Interview with German William Cabassa Barber

German William Cabassa Barber

I’m happy to introduce German William Cabassa Barber. He is the author of “Cazadores de Libros Perdidos: EL DIARIO DE BETANCES” (Hunters of Lost Books: THE DIARY OF BETANCES”) soon to be published by Aignos Publishing. His literary energy seems inexhaustible. I’m looking forward to reading more by this very promising author!

What is your genre and your intended audience?

My genre in this book is adventure, and my audience is every one that wants to read a good book, but in the beginning it was my people, the Puerto Ricans, both young and old fellows, because the book can be enjoyed by both. The book was made also with the intention of bringing our literature to the level of Europe, without losing our identity. You know, to have our own “great saga” that inspires other Latin America fellows to create great stories with national elements, such as historical figures or places. Some people describe the book like “Indiana Jones meets The Ninth Gate set in Puerto Rico.” Other people say that is the most original piece of Literature that they have read. You will tell me.

What are you currently writing?

Well, that one is complex, I am writing many books and searching for a publisher for at least other twenty books, but to answer your question with a concrete answer I will tell you some titles: I am writing “La Transformación” (The Transformation) with my friend Carol Cruzado Roman, that novel tells the story of an FBI agent that awakens from amnesia from a one year coma after an assassination attempt that ended up in a horrifying car accident. He must now recover his life and search for one of the most successful assassins in the history of New York, called “The Invisible Man,” that for four years has been killing all the members of the Ruiz family in the state. The story is a garden of mysteries and lies that Andres (main character) must discover in order to survive and recover his true life and the love of his live. This book is based upon a dream of Cruzado.

Talking about dreams, another book that I am working on is “El Pacto con Hathor” (A PACT with HATHOR),this one is based upon a dream I had and tells the story of Seth and Geth, two half-brothers that are in love with the same girl back in the time of the Ancient Egypt. After the sudden death of the girl, one of them makes a pact with the Egyptian god of love to keep returning to life to find her in order to be happy, but his brother won`t stop at anything to possess what he desires.  He also make a pact but with a different deal. The story brings us from ancient Egypt passing through the centuries to the present times in which this story will end…for now.

I am also working on a novel about a Latter Day Saint New York Detective that has abandoned the church because he has fallen in love with a sensual schizophrenic girl called Tatiana. After all he does with her, that costs him to be excommunicated from the church, she leaves him and disappears for a year. When the detective is trying to go back to where he was, the girl returns and the crimes of a diabolical, but creative, assassin that calls himself, The Artist will change his plans and put the agent to the test one last time. This novel is called “El asesino que no podía dejar de reír” (The Murderer Who Couldn`t Stop laughing”)

Then I am writing a story for all my sons and daughters (I have my own private army, that`s a joke) about family values and a big sister trying to help his working mother raise the little ones, this is called “Hermana para dos” (“Sister for two” or alternatively Play it again, Sister”)

Also I am “finishing” or most precisely “Editing” or co-authoring, (who knows how to call it?)  my father`s only novel (he tells short stories that I later write) called “28 dias en el infierno” (28 days in Hell: a Christian Novel). This story is probably my favorite. It’s about a man that has lost faith and moves way from the church “losing” everything that God has once given him. An illness makes him search for all that he has once lost. This is kind of a traditional story, it’s like his own version of  “A Christmas Carol” because it has a powerful lesson at the end. Finally, a TRILOGY of novels for my beloved wife Sheila Marie Vega Veléz  this are called “El Amor duele” (Love Hurts), “La Beutishan” (The Beautician) and El diary Perdido (The Lost Diary) . I think that`s ok for now. Don`t want to get you bored.

When do you make time to write?

I work and study and have a wife and some very intelligent kids that need a lot from me. All of them are first, but frankly at any moment I am not with them, especially before going to sleep.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

Be more mature in my early novels and not trust everyone. But I am good with myself:  I do not use bad words and do not use only one style or writing about only one theme, in other worlds I like being “universal”.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

That`s more complex. I use e-mails, Facebook, and also YouTube, web pages, festivals that may fit with the theme, talking to professors and university. One of the things I like to do is to make trailers of the book that looks like movies. That`s fascinating for me. But the editorial also is important, they point the way.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

Yes, I was raised Latter Day Saint, and that make my characters kind of different but not perfect. They do not live in Utah and go to church every Sunday. They are imperfect characters that learn from the situations of life. They fall, they learn, they rise and they know when to walk way, like the Batman of Christopher Nolan. In this book, I deal a lot with political issues but I try not to torment the readers with it. The same with history, the book deal a lot with it, but is not a History Book. It’s a novel about an important historical Figure and is about kids recovering their own history. Ramón Emeterio Betances is the father of all of us (The Puerto Ricans)… this book is a good book that united us.

Do you have a particular theoretical foundation that keeps you afloat?

Yes. The Holy Trinity: Write about the things you like, write of the things you think a book should be about and write about your personal experience- the experiences you would like to have and the ones you won`t want to have. This makes for a good canon.

What would you like to see in your literary community?

Yes, second Holy Trinity: Discussion, I want people to talk about my book, that people want to know more about it, that people ask for more books, and that they like the idea of a movie or a TV series.  Also, I like to inspire to make similar books in their own country.

This is a little about the book:

“Joe” and Mila have a very peculiar pastime for some young people of our time. They are dedicated to finding, rediscovery and sales of old and strange “lost books.” They are hunters. Their lives change dramatically when one of his clients Endecha, is involved in the reading of a will, which reveals the existence one of the most fascinating books in the history of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean of the nineteenth century: The Doctor’s Journal Ramón Emeterio Betances and Alacán. Together “Joe”, Mila and Endecha are in a race against time to seize it before the book end in the wrong hands, such as those of its greatest rival, a collector who will stop at nothing: Ámel .

Hunters Lost Books: THE DIARY OF BETANCES.

El Diario de Betances

German Cabassa William Barber was born in Mayagüez and raised in Cabo Rojo, is a student in Higher Education in History, Inter American University in San Germán campus. He has devoted much time and effort to Hunters Lost Books series, which is to bring the literature of Puerto Rico at European level without losing our identity. This novel promises to be a truly international phenomenon.

 

Jonathan Marcantoni: How We Tell Stories

Jonathan Marcantoni

I am Editor in Chief for Aignos Publishing (www.aignospublishing.com) and I have been a professional writer and editor for nine years this month. I have worked on regional television shows, newspapers, books and plays. I have had two books published by Savant Books and Publications and my third will be published by Aignos, hopefully this summer. I spent the first 21 years of my life on a course to be either an actor or a film director. In fact, the very first story I ever wrote was a play. I have acted in eleven plays, two of which – Angels in America and Suburbia – I am still proud to have been a part of. I attended the Art Institute of Atlanta briefly, and in 2008 I directed a student film called Discover Fresh Breath which won the TBS Very Funny Award at the Campus Movie Festival in Tampa, Fl.  In spite of these accomplishments and others, I have not been able to consistently provide for myself and my family purely through the arts. I have always had a day job, and in all likelihood, I always will.

I lay out this professional resume of mine first because I want you – the reader – to know who I am and where I am coming from.  Theresa has been gracious enough to give me this space to write in and I want to use it to talk about how we approach storytelling, and the only way to write about that is to also write about our approach to life. You can tell a lot about an author based on the way they write, much more than by what they write about. One of my favorite authors, the one who has had the biggest stylistic influence on me, Hubert Selby Jr., was a part of the New York beat writer scene of the 1950s and 60s, and wrote predominantly about the underbelly of not only society, but also of our minds. His books are brutal in their violence, both physical and psychological. One of his books, The Room, is essentially one long argument inside the main character’s head. It is an incredible, frightening argument, but when you step back you realize the entire book takes place inside a jail cell, and only once does the main character leave it. Just based on his book’s content, you would think Selby was a very dark, twisted individual, as conflicted and intense as his characters. In reality, he was a soft spoken, funny, and kind man. Every interview I have seen of him, he is smiling and cracking jokes.

This is surprising for anyone who has read his books, especially considering that he once described his early books as being about ‘Going from the light to the dark’ and his later books being about ‘Going from the dark to the light’, and that one of those later books was about a man who cures his suicidal depression by discovering that the purpose of his life is to kill people he deems morally corrupt. But the point is that if you get caught up in what a story is about, you can lose what the story is saying, as well as how it is told.

Selby wrote in a style inspired by jazz. He would place paragraph breaks all over the page, almost like the words were falling over themselves.

He would sometimes be the middle of a sentence and suddenly jump

 

to the next line, giving his work a disorienting feel visually. He blended dialogue, thought and narrative side by side, using no quotes and few mentions of he said, or she said following a line of dialogue. He was big on the way characters sound, and he created distinct voices for each of his characters as well as for his narrator. He was so good at this that a reader could figure out who was speaking just by the word usage.

His writing was also based on his physical limitations. Selby contracted tuberculosis while serving as a Merchant Marine in World War II. This illness caused him to lose an entire lung and part of the other one. He was often bed-ridden, and his visually eclectic style grew out of his inability to reach certain keys on the typewriter. The typewriter he used was also partly broken, and wouldn’t recoil to the other side of the page when he skipped to the next line, hence the odd placement of paragraphs. As a result, he created certain signature grammatical quirks, such as writing ‘it’ll’ as ‘it/ll’ because the (/) was closer than the (‘). While all these qualities make reading Selby’s work difficult for a first time reader, they are also incredibly consistent and have a cumulative effect that is powerful and gripping. He experimented but understood the way language works, he understood the importance of consistency in writing, he understood the importance of efficiency, that making things more complicated than necessary is a waste of time. For all his quirks, once you adjust to his style, you find that he actually has a very pared down and simple way of telling stories. His novels are not excessive, they are direct and have a clear moral compass. You know what Selby’s views on his character’s actions are without him saying it.

For myself, I approach stories like movies or plays. As a young writer I was often criticized for how ‘talky’ my work can be, or I would be criticized for being overly descriptive of visuals. The visual element has always been important to me. I often write sequences as though I am observing them through the lens of a camera. In my newest book, The Feast of San Sebastian, I have a club scene where two of the central characters are having a conversation in the downstairs portion and two others are having a conversation in the upstairs portion. So what do I do? I make the scene continuous by following the comings and goings of the waitress serving both tables. Where many writers would make the conversations separate scenes entirely, I approach it like a visual sequence in a movie. As a result, the scene becomes a sort of mini-story, since the thoughts and feelings of the waitress become a central part of making the scene work, although she is not in the rest of the book. In the same book, I have chapters set aside for the five main characters to explain their actions, past and present, as monologues being presented to an unknown audience. This mixture of the theatrical and cinematic is a part of who I am as a person. The fact that I use devices like that says more about me than the content, which is incredibly violent and pessimistic in its views of politics and the social structure of Puerto Rico. Do I share some of the pessimism found in my book? Sure I do. Are many of my own political beliefs expressed, particularly my support for Puerto Rican independence? Yes, but there are also lots of views I don’t share that are also expressed in the book. But you know what is the most personal thing in the book? It’s not the political aspect or any of the speeches or the violence. The personal aspect of the story is the relationship between one of the characters and his daughter. It is a subplot, albeit a significant one, but if I had to pinpoint any autobiographical aspects in the novel, it would be that relationship, if for no other reason than because the sentiment of a father doing anything to make a good life for his daughter is one that I, as the father of three girls, share.

But what says far more about me creatively are my choices for set pieces. The aforementioned club scene being one, and the fact that in my previous book as well my newest (and for that matter, my next one), the use of festivals as a setting for personal dramas to play out is central, speaks to who I am as a writer. Why festivals? Few things in life are more visual, more all-encompassing and more energetic than a festival. To place a handful of characters at the heart of one during the most intense moments of a story creates a backdrop that is highly theatrical. It also provides a contrast. In my book Traveler’s Rest, a woman coming to terms with her loneliness and sadness over missing her husband play out against the celebration of the first year of the Cuban Revolution. While people are cheering and singing and dancing, she marches through the street, lost in thought, living amongst ghosts. In The Feast of San Sebastian, three characters attend the Calle San Sebastian street festival, dancing and laughing and interacting with the performers, all the while the reader knows that their happiness is about to be cut short as a monstrous psychopath comes closer and closer to tracking them down. In my next book, a married couple on the brink of collapse have one final confrontation in the aftermath of Tampa’s Gasparilla night parade.

The dark personal drama in each of these books is contrasted with festivals that are full of happiness and complete abandon on behalf of the participants. Such a contrast couldn’t be provided by many other scenarios, and again, it is both theatrical and cinematic. What the characters are going through is in some ways less important than how they go through them.

I believe that stories are best told when we invest our influences in a way that cedes more to our personal taste than to the taste of our influences. When people call something Tarantino-esque or Fellini-esque (again with the film references), it is usually meant as a detraction. It is way of saying the artist was unoriginal. The truth is that nobody is truly original, because we are beholden to our influences if for no other reason than because that is how we learn to tell stories. Selby is not my only influence, I have been just as much influenced by Borges, Marquez, Cortazar, Scorsese, Almodovar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Eugene O’Neill and Ibsen. I use a little bit from all of them and others, and while they have all influenced my tastes and aesthetic, I also carry with me the influence of the life I live as a husband and father, of the contradiction of being both a struggling artist and as head of the editorial department at Aignos (unfortunately an official title doesn’t always carry with it financial stability). I carry the experience of being a Puerto Rican in the United States, of being a Hispanic author, of rejections and victories. All of this plays into who I am as a storyteller, leaving me the ability to tell stories that, while they may have bits and pieces of other ones, are wholly my own. I’d like to ask you, the reader, what is your experience? How do you approach storytelling? Leave a comment here or email me directly, at jon.marcantoni@gmail.com. Check out our facebook page at www.facebook.com/AignosPublishing.

Interview with Author Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska writes the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, as well as the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mysteries set in the 1950s. Her first two books Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country.

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

After five years of teaching, I’d finally reached a level of comfort in my classroom, which allowed me to enjoy my summers and weekends. When that extra time found      its way into my scheduled, I decided to write that book. Once I started writing, I never stopped.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

I write cozy mysteries. People who read my books enjoy lighthearted, humorous mysteries, which are character driven. A few folks have compared my zany characters and their wild adventures to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. For me, that’s      a gigantic compliment.

What are you currently writing?

Right now I’m halfway through my fourth Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the      Driskill, which takes place in the historic Driskill Hotel in Austin,Texas. Number five is now brewing in my brain. Looks like Sydney will be in San Antonio at the Menger Hotel, so guess where I get to spend a week?

How do you make time to write?

I’ve been writing for so many years, it’s just become part of my routine. I’m a morning person, so most of my writing begins around 6:00 when I’m having my coffee, but if I get on a roll, I’ll continue throughout the day. Those days are the most satisfying, when I’m able to write three to five thousands words. While I was teaching, my alarm went off at 4:00 and I managed a couple of hours before I left the for work. Now I’m retired and fortunate to have my days free, but I mysteriously end up in some classroom, either subbing, mentoring, or teaching writing classes. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

What inspires you to write?

Reading authors I enjoy is my best inspiration. Martha Grimes, Agatha Christie, Laurie R. King, Nevada Barr, Anne Perry, Dick Francis, and of course Arthur Conan Doyle are just a few who get my creative juices flowing. Coming in a close second is when I hear from a reader about how eager they are to get their hands on my next mystery.

 What  would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

I would have started sooner, but then, I believe that everything happens when it is supposed to.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

Sell my books how ever possible. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. We all know that authors have to promote their books now more than ever. And what sells books the most is word of mouth. That doesn’t necessarily mean speaking face-to-face with someone. It means connecting with people via the Internet. So, part of my day is      spent networking online. When I have a new book coming out, I also get on the phone to libraries, writers leagues, bookstores, and offer to give presentations on writing. This works much better than a simple book signing. Some of my best venues are the historic hotels where I set my mysteries.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

That’s a good question. I am spiritual, but I believe the best way to answer the      question is to say my religion and religious upbringing have found their way into my stories, but in a humorous way, never preachy. For instance, my protagonist, Sydney Lockhart, hates that she is Catholic because she is naturally sarcastic, outspoken, and a bit too wild for a woman in the early 1950s, so the Catholic-guilt thing comes back to bite her in the butt. Personally, it does that to me too, but I love being Catholic      because Catholics are so good at laughing at themselves.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

We’re fortunate to have a large active writing community in my little town. About a year ago, the Fidalgo Island Writers Guild was formed and the focus is on community service, as well as promoting local writers. We work with the Boys and Girls Clubs and the locals schools, providing mentors and tutors to students to need help with their reading and writing, or students you enjoy writing and want to hone their craft. This last spring we sponsored a writing contest for grades K through 8 and had an overwhelming response. Every student who entered had their story included in the publication of a book. We hope to make this an annual event.

Kathleen, what a pleasure getting to know you! Your humor and love for your writing and how you live your life is quite apparent. Thanks for your visit! Theresa

Interview with Author Sylvia Weber

Sylvia Weber is a consultant, therapist and a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric and geriatric nursing.  She works in the psychiatric gerontology liaison program at The Miriam Hospital and is the Government Relations consultant to The Rhode Island State Nurses Association.  She is active in civic and professional  organizations.  Sylvia was a member of the American Nurses Association Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics and the Rhode Island Nurses Association Cabinet on Nursing Practice, board of directors and past president.   Sylvia is currently a member of the American Nurses Association – Political Action Committee Board of Trustees. She’s known as one of the pioneers for the introduction and integration of holistic health/complimentary healing modalities in the Rhode Island and surrounding area.

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

My initial motivation came from the encouragement of family, friends, colleagues and clients/patients.  For many years they encouraged me to write and bring my knowledge and experience into the world on a more global level.  This was reinforced through my various meditative practices.  I knew from my experiences in life that there is information, a perspective, a way of being, that would be helpful to others.  I believe this book will bring greater peace, harmony and compassion into our world.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

At first I thought that the books focus would be for people who are involved in government politics.  As I began to write I realized the book was for all adults, to enhance their ability to address the political issues they face and are involved in throughout life.  I wanted it to be an easy read, packed with useful information and affordable.

What are you currently writing?

At this time I’m co-authoring a textbook with a friend, Zite Hutton.  The text book will be based on the principles and strategies in my book.  Our goal is to bring the information to college and university students.  Our vision is to give them a foundation for resolving issues with compassion for the good of many and the planet.

I’m also planning to write a children’s book.  My dream is that it will be a book that will encourage them to bring this way of being into their lives and relationships as they grow and mature.

How do you make time to write?

This has and is extremely difficult and takes a great deal of discipline for me.  Working full time and having family, professional and community responsibilities was challenging.  My home has always been open to the people in my life and it was an effort for them and me to set the needed limits.  I also had to deal with my own procrastination issues – a tendency to allow “things” to distract me, as well as other “human” issues.  I found it more productive to write while out of my home or when people were less likely to drop by.  Visiting family and friends who would help set up an environment conducive to writing was also effective.

What inspires you to write?

I’m inspired by my experiences in the world and a commitment I made when I was 6 years old.  While hearing the pain experienced by people involved in WW II, I vowed that I would do something each day to make this a better world.  I believe that my writing will increase the impact of this vow.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

I would be more disciplined about setting aside time to write and not allow non-emergencies to interfere.  I would also be more patient and less critical with myself to prevent feeling overwhelmed.  To do what I could, when I could.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

This has also been a challenge for me, finding the time during the usual business hours and selling myself.  It’s been an adventure in my growth and transformation.  I have contacted people I know who have radio shows and have been interviewed by them.  I’m arranging for book signing events.  Announcements have been sent out to various groups I’m involved in and I’m sending e-mails and letters to people who will not be reached by other means.  Many people I know are using their contacts to get the word out about my book, including this wonderful blog.  I’m also meeting with people, who have published, to share marketing ideas, eg: bookstores, libraries, organizations interested in the topic, etc.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

My spiritual life, which is quite eclectic, is the main motivation for all I do.  I draw on many spiritual philosophies and practices which is the foundation of how I live my life.  Being human, I have the challenges we all have and believe it’s Creators way of saying, “Good job!  You are now ready for the next spiritual level.”  For me, my spiritual life is the core of my Being.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

I’m not involved in a literary community, even though I know several people who have written and published.  The burning desire for all of us is to create changes that will encourage a more peaceful, harmonious, loving and healthier world for all.

http://bookstore.balboapress.com/Products/SKU-000565788/a-guide-for-compassion-in-political-power.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Compassion-Political-Power-ebook/dp/B008EKT3D8

Thanks for visiting here today, Sylvia. All too often what I’ve read previously about politics has left me wondering where I, as an individual, fit into that arena in my life. What I find most profound is how you treat the subject in a personal and spiritual way that has encouraged me to find how I impact and am influenced by politics in the daily fabric of my life. –Theresa

Interview with Author Patricia Gligor

It’s a pleasure to have Patricia here today. After sharing notes about ‘when will I be published?’ and ‘what do I have to do other than being an excellent writer?’ I was thrilled when Patricia announced her novel “Mixed Messages” would be published in just a few short months after acceptance. Where there is faith, perseverence and love for the craft, you will find Patricia Gligor. Welcome!

Theresa, thanks for inviting me to be here today.

What is your genre and your intended audience?

I write mystery/suspense novels. Mixed Messages, the first in my Malone mystery series, was published April 17th. My books probably have the most appeal to women but several men have read Mixed Messages and told me they enjoyed it. The main character is a woman but there are male characters who play prominent roles in the story.

What are you currently writing?

I’m working on what I like to call “the final draft” of Unfinished Business, the second novel in my series. Both titles have a double meaning and I’ve got some surprises in store for my readers. I’m also scribbling notes for the third book as ideas come to me.

When do you make time to write?

Sometimes, I feel like a juggler in the circus, trying to promote Mixed Messages, edit Unfinished Business and take care of all my other responsibilities. Oh, and once in a while, I like to have some fun. I’ve always been good at organizing and prioritizing but lately I’ve had to take it to a whole new level. I think it’s like most things in life. We do what we can do when we can do it. Some days, I have more time to write than other days. I’m getting better at learning how to accept that and to go with the flow.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I’ve thought about this a lot lately, Theresa, and I realized that it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Did I make some mistakes along the way? Yes. Did I learn from them? Yes. Was I a late bloomer when it came to marketing my work? Definitely. Did I have to work really hard to make up for lost time? Yes. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything I’ve gone through in life and in my writing has brought me to where I am and that’s a good place to be.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

I actually have a marketing notebook. In it, I list ideas to promote my novel and I check them off when I complete them. I’ve gotten some wonderful tips from writers I know, including you, and I’m grateful for all the help and support I’ve received. I belong to numerous online sites for writers (and readers) and I try to comment regularly on those sites and on other writers’ blogs. It’s all about getting your name out there! Oh, and I have my mother who tells anyone and everyone “my daughter is a publisher author.” Word of mouth!

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

Absolutely! I have a deep faith and I want my writing to reflect that. I had one experience that I’d like to share with you. Awhile back, I was feeling frustrated and despondent about my novel. I’d worked very hard on it for a long time but all I’d gotten were rejection letters. I was having a cup of coffee one day, feeling sorry for myself and suddenly the word “Faith” popped into my mind. It was almost as if I could see it printed in big, bold letters. First, I smiled and then I laughed – at myself. How could I forget that things happen in God’s time, not mine? The next day, I got an email from my publisher with a contract for Mixed Messages. Coincidence? I don’t think so. God was sending me a message: “Keep the faith!”

Do you have a particular theoretical foundation that keeps you afloat?

My faith is what keeps me going. I’m constantly amazed at how God works in my life and I feel truly blessed to have so many wonderful family members and friends.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

To be as rich and famous as Mary Higgins Clark. Just kidding. Of course, I’d like to see my books sell well but it’s not about money or fame for me, at least not totally.  In addition to providing entertainment and escape, I want my writing to inspire people and to give them hope. There’s so much negativity in this world and, yes, we all have problems but if we make a commitment to see the good in people and to believe that things will get better, we’ll be happier and the world will be a better place.

I hope your readers will visit me at: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/

Mixed Messages is available in paper and Kindle formats at:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007VDDUPQ

Thanks again, Patricia! I’ve downloaded Mixed Messages onto my Kindle and can’t wait to read it. I also enjoy reading your blog a great deal. Looking forward to more from you!

 

 

Interview with Author Sandy Corcoran

It’s truly inspiring to have the opportunity to have Sandy speak about what the essence of writing is for her. Sharing about what has been given to her and how she’s chosen to give back to others is a motivating factor in not only writing, but in how we choose to walk in this world. Thank you, Sandy, it’s an honor!

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

At the death of my daughter in 1983, my feet were put to an entirely different path. Through the Native American women that stepped into my world, and eventually other indigenous mentors, my world-view  was altered and a new and richer life began with the spiritual understanding that we are all connected and united, in ways great and small, and the only thing that prevents that is making a choice to awaken to our soul’s calling.

 What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

Those interested in renewal, shamanism, mind-body-spirit and those who wish to delve into the incredibly rich landscape that lies within their dreamstate, the world of living energy, the luminal realms and the ability of all human beings to bring it into our physical knowing.

What are you currently writing?

I have recently completed Between the Dark and the Daylight: Awakening to Shamanism

Published in February 2012 through Balboa Press/ a division of Hay House

How do you make time to write?

Some days it comes easily, flowing freely and unannounced epiphanies, whereas other days I had to discipline myself to set aside time. I find, for me, I can write for long periods at a time when the words just tumble forth. I also discovered that when I forced the material, I always changed or discarded it.

What inspires you to write?

Finding the heart centered words to connect with others in the hopes of alleviating some of their pain by witnessing my own; and sharing the joy and rebirth of spirit which always follows those deep and very human struggles that we all have in common.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

Nothing. What I learned though was not to push my story until both my heart and mind were ready to join together to give it form.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

Unfortunately I lack both the experience and where-with-all of where to even begin. But my hopes are that someone will come forward and assist me to organize the best methods of spreading the word, while also not wearing myself too thin in the process. There are many other things I wish to continue to do, like my shamanic practice with clients as that is where I feel I am offering the best of what I have been taught and what I have to share.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

Absolutely, without Spirit nothing exists for me, and nothing would have unfolded in my life the way it has without Spirit’s guidance and direction. For that, I am most grateful, as I know there are others who feel a lack of connection or a lack of direction in finding and trusting that “voice” within themselves.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

My burning desire, in all seriousness…if we are 6 degrees of someone, I want this book to touch those who have lost their way or experienced deep loss, so they can find renewed faith in themselves or their dreams….and maybe, have this book make its way into Oprah Winfrey’s hands. For two reasons, I respect her honesty and drive, and I know she has a spiritual understanding and wide audience of people who trust her suggestions.

http://www.amazon.com/Between-The-Dark-Daylight-Awakening/dp/1452544018/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334926233&sr=1-2

Interview with Author- Leanne Dyck

Please welcome Leanne Dyck, Author. Her love of writing is inspiring and in addition to her novel, I encourage you to check out her very creative and colorful blog.  

Thank you, Leanne!

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

Love of story, desire to create—these motivations coupled with shyness encourage me to write.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

The Sweater Curse—my latest book—is a paranormal, psychological thriller with a knitting theme.

 

Blurb:  Aspiring knitwear designer Gwen Bjarnson is stuck in Purgatory. To escape, she must re-examine her life, journey through her past and right a wrong. But which wrong?

Young and in love, she works to establish her career, except fate has different plans. One rash act and she loses everything. Never resting, always seeking, and yearning for what she can no longer have, Gwen faces the truth:  if she remains, others are destined to die.

How will she solve the mystery before it is too late?

Because The Sweater Curse has a knitting-theme, I thought the intended audience was knitters, but this is what non-knitters are saying…

‘Stitch by colorful stitch, Leanne Dyck knits a tale of intrigue with The Sweater Curse’ –Laurie Buchanan

‘Leanne Dyck has crafted a tale as exotic and existential as Danish author Isak Dinesen’s…

This book defies genre definitions as it finds its unique place on the fiction shelves. Here’s hoping Leanne Dyck returns many times to the intriguing roots of her family’s past.’ –Mystery author Lou Allin‘Go out and pick this one up, you’ll find yourself immersed as well.’ –Deborah Warner, reviewer for By the Book

 ‘I found it very difficult to put this book down once I started it, because the voice of lovely Gwen Bjarnson, already dead at the start of the book, drew me in immediately.’ –Holly Cookson-Robinson

What are you currently writing?

 My work in progress includes…

A Long Way From Her

(55, 000 word novel)

The year is 1983. Nineteen-year-old Lyndi Wimpel has graduated from high school. It’s time for her to leave home but her Mom doesn’t want her to and Lyndi doesn’t think she can. She’s dyslexic and considers herself stupid. But when Lyndi joins Katimavik (a government-run youth group for participants 17 to 21 years old) she learns she is capable of more than she—or her parents—ever dreamed.

Based on a true story.

 Beau the Cat

(700 word picture book)

Beau and his human Amy Sue are good friends. In fact, they spend all their time together. There is only one exception—nighttime. Each night, while Amy Sue sleeps, Beau leaves her to travel to a world alive with hooting owls and barking dogs. What Beau does one spectacular night will captivate you. It may even make you giggle. 

My Life in Purl and Plain

(non-fiction knitting book)

Knitting has carried me through the peeks and valleys of my life—from my struggles in school, to falling in love, to my mom’s death, to redefining my life. My Life in Purl and Plain is a tribute to the craft in vignettes, essays, patterns and techniques. 

I’m also working on the sequel to The Sweater Curse as well as a collection of short stories. 

How do you make time to write? 

Frankly, the question should be how do I make time to clean the house and eat. : ) Writing is my main focus. 

What inspires you to write? 

I’m inspired by what I’ve seen, felt, heard, overheard, experienced and dreamed. The world sings with inspiration. What I need is a quite place that gives me time to collect, distil and transform it into ink on paper. 

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all? 

Oh, yes, I can play the “should-have” game. I should have taken more pride in my early attempts at writing. I should have started submitting my stories to publications early. I should have filed completed stories and story ideas away for fuel for my creative fire. I often play the “should-have” game, but then I realize that everything I’ve done so far has gotten me to this place—and right here, right now is the best place to be. 

Tell us about your marketing strategy. 

I invest time and effect to build my social network. I’m on twitter (lustful graces) and I have a blog (http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com). New posts are added to my blog five times a week. Each day has a theme:  Monday—knitting, Tuesday—writing, Wednesday—reading, Thursday—island life and other things of importance. Every Friday I host a professional in the publishing industry.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those generous people who’ve visited my blog, shared their stories and inspired others. People like you, Theresa. 

I also enjoy attending writing events. Thanks to the couching of other authors, I now remember to bring my business card and challenge myself to network with at least three people. 

My marketing strategy is to build community both in the real and cyber worlds. 

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how? 

Yes, it does. It inspires, motivates, and buoys me up. 

What’s your literary community burning desire? 

My literary desires are three-fold. They are, in brief, to continue to network with publishing industry professionals; to find a good home for my latest manuscripts; and to continue to write as I enjoy the now. 

Thank you for interviewing me, Theresa.

 Author links:

Twitter ID:  lustful graces

Web site:  www.leannedyck.com

Blog:  http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Interview with Gil Fagiani- Poet/Author

Gil Fagiani’s poetry collection Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007) is set at Pennsylvania Military College in the 1960s, his poetry chapbook Grandpa’s Wine (Poets Wear Prada in 2008) focuses on his family’s immigrant generation, and has been translated into Italian by Paul D’Agostino. His book of poetry Chianti in Connecticut was inspired by his childhood in Springdale, Connecticut (Bordighera, pending 2010). Finishing Line Press will be publishing in 2012 his new chapbook Serfs of Psychiatry which is set in a state psychiatric hospital.
 
Gil’s poems and translations have been published in more than a dozen anthologies, as well as such newspapers and journals as The New York Times, The Paterson Literary Review, Mudfish, Skidrow Penthouse, Descant, Philadelphia Poets, Identity Theory, Lips, The Ledge, Italian Americana, The Journal of Italian Translation, and Gradiva.
 
He has translated into English, poetry written in Italian, Abruzzese dialect, and Spanish. He co-curates the monthly open reading of the Italian American Writers’ Association at the Cornelia Street Café, NYC, and is the Associate Editor of Feile-Festa: A Literary Arts Journal.
 
A social worker (L.C.S.W.) and addiction specialist (C.A.S.A.C.) by profession, Gil directed a residential program for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in Downtown Brooklyn for twenty-one years.
 
What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

My first sustained period of writing began in the early 1970s. I participated in the protest politics of the time, and writing served as an expression and documentation of my activism. Through advocacy writing—of leaflets, newspaper articles, and position papers—I strove to raise people’s consciousness about such social justice issues as health care, poverty, and racism.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

Today, poetry is my main genre, but I also write short stories, book reviews, essays, and memoir pieces.

I try to reach as many people as possible, and take particular satisfaction in attracting people who aren’t usually a part of the “literary scene.”

Of course, like most writers I value feedback about my work from fellow writers. In this regard, I’m fortunate to belong to Brevitas, an online poetry circle dedicated to the short poem (14 lines or less). Twice a month I exchange two poems with about 50 Brevitarians, some of whom make suggestions for revisions.

 What are you currently writing?

I just finished a book review of Robert Cohen’s, Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, which will be published in The Italian American Review.

I’ve proofread the galleys of Serfs of Psychiatry, my new poetry chapbook that will soon be published by Finishing Line Press. It was inspired by my 14 years with the New York State Office of Mental Health, and in particular, the 12 years I worked in a state psychiatric hospital.

I recently completed a book-length poetry manuscript entitled Logos, which focuses on my experiences in a therapeutic community for drug addicts in the South Bronx, and my involvement in the radical politics of the 70s.

I continue to write six-line poems known as fulcrums, inspired by the Cuban American poet Pablo Medina. As a member of Brevitas, I submit two fulcrums twice a month. To date, I’ve written more than a hundred and am considering translating a selection of them into Italian to create a bilingual book.

Later this year, Poets Wear Prada will publish a bilingual edition—English/ Italian—of my 2008 chapbook Grandpa’s Wine. The translator, Paul D’Agostino, holds a Ph.D. in Italian and is a poet, fiction writer and the Assistant Editor of the Journal of Italian Translation.

How do you make time to write? 

I’m wedded to structure, having been a cadet at Pennsylvania Military College from 1963 to 1967, which served as the inspiration for Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007), my first book-length collection of poetry.

Since I retired in July 2011, my writing time is more flexible. In the past, I would write early in the morning before my workday started, a bit in the afternoon, and perhaps in the evening.

Now I think more in terms of at least one quality writing period each day. Since I don’t have to contend with a work schedule, this period can vary from early morning to evening. The great bonanza of retirement is that at times I can devote a day—even two—almost entirely to literary activities.

What inspires you to write? 

My writing could be spurred by a dreamy bittersweet memory: a scene, a song, or a few words of dialogue. Sometimes a news story serves as my muse. When I’m in this mode, I feel an urgency to express myself through the written word. This usually takes the form of a poem, which is accompanied by a feeling resembling the “high” of a mild intoxicant.

Once I’ve created a rough draft, I’ll continue to work on the poem, put it away, return to it, thus beginning the revision stage, when a poem is honed, deconstructed, and reconstructed. This process can go on for years.

When I believe I have it right, it feels preserved, even immortal; I experience a sense of wholeness and calm.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all? 

This is a difficult question because before I retired my time was much more limited, and I had to choose carefully how to best use it. My tendency was to favor writing and to a lesser extent, organizing book manuscripts, over other activities. In retrospect, I think what I did made sense, but I pay a high price for not also learning how to more effectively promote my work, and extending my literary network. I am trying to rectify this by emulating other writers who have developed marketing strategies.

I also translate Italian poetry and some Italian dialect poetry into English. I believe there is an intimate relationship between translating someone else’s poem into another language and writing your own. In many ways all writing is translating, because even when we write in our native tongue we are translating feelings, sounds and images into words, sentences and stanzas. 

I regret not having lived yet in Italy for at least six months, so I could have acquired a better sense of Italian and dialect within their cultural matrix. I also have a love of Spanish, my second language, and again wish I could have spent more time in a Spanish-speaking country to deepen my understanding of the nuances of language and culture.

Tell us about your marketing strategy. 

My marketing strategy is limited, for example, I have an author’s page at Amazon.com, and continue to learn how to employ social media to my advantage. For now my online presence is limited to an Amazon author site [http://www.amazon.com/Gil-Fagiani/e/B001K8UL8C] and a literary profile listed in Poets and Writers’ directory as well as a professional profile on LinkedIn

[http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gil-fagiani/47/ba5/87a].

I think in terms of constituencies: There are my friends and general literary acquaintances. When I’m involved with a book launch or literary activity, I contact them by email, and in some cases phone and snail mail. I will also drop off leaflets promoting my activities at other literary events. My five books of poetry are archived at Poets House.

Secondly, there is the Italian American community. I’m a member of the Board of Directors of the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) and co-curate the monthly reading series at the Cornelia Street Café. I will mention from the stage what I’m doing, as well as circulate promotional leaflets to the audience. My profile is on the IAWA website, and I have an opportunity to post announcements in the IAWA Newsletter, as well as the online calendar of the John D. Calandra Institute of Italian American Studies, which is affiliated with Queens College.

I am also a member of the Calandra Institute’s Community Council, and at times present my work at their events, such as a conference they sponsored in 2010 on Italian Americans and Mental Health. I have also organized a series of bilingual readings—Italian or Italian dialect into English—with Brooklyn college professor, Luigi Bonaffini, who edits The Journal of Italian Translation.

Finally, there is the progressive political community. I am a founding member of the Vito Marcantonio Forum, and some of my work is posted on their website (http://www.vitomarcantonioforum.com). I have presented papers or read my work at such venues as the annual three-day conference of the Left Forum, and the Puffin Cultural Foundation, with Veterans for Peace. Two of my poems, “Pigs” and “Birding Near the Mexican Border,” can be found on the online journal New Verse News (www.newversenews.com).  

Does Your Spiritual Life Influence Your Writing? If So, How? 

Yes, it does in several ways. First, I feel a need to bear witness to scenes of injustice, such as anti-immigrant prejudice, and the official neglect of the mentally ill. Secondly, I try to give voice to those who rarely express themselves in a public literary forum, such as the institutionalized mentally ill, and career drug addicts and alcoholics. By giving them a voice, I hope to affirm their dignity. 

Finally, there is the issue of redemption, particularly as it relates to my years of substance abuse. By turning destructive experiences into the clay of poetry, I feel I have created something of value that I can pass on. 

I believe with few exceptions, people caught up in inhuman conditions are capable of committing inhuman acts against others. In my writing—and as a writer—I strive to be modest, truthful and explore the complexity of human suffering, including my own.

What Is Your Literary Community Burning Desire? 

Having friends in the literary community in Canada, I have become more sensitive to the benefits of government subsidies of the arts. I would like to see something similar to develop in this country, so that writing and literature wouldn’t be so beholden to expensive MFA writing programs and elite cultural brokers, thus limiting its reach to the general public. 

For more information, visit

http://www.amazon.com/Gil-Fagiani/e/B001K8UL8C

 

Interview with Author Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez has numerous poems anthologized here and in Europe.  Winner of the PEN Texas Literary Award in poetry, her debut collection is entitled How to Undress a Cop.  One of her poems recently placed in the annual contest of Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century.  An award-winning anthologist of five volumes, her most recent is You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens for Arte Público Press.

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

From an early age, I was convinced that being a writer was the coolest occupation under the sun—with the exception of being a soldier. Reading was introduced to me at an early age, and I adored the magic of fictional stories.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

I write and have been published in almost all genres: fiction, poetry, prose [including personal essay, memoir essay (a type of personal essay], journalistic pieces, academic pieces, prayers, etc.  The intended audiences differ depending upon the publisher.  I write for the adult market, the young adult or teen market, the academic market, the blue collar market, the literary market, etc.  You might also look at markets in terms of literary vs. popular, rather than looking at age ranges, but I believe that the false distinction between “literary” and “popular” is being seen as such by many perceptive readers.

A large part of what I write is poetry.  You can see an example on my website at www.poetacortez.com.   

I also write and edit a lot of crime fiction or mystery.  In fact, the last three anthologies I’ve edited (selected the stories, then worked with the authors to get them in publishable form) are in crime fiction:  “Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery,”  “Indian Country Noir,” and “You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens.”  The publishers are Arte Público Press (Houston) and Akashic Books (Brooklyn).

 

What are you currently writing?

Currently, I am writing several pieces.  I have two personal essays I am working on for national distribution.  I am also working on a book of poetry lessons for the intermediate and/or advanced poet.  The other items on my agenda include book proposals for my next three books.

How do you make time to write?

Oh, gosh, this is a difficult question to answer.  Since I have my own freelance editing/consulting business, AND I also teach classes in advanced poetry, as well as in memoir, there is precious little time for me to write my own work.  In fact, the only reason I finished a poetry ms. that I had been working on for eleven years was that I broke a bone in my foot last summer and, thus, was confined to bed.  This old-fashioned “confinement” allowed me to spend hours a day working on poems.  In fact, one of the ones I wrote just recently placed as a semi-finalist in the annual contest of Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century.  They told me that it was chosen as one of twenty out of 6,000 poems for that distinction.

What inspires you to write, other than fame and fortune?

I would say that “fame and fortune” have never inspired me to write.  I write to communicate with an audience.  I write to try to put something that is basically ineffable onto the written page.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

I can’t think of any major decision that I would change.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

It’s fascinating that we authors now live in an age where we are expected to know the marketplace and maneuver within it in ways that will both sell books and “sell” ourselves.  Many writers prefer to look with disdain upon the marketing aspect of writing, perhaps because they feel that writing is an art form and they don’t wish to sully their art.  However, none of us who are currently producing have the luxury of knowing whether we produce art or something that will be eminently forgettable.  In other words, others will decide after we die if what we wrote is “art” or not.

I feel that if a writer’s goal is communication, then he/she doesn’t have the luxury of saying that he/she won’t help market books.

With that said, I feel that the foundation of a marketing strategy is to produce excellent and brilliant work.  (In the final analysis, the work must stand on its own.)  Once an author produces a high quality product, then he/she must use any and all tools to let people know about the work:  book readings/signings, visits to universities/schools, speeches, presentations, chairing panels at academic conferences, sending out a newsletter, etc, etc.  Each author will have certain activities that they are in a unique position to do.  You must do it all.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

My spiritual life is the cornerstone and anchor of everything in my life, including my creative life in writing and teaching.

What’s your literary community’s burning desire?

I have so many different literary communities that this is a difficult question to answer.  I do a lot of work with middle school and high school kids to connect them with the power and joy of writing.  If I could wave a magic wand, I would give to this particular literary community the gift of intellectual curiosity—the desire to keep learning more and more and more about everything they encounter.

I also work with many fine advanced and intermediate literary poets.  If I had a magic wand, I would give them each an impeccable ear for hearing the breath, intonation, and effect of each syllable of a poem.

It is my pleasure to work with many memoir writers, from beginning to advanced.  Here, my magic wand would be for confidence in their hard-won wisdom already attained and the persistence to find the perfect words to capture it on the page in a fresh and unpredictable way.

My most prized community, however, is my law enforcement community.  I have been a police officer for sixteen years and took a crippling pay cut to change from the corporate world to the law enforcement world.  For this literary community, I would give them continued courage to communicate their vision and vocation.  You see, because so many loud-mouthed people in America like to praise and protect criminals, it is easy to become discouraged and feel that there aren’t too many decent, law-abiding folks left—which isn’t true.  But because the social misfits are always louder than the decent people, they steal the show.  Yes, I would give this community the steadfastness of vision amid the social chaos of our contemporary society.

And, finally, to those readers you might have who desire to become writers, I would give persistence.  I have been studying writing for almost twenty-five years.  I’ve had good teachers and bad; I’ve had shining opportunities and depressing rejections; I’ve had glorious promises come to naught and chance meetings with strangers open doors into amazing opportunities.    And, just recently, I had a ms. of my own accepted for publication that had sat in a drawer untouched for almost eight years.  If you truly wish to become a writer—a good writer—you must be in it for the long haul, study hard, find good teachers or mentors, and work at each piece of writing until it is “perfect.”

I hope you’ll visit my website, Theresa.  www.poetacortez.com

 

I’ve been to your site, Sarah, and I can’t decide which book to choose next! I’ve read Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Público Press) and Indian Country Noir (Akashic Books) – both that you co-edited with Liz Martinez.  The writings are evocative and the stories are told in a language that speaks to my heart. I think that my next selection will be Urban Speak: Poetry of the City. I’m making a Christmas list with your titles on it!

I thank you for visiting and sharing your experience as a writer and service oriented individual on my blog. Mostly, I thank you for your tireless efforts in fulfilling a vision that includes helping others that have sparks of creativity to build a fire that roars with the telling of their stories – all meant to be shared in this world, at this time.  This was an honor for me.