Interview with Rev. Judith Laxer, author of Along the Wheel of Time

 

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I am pleased to welcome a wonderful new friend, the multi-faceted Rev. Judith Laxer, author of magical realism, Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers.

Rev. Judith Laxer is a modern day mystic who believes beauty and humor and the wonders of nature make life worth living. The founding Priestess of Gaia’s Temple, a house of worship for the Divine Feminine with close to a decade and a half of service to the community, Judith also enjoys a private practice as a psychic, spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, shamanic practitioner, author, and teacher of women’s mysteries.

What is your book’s genre/category?

Magical realism.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers is a collection of eight short fictional stories that accompany the sabbats, or natural earth holy days, on the Pagan Wheel of the Year: the solstices, the equinoxes and the cross quarter days in between. The stories help the reader deepen their connection to nature within a spiritual context.

A young woman follows her lover and finds her spiritual calling in the Autumn realm of the dead; a first-time mother gives birth on the Winter solstice; a daughter’s grief heals in a Spring garden; a joyous ceremony of mature sexuality celebrates the peak of Summer: these stories, and more, explore magical realism in ordinary life. Following the Pagan Wheel of the Year through the experience of the characters, this collection of stories demonstrates how the changing of the seasons is a spiritual model for the soul.

How did you come up with the title?

The Wheel of the Year is a metaphoric model for our souls’ journey. I wanted a title that speaks to the ongoing cycles of life. The use of the word Wheel in the title addresses this metaphor because like circles, wheels have no beginning and no ending. Also, I have always been fascinated with the concept of time and how our perception of it shifts with our awareness of living.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

There are several reasons, actually. My personal experience of living a devotional life is so richly connected to the natural world and so satisfying, I wanted to share the beauty and significance of a life lived this way. Especially in our era of ubiquitous technology that engages us in superficiality and keeps us disconnected. Secondly, I want these stories to inform readers who don’t resonate with any modern established religion to understand how reverence for nature can be a viable spiritual path. Finally, I wanted to debunk a few unsavory myths and much negative press about Paganism.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Must I choose one? When an idea buzzes around inside me and propels me to start playing with words. When I am on a roll and the words are flowing and I am out of my own way. When I finish the first draft and then get to go back and begin carefully crafting it. I love polishing a story. 

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Intellectually I know there are going to be days when I write and write and don’t like what I end up with. But emotionally, if I end up not liking what I have spent time writing, doubt sets in. Often I feel I am in competition with myself, like I must outdo myself each time I sit down to write. Once I get that inner competitor under lock and key, I have a much easier time. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Barbara Kingsolver, Joan Didion, Somerset Maugham, Elizabeth Cunningham, and my latest favorite Colum McCann.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Jean Huston has had an enormous influence on me. I strive to have her command of language, but it’s more how she thinks that is so impressive. I find her understanding of the possible human to be endlessly inspiring.

Favorite place to write?

My desktop at home. I sit in the room I have designed to my liking, surrounded by my art, looking out my window onto my garden. Visual beauty is crucial for inspiration and creativity and my sense of myself as an artist.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?                                                                                          

Oh my, yes! Technology and the whole social media thing has been a huge learning curve. I still have much trepidation approaching it, but I am determined to stay in the game and remain relevant.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I joined a weekly writing group. The help, support, and camaraderie are invaluable.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Toughen your skin, believe in your work, hone your voice, cultivate your ability to trust, and prepare to wait.

Website?                                                                                                                                                                        

 http://www.judithlaxer.com

http://www.gaiastemple.org

Where can we find your book?

 Amazon

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I once accompanied my hypnotherapy client into the operating room for her breast cancer surgery. She was allergic to anesthetic and we used hypnosis to get her through it! The next thing I know, I am wearing scrubs sitting on a stool at her head in the freezing operating room for close to eight hours. To this day, it is still one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

What’s next for you?

Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it? I’ve begun working on my next book, which I believe will be another collection of short stories. But it’s still in the infancy stage and therefore too soon to tell.

Thank you, Judith! I wish you the best of luck with your book and look forward to reading it!

 

Writing Tough or Raw Scenes: How to Access the Emotions

I was sitting on the patio of our river place when this rainbow appeared. I took this as a good sign as I was working with my editor’s last edits of A Decent Woman. The rainbow started on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River and seemed to end somewhere in Virginia or had it begun in Virginia (where I used to live) and end in West Virginia where I now live?

beautiful rainbow at the river May 2014

Recently, a good friend asked how difficult it was to write the tough and raw scenes in my historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman. I knew what she meant and it was a great question. My story is about the complex lives of women in turn of the century Puerto Rico and life wasn’t easy for women of that era. I’d never experienced slavery or physical abuse at the hands of a man nor had I served jail time like my protagonist, Ana. So, how did I write those scenes without personal experience?

How do you write believable, realistic scenes and dialogue when you haven’t experienced the tough or raw situations your characters find themselves in?

It’s not easy, believe me. When I wrote the first manuscript of A Decent Woman, I didn’t have a title, but I knew who the characters were and what their roles in the novel would be. The original story was about the friendship of two women-a midwife and a client turned friend in turn of the century Puerto Rico. No real beefy issues except for a philandering husband. I finished writing in six months and then, discovered a book of non-fiction that changed my story forever. I still believe the Universe placed this scholarly book in my hands.

Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920, written by Dr. Eileen Suarez Findlay, posed a challenge – I knew I had to go deep into uncharted waters or go home with my first novel. The story I had written was  interesting, but flat. The characters were one-sided and I hadn’t delved deep enough into their thoughts, motivations and desires. I hadn’t added challenges to their lives, no drama and the philandering husband had no voice. After I read Imposing Decency, I began the second draft of A Decent Woman, and the stories of my characters within the story emerged. How?

You go to that place in your heart that you’ve kept walled up and protected. We all know that place we’ve put away and kept hidden so we don’t feel the pain again. No one I know, including myself, has been immune to some type of loss. Pain in pain. We might have lost a parent, a sibling or a cherished pet. Many of us have experienced a devastating divorce, the painful loss of a home or job as a result of the divorce or the economy. Our children may have suffered bullying in school or a heartbreaking disappointment in their young lives.

If you have personally escaped such things, you are blessed. In that case, access your heart and be open to the pain and suffering of others. You’ve certainly read tragic stories in newspapers or television. Sit with a sad or tragic story. Put yourself in the person’s shoes and imagine what that person or family must be going through with their loss and grief. Write down your thoughts and if you never use them in whatever you are currently writing, you might later. And if you never use them, you have learned to dig for emotions and feelings within yourself. You’ve accessed that place of raw truth within yourself and your compassion for others has deepened. Both are beautiful experiences.

For writers, it’s important to access our wounds. This involves being willing to remove the bandages and slowly, pick at scabs as we write. It can be intense. You may find yourself crying as you write which has happened to me many times. You are in the moment. Keep writing.

Use your own life experiences. I worked as a counselor, in a children’s residential treatment center, and in a Belgian refugee center. I didn’t have to look hard. I’ve always known that my life experiences would help me with this book. I just had to start and be willing to access what I’d read, heard and seen which was tough.

When I finished the first draft of the manuscript of A Decent Woman, I hadn’t planned on writing tough, raw scenes. The characters in my story live in a tumultuous time. Writing about the complex women’s lives in turn of the century Puerto Rico demanded writing raw scenes because they happened. The current manuscript is one I’m proud of.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

After an intense writing session of a difficult chapter or scene, I go to the garden and dig in the dirt or I take a mini road trip in the country or along the river. I admire God’s beauty and I let those feelings and emotions go to a place of peace…until the next writing session.

Ellie

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Arleen Williams, author of RUNNING SECRETS

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I’m pleased to welcome new friend and writer, Arleen Williams, author of women’s contemporary fiction, Running Secrets, The Alki Trilogy.

Arleen is the author of The Thirty-Ninth Victim, a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister’s murder. She teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle Community College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle. Running Secrets is her first work of fiction as well as the first book in The Alki Trilogy.

Welcome, Arleen.

 

What is your book’s genre/category?

RUNNING SECRETS is contemporary women’s fiction, but I’m happy to report a positive response from male readers as well. Readers have called it a touching and gentle novel about the redemptive power of friendship.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Set in Seattle, RUNNING SECRETS tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a suicidal young woman named Chris Stevens and Gemi Kemmal, the Ethiopian home healthcare nurse her parents hire to care for her. On Chris’s journey of recovery, both women learn unexpected truths about themselves and their personal identity.

How did you come up with the title?

I hesitate to share too much about the title because I don’t want to reveal the secrets my characters discover. Suffice to say that Chris is a distance runner, but we’ve also used the word run in its different forms to mean a variety of things throughout history. I chose this title for both its literal and metaphoric meaning.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

I wrote RUNNING SECRETS because the characters came to me and demanded their stories be told. I was also interested in learning more about suicide, which is reaching epidemic levels in America. For example, I learned that it’s the tenth cause of death. Homicide is the fifteenth. More people die of suicide than in car accidents. And since most suicides are caused by depression, it is treatable.

Also, as an ESL teacher working with immigrants and refugees for close to thirty years in Seattle, questions of personal identity, including those of race and religion, intrigue me. So the friendship  that developed between Chris and Gemi opened many doors.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love watching the story unfold in my mind’s eye. It’s a bit like watching a movie screening on the inside of my closed eyelids. If I watch carefully enough, I find the story.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Getting the story on the page in words and sentences that convey the images in my head. It can be really frustrating at time

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite author tends to be whoever I’m reading at a given moment. That said, Ann Patchett, Barbara Kingsolver, Isabelle Allende, Dinaw Mengestu, and so many others are high on my favorites list.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

I write with three different writing groups in Seattle. The first was established by two wonderful teachers and writers, Robert Ray and Jack Remick, twenty-some years ago. In all three groups we follow the guidelines laid out by Natalie Goldberg in WRITING DOWN THE BONES. We write against a timer and then share our work around the table.

I am inspired and influenced by all of the dedicated writers I share the  table with – both those who are award-winning published authors as well as those just embarking this crazy journey of writing. It takes dedication and discipline to be a writer. A regular practice with like-minded people is important to me.

Favorite place to write?

When I’m creating new work, I like to be at a shared coffee shop table writing against the clock surrounded by other writers moving pens across paper. I prefer music loud enough to drown out individual conversations or I start listening and transcribing what I hear.

To key in those scenes and work the story, I need the absolute silence in my small writing room at home in West Seattle with a view of our back garden.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

My first book, a memoir titled THE THIRTY-NINTH VICTIM, was published in 2008 by an indie press called Blue Feather Books, Ltd. Now I’m with Booktrope Publishing. In both cases, I’ve enjoyed working closely with people who care passionately about books. The wonderful aspect of Booktrope is the team approach to publishing where author, book manager, designer, editor and copy editor work together to build and promote the best possible book and all share a percentage of royalties. What I didn’t realized about this team approach was the responsibility I would feel toward making my works a financial success for the benefit of all these terrific people who have worked so hard.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I worked longer on RUNNING SECRETS than on any other book I’ve written. I was moving between memoir and fiction, learning the ins and outs of both genres. What I did right was to set aside the early (lousy) draft, write a second memoir, and then return to that lousy draft to rewrite it completely and find the secret that made the story click. So I suppose both the setting the draft aside for awhile and the going back to it were important.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

All writers write differently, so I find giving advice tough. That said, I think the first step is to decide if writing is truly your passion. If not, find something else to do! It’s hard work and takes endless hours. If you have a story that has to be told, then go for it! Set a writing schedule and structure that works for you and discipline yourself to stick to it. Go to conferences, find a writing practice group or critique group, seek out other writers. But most of all, be willing to put in the seat time to reach your writing goals.

In terms of publishing, there are multiple options. Explore them all before deciding the direction you want to take. Then go after it with the same passion that fired you to write the work. And never give up, especially after that eighty-third rejection letter.

Website?

www.arleenwilliams.com

Where can we find your book?

If you’d like to support your local independent bookstore or Barnes & Noble, just ask them to order RUNNING SECRETS from Ingram.

You can also order from Amazon (paperback or Kindle):

http://www.amazon.com/Running-Secrets-Alki-Trilogy-1/dp/162015191X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399647458&sr=1-1&keywords=arleen+williams

Barnes & Noble (paperback or Nook):

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Running-Secrets?store=book&keyword=Running+Secrets

Or, iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/running-secrets/id789849612?mt=11

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Early this year, a friend suggested we needed to do something special to celebrate our shared (big) birthday. After a minimum of discussion, we signed up for the RSVP (Ride Seattle to Vancouver and Party). So on August 15 and 16, I’ll be riding my bicycle 188 miles and when I make it to Canada, I will definitely be partying!

What’s next for you?

RUNNING SECRETS is the first book in the ALKI TRILOGY. The second is BIKING UPHILL. You can sign up to follow www.arleenwilliams.com for updates.

I’m currently working on the third book in the trilogy, WALKING ALKI. I hope to have it out by the end of the year or early 2015. There will also be a few other surprises for my readers next year!

Thanks, Arleen! Happy writing and good luck with the books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Writing Process/#WeNeedDiverseBooks Blog Relay 2014

Welcome y bienvenidos!

My special thanks to Claudia Long for tagging me in this blog relay! You can connect with Claudia and her amazing books at http://www.claudiahlong.com 

I’ve enjoyed reading the blog relay posts by the authors before me, so make sure you check them out! If you’re looking for something different than what you usually read, then this blog relay is for you.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Currently, I’m waiting for the edits of the last ten chapters of my debut historical novel, A Decent Woman and trying hard to resist the temptation to touch Chapter One yet again! My book will be published Summer 2014 with Booktrope and I’m excited!

While waiting for the edits, I’m writing my second novel, Finding Gracia, set in Spain onthe medieval pilgrimage route of El Camino de Santiago. This book will be women’s fiction…if my characters don’t change their minds and take a detour.

WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?

I love introducing readers to Latina(o) and Hispanic characters because it’s in my blood. I was born in Puerto Rico and spoke Spanish before I spoke English. My beautiful mother and my maternal grandparents, now deceased, were all born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the setting of A Decent Woman. As an Army brat, I grew up in Europe and the United States, and spent summer vacations with my family in Ponce and San Juan.  By the age of 18, I had lived in four countries.

My jobs as a Spanish language Family Support Worker for immigrant families in Northern Virginia and a Spanish language case worker at a refugee center in Brussels, Belgium have influenced my writing.  Favorite books are those set in exotic places, especially stories about people who are often overlooked or ignored by our society which is how the protagonist of A Decent Woman, the Afro-Cuban midwife, Ana Belen, came about. I am passionate about women’s issues and I believe my life experiences have influenced my writing in a unique way.

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

For A Decent Woman, I worked with an outline, did the bulk of the research and then, wrote the novel in six months, editing as I went along.  I still manage to find sentences that can and should be tweaked, so it’s a tough phase. For this book, I interviewed Caribbean friends and a Professor of Latin American Studies. The second version of the manuscript turned out richer and far more interesting as I delved deeper into the complex lives of women in turn of the century Puerto Rico. What surprised me about the writing process was how my secondary character, the midwife Ana Belen, pushed her way to first chair. I soon realized that my tribute to my Puerto Rican family was in fact, Ana’s story to tell. I followed where she led, remained open and I believe the book is richer for the experience.

With my second novel, Finding Gracia, I’ve followed the same path–outline, research, write like crazy and write some more, editing as I go along. I walked El Camino with my children in 2006 and kept a journal of my walk, so I don’t need as much research as the historical novel. What I love most about writing is allowing my story and characters to lead me to places I might not have considered at the beginning. Although I have an idea of how this story ends, I remain open to surprises, twists and new challenges for my characters.

Thank you! You can find me at: http://www.elliesbookz.wordpress.com

Thanks again, Claudia and the best of luck with The Duel for Consuelo!

Next week, be sure to visit the next two bloggers I’ve tagged for the blog relay, Mayra Calvani and Lorraine Ladish. You will enjoy reading about these talented women!

Mayra Calvani, bilingual award-winning author, has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. Her latest book, YA fantasy, The Luthier’s Apprentice, has just been released! http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com/

Lorraine Ladish, bilingual author of 17 books, writer, editor, speaker & social media maven. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Viva Fifty! a bilingual community that celebrates being 50+. http://www.lorrainecladish.com

River Evacuations and Lessons Learned

Sophie’s first time at the river!

Earlier this week, I received an email from the office of the Park where my river lot is located. The Potomac River in my West Virginia neck of the woods would crest at 25 feet on Friday night. A river alert. Not good, I thought, but not scary. Yet. I’m an experienced river woman (okay, only five years of experience), twenty-five feet is baby stuff. You just need to know how to gauge the situation and the river…and I learned that the hard way two years ago. I was alone during a river evacuation and trust me on this, I was not prepared. It was an evacuation of epic proportions and of course, it rained all day long. Monsoon rain.

I’d been at the river for a couple of rainy days working on my novel when I got a call from my co-owner. River alert and it sounded bad. She read me the email and I heard the words, “epic”, “30-35 feet”, “move to higher ground.” I imagined a wall of Hancock River water barreling towards me. She said she would find someone to help me. She was the command center for this operation and I was the grunt. I was not a happy camper, literally.

The evacuation would involve pulling our pontoon boat cum boat dock out of the water onto higher ground, followed by the wood steps, followed by our Park model camper. My co owner hired a local guy with a boat and when he arrived, I pointed at stuff and supervised. I was definitely not happy, but he seemed to know what he was doing and before I knew it, he was waving goodbye to me.

While the pontoon boat was towed upriver to the boat ramp, I ran inside the camper and tried to secure pieces of furniture, dishes, pots and pans, glassware, hurricane lamps, anything that could jostle and possibly break during the impending and unexpected move. An hour or so later, local guy drove up to the camper and gave me the victory sign. Done!

Then, my co-owner called back to tell me that a guy with a big truck was coming to pull out the camper. Her words were “a big ass camper.” That worked for me! Within minutes, our camper was hooked up and I locked the door to the camper. I drove behind our camper and watched it wobble, creak, and careen around corners. It was then that I had a real jolt of a moment – I was alone. I was a middle-aged single woman from the city who had moved to wild and wonderful West Virginia and was following the first camper she’d ever set foot in led by a total stranger. How had this all happened? Oh, yeah. I’d wanted another adventure 🙂

We’ve had several scares since that evacuation that have resulted in less than spectacular flooding or river levels that didn’t match the predictions. I’ve learned to listen to our neighbors who are far more experienced than we are, and to have thicker skin about the possibility of losing our pontoon boat, our camper and everything on our lot to the Potomac River.

So, you can imagine my emotions and feelings of dread when I received the river alert email earlier in the week about possible flooding. I watched and all week, it remained green. Last night, it turned yellow and then red. Our guy was on call.

This morning, I received a text and a photo from a friend who owns a riverfront lot up river from us telling me that our place looked good. I was so relieved! I drove out with a friend and again was reminded that with the good might come the harsh, hard and unexpected. I have thicker skin these days about potential evacuations and actually, about most potential issues and problems in my life. I trust my gut and I don’t sweat the small stuff…too much. I learned that I am level-headed in an emergency and that yes, I am a river woman 🙂

Happy weekend to you and thanks for visiting my blog.

http://www.elliesbookz.wordpress.com

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No evacuation, yay

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Interview with Mayra Calvani, author of ‘The Luthier’s Apprentice’

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I am very pleased to introduce Mayra Calvani, author of “The Luthier’s Apprentice which comes out today! Congratulations!

We met through a mutual friend while living in Brussels, Belgium and bonded when Mayra joined a creativity group I facilitated based on the book, The Writing Life by Julia Cameron. We share Puerto Rican roots, a love of writing, classical music and great books. She is a good friend and over the years has become one of my writing mentors.

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The WriterWriter’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she resides in Brussels, Belgium.

Welcome, Mayra!

 

What is your book’s genre/category?

Young adult fantasy.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Here’s a blurb:

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.  And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

How did you come up with the title? 

It just came to me in a flash, the way titles sometimes do come. I knew the title before I started writing the story.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

I wrote this book for Nanowrimo back in 2007. At that time, it was an experiment. I hadn’t participated in Nanowrimo before. It was an exciting, exhilarating experience, but I knew the manuscript needed a lot of editing and polishing, so I put it aside for a long time. Then I worked on it on and off as I worked on other projects. That’s why it took so long to publish it.

As far as the inspiration behind it…

I studied/played the violin for 5 years, and my daughter has been playing it for 8 years, so violin music has been a big part of my life for a long time. There’s something darkly mysterious about the violin, and I’m in awe of soloists who have the skill to master it. The making of the violin itself is fascinating to me as well. And, of course, I also love listening to violin music whenever I can. Naturally, violin music has been very influential in my writing. I just find it immensely inspiring. Besides The Luthier’s Apprentice, I have also written several children’s picture books related to the violin. Readers can learn about them here: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Creating something out of nothing. Sharing my imagination with readers. Getting paid to daydream. And nothing beats being able to work in your pajamas.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The greatest challenge: keeping focused and not procrastinate. Keeping confident throughout the process and, like Steven Pressfield says in his fantastic book, Do the Work, “trusting the soup.”

Every book that I’ve written has been hard to write. Though writing is my life and in a way, like breathing, I have a love & hate relationship with it. First of all, the mechanics of the craft are always a challenge: constructing the plot, creating the characters, balancing all the elements, i.e. description, dialogue, narrative, symbolic imagery, etc. Then there’s the word choice and the agonizing over verbs, adjectives, adverbs.

Besides this, there’s the emotional aspect of the journey: struggling with the inner critic, bouts of self-doubt, writer’s block, irritability over not writing, dealing with negative criticism, remorse due to sacrificing time with family and friends, spending hours, days, months, years sitting at the computer without any assurance that the book will be read by enough people or earn enough money to make all that time worthwhile.

But as writers, we are artists, and the artist’s soul is an interesting, compulsive animal. Writing is our vocation, our drug, and we must have a regular fix or go insane.

At the end, after a good writing day which may happen while still experiencing all of the above, I’m sweetly exhausted and at peace.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Anne Rice, Tama Janowitz, Donna Tartt, Albert Camus, Kate Chopin.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

In my early teens, strong influences were Agatha Christie mysteries and Barbara Cartland romances. Also Harlequin contemporary romances.

In my twenties, strong influences were Tama Janowitz, Kate Chopin, and Albert Camus. Later on, Anne Rice and Donna Tartt.

Favorite place to write?

My little office, especially when I’m alone at home and everything is quiet. But, sometimes, when I have trouble concentrating, I go and work at a café.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Oh boy. I could write a short book on the subject, but if I could narrow it down to two:

Be prepared to wait. A lot.

Having an agent does not guarantee a sale.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

Again, the same as with any other book: putting my big ego aside and “trusting the soup.”

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Don’t let anyone interfere with your dreams or goals of becoming an author. No matter what anyone says. Do what you have to do to accomplish it. Learn the craft, take courses and/or workshops if you have to, join writer organizations and a critique group. Interact with like souls who actually understand the creative spirit. Above all, read a lot and write a lot, as often as you can. The longer you stay away from writing, the harder it is to get back to it. And the more you write, the better you get at it.

Website?

www.mayracalvani.com

Where can we find your book?

Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; Kobo Books; OmniLit, and others.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I can speak Turkish.

Thanks, Mayra!

 

Book Review – Satori, poems by Jack Remick

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In Satoripoems, Jack Remick grabs our hand and leads us on a breathless, mystical, raw and relentless coming of age journey from boy to man to poet in search of satori, a spiritual awakening. There is no stopping once you read the first lines of this book. You will run from one poem to the next, rushing by vivid descriptions and captured details on a wave that makes you wonder if you have ever actually seen the world and question how much you’ve missed.

From the first lines of breathless, “I took first communion on the steps of the Jazz Cellar too young to buy my own booze, too dumb to steal it…” we are breathless and follow young Remick, “I grew wiser and pseudo-wise-I created canticles to the monsters of my ego and id…” to The City of Saint Francis where “…I patrolled Grant Street at 2 AM hoping fame still grew like magic mushrooms from the cracks where my heroes ate, read, bled.”

We meet artists of the era, such as Mauritz Cornelius Escher, “Twenty-three years into his death-stream this man still aches his bones down to the asphalt city curled like a lizard writing in rain he still feeds me his mind heat his voice says-build a world of black and white…” and Remick’s mentor, Jack Moodey, “…That head burst open on the slick wet stone in the shower And poetry died…”.

In Midnite and Josie Smells Sweet, we meet brown-skinned Josie Delgado in her white shorts, “…Saturday nite, Josie, another world in those lips that mouth, that hair, that skin-Josie is one hundred percent mine…” who asks, “Will you kill yourself for me?” and then broke hearts by her untimely death.

Youthful lust, raw living, the building of America, and Death Waits, “Death waits at the corner/an old woman for the light…” and from Honey Word of Jesus Christ, “…One Sunday, I grew Old. One Sunday I learned of the Man in Me…”.

Once you catch your breath after reading the last line, you will return to page one to savor the haunting rhythm of Jack Remick’s life and the men and women who taught him what he knows. I highly recommend Satori, poems!

http://www.jackremick.com