Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, THIS IS A MUST READ!

                                MEET THE AUTHOR, 
                  SIOUX ROSLAWSKI


        Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story 
Open the first link which takes you directly to website.

Sioux is a St. Louis middle school teacher, freelance writer, and member of several writing groups. She is a facilitator and consultant at St. Louis Gateway Writing project, part of the National Writing Project.

                                         Linda O’Connell’s book review:

Sioux Roslawski, created her middle grade, historical fiction novel, 
Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story, with grace. The saga of twelve-year-old Henry Simmons, published by Editor 9-1-1 is available NOW! This riveting, multi-layered story about family, race, and loss will appeal to adults as well.

 A true, horrific event took place on May 31, 1921, in Greenwood, Oklahoma. One hundred years have passed, and still, most Americans are unaware of the painful event that happened in the thriving, peaceful, Black-owned community of banks, businesses, residences, and churches. The area known as Black Wall Street flourished in the northern part of Tulsa.

Sioux Roslawski brings the gripping, and gut-wrenching details of shocking destruction to life through the eyes of twelve-year-old Henry Simmons.
A likeable protagonist, Henry, living a secure, happy life, has his sense of dignity, right and wrong challenged. A decent, young man with a loving family and good upbringing, he witnesses unbelievable horrors as he watches his community, the residents, and his life destroyed completely, the result of racial hatred.

Henry’s escape and adventures along the way are presented with highly-charged emotion, honesty, and a prophetic vision.

This haunting story is written with a keen eye and will keep readers engrossed until the last page. The ending made me sigh with satisfaction.

Welcome, Sioux. Congratulations on your debut novel. What inspired you to write Henry Simmons’ story?

Sioux Roslawski: Thanks so much, Linda. I attended a teachers’ national conference, and a presenter immersed us in a historical event that all the attendees in that full banquet hall were ignorant of---The Tulsa Race Massacre. It upset me that teachers didn’t know about it. It wasn’t being taught in U.S. history books, not even Oklahoma history books. That is when the kernel of an idea was formed---the idea that our country needed to stop sweeping these tragedies under the rug.

Please tell readers what your writing process was like. How long did it take to write Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story… from idea to publication? You mention that Henry helped write this story. Can you explain?

Sioux Roslawski: Five years ago, I sat down in front of a computer every school day in class during the month of November, and my students and I participated in NaNoWriMo---National Novel Writing Month.

I taught three English (writing) classes, so I had a little more than two hours every day to write--- surrounded by middle school students. However, I didn’t have a first draft finished that first school year. The next year, I finally finished it, and sort of a second draft.

The following year, I had it edited, and received such specific, spot-on feedback that I was able to rewrite it almost from scratch. The third draft was tight. It had tension and a plot that was engaging.

Did you plot your main character, or did you get to know Henry as you began to write?

I didn’t plot the story, unfortunately, so the first and second drafts stunk up the place. However, with the help of an editor I hired, the third draft really flowed.

And yes, I got to know Henry as the story unfolded. I didn’t write the story; Henry wrote the story. I don’t know how to explain it, because it’s never happened before, and I doubt ever will again. Things happened to Henry in the story. I didn’t plan, outline, or think of them. They just happened as I was typing.

For example, one character takes a bag on a dangerous trip, and everybody wants to know what’s in the bag. It is a great effort to take this bag. No matter what happens along the way, the character hangs onto the bag. A writer friend was reading a draft of my story and asked me to reveal what was in the bag. I didn’t know until months later when the character opened the bag, and I discovered the contents.

I don’t know if it just happened because so many voices have been silenced, and this one voice simply erupted, or if I channeled someone from 1921. I just know it was a weird and exhilarating ride…

Do you have a writing talisman, habit (for me it’s barefoot and a cup of tea), that you engage in as a writer?

Sioux Roslawski: I have a metal pig with wings that sat next to my desk. I bought it years ago, thinking I’d get a book published when pigs fly. Well now, I’m going to hang it from the ceiling, because pigs really can fly!

Do you have a favorite writer quote? Which authors inspire you?

Sioux Roslawski: I love the simplicity of Guy de Maupassant’s “Get black on white.” Get ink on paper. Get words down on the paper.

I love some of Stephen King’s novels. I adore Joe Hill’s writing (Stephen King’s son.)  I am in awe of Chuck Palahniuk, Sandra Dallas, Jodi Picoult, and Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Any tips or advice for writers?

Sioux Roslawski: Don’t give up. When I was feeling really low--- when I had sent out more than a hundred queries to agents and publishers, and nobody wanted to represent me or publish my manuscript--- I looked up some famous books that had been rejected many times. The Help, a book I love, was rejected sixty (60) times. What if Stockett had stopped there? It was her 61st query that snagged her a “yes.”

Sioux, is there any writing advice you would like to impart?

Sioux Roslawski: Go with your gut. I hired Margo Dill as an editor--I just had a feeling she’d do a great job, but she didn’t do a great job; she did a brilliant job! For me, small and personal is a good thing. Margo bends over backwards to showcase her authors, and every one of her decisions--- editing, choices, regarding the book cover--- are reflective and spot-on.  

One more thing about your writing routine.

Sioux Roslawski: I wish I could say I write every day. I wish I could say I have a routine, you know, like “I write every evening after dinner.” I don’t. Most of the time, I write in the early morning (4 or 5 AM) when I’m the only one up. It’s just me and the dog. Late in the evening works for me as well. However, what does keep me writing on a regular basis is my writing critique groups. If I haven’t written something, and we have a meeting coming up, I will definitely spend a few evenings drafting something. I don’t want to go to a meeting empty handed. If I did, I’d miss out on an opportunity to get feedback, and for me, that’s invaluable.

Thank you for sharing with readers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story. I believe your book should be required middle school and high school reading. Henry Simmons will remain with me for a very long time.



Pat Wahler said...

Congratulations to Sioux! This book sounds like a winner and is definitely relevant to today's world. Can't wait to read it. :-)

Susan said...

Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story sounds quite fascinating, Linda. Congratulations to Sioux for writing it! Suffice to say, I never heard about the Tulsa Race Massacre. Isn't that horrible that such a catastrophic event has not been brought to American classrooms? I'm glad Sioux chose that as the focal point of the book. Great interview, too. Susan

Hope Clark said...

Congratulations. Nice of you to being fiction and history together. Sounds like a wonderful story. Best of luck with it.

Margo Dill said...

Sioux is always singing my praises, but I want to say this book is amazing because of her. She stuck with it when I told her back when she hired me as a freelance editor that the whole thing had to be rewritten. I was kind of scared to tell her. You know she's a teacher, and her actual writing is SO GOOD. She is so talented, but she just hadn't channeled Henry yet. When she was brave enough to let him come to her, the story did take on a life of it's own. And I was honored that she allowed me to publish it when I was brave enough to finally put stories in the world that I believe in. I still cry at the end and not because I'm like: Oh geez I had to read this thing again? LOL It's because I am so touched each time. Thank you for spotlighting this remarkable author on your site!

DUTA said...

I was intrigued by the name Sioux; it's not a common private name,to my knowledge. I looked it up and it appears to be the name of a tribe and its language in Dakota.

Anyway, congratulations to Sioux Roslawski on the publishing of her first book, and many thanks to you, Linda for the interesting interview.


Congratulations, Sioux! Much continued success in 2021!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--Thank you so so so much for doing this. I am glad you and I have been writing colleagues for so long.

Some day, I will be doing something like this for your memoir. (nudge nudge)

Kim Lehnhoff said...


Great interview! I know you have always encouraged Sioux to keep going with her book. You knew she had a story worth telling.

I squealed when your book arrived the other day. I haven't started it yet (my bad), because I am conflicted. Shouldn't I be writing now, too? I am thrilled with your success and pleased that we get to give feedback to each other. And yes, you are an excellent nagger.

I'm starting your book tonight. Honest.

Mrs. Face said...

Excellent interview, Linda. And Sioux, your book sounds riveting. I really liked what you had to say about Henry telling the story and you allowing him to. What an incredible experience!

Dianna Graveman said...

Great interview! Sounds like an interesting book. Congrats to Sioux!

Linda O'Connell said...

TracBoy's post accidentally deleted: This books sounds wonderful, one I would share with my grandsons.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I've followed Sioux's journey with the book and she has been like a dog with a bone, never giving it up! I ordered it as soon as possible and am reading now--big congrats, Sioux!

Alice said...

Sioux, thanks for sharing your success story and your tips. As a writer, perseverance is a must. And Linda, great interview!

Val said...

Congratulations, Sioux! I was sure you would achieve publication, though not sure which vehicle would take you there. You are go-getter's go-getter! I am also a teacher ignorant of this historical event. I can't wait to read your book. Gotta find out what's in that bag!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thank you for the interview, Linda. Wonderful questions and great intro! :)

Congratulations, Sioux! I loved hearing more about your book's journey and how many drafts it took. It's special when a character takes over. Stephen King calls it "intuition," where the writer's job isn't to help the characters or manipulate them, it's to watch what happens by letting the character speak and writing it down. It's pure magic when that happens, and it sounds like Henry spoke through you. I just cracked Greenwood Gone and it's a riveting read and such an important story! So proud of you! :)