Linda Rhinehart Neas self-published her first written work at the age of seven on the cardboard she gathered from her dad's shirts after they came back from the laundry. Since then, she has written extensively in various venues. She holds an M. Ed. from the University of Massachusetts in Reading and Writing. Her work has been published and performed throughout New England. Gaining inspiration from her four daughters and three granddaughters, she has calculated that she will run dry of ideas for writing sometime in the next millennium. Her first full collection of poems, Winter of the Soul, was published in 2008. Next to writing, teaching is her second passion. Presently, she is working on a book of poetry, essays and memoirs on teaching and two children's books.
Linda is also an ambassador for Possible Dreams International, which is a non-profit grass roots organization that helps communities and families in poverty.
Find out more about Linda by visiting her websites:
Blog: Words from the Heart: http://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/
Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered By Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered is the culmination of a month long challenge to write a poem a day. When the author took the challenge, she was determined to write about the people and land that had touched her so deeply.
This book of poetry is inspired by the people of Swaziland and the work of Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke, an Australian physician and poet who spends time working with the people of Swaziland. The poems illustrate the poverty and need in Swaziland but also the love and dignity of this family oriented culture.
All of the profits of this book will go to Possible Dreams International to help the peoples of Swaziland. You can preview and purchase the book here: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1321608 (Genre: Poetry)
Swaziland has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the world--42% of the population are infected with HIV. 70% of the population live on less than one dollar a day. 10% of the population are orphaned children trying to survive without food, shelter or guidance.
Through community and homestead/family based projects Possible Dreams International, Inc aims to bring concrete change into those lives affected by the HIV pandemic, extreme poverty, malnutrition and endemic disease. You can find out more about the non-profit organization here: http://possibledreamsinternational.org/
Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Linda Rhinehart Neas's book Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment.
Interview by Jodi Webb
WOW: Welcome, Linda! We're thrilled to be launching your blog tour today for a good cause. I am always in awe of poets since I didn't seem to have that lyrical gene. When did you start writing poetry?
Linda: I wrote my first poem when I was ten years old. It was a little four-liner:
My baby brother's name is Matty
and he is such a little fatty
when it is time to go to bed
he laughs and laughs and shakes his head.
and he is such a little fatty
when it is time to go to bed
he laughs and laughs and shakes his head.
It was entered into The Hornbook contest by our local librarian. Unfortunately, I didn't get published then. I had some poems published in local newsletters and such, but I published my first complete book of poems myself. Winter of the Soul is a journey through life and love...love found, lost, and found again. It is also about healing and finding a voice to talk about pain and heartache.
WOW: You were more lyrical at age ten than I am at...well, we won't get into that. Do you have a favorite poet or style of poetry?
Linda: I love poetry--period--everything from Robert Frost to e. e. cummings; from Emily Dickenson to Kay Starbuck; from epics like Agamemnon to the ballads of Robert Service and the haiku of Basho.
While I have tried various styles, I prefer to write in free verse. I also enjoy writing memoirs and short stories.
WOW: Gogo's Dream is an unusual book since it's also a fundraiser for the organization Possible Dreams International. Can you tell us a little about the work of Possible Dreams and how you became involved with them?
Linda: Wonderful question! Possible Dreams International (PDI) is a non-profit organization started by two doctors who have been going to Swaziland for several years. The organization sprang out of the need to coordinate efforts by a growing group of people from around the world who have learned of the plight of the peoples of Swaziland.
PDI is dedicated to empowering the communities they work with in order to break the cycles of sickness and poverty. What touched me the most, having four granddaughters and a grandson expected in September, was the stories of grandmothers or "Gogos" in Swaziland, who are raising their grandchildren in abject poverty because the Gogos' children (mothers and fathers of the grandchildren) have died or are dying of AIDS. I can't imagine the heartache they must suffer.
I first learned of the Gogos from Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke, or Dr. M. as he is fondly called, through a writing site called Inspiration Peak. I read several of his poems, which touched me deeply. His poetry brought me to his website Soaring Impulse where he chronicled his journey to Swaziland. That was over three years ago, and the rest is history.
WOW: What an amazing story. Now tell us which came first: the idea to raise money for Swaziland or the poetry?
Linda: The poetry was first. I was participating in the Poem-a-day Challenge last year. [WOW Editor's note: The Poem a Day Challenge is held in April and November at the Writer's Digest blog Poetic Asides.] The suggestion by the facilitator was to try and have a theme run through the poems so that they could then be put into a chapbook.
PDI had just been established. As an ambassador, I was trying to come up with innovative ways to fundraise. My church held a coffeehouse, which brought folks in the community together for a fun evening of fellowship and music/poetry. I wanted to do more. When the challenge came to write poems thematically, Swaziland and the Gogos sprang to my mind immediately.
Creating Gogo's Dream as a fundraiser came after a trip to the local living history museum. They had a book for sale created by a local artist with all the profits going to the museum. It sounded like a great idea because it was a give-give situation. The people buying the book get something that they will enjoy and PDI will get funds that will help so many.
WOW: What a great idea! I'm guessing many of our readers are out there thinking, Hey, my fill-in-the-blank could do that to raise funds. From your experience, do you think books can be a profitable fundraiser for organizations?
Linda: I think that if one can publish a book inexpensively like I did with Blurb.com, then it can be an excellent fundraiser. However, publishing a book can be costly if done the traditional way; therefore, the profits are not all that great. With my book, almost half the cost of the book goes directly to PDI.
Another benefit of self-publishing with a print-on-demand company is that the author doesn't need to pre-purchase the books.
WOW: How are you marketing your book? Through the Possible Dreams website?
Linda: I am marketing through as many means as I can find. It is on my blog; I mention it on my Facebook page as often as I can; there is a link on the PDI website; I have contacted all my relatives and friends; done readings and now the blog tour.
I have yet to contact the media, but hope to send out news releases by the end of the month.
WOW: It's such an interesting story. I think I'll be mentioning it on my Facebook page also! Tell us what you're working on next.
Linda: I am currently working on two children's books. One is a learning tool for teaching children about social justice issues; the other is a historic story book. The historic book is centered around a huge grandmother tree that is the pride of one of the towns near to where I live. The idea I have is to write the book from the perspective of the tree...what has she seen over 100 years...what makes her happy...what makes her sad. I want to incorporate some of the local history from the last 100 years or so. It will be a picture book.
WOW: I love the idea of the tree as a witness to history. A university in my area has a tree where students have been carving names, initials, and images for almost a hundred years. The tree has to come down and the university is going to preserve the sections of the tree with student carvings.
Thank you so much, Linda, for chatting with us today! You are an inspiration!
Want to join Linda on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.
Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!
June 7, 2010 Monday
Linda will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. One lucky commenter will win a copy of her book!
June 8, 2010 Tuesday
Linda Neas, author of Gogo's Dream, stops by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog The Write Spot to tell us about her journey to publication and the choices she made.
June 10, 2010 Thursday
Andi Fischer has some questions about poetry and Swaziland for Linda Rhinehart Neas, author of Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered.
June 11, 2010 Friday
Why do we need poetry in our life? Linda Neas stops by Sara Hodon's blog to answer that question and introduce us to Swaziland, the place that inspired her book of poetry.
June 14, 2010 Monday
Blogs are for more than just talking. Linda Neas stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog Writers Inspired to tell us how blogs can also educate. You can also enter to win a copy of Gogo's Dream, Linda's book of poetry inspired by the people of Swaziland.
June 15, 2010 Tuesday
Don't miss today's interview with Linda Rhinehart Neas at ChefDruck, a wonderful food and travel blog.
June 17, 2010 Thursday
Stop by Mom-e-Centric today for a visit from Linda Neas: poet, philanthropist, grandmother and author of Gogo's Dream.
June 21, 2010 Monday
Today Margo L. Dill has a guest blogger, Linda Neas, to share the life of the women of Swaziland with you. You can also enter to win Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered!
June 22, 2010 Tuesday
Linda stops by Write for a Reader to contribute to their "Because of a Book" column and shares how reading and writing have influenced her life.
To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.
If you have a blog or website and would like to host Linda Rhinehart Neas or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: email@example.com
And be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Linda Rhinehart Neas' book of poetry Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!