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About Theresa Nichols Schuster

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Theresa Nichols Schuster is author of "Brittle Silver" and "We Are the Warriors" a 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Award Finalist. She currently lives in southwest Montana where she appreciates the wonders of nature, family, friends, a bit of pottery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

2016 Montana Book Festival: What kind of an author, writer, reader do you want to be?

On September 20-25th, in Missoula, the 2016 edition of the Montana Book Festival will kick off a rousing week of workshops, discussions, panels and readings from nearly 150 authors from Montana and beyond. The offerings are richly varied and include young adult and children’s activities, discussions about self-publishing, the American west, Montana mystery, Approaches to Spiritual Inquiry, Healing through Native and native Western Voices, Revision and the Poetic Process, a book fair, and much more to tantalize the literary palette.

The children and young adult events are free, as are most Thursday and Sunday events. Workshops have special pricing. Access to the Friday and Saturday events is $5 each or a button for $15 covers those days plus the author/reader reception and other gatherings. Check the full listings at The Festival promises to be an enthusiastic and creative week.

I am delighted to again be part of the Youth Festival portion of the event with my young adult novel, We Are the Warriors, a 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Award Finalist. I will be co-presenting the teen workshop, “Creating Dynamic Characters,” with Kris Dinnison of Spokane, author of You and Me and Him, and Frank Nappi, author of Welcome to the Show, the third installment in the Mickey Tussler series.

The Youth portion of the Festival includes other outstanding Montana authors such as Susan Adrian, whose young adult novel, Tunnel Vision, garnered Honor Book for the Montana Book Award and Blythe Woolston, the author of Black Helicopters, winner of the High Plains Book Award for YA literature. Recent middle-grade books that have splashed onto the scene include Janet Fox’s The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, receiving multiple starred reviews and Kent Davis’ A Riddle in Ruby recipient of a Kirkus starred review.

With so many literary choices, I am again faced with the dilemma, “What kind of author do I want to be? What kind of writer? What do I want to read?” There are so many options.

A year ago I decided to embark on some short story writing. After I wrote and edited and re-edited a story for about eight weeks, I realized I would rather spend that quantity and quality of time continuing to work on my next novel.

Sometimes our interests or abilities are a bit preordained, seemingly not in our decision-making power. Contrary to my instincts, every now and then I decide to read a book my gut knows I won’t really like. It’s not my genre. Not my cup of tea. But I want to be able to say I know how it is written, how it reads, what its audience is...I read to accomplish a mission. Most often though, I prefer to read for enjoyment or education—that is my compelling draw.

Many of my favorite choices lately have been to read Montana authors. This has been an enlightening, fun and captivating endeavor. Such talent and creativity in so many voices. Always wish I had more time to read. The 2016 Montana Book Festival offers a unique opportunity to hear from many of these dedicated and talented individuals—from an awesome array of genres.

On a recent hike up the old road to the Granite Ghost Town, high in the Flint Creek Mountains, I had the occasion to revel in an era over one hundred years before. All my research, reading and study opened a door that displayed the lives of women and men many years before. The old granite foundations, roads and rotting timbers spoke of vitality—once, or again—so very real. My YA novel of time travel, rich in historical accuracy is taking shape...More to come later...maybe the ghosts do speak to us. #MBF2016  #treasure

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

First Draft: The Dream...The Inspiration

I am so delighted to be finished with a rough draft of my next novel. After several months of scattered writing, I did the “math” this February and realized I needed a determined focus to complete a first draft of my novel before the beautiful days of summer were upon me. Frankly, I usually don’t write extensively in the summer...way too many other things to enjoy...visits with family, time with friends, hiking awesome trails, pulling weeds (it can be therapeutic) and watching a campfire late at night.

So I embarked on a single-minded creative venture for late winter and early spring, choosing to skip other writing such as short stories, extensive journaling or blogging, and other likewise pursuits, and diving into “being written” by a story. I also allowed myself the luxury of reading several books, mostly by local authors. For me, I consider “local” to be both Bozeman and Wolf Point here are two very different “cultures.” There are things and people I enjoy about both locales, and also there are some things that bite about each.

My new novel at this time is titled, “Brittle Silver.” When I say rough draft, I do mean ROUGH. It feels a bit like a sieve, lots of holes, but still an exciting storyline and characters. I’m never sure how much I should talk about a work in progress. Does talking upset the muses? Or is talking a way of sharing the excitement? I’m not really sure.

“Brittle Silver” was spawned several years ago when I cajoled my teenage son, his girlfriend, young adult daughter and my husband to walk the steep, twisty road toward the ghost town of Granite, high in the Flint Creek Range outside of Philipsburg. I never have liked narrow mountain roads that provide few places wide enough for two vehicles to pass. The sign that read: “Road Not Maintained, Travel at Your Own Risk” was also a bit of a deterrent to my desire to drive the washed out road.

After several miles of walking, the teens had their fill of the steady climb and lagged far behind Jerry, Maria and I. I goaded them on another mile, knowing we were so close, but my persistence did not outweigh their resistance, we turned around and enjoyed the easy trip downhill.

It was several years later before we made our assault on the mountain again. Not sure who was the main instigator this time, maybe the history major in the group...Anyway, this time it was with vehicles. We did make it to the top...I was a bit of a wreck with the narrow, cliff-hanging road...more adrenalin than I knew what to do with. When my knees quit knocking, I was finally able to enjoy the experience.

Once there, the rugged mountaintop was fascinating. Although almost all the buildings were gone, the stonework of the mills and history of the town of Granite that perched 7,000 feet on the side of a mountain was amazing.  That day initiated a several year search into the history and stories of the town of Granite. Including days spent at the Granite County Museum looking at photos and mementos, at the Philipsburg Mail perusing old newspapers from 1892 and 1893, and at the Montana Historical Society in Helena looking at mining reports and maps.

Out of my research and reflections grew some very special characters, some fictional, some historical, all unique. These individuals and stories have captivated my imagination and seem as real as the breezes on the high mountain. And where are they going?

The wonderful books I was able to read between writing...these I must rave about. Two of the books were middle grade novels packed with great action and mystery by Bozeman authors, Janet Fox’s The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle and Kent Davis’ A Riddle in Ruby. Wolf Point co-author, Jeremy Watterson’s and Skylar Browning’s book, Montana Baseball History reminded me of those wonderful warm evenings watching American Legion Baseball in the 1970’s at Cobb Field. The talented players, Coach Eddie Bayne and the ever-dedicated Catholic nuns cheering behind the dugout made the experience timeless. Wolf Point author, Joe McGeschick’s, Howard’s Dream, is a tribute to a man, an invention, the business of Wood’s Power Grip and a special family.

Two other novels I read this winter are included in my “local reads.” One, In Open Spaces by Russell Rowland of Billings, is a tale of family strength and turmoil in the wide rolling prairie of southeastern Montana in the early nineteen hundreds. I grew up on stories of my dad’s younger years in the 30s and 40s driving mail and freight on the back roads of southeast Montana. I remember the look of pride and excitement in my father’s eyes when he told of being sent to Detroit at the age of eighteen in 1936 to pick up a new truck for his dad. The seemingly endless dry years also brought me back to my move to Wolf Point during the drought of the 80's, when pockets were tight, tempers short, yet hope for the rains to come and better days, always on the horizon. I look forward to reading Russell’s newest book, Fifty-Six Counties, on one of my long plane rides this spring.

Second, I had the opportunity to read Spokane’s Kris Dinnison’s (my delightful co-panelist at the 2015 Montana Book Festival) young adult novel, You and Me and Him. This is a tale that portrays the angst of young love within the arc of friendship and loyalty. Lastly, I finally read the multi-faceted story of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, definitely an engaging tale.

Enough for now. Happy reading and creating. Have a delightful start to summer...By the way it is snowing right now...a tree snapping snow for May 10th...but...just wait...there are better days ahead...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Winter Reading from Bozeman’s Children’s Authors

This is a wonderful time of year to snuggle up with your kids, grandkids or just yourself and immerse yourselves in a good book. As a writer, it is also a great time to create, dream and explore new avenues.

Bozeman has several children’s authors whose 2015 Book Launch Party pages are posted on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) website ( You are invited to visit these pages to discover more about the authors, their books, and their preferred points of sale. If you click on their names and book titles, you will be taken directly to their personal Book Launch Party Page.

The first author and book I would like to introduce you to is, Jack Day’s, Gramma and Granpa’s Adventures in Yellowstone National Park, illustrated by Ruth Toth. This fun, creative story about a trip through Yellowstone Park is a beautifully illustrated chapter book that also includes coloring pages. Jack Day moved to Bozeman forty years ago, was a founder of the city youth soccer program, president of the Friends of Montana Public Television and the Intermountain Opera Association. His first published book was Gramma and Granpa and the Three Bears.

The next featured Launch Party page is for Kent Davis, author of A Riddle in Ruby. This middle grade novel is packed with adventure, daring heroes and alchemic automatons.  This book is a fast paced, lively story about a “thief in training, a pirate’s daughter, living in a world ruled by alchemists who mix magic and science.” Kent Davis is not only a writer, but an actor, game designer and teacher at Montana State University.

This next Launch Party page is for a soon-to-be-released middle grade novel by Janet Fox, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle. This novel, a historical fantasy set in Scotland is Janet Fox’s fifth book. It will be released in March 2016 and is available for preorder. Her previous titles include Getting Organized Without Losing It (2006), and the young adult novels, Faithful (2010), Forgiven (2011) and Sirens (2012). Janet is a former high school English teacher and a graduate of the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has served as Montana’s SCBWI Regional Advisor and is active as a writing workshop teacher and leader.

The last Launch Party page featured is for my own young adult novel, We Are the Warriors by Theresa Nichols Schuster, a 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Award Finalist for the West Region. This novel, set on a fictitious Montana Indian reservation, is the story of Blake Newman, a high school junior who moves to a reservation when his dad is hired as school principal. Blake is forced to face his fears, prejudices and even his deepening love, within a culture different from his own. Theresa lived for thirty years in Wolf Point on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation. Her business, TNS Services, provided health education and promotion, for communities, schools and families in northeast Montana.

Stay warm, enjoy a good read and watch the snow fall!