A Peek into your Life-- Teresa Cypher

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

Teresa is not only a great blogger, she's a warrior. And well, I love warriors. I find her posts not only inspiriting but they motivate me to get out and write. Check our her blog, Dreamers, lovers, and Star Voyagers to see for yourself how talented this woman is! We met when she stopped by my blog way back in 2011. We've shared a few laughs over the years, and now a few tears.

Welcome, Teresa!
So how did you become a blogger?
Back in 2006, I joined a Q&A forum. I read comments left by others about their blogs. I didn’t even know what a blog was. So I investigated. The blogs were called livespaces and they were powered by MSN. That’s where I cut my virtual blogging teeth. It was fun, and I found friends aka followers pretty fast. Some of them are still on my followers list and vice versa.

Looking back, I have to smile at that experience. What it was when viewed through the simplifying rearview mirror was a bunch of bumbling, late-middle-agers working together to figure out a new technology. When one of us learned something, we all did. I still recall the thrill of adding music to my blog, and a guestbook. We did okay for old folks. ~Laughing~
That's awesome! We didn't even have Internet around here in 2006. lol.

What rewards have you found from running such an intriguing and diverse blog?
I'm still so glad I jumped into blogging—head first. It is such a marvelous thing. The best part has been the people. Incredibly talented writers, creators of stories, crafts, and advice. But more than anything, it’s how the people all reach out to each other, offering support, virtual hugs, a pat on the back or a kick on the behind when others desperately need one. I’ve had low days when a comment on my latest post just lifted me right up. And I like to think I’ve done that for others upon occasion.

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a novel titled Across the Night Sky. It’s a SciFi Romance. One day in 2005, the writing bug hit me hard. I’d written poetry before, but never fiction, let alone a novel. Yet…there I was. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but was still unsure about how to write it. I talked with my daughter who has a BA in English—I’m running on high school English classes. My main boggle—that I didn’t identify until months later, was that I was falling back on “How to write a research paper.” It’s okay. You can laugh. I do. (lol). It was what my formal education had taught me. We’d never even covered short story writing or fiction at all. Sad, huh?

Back to my boggle: It was half POV, and half fiction vs. research. Yikes! I know. So how on Earth did I EVER manage to write a book? I asked my daughter this: “Should I write it so that the readers know what the character is feeling, thinking, doing?” In retrospect, I think I was asking if I should step back and tell the story in a clinical, detached sort of way, or should I wade into it, emotions and all—because it could get messy. My daughter made it genius-simple for me. Her answer, “If you don’t empathize with the characters, the reader never will.”

The rest is history. Four months later I was writing the final lines in a 700 page, tear-jerking tome.

My mom loved it. She kept asking me when I was getting it published. ~laughing again~. She thought the sender of the first form rejection letter was completely off his rocker. (He wasn’t). It was so far from being ready to be published. This October will mark 10 years since I started penning that book. It had so many problems that if I hadn’t promised my mom I’d get it published, I would have walked away from it.

My mom was admitted to the hospital in Oct 2010 with trouble breathing. She turned 83 the day she was admitted. The last time I spoke with her was a few days later, I was leaving her hospital room after visiting her. I’d almost reached the door when she asked, “So, what all is involved in this publishing process? Because I am getting a copy of the book for Christmas, right?” (I’d decided to pay to have a couple of copies printed as the book stood—so she’d stop heckling me about getting it published).
The question stopped my exit. I turned around and went back to my chair beside her bed. And I delved into what was involved with self-publishing. She really loved the story—and I’d written two more books in the series—for her. I never really thought they’d see publication.

The really important thing about that question she asked me was that I spent 20 more minutes with my mom. And I got to hug her and tell her one more time, “I love you mom.” And that I’d see her soon.

She had a massive heart attack while still in the hospital. Her DNR never made it to her chart. They resuscitated her, sort of. She never
fully came back. On her best day, she was childlike. But she couldn’t swallow, and her stomach rejected the liquid through the feeding tube, and then she’d try to throw up, but she couldn’t swallow and she’d end up choking and struggling. And she had intense pain and…and… Her kidneys failed. They put in a port for dialysis. Two days later the port failed…

We stopped all aggressive treatment.

She went into hospice. My daughter and I took the night shift, keeping vigil at her bedside. During the day, I hastily typed the ending to the series and I read it to her while she lay wordless, expressionless, dying one moment at a time. For ten days… And I promised her, again, through tears, that I’d get it published for her.

And that’s it. The book I’m working on. The book I’ve been working on since I finished writing it. I really think it’s getting close. For my mom. I don’t know where my writing will go after I get this one out there. But the journey has been incredible.

And you know what got me this far? Other writers. Writers I’ve discovered through my blog, through Twitter, Facebook, and weekly writing memes. They’ve offered endless advice, crits, and encouragement. So, back to the answer about the best thing to come out of running a blog. All the people I’ve met.
I am a tough cookie to get crying, but I have to admit to a few tears on this answer.

What book would you recommend as "this is a book every writer should read”?
Definitely, Stephen King’s “On Writing”.
Loved it.

Do you over-write or under-write
Ha! Can’t you tell from these answers, Tanya. I’m long-winded, so I lean toward overwriting. I’m trying to cure it. I do better now. A professional editor who read ATNS as a favor to a friend of mine commented that there was some overwriting.

What amazes you about being a writer?
There’s nothing remarkable about me. But when I tell people I’ve written a book, they all think I’m semi-famous, or my life has suddenly become incredibly interesting to them. And I find that kind of fascinating. Has your experience been anything similar, Tanya? I live in a world where I don’t actually know any writers. My husband tells me that just finishing writing a book—even if it’s never published, is amazing.
I know what it means to work on a book for ten years. You are remarkable to me. As for how others see us... we'll talk. lol. I have stories.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my children. I think all three of them are good human beings. I think they’re kind to other people. Nothing can top that…

What one thing did you learn that you wish to pass on to other parents? Or writers? Or adventurers? or star voyagers? Almost everyone will offer advice to you. Take it all with a grain of salt. But be grateful for every bit shared. It comes well-intended, even if it won’t work for you. That goes for writers, parents, and adventurers. Other star voyagers? The sky isn’t the limit. It’s endless. It’s a dicey place. Keep your ray-gun primed and your dagger sharp. Never offer your hand for a handshake--you could end up missing fingers. And when you’re tempted to give a big, old, human smile, remember that in some alien cultures, baring your teeth is a challenge—a risky one.

Ha! Thanks for such an emotional peek into your life! I am SOOOOO happy you stopped by!


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Good interview. I enjoyed learning getting to know Teresa better. She certainly is as helpful as those she admires. I've always enjoyed her insights and positive attitude. My condolences for the loss of your mother, Teresa. You were certainly there for her during her last days in ways the made her passage easier. I agree that blogging is a wonderful way to connect with meaningful friends that support your endeavors. You certainly have supported mine. Best of luck with Across the Night Sky.

Richard Hughes said...

I enjoyed hearing her story. Like so many of us, it takes so long to write a book that we undergo a variety of events during the time it takes, and we have to endure through it all and keep on writing.

marsy said...

Wonderful interview Teresa. You know I am patiently waiting for my autographed 1st edition. Love you my talented, country bumpkin friend.

Teresa Cypher said...

Oh boy--I've tried posting replies, and they are now lost...somewhere in the nether-web. :-) Somewhere along the line there might be double or even triple comments back to you lovely people, Elizabeth, Richard, and Marsy! Let me try one more time.

Elizabeth, your kind words humble me. Writing is such a pleasant pursuit, and then we get to the business side of it. It's such a blessing to have had so much help along the way from other writers. And you're one of those very generous writers.

And thank you. I miss my mom everyday...

Richard, the trials of life... they all add a richness--albeit often a bittersweet one to our characters. And in my most humble opinion, makes us more able to empathize with others. Incredible, as writers, it makes us more able to emotionally connect with readers. Do you think? :-)

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, read, and comment. :-)

Marsy! How good to see you here, my friend. You most certainly will get an autographed copy. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. :-)

Teresa Cypher said...

Tanya, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my story. :-) I think if we two ever got together, we'd be unstoppable gabby-gusses. And I think our ribs would ache form laughing. Thank you again. <3

Teresa Cypher said...

You know I meant "...would ache 'from' laughing." right? :-D

Anonymous said...

This was such a personal interview that I feel like I was chatting with Teresa instead of reading. Your mom's passing was tragic and I'm so sorry for your loss. When you described the twenty extra minutes you had with her, tears came to my eyes. You were so blessed. Wishing you success with this novel.

Teresa Cypher said...

Catherine, I don't know how I missed your kind comment! Thank you. It's hard to move forward after losing your biggest fan. :-)

Thank you so much for your kind wishes, and for taking the time to read and to comment! :-)