AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – CHRISTINA CARSON

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It’s been far too long since I’ve featured this author on my blog, but here she is with a post about how her latest releases came to be. Christina Carson shares her thoughts about the “seeds” for an author. I’ve written reviews for her books and featured her on Author Wednesday. 9Her first two books, Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know are masterpieces of literary fiction. DyingToKnowFinal (3)She now presents us with Accidents of Birth, Book One and Two. Her post today addresses where these works of historical fiction originated. Book One follows the life of Imogene Ware from her birth in Mississippi in 1928 through some turbulent decades in the South. Book Two chronicles her life in the last three decades of the 20th century. It is with great pleasure that I turn over the blog to one of my favorite authors, Christina Carson.

Kindle Cover - Book OneThe Seeds that Grow Our Stories by Christina Carson

The creative process, the one that brings us all so much pleasure either through being the creator or the recipient is indeed a strange bird. Somewhere, seemingly out of the ether, an idea begins to emerge. It reminds me of when I was a child and had my first experience growing crystals. Have you ever grown a crystal? Ah, a positively magical affair, especially to a child. You’d get your Dad to go the druggist and buy whichever chemicals were legal for you to have that had been listed in the crystal-making book you were reading. You’d make a supersaturated solution of each one of the chemicals by mixing them in water, suspend a thin twine tied to a stick which spanned the drinking glasses you’d snuck out of the kitchen…and wait. Within a day or so, the tiniest of crystals would emerge on the cord and then one would start to grow. Sometimes they’d get as big as my thumbnail. It was astonishing—these beautiful crystals from ostensibly out of nowhere – ruby red, sapphire blue and diamond clear, depending on the solution. There was a critical time period, however, which you couldn’t predetermine, in which you had to harvest the crystal or the solution begin to dissolve it and take it back. I have always sensed that stories come into existence in just this way. Somewhere in the back of our minds, saturated with intellectual and emotional experiences, a seed exists around which a story begins to form. What is that seed? That is an interesting question, for if you find it, you can watch the marvel of the creative process that unfolds. The novel Accidents of Birth began in just that manner.

I was sixteen and about to have some minor surgery. My mother had tucked me in at the hospital for a three-day stay, and being an independent child, almost obnoxiously so, I suggested I was just fine, and she need not come again until it was time to go home. I had never been in a hospital. I had no idea how much empty time there was lying there. There was nowhere to go, no TVs and no one to talk to as hospitals were much emptier those days. By the time late afternoon of day one rolled around, I was beginning to rue my offhanded dismissal of my mother, until the sound of soft, rhythmic singing came from down the hall followed by a gentle rap on my door. I said, “Come in.”

In response, an aging Black orderly came around the corner. His hair was salt and pepper gray, his face a deep rich brown and his eyes gentle with concern. Seeing me all alone, he began to fuss over me as if I were his blood daughter. I was awed. I had never had anyone treat me with such loving kindness, let alone a total stranger.

Come morning, I realized it wasn’t a chance happening, for when the orderly came then, she was a forty-something Black woman who proceeded to care for me in the same inclusive manner, making me one of her own. Her kindness knew no bounds, and I lay there in wonder. She stayed with me until the prepping for the operation was over, and I was wheeled off.
I saw those two several more times before I left the hospital. I wanted to say something to them, but I couldn’t understand all I was feeling at that young age. I was a kid. What did I know about life and all its glaring contradictions? But…I never forgot what it felt like to be loved like that.

Over the years, that seed drew from all the experiences that made up my life, and eventually formed a story I would have never imagined writing – me, white, from a racist family and having always lived above the Mason-Dixon Line. Then, a protagonist emerged, a woman who was illiterate, quirky, filled with earthy wisdom, and, yes, Black. That was as startling to me as any crystal I’d ever grown. Mrs. Imogene Ware came into my life, created from that original seed, and retold in her own way that sixteen-year old’s experience:

“We sit quiet again. Then I git up, walk over to where she set an reach out to her. She come to me like she a frightened little child, an I hold her tight an stoke her hair, coo to her, an tell her over an over she be fine. Tell her over an over I love her so, juss who she be, an I always will. They be no doorways where love live, nothing that open an shut. They be no time where love live, nothing that begins or ends. But she don’ know that, an my heart weep fo’ her.”

It took me years to grow into a place where I could write this story, have the maturity and the openness to let it come to and through me. Three days in a hospital with two incredibly caring souls gave me a gift beyond the obvious, however. It predisposed me to look at the Black culture throughout my life, and collect examples of its beauty and goodness. In the process, I met some exquisite human beings, Black women leaving their mark on the world. Out of that came Accidents of Birth, a story wrapped in the brutality and racism of the 20th century but told as a profound love story, for the seed of this novel was love.

Kindle Cover - Book TwoSome final words from Miss Imogene pondering like she so often did as she and her cart horse, Polly, travelled up and down their farm to market road:

“It clear to me now my mama didn’t leave me with no suggestion. She leave me with her life. She leave me knowing my work be to love this world too, like she did. An sittin right here at the edge of this road ponderin’ on what lies ahead a me, it feel more curse than grace, but that juss ’cause I be scared. An then as I look at the people round me, I see they be livin’ out what they be left by they mama or they papa. An it don’ seem to matter whether you respected them or not, just being round ’em for so long, who they be an what they believe seep into ya. An it don’ look like no easy thing to be achangin’ that. But by God above, there muss be some way to use what we learn to make our chiluns’ lives kinder and happier, not juss repeating our woes. Then I chuckle quietly as I think of the years of slavery, an racism, an poverty, an disease, an it occur to me history don’ seem to favor that notion. Well, I do, indeed I do.”

And so do I.

IMG_0140 resized-framedChristina Carson on Christina:  I am sixty-nine-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 thirty 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.

Links:

Accidents of Birth, Book One 

Accidents of Birth, Book Two

Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @CarsonCanada

Facebook 

Christina Carson Websites:
Books that Entertain and Inspire 
Asked and Answered 

Book Review Friday – P.C. Zick’s reviews of Christina’s Books

Suffer the Little Children

Dying to Know

Author Wednesday – Christina Carson

June 5, 2013

March 5, 2014

May 14, 2014

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – FLORENCE OSMUND

???????????????????????????????Today on Author Wednesday, best-selling author Florence Osmund stops by to talk about her life as a writer since leaving the corporate world several years ago. She’s been a phenomenal success in her new career, and her advice is well worth following. She writes literary and women’s fiction. Red Clover, one of her best-selling titles, is a coming-of-age piece with a strong male lead character. Regarding Annaanother of her hits with readers, follows a young woman as she explores her mysterious past. Please join us as I probe her mind for some thoughts on her success.Red Clover cover Google

Good morning, Florence. I’m so pleased to have you on my blog today. I always love to ask writers when they were first able to describe themselves as a “writer” or “author.” When did it happen for you? 

I spent a long career working for large corporations, and during that period I wrote numerous articles, white papers, proposals, and other business-related documents. It wasn’t until I retired in 2009 that I began writing fiction. I started referring to myself as an author in 2012 when I published my first novel—at the tender age of sixty-two. I don’t regret having waited that long to do what I love to do—I have so much more material now!

It doesn’t matter how long it took, and sixty-two is very young! Now that this is your full-time gig, how much time do you spend a day writing?

I would like to be able to say that I spend as much of the day writing as I so desire. I’d like to be able to say that, but I can’t. I discovered early on that books don’t sell themselves—most of us authors have to spend a considerable amount of time promoting our work. Otherwise, no one would know of its existence.

I’m an early riser and usually spend mornings doing things that help to build my author platform—maintaining two websites, participating in on-line discussion groups, writing articles, answering e-mails, keeping up with social media, crafting promotions, and maintaining my e-mail subscriber list. That leaves the afternoon open for writing, usually in three two-hour blocks, since I can’t seem to sit in one place for more than two hours without a break. With this routine, I’ve been able to publish one book a year, and that works for me.

It’s an incredible juggling act to be both marketer and writer, but it sounds as if you’ve found a formula that works for you. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

For years while I was working in corporate America, I thought about writing books after I retired. And for years, every time an idea for a story line would come to mind, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. It didn’t matter when or where. I could be walking down the street when I observed something that I thought would make an interesting scene in a novel. Or I could be at work and someone would say something that sparked an idea. Over the years, I amassed hundreds of these ideas in a shoe box. When I was ready to start writing, I pulled them out, scrutinized them, and put them into piles. When I was done, I had three stacks of notes that showed promise for three distinct stories.

That’s amazing! That’s a great bit of advice for any writer at any stage. I do the same thing, but I need to get a shoe box to save all those ideas that grab me. Life is the best food for feeding fiction. Do you find that similar themes or messages emerge in your fiction? 

The protagonists in my stories are average people who find themselves faced with difficult decisions. Like most of us, both supporters and defeaters surround them. It’s particularly rewarding when readers of my books think about their own set of values and what they would do in a similar situation. Many have shared their own stories with me. In one case, a book club had chosen one of my books for their monthly read and invited me to join in by phone. At the very end of the discussion, one of the members said that I had told her story, almost down to the smallest detail, and she thanked me for shedding light on part of it that she hadn’t realized before. Rewards like that are priceless.

I agree. I’m amazed when readers/strangers tell me that. I’m pleased to hear that you’ve had that experience. You are right–absolutely priceless. What are you working on these days? 

In August of this year, when novel number five went into the very capable hands of my editor, I started writing novel number six. It’s about a cozy mystery writer who thinks her husband may be imitating some of the behaviors of the characters in her books. He claims she’s being paranoid since he admits to never having read any of her books. She feels betrayed by his lack of interest in her work but is still suspicious of his actions and is particularly concerned about her current project where the protagonist goes missing. Maybe she should change the ending?

I love that premise. It sounds intriguing and scary. You’ve been very successful in a short period of time, so can you give other writers some tips or advice?

Regarding Anna front cover - Amazon-Google (3)Up until recently, I never paid very much for advertising and promotions for my books, and I did okay. Then I connected with eNovel Authors at Work , a group of authors who know a lot more about the subject than I do, and the results of their paid promotions convinced me to try it. I promoted Regarding Anna on BookBub, a paid promotion site, and the results were phenomenal—during the month following the promotion, more than 4,600 copies of this book were either purchased or borrowed through Kindle’s lending library. Being an author is like any other business in that the return on investment can often make decisions easy.

I have heard great things about BookBub, so I’m happy to hear about some real tangible results. Now let’s talk about reviews, which are an inevitable part of publishing. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“Florence Osmund paints such a rounded picture of each character that the reader feels he is in the book with them.” —Excerpt from a review of Red Clover by Charlie Bray, Founder of INDIETRIBE.com

If we put our books in the public domain, bad reviews are also inevitable for even the best authors and their work. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

It’s important for authors to understand that book reviews are extremely subjective, and no one has ever written a book that appealed to all readers. What one reader loves, another one will hate. No one likes to receive a bad review, but when I do get one, I don’t fret over it. When I do start to take notice is when I see repeat criticisms. For example, I know now that I wrote my first book with what I’ll call a “cheesy” ending, and readers commented on it. I couldn’t change the ending without changing the beginning of the sequel, but I could include the first chapter of the sequel at the end of the book, and I could bundle the two books for a discounted price. The bundled version of these two books is currently averaging 4.7 stars on Amazon, but individually they each average only 4.0 stars. Sometimes it pays to listen to your readers.

That’s good advice. You’re smart to ignore or to listen when there seems to be a pattern. I love picturing my favorite authors as they create, so tell me, where do you write?

I live in downtown Chicago on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. When I’m at my desk writing, I look out over Navy Pier and the north end of Monroe Harbor. I find the water calming and inspiring, and the activity going on just enough of a distraction to clear my head when I get stuck on something. I can’t think of a better place to write.

That’s very special and I can envision it perfectly. I love Chicago and that view is spectacular. Thank you so much for stopping by today, Florence. I hope you’ll come back when you publish your next book.

Osmund_PhotoAbout Florence from Florence: I currently live in the great city of Chicago where, after a long career in corporate America, I write literary fiction novels. I like to craft stories that challenge readers to survey their own values. Topics I have tackled include ethnicity, questionable heritage, desperation, dependency, precarious familial ties, and complicated matters of the heart. I have a website called Novel Elements that I dedicate to helping new authors—offering them advice I wish I had received before I started writing my first book.

Click on the links below to connect with Florence Osmund:

Florence Osmund Books website

Novel Elements, author advice website 

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – CHASING DOWN THE NIGHT

CDN (book antiqua) Front Cover 6x9 JPEG Final ProofChasing Down the Night  – Crater Lake Series, Book 3 by Francis Guenette

I’m not usually a reader of novels in a series. That changed when I fell in love with Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake setting and characters. Beginning with the first book in the series, Disappearing in Plain Sight, I settled in with Izzy and Liam, Beulah and Bethany, and all the others, becoming a part of their oddly matched family as much as the stragglers who visit them throughout the three novels.

The injured souls who come to the lake and the camp on Northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, arrive with low expectations, but desperate for some type of healing. In Chasing Down the Night, characters from the first two novels, such as Dylan and Lisa, still need to find some kind of resolution from their past, but the reader is also introduced to three new residents at the camp with their own challenges to overcome. The intertwining of their lives, along with the newly hired cook from Toronto, play an important role in the unfolding of the ensuing dramas.

There’s a soap opera quality to the story line, which is carried artfully to the third novel. In the deft hands of the author, the story never degenerates into scandal or salaciousness intended to sell books. Instead, I find the intense dramas that converge on this outrageously beautiful place to be a road map for how we might all handle the mountains and valleys of our own lives.

From Izzy’s quiet determination to ignore her own grief and traumas to Lisa’s using her body to achieve her goals, lessons on coping, acceptance, and love emerge.

Ms. Guenette isn’t content to simply write a novel of people’s inability to express themselves or to cope with life’s challenges. She addresses issues of race–in this case, of tribal loyalties and prejudices–and the psychic abilities of dear sweet Robbie, who sees what no one else can. Then there’s the other injured soul out in the wild, but I’ll let other readers discover how that fits with the rest of the story in a perfect symmetry with all the wounded lives who come to the lake to heal.

I miss these characters and hated for Chasing Down the Night to end. I want more, and I want more than anything to visit Crater Lake and be embraced in the warm arms of the people who call it home.

Purchase Links for Chasing Down the Night

Amazon U.S.

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Interviews with Francis Guenette on Author Wednesday

May 25, 2015

May 21, 2014

November 6, 2013

Book Reviews of Crater Lake series

Disappearing in Plain Sight

The Light Never Fades

 

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – CROSSING TO SAFETY BY WALLACE STEGNER

Crossing to Safety

“In fiction, I think we should have no agenda but to tell the truth.” – Wallace Stegner

Thank you to my friend and colleague Christina Carson for pointing me to the literary genius of Wallace Stegner, both author and environmentalist.

He’s known for his dedication in writing about the preservation of the West of the United States, but my introduction to him came from reading his novel, Crossing to Safety. I’ve already ordered his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Angle of Repose because I’m enamored of this gentle man’s prose and honesty in the telling of a compelling story. Isn’t that the standard to which all authors should aspire? I know it’s what I wish for myself.

From the very beginning, he drew me into his story as the narrator, Larry, and his wife, Sally awaken in a cabin in the woods of Vermont in 1972. There’s to be a meeting of some significance between their old friends, Sid and Charity, who own the property where they now find themselves.

From there, Stegner takes the reader on a journey back to the 1930s during the dark days of Depression when the two couples meet in Madison, both as young and eager professors and their wives, at the University of Wisconsin. The plot may not be filled with dark twists and turns. It doesn’t matter. The characters come alive under the lively pen of the author. Charity in particular fills the pages and overflows onto the margins and binding of the book. Her speech and her actions show us in absolute clarity that she is the queen–sometimes overbearing, but always with a heart firmly in front–of this foursome. Here’s Stegner first description of Charity when he steps into his small basement apartment:

“In the dim apartment she blazed. Her hair was drawn back in a bun, as if to clear her face for expression, and everything in the face smiled–lips, teeth, cheeks, eyes.”

Charity lives beyond this first impression. Sid, her husband, pales in comparison, except when Stegner describes his physicality, which resembles that of an ancient Greek god. Larry, the narrator, provides us the view of everyone else, although he remains an enigma through most of the novel. However, it is always clear his opinion of his best friend, Sid, and his controlling, yet caring, wife Charity. Perhaps it is Larry’s love of his wife Sally that tells the reader the most of his character. Sally, a victim of the vicious polio, remains the stalwart and force behind Larry despite her challenges. She’s my hero of the novel much more so than the dominant Charity.

Characterization stands as one of the most important aspects of literary fiction because without it the reader has no reason to continue reading, no glue to keep them stuck to the plot. However, the descriptive prose of Stegner kept me attached to the story as much as the compelling characters. His love of nature shines through the story. At times, I stopped reading just to absorb the beauty and clarity of his descriptions, as shown in this description of the Vermont woods, as Larry, Sid, and their pack-horse Wizard make their way to a camp on their first day of a week-long hike.

“Dust has whitened the ferns along the roadside, gypsy moths have built their tents in the chokecherry bushes, the meadow on the left is yellow with goldenrod, ice-blue with asters, stalky with mullein, rough with young spruce. Everything taller than the grass is snagged with the white fluff of milkweed. On the other side is a level hayfield, green from a second cutting. The woods at the far edge rise in a solid wall. In the yard of an empty farmhouse we sample apples off a gnarled tree. Worms in every one. But Wizard finds them refreshing, and blubbers cider as he walks.”

This example shows that descriptive prose need be neither showy or pushy to paint a portrait for the reader. In its simplicity, I floated above the scene taking in every detail, including the foam sputtering from the mouth of Wizard.

I am a fan left wondering how I missed reading Wallace Stegner before now. In his sixty-year career, he wrote thirty books, both fiction and nonfiction. Edward Abbey claimed, before Stegner’s death in 1993, that he was “the only living American writer worthy of the Nobel.” He never received the honor, but he does receive my highest praise for achieving what I only aspire to do as an environmental author of outstanding fiction.

Click here to purchase Crossing to Safety on Amazon.

 

Book Review Friday – Apart from Love by Uvi Poznansky

ApartfromLoveLitFicI’m behind on writing reviews, but I hope the lapse will be forgiven with my review of an astounding book from Uvi Poznansky and her work of literary fiction, Apart from Love. Ms. Poznansky is a multi-talented author and artist, and with this novel, she creates a multi-faceted and multi-layered work of art.

The story is told through the first person narrations of Anita, the new wife of Lenny and step-mother to the other narrator, Ben. The point of view is unique because the story is more about the love between Ben’s parents, Lenny and Natasha, than the other two, who form another sort of love story. Ben’s separation from his home for ten years only shows the level of dysfunction in this family. I use the word “dysfunction” with disdain sometimes because it is overused to the point where it sometimes means very little. But if any family is dysfunctional, it is this one.

During Ben’s absence, the lack of communication with his mother and father is evident when he comes home. For a decade, he assumed his talented pianist mother is out on tour, when in fact, his father is hiding something quite important from his son about Natasha.

In the meantime, Lenny has remarried Anita who is one year younger than Ben. She’s a beauty–a younger version of Natasha. It’s complicated and completely dysfunctional in the true meaning of that word.

Literary techniques abound in Apart from Love. The author skillfully creates symbols and metaphors with the white piano in the living room, the antique mirror in the bedroom, and the tape recorder on the balcony. The point of view represents the author’s skill in writing dialogue that characterizes both Ben and Anita. It’s obvious when switching between chapters who is the narrator, even though Ms. Poznansky tells the reader if it’s Ben or Anita in each chapter title. That’s helpful, but with her paintbrush, she paints prose that is distinct for each one.

Alzheimers rears its horrifying head in parts of the story, as does the family’s inability to know how to deal with it. Insanity hovers at the edges of all the characters as well, presenting the reader with that fine line between genius and the alternative.

If that’s not enough, Lenny is a writer who uses the words of others to create his stories. The blurred lines between reality and fiction are explored in this intimate look at how authors sometimes steal identities from others to draw portraits of real life. It’s haunting in its honesty of how an author works. The “record, rewind, record” element of the story reminds me that all reality is really the fiction of our imaginations.

Uvi Poznansky is a talented author who says in her bio, “I paint with my pen, and write with my paintbrush.” The cover of Apart from Love and the content in between are assurances that this is true.

Click to preorder - $.99

Click cover to preorder – only $.99

After reading this novel, I’m even more honored that Ms. Poznansky asked me to be a part of her latest endeavor, the box set At Odds with Destiny, a collection of ten novels by ten unique authors. The full-length novels are brimming with myth, fantasy, mystery, history, romance, drama, originality, heroism, and suspense. Finding themselves at odds with destiny, the characters in these stories fight to shape their future and define who they are. My offering Native Lands examines how cultural boundaries established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost in the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.

Author Wednesday – Uvi Poznansky

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Welcome to another edition of Author Wednesday. There are so many things to say about today’s author. She’s multi-talented, writing across genres and never letting one type define her. No wonder she came up with the idea of creating a box set of Indie Authors who also defy definitions, as do their characters. So I’ll start there, with the introduction of the At Odds with Destiny box set, which is Uvi Poznansky’s brain child from conception to birth.

Click cover to pre-order

Click cover to pre-order

She created, produced, and designed the product, all with the hopes of sharing the talents of other like-minded authors under the umbrella of one set. Full disclosure: I’m honored to have been asked by Uvi personally to join the set with my contribution of Native Lands

As impressive as that is, Uvi Poznansky, the writer is even more so. She writes historical and literary fiction, poetry, dark fantasy, and children’s books.

Poetry Collection

Poetry Collection

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but I’m tired just thinking about all she does. So without any further introduction, I present to you the talented and gracious Uvi.

Welcome, Uvi. I know you’re doing so much right now with getting out At Odds with Destiny. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?

I am acquiring new knowledge every single day, doing the best I possibly can to keep up with the changing landscape of book publishing. Beyond the nitty-gritty details, the most important piece of wisdom is this: Promoting literary work is a huge undertaking, best achieved by forming alliances with other strong, talented authors. I explore different ways to do it, creating multi-author events and producing multi-author boxed sets, to reach out to a shared audience eager to hear our stories.

You’re very wise. I’m learning so many things from you. What type of research do you conduct before writing your series, The David Chronicles?DavidChronicles

I go through meticulous research, like every author worth his salt, and collect every detail about the time and the setting. But then, I choose where to take my departure from the reference material. In this series, I chose to let the character speak in modern language. This is a design decision, meant to bring the reader into the realization that this is a universal story, happening here and now, rather than an old fairy tale.

It is essential to anchor fiction in the real setting of the plot. You can do it in a myriad  of ways: visit the place, read about it, and look at art and photographs that depict it.

RisetoPowerhistoricalFor example, in my novel Rise to Power, David describes the Valley of Elah, where he will soon face his enemy. I visited this place when I was a child, and at the time it surprised me that the valley was so shallow and well, boring. I imagined that perhaps it used to have dramatically sloped walls, as befits the scene of an iconic battle. I told myself that perhaps over the generations dust has settled over it and covered the rocky slopes, hiding the drama.

Before writing the scene, I also looked at a lot of paintings in the history of art. Then I set it all aside, and wrote the scene from imagination:

“There, with their backs to me, they are: three silhouettes, drawn sharply against the gray, gloomy landscape. The horsemen in the center is the one I am watching with keen interest. He is tall, formidable, and cloaked. A ray of morning light reaches hesitantly for his crown, sets it afire, and then pulls back.

Ahead of him, the valley opens like a fresh cut. Thin, muddy streams are washing over its rocks, oozing in and out of its cracks, and bleeding into its soil. Layers upon layers of moist, fleshy earth are pouring from one end to another, then halting on a slant, about to slip off. And from down below, somewhere under the heavy mist that hides the bottom of the valley from sight, stir some unexpected sounds. 

I wish I could ignore them. For a moment I am tempted to stick my fingers in my ears—but to do so I would have to let go of my lyre. Let go I cannot, because its strings may tremble in the air. My music may betray me, I mean, it may betray the place of my hideout. 

So I go on cowering, trying to imagine silence—only to be startled once more: in place of the first birdsongs of the day, there rise the shrieks of vultures.”

Being an artist, I find my inspiration also by artwork depicting the story. In each era, the artists did not shy away from staging David in garments that belongs to their time, and surrounding him with a contemporary scene. I take my cues from them. Here, for example, is a modern painting by Shaggal, depicting David and Bathsheba. Compare it to this excerpt from the book:

And the one image that keeps coming back to me is our reflection in the glass, where our faces melded into one. My eye, her eye, and around us, the outline of a new, fluid identity. A portrait of our love, rippling there, across the surface of the wine.”

Beautiful. I know you write in a variety of styles, but is there one message you always try to convey to your readers? 

As an artist and writer, my mission is to let the characters speak to you through me. The story is happening here and now. I invite you to step into their skin, and look yourself in the mirror.

This mission has come to its height with my trilogy, The David Chronicles, because it is here that you will find yourself inhabiting a character from youth to old age. I find this amazing, and I hope you will too.

That sounds amazing and inspiring. It seems silly to ask you, but do you plan to continue writing in this particular genre? 

The classification to genres is only one method available to you to discern the subject of a book. This method can be rigid. I trust that you use it in combination with reading the book description, and taking a peek at the first few pages, which gives you a true taste of the writing style.

I strive to stretch the envelope of what I create. In writing all of my books, I often break the confines of the particular genre, because life as we know it–and my art, which mirrors it– constantly changes from one genre to the next. One moment is is humorous; the next, it is erotic; then, it might be a tragedy.

In art, I use different mediums, which enriches my designs: I sculpt (in bronze, clay, and paper, draw in charcoal, ink, and pencils, paint in watercolor and oils, and create animations. I love to be lured outside of my comfort zone, and I hope you do too.

Certainly I do. That’s what makes the artist grow and without that growth, there is no challenge. To me, that means nothing important can be achieved. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your wisdom. You’ve given us all something to think about.

UviAbout Uvi: Uvi Poznansky is a California-based author, poet and artist. “I paint with my pen,” she says, “and write with my paintbrush.” She received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. Uvi writes across a variety of genres: Apart From Love (literary fiction), Rise to Power (historical fiction), A Peek at Bathsheba (historical romance), The Edge of Revolt (historical fiction), A Favorite Son (biblical fiction), Home (poetry), Twisted (dark fantasy), and Now I Am Paper (children’s book.)

Author Links:

Blog

Art site

Twitter

Google+

Amazon page

Goodreads page

Pinterest

Book Links:

The David Chronicles ebook

The Edge of Revolt ebook

A Peek at Bathsheba  ebook print audio

Rise to Power  ebook print audio

Apart From Love  ebook print audio

Twisted ebook print audio

A Favorite Son ebook print audio

Home ebook print audio

Now I am paper print

 

Author Wednesday – Kevin Brennan

typewriterWelcome to Author Wednesday! One year of posts introducing authors and their work to the followers of this blog has been a most pleasant journey. Today I welcome Keven Brennan, the author of several works of literary fiction. In his latest work, Yesterday Road, a “coming-of-old-age” tale, Jack Peckham finds himself on a journey into his distant past, helped along the way by Joe Easterday, a young man with Down syndrome, and Ida Pevely, a middle-aged waitress with her own mountain of regrets. According to Kevin, “We all tow our histories behind us as we make our way down Yesterday Road.”Small cover

Welcome to Author Wednesday, Kevin. I’m so glad you dropped by today to tell us a bit about Yesterday Road. What’s your pitch for this book book?
Jack Peckham is trying to find his way home. Home’s a tough nut to crack.

If Jack is the protagonist, who or what is the antagonist in your book?
The real antagonist in this book is memory. I have two characters struggling with it: one, Jack Peckham, who has a form of dementia that is preventing him from remembering anything about his past life, and the other, Ida Pevely, who wishes she could escape some of her more troubling memories.

So, though memory isn’t a character per se, I enjoyed playing with its possibilities, such as the way it isn’t always reliable or accurate and how it is always embedded in us even if we can’t call something up on demand. Jack has his entire history in his mind, but his mind has built a wall around certain painful things.

That’s so very true. We store away the emotion, if not the actual memory. I believe that all memory is fiction; just sit in on any family reunion of people raised in the same household. What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?
I did quite a bit of research about Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of memory loss, since that’s Jack’s main characteristic. I also have a character with Down syndrome, thirty-year-old Joe Easterday, so I did a lot of research on that, too. I wanted to make sure I was creating a realistic character, but one who could also carry some weight in scenes and dialogue.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.
I have quite a few favorite scenes, actually. There are a lot of funny, poignant moments. But I think the first one a reader will come across is a scene where Jack and Joe get abducted by a hapless carjacker named Steve, who’s trying to get out of the reach of his bookie. That scene kind of sets the tone for the middle of the novel.

That sounds great. I just downloaded to my Kindle, so I look forward to that scene and others that I’m sure are equally enticing. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?
The best I’ve heard so far from a number of readers is that they didn’t want the book to end. That’s a fantastic feeling.

I agree that hearing those words from a reading keeps me going. It’s always interesting to hear when other authors find their voice. Do you know when  first discovered yours?

Though I was already writing fiction in high school, I don’t think I really landed on my own voice or approach until I dug in and began a novel in my late twenties. Until then, I was probably emulating my favorite writers too much, but attempting a novel showed me how I could use different techniques and tones to get the effects I wanted. I discovered the possibilities of multiple points of view, nonlinear narrative, and use of thematic motifs, and that’s when I understood I had to be a novelist.

That’s not unusual to emulate at first. But at some point, it’s time to put down what others have done and pick up our own voice. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Has this ever happened to you?
Quite a while ago now, I stumbled upon a small factoid in the newspaper that described something I would never have thought to write about (baseball in prisons). I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and over the years I’ve been working on a novel based on it.

That’s an interesting one. I think you’re supposed to write that book. Do you have similar messages or themes that you try to convey to your readers?
I keep gravitating to identity themes, for some reason, especially the idea that we are what other people see us as. I don’t happen to believe that as a philosophy of life, but it’s really ripe territory for fiction.

Does setting play a role in your books?
Sometimes it has a very large role, as in my first novel, Parts Unknown.partscover There the setting of Sonoma dairy country has had a major influence on the characters, between the stark beauty of the place and the harsh working conditions for dairy farmers back in the ‘40s. The main character, Bill Argus, has also banished himself to the California desert, which suits his assessment of himself.
Other times, the setting is more of a backdrop, as is San Francisco in my next book. It simply provides the right urban vibe for the action.

Both settings sound very powerful. All of your books are in the genre of literary fiction. Do you plan to continue writing in the same genre?
Well, I always write what I like to think of as literary fiction, but I also like to apply the techniques of literary fiction to other genres. My next book is essentially chick lit. I also have a dystopian novel, and I’m developing a thriller, a couple more comedic novels, and a historical novel. I don’t like to repeat myself!

Chick lit, huh? That’s quite a leap. Be sure to stop by when you’ve published that one. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
People have said a lot of nice things about my latest book, Yesterday Road, but I always go back to a reviewer of Parts Unknown (from the Denver Post) who said I had proved that male authors can write female characters convincingly. It really bolstered my confidence and reassured me that it’s not a big risk to attempt that. Characters are people, after all. And they should also be unique, so that stereotypes and gender roles are often off the table.

That’s quite high praise. How about your preferences when writing? Do you listen to music while you write?
I do listen to music, and it can be anything from classical to jazz to indie to electronic. I tend to prefer instrumental music while I write though. Lyrics seem to distract.

I’m the same way. I love lyrics, and I tend to sing along and I can’t do that when I’m writing. What do you do during your down time?
I’m trying to get better at jazz guitar. I bought a very nice Gibson last year, and I feel I owe it some dedicated practicing.

Good luck with that. Thank you so much for stopping by Kevin. I look forward to reading Yesterday Road and your other books. 

Readers: From April 1 through April 7, Yesterday Road will cost $1.99 instead of the regular $3.99.

Brennan copyAbout Kevin Brennan:  Kevin, author of Parts Unknown (William Morrow) has rung in the new year in Red Square, performed as a busker in the London Underground, wandered the California desert, and auditioned unsuccessfully for a chance at stardom on reality television. He and his wife live in Northern California.

 

Links

Yesterday Road (October 2013, literary fiction/humor)
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Sony
Kobo
Smashwords

Children thumbnailOur Children Are Not Our Children (August 2013, flash fiction)
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Smashwords
Sony

Parts Unknown (January 2003, literary fiction, William Morrow/HarperCollins)
Direct from author (signed & inscribed)

 

 

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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DyingToKnow-resized

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