Book Review Friday – The Luck of the Weissensteiners (Book 1 of The Three Nations Trilogy)

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I interviewed Christoph Fischer in June on Author Wednesday. Today I review his novel The Luck of the Weissensteiners.542568_135806279903679_1569303214_n

 

History of the twentieth century was one of my major areas of study in college. However, the history I studied presented an ethnocentric view of World War II. Of course, I know about Hitler’s rise to power, and the major steps he took in Europe prior to our entry into the war. I understood the political and social ramifications. I understood the uneasy alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. But I only knew of these histories from the perspective of the first, isolationist United States, and then, as the full-speed ahead entry into the war heroes who saved the world from the evil Axis powers.

Reading Christoph Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners presented another view of that period through the camera lens of people living in Eastern Europe. The book shows people from all the different perspectives before, during, and after the war. It’s an eye-opening read to learn that the United States wasn’t the center of this war. In the lives of these ordinary folks, the United States played an almost peripheral role.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners exposes how the Eastern Europeans reacted with a wide range of attitudes and actions as the war tore apart families and friends and allowed no trust to exist in all the varied relationships. There may have been a world war taking place on the larger stage, but for the characters in Fischer’s novel, it is a civil war being fought, and the lines are blurred and often changing, depending on who’s in charge.

Jews and Gentiles fall in love and marry, which creates a problem when Hitler’s master plan begins to take effect, even in countries where he’s not invaded. . .yet. The propaganda used to smear the very genes of Jews causes one husband to question the moral integrity of his wife. He buys the line of inherently weak genes so much he even takes their son away – a son who is Aryan in looks, leaving behind his Jewish wife and their unborn child. The atmosphere of fear changes people, oftentimes not for the better.

Through it, all one family stands strong.

This book’s retelling of the history of this period in Europe is personalized through the characters that represent a cross section of the lives impacted by the atrocities of war. Jews, Gentiles, Germans, Slovakians, lesbians, and traitors all point to one direction. War never makes much sense when the individual lives of its victims are examined. Neither side wins when people are persecuted for their religion, political beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientations.

It’s a sad commentary on the human condition when a people are forced to hide their identities behind forged passports, and then forced to throw away the forgeries to appease the winning side. When it comes down to it in the aftermath of the war and the liberation of Europe, all individuals are suspect, and mankind is taken down a notch.

Christoph Fischer has written an important book for its historical perspective. He personified the vagaries of war through the fictional characters. At times, it reads like a history book, but before it bogs down into a lesson in civics, he comes back to the individuals experiencing the actual effects of the persecution.

As always, we study and examine the past so we don’t forget it. As long as genocide exists in the world, we must do as Fischer has done in his novel – remind us, and remind us again, that our faith, our color, our language, and our life choices should matter not a wit. In the end, it’s our integrity and how we treat others that matters the most.

Thank you, Christoph, for writing this important book to remind us never to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Author Wednesday – Annamaria Bazzi

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome back Annamaria Bazzi, who did a guest post in March . Today, I interview her about her life as an author.

Hello Patricia, thank you so much for having me on your blog again. I do enjoy visiting and chatting with you. Before we start with the interview I’d like to say I’m back promoting White Swans: A Regency Era, which will soon be White Swans: A Regency World. In several weeks I’ll be releasing the fourth short story about Kendíka and Jillian’s life, after which I’ll complete their stories and publish the novel in its entirety. Here’s a brief synopsis of White Swans:

WhiteSwansARegencyEra for blogsLeft an orphan, Kendíka cries herself to sleep and startles awake in a Regency castle. Terror consumes her, and she attempts to escape only to discover the new world is her prison. Having no choice, she attends a ball given by her guardian, Lord Deverow, to introduce her into society. He admonishes her to follow the rules and promises to protect her from the wrath of the strange, hazy set of eyes spying on everything. But when she ignores his warning, Kendíka learns firsthand what it means to be disobedient.

It always seems that most writers take some time before they can mouth the words, “I am a writer/author.” When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

I’ve always been a writer; I believe anyone can write, but to be an author you need to practice the art of writing and the skills of writing. To be an author, you must come to the realization that even the art of writing evolves and changes, and as a good author you not only must have decent grammar, but also be able to put together words that captivate. As you write, you cannot tell; you must show. You need to be in the correct point of view. Characters must feel real, so the reader can relate to them. I’ve been working hard, studying, and taking classes to get to the point where I can say I’m an author. Mind you now, to be an author does not mean you have published a book.

That’s an excellent distinction. What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?

So far, each book is different from all others. In White Swans, I’m clearly informing my readers that as individuals we can all accomplish anything we set our minds to. It does take perseverance and never giving up, but we all have the power to change our immediate world and our lives.

That’s an important message to convey. Do you think you keep that common thread in everything you write? 

I’d venture to say I do since I’m always empowering my main character to fight and change her present situation and sometimes the world. In White Swans, Kendíka sets out to change the new world she woke up in, a world that in her mind is backward and underdeveloped. She wants to bring the technology of the twenty-first century in the world her captor, Saphora, has created for the human pets. In her struggle, she befriends her captor, the first human to ever do so. As the friendship develops, Kendíka, with her persuasive and gentle manners, shows Saphora the benefits of modernization.

In Dragons in the Resistance, which I’m hoping to have ready for publication for 2014, a sub plot deals with women’s rights.

Why have you chosen to write about this particular theme?

In my mind, it always takes one person to initiate and bring about change. That one person multiplies by two, then four, and so on. Eventually, many rise to fight the plight and changes in society happen. Because I strongly believe it takes one to initiate any changes, I usually have a main character fighting, alone at first, for what she believes to be a just and  better way of life.

Do you have a favorite character that you created?

I have two characters I’ve created and fallen in love with. When they first popped into my head, they filled my days and nights. Drove me crazy until I sat down and wrote part of their story. The book, which needs to be edited, is roughly 400,000 words. Richard and Asmifsf are from another planet, and live very exciting lives in the League of Universes. The two men are dedicated to their work and to the love of their life. They are altruistic in their relationship, and understand, or at least try their best, to understand the woman they love. They also care about people and their well-being, and go out of their way to help others.

OK, they sound perfect, but they do have their faults. Therefore, to discover their imperfections you all must wait for the first book to be published.

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

I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s certainly the one I like very much. The entire review is short and sweet and startled me. It is for White Swans: A Regency Era:

“Like Alice In Wonderland, the lead character finds herself in a new magical setting, but the difference here is, it isn’t a nice tea party with one lump or two. Dark forces are at work that have you wondering as to what their designs are. For an entertaining afternoon read, this is a keeper.”

We all get them eventually, so what advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

Receiving a bad review is not the end of the world. Use whatever explanation the reviewer gives to improve your writing. Always look at your work with a critical eye, but remember that you cannot please everyone all the time. Understand the reason why you write. Writing brings fulfillment to my life. Therefore, I write because I enjoy it, and I write about things that ignite my imagination. Why are you writing?

If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose?

I would love to have dinner and pick at Orson Scott Card’s brain. I love his books, and I find the way he expresses his words captivating. The other author I would love to have at my dinner table unfortunately has passed on. Frank Herbert is the man who brought me into the world of science fiction with his Dune series. What I find fascinating about the man is that he left a legacy of notes for his son to continue writing and expanding upon the world he built with such care.

Annamaria, it has been a pleasure to host you once again on Author Wednesday. I look forward to your return when you promote your new book.

picture for linkedInAbout Annamaria Bazzi: Although born in the United States, Annamaria spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the States, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish. Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solutions, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond, Virginia with her small family, where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

You can visit Annamaria at:

Blog: http://annamariabazzi.com

Website: http://www.annamariasbooks.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Author.annamariabazzi

Email: annamariascorner@yahoo.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AMBazzi

Check in on Kendíka’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kendika.burkeshire

Inheriting a Family Legacy

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

In the past few weeks, I’ve immersed myself in the writings of my great grandfather. The man, Harmon Camburn, died fifty-two years before my birth. I know he was the father of my paternal grandfather. That’s about the whole of it, except for the journal he wrote for his children chronicling his years as a Union soldier in the Civil War. He joined Michigan’s 2nd Regiment in 1861 in the early days of the war.

I’m putting the journal in electronic form so others can read about his experiences as a soldier and as a prisoner of war with the Confederates in the last year of the war. Besides that, it’s simply an interesting read. My great grandfather was a storyteller. Here’s a particularly descriptive passage:

June 7, 1863 – As the train sped southward, the descending sun gleamed across the broad expanse of gently undulating prairies, clothed in the fresh verdure of early June, tingeing the tops of the hedgerows with gold and glancing its beams from the farmhouse windows in spikes of flame. The breath of early summer was in the air and the corn was limitless. From close at hand, away to where the earth and sky meet, houses, hamlets, and villages could be seen with their orchards and cattle, lending an added charm of domestic life to the natural beauty of the scene. Before darkness shut out the view, a town was passed that was located on a gentle rise in the otherwise level prairies. The name, Richview, aptly describes the scene as we sped past, going we knew not whither.

On my maternal side, my grandfather wrote a brief autobiography in poetic form. He died a decade before my birth. My grandfather, Edwin Stephens, left school in fourth grade. He then began working in the clay mines in Cornwall, England. In 1900, at the age of twenty-one, he sailed by himself to the United States. He worked in the copper mines of Michigan’s upper peninsula before bringing his strong faith to the ministry. He became a Methodist circuit minister, and with my grandmother, raised ten children. My mother was born in the fifth spot. His last position was in the small Michigan town where I was born and raised. As a child, I remember older folks telling me what a way with words Rev. Stephens had. I wish I could have heard him preach from the pulpit in the same church where I was baptized and confirmed.

I return to the church in Cornwall my grandfather built and meet some new relatives

 Home and Boyhood

By Edwin Stephens

Rude peasant home, such was the humble place

That welcomed him the second child and boy,

But what of that? ‘Twas full of charm to him,

Though built of native clay and thatched with straw.

There on the Cornish hills for years it stood

Battered by raging storms, or wrapt in mists

That held their clammy mantle close for days

And hid the landscape from the roving eye.

 

Among the recollections of my early years

Are cherished scenes, still fresh in memory.

And glad experiences in boyhood’s days

When life was in its springtime:  I can see –

The hawthorne hedges in their creamy white

Surrounding meadows carpeted with green,

And sheep and cattle grazing in the midst

And daisies shyly peeping thru the grass

Afraid of being crushed by heedless feet.

On yonder hilltops, ‘neath the summer sky

The furze and heather grew in rivalry

Each bidding for attention from the bees,

That with its golden blooms, this wiht its pink.

I hear the hum of honeybees and drones –

Some pollen laden, some on nectar bent

And some with sacks all filled and homeward bound

Where empty cells await the precious load.

 

Sometimes I feel like an oddity in my family. Choosing a writing career is viewed by non writers as a little odd. Reading words of men whose genes I carry inspires me to continue my journey in telling stories. Perhaps what I have written will leave another legacy one hundred years from now.

A few weeks ago, I learned my great nephew – the son of my youngest niece – is writing a fantasy/science fiction novel. He starts college this month, and already he’s started a book. I say hip-hip hooray. Maybe I’m not so odd after all.

What about your family legacy? Any writers in the fold?

Writer’s Write, and Then They Write Again

crazy author

writer writing

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Here I am with four books published on Kindle and in paperback through Createspace. I started this journey of Indie Author with the publication of Live from the Road in May 2012. It’s been sixteen months, and I’ve learned and suffered and fretted. I’ve also enjoyed being in control of my work. I still don’t have a formula for success, but I keep plodding along.

At the prodding of another fellow author and blogger, I decided it was time to check the figures on my books. All four books are enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program, which means every ninety days I’m given five days to offer one of the books for free. I decide what days and can split them up into different free days. The point of giving away the book is to get it into the hands of as many folks as possible, hoping for reviews and residual sales after the free event. The number of reviews on Amazon affects the sales or so the experts say. Also, with KDP Select, readers can “borrow” the book on their Kindle. Authors receive a percent of the KOLL fund for these borrowed books. The amount varies month to month. For instance, in June, five of my books were borrowed, and I received a payment of $11.19, in addition to my royalty for sold books.

I do know sales have dropped since last summer. I’m disappointed in my sales record for Trails in the Sand, my latest release. I’m pleasantly surprised with the success of Live from the Road, a book I published simply to test the Indie Author waters.

Embarking on the Indie route requires an outlay of money for editing services (an absolute must) and cover design (another must unless you’re a trained graphic designer). Fortunately, I have a background in formatting so I did my own work there, but some folks may have to pay for that service as well. I’ve kept my advertising budget low. The biggest expenditure I made was for a book tour ($120, plus a giveaway valued at $50) for Trails in the Sand, and it was a bust as far as sales. I might have picked up a few blog followers as a result, but there was no residual effect for book sales. Next time, I’ll organize the tour myself and find blogs better suited for my platform. I’ve paid $5 and $10 here and there for advertising my free days, and I believe that works well. One time I paid out $80 for advertising after the free days on the advice of one of the biggest Indie Author support groups, and I didn’t see any benefit in networking or sales.

For my one nonfiction book on Kindle, From Seed to Table, I didn’t pay for editing, but I did have proofreaders on the project. I paid for a cover, and I haven’t converted it to paperback, and probably won’t because it contains so many images.

Here’s the breakdown of estimated cost to produce and advertise each book, along with sales, borrowed, and free “sale” figures:

FinalWebSizeLive from the Road (May 2012 – August 22, 2013)

Cost to Produce – $530

Sold – 430

Borrowed – 53

Free – 26,009

Politics Florida-styleTortoise Stew – (July 2012 – August 22, 2013)

Cost to Produce – $130 (reprint)

Sold – 28

Borrowed – 1

Free – 677

3-D1webTrails in the Sand (December 2012 – August 22, 2013)

Cost to Produce – $1,030

Sold – 46

Borrowed – 0

Free – 3,499

S2T-5From Seed to Table (May 2013 – August 22, 2013)

Cost to Produce – $150

Sold – 43

Borrowed – 7

Free – 10,204

I’m still in the hole for three of the books, but Live from the Road has paid for itself and covered the cost of some of the other books as well. I’m getting reviews for all of the books, except Tortoise Stew (one did come in last week after the free days, so hopefully reviews will increase). In the beginning, I chased down reviewers for Live, but then became disillusioned with giving away books and never seeing a review in return. I’m up to forty-one reviews for that book – they keep coming in steadily even sixteen months after the book’s publication. So far, Trails in the Sand has garnered eighteen reviews. I hope the free days from this month will result in more.

I do know having the books available for sale is better than having them languish in a file cabinet. I’m constantly trying new things, but I don’t have any magical formula for you.

Right now, writing and selling books is my job. It’s a great luxury to have this time, but it’s not supporting anything quite yet.

I remain optimistic as I keep writing. It’s the best advice I can give anyone. When I get a bad or good review, I get back to writing. When I do get discouraged, I write. Usually by the end of the day, the cloud dissipates, and I’m back on the keyboard hacking happily away.

I’m definitely a writer in my heart, body, mind, and soul; therefore, I write.

I’d love to hear about your experiences or answer any questions you might have. It’s a whole new world out there for authors, and I’m content for now to be exploring the Indie Author gig.

Author Wednesday – Jana Grissom

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview Jana Grissom, who is about to release her first Young Adult Fantasy One Price; Two Kingdoms in the fall. Her extensive work with teens makes her the perfect person to write books about their experience while giving them a whole new world to explore through reading.OnePrince

Welcome, Jana. Please tell us about your vision of yourself as a writer.
I want to impact readers by taking them through an exciting journey that shows the main character conquering fears and overcoming obstacles to accomplish their dreams. After reading one of my novels, I want the reader to walk away with a new sense of hope and value as an individual. I have worked with teens for more than fifteen years, and I know self-esteem is the primary struggle in their world. They feel inferior or unloved. I am here to tell every teen (and adult!) that they are valuable and able to take whatever world they live in and make the best of it! They are powerful enough to construct their own future by setting a goal, committing, and never giving up!

That is such an important message to bring to teens and adults. Give us a little information about your new book.
My debut novel, One Prince; Two Kingdoms, takes readers into the life of a foster kid who overcomes adversity and fights for the future of everyone. Johnny Boggs is a teen with trouble to spare who has learned one thing in life – trust no one. Paranoia befriends him as he moves into his fifth foster home and discovers no one appears as they are, his dreams are not just dreams, and he is supposedly the Prince of Shamayim.

On Johnny’s sixteenth birthday, fate requires him to leave the protection of this world but allows for him to choose to reign over the light or turn to the darkness. A vicious competition begins as two kingdoms fight for his loyalty while two beautiful girls, Danielle and Shay, fight for his attention. Time is running out; a decision must be made. Johnny finds it impossible to resist the beauty of his dreams, nor can he turn away from the one who has his heart.

It sounds like an exciting plot. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?
That it made a difference in their life, encouraging them to keep going even when the whole world seems to be against them. One Prince; Two Kingdoms was written based on real life experiences. My family and I were foster parents for more than four years. We loved and protected more than twelve children in that time. Each one had their own struggles yet they never gave up; neither will Johnny. He will choose a kingdom, and he will make his future into whatever he desires. Each one of us has that same choice! I hope this novel inspires everyone to take charge of his or her destiny.

Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.
One Prince; Two Kingdoms came about as a result of disturbing nightmares two of my foster children were experiencing. After several nights of being awakened by their screams and running to comfort them, I had an idea – write a story and let their imaginations defeat their fears. The children were excited to hear stories of magical worlds and powerful celestials (the Grissom’s aka my family) sent to guard them. Each night before bed, I would add new scenes and more adventures. After a few weeks, the nightmares were replaced with excitement to hear the next chapter read.

That’s a wonderful story in itself, Jana. I’m sure those foster kids have never forgotten you and what you gave them. What else do you want readers to know about your book?
I never dreamed of publishing until working on a project with my middle school students. We were writing and I shared my novel that I had written a few years earlier with them. They were captivated, and I was surprised. They helped me edit it one more time and then we, as a class, sent the email to a small publisher with great anticipation. Honestly, I did not expect a reply. I was sending the manuscript to encourage my students to chase their dreams and look, it happened! I received an email back offering a contract. Boy, was I surprised and could not wait to show my class. Needless to say, we cheered and had a party! Now we impatiently await the arrival of the novel. (Especially since each one of my students has their name as one of my characters in One Prince; Two Kingdoms.)

What an unusual and exceptional way to help guide your students to a love of reading. You are truly an inspirational teacher. Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?
Author: Frank E. Peretti
I was inspired as a teen when I read Piercing the Darkness. Each night, I read until my eyes refused to stay open. I was enamored with the parallel spiritual world existing around the people. I have continued to read his work and love the deep morals. It is like being on a literary treasure hunt to find hidden diamonds of wisdom. It is my deep desire to write amazing literature that can be categorized alongside Mr. Peretti. (I think I would faint if I ever met him!)

When you’re not busy teaching or writing, what do you do during your down time?
Even if it is just a drive to a Texas State Park, I love to spend time with my family and travel. They are my world. Right before this interview, I was at my son’s first high school football scrimmage! Go Wildcats! Our next adventure will be moving my daughter to college. By my side through everything is my high school sweetheart and husband, Roy. (Yes, ladies, fairy tales can come true if you wait for Prince Charming!)

I agree with you there, Jana. Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your amazing story. I wish you lots of success with the publication of One Prince; Two Kingdoms.

Jana

 

About Jana Grissom: Jana is a middle school teacher, an advocate for foster children and at-risk teens, a mom of two amazing teens, and married to Roy, her high-school sweetheart. Jana holds a Master of Education in Administration and Policy Studies and offers professional development in bullying identification, prevention, and intervention. She is available to speak to students at secondary schools about the writing process or bring a message that challenges them to S.T.O.P. bullying and suicide.

 

 

Where to find Jana:
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/1prince2kingdoms/
Blog: anovelreality.blogspot.com
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21133166-jana-grissom
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1Prince2K and https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanaGrissom
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janagrissom
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/janagrissom
Purchase links for One Prince; Two Kingdoms will be available October 31, 2013, on Amazon and B&N.

Author Wednesday – Jae Dansie

Sketch of P.C. Zick by Jae at Lit and Scribbles

Sketch of P.C. Zick by Jae at Lit and Scribbles

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m delighted to host a guest post from Jae Dansie who writes one of my favorite blogs, Lit and Scribbles with Jae. Jae writes helpful posts about the writing process, and she always adds an element of whimsy to my morning blog reads. She’s also the artist of the only caricature (that I’m aware of) of myself as writer. One of the most surprising things about writing a blog has been the wealth of colleagues I’ve met and now call friend. Jae falls into that category. I hope you enjoy her post today on editing. She’s spot on with her advice.

Editing Smackdown

By Jae Dansie

A special thanks to P.C. for inviting me to post on Author Wednesday. She’s a person I always enjoy hearing from because she has much wisdom and experience to share when it comes to this writing business.

Editing. Is it a word you dread or embrace?

I thought editing meant finding typos and grammar errors. I didn’t realize that real editing and revising was about to smack me down, and smack me hard.

I’m making this sound a lot worse than it actually is — and yet at the same time, I’m not. Thick skin should be a requirement for a serious writer, but along with that, the humility to accept that gold liquid doesn’t drip out of our pens on the first draft.

SMACK #1

I got minor feedback from friends, worked hard on making my novel the best it could be, and queried it out. I received one or two partial requests, but in the end always rejection. I feared the idea of self-publishing, because I always thought traditional would be my path. But I had a few friends who self-published and had reasonable success. Maybe it was time to try that route.

I learned a coworker of mine did editing professionally and (thankfully) decided that if I was going to self-publish I should certainly put my novel through a professional edit. She definitely put me through the ringer, but I was hungry for improvement. Whatever it took to have the best story possible, I was determined to do it.

I learned a ton! I consider it one of the best experiences of my writing life.

When she and I were getting close to the end of my novel (at this point it was about 77,000 words) I made plans to attend the Backspace Writers Conference in NYC. I intended to give traditional publishing one more go and was especially eager to have a chance to interact with NY agents.

This brings me to…

SMACK #2

New York City. Bustling, beautiful, and big. A fantastic place to hold a conference! I felt confident, knowing I’d had my book edited, and I’d worked hard on polishing it. I was ready to dominate this conference. Dominate, I tell you!

Only I didn’t.

If you ever need an ego smackdown, go talk to NY agents about your book. They aren’t purposefully mean, just profusely honest. It hurt. I had to go into the ladies’ room immediately after the session to let tears fall I had desperately held in. I attended a couple more one-on-one sessions that pointed out the same mistakes. The bottom line: I wasn’t ready for publication, and I knew it.

I learned a lot from the conference. I took home many gold nuggets of wisdom. The problem was I still thought I was in control of my timeline. I wanted to be published. Yesterday, please! But my story just wasn’t ready. It took me a few weeks to come to terms with that. I played video games like crazy, leaving my novel locked in a drawer until I was ready.

SMACK #3

I know, you were hoping I only had two major smacks to endure. Remember what I said about thick skin and humility? The first two smacks gave me humility and I came to appreciate the feedback I received.

I spent the whole summer after the conference rewriting my novel. It got a serious makeover, with major changes in plot, character, and structure. It was still the story I wrote, and yet not. But it had evolved to something greater and it made all that pain from NYC worth it.

I heard about a contest called Pitch Wars. The “winner” would be mentored by either a published author or industry professional. The mentor would read the whole thing, give feedback, and work to help the entrant polish a pitch and the first 250 words for participating agents. Elation! I got selected!

Then came the feedback. Encouraging, but very thorough. My mentor is a particularly fantastic editor. She found weaknesses I’d been blind to and once I’d carefully considered her words, I realized I had a slightly ominous task before me. I had a month to make revisions before the contest deadline.

Did I get any agent requests? I did. A full. Ultimately she passed, but I still came home a winner. I had a much stronger story than I had both before the NYC conference and after. Success!

THE SMACK CONTINUES

A more naive version of me would love to tell you that you’ll outgrow this pesky need for editing. That at some point you won’t have to edit anymore, because your skill will be so great. But the more seasoned me knows that isn’t true — at least it shouldn’t be, not if you’re fully committed to your craft.

I’m currently in the midst of more revisions. I had a good friend critique my whole book and guess what? She found more weaknesses. But I’m not discouraged. In fact, I think this time will be the version ready for publication.

Instead of fearing feedback and change, I embrace it. I enjoy the editing process. I’ve enjoyed seeing what the story has become and how much stronger it now is. I could no more separate it from the writing process than I could cut all sleep from my life. It is necessary and the sooner I learned to embrace it, the happier my writing life became.

Embrace the editing. Do it for your readers, but above all, do it because your story deserves to be the best it can possibly be. After all, it chose you to tell it. Tell it well.

And that’s why I love Jae Dansie so much. She’s honest, and she understands what it takes to be an author. I can’t wait to see her final work  after all the smackdowns. Thank you, Jae, for sharing your experience with us today.

Jae

About Jae Dansie: Jae is a graphic designer, doodler, and writer.  Jae wrote her first novel when she was 14 and has probably written a dozen or so in between which she calls “practice.”  She’s in a love/hate relationship with her current novel SHADE but knows it’ll all be worth it in the end.  When Jae isn’t doodling (she calls it scribbling) and obsessing over her WIP, she likes to karaoke, travel, and tantalize her tastebuds with tasty new treats.  You can find Jae on her blog at Lit and Scribbles, or out patrolling the streets for truth, justice and the American way.

Book Review Friday – Eternal on the Water

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Eternal on the Water

I loved Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger. It may not be for everyone, unless you love nature, wildlife, Thoreau, travel, and love. The title first caught my attention as the book lay on the bargain table at the local bookstore. You never know what gems lie in wait in the those bargain bins. This book went from that table to my table of books to read at home. I finally picked it up a few weeks ago, and the love story of Cobb and Mary immersed me in their meeting on the banks of the Allagash River in Maine. Cobb was there to kayak a river traversed by his hero Thoreau in the last years of his life. Mary is there to study the crows, her life’s love prior to meeting Cobb.

Mary tells the myths of the crow that captivate a special group of young woman brought together by illness and bonded through the experience of living in the wilderness of Maine for a few weeks each summer. The majesty of bears plays a role in the beautiful love story between two people and their unlikely journey for eight years.

From the beginning, the reader knows the ending. The author surprises the reader with how the characters came to the point of the ending. Some might consider is fanciful and unrealistic. That’s all right. All that matters is that I enjoyed the book thoroughly and look forward to reading other books by Joseph Monninger. It very much reminded me of Suffer the Little Children by Christina Carson.

Speaking of authors I’ve featured on Author Wednesday, I’m far behind on my reading schedule of these talented Indie Authors. Currently I’m reading Christoph Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners.

Next on my to-read list:

Daughters of Iraq by Revital Horowitz

The Golden Grave by David Lawlor

Buried a Man I Hated There by Adam Pepper

Okotibbee Creek by Lori Crane

Fugue in C Minor by Vince Dickinson

Dirty Laundry by Marilyn Slagel

Are you reading some good books this summer? I go in spurts with my reading but I’m always looking for good books to read.

Author Wednesday – Vince Dickinson

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview Vince Dickinson who is the author of Fugue in C Minor, a romantic thriller. The main character finds himself in the perfect life, but he can’t remember how he arrived there. Kindle Merged JPG Bardes Background Full Smaller

Welcome to Author Wednesday, Vince. I’m wondering if, like many authors, you have any special writing rituals. 

I like to have a large mug of coffee or iced tea next to me. I can’t deal with any kind of distractions when I’m writing. I take my Netbook with me to the patio when I write.

I don’t like any distractions either. It’s always interesting to learn how authors discover their voice in writing. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

The first thing I ever wrote was a “poem” about Vincent Van Gogh when I was thirteen. My English teacher posted it in the parent newsletter, and I was hooked. I started writing short stories and poems throughout my teens. And then in college I got serious about writing a novel. I started listening to people’s conversations and understanding the natural ebb and flow of dialogue. I think this is still my greatest strength as a writer, and a huge part of my voice.

Why have you chosen to write about a man losing his memory in Fugue in C Minor?

Twelve years ago I was laid off from a great job in high tech. Unemployment wasn’t much. I lived in a small apartment in a posh part of Portland then. I’d go for walks and see these beautiful homes with Porsches, Hummers, and BMWs parked in the driveways. I was a little jealous, so I wondered, what if you had everything, but you didn’t know where the keys for the Porsche were? Or you had a sexy spouse, but couldn’t recall her name? And what if your memory started to return, and you had reason to doubt that you belonged there? I was working on another novel at the time, so I set this idea aside. But I picked it up again about a year ago and dove into that doubt and suspicion. One of the questions that struck me as I composed was, “Could you be intimate with someone you didn’t know well?” Exploration of intimacy and the capacity to connect with another person have always been central to my writing.

Sounds very interesting. I can see why you had to get back to this topic. What kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing?

In my last three books I have been inserting little Easter eggs into the story; things that casual readers might miss, but that detail-loving readers will catch and put in their basket. It’s important to have a very visual setting, believable characters, dialogue that reveals and drives the plot, but I think it’s also important to have these connective motifs. It’s like finding a chocolate kiss in your trail mix granola!

What is the message conveyed in Fugue in C Minor?

Most people find it easy to float through their lives without latching on to anyone or anything too tightly. There’s risk in attachment. I think love and passion are worth the investment, even if we fail and lose. I think being alive is more than just having a job and a place to sleep. Life is about experiencing awe and wonder, whether it’s in seeing the Grand Canyon or kissing a person you love. My books reflect that belief.

That’s a great message to convey. To return to the grace of a child is my goal in life. What book are you reading right now?

I have David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and your book, Trails in the Sand, on my desk right now. I snack on books more than eating a meal. I just finished reading Liam Callahan’s Cloud Atlas, which my wife bought for me thinking it was the other Cloud Atlas. I loved it! Now I have to start snacking on the Mitchell book. And I can’t wait to see how your Caroline works out her own problems!

I hope you enjoy all of the books on your “platter,” Vince. Fugue in C Minor is in my Kindle queue right now, and I look forward to reading it, especially after getting to know a little bit more about the subject. Thank you for stopping by today. Best wishes on all your future projects.

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About Vince Dickinson: Vince holds a BA in English from Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, where rain is uncommon. But these days he lives in the Willamette Valley in Oregon with his beautiful wife and kid.

Links and Contact Information:

Paperback version of Fugue in C Minor

Kindle version

Blog: The Creative Revolution 

Facebook author page

Goodreads author page