Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author’s Lee and Andrew Fearnside, O! Relentless Death

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

LEE: When we started this project I was a professor, and so writing was a part of my daily life. In my art practice I almost always incorporate stories or ethnographic interviews, so connecting other people’s writing to my images felt natural. 

ANDREW:
Writing thousands of pages of session notes as a psychotherapist made writing second nature. But more than that, learning about active listening and practicing compassion in every session helped me grow as an editor. Throughout the process of editing “O! Relentless Death!”, I found the courage to ask risky questions, to listen deeply, and to stay focused on the heart of a written piece rather than its style—because I’d practiced interacting from those perspectives in thousands of counseling sessions.


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2) What inspired you to write your book?


ANDREW:

Lee and I began collaborating in 2015. We gave each other “assignments.” I’d returned to making stuff just a couple years before that time; Lee had been making stuff for years and years, but was interested in stretching her creative practice with unfamiliar media. Partly, the “assignments” were just fun; and partly, they were a chance to apply some good old-fashioned psychological leverage to our individual processes. And they also made for more communication between us, which we both wanted.

So when we realized in mid-2016 that we’d both been doing art-things about the landslide of celebrity deaths that were starting to accumulate at that point, we already had an established channel for communication and collaboration in place. We chose linocut as the medium, because like our “assignments,” it was a medium neither of us felt accomplished in. We were forced to figure out ways to adapt what could be a sprawling process to little plates. That, and we’d both made linocuts with our mother, a lifelong printmaker.

After the 2016 election, the project became clear: there was a parallel between the losses of cultural heroes like Gwen Ifill and, as Progressives, the loss of the election. To us it felt like something died that day. 

LEE:

Our collaboration became a way to grieve together, with each other as brother and sister, and as artists/editors with the writers who participated in the project. It felt like sharing our grief was a way to create community.


3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

ANDREW:

While cultural heroes like George Michael and Gwen Ifill are larger than life within the context of global media, they are also containers for enormously powerful cultural forces. They deserve respect for their achievements, certainly, and we mourn their losses.

LEE:

But they also are entry points for people’s experiences. We feel a connection to celebrities, even though we’ve usually never met them, because of the role they play in out lives. I hope that readers will identify with the writers’ reflections of their experiences with celebrities, and see some of their lives reflected in the words and images in the book. 


4) What drew you into this particular genre?

LEE: 

Portraits are both direct and interpretive. The relief prints show our understanding of the specific celebrities, as well as recognizable image, just as the writing show the individual author’s experiences as well as something we can all recognize. I really love working with other artists on projects as it can be energizing to play off of each others’ ideas, so this collaboration with my brother and the writers was a natural extension of what I’ve done before. 

ANDREW:

Art. A deep and abiding love of picture book genres like illustrated children’s books, comics, and old encyclopedias. The grounded understanding that as artists, this book was something we could do that would literally draw real emotional connections between us and our readers, and that that is a powerful political act.


5) What was the one story or celebrity that you identified with the most in this book?

ANDREW:

George Michael. I hated Wham at the time, and didn’t think much of his work as it progressed through the 80s and 90s. And to be honest, I still don’t think he was a great artist, compared to luminaries like Prince. But learning about him in 2016-17, and then making an image of him, I found myself weeping for what he went through, what he carried for all of us. He was outed during a period of intense upheaval and change, and suffered for it. He was forced to be a figurehead for a movement he seemed to have been ambivalent about. And all in public, at the receiving end of a firehose of cultural venom no one, no one EVER, deserved.

LEE:

For me it was Prince, who was a big part of my early adulthood. I listened to his music in high school and college, which for me (and many people) was a time when I really figured out myself as a person. So listening to his music is nostalgic on a lot of levels for me. This also made his portrait the hardest for me to make. Which Prince did I want to show? Could my portrait really capture everything I felt about him? I think I made 3 or 4 images before I settled on the one that made it to the book. 


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 6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

LEE: 

Facebook was where we connected with a lot of potential writers, showed people work in progress, and then launched the Kickstarter campaign that funded printing of the book. We use both Kickstarter and Facebook to keep in touch with our readership, and dabble in Instagram.

ANDREW:

Kickstarter, if we’re going to be really literal about a social media platform. Then, at last, after everything else that we personally did with our own strategy and planning, it’d be Facebook.


7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

LEE:

The old saying of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is so true. I used to tell my students that they had to make at least 10 bad things before they had the 1 good thing. You have to keep making, keep revising, and keep getting feedback. It can be a relentless process, being creative, but only by continuing even when it feels like you’re making crap can you push through to the good stuff. 

ANDREW:

Keep tinkering with your daily creative practice, whatever it may be. Every time you do it, you’re doing IT—the big thing, the masterwork, the whole enchilada. Whatever it is for you, you’re going to do it one TRILLION BILLION times. May your moments of inspiration become as common, and as miraculous, as breathing.


8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

ANDREW:

I’m focusing on building my practice and business as a muralist in Albuquerque, NM, where I live. 

LEE:

I’m working on a book about animal adaptations to human behavior and encroachment. The book is modeled after a field guide, but is really a series of stories paired with images just like our last book. The stories range from the absurd, like crocodiles in Florida using pool noodles as floatation devices or mountain goats in Olympic National Park becoming addicted to hikers’ urine, to the disturbing and profoundly sad, like wildebeests in Botswana no longer migrating because of fenced off ranch land or cane toads taking over the Australian landscape and forcing out native fauna. My hope is that readers will laugh but also think about what we as humans are doing to the animals we share our world with. The book comes out this spring. If anyone is interested in learning more, follow our Facebook page “Fearnside and Fearnside” or our Kickstarter, “Lee and Andrew Fearnside.”

https://www.chimeraprojects.art/

Posted in Interviews

Interview With Author Jerome Preisler

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

When I was about ten or eleven I started writing a kind of science fiction/fantasy/horror novel. I suppose it was a kind of escape; I was not the happiest of kids. I wrote the beginning in longhand, but after a couple of months taught myself to type on an old manual typewriter that was sitting around in my room. The book wound up being exactly 138 pages, single-spaced. I’ve been writing ever since, with long lapses until I hit my late twenties and decided to really make a go at doing it professionally. 


2) What inspired you to write your book?

Well, in the case of Net Force, which was a previously existing—if long dormant—bestselling franchise,  it’s kind of different from a novel I would conceive entirely on my own. I was initially asked to relaunch the series, but the whole process took a while, and there were extended lulls before it all came together. Finally I made a big push to convince everyone involved that the time was right to get it done, cybersecurity and the evolution of cyberspace being very much at the forefront of our collective awareness nowadays. It took a lot of work and patience, but here we are, happily!


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3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I have three epigraphs. One quote is from President John F. Kennedy: “What unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

I like the word “theme” better than “message,” and if the series does have a theme, JFK put it very succinctly. We’re living in a time of great challenge. Political, moral, ethical, environmental, technological, social … this is a hinge-point in terms of our very survival and evolution as a species.  If humanity’s going to make it, we’re going to need heroes of all nationalities and ethnicities and genders to stand up against the forces that threaten our freedom … and our existence.

That’s where Net Force comes in.


4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve written books of almost every type, and like working in many different genres. I don’t think of Net Force as being one thing or another … to me it’s just a thriller, with elements of mystery, suspense, cyberpunk and other categories. I get to use my whole toolkit, and that’s part of the fun.


5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Hands down, it’s Kali Alcazar. But I wouldn’t ask her anything in particular. I’d just want to have a long conversation with lots of good, strong coffee for us to drink. Kali is 28 years or so and going on a thousand; an old, old soul. There are oceans of depth to her. You could know Kali for years and still feel she’s a mystery. But there’s a core certainty about her, a knowingness, that’s rock solid. Once Kali makes a decision, she never questions it, never second guesses herself. That’s very different from how I’ve been most of my life, though I’ve gotten more like her in recent years. Kali’s someone you can depend on in extreme moments. At the same time, she isn’t infallible. She is who she is by choice, and some of those choices have taken her down difficult roads. But she’s true to herself and her values and the things and people she cares about. If she’s on your side, she’ll stand with you through any hardship and danger … but don’t cross her or you’ll regret it!  


6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

To be completely honest, I’m not convinced social media works that well. It still seems to me that one good radio or tv appearance is worth any number of tweets or Facebook posts. But I’m keeping an open mind and staying at it, so let’s say the verdict’s still out.



7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you really want to write, be disciplined, and don’t sit around waiting for inspiration. I love baseball and always use the analogy of a batter getting in his daily repetitions, or reps. Hitters need routine, they need steady, regular at-bats. Sit them for a few days, and they slip off their game. My father toiled in a factory most of his life, a garment sweatshop, and what I got from him was my work ethic. He never missed a day of work in his life and I admire that. You do it every day. Doesn’t matter how you feel. You get up and go to work.


8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon? 

I finished the first Net Force enovella—a prequel that spotlights Kali and CIA manhunter Mike Carmody—last August. It’s called Eye of the Drone and will be out in June and it kicks butt. And I’m currently writing my second Net Force novel, which will be released in the autumn of 2020. Last but not least, I have a Civil War narrative history about a colorful character named Will Cushing that’s due out in October 2020. So, thankfully, I’m keeping busy!


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About the Author

Jerome Preisler is the prolific author of almost forty books of fiction and narrative nonfiction, including all eight novels in the New York Times bestselling TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS series.

His latest book is NET FORCE:DARK WEB (November 2019), the first novel in a relaunch of the New York Times bestselling series co-created by Tom Clancy. Forthcoming in May 2020 is the enovella NET FORCE: EYE OF THE DRONE.

Among Jerome’s recent works of narrative history are CODE NAME CAESAR: The Secret Hunt for U-boat 864 During World War Two, and FIRST TO JUMP: How the Band of Brothers Was Aided by the Brave Paratroopers of Pathfinders Company. His next book of nonfiction, CIVIL WAR COMMANDO: William Cushing’s Daring Raid to Sink the Invincible Ironclad C.S.S. Albemarle,will be published by Regnery Books in October 2020.

Jerome lives in New York City and coastal Maine.


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Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Interviews

Interview with Author R. Douglas Clark

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I got into writing through journalism. For several years I wrote for newspapers and magazines as a freelancer. My specialty was music journalism, which is good training for writing fiction. Writing about music is almost impossible to do!

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was (and am) inspired by the place where I live: the seasons, the people, the history. The material is very rich for writing.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Live life to the fullest, and be tolerant of others. Also, have a sense of humor!

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

This book is not easily pegged to be a specific genre. For marketing purposes, it is called science fiction, and it does have sections of sci-fi, but there is more contemporary fiction in it than anything else.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d love to talk to Tai-Keiko because she is from another millennium. I would ask her to describe life in her time to ours.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

The jury is out on this one. I think that the social media platform called “word of mouth” is the best of all.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t be afraid to take chances.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?


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I have just finished my next book, “Dangerous Crossing.” It takes place on the border between the US and Mexico, and is concerned with contemporary issues, such as immigration, drug smuggling, human trafficking and sports gambling. It is due out early in 2020.

Print Length: 195 Pages

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Beeline Press (June 19, 2019)

ISBN-10: 1645400646

ISBN-13: 978-1645400646

Welcome to Maravilla  is now available to purchase on Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and  IndieBound.

About the Author

R. Douglas Clark was born in Vermont, grew up in Colorado, attended college in Chicago, and received a Master’s degree in music from Brown University. Seeing no future for himself in academia, he spent a year in the Oregon woods, living in a primitive cabin, writing music reviews and cultural commentary for magazines and newspapers. Next stop, Eugene, Oregon where he spent 20 damp years as a bootstrap businessman, father and musician. On a vacation trip, he and his wife, Shelley, fell in love with sunny northern New Mexico and subsequently moved there. After four years running Boys and Girls Clubs in Chimayó and Abiquiú–and another four, running a U-pick raspberry farm–he retired to write fiction full time.  

Find R. Douglas online: https://www.rdouglasclark.com/

— Blog Tour Dates

October 14th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch the blog tour for author R. Douglas Clark’s book Welcome to Maravilla. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book. 

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 15th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto shares her thoughts about the sci-fi book Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark. 

http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

October 16th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto

Middle Schooler Carmen Otto reviews R. Douglas Clark’s Welcome to Maravilla and explains to her friends why this is a great book for even young readers.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles reviews Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark and delights readers at World of My Imagination with an opportunity to learn more about this fast-paced sci-fi novel!

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ Selling Books

Don’t miss today’s author interview with R. Douglas Clark as Cathy Stucker finds out more about his latest release Welcome to Maravilla.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

October 21st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Today’s guest author at Memoir Writer’s Journey is R. Douglas Clark with an article about _________. Join Kathleen Pooler’s audience as they learn more about Clark and his latest book Welcome to Maravilla.

https://krpooler.com/

October 22nd @ To Write or Not To Write

Sreevarsha reviews Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clarks and delights readers at To Write or Not To Write with her thoughts about this excellent novel!

http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

October 23rd @ World of My Imagination

Learn more about R. Douglas Clark and his new book Welcome to Maravilla as he shares a few thoughts in an interesting interview with Nicole Pyles at World of My Imagination.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

October 24th @ Look to the Western Sky

Visit Margo’s blog today where you can catch today’s author spotlight and learn more about R. Douglas Clark and his latest book Welcome to Maravilla.

https://margoldill.com/

October 25th @ A StoryBook World

Don’t miss today’s publicity post at A Storybook World as readers at Dierdra’s blog are introduced to “Welcome to Maravilla” by R. Douglas Clark.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

October 28th @ Breakeven Books

Today’s Book Spotlight at Breakeven Books is Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark – don’t miss this great opportunity to add this lovely new novel to your collection!

https://breakevenbooks.com/

October 28th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews R. Douglas Clark about his latest novel Welcome to Maravilla . Readers will delight in learning more about this science fiction story with it’s courageous characters!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

November 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina interview R. Douglas Clark about his latest novel Welcome to Maravilla

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 12th @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina shares his thoughts after reading Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark – don’t miss this review!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 13th @ Bring on Lemons with Tara Forst

Wisconsin mother and book lover shares her review of R. Douglas Clark’s latest Welcome to Maravilla with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

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Posted in Guest Post, writing tips

The Blurb Factor: 3 Crucial Steps to Optimize Your Book Description | Guest Post

I am honored to be able to share this next guest blog post with you all. Writer Greg Josselyn from Reedsy has reached out with a brand new post on the Blurb Factor to share with aspiring authors and writers out there. Enjoy and be sure to follow Greg’s work on Reedsy.


From botched to bestselling

When romance writer Alessandra Torre uploaded her first book on Amazon eight years ago, she only sold three on the first day. And for the next few months, she averaged a still-disappointing 15 – until one night, she looked at her book description and said: “I’m going to re-write this.” 

That re-write sparked a renaissance. First, it was 100 books sold in one day. Then 300. Then 2,000. That’s when she started ranking as a top seller in the Romance category, and offers from agents and publishers came flooding in. Now, Torre is an Amazon International bestselling novelist, with over a dozen books to her name. 

We can’t pin Torre’s success entirely on a book blurb – she is a good writer, after all! But we would be remiss not to poke around the subject, especially since this is a great Amazon self-publishing success story. The fact is, without the social credit and marketing budget of a big publishing house, the seemingly small things we usually save for last – like book descriptions – will make or break you. 

If you’re a writer who’s planning to self-publish, this post will help improve your book description (or back cover text) and grow your profitability on Amazon. But even if you aren’t quite at that stage yet, you can apply these techniques to query letters and pitches for your book. After all, it’s never too early to start selling people on your ideas.

Step 1: Get a hook and bait

Hook, hook, hook. That seems to be all writers and editors ever talk about, and yet, most of us still wonder what it really means. When we say “hook”, we mean like a fish hook, with – you you guessed it – bait. This is particularly important in the sea of distractions that is Amazon.com. But what are the raw materials that will make up your hook and bait? You’ll require: 

  1. A brief – we cannot stress this enough – summary of the story (no spoilers, please!) 
  2. A question that the story poses (which, of course, makes the reader want to find the answer so much that they’re willing to pay $9.99 for it). What’s going to compel Suzie So-And-So to forgo her mocha lattes this week for your book? 
  3. A little typography dress-up. You don’t have to go to coding boot camp to try on bolds, italics, and colors when setting up your product page. For example, on Amazon, you can:
    • Make things bold: <b>Be Bold My Friend, Be Bold</b>
    • Italicize Things <i>don’t go overboard though here because sometimes readers breeze over italics </i> 
    • Headline: <h1>This is a classier way to do all caps</h1>
    • Amazon Colors: <h2>Jeff Bezos will approve.</h2>
    • Indent: <blockquote>for anyone who likes a good old indent, you’re welcome. </blockquote>

Step 2: Blurb it out

Try to think of your book description in the most succinct terms possible. This isn’t a school book report; it’s like more like an elevator pitch. In other words, don’t blurt it out – blurb it out!

And when it comes to blurbs, our friend Torre is the master. If she didn’t revise the blurb for her first book, she may have switched careers instead of rising to the New York Times best seller list, which is why we always refer aspiring writers to her video tips on the subject. But in brief, she stresses these two essential facts: 

  1. The first three sentences of the blurb matter most. It’s like a teaser trailer – after those three sentences, users are going to have to click “Read More” to well, read more. To keep them scrolling, or get them to move onto the “full trailer,” as it were, those three sentences should stand out by utilizing the problem/question structure mentioned above.

One strong way to do that is to employ the classic proposition “but.” For example: “Will Byers lived a normal life in a boring suburban town. But when a mysterious alien creature shows up, his life turns upside down. Will it ever turn right side up again?” (Read More…)

  1. Leave out unnecessary details. All too often, authors use their blurbs to share irrelevant details like character surnames, where they live, their professions, or other excess exposition to no end. Cut all of that out – just set up the problem and the stakes of the story. You can always go full-on Charles Dickens in the actual book. But don’t make your blurb into Bleak House, or you’ll send readers running for the hills. 

Step 3: Demonstrate (and prove!) a social benefit

You’ve done it all so far: The blurb is short enough for a social media share. Your first three sentences set up a key question and further dilemma. You’ve omitted unnecessary details, like your character’s middle name or their township’s population.

And yet, potential readers are still scrolling to click on other book titles in your category. Yes, it could be other factors like book cover design and reviews, but still – there’s one last ingredient needed to seal the deal on your blurb. This is, of course, why the book matters to the potential buyer. What does your book provide for them? How will it make an impact on their life? Advertisements do it all the time, so why not utilize this technique to sell your book?  

For example, if your book is self-help, be sure to mention that they’ll never think the same way about X problem ever again. Or if it’s fiction, show how your main character is relatable to readers, and how they overcome problems that many of us experience in our own lives.

If you have reviews or testimonials to prove this, even better: up the social proof to the max. And if you’re new to self-publishing, drawing comparisons to pre-existing works is one great way to do it (e.g. “This Gender Bending Historial Fantasy is Games of Thrones meets Queer Eye), or just stress how it’ll change the reader’s way of looking at the world (“fantasy fans and fashionistas will never be the same again…”). 

Takeways

In order to make a successful book blurb, be sure to include:

  1. An enticing lead to grab readers
  2. A question that a reader can only answer by actually reading your book
  3. Proof that the story will benefit the reader’s life – this might be pure entertainment, or genuine self-improvement

There are endless ways to play around with these elements. Try out different options – at least three – and test them with friends and family, as well as pro beta readers. Ask: which description pulls you in? Which one doesn’t do it for you? And why? Or, do an A/B test in Amazon: swap out the different descriptions and see which one performs the best.

Still no sales? Keep re-writing and testing until you do, like Alessandra Torre. Otherwise, accept that the marketplace just may not be ready for this particular book, and start re-examining your content from the ground up.  

Greg Josselyn is a writer for Reedsy, a curated marketplace dedicated to empowering authors. When he’s not covering KDP Select, he writes short fiction and makes podcasts.

Twitter / Instagram.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, book launch, Guest Post

Guest Blog Post: What I’m Writing Now, Now That My Novel Is on the Shelves By Madeline Sharples

Hey everyone, Author Anthony Avina here. I’m honored today to be sharing with you this guest blog post from author Madeline Sharples, author of the recently reviewed book, Papa’s Shoes, in association with Women on Writing Tours. I hope you all will enjoy it and please make sure to comment on this post and share it as well. Enjoy everyone.


I didn’t think I had another book in me after I finished my novel, Papa’s Shoes. Writing that took a long time even though I didn’t work on it straight through all those nine years. But when I had finished the tenth revision, I felt my book writing days were over.

However, I started to get itchy to write something else when I started querying publishers – exactly what I did in 2010. I started my novel while I was querying publishers for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

I took one look in the mirror and realized from my aging face that I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on. I just turned seventy-nine, and my mirror told me I looked it. 

So I thought I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for forty-nine years and living in the same house for forty years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – each at a different paces. Yes, I decided another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we’re still working at surviving the loss of our son in 1999, what we eat, how we sleep, my health and exercise program, about our travels, and what do we do all day at our age.

Another thing that triggered my decision to write this new memoir is the many people my age who are sick or have died. Just yesterday I heard about the death of a wonderful work colleague and friend much younger than me who died of a massive heart attack. With those facts in mind I decided to bring aging healthy into the book. I am very fit for my age. I workout every day and eat healthy. Why couldn’t I write a memoir about aging healthy? 

I hope readers will take a good look at themselves and what they are doing to live the rest of their lives successfully. I hope they will take my examples about what to do and what not to do as I age seriously. For example, I recently spent a few days with my cousin who is four years younger than I. She is out of shape and doesn’t eat very healthy. But while I was with her we took long, fast walks every day, and she’s still taking them even though I’m not with her. She says I was an inspiration to her. I hope to be an inspiration to all my readers. 

I also have to contend with the hardest parts to write: 1) the lasting effects of our older son’s suicide death in 1999, 2) my married son and daughter-in-law’s decision to live a married life without children, and 3) some regrets about decisions I’ve made over the years. I know all of us have life experiences that are hard to write and talk about. We also have regrets. Hopefully my writing about these things will engage my readers in thinking how they’ve lived their own lives and what they can improve on for their futures.

So far, I’ve written the first draft to this brief outline:

PART ONE

  1. What stage of life I am in right now
  2. A little looking back – maybe incorporate my reunion experiences of seeing old classmates and being in the neighborhoods where I grew up
  3. What I see when I look in the mirror
  4. My daily routine
  5. What I do to take care of myself
  6. How much I like my privacy and alone time
  7. My physical maladies
  8. My emotional life 
  9. My depression and suicidal thoughts
  10. I say I’m a writer, but what do I really write
  11. My writing routine
  12. My volunteer life: South Bay Cares and WriteGirl
  13. My married life
  14. How my son’s death affects my life now
  15. What about no grandchildren – how has that affected my relationship with my son and daughter-in-law
  16. How I spend my time
  17. Friends and relatives – how much I back away
  18. What I see for the future
  19. What’s next on my bucket list
  20. End of life directives
  21. My beliefs or lack thereof of an afterlife, and my lack of a spiritual life

PART TWO

  1. What advice I give to those heading my way

PART THREE

  1. How I feel about turning eighty and repairing for my imminent 

About the Book:  

Papa’s Shoes, a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoesis a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent. 

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, theshoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering. 

·        Print Length: 286 pages

·        Publisher: Aberdeen Bay (April 27, 2019)

·        Publication Date: April 27, 2019

·        ASIN: B07R7MQ6CM

Praise:

“From an insightful storyteller, Papa’s Shoes, is a heartwarming story of courage and love. Author Madeline Sharples has created an epic journey with intriguing twists and surprises along the way. From days of old in Poland to cultural and economic realities in America, this is an awe-inspiring novel about families, generational history, and the incredible power of change. You truly won’t want to put it down!”

—D.A. Hickman, author of Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time

“Author Madeline Sharples tells the intimate story of an American family, of immigration, tragedy, renewal, and love with grace and the delicate touch of a poet. There’s a raw kind of sweetness in this rich and epic saga.”

—David W. Berner, author of The Consequence of Stars and A Well-Respected Man

“An immigrant family’s braided history – its conflicts, losses, and secrets – come to life in Papa’s Shoes. With loving attention to detail, Madeline Sharples transports readers from a Polish shtetl to the Illinois town where Ira and Ruth settle, and shows us the intimate workings of their

marriage. This family’s triumphant journey to the American Midwest will inspire you long after

you’ve closed these pages.”

—Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story

A longer synopsis

On a cold and pouring night in Sokolow Poland, Ira Schuman carefully steps over the red mud puddles on the streets, sad, weary, and soaked. He dreads what he’ll find when he arrives at his two-room house in the Jewish section of the stetl. He envisions his mourning wife, Ruth, angry he wasn’t home when three of their four boys died during a flu epidemic.

As he enters the silence in what was once a home full of the loud voices and cries of little boys is deafening. However, he can’t wait to embrace Ruth, comfort her despite his own grief, and tell his surviving son about his love for America.

Ira’s goal is to become Americanized and bring what’s left of his family to a small town in Illinois, when he has enough money and an established business. Ruth doesn’t want to leave Poland and the graves of their three dead sons.

After their initial cold and difficult reunion, Ira keeps his promise to impregnate Ruth before he goes back to Illinois. Three years later he sends her the money to follow him to Illinois with their son age 10 and little girl, Ava, age three. Ruth agrees to leave Poland because of fears that the Russian army will recruit her son.

After a short stay in Chicago, the family moves to Danville IL, where Ira joins his brother in their shoe-making business. Though free of his long hair, beard and forelocks, and wearing modern clothes without the four-cornered yarmulke he threw into the Atlantic Ocean, Ira wants to bring a semblance of Orthodox Jewish life to his family and his new town. He creates a synagogue, hires a rabbi, and arranges the delivery of kosher meats. He also begins an affair with a chubby but curvy redheaded widow. Ruth, who smothers Ava and tries to keep her a little girl, has grown fatter and more unkempt, always wearing the same tight-fitting black dress she wore in Sokolow. She wants no part of Ira’s synagogue work.

Ruth keeps her hold on Ava, antagonizing her daughter. They argue continuously throughout Ava’s school years. Ava gets the lead in her senior high school play, and she and the director, a student at the local college, strike up a relationship – she tells her parents they are just friends when he picks her up to take her to school events.

Her brother, in law school in Chicago at nights and working in the textile business during the day, comes home and warns his parents that if they don’t move her away from this gentile, he will take her to Chicago himself. Ira agrees to let Ava go; Ruth does not. In the end her brother’s argument wins. Ava, ever respectful of her parents and out of her love for her brother, tells her director friend that she must leave. They are devastated but stay away from each other until the day before her departure.

In Chicago, Ava’s brother introduces her to a suitable man. He’s a bit of a milk toast, messy, and not very motivated in school or business, but he’s nice and attentive so she goes out with him for quite some time. Her rationale is that dating him will protect her from meeting someone she could actually fall for. She also experiences the modern ways of young women in the 1920s. She goes to dance halls and speakeasies, speaks flap talk, works as a seamstress, designs her own short and swingy dresses, and lives freely away from her mother. Her suitor proposes, but Ava says, “What a pretty little ring,” instead of yes.

After continued pleas from her director friend and her still undying love for him, Ava returns to Danville as a mature and determined young woman. She withstands a blow-up with her parents when she tells them she wants to marry her gentile friend. Ira throws her out.  That night he goes to the synagogue to say the mourner’s kadish for his daughter but decides to break up with the red-headed widow and mourn his relationship with her instead. To assuage his guilt, he makes her a pair of shoes that she wears at her wedding.

While Ava is sad not to have her family with her at her wedding, she is hopeful that her mother and father will come around. Her biggest fear is that she will never see her brother again, the man she loved and looked up to all her growing up years. However, she is happy with her decision to marry her love no matter how they feel.

About the Author

Madeline also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines, e.g., in the 2016 Porter Gulch Review, Yellow Chair’s In the Words of Womyn 2016 anthology, Story Circle Network’s journals and anthologies, the Best of Poetry Salon 2013-2018, and the Vine Leaves Literary Journal: a Collection of Vignettes from Across the Globe, 2017.  And her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. One of Madeline’s essays has also appeared in the My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh. 

Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and. Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAlive, Open to Hope,and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.


Find Madeline Online:

website/blog

Facebook page 1

Facebook page 2

Twitter page



———-Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – June 3rd

Madeline Sharples launches her tour of “Papa’s Shoes” with an insightful interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

June 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

The lovely Lacey reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples and shares her review with readers at Coffee with Lacey. This is a blog stop and review readers won’t want to miss!

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

June 5th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won’t want to miss!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 6th @ Beverley A. Baird

Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America – “Papa’sShoes” by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 7th @ Linda Neas

Today’s guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled “How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my

age.” Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”! 

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

June 12th @ Linda Neas

Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline’s latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to bypass!

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

June 18th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Cathy Stucker interviews Madeline Sharples at Selling Books. Readers will flock to learn more about Sharples and her latest novel “Papa’sShoes”.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

June 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Don’t miss Linda’s insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

June 27th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

June 28th @ Deal Sharing Aunt / Vicki Brinius

Vicky Brinius reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Find out how she feels after reading this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

July 2nd @Author Anthony Avina

Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – this is a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settled in America.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 2nd @ Amanda Sanders

Amanda of Amanda Diaries reviews Madeline Sharples latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – read Amanda’s review and add this lovely story to your TBR pile today!

https://amandadiaries.com/

July 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Readers at Anthony Avina’s blog will delight with today’s guest post and author interview with Madeline Sharples – learn more about her and her latest work!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 5th @ Lisa Buske

Lisa Buske shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” – the latest novel by Madeline Sharples and a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

August 12th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey

Readers and writers alike will want to stop by Memoir Writer’s Journey to hear from Kathleen Pooler and friend / fellow author Madeline Sharples as they discuss Madeline’s latest book “Papa’s Shoes”.

https://krpooler.com/

Posted in Guest Post, mental health awareness

Guest Post: The Mental Health Struggles of Writers

This is Anthony Avina here. I’m happy to share with you guys this amazing guest post from the amazing people at BetterHelp and Regain about the mental health struggles of writers. I hope you guys will enjoy this post and gain some helpful insights into the life and mental health struggles writers go through.


Writing is a rich, rewarding profession; at least if you’re successful with it. However, even the most successful writers face mental health struggles. In this post, we will explain a few struggles a writer of any level may face.

Help for Your Struggles

Being a writer is hard, and sometimes you need to work on your own mental health to be a better writer. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, hopelessness, or need advice you should seek out the help you need. With so many writers busy at home, online therapy is becoming the new method of getting help. For more information, click this link: https://www.regain.us/advice/

The Fear of Rejection

Rejection is difficult for anyone to take, no matter your resistance to it. Rejection can come in many forms. If you’re a fiction author trying to publish the next great novel, getting dozens of rejection letters is a challenge. You just want to give up and keep your writing to yourself, or self-publish. Sure, you can hear inspiring stories about how the biggest authors got rejected hundreds of times, but it’s hard to stay motivated even then.

For a freelance writer, a potential client rejecting you and hiring someone else can be hurtful as well. You may wonder what you did wrong, and wonder if your work is any good at all. This especially applies if you don’t know why the rejection happened.

Getting past rejection is a challenge. While many say it gets better with time, others still struggle with it.

The Fear of Criticism

This is similar to the rejection fear. Your work gets out, and you want to hear what others are saying. Even if the reception is mostly positive, people tend to focus on the vocal minority of negative reviewers, and they may be upset or defensive over their work.

Even if you write the next great American novel, there is always going to be dissent. Handling criticism can be done in many ways. Some just ignore their critics, while others listen to the critics who have interesting points and see if they can make changes. With that said, don’t change your work just because you read a bad review.

The Struggle for Creativity

For some writers, creativity is always around the corner. For others, creativity comes in droplets. Writer’s block can affect a writer, and everyone fears it, especially if your income is dependent on your creativity.

Exercising creativity is a good way to get the juices flowing. Not overthinking your creativity is a good move too. Many people get their best ideas when they aren’t thinking too hard. However, this does not apply to everyone.

Staying Isolated

Many people dream of being writers because they like the idea of working from home, with no one watching you. However, many writers feel lonely or cooped up in their home, especially if they are single. However, even writers who have families may struggle with loneliness. If you have kids, teaching them the value of writing is a good way to get rid of that loneliness. For more information,   click here or look here.

That’s why some writers may go to coffee shops or other social gatherings. Alternatively, you can write in nature if you have a laptop and Internet access if your work requires that.

It’s a Rewarding, Yet Tough Career

If you can get past the mental health struggles of writing, it can be a rewarding career. When you have all the bumps bypassed, writing is great for the mind and can lead you down a path of creativity. Speak to other writers, or a therapist, if you’re having any struggles or doubts. People can help you, and you can succeed with your work.

Posted in Guest Post

5 Common Mistakes First-Time Authors Make

Author Anthony Avina here. How is everyone today? I’m here to introduce this amazing guest blog post from writer Emmanuel Nataf on the five mistakes authors make on their first time writing books. I hope you guys will enjoy this amazing article and be sure to follow Emmanuel on all of his writing adventures!


Aristotle wrote, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” In other words, there’s literally no way to learn certain things other than by actually doing them — and writing a book is one such thing.

That being said, aspiring authors can definitely prepare themselves for the process of writing a book by learning from others. With that in mind, here are five common mistakes first-time authors make — and how to avoid them!

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1. Not creating an outline

If your preferred method of writing is to let your pen lead the way, then you’re probably a big fan of freewriting — which is a great exercise! But, in general, setting out to write a book without creating at least a loose outline tends to result in an ever-growing pile of unfinished manuscripts.

Just like you would consult a map to help you drive from Point A to Point B in unfamiliar territory, creating an outline before you start writing a book can help you get from “Once upon a time” to “Happily ever after.” Simply check your outline any time you feel you’re starting to lose the plot.

Here are three popular outline methods you can try out:

  • The Beat Sheet — makes note of just the book’s significant beats (important incidents in the story). Check out an example of Toy Story 3 mapped out by just it’s beats here.
  • The Character Driven Outline — maps out a story through character development.
  • The Synopsis — a detailed and holistic story outline that touches on all important story aspects: characters, conflicts, themes, etc.

2. Not getting to know their characters well enough

If you were to go on an extended trip with someone you barely know, chances are that conflicts of personality or unexpected challenges would come up. However, if you were to travel at length with someone you know well, you would already have an idea of how to navigate any potential conflicts, and would likely find your journey a bit smoother.

Writing a novel is like going on a trip with your main character(s). You’re going to be spending long hours with this character, exploring unfamiliar territory together, and basically relying on one another for a meaningful outcome. So before you set out on the journey of writing a book, get to know your protagonists as much as possible.

In-depth character development involves more than simply coming up with a memorable character name. A great way to get to know your protagonist a little better is by simply asking “them” questions. I know that might sound silly, but the more you ask, the more you’ll answer! To get started, check out Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions That Lead to Love or The Proust Questionnaire.

3. Not reading at length in their genre

If you’re writing a science fiction novel, chances are you’ve probably read Frankenstein, The Time Machine, and other sci-fi classics. It’s unlikely that someone who’s never read a single fantasy novel will suddenly decide to write a book involving an intricate magical system.

That being said, there’s a difference between reading for pleasure vs. to understand a genre.

If you’re planning to write genre fiction, pick up some classics as well as some newer publications before you begin. Read them with a discerning eye, looking for tropes that pop up again and again, new elements that the books bring to the table, and trends that have come and gone within the genre. This will help you get a sense of readers’ expectations, how to ensure your book stands out, and whether your story feels timely.

4. Not devoting enough time to developmental editing

While every writer knows the importance of meticulous proofreading, it can be tempting to rush the stage that comes before a proofread: developmental editing, which involves fine-tuning the story. It can be difficult for authors to do this themselves, as they’re often too close to the story and might not recognize things like plot holes or unclear worldbuilding. So it’s a good idea to consider working with a professional editor or beta readers.

If you do decide to do your own developmental editing, here are a few questions to keep in mind as you edit:

  • Language: Are there any words frequently repeated throughout the manuscript? Are there too many instances of passive voice? Are there filler words that can be removed?
  • Characters: Does the development of the character match the development of the narrative? Are there any instances where a character acts inconsistently?
  • Structure: Does the sequence of the scenes feel logical? Is the structure easy for readers to follow? Does the structure of the scenes allow the story to develop in the best way? Are there any scenes that aren’t completely necessary to the story?
  • Plot: Are there any plot holes? Are there any plotlines that are unresolved?

5. Not following the golden rule: show, don’t tell

This is one of those “rules of storytelling” you hear so often, it’s hard not to roll your eyes when it comes up. And while there’s nothing that encourages you to break the rules quite like art, there are certain tricks of the trade that are long-standing for a reason. “Show, don’t tell” is one of them.

But what does it actually mean?  Well, showing instead of telling aims to immerse readers in a story by putting us in the character’s shoes. Instead of saying “Joe was shy,” we see Joe off to the side at a group event, nervously playing with his cufflinks, avoiding smalltalk by texting on his phone. As Anton Chekhov put it: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

While the best way to learn anything is by making mistakes — and then learning how to fix them — I hope this post will help you sidestep some of the more common ones so that you can focus on simply telling a great story.

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Emmanuel Nataf is a founder at Reedsy, a marketplace and set of tools that allows authors and publishers to find top editorial, design and marketing talent. Over 4,000 books have been published using Reedsy’s services.

Follow Emmanuel At:

Twitter

Website

Posted in Interviews

Author Interview with Francis Moss

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always written. I remember sitting at my parent’s Underwood and typing out stories, probably about dogs, cats or spacemen. In college, I wrote for the school paper and a couple of local papers, the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Express-Times. In 1979, a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a writer,” I said. She said: “Write for television. That’s where the money is.”

I took her advice and cranked out a few spec scripts for TV shows I liked. One of them got the attention of the producer of Buck Rogers, and I wound up writing two episodes, which got me into The Writers’ Guild. Then the Guild went on strike, and I, with a family to support, needed work. A local company, Filmation, was looking for writers for a new cartoon show, She-Ra, Princess of Power (cartoon writers were not in the Guild). I got on staff at the show, wrote and edited a bunch, and spent the rest of my TV career writing ‘toons, along with a few non-fiction books for kids.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This sounds like a line from a bad movie, but it came to me in a dream. I was sitting in an office with – of all people! – Mindy Kalin, who was reading a script I’d written. In my waking life, I’d never have thought of pitching to her. She put it down and turned to me: “This is pretty good. Did you write it?” My dream self was offended, and I replied: “No. I got it from the Story Store.” (it’s a writer’s jokey answer to the question, “where do you get your ideas?”). My book, once called “The Story Store” came to me. Of course pretty much everything including the title, got changed.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t think much about messages. I mostly write things I’d like to read. A reviewer pointed out a theme in Losing Normal  of “screen addiction.” So let’s go with that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always written for kids. I am a twelve-year old boy in an old man’s body.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

My first thought was, I’d like to ask Sophie how she could think that adoration from mind-numbed people had anything to do with ‘perfection.’ That seems pretty tongue-in-cheeky, though. I ought to have a more serious answer.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

None of them so far. I have some Facebook friends, a few Twitter followers. But I’m lousy at it.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t wait for ’inspiration.’ Find other writers, either IRL on online, and share your stories. Do something for your writing life every day.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

My current project is promoting the hell out of Losing Normal (hence this prompt reply to your questions).
Books: I’ve got more stories to tell than I have time to write. KillGirl  is my next one (currently 50K+ words in a 2nd draft): a teenage girl seeks revenge for the murders of her grandparents. After that, a middle-grade adventure (maybe a series), about a young boy in WW II England; and a science-fiction story about the multiverse.

Losing Normal is available at Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

I am available (more or less) at: https://www.francismoss.com
https://facebook.com/fcmoss
https://twitter.com/fcmoss

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About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. 

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

www.francismoss.com

Posted in Interviews

Author Interview with Jason Arias

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

  1. I wrote some when I was a kid and teenager. My wife and I started a family early and married when we were twenty. For the next fifteen years I wrote very little. It was about working, putting food on the table, and spending time as a family. Once I established a job as a paramedic I was so sick of reading technical books that I developed a deep hunger for fiction. I wouldn’t call it a problem, but definitely an addiction. I read a lot trying to make up for lost time.

In my thirties I attended one of Chuck Palahniuk’s book launches. Lidia Yuknavitch was his guest reader. I read her book The Chronology of Water. That memoir blew me my face off. The way the tragic coupled with the humorous. The heart left on those pages. A year or two later I realized Lidia was teaching fiction classes at my local community college. With the kids getting to that age where dad (I) was way less than cool to hang with, I found I had a little extra time. The first class turned into a second. The end of the second class rolled into a weekly writing critique group for the next couple of years with some of my peers.

Writing was my outlet for all the things I saw at work, all the things I had neglected in my head throughout my life, all the emotions I’d pushed down because I didn’t want (or know how) to deal with them. Writing became my therapist. The cheapest and most fulfilling therapy I’ve ever had. I told Lidia that one day during my mid-terms conference and she didn’t laugh. She just nodded. I can, without question, point to that first fiction class with Lidia Yuknavitch as the catalyst for everything I’ve published since.

What inspired you to write your book?

It’s really just a product of continually upping the ante. The first goal was just to get a story published. Anywhere. Then to get five published. Then to get one hundred rejections. After creating and reworking a story every week or two for a number of years I had somewhere around thirty stories published in different places and a bunch of unpublished pieces. At that point I felt like I’d stopped moving forward and was moving in circles. That’s the story I tell myself.

The real story is that my writer-ly friends kept asking, “So when are you going to write a book?” And after some self-evaluation, I realized that I kind of already had.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Definitely the themes written on the back jacket are in there (life and death, identity and race, change and resistance to change). There are also themes that question presuppositions about family and masculinity and decision making. But hopefully readers get more out of it than I even realize I’ve put into it. And I hope they get a hold of me and tell me what they find.

I use writing as a way of sorting out what’s confounding about myself or the world or a specific idea. In a sense these stories are writing themselves while I’m trying to pull pieces of answers out of them to build a more comprehensive picture. I’m hungry for these pieces. Every time someone tells me what they’ve gotten from a story they’re given me another piece. It’s like we’re filling in this puzzle together. A puzzle with no box picture. No edge pieces.

I guess what I’m saying is that I know what these stories mean to me, but I’m more interested in hearing what somebody else sees in them. I’m so much more interested in my blind spots.

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What drew you into this particular genre?

Part of what’s always drawn me to short stories is their conciseness. Everybody has time for a short story. There’s an economy to them. Every word is essential. There’s this close, tight world that you can explore these big ideas through. Short stories are sneaky like that.

Also, some of my favorite authors have great works in the genre. People like Junot Diaz, Amy Hempel, Larry Brown, Joy Williams, Scott McClanahan, Elizabeth Ellen, Roxane Gay, Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Ray Donald Pollock, Lorrie Moore, and so many more. To be able to feel or invoke such emotion from so few pages is like a magic trick. BTW if you haven’t already read Friday Black and Heads of Colored People seek them out. These collections are bringing short story to the cultural foreground.   

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would ask Lacey from Inner Workings what she ever saw in Uncle Timmy. Because, really, she’s better than that.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

As much as it pains me, I’d probably have to say Facebook has been the most connecting social media to my readership up to this point. I can link people to my blog, places to buy the book, and promote upcoming readings the easiest there. But to be honest I’m not a great social media user. I don’t get it like my kids do. I’m a little afraid of it. And probably for these reasons, even though I’ve gotten the best results from Facebook, vs. Instagram or Twitter, they’re still not good.

I was just talking to a fellow author and friend at Indies First and he was saying how the best way for indie authors to find their audience is still face-to-face, at readings and bookstores. The downside is that it’s on an individual basis and amounts to small handfuls at a time. It’s a grind and, unless you travel a lot, it’s largely regional. But it’s a start. Unless you’re getting major media or large publishing house help the personal gigs might get you the most loyal bang for your buck.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read. A lot. Write. A lot. Read more than you write, and write a ton. While you’re doing that, have people that know more than you be honest with you about your writing. And understand that they’re not doing it to hurt you. Unless they are. Either way you’ll learn where you need improvement. Be thankful for them.

Find a way to love the editing process. Millionaires on Mtv’s Cribs always used to say, “This is where the magic happens,” and then open the door to their bedroom. For us writers the magic happens on the cutting room floor. Start butchering. Maybe leave a little fat for flavor. Foreplay for a well-honed piece is the Backspace button.

Once you’ve finished the feedback loop of cut up, dressed up and re-critique then send that baby out into the big bad world. While it’s out keep honing other pieces. Know that your words, experiences, and perspective matter but they might take a while to find a home. It’s really just about making the right match. Anybody on dating sites probably already knows that can take some time.

Finally, if you have the chance to take a workshop or class with an author you really respect, do it. It could prove to be an invaluable experience.

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What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ll keep promoting Momentary Illuminations of Objects In Motion to try to give it the best shot possible, but I’m always writing new pieces. I’m always sending shorter stuff out. I’m also currently researching and plotting for my first novel. It takes place in the early to mid-1900s in a West Coast resort town that ended up slowly falling into the ocean.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Arias’ stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion is his first short story collection. 

He has worked as a hospital patient food courier, charter bus after-event cleaner, DMV records consolidator, lithography product deliveryman, one-hour photo developer, cashier, vinyl windows warehouse worker, UPS loader, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, LYFT driver, specimen collector, and sometimes a writer. 

Author’s Website: http://jasonariasauthor.com/

Author’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/jasonariasauthor/