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Award Winning Ozarks Author

I decided that on my 86th birthday I would like to jot down some of my feelings regarding the life I've led as a writer. I began this career around my 50th birthday when I met a man who would influence the remainder of my life before I'd even decided if I might go ahead and jump into the pool of hopefuls out there hoping to become writers.

Actually, there were two men, but let's go on from the beginning. Dusty Richards and I met at a meeting of Ozarks Creative Writers in 1985. We hit it off, I met his lovely wife and she and I became friends. Actually she and my husband began to visit while Dusty and I attended classes. They soon found they liked to read and this gave them something to discuss. Books. How nice that worked out for the four of us. Soon Dusty and I and a couple of other hopeful writers living in Fayetteville started a writer's group that attracted many hopefuls for as it turned out the only group here was for poetry.

Several years later, I walked into the office of a small rural newspaper in Washington County and was hired as a feature writer. Here comes the other man. The editor of that newspaper taught me so much and we became close. I guess since everyone who might be hurt by this is dead, yes, we loved each other. We never had an affair, though. He threw me a huge party when my first book was published by Penguin for Topaz and we spent a lot of time together when we could. Then he was gone, taken in the dark of night by surprise. 

So, here I am, still turning out books. Dusty was killed in an accident, and I felt my best buddy was gone. He and I were like brother and sister, reading each other's minds when it came to writing. That's why you'll soon see several westerns with his and my name on them. I took over finishing some books and writing three more for his series.

I will continue writing Westerns now because they are short and I love the West and I'm getting too old to concentrate on the long books. My longest of which is Beyond the Moon. Some say it is my best. You be the judge, lovely reader. And thank you all for being that reader.

A Dreamcatcher used to capture bad dreams (Evil Dream Walkers) and hold them till dawn when they are released.

Legend of the Dreamcatcher from St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, SD:
Native Americans of the Great Plains believe the air is filled with both good and bad dreams. Historically, dreamcatchers were hung in the tipi or lodge and on a baby's cradle board.

According to legend, the good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn.

A Day at the Snake House chosen from 155 stories read in 2011 to be among the 57 published in The Best of Tales From the South Vol. VI. Soon as I get a cover I'll post it here along with a release date. This is a great honor.

That's me at the Fayetteville Public Library

This year the Ozarks Writers Live at the Fayetteville Public Library will present a full day of author presentations. From 9 to 5, authors will speak and answer questions. I will be on a panel with J.B. Hogan and Duke Pennell and we will discus the exploding E Book publishing market and other online publishing options for the new and experienced writers.

Other authors will be award winning short story author Pat Carr, poet Jo McDougall who has written a memoir, Larry Foley, a documentary film maker and several others.

The reading at National Public Radio in Little Rock, originally scheduled in February was cancelled due to blizzards, and has now been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at Starving Artist Cafe. The live readings will be broadcast Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. on npr.org. Programs are also archived so you don't have to listen live.
I'll read "A Day at the Snake House," about my first visit to the home of reticulated pythons, snakes 25-30 feet long and as large around as a human body. It was quite an experience and one I won't soon forget. Tune in, or if you're going to be in the area, reserve a seat for the live reading at starvingartistcafe.net.

STEPPING INTO EBOOKS - Prior to launching my backlist historical romance novels into the ebook scene, I've decided to upload some of my short stories as a way to practice the formatting and book cover creation. This one is my first and I've kept the cover simple so as to learn as I go. If you like my short stories here, and this one contains a bonus short-short, also a Civil War story, let me know and continue to watch for more of my ebooks in the future.
I now have two more ebooks on Smashwords for a total of six of my short stories. These can be purchased for download to an ereader or your computer. To read if you don't have an ereader, simply download a Kindle for PC free program from Amazon and you can then download ebooks to your computer that are available through Kindle, as these are at Smashwords.
This is a new and exciting venue for authors and readers, so take a look and let me know what you think. You may read 20% of each ebook free to see if it's something you might like to purchase. Check out my blogs and Facebook author page for more information.

First ebook of short stories available at smashwords.

Great News. After long consideration, I recently submitted two of my completed manuscripts to Ebook publishers. The time had come for me to step into this fascinating and fast growing electronic age.

Stone Heart's Woman, a western historical romance, was contracted by The Wild Rose Press, one of the fastest growing Ebook publishers today. A couple of weeks later, I signed a second contract with SynergEbooks, another large publisher of E- and print books. This one is for Wolf Song, a mainstream paranormal about shape-shifting in the wilds of Yellowstone Park in Wyoming.

Watch this space for an excerpt from each book just to whet your taste buds for more when the books come out. They will be available in all Ebook formats with the possibility of print formats at a later date.

To say I'm excited about this is putting it mildly. My next quest is to ready my backlist of western historical romances for release to Kindle. This will mean learning a lot more than I know about creating formatting. Since these books were released so long ago, I no longer have manuscripts, so will have to first have each book scanned Then I'll have to edit the scans for errors, then comes the hard part. Learning how to transfer them to Kindle and create a new cover. Help.

One online course gave me a brief taste, and I'll also attend a class at OWFI in May where I hope to learn much more about this. When next you see me, what little hair I have left that hasn't turned white will have done so. Elizabeth Gregg and Samantha Lee will ride off into the sunset and Velda Brotherton will take over the reins of those six books. That way my followers can find all my books under one name.

Keep in touch and I'll keep this page updated with the latest news about my new books and this scary new endeavor.

Author to appear on NPR Tales of the South
On February 8 at 7 p.m. Velda will read her southern true story, A Visit to the Snake House, on National Public Radio. The taping will be live from the Starving Artist Cafe, 411 N. Main St, North Little Rock, AR. To make reservations to attend, check out Starving Artist Cafe on Facebook.

This appearance was postponed because of 15 inches of snow in Northwest Arkansas. A new date will be set in March. Watch here for date and time.

Keep checking the events page for signings and other gatherings throughout October and November where I'll have copies of both my new books as well as a few previous ones.

Recently I received a call from DeeDee Lamb with the Washington County Historical Society here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She said that the board had decided to declare me a Distinguished Citizen.


This is quite an honor and I'm so grateful for it. On October 17 they will hold their annual meeting at which they honor the Distinguished Citizens. This year besides myself Hugh Kincaid of Fayetteville will also receive the award. I'm looking forward to this special celebration luncheon which will be held at Ella's in the Inn at Carnall Hall at the University of Arkansas.


They've asked me to speak about some of the historical stories I've uncovered over the years of writing for newspapers and turning out books. My family has been invited as well as plenty of writer friends who will support me during that special day.

To order a copy of my latest book, Arkansas Meals and Memories, please contact me. We are having temporary problems with ordering through Amazon. Scroll down to Email me, do not click and my address will come up along the bottom of the page.


Radine Trees Nehring and Velda at Books in Bloom

A stormy day put us on the veranda of the historic old Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There we greeted crowds of people when the clouds cleared presenting a beautiful day and a picturesque view of the Ozarks. We signed with many writers including Nevada Barr and Steve Berry, so we were in good company and everyone had a grand time.

The workshop was a huge success and many went away determined to finish writing that book or article. The next workshop will be scheduled for a Saturday in September. Watch this space for the date and information on content.


Workshop Planned at Ozark Folkways
April 10, 2010, a group of 20 or so writers will again gather on top of the Boston Mountain in the Arkansas Ozarks for an all day workshop. I've been giving these for about seven years now, two a year and hosted by the wonderful folks at Ozark Folkways.


This year we'll work on Creative Characters. It won't be the first time I've emphasized characters as the main focus of good writing. Without sympathetic characters, from the protagonist to the villain, the best story in the world falls flat on its face.


The view as we work is out a bank of windows facing the hills that fold, one upon another to the blue-sky horizon. This time of the year they should be white with dogwood and splashed with the carmine blooms of redbud trees that grow everywhere in the Ozarks. Each year we hope they'll bloom at the same time, lacing the hills in nature's loveliest of cloaks.


Lunch is on your own. At noon we all journey a mile down the road to eat at Grandma's. Perched on the precipice of the ridge, this country restaurant offers some of the best cooking one can find in the Ozarks. The chocolate, coconut cream and varied selection of pies are baked on the premises. As the younger generation says, they are "to die for."


Here we share a huge table where we can look out on the view and visit, learning about each other and networking like mad. Then it's back to work to finish what we began in the gallery of Ozark Folkways. I think I enjoy these workshops as much as those who attend, and I know I learn something each time we get together.


The workshop costs $25 and if you wish to join us, you'd better hurry. There are only a few slots left. Limit is 20. Contact me and I can tell you where to send your check.

Author at Ozark Romance Authors

Once or twice a year I'm invited to speak to this super group of writers in Springfield, Missouri. Here I chose to talk about finding the defining moment of our lives to begin writing a memoir. This non linear style of writing is a bit more difficult, but adds spice and surprise for both the writer and reader. Photo by Cait London, fellow writer and friend who came to cheer me on.

Riding the backroads of time
Between January's ice storm and May's torrential rains my little SUV and I have spent many hours following the back roads in search of long forgotten settlements in the Boston Mountains. Thanks to friends and maps, several lost communities were recently located on paper. Now it remains to let the clay banks and dirt roads and low water bridges dry up. A 4-wheel drive will only do so much. As my hubby says, when you get buried to your eyeballs in mud, you ain't gonna go nowhere.

Still, I'm excited about tracing the routes to some of these old lost places. The biggest problem is the change of road names when 9-1-1 was established several years ago. All the old timers use the old names when telling me where something is, and I have to relate their directions to maps that have different names and numbers. Anyone who has ever wandered through the Ozarks off-road knows what I'm talking about.

I'm apt to hear, "You know where the old Gabriel place is?" Or, "You just go a couple of miles off the road at the top of the hill and there you are."

The Gabriels have been gone for several generations. Top of the hill? Which hill?

But, somehow I'm managing. It helps that I've wandered these hills for the past 25 years and sort of know what I'm doing. It doesn't help that I don't have a compass in my head. My gyrator doesn't work. I'll go the wrong way every time, given two choices.

But this book about the lost communities of the Boston Mountains is so dear to my heart and has been in the planning stages for so long, I will do what must be done, be it drive through creeks, hang on mountainsides, steer my way through the woods, to get the story. The stories, rather, that must be recorded and passed on before there's no one left who remembers who settled there, what they did, where they settled, when they came, why they came here, and how it all came to be. They are almost all gone, those folks who can remember their parents' and grandparents' stories.

The photo below was taken because a reader had found the old cemetery while walking through the woods, called me and asked if I'd like to see it. These are the opportunities I treasure, and they happen often. I urge the readers of my weekly column to share such finds or their family stories with me, and many of them do. We found a French couple's headstones and later I was able to find out a little about them. Stories like this will be in my new book about the lost communities of the Boston Mountains here in our Arkansas Ozarks.

It's such stories that need to be told. Dates are recorded somewhere, names as well, but so many stories about how they lived, worked, played, worshiped, and loved, will soon be lost. They cry out to be woven in time.

An abandoned cemetery deep in the woods

Two New Contracts

To my great delight, I've signed two new nonfiction contracts. While in San Antonio to pick up the WILLA finalist award, I met with the publisher of Old American Publishing. He was enthusiastic about my pitch for a book about the lost communities of the Boston Mountains here in our Arkansas Ozarks. I'd long wanted to see this in print, had written a few chapters, but hadn't found a publisher, till then. A few weeks later he sent a contract.

Just prior to traveling to San Antonio, I attended Ozark Creative Writer's Conference in Eureka Springs and was approached to do a book for a series, Meals and Memories of . . . We've since reached an agreement, and the book will be called Raised In The Boston Mountains:Ozark Meals and Memories

So two books about my beloved Boston Mountains, a place that is so ingrained in my heart and spirit I have no trouble internalizing emotions that speak of the remote and rugged terrain, the forests and rivers, the sky, trees and flowers.

My hope is to finish both books in time to see them published in the spring of 2010. It's quite a project to research, draft and interview for two books at one time. Mostly, I worry about confusing the entries, or repeating stories, which I do not want to do. I want each book to compliment but not repeat the other. Something I've never tried before.

Since I already have more old Ozark recipes than I need, I will share some of them over the months prior to publication here and on my blogs. Better that than let them go to waste.

Fly With The Mourning Dove is a WILLA finalist for 2008. The WILLA is a literary award, given in honor of Willa Cather, for outstanding books about women in the west. Each category has a winner and two finalists. Awards will be presented in San Antonio in October at the Women Writing the West Conference.

A native of Arkansas, Velda Brotherton has been writing for 23 years. Her first articles appeared in local newspapers, then she became features editor for a weekly paper near her hometown. Out of that grew a weekly historical article, Wandering The Ozarks, which she continues to write today for The White River Valley News in Elkins, Arkansas.

Her first non fiction book was published in April of 1994 and her first novel under the pen name of Elizabeth Gregg was published in October of that same year. She has a total of six novels and four non fiction books published. Recently, one of her early western historical romances, Images In Scarlet published under the pen name of Samantha Lee, was issued through the back-in-print program with Authors Guild and iUniverse. A total of eight of her short stories have been published in anthologies. Two more are upcoming. Four of her entries are online in the Arkansas Encyclopedia and one in Arkansas Biographies published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004 a documentary, Velda Brotherton: Living Among the Shadows of Time, about her efforts to preserve Ozark history, was filmed and shown at the Arkansas FilmFest and on AETN.

Brotherton is a member of Women Writing the West, Ozark Writers League, Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., Missouri Writers Guild and Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop. She helped begin a Friends of the Library organization in her small hometown and served as its president for three years. She speaks at conferences and holds writing workshops regionally. Velda is currently finishing two novels and a memoir of her nine years working for a small weekly newspaper.

The author lives in the Ozark National Forest in a home she designed and helped build. She and her husband have two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her favorite pastimes, other than writing, are family get-togethers, traveling, reading, swimming and enjoying the many flower gardens her husband cultivates.

"Writing has become a way of life for me," she says. "In this business I have met so many wonderful people and have made lasting friendships. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than with the characters who people my books and those who are engaged in this sometimes zany writing life."

The trip to San Antonio to pick up my 2008 finalist WILLA award took us in a roundabout way. We went to the San Luis valley in Colorado to visit Edna Hiller, the subject of my WILLA award winning book, then on to New Mexico for some fishing on the Red River, then headed for San Antonio, some 900 miles away.
The Women Writing the West Conference was a super experience. I served on two panels and attended both the luncheon where I received my award and the banquet where the winners received their awards.
On the way home we drove along the Gulf and took some time at Padre Island to enjoy the "near" ocean breezes. Then we drove home.
Signed a contract with one of the editors I met at the conference and am negotiating with another, so it was a worthwhile trip in more ways than one.