Book Review Friday – The Age of Shiva


By Patricia Zick @PCZick

The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri sat on my bookshelves for five years. I bought it at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, in 2008. I shipped it back to my home in Florida along with ten other books I couldn’t resist in this warehouse of a bookstore. I still have a few other books left to read. But I picked up The Age of Shiva a few weeks ago, and it’s opening page lured me in despite my uneasy feeling when I realized the very sensuous description of a woman being fondled was actually the narrator Meera describing to “you” how it felt to breastfeed “you” as a tiny baby.

Written in first person (although an argument could be made that it’s really second person), Meera is describing her life of sacrifice in India during the decades from the 1950s to the 1980s to her son Ashvin. The female narrator comes to life under the author’s careful sketch. After the first chapter, I read the biography of the author and discovered Manil Suri is a man – another off-kilter revelation. Suri pulls it off.

The book is at its best in the descriptions of India’s turmoil under the rule of Nehru and then Indira Gandhi. The racial and religious tensions is given life through the other characters close to Meera. Her brother-in-law belongs to the radical HRM, which hopes to drive out all other religions from India, leaving Hindu as the ruling majority class. Meera’s father is nonreligious and likes to flaunt his secularism in the face of his very nonsecular Hindu wife. He invites Muslims to the house for dinner and socializes with them in public. However, when Meera’s younger sister marries a Muslim, even the father has difficulty accepting it. Meera remains on the outside looking in, which gives an objective view and allows the reader to realize both sides will do anything to win.

Meera’s life is run by the men, which is most likely a true portrayal of an Indian woman, especially during the 1950s. She is passive aggressive with those men as she finds ways to defy them. The punishments inflicted on her are a steep price to pay for her momentary thrill in winning a small victory.

Suri paints a very complicated portrait of a mother and son. As Ashvin grows into a young man, the relationship becomes wholly unhealthy. Meera selfishly tries to keep him to herself and what ensues is difficult and horrifying to read. It is the son who finally has the guts to do something about the taboo broken in the sacred bond between mother and child.

I enjoyed this book most of the time, although the descriptions sometimes bogged down the reading. I thought the ending dragged on far too long. The conflicted relationships between Meera and her son, father, husband, brother-in-law, and sister took too long to resolve. And most of them were resolved unsatisfactorily.

If you love historical novels from the twentieth century set in another world from the one in which you live, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this novel. However, be forewarned that parts of it may make you uncomfortable.

The Death of Vishnu is Manil Suri’s first book, and it received much more acclaim than this one. I like the author enough to read it one of these days, but hopefully I’ll manage to do that sooner than five years from now.

Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today, I’m happy to interview Christoph Fischer, an author and fellow blogger and reviewer. Christoph is a great supporter of the Indie Author, and he’s introduced me to many wonderful books and authors over the past year. He writes historical fiction. He’s published the first two novels in his Three Nations Trilogy, The Luck of the Weissensteiners and most recently, Sebastian. He’s working on the third book in the series, The Farm in Heimkirchen (working title).

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Sebastian_Cover_for_Kindle

Hello, Christoph. Welcome to Author Wednesday. I’m curious how you might describe yourself in third person. Write a paragraph as if you were a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.

Christoph Fischer is a new author who has taken on an ambitious project of writing three historical novels set in different nations to discuss the subjects of Nation and identity. In his first installment, The Luck of The Weissensteiners, he takes us to Slovakia in the 1930s and sheds light on complex political situation while telling the story of one Jewish family from 1933 until 1946. In Sebastian, he moves back in time to the Vienna of 1913 and tells how a different family in a different era is confronted with similar themes, albeit under less extreme circumstances. As a German expat living in the UK and having family roots in Eastern Europe, Fischer’s own experiences clearly add to the tone of his writing.

My inspiration for my books often comes from others who’ve inspired me. Who has most influenced your writing and why?

German writers such as Siegfried Lenz and Stefan Zweig certainly left their mark on me. More recently, Lionel Shriver, Christos Tsiolkas, and Richard Zimler are authors whose work I absolutely adore.

Lately, I have been reading more independent writers and have learned about style and plotting from Paulette Mahurin, Bernice L. Rocque, Revital Shiri-Horowitz, and Angella Graff.

Are you planning to continue writing in historical fiction?

The books in my Three Nations Trilogy are all historical novels, and I have already written another historical novel since. History is a huge field and choosing a different time or place creates a challenge for the writer and adds an extra interest to a story, so I am rather fond of the idea of writing some more in the future.

I am however interested in a lot of other subjects too, where a contemporary setting is more apt. I have drafts of novels about Alzheimer’s and mental health, which might be classified as literary fiction (such a big word, I hardly dare use it). They are set in modern times because general awareness of these issues would not have been well developed in previous times.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

It is impossible to rank or compare reviews or compliments. An in-depth analysis and intellectual applause in my view is no better than a simple “I loved it!” if the reader really means it. Here is one excerpt from one review for The Luck of the Weissensteiners.

Ethnic disrespect, hate, and violence have gone on for centuries in central and eastern Europe. Until reading this book, though, I did not understand how finely differentiated these forces were.”

I chose this quote because it was rewarding to see a reader so engaged that they felt their perspective had changed a little.

I agree with your philosophy on reviews. When the reviewer really understands, it’s an important review. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

Every review only reflects one person’s perception of a book. What is great to one reader is off putting to the next. It is all about finding your target audience. My books would not go down well in a sci-fi reading group.  Also, read the bad reviews for critically acclaimed novels on Amazon and you will find that every single author gets bad press as well. You cannot please everyone. Try to see through the parts that are hurtful and use the criticism as a chance to improve.

Excellent advice, Christoph. Now let’s talk a bit about your latest release. What is the message conveyed in Sebastian?

The message I try to convey in Sebastian is that nobody should be or feel second best, and that you should always try to be your best and be content with that. The uncertain times intensified the insecurities of many of my characters; Sebastian has lost a limb and has even more confidence issues to fight.

Explain how Sebastian was conceived in your imagination.

The book is loosely based on my grandfather who had lost one leg in similar circumstances to Sebastian in the 1930s. He and my grandmother divorced while she was pregnant with my father. I never got to know why or how, and I never met him before he died. He, his new family and my father’s older sister were stuck on the other side of the Berlin Wall. I knew one side of the story, but in the 1990s my aunt told me another version of events. Between those two stories my imagination ran wild.

My father had a friend who had lost a leg in the war and as a child I was both fascinated by him and scared of him. I wondered how he would find love with such a “handicap.” When I heard that my grandfather had the same misfortune but had married twice, easily it got me thinking and that became a central part of this book.

As a gay man who grew up in a very Catholic area of Germany, I brought a lot of my own self-esteem issues to the character Sebastian; the loving picture that my aunt drew about my grandfather found itself into the character of Sebastian’s grandfather, Oscar, in the book.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Sebastian.

My favorite scene in the book is an argument between Sebastian’s grandparents. It is one of the more humorous scenes, and I hope it shows the difficult relationship between an unlikely couple who are nevertheless in love with each other and need each other and end up having silly but for others often entertaining rows.

I love this next question because I often wonder about it myself. If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose and why.

I have met a lot of other authors online and never seen them in person. M.C.V. Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths seems like a very interesting and multi-facetted character, and I would love to fly her over the Atlantic for dinner. The other person I would love to meet is Paulette Mahurin, another great and acclaimed Indie Author friend whose writing (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)  I find very inspiring. 

Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is one of my all-time favourites. His love for India, his exploration of guilt and redemption and his excellent characters get me to read the book at least once a year.

author pictureAbout Christoph Fischer – Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria, which has led to his interest in the concept of Nations, individuals, and communal culture, some of the central themes of The Three Nations Trilogy.
He moved to Hamburg, London, Brighton, and Bath, where he is still a resident today.
The Luck of The Weissensteiners  is his first book and was published in November 2012.
Sebastian in May 2013.He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.

Author Website

http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

His Book Recommendations:

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Christoph Fischer on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/TheLuckOfTheWeissensteiners?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sebastian/489427467776001?ref=hl

My profile on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16177343-the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17834808-sebastian

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133796&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292311&sr=8-2&keywords=luck+of+the+weissensteiners

http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Three…

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133835&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292346&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Thr…

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners-christoph-fischer/1113932211?ean=9781481130332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sebastian-mr-christoph-fischer/1115243053?ean=9781484156001

Summer Writing on Florida Novels

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’m still here even though I’m not posting as much. Summertime and the living is anything but easy around my house. The garden is starting to produce, the boat is in the slip, and the kayaks beckon every time I walk by them.

Saturday we spent a portion of the day doing yard work and then headed out for a cruise down the Ohio River. When we came home we had peas to shuck and blanch before freezing. We finished around midnight.

But somehow during my days I’m finding the time to write my next novel, Native Lands (changed from Safe Harbor). I started writing this novel in 2006 and now I have bits and pieces of a story. I know most of what’s going to happen unless one of the characters forces me to change direction. It happens. Now I’m going through and doing the smoothing of the cement act, chapter by chapter. Even though I left this story in 2007 to pursue other things, I still know the characters. The problem is I have too many of them and some may have to wait for the next novel that’s waiting patiently in a little binder on the floor of my office. Both novels are set in Florida.

I’ve already written two Florida-based novels. Even though I don’t write novel series, my themes tend to follow the same environmental lines. I decided to start a Facebook page – Florida Environmental Novels. If you’re so inclined stop by and “like” the page. I post wildlife photos, articles from environmental groups, and updates on my writing.

One of my favorite characters in Native Lands is Benjamin Palmer, a new age charlatan, who offers aura massages at the local Farmer’s Market in St. Augustine. Even though he’s a part of the antagonist side of this novel, I have loved writing about  him. I wonder if other writers like their antagonists as well as their protagonists. Let me know what you think. For now, here’s a little excerpt.

Benjamin Palmer worked the farmer’s market every Saturday morning as if he was a hawker at the carnival luring people – mostly young women – into his booth for five-minute aura massages.

“I can see your aura, and it is beautiful,” he said to potential recipients of his new age method. “I can make it shine just like silver after a good polish.”

To change a person’s whole entire life essence, he only charged ten dollars – a bargain in a city where new age solutions usually cost much more. However, most of those other methods gave customers something in return, such as relaxed muscles after a deep tissue massage, or a chart outlining the next year’s influence of the stars and planets, or an actual picture showing the colors of the person’s surrounding aura, or even a deep meditative state after a Reiki treatment. The recipient might even walk away with something tangible, such as polished stones. When clients left Benjamin’s booth, they took away an empty spot in their wallet.

Benjamin’s massage consisted of him moving his hands within an inch of a person’s body in the “field of the aura,” he said. He concentrated on the spiritual power centers, known as charkas, on the body, he told his clients. His hands might linger over the heart chakra, if he sensed a heart that needed healing. It also lingered over the chest, if the client happened to be a well-endowed female.

“I can unleash your creativity,” he said to one woman who walked by as Rob watched. “I can see you are a very creative person already, but after my massage you will not be able to stop attracting the creative impulses that will come your way. You have a story locked up inside, and I hold the key.”

The woman continued on her way, giving up the chance to write the next great American novel.

“You’re missing a great opportunity,” Benjamin yelled after the retreating figure.

Other Florida environmentally themed novels by P.C. Zick:

Florida's sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Florida’s sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Wild and wacky of small town Florida politics explode in Tortoise Stew.

Wild and wacky of small town Florida politics explode in Tortoise Stew.

All three in one box set

All three in one box set

FREE on Kindle June 19-20

 

FREE June 19-20

FREE June 19-20

Tortoise Stew is my first novel set in Florida. On June 19 and 20, it’s available for free downloads on Amazon.

Synopsis:

Small town politics take center stage in this novel about the development of Florida at any cost. Kelly Sands is a reporter covering some of the more controversial and contentious issues in the fictional north Florida town of Calloway. Dead armadillos and gopher tortoise carcasses are left as calling cards to those opposing the development as commission meetings erupt into all-out warfare. With the murder of one commissioner and the suicide of his wife, Kelly begins an investigation that threatens to topple the carefully laid plans of the developers and politicians to bring a movie studio and landing strip within the city limits of the small town. When a young girl is killed by a semi-truck from Monster Mart, the environmentalists become even more vocal against the developers’ plans. Chaos reigns as both sides raise voices and fists in one cacophonous uproar until saner heads bring justice to all.

Excerpt:

The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.

She didn’t see the white shopping bag because she had a deadline to meet, and tunnel vision ruled when the clock ticked toward the newspaper’s witching hour.

The rest of the debris on her desk also prevented her from noticing anything new. Two stained cups still holding cold coffee from the morning sat next to a pile of files on long-term stories she kept meaning to investigate. A box that once contained donuts lay on top of the papers.

Even if she had noticed the shopping bag, it wouldn’t have registered as anything unusual. Her colleagues were always depositing things on each other’s desks, either from absentmindedness or from the numbing blindness of a daily paper’s deadline focus.

The Braidwood Tribune went to press at eleven most nights. Kelly glanced at the clock on the wall ticking away the minutes as she put the finishing touches on the story she had begun on her laptop at the meeting.

She sped from the Commission meeting before it was even over. More than one hundred residents from around Zion County came to Calloway, a town ten miles from Braidwood. Braidwood was the largest city in north central Florida, standing in the middle of some of Florida’s last remaining natural landscapes.

Five commissioners representing 6,000 residents had decided to annex 2,000 acres of land into Calloway. The land represented one of only few tracts of farmland left in the county. The annexation bothered some of the residents who believed the increased acreage into Calloway would stress already limited city services such as sewer and water.

Buddy Tills owned most of the 2,000 acres for several decades, but he’d been selling off small parcels over the past several months. The names on the annexation requests were not local. The rumor mill kept mentioning Industrial Pines as the developer of the property.

Just the name Industrial Pines evoked fear in some residents because they were a company that developed in Florida with little regard to anything but its own profits. B.J. Winters, president of the giant company, attended all the public hearings, but Kelly’s calls to him remained unreturned. She planned to corner him after the annexation meeting, but when it ran over her deadline, she was forced to leave without accosting him in the parking lot.

Now Kelly had to write a fair, impartial article on a controversial annexation in Calloway in less than an hour. She knew if she didn’t get it down to bare bones reporting, the night editor would hack away at the piece until it fit into a twelve-inch space on the first page of the local section.

Another Florida Novel by P.C. Zick:

Florida's sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Florida’s sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Author Wednesday – Gentoku McCree

following the writing dream

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Gentoku McCree, author of two self-help books, Fit and Mindful and Awareness. Gentoku stopped by for a guest post on Mindful Writing back in May. Today, his post offers some suggestions for writers to keep fit while participating in a sedentary occupation.

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Six Anti-Hunchback Movement Tips for Writers

By Gentoku McCree

Did you know that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is about a writer?

The hunchback got that way because he was working on his novel.

Day in day out “hunched” over his manuscript turned him into a freak and the rejection letters made him go somewhat insane. I’m serious … they did a study.

OK, that’s not actually true, but writers and anyone who doesn’t work on a farm face a hard truth.

Human beings weren’t made to sit all day.

But that’s exactly what most of us do at our day jobs. We sit in fluorescent-lit rooms, squinting our eyes at bright screens, hunched over our keyboards, and hardly getting up to move.

If you’re a writer, this problem is likely compounded by having to work at home on nights and weekends. As you hone your craft and engage in your passion, your body suffers. And though a suffering body can make for great writing, poor health can limit creative energy and drive up health care expenses.

So, with all that in mind I give you Six Anti-Hunchback Movement Tips for Writers.

Part 1 – Posture

Exercise and stretching are great, but if your working posture is poor, nothing can help. These first few tips focus on posture. Following them will make long hours of bardesque slaving much easier on your body.

1. Breakneck Mountain

One of the most common stress points for writers is our necks. As we work on computers, check email on our smart phones, and do almost everything else our head is tilted forward.

As writers our heads are extra heavy because they are filled with endless words. So, our necks have to work over time just to keep our heads upright.

This leads to muscle imbalance. The back of our necks becomes super strong. And the muscles on the front of our necks are super weak.

The best way to solve this problem is to simply make sure your screen is at eye level. Get a stack of books that you’ve read, but can’t bear to give away. Use them to get your monitor up to eye level. Doing this one thing alone will help end neck cricks forever.

2. A Farewell to Arms Pain

The second major stress point for writers is our wrists and arms. As you type all day, you put an enormous amount of stress on the bones and nerves in the wrist and forearms. So it’s essential you maintain these three important reminders

  1.  Level the Playing Field – Try to keep your hands in line with your arms as you type. If your wrists are tilted up or down, you are cruising for a carpal tunnel bruising.
  2. Break Dance – Take a ten minute break at least once every hour. These breaks will help keep you fresh, but also help relieve tension and prevent injuries from overuse.
  3. Going the Distance – It’s important to keep your keyboard and mouse at a comfortable distance. Be mindful not to put your keyboard too far away or too close, but somewhere right in the middle. By walking the middle path, you prevent over extension and over hunching as you work.

3. Their Eyes Were Squinting Odd

Another danger for writers is eye fatigue. This is caused by looking at a back-lit screen for too long and is exacerbated by working at night.

There are three simple ways to reduce eye fatigue

  1. Take breaks – Eye fatigue is caused by the muscles in the eye. When you take breaks, you give these muscles a chance to recover.
  2. Reduce glare – Glare wears your eyes out fast. So cut back by reading on paper, keeping screens out of direct sunlight, and wearing anti-glare sunglasses when you’re outside in the sun.
  3. Adjust color – Most of us keep the same color for our screens day and night, but computers are designed to work mostly in daylight. So, at night you need to adjust your screen accordingly. You can either do this manually or by using a program like Flux  that will adjust the tint of your monitor based on the time of day at your current location.

Part 2 – Movement

So, your posture is better, but that’s not enough. If you want to increase creativity and longevity, you have to get up and move.

Various studies have shown that exercise can produce an increased capacity for creative thinking. The effect of exercise on creativity is both immediate and residual lasting up to two hours. So, if you are in the realm of block one of the best things you can do is move.

4. Wuthering Breaks

We’ve already established you should be taking breaks as you write. And those breaks are a great time to get up and move.

Many people think that you need to workout for an hour everyday to get in shape, but you can do a lot in just a few minutes between other tasks. Serious weight loss and building serious muscle may take time, but if you start small, you are more likely to get into the habit. And the habit is where is all begins.

A good way to start is add movement when you take a break from writing. Set a timer for ten minutes and do any type of exercise you like. This could be anything from jumping jacks to yoga.

By moving your body, you will increase your creativity and use those breaks for something other than looking at LOL cat videos.

5. The Weights of Wrath

Maybe you are thinking, “I don’t have time or money to go to the gym. How can I do any real exercise at home?”

Simple, you use your body weight. Ninjas, pirates, and all sorts of epic heroes have used body weight exercise to get into shape. And you can do a full body workout in those ten minute breaks you take every hour or two.

Here is a simple body weight workout you can try.

  • 20 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug)
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

Start with just doing one set of exercises per break. So for your first break do the body weight squats, for the second do the pushups. Break these into even smaller sets if you need to and once you are done get back to work.

If you take six breaks a day, you will have done an excellent beginning body weight work out that will help you build functional muscle.

6. Do Sweat the Small Stuff

The key to becoming more active is to start small. The biggest mistake that any one including writers face when they start moving is they go too big.

The hardest thing to build in fitness isn’t muscles or endurance. The hardest thing to build is the habit of being active. If all you can start with is five minutes, three time a week, great! It’s much easier to go from there then to start from scratch.

Remember that every time you walk away from the keys to do a short little movement routine you are making yourself a dynamic character. Not only will exercise help you work through your writing, but it will also help you work through your life.

G1About Gentoku 

Gentoku McCree is a mindfulness-based personal trainer, former monastery resident, a yoga school student, writer, and Zen Buddhist practitioner living in Portland, Oregon. Gentoku is his Buddhist name given to him by his teachers Chozen and Hogen Bays at Great Vow Zen Monastery. Gentoku means manifesting virtue  or present sincerity. His mission is to support others in living a more healthy, balanced, and mindful life.

Contact Links

Blog – blog.mindfulfitnessmovement.com

Website – mindfitmove.com

Purchase links for books – http://www.mindfulfitnessmovement.com/#!resources/c164j

Twitter – @mindfitmove

Book Review Friday – Suffer the Little Children

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Suffer the Little Children-resized

Don’t let the title Suffer the Little Children steer you away from this novel by Christina Carson. A friend of mine saw on Goodreads that I was reading this book. She usually likes the same type of fiction I do, but she was a bit frightened about the title. I assured her she had nothing to fear from this beautifully crafted novel set in Alberta, Canada.

One thing is certain. Ms. Carson loves the setting and creates a painting with her descriptions of an isolated, yet wholly stimulating life in the bush. Unconditional love exists in this world – between the animal kingdom and humans. It’s the humans who have a bit of trouble when it comes to practicing unconditional love with those closest to them. Ms. Carson makes Timber, her dog, and Spook, her horse, characters in this book. They become the symbol of what we strive for, but somehow when pride and emotions play chess with the people on the board, unconditional love seems to be impossible to achieve.

The author displays a healthy respect for and acceptance of wildlife, despite dangerous encounters with the most beastly of bears, the grizzly.

The “little children” who suffer in this novel do so because of the judgments and conditions adults put on “love.” Through a native family, lessons on love and acceptance of the past help the other characters move forward in their lives.

The main character, Anne, learns her lesson well, which allows the suffering to end.

Anne states, “I believe that every child, whether fifteen or fifty, longs to hear from his or her parents those words that say ‘I am sorry for all I did that hurt you.’” Anne realizes this as she helps her neighbor’s daughter, Little Bit, deal with the betrayal of her parents, and as Anne herself works to restore her relationship with her daughter.

Suffer the Little Children teaches life lessons, such as this one:  “If you’re willing to have something new come about, you must be equally willing to let go of how it’s been.”

It also shows that the natural world provides a map for leading fulfilling lives.

Ms. Carson’s descriptions are vivid enough for me to imagine Anne’s home and the massive bush of Alberta. The lure of nature leads the characters to the answers for all the questions lying within their hearts.

If you love multi-faceted plots with a majestic landscape providing a backdrop for the characters, then you will love Suffer the Little Children. You might even learn a little bit about living a sustainable and simple life filled with the only thing that matters:  love.”

Suffer the Little Children is available on Amazon in both eBook and paperback editions.

Author Wednesday – Elaine White

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today Elaine White visits my blog for an interview about her writing life and her book Runaway Girl. Elaine writes paranormal romances featuring vampires. She uses the genre to teach some very important lessons about life. Runaway Girl is the first book in the Secrets of Avelina Chronicles series, which contains six books in total. The other books in the series also delve into the lives of witches, seers, magical lands and lycanthropes (werewolves).

Final Cover - RG - Front

It took me quite some time before I could call myself a writer so it fascinates me to learn when other authors were able to make the public pronouncement. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

Probably around five years ago, when I first started sending my books to publishers and agents. The positive feedback, even through rejections, gave me confidence in what I was doing.

That’s great that you saw beyond the negative to concentrate on the positive. Congratulations, Elaine. What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?

I try to put something positive in my stories. Even when I’m writing paranormal or crime stories, I try to have something inspiring and helpful that my readers can connect to. I want to give them the self confidence to step out of their shells the way I never could. And, of course, I try to inspire my readers to help make the world a better place. Even if it’s just one person at a time, a reader who smiles after a bad day or feels better because of my words, then that’s enough for me.

That’s a very worthy goal. Whats the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

It was a very nice comment about how my use of various POVs [point of view] nspired him to use the same technique in his own writing. I’ve never inspired anyone before. And I’d recently been getting a few comments about how some people didn’t like that there were so many different POVs in my story. But to me, every character is important. They wouldn’t be in the book otherwise and some of them so important that the reader just has to see things their way.

Your experience is a valuable lesson to learn as a writer – reviews often contradict one another pointing out to the subjective nature of the review. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

Don’t let it get to you. You can’t please everyone. Just remember that J.K. Rowling spent years having Harry Potter rejected and still gets bad reviews. The Twilight series still has people debating over the love/hate aspect of the story. Everyone is different, and everyone will have an opinion. Read every review and don’t just assume that a low rating is a bad review. Just soak it in and accept that it’s a fact of life.

That’s the best possible advice. I like to say I don’t believe either my excellent reviews or my poor reviews. Whats your one sentence pitch for Runaway Girl?

Runaway Girl is a paranormal romance that sees vampire soldier Damian finally facing the demons vampire princess Amelia left him with when she sent her soul into the netherworld, fracturing it between five young human girls.

What is the message conveyed in Runaway Girl?

That love and loyalty are the most important things in the world. Power is enticing, lust can be consuming, and money can be corrupting. But over all of those things, love and loyalty shine through and show the right path any one soul should take. When people stray from that path, the trouble starts.

That’s an excellent message to convey. Thank you for sharing today, Elaine. Best wishes as you continue to share your words with the world.

Elaine White_EditedAbout Elaine White: Elaine White was born and raised in the small town of Haddington, Scotland. She began writing from an early age when she thought that she would have written differently passages from the books she was reading. Elaine currently lives at home in Scotland with her parents and boisterous poodle. She is a full time student and full time writer.

Where to buy Runaway Girl:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Runaway-Secrets-Avelina-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00B3OERUG/ref=sr_1_24?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358885563&sr=1-24

http://www.amazon.com/Runaway-Secrets-Avelina-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00B3OERUG/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359378449&sr=1-77

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17255023-runaway-girl

How to connect with Elaine White:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ElleLainey

Facebook Author page – https://www.facebook.com/elainewhite.author?ref=stream

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ellelainey

Blog – http://ellelainey.wordpress.com/

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6895396.Elaine_White

Goals 2013 – Mid-Year Review

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

It’s June and the mid-point for the year. I set my goals for my writing career back in January and have kept my eye on those goals as I’ve moved through the first six months of 2013. It’s helpful for me to see if I’m on track and what I need to do to meet goals not yet met. Two goals (#1 and #4 below) have been met so far this year.

Writing Goals for 2013

Goal 1: Launch Trails in the Sand. I published it on amazon and have a print copy ready to proof. I plan to do a big launch for the novel by the end of January.

As of June 9, 2013 – Trails in the Sand is published in both eBook and paperback formats. I’ve sold a mediocre amount of books through all the channels, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. However, I am pleased with the sixteen reviews received on Amazon. I can only hope that somehow through this positive reviews, I’ll find a larger audience. I’ve been experimenting with different ways to price and market. I paid for an online book tour company to organize a book tour. At first glance it feels as if I wasted money because I didn’t sell many books or gain many followers as a result of writing seven guest blogs. I think I’d organize the tour myself next time. I’m proud of the book no matter how well the sales are going and that is the most important thing (she tells herself endlessly).

Florida's sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Florida’s sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Goal 2: Finish Safe Harbor. I started this novel in 2007 but stopped when I decided I needed to find a wildlife officer to interview. I left for the big Route 66 trip, which led to the creation of Live from the Road. When I returned from Route 66, I took a new job with Florida’s fish and wildlife agency and became very familiar with wildlife officers and experts. Now there’s no excuse not to finish the almost completed draft. I start by pulling out the spiral notebook where it’s housed and giving it a read. I always recommend that writers let pieces incubate, but five years isn’t what I meant.

As of June 9, 2013 – I’ve decided to rename it, either Native Love or Native Harbor. What do you think? I haven’t done much on this book, but feel I’ve been incubating ideas the past few weeks. I’m ready to start working on it full time.

Goal 3: Publish a book of essays on my travels. I already have a name: Odyssey to Myself. I have most of the pieces written in various stages. It’s a matter of pulling it all together into one cohesive story of my travels from 2004-2009 as I discarded an old life and moved into a new phase.

As of June 9, 2013: I haven’t done anything on this book yet. This goal may be pushed to 2014 so I can get my next novel published this year.

Goal 4: Pull together all of my gardening blog posts from my blog “Living Lightly Upon this Earth” into a book. I see it as a primer for gardening and preserving produce. Again, I have all the pieces here and there, I just need to pull it all together.

As of June 9, 2013: I’m happy to say that I’ve accomplished this goal. From Seed to Garden is now available as an eBook on Amazon.

From Seed to Garden

From Seed to Garden

Goal 5:  Read the pile of books on my desk, both fiction and nonfiction. Reading is an essential part of the writing journey. How fortunate for me to have a career that requires reading for improving my craft.

As of June 9, 2013 – Working my way through the pile on my desk and on my Kindle. I’ve been very good about not buying new books so I can catch up on what I have already purchased.

Goal 6:  Establish myself as a bestselling author. Every year this one makes it to my list. Here’s to 2013 as being the year it happens. For me, this goal refers to making a living as an author. I want to be able to pay more than the electrical bill each month with the proceeds from my storytelling.

As of June 9, 2013 – Still working on this goal. I believe with perseverance, my passion will not only satisfy me, but it will bring some monetary value to what I do.

How about your goals for 2013? How are they holding up?

Great summer read - only .99 cents for a limited time

Great summer read – only .99 cents for a limited time

 

 

Author Wednesday – Christina Carson

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Christina Carson who is the author of literary fiction and writes a guest post on her decision to write in this genre. She writes about her philosophy of life, which offers us thoughtful considerations on how to live and re-vision our lives. Her first two novels are Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know.

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It’s Never Too Late

By Christina Carson

I have had a love affair with poetry most all my life. My mother introduced me to poems as soon as I could read. I don’t know why for she wasn’t a reader. I never remember seeing her with book in hand. What Mum needed, however, was someone to share wonders with, and I became that child. Poetry, birds, and flowers were three such marvels we often explored together.

“Christina come read, come listen, come look,” were three invitations she issued with regularity throughout my childhood, quietly and subtlety imbuing me with a love of the world around me and words to describe it. The early poems we read weren’t literary, just simple rhyming ditties that captured an incident or moment in ever so few words. That was the part that fascinated me, how few words it took to express yourself, if they were the right words.

You’d think that should have been a fine start for a writer, but from that point on, my life resulted in a litany of choices contrary to those prescribed for someone who wanted to write novels. I studied science not literature. I read non-fiction, not fiction. And even now, I’d choose poetry over a novel in a heartbeat. Had I blown it, I wondered? Did I wait too long? It all began to feel a bit daunting. Were there any advantages to where I found myself?

Then I thought, well yes indeed, there’s age. Yes, I said age. For all the complaints we’re taught to focus on regarding years put in, there is one thing of great value – perspective, that golden fleece of our olden years; old dogs though worn are wise. For like good poems, which find their way to the point most quickly, the maze of life had just kept getting simpler and straighter with each year I’d lived. The only problem I had was that I had narrowed my focus to one endeavor – exploring life’s big questions: what are we and why are we here. That focus had cut a rather unusual course for my life, keeping me to the outside of much of what mainstream found interesting. It got trickier still when I came up against genre. Good grief, another set of lines I found myself outside of.

Necessity is the mother of invention, however. I wanted to write. I wanted to share what I had come to learn in forty years of wrestling with those big questions and make use of the sometimes frightful experiences that search had dragged me through. So it had to be Literary Fiction for that gave me the latitude to write about whatever the hey I wanted with only one stickler – you needed to be on down the competency scale. I figured I could contend with that variable. One can always learn. Thus, I began stories about people and the circumstances in which they found themselves on the many roads I’d travelled, but with one twist. I included a new perspective, one that offered them an unusual way out. When you see through the drama of life to the truth behind it, you realize life was never meant to be about suffering or tragedy or even death. I wanted to write about that realization. Fiction became the obvious choice because curiously, it created less resistance in the reader to these uncommon ideas. Rather than the reader’s primary focus being on defending their point of view, they’d get caught up in the story and the characters and begin to watch these people ease themselves out of difficult situations, often utilizing an arcane frame of reference. Yet, before the reader knew it, something that would have otherwise appeared strange had become a bit more probable, more possible through seeing how it could actually come about.

My curiosities about life have ensured my on-going investigating, and have led to my structuring each novel around a question that I want to explore. Suffer the Little Children asks what it is we do that drives our children from us. The query driving Dying to Know concerns finding another way to health and wellbeing. And the soon to be released Accidents of Birth trilogy probes the true nature of unconditional love.

So, here I am, sixty-seven years old, enjoying yet another career that nourishes my awakening, my love of challenge and my thrill of meeting those who read my books and see possibility for themselves. You see, it’s never too late.

My thanks to Patricia Zick for giving me this opportunity to spend time with you and offer some points to ponder.

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About Christina Carson – I was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, when it still looked like the verdant farming country of England. Horses and dairy farming were prominent, and I chose horses. Educated as a scientist, I was a child of the 1960s, and one of the outcomes of that was my stance as war protester. Leaving a Ph.D. program and America in 1968, I settled in western Canada and fell in love with the wildness of the country and the tolerance of the people. The cold was a tad stunning, however. I’ve been writing nonfiction and poetry as long as I can remember, but eight years ago I began to write fiction. In 1996, I came back to the States on the arm of a Vietnam veteran. Now there’s a story for you. Presently, I reside in Alabama with my husband, also a writer. Neither the adventure of life, its wonder, nor what it has yet to teach me seem anywhere close to an end.

Links

Amazon Author Central

Suffer the Little Children

Dying to Know