with brown butter, and the fresh vegetables served on a dinner plate.

That. Sounds. Amazing!! I can’t even focus right now. Let’s get back to writing for a second. Who are your favorite writers?

Immediately two women come to mind: Annie Dillard and Louise Erdrich.

I have read, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek at least a half-dozen times. I am in awe of this magnificent writing. Another book by Dillard that I used in one of my English classes is, For the Time Being. It is a small book but one of the most beautiful pieces of literature I ever read. Erdrich’s book, The Painted Drum, is a masterpiece of story-telling.

For poetry: I discovered Robert Bly’s poetry in undergraduate school. I’ve lectured on his work in my humanities courses and in contemporary American Poetry courses and I did a conference presentation at The Robert Bly Colloquium at Kent State University in Ashtabula, Ohio. This paper appeared in the book, edited by Terry White. I enjoyed doing conference presentations on the work of writers and artists.

My latest book is Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, was published by DLD Books. My book is a collection of creative non-fiction essays, memoir, and poems. Available now on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

Awesome. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

During my travels each summer for a month in Europe, I kept a journal. After a few years, I began to collect some of the poems and stories into a cohesive body of work that later became my first book.

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage was published in January 2003 by Kota Press.

This full-length book consists of journal entries, poems, and creative non-fiction essays.

The book’s cover is a detail from a mixed-media painting I created in my studio in Austria.  Many writings in this book have been featured in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. I also love the work of Yusef Komunyakaa; William Carlos Williams; John Donne; Louise Glück; and Irene McKinney. I also love Appalachian poetry and literature.

Lynda, married?

My husband is Bob Lambert. We met when I was fifteen years old.

When I was seventeen and he was twenty, we eloped to Indiana and got married. It was April 14, 1961.  We had 3 daughters, Salome’ Heather, Heidi Melinda, and Ilsa Hoelz.  After the 3 girls were born we adopted 2 more children. Robert Andrew came to us from Vung Tau, Vietnam in 1972 and Victoria Rebecca came to us in 1974 from Korea.

Bob and I celebrated our 57th anniversary this year. I am going to be seventy-five years old on August 27th, and Bob was seventy-seven last January. We live in the same village where my ancestors settled in the late 1700s after they came to America from Germany. Bob and I have always taken in displaced animals and currently, we have 2 indoor cats; 5 feral cats that we care for outside; and 2 rescued dogs.

Happy early birthday and anniversary! What a blessing. What small things makes your life easier? What makes it difficult?

Photo by Bob Lambert. Lynda walking in the Rain Forest, Puerto Rico, 2013. Lynda was part of a team of professors who taught a course on Puerto Rico Art & Culture at Geneva College. Here she navigates the steep downhill pathway to a waterfall with her mobility cane. Sight loss has not stopped Lynda from being active and engaged in the world. Her writings reflect the enthusiasm she has for different cultures and travels.

Of course, losing my vision made my life difficult. After almost eleven years, I will struggle with little things at times. The hardest thing is that I cannot drive any longer. While I do have some limitations, as always, I find ways to be creative and to continue to be the most important things I’ve always done. I still make art and I write. Last year, I wrote a poem to myself.  “To the Curator of Small Things.” Gives readers a little peek into my home and my heart.  You can listen to a recording of this poem by visiting Wordgathering Literary Magazine. Just click on this link and you will hear Melissa Coddon reading my poem.

As a writer and artist with profound sight loss, I am thankful for the latest adaptive technologies for the blind. This equipment enables me to create my poems and artworks. It also helps me do a variety of activities throughout each day. I am fortunate to have these expensive pieces of equipment provided by my state Bureau of Blindness Services.

The Acrobat is mainly for doing my award-winning mixed-media fiber art and bead working which is displayed in art exhibitions. The DaVinci Pro is used for everything I do on the computer. This sophisticated technology allows me to switch back and forth between a computer and a scanner mode – all on one screen. For everyday reading such as mail, writing checks, and looking at books or letters, I use the Merlin CCTV. Of course, I have a variety of other small, portable devices that help me, too.

Very nice. No limits over here ya’ll! Lynda, you are well prepared to keep writing despite your loss of sight. Why is writing important to you?

Writing and making art is at the core of my life. They give me a means of sharing my worldview and celebrating life. I focus on what is positive and joyous in my life and in the world as I know it. My writing and art show my interest in the world and my travel experience provides a depth of understanding of current events, cultures, and understanding. I strive to share what is beautiful in our lives and in the lives of others.

Beautiful. I feel like you’ve already answered this question but, what do you love about yourself?

What I like most about myself is my ability to turn negative experiences around and see what lessons I learned by the challenge.  I have TENACITY and I keep on going towards goals and dreams.

I’ve learned that there is nothing I can experience that will separate me from my Creator. I believe that the secret to understanding who we truly are is found in Genesis 1. We are handmade, carefully and lovingly created by God. We bear his likeness. His image on earth.  We are to be image bearers of God. That is my mission and my purpose in life.

Good understanding! What genre do you write in, why?

My focus is on poetry and creative non-fiction essays.  There is more material for me to find in my own experiences and life than in anything I could make up. I seldom read fiction. I like poetry best for its brevity. I like writing that is modern.  It gets to the core and does it immediately.  I dislike poetry that rhymes, and poetry that really should be an essay or short story told in a different medium.  Meter is not interesting to me. I live in the twenty-first century so why would I write like I am outdated manner? The poetry I like best combines elements from nature, intuition, imagination, and personal life experiences.

(EC: *cough* Outdated manner. Lol.)

One writer who was doing a book review of Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems said to me:

“When I got to the end of the book, I was so sad.”

I asked why my book made her feel so sad. I felt confused for I did not think anyone would be left feeling sad after reading my stories & poems.

She replied, “I did not want this book to end. I felt sad when I came to the end of it.”

Thank you Lynda for spending this time with us. We truly enjoyed you!

 


Photo of Lynda McKinney Lambert. By bob Lambert.

Bio.

Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, a full-length collection of poems, essays, and journal entries.  Published in 2003 by Kota Press.

Lynda’s second full-length book is, Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, published in 2017 by DLD Books.

Lynda Lambert was professor of fine arts and humanities at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA.  She retired  in 2008, due to sudden sight loss caused by Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. This challenge really opened the door for her to write full-time from her western PA home. During the past year, Lynda’s poetry and non-fiction essays have appeared in over 140 publications, world-wide. Her work was nominated for the Skirt Best of the Net Award for 2016-17 by Spirit Fire Review. She was a winning poet and her poem is published in 2017-18 in Mingled Voices 2, by Proverse Hong Kong.

Lynda writes for Vision Aware Blog, which is a part of the American Foundation for the Blind website.She write articles on how to regain your life after sight loss, and gives tips and help to people who write in to AFB asking for help.

She is an award-winning visual artist and creates her art work using technologies for the blind. Lynda has just completed her next full-length book of poetry, Star Signs: New and Selected Poems.

Social Links:

www.lyndalambert.com

www.llambert363.blot

https://www.facebook.com/lyndamckinneylambert

https://www.facebook.com/SCAN-782814908467623/

https://www.facebook.com/walkingbyinnervision/


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE!

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The Evolution of a Book Cover

I’ve always enjoyed looking at book covers. In fact, choosing a cover is my favorite part of the Indie Book Publishing process. In the beginning, I didn’t care too much about the cover and that was cool. But then, as I matured, I started to look at my writing differently. I stopped looking at my writing alone and started looking at the book as a complete package. In doing so, I’ve learned that the best chances of a book succeeding is not just one thing, but a collection of things. Not just a nice cover alone or a well-written story alone, but everything together. That is what I’ve learned and that is how I will look at book publishing from now on. I will look at the process as a complete piece, a body that I must dress not just outwardly but inwardly and not just inwardly but outwardly.

I’ve been having a little success with I am Soul so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the evolution of the cover and how I think it has played a major role in that success.

To start, I wasn’t going to even release this book when I did. I was supposed to release book two of Nora December 20, 2017, my mothers birthday. Instead, I pushed that book back (it wasn’t ready) and released I am Soul.

I am Soul is a collection of poems from this blog as well as my personal journal, collected, compiled and edited into what is now my 4th collection of poetry. I call it I am Soul because some of the poems are personal, some of them are centered around the African American experience (a people of Soul) and also because people have always said that I have an old soul. Even as a kid people have said that I was mature for my age. For these reasons, I am Soul.

Grainy pic of me and I am Soul with old cover.

The first cover was decent. I liked it a lot. A purple book with a heart-shaped bible page. It was nice enough to land me the #7 spot in the African Literature category of Amazon before release day. It started at number 17, then dropped to number 9 and then number 7.

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But…

I liked the cover a lot but I didn’t love it. I couldn’t help but notice that the cover looked better electronically, to me, than it did when the paperback arrived. It also didn’t stand out very well on Amazon.

I AM SOUL- 3D

I still think this is a cute cover but it doesn’t look all that great offline. Once the book printed it didn’t look the same. The dark blue on top the purple didn’t pop. In fact, this is still the cover on Goodreads. I don’t know how to change it. At first I didn’t care but after awhile I had to follow my heart and change the cover. (A privilege of publishing books Independently. You can change what you want, when you want.)

I decided to try something that matched the name of the book and the content in full. When you think of Soul you think of something deeply personal and connected to that individual.

Soul is something Israelites (Blacks) have always had (think Soul Train), from our hair styles to our creative way of dance, the way that we dress, the way that we sing, and the way that we speak. We set the trends and nothing was more trendy than the Afro at the peak of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. From the practice of shaving the head to pass as a free person in the antebellum south, to the Afro of the 60s and 70s that said that Blacks were proud of who they were and free to be so openly, natural hair had made a comeback.

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Young, beautiful Cicely Tyson.

In the 1950s-60s it was common for Black women in Africa to wear their hair in small bushes. In America, Black women stopped straightening their hair. Women like Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln are examples. And then Miriam Makeba (“Mama Africa”) emerged with a fro in the January 1960s issue of Look Magazine and Cicely Tyson wore her hair in a fro on episodes of the CBS drama East Side, West Side. And as college students and political activists like Jesse Jackson and Angela Davis started wearing fros, the fro had eased on into the mainstream.

Before and After

 

It wasn’t just about hair no more than Samson’s locs was about being trendy. Those locs were a representation of power and strength and so the Afro was a representation of the social-economic and political era of the time. A time when Black men and women were gaining strength and reclaiming parts of their lost heritage, one hairstyle at a time. A similar revolution is taking place today. Black men and woman are embracing more of their natural selves and waking up to the true knowledge of who they truly are.

For all of these reasons, I felt an image of a Black woman wearing a fro spoke volumes concerning the kind of messages I was seeking to give with the poetry inside of the book. Not just the soul of one woman but the soul of a people. The soul of an era.

I still think both covers are nice in their own right but the one that sticks out the most and which embodies a much more clear message; the one that will not just appeal to those who are biblically conscious but reach a larger audience; the one that makes people stop in their tracks, is the new cover.

When I uploaded this to social media, readers responded immediately. This had not happened with the first cover.

 

 

The new cover got me new reviews…

Screenshot (42)

I submitted this book to two different bookstores. One using the old cover and one using the new cover. The one with the new cover got a call back and the book is beginning to sell at the store. I am still waiting on a response from the store using the old cover.

 

I’ve learned that book covers really are important because I’ve experienced how important they are. Don’t get me wrong, content is just as important. At the end of the day if there’s nothing special to read there’s nothing special about the book. I am Soul still had to be edited and get through the bookstore’s professional reviewers to be stocked.

But, when I walked into the store yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that because of the cover, Soul stuck out more than some of the other books that I could tell, as an Indie Author, were also self-published. In fact, to my surprise, Soul was sitting right next to Nikki Giovanni’s A Good Cry. Whether someone just sat it there or not, I cannot be sure. But, I was sure enough proud. I wasn’t going to taint the moment with thoughts of how it got there. It was there nonetheless.

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

I don’t celebrate holidays (this includes Kwanzaa and Juneteenth. How can I celebrate the end of slavery when we are still in captivity? Maybe I’ll celebrate it next year, the marking of our 400 years in this land.) Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be right (in keeping with my Black History origin traditions on this blog) if we didn’t explore what this day is and what makes it so special for many Black Americans; many replacing their 4th of July celebrations with Juneteenth instead. It is still an important part of history to remember and I don’t believe we’ve ever covered it on this blog so here goes.

According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863, the proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” By rebellious states it was referring to those states that had seceded or withdrawn from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. The freedom it promised also depended upon United States military victory. In brief, Emancipation only applied to those slaves who lived near Union lines.

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News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and their slaves and moved to Texas in mass. “Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.) In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 slaves had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave he quotes recalled,”‘It looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.’’ For the next two years, slave owners and the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war and slavery would go on, business as usual.

And so, when General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, on June 19th to lead the Union occupation force, he had to deal with ongoing slavery in defiance of the Emancipation Proclamation. To fix this, he issued the following order:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

This second proclamation, specifying that all slaves were free, is the foundation to the celebration of Juneteenth, a combining of June and the nineteenth when the order was issued. However, it is also important to know that just like the first proclamation, this order did not exactly free the slaves.

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“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.” “Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

Still, Blacks celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event taking place in 1866 where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and praised Abraham Lincoln as the great liberator. (I find this odd). The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Jim Crow, laws that essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where we were fully disenfranchised and outside of the law. Convict Leasing is a great example of this. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Southern states, who had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles.

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They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going and like sharecropping, convict leasing was another answer. Black Codes and Pig Laws, unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed. These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail and thus former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money. In 1883, about 10 percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately 10 times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

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Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement when Blacks began to celebrate it in full again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980, and it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.


For more Black History Fun Facts, be sure to visit the BHFFF Page HERE.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #BookReviews Terry Tyler, Charles Yallowitz and Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Thanks Sally for the update!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

The next author celebrating recent reviews for her latest release is Terry Tyler for UK2 (Project Renova Book 3)

About UK2 (Project Ronova Book 3)

‘Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.’

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors’ way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south. UK2 governor Verlander’s plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies. Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is…

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What Book Bloggers Want Authors To Know

Excellent advice from Rachel.

Rachel Poli

Book reviews are important for authors. It’s good for their sales and it gives them valuable feedback. Authors seek out book bloggers to send copies of their books to in exchange for honest reviews.

Some people see book blogging as fun and easy because you sit there and read before typing up your thoughts. But there’s a lot a more to it that people don’t realize. It’s hard work and it’s time consuming.

What Book Bloggers Want Authors To Know | Book Bloggers | Book Reviews | RachelPoli.com

Read Our Reviews/Review Policy First

If you want to ask a book blogger to read and review your work, you need to read their work first. Make sure you’re happy with the way they do their reviews and also make sure they review the kinds of books you write. Sure, it never hurts to reach out and ask if you have a question, but chances are the answer is already somewhere on their blog.

Be Personal And…

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Introduce Yourself Author Interview Links Updated

 

ATTN. Authors of Introduce Yourself. The links to your guest interviews have been updated. If you have any updates of your own let me know. Updates such as:

  • New book – I can add them to your post. (If you have tons of books out I cannot feature every one. I can however post a universal buy link if you have one.)
  • New cover – If you have since changed the cover for a book promoted in the post.
  • New platform – Links to new places your book may now be available.
  • Any new updates you would like to share about your books.

Please let me know by commenting on this post or emailing me. This is for all of the authors interviewed on this blog via Introduce Yourself. You can check out your post in the Introduce Yourself Author Interview page HERE.

Also don’t forget to do your part and reblog and share the post across social media every now and again. Help me to help you.

If you would like to be interviewed on this blog, visit the original post here. All you have to do is choose questions from the list at the bottom of the post (choose at least 10) and email me your answers along with your author photo, book covers, buy links and social media links.

Stay tuned for next weeks featured author.