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About Theresa Nichols Schuster
- Theresa Nichols Schuster
- Theresa Nichols Schuster is author of "We Are the Warriors" a 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Award Finalist. She was a resident of the Fort Peck Reservation in Northeastern Montana for thirty years. She currently lives in Bozeman, Montana with her husband, where she continues to write, hike, ski, enjoy family and friends, photography and gardening, good food and good music.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
It is exciting and a honor to have been chosen to be on an author panel for the 2015 Montana Book Festival in Missoula. The annual Book Festival, on September 10-12th, 2015, will include panels, discussions, and readings with over one hundred authors. The Festival promises to be an engaging and interesting format for both writers and readers. Check out the schedule for speakers, times and locations at www.montanabookfestival.org, as the presentations are still being fine-tuned.
Joining me on the Young Adult Realism Panel for the Children’s portion of the Festival will be Kris Dinnison of Spokane, Washington and MelissaClark of Los Angeles, California. This young adult authors’ panel will be Saturday, September 12th, 3:30 - 4:30 PM at the Missoula Public Library.
I am also happy to announce that my novel, We Are the Warriors, is now available at the Fact & Fiction Bookstore in Missoula. Barbara Theroux, long time owner and manager of Fact & Fiction, has been a great supporter of the literary community, and a leading proponent of the annual Montana Book Festival, formerly the Festival of the Book.
Hats off to Barbara and to the many other individuals and groups who have stepped forward to continue the Book Festival after Humanities of Montana passed the torch as the lead organization. Some of the key reorganization leaders have included; Garth Whitson of Shakespeare & Co., Honore Bray, Missoula Public Library director, and John Rimel of Mountain Press. Fiscal sponsor for the Festival is now the Missoula Cultural Council.
Under the leadership of festival coordinator, Rachel Mindell, and many other volunteers and dedicated assistants, the days in Missoula look to be filled with abundant creative energy, enthusiasm, and great appreciation for many diverse literary accomplishments!
- I never knew how fluffed up and exhuberant a great horned owl got when it hooted until this past summer with the many visits from a family of owls...tail feathers pop, throat feathers ruffle up an get real spooky, and chest feathers beat extremely rapidly.
* To all those directly effected by the fires...may they diminish soon. And a great thanks to all those helping to fight the fires, and deal with the difficulties caused by them.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
I cannot help but be caught by the rich history of Montana, its towns, tribes, ethnic groups, people and places. This summer I have had the ability to begin to personally explore the stories of Philipsburg, Granite and Butte. The lives of the miners, merchants, women and familes of these towns are gradually becoming more evident.
The desire to know, to feel and to understand what their lives were like, beckons me like the voices of the Canada geese as they drift across the fields and mountains.
In the Philipsburg cemetery, I see on headstones signs of the ravages of a 1880s diphtheria outbreak that ripped away a whole family of children; the four-year old who died on May 17th, 1885, the two-year old on May 21st, and the six-year old on May 28th. All lost within one month. The sorrow and grief of these losses, of any parent, spans the years. We feel it.
In the long past richness and also poverty of Butte’s east side, one can imagine the wealth that walked the streets. The bankers, investors, builders, all milling on these sidewalks and in these buildings as they strove to create businesses and make a fortune, their signs of affluence still present.
Alongside these were the miners who dropped down hoists each day into the dark bowels of the earth to extract the hoped for riches. What was it like to enter a cage and be let down into a hole, far from the sun’s warmth? Did the ground in Butte shake as another one of the hundreds of tunnels under the city was dynamited in the quest to follow the next vein?
How did women live in this frontier, mining environment as business people, wives and mothers? When the ethnic groups and mix of languages intersected with one another in their day-to-day lives, how did they communicate?
I have more questions than answers. The writer, explorer and dreamer always does.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
You can now find me at www.tnschuster.com! This web address will also link up to my blog. It is a work in progress...I finally took the leap!
On my way across the country recently to visit family, I became immersed in a powerful and tragic story. "The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster" by Karen Tinori is a compelling book written about the events leading up to and through the Cherry Mine fire and disaster in Illinois in the early 1900's. I could not help but be struck by the human courage, the will to survive and the heroism exhibited in the face of death by so many. Unfortunately the story of how small things can be ignored until, in a cause and effect topple, there is no turning back.
During those eight days, 259 men and boys would die in the coal mine. Some from the fire, some from the "black damp," an unbreathable mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Many women became widows and scores of children lost their fathers. One street of about forty houses became nicknamed "Widow's Row," as only a handful of men returned to those houses. After eight days underground, 21 miners would return to the surface.
Soon after the Cherry Mine Disaster, hearings were held, changes in mining laws mandated, and the beginnings of worker's compensation instituted. Mining for minerals is a fact of our modern society, replete with its need for technology, wiring, vehicles, etc. Without a doubt, mining is still a dangerous occupation. Tinori's book takes you directly into the life, and unfortunately for many, the death, of the miner.
Wishing you a few good reads and thoughtful reflections during the summer days.
(Photos of Granite, Montana, silver mining ghost town at 7,000 feet high in the mountains. Boom days 1890s)
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Two or three years ago after visiting with a literary agent about the then-title of my novel, "Powder River Warriors," I was encouraged to change the name. She was hung about about it being about warriors on a river...Nope. So I came up with a new title, did the Google Search thing and couldn't find any other books named "We Are the Warriors" nor any other definite issues with the name regarding the search engines.
In the midst of publishing my novel this past year, I began to see this "Imagine Dragons" thing come up when I searched "We Are the Warriors." Huh?
This last month I did another search...with the title of my novel. Only one reference to one of my blog posts appeared on the first page of results. No book. Instead page after page of a YouTube video by "Imagine Dragons" popped up. I clicked on the video. Sure enough, a music video about gamers with the verse repeated again and again, "We are the warriors..." Nicely done, graphic art and catchy tune. But 27 MILLION hits! Oh, maybe my clicking on it turned it to over to 28 million hits!
What are the odds? The same year I published my novel?? So can I make lemonade out of lemons?
On a different note, I wrapped up my second Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to all who participated. The three winners of my signed novels were from Indonesia, Belgium and Michigan (almost a foreign country):).
I have appreciated those who have posted reviews for me. I'm shooting to get a few more up on Amazon and Goodreads. Thanks for all your support and encouragement.
I am stirring the pot with two more books in the works. A long process and somewhat intimidating. A few more snow storms and it might almost be spring in Montana...
Friday, March 27, 2015
Congratulations to the winners of my Goodreads Giveaway that wrapped up on March 25th! The total number of people entering the giveaway was 829. Five people won copies of "We Are the Warriors." Of these five, three were from Canada and two were from the United States (Florida and New York). Thank you to all who entered the Giveaway.
The day after I mailed out my novel to the winners, I was notified that I had been selected as a Finalist for the USA Regional Excellence Book Awards for the Young Adult Fiction category, West region. I was so excited to hear the news! I knew the USA REBA awards would be announced in mid-March and was waiting to hear, without "expecting" too much.
The announcement stated "Your book, We Are the Warriors, truly captured the spirit of the West region of the United States and the excellence that this award was created to celebrate, and we salute you and your fine work."
Only one Winner is named for each category of the USA REBA awards. Finalists are not necessarily awarded for each category. So many categories did not have Finalists awarded. Judges also reserved the right to not make an award in a category.
The REBA awards sites states, "often there is more than one book in a category that truly stands out, and we believe these deserve recognition also. While it makes the job of our judges harder in some ways, we are dedicated to celebrating excellence in self-published books. So we created the category of "Finalist." Books that are recognized as Finalists are in every way outstanding. The difference between the Winner and Finalist books are often so minute that the call might have gone either way."
The West region that my novel was named a Finalist for includes the states of California, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
After all the years of work and taking the leap of indie publishing, the recognition is muchly appreciated.
Wishing you in the northern hemisphere a wonderful start to spring and ALL a good Easter week.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
I have found both format editing and blizzards painful while in their midst, but each also results in wonderful connections and beautiful art.
The last true blizzard I was in, I was fortunate to be near our house in Wolf Point. As I drove the short mile from work with my husband, Jerry, only fifty yards behind me in the Acadia, the cross streets disappeared as sheets of snow beat in waves from the northwest. A white and gray pall covered the landscape and sky, obscuring any distinct shapes and forms. I diligently plowed my way up the 4th Avenue hill.
I feared I wouldn't recognize the way home. A similar fear and trepidation sometimes comes over me when I sit down to edit a long literary piece. I don't know my way through the mass of words and punctuation. I fear making a mistake and causing more problems and errors.
In a state of confusion that day, I gripped the steering wheel, and peered out into the haze. The outline of the towering cottonwoods at the corner of our turn finally broke through the dense whiteness, their bare branches rattling in the wind like angry giants.
My Impala bravely bucked through the drifts forming across the city streets. I stared out the windshield, and nervously hoped no one was hidden in the blinding snow. My foot on the gas pedal, I dared not slow down, knowing one of those drifts would grab my wheels and not let me out.
In the process of editing, when I hit "find" and "replace" in a document, especially when it has resulted in 1,000 cases "found," a tremor of dread runs through me before I hit replace. What if I make it worse and get stuck? What if I ruin the whole novel?
That afternoon as I approached an unsheltered curve in the road, less than a half of a block from our house, the shadowy form of a van, obviously tightly stuck in a drift, came into view. I let up on the gas and steered to the side to avoid hitting the vehicle. First mistake. With a sudden "fump!" my car came to a halt. The right side of the car sat higher on the wind-packed drift, as my wheels spun.
My husband stopped a hundred yards behind, got out and fought his way to my car. As I opened the door, a rush of snow blew in, covering the floorboards in a fine layer. He suggested I back his Acadia up to the next side road to open up the center of the street while he tried to get my car unstuck. I clambered into his vehicle and backed into the side road, firmly hitting another two foot drift. Second mistake—beware of side roads. I tried to go forward or backward, to no avail. Now the Acadia was unable to move.
Sometimes I do get stuck and bogged down when I am editing. The time I fought with fixing my "smart" quote marks and "straight" quote marks, I couldn't figure my way out. I finally got it done, probably not the easiest way.
Jerry and I trudged to our house, only seventy-five yards in distance. The wind chill was an unbelievable fifty degrees below zero or more. We changed from our office clothes into jeans and down parkas, gathered more shovels, and headed back into the onslaught.
Frantically we pulled shovel-fulls of snow from under the car. Each time we pulled out a chunk of snow, new snow replaced what we had just removed. Every time we opened the car door to attempt to rock the car free, the white powder filled the compartment like piles of flour. Whenever we opened our mouths to speak, the wind-driven snow blasted our throats like pieces of sand and knocked our breath back down our throats, resulting in gasps of air. The snow melted on our faces and then refroze wherever it could. My eyelashes were thickly caked, heavy with ice that threatened to freeze my eyes shut. The whole endeavor seemed hopeless. I felt like we should just quit, but we couldn't leave our vehicle blocking the road.
Through the blinding snow, a huge four-wheel drive pick-up from the Fort Peck Tribal Police crawled its way toward us. A big, burly tribal cop climbed out, snow nearly up to his hips. He grabbed one of the shovels and got to work on the dense drifts under my car. A tribal high school student clambered out of the truck, wearing what looked like a spring jacket. They both shoveled, pushed and pulled alongside of us. It seemed like an impossible task, but the guys never quit, never expressed any doubt or dismay. Finally, with one more big effort of all hands pushing, my car broke free. Relieved, I promptly drove it into my driveway and parked it.
Then we went to work on the van and our Acadia. By then glasses were useless, only reservoirs for ice and snow. Hands worked clumsily, the painful cold beginning to numb. With tireless effort, the cop, his young friend and other neighbors chipped in to fight against the relentless wind and snow.
There is nothing like friends, books, experts, co-travelers posting up on Google, to assist with the process of learning to edit more skillfully, I have had very good input, knowledge and suggestions over the years. I marvel at how little I knew about writing—that is, the whole process—seven years ago! Eventually with much effort and help, I/you will make our way through an edit, a process, a piece of art or a new woodworking project.
Finally, our vehicle and the van broke free. Trudging up the driveway late that day, exhausted, frigidly cold, I spiked our shovel into the snow bank at the corner of our house, an offering for the next stuck vehicle. Jerry, by then nearly hypothermic and shaking uncontrollably, fell into a hot tub of water.
How many people and cars that policeman and his friend freed from drifts that day, I don't know. But I admired their courage, tenacity, and willingness to take on such a daunting task—cheerfully and optimistically.
The results that day—freed vehicles, grateful people safe at home—and eventually, artfully created drifts, and moisture for the land to irrigate and grow summer crops and pastures.
Format editing long documents like a novel or a thesis can feel a bit like facing the relentless onslaught of a blizzard. But bit by bit, sentence by sentence, with persistence and some help, a structurally sound and beautiful document can be created.
Happy editing, formatting and digging out of snow drifts if that is what is needed. The outcome may be awesome. Spring will come.