Monday, March 7, 2011

Expose Yourself #4 – Mrs. Hart, in the Library, with the Lead Pipe

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In this series of articles, I talk to people who have been successful at taking control of their lives, making a name for themselves, and helping others to do the same. I’m very fortunate to have met them, and very thankful they have agreed to spend a few minutes talking with me to share part of their stories. We’re going to delve into what it took to propel these people from ordinary lives into extraordinary lives. We’ll find out where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going as each guest is asked to “Expose Yourself”.

Today’s guest came all the way from Iran to see me, where she worked for an international bank and as Director of Volunteers for the American Women’s Club. She has also lived in New York, where she ran a horse farm and an art gallery, among other amazing endeavors, and is where she met her husband of 30 years.

Her first interactive murder mystery, Murder in Morocco, was produced in 1995 at the Richfield Springs Regional Theater in New York. Over the next ten years she wrote interactive plays and educational/interactive children’s plays, which were performed by the theater company she founded, Murder Mysteries on Call, Inc. When she came to Florida, she renamed her company to Make Mine Murder. One of her plays, “Murder in Morocco,” was made into a musical, which garnered seven Outstanding Achievement awards by the New York State Theatre Association, for Original Script, Original Score, and Original Lyrics, plus set design, costumes, props, and hair/makeup.

Nowadays, far from resting on her laurels, you’re likely to find her at the Daytona Playhouse, where she often directs, acts in, and designs and builds sets. She’s also written several books. Somehow, with all that going on, she still finds time to run a chapter of the Florida Writer’s Association, where she helps aspiring writers perfect their craft. Please give a warm welcome to Veronica Hart!

JC: Hey there, Ronnie, you’re looking fabulous as ever!

VH: Thank you. It’s all the vitamins and magic potions I use.

JC: You don’t believe in the standard definition of “retired,” do you? You’re going to be 70 this year. Any plans to slow down and act your age?

VH: I am acting my age – it’s the others who think “retirement” means they have to stop living and watch television for the rest of their lives.

JC: That does sound like a better plan. So let me ask you; where are you in your life, or your career, or the pursuit of your goals?

VH: I am finally achieving some measure of success with my writing career and also feel very accomplished with directing plays and designing sets for theater. My first published novel, The Prince of Keegan Bay is coming out today as an e-book from Champagne Books. It will later be produced as a paperback. It’s about an infant Middle Eastern prince being hunted by assassins, and the group of quirky adult community residents who protect him.

VH: I’ve also just submitted my first completed young adult novel, Escape from Iran, to the ABNA (Amazon Breakout Novel Awards) competition, where it has so far made it past the first round of judging. Though I’ve had stories and articles published throughout the years, these two books represent what I really want to do: entertain people with my writing.

JC: That’s exciting news! When is the second round? What happens when you win?

VH: Second round winners are announced on March 22nd. Let’s not jinx it with any other response, you know; counting chickens and all that.

JC: Having seen you in action, I can’t help having high expectations. How did you get started writing?

VH: When I met my husband Bob on New Year’s Eve 1978, he asked me what I really wanted to do with my life. At the time I owned a small farm in Warwick, NY, with a rental cottage, boarded horses, and owned and operated an art store and gallery in the village. I told him I really wanted to write and he asked me, “Then why aren’t you?” I thought the answer was simple, “I have three daughters I have to support, besides working about fifteen hours a day.” But, he was right. With his encouragement, I enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature.

VH: After a few months of this mail order course, I sent in a short story to a religious magazine, preparing myself to learn how to accept rejection slips. Within a week, I received a check! I thought, “This is easy.” During this course, I began writing Escape from Iran. When it was finished, I sent it off, with the blessings of my instructor, to a major publisher. It was returned a couple of months later with a nicely written letter from the editor, explaining that my heroine was not likeable enough. I thought, “that’s the end of that,” and stuck it away in a drawer until last summer, when I pulled it out, had someone enter it into the computer for me, and then edited like crazy.

JC: I’m glad you realized he was right. How did you get where you are?

VH: The answer to that is persistence. During these past thirty years both Bob and I have conducted writing workshops, writing groups, and then when we lived in Cooperstown and ran a bed and breakfast, during the off seasons we had writers’ retreats. During all this time, I continued to learn and to write. I must have half a dozen not quite finished novels waiting for me.

JC: Only half a dozen? You can whip that out in no time. Where are you going next? What’s the next goal, the next step, the next whatever?

VH: We’d love to return to the south of Spain, possibly to live. We spent a month there several years ago and loved the climate, the people, the culture. And the prices. If that can’t happen, I guess I’ll just keep writing, directing, and hoping for a huge success with one of my books so we can then continue to travel – something we both love to do. If we can work it out, next spring it’s on to Russia! One of my books is set in Leningrad (modern day St. Petersburg) and there’s a great cruise going there right from Port Canaveral. I’d love to be on that ship.

JC: What are you doing to get there?

VH: You know, Jaycee, after spending the first thirty years of my life in a reactive mode, I finally took some control and began trying to plot things out for myself. That didn’t work any better. It’s so true that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. I keep on writing, trying to improve myself, and hope to continue learning through teaching. We plot; we scheme; we strive; we eventually achieve.

JC: You’re definitely achieving a lot, Ronnie. Writing books and plays, running your own production company, seeing the world... Sounds like an exciting time to be alive! I can hardly wait to find out what you do next. Good luck with Prince of Keegan Bay, it sounds like a fun read.

VH: Thank you for this opportunity. Keegan Bay is a fun read, very tongue-in-cheek, but the focus of the story is just what I said earlier about “acting my age.” The group of seniors in the retirement community must use their wits and skills to protect the infant. The community comes alive, many abandoning their Bingo and card games, even including help from 91 year old, Howard, who loves his brandy but recalls some tricks from working with the French resistance during WWII. Next, there are two books at about sixty thousand words and I must kill one person in each book. Who shall it be? Tough choices.

Hey everyone, be sure to check out Veronica Hart's website and wish her luck on her competition.


CLICK HERE to get your very own copy of The Prince of Keegan Bay fresh off the digital presses.












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Further reading to astonish and amaze:
"Expose Yourself" Articles List
Crime Wave hits Palm Coast
Profiling: Is It Good or Bad?
Leyland French - 1995

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2 comments:

  1. Congrats Ronnie and the best of luck with your book.

    JW Thompson

    ReplyDelete

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