Sundays at Red Path — Tamsen Butler

Seward, Nebraska, January 15, 2017: Red Path owner, Jeanne Wiemer and Nebraska Writers Guild member, Gina Barlean, have partnered to bring three great things together to make a year’s worth of events: The Red Path Gallery & Tasting Room, The Nebraska Writers Guild, and Nebraska Authors!

This will be a monthly event throughout 2017, on the third Sunday of each month (except for Easter and Father’s Day, in which the event will be on the following Sunday.) Each of these Sunday NWG Author events will begin at 1:30pm with a half hour reception where you can buy something to drink from the Red Path Gallery while you mingle with friends and meet the author who will be speaking. The author (and on some Sundays, two authors) will speak from 2pm to 3pm. There is no charge to attend these events.

About The Red Path Gallery, and Nebraska Writers Guild: Red Path Gallery & Tasting Room is located on the Historic Downtown Square in Seward, Nebraska.  Built as a bank in 1886, the space was converted in 1951 into a law firm – the oldest in Nebraska. Through a labor of love, original architectural features were uncovered, and the historic building was renovated and transformed into an art gallery and wine tasting room. The Nebraska Writers Guild was founded in 1925; its charter members included Bess Streeter Aldrich, Mari Sandoz, and Willa Cather. Today’s NWG members represent a lively cross-section of Nebraska life. Guild activities center on two annual conferences. Novelists and historians, poets and journalists, agents and publishers, screenwriter, editors and columnists ­ all have shared their insights on the art (and business) of writing at these conferences.

If you enjoy art, a nice glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage, are looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, love to read and learn about new authors, wish to support the arts in Nebraska, or just want to learn more about the Nebraska Writers Guild… please come!

This is the poster for the first event. Our NWG author will be Tamsen Butler of Omaha. She’s funny, smart, and a great speaker. She teaches about public speaking, using humor in public speaking, and is proof that one can recover from a stroke and continue a very full life! Tamsen’s writing career focuses on financial help books, which will be available for sale. Please visit Tamsen’s website at


If you’re a writer, what’s the one thing you want more than anything? A big fat royalty check? Fame? Jet-set lifestyle? A cameo in the movie made from your book? Well. Not me. And I don’t think most writers actually want that. They may think they do, but so often we dangle a carrot of material things in front of us when what we’re really looking for is something closer to the soul.

Writers want readers. (And the nitty-gritty, honest truth is, writers want acceptance.) All artists want someone to look at their work and nod with a smile. Say, “Yeah… I get that.”

So, if writers want readers, one of the tried and true ways to achieve that is by giving your work away. It’s nothing new. Some writers give away print books at book signings, or on websites like Goodreads. Writers often charge nothing to speak at events for the opportunity to sell some books. Just about every business offers freebies to get you in the door, and writers are business people, too.

In that vein, I’m offering a book free today because I want more readers. I want people who will read my work and say, “Yeah… I get that!” People who will then go ahead and buy a few more of my books because they enjoyed the free book I gave them. People who will leave a good review on Amazon!

Today I offer my book, Dark Works. FOR FREE!! I’ve renamed one of my books (previously titled, The Scary Things) and put a shiny new cover on it. I love this collection of short horror stories. (Halloween is just around the corner, you know!) Every one of these terrifying tales give me a twisted grin. Maybe you’ll feel the same. And maybe you’ll read them and decide you’d like to give all of my books a shot. Even decide to pay for a few! I hope so, because what I want most is readers!

A Veritable Smorgasbord

Here are the goofy things I’ve brain juggled today. Consider it a veritable 513152_origsmorgasbord. Here’s Templeton’s song from Wilbur to whet your appetite.

My dad used to call young guys, Butch. Not all of them. It was sort of balinghis compliment to a teenager who seemed like a tough looking fella. I suppose it was his verbal pat on the back to another alpha-type. I don’t know if he called my brother that when he was young, but I do know when Dad hired teenage guys to help lay pipe or bale hay, he usually nicknames at least one of them Butch. I only know this because I also went along on those work days. I drove the tractor when laying pipe, and I really don’t remember what in the heck I was doing when we were baling. I couldn’t have thrown the bales, and I doubt I drove the tractor. Maybe I just tagged along to watch the high school boy’s muscles flex… although I really don’t remember having crushes on any of the boys he hired. They all just looked greasy and dirty to me.

Speaking of greasy and dirty, I just finished reading Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. Geeze. I had no idea THAT was coming. Such pathetic… everything… I couldn’t even pull myself away—it reginald_marsh_tobacco_road_d5534149hwas like watching the proverbial train wreck. I’m not judging it because there are plenty of people out there doing so and have been for many a year. I am saying, he painted a fine picture of depravity using some unique tools from his writing tool box. It’s written like the author was simple-minded (one of the tools he used.) As a writer, I kept wanting to rewrite redundant sentences. Then at the end of the book, Caldwell’s true writing voice shows up to give the reader the denouement. In the end, I have to say, I kind of weirdly liked the book, but I also really hated it. Yet it had some kind of peculiar effect on me. It’s like eating raw oysters (which I adore.) While you’re eating them, they are so darned good in such a funky stinky kind of way, and as long as you don’t stop to think about how slimy they are, or that they were alive a moment earlier, you can enjoy them. But reading that book was almost like a shameful thing. Like admitting you read the most craptastic, bodice-ripping romance novels, or vampire porn, or, GASP… that you don’t read books at all!!! Here’s another earwig for you. Tobacco Road.

IMG_1874Where else did my mind roam today? To my baby kittens who are growing so fast. Their names are Smudge (The tan one) and O’Mally (The yellow one). Both boys. Very rough and tumble and just darn fun to watch play. Smudge may turn into Pudge soon, as he’s so fat he makes a thump when he does a somersault over his brother and lands hard on the ground. O’Mally tends to cry right before he goes to sleep, just like a toddler fighting a nap. I love them to death, but what in the hell was I thinking! Two brawling male cats in the house! This can NOT turn out well. I’ll keep you posted.

Writers Helping Writers

Last Saturday, my good friend Victorine Lieske and I had the opportunity to speak to the Omaha chapter of the National League of Pen Women. They bought us lunch, we met some very nice women and saw a couple of friends from other writing connections we have. And, as always with writers, we had good conversation and plenty of laughs. You can read all about the history of the National League of American Pen Women at their website:

I love speaking at events with Victorine because she’s a writing, marketing, ebook guru known all over the country. She sells books in her sleep! So, it’s pretty cool she lets me come along and share the floor.

I know not to talk about writing or marketing because I’m just a beginner learning the ropes. But I can talk about the importance of critique to work a book and make yourself accountable to your readers. I can also talk about networking.

Here’s what Connie Spittler, the group’s current president, had to say about my portion of the program. “Gina Barlean’s main and best points. As friends, we can give each other free publicity.” It’s a simple premise. Just common sense—one thing this country girl has, at least on occasion. I like to break things down into language we can all embrace. I try to do that in my book, Build a Writing Team. In that book, I talk about networking. It’s a word that can simply translate into, be a friend to each other.

  • I’ll promote you and you promote me.
  • I’ll support you, you support me.
  • I’ll help you and you help me.

Sorry to take the mystery out of it. If you want people to help you out, help them out. If you want people to be nice to you, be nice to them. Let’s combine our talents and see where it takes us.

What I pointed out to the NLPW was that women already have this skill perfected. Those who are successful do this for each other from the time they’re very young. They rally behind each other and build each other up. So I thought it was pretty neat to find out the organization’s original goal was,“mutual aid, advice, and future development” for each other and their careers. 

Interestingly enough, the Nebraska Writers Guild also had women writers of the era—Aldrich, Cather, Sandoz. And their history is quoted to say among their goals was, “…to foster the development of the talent of those who desire to write and who show definite possibilities of authorship.” Similar era, similar women, similar thoughts. Pretty cool, I think. Essentially, they encourage women authors to help each other out, and to support and give advice to other writers.

I guess our foremothers had this networking thing figured out long before we ever did. It’s true. There really is nothing new under the sun. Funny, though, how our world wants to put new names and spins on what the past already knew so well.

Tell Me About Your Book

I hear this all the time:

“Tell me about your book!!”

  • First of all, I’m a writer because I’m not really very good at summing things up quickly. I need about 50,000 words to make a point.
  • Secondly, I’m writer because I don’t really like to talk.
  • Although I have ideas to express, the notion of people looking at me while I express them, makes me panic.
  • But there’s another really good reason it’s difficult for a writer to give a short description about their books. It’s because an author’s book is like their baby.
  • If someone were to ask a parent to sum up everything about their child in a few minutes, the parent would probably have a hard time encapsulating the entire personality and character of their son or daughter.
  • The kind of things a parent or author might say if they were pressed are, “They’re nice! They have a big heart! They’re smart!”
  • But unlike parents of actual children, Authors want you to buy their babies.

So this idea of a book being an author’s baby will help me explain the writing process, which is another question I often hear: “How do you write a book?”

First comes the gestation period which all happens in our minds:

  • The author comes up with the idea for a book.
  • We think about who the characters will be.
  • We come up with the issue the characters will need to solve.
  • We decide where the story will take place.
  • Then, just like giving birth to a baby, we birth our books.
  • The difference is the delivery process is the actual writing the book.
  • When we finish the book, it’s like the first time we hold our new baby. We love it, and stare at it, and think it’s wonderful and amazing, and a miracle.
  • But we don’t really see our baby like other people see it. We love our baby no matter what.
  • But a relative might come over to see the baby and leave thinking, “That’s a funny looking baby!” or “Man, that baby is fussy!” or “I can’t believe they let that baby have a pacifier.”
  • So although you love that baby like only a parent can, you have to step back and raise it properly.
  • It’s the same with a book. We have to see our story through the eyes of many readers to make sure it makes sense.
  • We need to answer questions like, does it flow, is it believable, is it well written and properly formatted, is the cover the best it can be?
  • I’ve learned it takes teamwork to make a great book.
  • Critique groups, and beta readers, editors, and cover designers.
  • When the book can pass all of these stages, just like a young adult passes all of their classes in high school, then the book can then go to college — the editor, then on to the real world — the reading public.

 One important thing I’ve learned is, The time to publish a book is not when it’s done, but when it’s GOOD! I’m still working on making the next book in the Rosewood series good enough to join the real world. Thanks for your patience.

I’m still working on making the next book in the Rosewood series good enough to join the real world. Thanks for your patience.

Platte River Sampler


If you go to this URL: , it will take you to the website for the radio station, KZUM, a non-commercial, non-profit, listener sponsored community radio station.  You’ll find it at 89.3 MHz on the FM band. KZUM features an evening radio program called, “The Platte River Sampler.” It offers writings and readings from the state of Nebraska, and it airs every Thursday, 6-7 p.m. You’ll hear everything from original prose, poetry, drama, songwriting and more, all from Nebraska and often delivered by the authors themselves.

If you go to the website you’ll find out Nebraska artists can submit your own works. I submitted a beginning portion of my book Thorns of Rosewood, and last night it aired. It was quite a bit of fun hearing someone read my words, and although it made me nervous, I will say it was also fun to be interviewed. I don’t think I sounded like too much of a goofball, so I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

Here is the MP3 of the actual story. It takes 11:20 minutes to listen to and I will say, it’s been cut and doesn’t read exactly as my book reads. You’ll get the general idea of the story, though.

Below is the MP3 of the interview. This has also been cut and only takes 3:28 minutes to listen to. I am thankful to KZUM for eliminating all the drivel and making me sound like a relatively normal human being.

Enjoy listening, and enter your own short works if you’ve a mind to. It’s free and it’s painless. Support the arts in Nebraska! Thank you KZUM for what you offer writers of all varieties!

Oh! And if you want to buy Thorns of Rosewood, that would be cool. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and more if you would be so kind! Thorns of Rosewood is now .99 cents. Book 2, Flames of Rosewood will be coming out in March!