Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Christina Carson, author of Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know. I featured Christina in 2013 and reviewed Suffer the Little Children. I love reading her blog, and recently I had the pleasure of reading Dying to Know.
My review will be published later this week. I’ll only say that the book resonated with me, and I’m walking around the house spouting some of her wonderful insights.
The Backdoor Writer by Christina Carson
I’m what I call a backdoor writer. I didn’t write from the get go, using my first crayon to craft a story. I didn’t study literature but trained instead as a scientist. I didn’t think of myself as a writer until I was almost 50. And I didn’t start writing to become a writer, but rather to record a period of my life that had meant everything to me, but was over and would never replay. I wrote to document the stories of that time, the people who filled them and capture the love, hilarity, and true friendship I knew there.
I was a product of the civilized establishment of east coast United States before I left home and ended up in a “frontiersy,” wild, northern Alberta settlement to raise sheep. I stumbled into a life I never knew existed, hard but poignant, rough but tender, comical and real. The life exposed me to the good and the ugly of who I was. When I put the stories of that time on paper, I realized not only could I write, but I also loved doing it, and it was then my life as a writer began.
Long before my farming years, I had become disgruntled with day-to-day living. Too much of how I’d been taught to live didn’t make sense. I began looking for something I couldn’t even name that might bring meaning and purpose to a life that felt increasingly empty. My fifteen years of farming intensified that drive, for its demand for honesty and resiliency gave me a different taste of life. What haunted me most, however, were the big questions: who are we; what are we; why are we here? I called my endeavors human cosmology, for rather than religion, truth was what I sought to know.
Today I write books that reflect my continuing desire to explore life. I write fiction because I’d like the reader to live the story as if it were true life for them too, give them an opportunity to journey along with the characters and garner their own insights. Characters fascinate me. When readers include my characters in a conversation and talk about them the way they would an old friend, I feel I’ve succeeded.
Take Dying to Know, for example. Callie Morrow is a 36-year-old professional photographer who, having never challenged herself in any area of her life, suddenly sees it could now be over before it even began. Having watched her mother die of cancer using the traditional route of treatment, when Callie is diagnosed with the disease, she uncharacteristically takes a stand against that route, tentatively offering, “There’s got to be another way.” She shocks her childhood group of friends and disturbs all around her with her seeming irrationality, except for her Chinese friend Mary Chang and her Inuit artist friend Joe Kuptana. With the help of the worldviews these two people bring to her life, she starts a journey for which she had no map or sense of direction.
It took me three years to write this book so that it would offer a realistic portrayal of someone coming to understand health and well-being from a completely different paradigm yet continue to make sense to a reader who might not have entertained such concepts prior. My characters had to be thinkers in their own right, but unexposed to alternative views of the nature and laws of life. They also had to represent the reactions my readers might have toward Calli and her quest: amazement, disgust, curiosity, resistance, intense fear and abandonment. I wanted to make a place where each reader could fit in, move along with the group and perhaps make discoveries for themselves.
I am a writer. I don’t write to entertain; I write to inspire. I don’t encourage spectators. I want the reader to root for themselves as much as for the protagonist and experience new ideas, uncommon relationships and a deep sense of possibility before one of my novels comes to a close. For 40 years, I’ve been exploring life. My novels give a reader the opportunity to do the same in the company of friends.
About Christina Carson: I am 68 years old and have worn many caps and walked many roads. I started in research as a scientist even before graduation, then taught in nursing for a number of years, owned a masonry contracting business with a mate and worked at that and building houses. I went on to farm. I am a creature of the land and love animals. That life was a dream until it ended. I then went on to become a stock broker, which I hated, and then the aimless period began with intense doubt and chaos. I was there for years making it up as I went along and spending a great deal of time afraid and despairing.
I will forever consider Canada my home, but I returned to the states in 1996 after 30 years in Canada to marry a man I met in Vancouver where I lived for five years. He and I are perfectly suited to one another in intent, direction and integrity and as for the rest, we play that by ear.
Book Info: I end up in the genre of literary fiction by default. I don’t come close to fitting into any of the other proffered boxes. Adventure and philosophy – when are they going to stitch that together in a genre?
Christina, I so agree with you about the genre types offered. I made up my own–environmental fiction–but usually end up in literary or contemporary fiction. Thank you so much for offering us an insight into how and why you became a writer. Your passion for the craft is evident as well as your intent of showing your readers there are other paths.
Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/Christina-Carson/e/B006PM2QMM
Venture Galleries: I write for them and am a member of their Authors Collection
Books that Entertain and Inspire: http://christinacarsonauthor.com/
Asked and Answered: http://christinacarson-blogging.blogspot.com/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/
It came as a delightful surprise when Jaidis over at Juniper Grove Book Solutions wrote me an email to inform me I’d won a one-day book blitz. I readily accepted my prize, and now the big day has arrived. There’s a drawing for my Florida fiction and environmentally focused novel, Trails in the Sand. U.S. winners will receive a paperback edition and international winners an eBook. Eighteen bloggers signed up to host me. Check out their blogs and enter to win.
Good Monday Morning –
Last Monday I participated in an Author Blog Chain. One of the authors I tagged was Darlene Jones, the author of the “Em and Yves series,” a science fiction love story. As you can read below, Darlene has a special category for her books. I reviewed Embattled a few months back–check it out.What are you currently working on?
I’m putting together a book of short humor and travel bits that I hope readers will enjoy. I’m adding pictures when I can.
How does your work differ from others’ in the same genre?
Genre is a tough one as my books don’t fit any one genre. They’re sci-fi, but not hard core technical science fiction so I call them “soft” sci-fi. They’re romance too, with a great love story that transcends time and death, but not romance in the sense of the romance genre. They’re adventure too. So how do I categorize them? Good question for which I do not have an answer.
Why do you write what you do?
I lived in Mali for a time. The poverty was horrific. I wanted to wave a magic wand to make life better for the Malians who manage to smile in spite of their difficult lives. So I gave my heroine the ability to “fix” many of the problems in the world. Of course things don’t always work out as planned for the alien controlling her is a rookie, and he messes up.
How does your writing process work?
It’s evolving from and sort of hit and miss approach that involved revolving paragraphs to working with a rough outline which is not overly detailed and is flexible to be changed as I go. I do have periods of “writer’s block” which I don’t worry about. I take that to mean that I need a break and when ideas start circulating during bouts of insomnia, I know it’s time to write again.
Check out Darlene’s website at www.emandyves.com.
Staci Troilo and I have been following each other’s blogs for more than a year. We share a love of writing and of a place. Staci grew up in the Pittsburgh area but now lives away from the place I moved to three years ago. I appreciate her stories on her blog about her upbringing in her Italian family and the traditions of that culture within the confines of Pittsburgh. I love to read her posts about her life and her traditions. She’s written several award-winning short stories, and in 2013, she published her first novel, Mystery, Ink – Mystery Heir.
I’ve had her book on my Kindle for five months, but other books always seemed to take precedence. Finally, this past week I started reading her book Mystery Heir, which is the fifth book in the series Mystery, Ink published by Goldminds Publishing.
The book is written in the best tradition of a “cozy mystery” started and perfected by Agatha Christie.
Despite the murders and mayhem in the fictional city of Centerville in a non-named state, the writing is light and breezy. The main character, Naomi Dotson, is annoying, bold, athletic, and lovable all at once. Her sometimes more sensible–albeit fastionista–twin sister, Penelope, provides a great foil for Naomi. The two romp and trespass through the private affairs of some very prominent citizens, which makes up the recipe for a fun-filled mystery.
It’s one thing to follow the formula of a cozy mystery, it’s quite another to pull it off effortlessly so the reader forgets about the reading and only remembers the characters’ dilemmas. In stories of this type, it’s not unusual for all the characters to be rather one-dimensional, but Troilo still managed to make me care about Naomi when she finds herself in terrifying situations she brought on herself.
Troilo achieves what all writers want to achieve. Her writing is flawless, her dialogue believable, and her development of the tensions and mystery of the case Naomi tries to solve creates a story that didn’t feel as if I was reading. I became lost in the travails of the twins.
Whenever the tension becomes too taut, Troilo breaks it up with a nonsensical comment by one of the twins. While they’re holding down two murder suspects after giving them a tai kwon do move, Penelope chides Naomi for not having her phone, which means Penelope has to use hers to call the police. Silly, yet charming.
The twins could have been tragic figures since they lost their parents several years before, but they’re not. Troilo shows the young women as survivors and fighters. Naomi’s curiosity brings her into the middle of a family tree more complicated than the strings of Christmas lights I struggled to unwind a couple of weeks ago.
It’s been a few years since I’ve read a mystery. Years ago, I was hooked on Mary Higgins Clark, but then moved on to different genres. Reading Mystery Heirs made me feel as if I’d found a long-lost friend.
If you want a fast-paced read with charming and humorous characters, Mystery Heirs is a book you’re sure to love.
I just looked over my WordPress report for Writing Whims in 2013 and am pleased with the results. When I started writing this blog, I wasn’t sure if it would be of interest to others. I wasn’t even sure the form it would take.
Early in 2013, I decided to begin two new features, Author Wednesday and Book Review Friday. I began Author Wednesday in March with Rachelle Ayala. I’ve also since reviewed two of her books, Hidden Under Her Heart and Knowing Vera. As well as being a prolific author, Rachelle also supports Indie Authors. She’s been a great source of information and friendship as I ventured into the world of the Indie Author almost two years ago. Thank you, Rachelle, for always being an inspiration.
During 2013, Writing Whims was viewed by folks in eighty-seven different countries. That statistic blew my mind. Eighty-seven countries? How is that possible? The Internet may seem to narrow our focus to the computer screen but it certainly broadens the scope of our reach through words.
The post that received the most comments came from one of my favorite writers and bloggers, Hazy Shades of Me. Hazy and I started our blogs around the same time and somehow connected through this tiny/huge world of blogging. She inspires me with her creative posts that I stand back and admire. She’s a gem, and I hope you’ll hop on over to her blog, named what else, but Hazy Shades of Me. You won’t be disappointed.
I would also like to thank the folks who made the most comments on Writing Whims in 2013.
4. Staci Troilo
I follow all of these writers’ blogs and am always pleased when they drop by as well as everyone else. Here’s to an even better 2014 of blogging.
Now that I’m in the down period before the start of 2014, I thought it a great time to look over the past year and the goals I set for myself. If that doesn’t discourage me, I’ll move into the new and renewed goals for 2014.
The Writing Goals for 2013
So those were the goals of the past year. Even though I marked two and a half of them in red, I’ve at least made progress on them. In addition, I did one major thing this year that never made it into the goals because a year ago, I didn’t know that I would put together the Civil War journal of my great grandfather, but I did just that and published it in October as Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. I’m very proud of that labor of love.I also re-released a novel from 2003. A Lethal Legacy is a psychological thriller and still one of my favorites.
With that out of the way, I have some new and old goals for 2014.
1. Establish myself as a best-selling author – I’m going to keep this one on here until it happens in a real universe. There are sidebar goals to achieve toward this end:
2. Finish writing Native Lands and publish it in 2014 – I’m not quite ready to make a date commitment yet, but I will in a few months.
3. Publish Odyssey to Myself – Goal for publication: March 2014. We shall see.
4. Work on new travel blog, P.C. Zick Travels – I already have this set up for photos and essays from my travels, but I need to work on it more and then promote for followers.
5. Establish my editing and formatting business – This is something I’ve put off while working on my books, but I will soon be offering my services in a formal way. I’ve been editing fiction and nonfiction for years but went away from it when I started my journey as an Indie Author. A former client, Leona Bodie, hired me to edit her new book this year and now another fellow writer has hired me to format her book of Cuban recipes for Create Space. I’m excited about getting back to helping others realize their own writing dreams.
6. Start a new work in progress by the end of the year – I have two or three ideas floating around, and I keep jotting down ideas.
So that’s it for me this year. These are all reachable goals and help me clarify my focus.
Happy New Year to you all. I’m so grateful to all of you who follow this blog and who take the time to comment and “like” my posts. Thank you.
What are your goals for 2014?
Welcome to a special edition of Author Wednesday. Since I didn’t have any authors lined up for the last two weeks in December, I thought I’d take a chance on answering my own interview questions. I found the experience slightly weird, but fun. Here goes. Patricia welcomes her alter ego, P.C. Zick, to Author Wednesday.
Welcome, P.C. You’re looking mighty fine this morning. I know you’re a great admirer of Rachel Carson (Silent Spring). She once said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.
I saw a docu-drama based on Rachel Carson’s life, and when the actress portraying her spoke the line about a subject choosing the writer, I cried. It described perfectly how I feel about my writing, particularly fiction. My husband, the engineer, was with me and for the first time, he understood my writing passion. I thought I’d have to explain to him why I was crying, but when I turned to him, he had tears in his eyes, and I knew he understood. Sometimes a line will come to me during sleep. That happened with Tortoise Stew. I woke one morning with the first line in my head without even knowing I was going to write a novel about Florida developers and environmentalists gone mad. The line was “The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.” I even had the character’s name choosing me. That remained the first line of the book throughout all the revisions. My latest novel Trails in the Sand came to me in a similar manner although I changed the first line of that book many times. However, the first line, “My family didn’t understand when I married my sister’s husband,” remained a part of the plot of the book.
What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?
I like to write about redemption to show it’s never too late to turn a life around to the positive aspects of life. I suppose some of that comes from being raised by a mother who was certain she—and our entire family—was cursed. I’ve fought my whole life to break out of that syndrome. I hope to make a difference through my writing and life, and even though my mother died in 1998, I think I’m trying to show her life is much better when living on the light and positive side. Trails in the Sand contains elements of that message. I also try to convey the importance of communication. Often times, we don’t express our deepest thoughts to those that matter and it results in all sorts of complications. Expressing our truths to those we love is the best legacy we can leave.
How does setting play a role in your books?
I lived in north Florida for thirty years. For several years, I worked as a reporter and covered several small towns on the brink of entering Florida’s out-of-control land grab and development. There are so many characters weirdly real in Florida, and the setting is sometimes magical, sometimes frightening, but most of all interesting. Plus, using the weather as a plot device is one of my favorites. Hurricanes and tropical storms are good for building tension. I’ve developed a new genre—Florida Environmental Novels—and I plan on continuing as long as the ideas come to me.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my next Florida novel, Native Lands, which delves into the disappearance of a whole tribe of Native Americans after the arrival of the Spanish. The novel goes between the past and the present day as an international conglomerate attempts to turn Florida—from the Everglades to St. Augustine—into one complete living environment. It stresses the concept of connection between people and between ecosystems. It also showcases the traditional thinking of development in Florida, which is to destroy the natural environment to build a fake environment for people to enjoy. Disneyworld is the shining example of this concept in central Florida just north of Lake Okeechobee and the gateway to the Everglades. Also, I’m pulling together a series of my travel essays for Odyssey to Myself, which I hope to publish in the coming months.
Are your books traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?
When I first started out writing novels, I went the traditional route. Small publishers picked up my first three books. I even had an agent for a few years. It sounded so professional and successful to say, “My publisher” or “My agent.” But the reality is different because nothing happens unless the author is willing to get out and sell her books, no matter who publishes it. And the amount of money given over to agents and publishers is far too much based on the amount of work required by the author. I dropped out of this world around 2007 after publishing Tortoise Stew. I probably sold 500 books of my first novel A Victorian Justice after literally pounding the pavement and setting up book signings. It was exhausting work, and I only received a pittance in return. I tried half-heartedly with A Legal Legacy and Tortoise Stew, but I lost enthusiasm for book signings. The toll was far too high for the return. So I kept writing, but I didn’t enter into the query, rejection, query cycle. In 2011, I decided to enter into the new revolution of Indie Authors and eBooks. I reissued A Lethal Legacy and Tortoise Stew. I published the novel I wrote from 2007-2009, Live from the Road, and then this past year Trails in the Sand. I’ve also published two nonfiction books, From Seed to Table and Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. I’ve sold far more books by sitting in my lovely office as an Indie Author. I love the freedom it offers me, and it fits my personality. It’s not for everyone, but for me, it’s perfect. I work well on my own, set deadlines and keep them, and continue to write. At this point, I can’t imagine going the “traditional” route again. Someday soon, the Indie Author path will become the “traditional” way of publishing.
What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading Anya’s Story by Julia Gousseva on my Kindle. I’m also reading a book on starting an editing business online, which I’m in the process of doing right now. I have at least fifty books in the queue on my Kindle. I have a shelf lined with books to be read. And I’m reading passages from several books on Florida and its environment. I’m never without a book in hand. I love my Kindle because I can slip it in my purse easily and take it wherever I go, but I still get a thrill from reading hard copy books.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. Remember to think about gifting some Indie Author books that I’ve featured on this site. Most of the books are in eBook or paperback form. There’s some real talent out there and most of us do it because this thing called writing has chosen us, and it won’t let go. Happy reading.
Patricia (and P.C.)
Today I welcome Annamaria Bazzi, an author who’s visited me before. Also I’ve been on her blog for her Round Table Chat with authors. Annamaria is about to release the next book in her White Swans Series. Today I’m pleased to reveal her new cover for the book as well as an interview that she conducted with one of her characters who lives in her mind. I certainly know what that’s like, and I hope you enjoy the conversation on this installment of Author Wednesday.
By Annamaria Bazzi
Writing is a lonely road traveled by people whose imaginations scream for release, where stories form, characters are born and the life of the creator changes forever when the words are written down.
Almost two years ago, a beautiful face with no name materialized in my head. The young girl sat at a window, sad, staring into the landscape. She existed but never spoke to me, until one day she screamed for me to tell her story.
“My name is Kendíka,” she said, in a soft enticing voice. From that moment on, I lived and breathe Kendíka. This is a story whose ending I still don’t really know, but at least book one is completed and ready to be edited.
I must say, when Kendíka introduced me to Charles, her guardian, I too fell in love with the man who’s gentle, kind, protective. He had many of the qualities for a good husband. Would he be one? Time will tell.
Since the initial short story, which has turned into a novel, Kendíka has come to life. She has her own Facebook page and manages her own website. I must admit, she’s a rambunctious teen and at times gets out of hand with her demands. Still, I can’t blame her for urging me to hurry up and publish White Swans A Regency World. She’s ready to capture a fan base while I’m still struggling to make sure every word brings meaning to the story.
Kendíka – Hello folks, I see you’ve met Annamaria—
Annamaria – What are you doing here? This is my guest post.
Kendíka – Maybe so, but I think I can attract more fans than you can, so you should let me out of the bottle.
Annamaria – [stares dumbfounded] You just love to steal the show, typical teen behavior-someone who believes the world revolves around her.
Kendíka – Oh, but it does! That’s what you adults fail to understand. You’ve had your chances, now the world belongs to me, to the young. We are the future.
Annamaria – Yes, it’s just like I say, give that little inch and they’ll yank a yard out from under you.
Kendíka – What are you talking about?
Annamaria – Never mind. How have you come to help me?
Kendíka – I just want to tell folks about my story, my world, and my website. Is that a crime?
Annamaria – No, my dear, go ahead. I’m curious to hear what you have to say.
Kendíka – The book is still being work on, you know edits and stuff like that to make it a better read. She does work hard, but it seems to me the book is always in a transition state, never done, always being worked on.
Annamaria – What do you mean always being worked on?
Kendíka – Well, you’ve taken it from being a collection of short stories to a full-length novel, you’ve revised some of the shorts and incorporated them into the novel, so, yeah, you’re always doing something to it. I also think you started advertising and mentioning the book too early in the game and your strategy could backfire on you.
Annamaria – You’ve got a point there, but I still hope folks will enjoy the twists and turns in the book that micmicks a world in the Regency Era.
Kendíka – What’s up with that? Why couldn’t you keep it in the twentieth-first century?
Annamaria – The Regency Era is such a romantic and idolized period and the fashion so different. It’s a period filled with excitement.
Kendíka – [rolls her eyes] It’s a very restrictive era for women where men are in control of everything. How can that be romantic? Besides, this book is a fantasy not a romance novel.
Annamaria – Before the situation breaks out into one of our arguments, I believe it’s time to thank our host.
Kendíka – Thank you so much, Patricia, for hosting Annamaria and me.
Patricia – It’s always a pleasure, Kendíka and Annamaria. When you two get together there’s no room for a third voice to speak, except in the pages of the White Swan series. Congratulations on your impending release. I hope you’ll drop by after it’s published.
Today I’m happy to announce the release of Mohana Rajakuman’s new novel An Unlikely Goddess, winner of the SheWrites New Novelist Award, 2011. Watch the trailer for the book on YouTube:
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
An Unlikely Goddess
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
…The Hindu goddess, Sita, is said to have been born from the Earth.
King Janaka discovers the beautiful infant and in her beauty, believes in her divinity. He raises her as his own daughter……
Unlike her namesake, Sita’s first mistake was being born.
A girl, her mother thought, eyes dark in abject terror. What if he leaves me? She swallowed, increasing the dryness in her post-delivery mouth, the stiches across her abdomen itching. No water. Only ice chips until her bowels passed the tests. Mythili pressed back against the pillows. She closed her eyes, pushing her fingers into the sockets until the darkness was punctuated by bone-white stars. She wished she could as easily tune out the gurgles of the baby in the bassinet beside her.
Yet, even premature and unwanted, Sita was obliviously happy to enter the world, beaming her infant smile at anyone or anything she saw: the nurse, her aunt, her mother’s back, the noxiously-pink cement walls of the Madras hospital in which she found herself. Several pounds underweight, she was otherwise fine—a petite, brown-skinned baby with tufts of black hair crowning a smooth scalp. How could she be expected to know that from her first breath she was, and always would be, a living reminder of her mother’s failure to produce a first-born male heir?
Though swaddled and placed in the bassinet immediately after delivery, her eyes were alive with motion. She blinked up at the faces of passersby, but they were admittedly few, so instead, she followed the blinking lights, the creeping shadows and the occasional appearance of a nurse. Everything about the world kept her busy with delight until sleep washed over her little body
“Look at that smile,” the young nurse said, cradling Sita against her flat bosom.
“Aamam,” Priya, the childless aunt, agreed, rubbing a forefinger across the baby’s somewhat wrinkly face.
Instead of replying, Mythili, Sita’s mother, pulled a see-through blue sheet up to her chin and turned her face away.