Author Interview: S. E. Rise

The Writing Life is pleased to welcome S.E. Rise, author of the erotic thriller, Simmering.

Dale Reierson

S.E. Rise is an author who enjoys writing in multiple genres: horror, thriller and erotica. He was raised as an Army brat and attended Austin Peay State University on a track and cross country scholarship in Clarksville, Tennessee. In 1991, he enlisted in the United States Air Force as a firefighter. He became a Department of Defense civilian Firefighter/Captain of an ALS ambulance in 1996.

S.E. Rise wrote his first horror novel in 2006 and self published with Createspace in 2007. He has written ten novels and one novella. He is now with Booktrope Editions under the imprints, Forsaken, Entice and Edge.

S.E. enjoys adventuring and doing the impossible. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife and two children.

What is your book’s genre/category?

Simmering is an Erotic Thriller. 

Dale Reierson book

S.E., please describe what Simmering is about.

Here is the back cover blurb. I think that best describes Simmering.

Who would you rather find in your bedroom, a steamy hose-wielding fireman or a dangerously obsessed ex-boyfriend? What if you found both? Romance writer Allison Fairchild is growing frustrated with her first attempt at erotica until she reads a well-timed magazine article. What working man makes the best lover? The article sparks an idea and her eyes are irresistibly drawn to the top-ranked firemen just across the street. It might be coincidence or driven by fate, but it is all the motivation she needs.

Ali has herself assigned to a firehouse and is committed to doing her job; getting incredible sex stories from actual firefighters and, in the process, trying not to become one. At least that’s her intention until she meets the Captain, a by-the-rules professional with an enticing off-duty wild streak. Ali and the Captain put their wills to the test to resist the chemistry heating up between them. But unbeknownst to Ali, her cheating ex-boyfriend has set his eyes upon her again and if he can’t have her, no one can.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something subtle yet sexy. I thought the best way to describe the barely held- in-check feeling of desire was with a cooking metaphor. Like a pot of water slowly building up to boil. Even if you set it to simmer, it is eventually going to boil.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have been writing horror and thrillers for many years. I realized along the way that I can write some pretty steamy sex scenes. So, I figured why not. I did some research on how to write erotica, read some erotica, and came up with plot outline.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love creating worlds from my imagination. I love to create worlds that people can envision just by reading my words.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Learning and researching the things you write about. I do extensive research and never try to “BS” the reader.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Stephen King, Erik Stevenson, Glen Cook to name a few. I have a few favorites that I actually know, as well. I can’t name them all but here are a  few. Duncan Ralston, JG Clay, Scarlet Darkwood, and Sheri Williams.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

My biggest influences have been Stephen King, Erik Stevenson and Glen Cook. By reading their works I learned an incredible amount about world building. As well as storytelling.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I usually write at night in my room at the fire station. I only sleep four hours a night and that leaves me a lot of time between emergency responses.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I am a Captain on an Advanced Life Support Ambulance. I work at a fire department in Anchorage, Alaska.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

That an author should always have their work edited by a professional Editor. I will never go without one, but some of us had to learn the hard way. I wrote my first book in 2007….it took me awhile to learn a hard lesson. All good now though.

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

I just started writing it. I ignored the naysayers and my own apprehension about switching genres. I ignored my own self doubts and just wrote it. I guess you can say I believed in myself and that’s all I needed.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Just write it. Don’t get caught up in whether it’s well written or good enough. That’s why we have editors. Write the story for you. If you are happy with the story then that’s all that matters. Write it for you.

You can’t publish something that isn’t written. There are plenty of avenues nowadays for writers to get published. but as I said you can’t publish it if it isn’t written.

Website?

Seriseauthor.com

Where can we find your book?

You can find my books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as iTunes.

What’s next for you, S. E. Rise? 

I am finishing up Sizzling Book 3 in the Simmering series.  I am currently writing and publishing books in both the erotica genre and the horror genre.

He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/S.E.RisewriterEroticThriller?ref=hl

He twitters as well under the handle  @s_e_rise13

Great having you at The Writing Life, S.E. Rise. Best of luck with your books.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s best selling, debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Book club members across the United States have enjoyed the story, as well. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. She is the mother of two awesome adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Thoughts On Travel and Amsterdam

Eleanor Roosevelt quote

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

November 27, 2015

A mid-November telephone call from my son yielded a huge surprise: he’d booked an airline ticket for me and one for my daughter, who would join us in Amsterdam on Thanksgiving Day. I’d last visited Europe in 2013 with a two-week visit to Vienna, Austria with my best friend. I was anxious to pack my bags, and return to the continent where I’d spent thirteen years with my children, and to Amsterdam, where my son currently lives.

As my departure date approached, the excitement of seeing my son after six months was close to deliriously happy, but there was huge glitch: my son hadn’t known that my daughter’s passport had expired and although she’d applied for a renewed passport, it was possible it wouldn’t arrive in time for her departure…not good.

Days later, a Russian airliner was blown out of the sky, and shortly afterward, Paris was brutally attacked. Like most everyone I know, I was glued to the horrifying news and subsequent updates. Frantic, we contacted my son, hoping he hadn’t traveled to Paris during the attacks. He was home in Amsterdam. For days, we watched news broadcasts and breaking news, worried for all the victims and their families. We asked my son about Dutch television coverage, and what his Dutch friends were saying. He replied that from what he’d heard, Holland had done a good job integrating Muslims into society, and that ISIS probably didn’t have a beef with the very tolerant country. I was convinced and satisfied, but my daughter wasn’t as convinced.

When her passport didn’t arrive on my departure date (we were on separate flights, different airlines), we spoke about Plan B: rescheduling her ticket to the following weekend since I would still be in country. But it was a big gamble on top of the $400 fee to change the date on an already high cost ticket seemed too steep. After long talks, my daughter’s ticket was cancelled, which was a damn shame, but we knew my daughter was dreading the flight in light of bombings in Syria, Mali, Paris, and worldwide threats that week. No judgement on our part for her cancelling her ticket despite feeling badly about not spending Thanksgiving as a family in Amsterdam. I know she felt worse than we did about our first holiday apart. We would miss my daughter, and thankful she would spend the holiday with my sister and her family as we’d done since 2007 when we returned from Europe.

On my departure date, I won’t lie, I was scared spitless about the prospect of hanging around the Dulles Airport, waiting for my flight, and even more frightened of take off and landing in Frankfurt, and then again to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. I said my prayers, wrote out my will–yes a will–and handed it to my sister as she parked at the Metro for me to start my journey to Dulles Airport. It was a hand-written will because my printer had conked out, and like I told my sister, “It’s better than nothing!’.

Well, going through security at Dulles is always challenge, and it was no different when I went through, and flying Lufthansa is always a dream. I sat with a British university student, a lovely Tunisian mother and her four children seated behind us, and a Sikh with blue eyes. A global aisle–beautiful.

All three airports were packed with passengers rushing to their flights and greeting their loved ones after collecting their baggage. Everything seemed ‘normal’ during my flights and when I saw my son after six months, my fear and anxiety disappeared. He was a sight for sore eyes and I know my trip meant a lot to him. I patted myself on the back for overcoming my own fear of flying and traveling during this troubling time, and I smiled inside: no way in hell anyone is keeping this mother from seeing her kids!

Amsterdam, always one of my favorite European cities, was much like I’d left it–a crowded, rush-rush, bicycle-crazy, a gorgeous canal city with friendly people, too much fried food, great beers and cheeses, loud tourists, and pungent-smelling coffee shops. Sipping a cappuccino at a charming outdoor cafe after our market run for the ingredients of our Thanksgiving meal, I smiled and turned my face to the sun. Pure bliss.

To date, my daughter’s passport has yet to arrive. That’s life. She even paid extra to expedite the passport; it just didn’t happen for us. Only God knows why. As for me, I can now picture my son’s new life in Amsterdam. In future emails when he says he went to the movies, I know where that theater is. I know which market he likes, and which market stand carries his favorite thing to order in a bakery–Ollieballen with powdered sugar. I’m happy I mustered all the necessary courage to fly. Will I muster the courage to travel to Brussels to visit with long-time friends and to visit Paris before I fly home, which I planned to do? No idea yet…

but for today, I thank lovely, peaceful, charming Amsterdam. Thank you for not changing too much since my last visit, and for offering us a safe place during a turbulent time.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Blessings.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

 

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s best selling debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Book club members across the United States have enjoyed the story, as well. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. She is the mother of two awesome adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

 

Author Interview: Apollo Papafrangou

The Writing Life is pleased to welcome Apollo Papafrangou, author of the upcoming novel, Wings of Wax.

Apollo Papafrangou is a writer from Oakland, California, where he pens novels, short stories, and, occasionally, poems. He is a 2010 graduate of the Mills College Creative Writing MFA program, and the author of “Concrete Candy,” a short story collection published by Anchor Books in 1996 when he was just 15 years old.

His debut novel WINGS OF WAX, the story of a shy, young artist seeking to reconnect with his ladies’ man father in Greece, will be published in March, 2016 by Booktrope.

HBO Films optioned the movie rights to his story “The Fence” from 2000-2004, and his fiction has appeared in the 1998 Simon & Schuster anthology entitled “Trapped. Apollo’s work has appeared in “Voices,” a collection of works by Greek writers published in 2013 by Nine Muses Press, Quiet Lightning, among other publications.

Apollo author pic

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome, Apollo.

WingsofWaxcoverWhat is your book’s genre/category?

Wings of Wax is literary/contemporary fiction.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Wings of Wax is the story of Angelo, a shy, young artist seeking to reunite with his estranged father in Greece and to learn the mysterious ways of the kamaki: the classic Mediterranean ladies’ man.

The novel takes place in both the San Francisco Bay Area and in Greece. In many ways, it’s a travel narrative, an odyssey of sorts, both in respect to Angelo’s physical journey, and his interior transformation.

 Apollo, how did you come up with the title?

Wings of Wax is a nod toward the Greek myth of Icarus–the boy who gained flight via mechanical wings attached with wax, but, in failing to heed his father’s advice, flew too close to the sun. Icarus serves as a metaphor in the book as flight is a central theme, as is the often tumultuous relationship between fathers and sons. 

What inspired you to write Wings of Wax?

Many things, but perhaps above all else, the desire to join the ranks of Greek-American writers who are mining the terrain of our collective experience through their fiction. I feel that the Greek-American experience–in all its complexity and variation–has been largely unexplored in contemporary fiction. Of course we have Jeffrey Eugenides, one of my literary heroes, but we need more voices.

My heritage is pretty important to me. Through my stories I want to share its richness with others.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part of writing is the process itself. It’s tedious at times, but I imagine building a story is like crafting a sculpture–you chipaway long enough, and you’ve got something. I also like exploring the interior experience of my characters. Fiction is the only artistic medium through which we get into other people’s heads. Stories show us we’re not alone in the world.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Starting, whether it be a new project or a continuation of yesterday’s work. When I sit down to write each day, I spend a lot of time looking over what I wrote over previous days to get back into the flow. There’s a lot of staring at the white space, but then something inevitably clicks, and I’m able to find that groove again.

I write five days a week, generally, Monday through Friday. I try to get five-hundred words a day; sometimes I write more, sometimes less, but consistency is the key. I put in the time five days a week because I treat writing like a job. 

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

There are so many. Of the classic writers I like Steinbeck, Faulkner, Baldwin, Nabokov, Tolstoy. In grad school I was introduced to some fantastically underrated writers like Bruno Schultz, Italo Calvino, Fernando Pessoa, and Anne Carson. Favorite contemporary authors include Jennifer Egan, Victor Lavalle, Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Susan Straight, Paul Auster, Jonathan Lethem, Cormack McCarthy, George Pelecanos, and many more.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Other than the writers I’ve already named, Nikos Kazantzakis has been a big influence, of course. He is the quintessential Greek writer. His prose is so lyrical and rich without being flowery. I’m also influenced by the great contemporary Greek poets, as Greece is a land of poetry–George Seferis, Yannis Ritsos, Odysseas Elytis.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write on a desktop Mac in my bedroom. I can’t get with the writing in a coffee shop thing. Too many distractions. I’d like to have a little writing studio someday. 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know? 

It’s not so “personal,” but an interesting fact is that I had my first short story published in Zyzzyva magazine, a pretty well known journal here on the west coast, at the age of thirteen. Another bit of trivia: before committing to English as my major back in college, I thought I would earn a degree in Child Development. I’ve always been interested in the way children learn and adapt. I work with kids now at an after-school program as my “day job.”

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

One big lesson I gained from this process is that next time around I need to send out blurb requests much further in advance! It takes a while to corral those endorsements from other writers and public figures.

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

Going to grad school for creative writing at Mills College was a great experience. I grew so much as a writer, and I began this novel during my second semester in the program. Soon after graduation I had a completed draft and now, several years and drafts later, I’ve got a published book! 

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Not much beyond the old cliches of keep writing and pushing your work out there. When you’re tired of pushing, push some more. It’s standard advice, but I’ve found it to be solid.

Website?

http://www.apollopapafrangou.wordpress.com

www.twitter.com/Apo_Papafrangou.

You can find me on Facebook, too.

Where can we find your book?

Wings of Wax will be released in March, 2016 from Booktrope, and will be available via local bookstores, Amazon, and other major retailers.

What’s next for you?

I’m almost finished with a first draft of my next book, a currently untitled novel-in-short-stories about twenty-somethings in the Oakland art scene trying to make a living outside of a traditional nine-to-five. The stories feature Greek-American characters, as the Greek community has a lengthy history in the Bay Area, and the culture is obviously my point of reference. It’s an interesting time to be in Oakland, with all the gentrification going on, and I hope, this book reflects that.

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Thanks for chatting with us, Apollo. I enjoyed getting to know more about you. Happy writing!

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

 

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Book club members across the United States have enjoyed the story, as well. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. She is the mother of two awesome adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Writing in Winter: Going Inward

coffee

This morning, I watered the yellow potted mums lining the brick steps that lead to my front door in a cotton sweater against the crisp air. Later I mowed the lawn, wondering whether that would be the last time this year, which led to realizing I need to think of more ways to burn calories over the winter months. Writing and winter equal hours upon hours of sitting, which isn’t good for my mind or body, not to mention my mood. The garden has always been my preferred way to exercise, and after pruning the plants and grape vines in late November, early December–it’s back to the gym.

I enjoyed a superb summer this year with many road trips with family and friends in West Virginia and Virginia, and I participated in several area book festivals and book signings. I visited mi familia in Puerto Rico for two wonderful weeks in August, and in October, I visited with great friends in the Bronx, met lovely readers at a book reading at La Casa Azul Bookstore in Harlem, and enjoyed time with new friends at Las Comadres Writers Conference in Manhattan. It was a busy year. I enjoyed meeting many people I now call friends. I can now cross off, ‘drive to New York City’ from my list–I made it!

Early winter is the time of year we straddle the inside and outside world, and begin looking inward with shorter days. Much like a pregnant woman near her delivery date, I begin nesting the week before the equinox. I wash out the red crock pot, air out my favorite cotton sweaters, and bring out heavier blankets for my bed and for naps on the couch. I prepare my garden for winter by putting down heavy mulch and leaves, and bring delicate potted plants inside. It’s a cozy season, perfect for writing—my favorite season. My garden doesn’t need me as much in the fall, and I sure enjoyed watching the changing leaves from my writing desk in the dining room with windows that overlook my side garden.

My river place, one of my favorite writing spots, is closed up for the season and I will miss it. We don’t have a generator at the river, and although it’s beautiful in the fall, chattering teeth aren’t conducive to good writing. I’ll enjoy my city home and am looking for a fire pit for my patio for cold, crisp nights when I sit outside with friends over a nice bottle of Bordeaux.

I plan for less distractions and more writing time during the fall and winter months. My winter calendar will include a few blog posts and author interviews, and except for Thanksgiving and Christmas with my precious family, I will be pretty much missing in action.

In February 2015, I birthed my first book baby with A Decent Woman, and she is well on her way. I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of how well readers have received Ana and Serafina’s journey. I am currently writing my second book. Now is the perfect time to settle down and finish the new story with characters I’m already in love with.

This blog post serves as a final chapter of sorts, as we near the end of the year, and I am blessed. I continue praying for peace, tolerance, and an end to violence in the world.

I wish my American friends a happy and blessed Thanksgiving with their loved ones.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

 

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Book clubs across the United States have selected and enjoyed the book. She is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Shaming, Anger, and Intolerance: Don’t Give In

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Deplorable, outrageous, shocking, disgusting, inhumane, shameful, terrifying, arrogant, insane, pathetic, pathological, and deeply disturbing.

These are some of the words used by people around the world on social media this past weekend to describe the Paris attacks and the ISIS attackers. I would venture to say most of us would agree many are fitting words to describe the senseless and barbaric killing of innocent men, women, and children in Paris, the City of Light. Other words fit the atrocities committed against innocent men, women, and children in Beirut, Kenya, New York, Boston, Cambodia, Russia, and many countries around the world, from past to recent times.

I expected to see the words listed in the first sentence of this blog post used in describing the attack and the loss of life on November 14, 2015. I expected people would disagree with any number of things that happened or didn’t happen this past weekend according to how they would have handled the situation if they ruled the world, according to their political leaning. But I did not expect and was disheartened by after reading the same words directed at people who’d changed their Facebook images to the colors of the French flag in a show of support for the French people after the attacks. I couldn’t fathom people were offended by a showing of compassion, empathy, and solidarity for people who share the same planet, and who supported the United States after 9/11. Not to mention that it seems everyone who isn’t signed up for ISIS is an infidel—the French people, in addition to me, and most probably, you.

Upon learning about the Paris attacks, I immediately changed my Facebook profile photo to a ‘Pray for Paris’ image. I lived in France several times in my life, and worked in Lourdes, France for many years, and praying centers me during difficult times. I changed my profile photo to show my solidarity, just as I’ve done to show my support for gay rights, women’s rights, against human trafficking, and when hundreds of innocent Nigerian school girls were kidnapped, raped, and tortured by Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group based in Nigeria.

I agreed with French President Hollande’s decision to declare a three-day mourning period for the victims and their loved ones. Out of respect for the victims, their families and friends, and for my French friends living in France, I decided to stay off social media as much as possible on the second and third days following the attack. I don’t know about you, but most everything I did last weekend seemed a bit trivial in light of the deaths and destruction in Paris, and like most of us, I remained glued to online breaking news out of Europe.

Tonight I caught up on social media, and I was greatly saddened by many displays of humanity against humanity on Facebook and Twitter. There were vicious attacks on those supporting (or not) the acceptance of Syrian refugees into their communities, and slams on people agreeing or disagreeing with France and the United States’ decision to bomb the Daesh, as some described it, as ‘back to the Stone Age’. There was finger pointing and lashing out, racial slurs and spewing of hatred in reaction to what President Obama was doing right or wrong, the NRA, the US military, the pacifists, ‘war mongers’, Christians, Muslims, and people accusing others of acting like sheep—for following the herd and jumping on the bandwagon of support for France, who they claim ‘probably deserved it.’ Global warming even made an appearance today in an argument that it is still BS and a figment of our imagination.

Among the pleas calling for people to remain calm, focused, and to come together as one, which I agree with, a woman posted a photograph of the Oklahoma bomber, reminding her Facebook friends that the US was the target of much bloodshed and tragedy at the hands of an American madman on American soil–leave Paris to the French. A man posted a photo taken on 9/11 and raged against Muslims, wanting each and every Muslim DEAD. Yes, he’d typed ‘dead’ in all caps. An outraged woman replied to the Oklahoma post by replying, ‘How dare you attack Americans and Christians now. DEPLORABLE.’ Soon, I lost track of who said what about what, and turned my laptop off. I kept murmuring, ‘But not all Muslims are terrorists.’

The reactions to the tri-color Facebook profile photos and the eye-opening outbursts of many today reminded me that when we are frightened, stressed, pushed to our emotional and mental limits; when we’ve experienced similar situations of trauma at home and abroad; or when we are outraged and feel impotent to help others and ourselves, many of us will lash out. We might begin pointing fingers, drawing into ourselves, or many of us will show our true colors by shaming and ridiculing others. I am reminded that the definitions of passion are varied and complicated:

passion: the emotions as distinguished from reason

b :  intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction

c :  an outbreak of anger

a :  ardent affection :  love

b :  a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept

Of course I am filtering what I perceive as negative comments through my life experiences, which are undoubtedly different from the opinions of the woman standing next to me at Walmart or the views of the man on the treadmill beside me at the gym. I get that; we all do that, but please remember…

We ALL share the same fears and concern for our families, friends, and communities, at home and abroad. And with every attack by ISIS, we are shown the frightening agenda for their version of the End of Times, the Apocalypse, which they have shown they will die for. We are the target. We, as in all of us who are not members of ISIS. Threats against our country understandably make us edgy and afraid, which often breeds suspicion, anger, and intolerance. I say, don’t give in. But I do have questions…

I pray what I saw online tonight was us finding ourselves under extreme conditions of fear, insecurity, and duress over the attacks, not because we have hatred in our hearts. Yes, I’m outraged by the Paris attacks. I’m worried, as well. As a woman and mother, I worry for Syrian women, mothers and their children as they try to escape and find asylum. I worry for my children, living in the US and abroad, about the world they will inherit, and I am deeply saddened for those who were massacred in Paris and for their families from many nations who are burying their loved ones this week.

I hesitated in sharing this blog post, and can only hope you take it in the same vein in which it is offered, as my two cents–I’m trying to reign in my fear just as you are. I’m trying to understand and learn. I don’t have the answers, but I’m searching. However, I believe that if we turn to hate and rip away from each other, at the very seam of the fabric of our society, and fight amongst ourselves, instead of being tolerant and trying to understand each other at home and abroad, and more importantly, remaining focused on the bigger picture—creating a peaceful world for our children—it will unravel, and I fear we could be playing right into the enemy’s hands. I sure as hell hope not.

God bless us all.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

 

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family  support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, and book clubs across the United States have enjoyed the book. She is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Author Interview: Jacqueline Cioffa

The Writing Life is pleased to welcome Jacqueline Cioffa, author of The Vast Landscape.

Jacqueline Cioffa was an international model for 17 years and a celebrity makeup artist. She is a dog lover, crystal collector, and Stone Crab enthusiast. Her work has been featured in the anthology, Brainstorms, and numerous literary magazines. Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness. She’s a storyteller, observer, essayist, potty mouth, and film lover who’s traveled the world.
Her poignant, literary fiction debut, The Vast Landscape, gives new meaning to intense, raw, and heartfelt.

JCioffa_n

Welcome, Jacqueline.

What is your book’s genre/category? 

Literary Fiction

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Bold contemporary fiction, The Vast Landscape shares one woman’s journey filled with doubt, mistrust, fame, and self-discovery. Join Harrison on her quest to find inner peace despite the harrowing obstacles placed in her way. Will she succeed in stripping away her complex armor to unmask the flawed, beautiful, and strong iconoclast kept hidden for so long?

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How did you come up with the title? 

The title was inspired from a large landscape portrait an artist, photographer friend gifted me that lives on the wall in the Zen room, the place where I write.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was very, very sick, with Manic Depression and made the decision to leave New York City to move back home to the Finger Lakes and a simpler, more manageable way of life. I made a pact to write everyday, stream of consciousness. The Red Bench was a coping mechanism, a way to hold onto to hope, and frankly to stay alive.

The Vast Landscape began as memoir, and many of the passages are excerpts from The Red Bench sprinkled throughout both The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine.

Once I freed The Vast Landscape to be fiction I realized Harrison, the protagonist could go anywhere. I had a larger canvas for her to stomp on.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Trusting the words, the absolute and complete freedom I feel releasing thoughts onto the page, whether dark or light.

I am discovering the story and characters for the first time as well, and because I rely on a lot of real life experience and characters for inspiration, I’m always surprised and invigorated.

Jacqueline, what is the most challenging aspect of writing for you?

The editing, marketing and all the ‘stuff’ that comes after. I find the business, publishing, and marketing aspects to be quite challenging which is why I’m so grateful for Rachel Thompson, and that she asked me to join Gravity Imprint. She is a talented author, gifted and a humble, marketing guru. My words are in the best, most capable hands with Gravity Imprint. I pinch myself daily. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

John Irving, Joan Didion, Samuel Beckett, Sylvia Plath, J.D. Salinger, John Green, Patty Smith, Nicolas Sparks. It’s pretty eclectic; I find inspiration across the board. I’m a visual writer and I love watching films adapted from books. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

My parents are my first favorite humans, kind, generous, solid, loyal, and nurturing. They gave me a solid foundation, moral fiber, enough room to grow, and pursue my dreams. My BFF who believed in the magic of my words way before me, and still does even when I don’t.

Author Mark Blickley who read my earliest works and emphatically encouraged me to pursue a career in writing later in life. (I’d already had successful modeling and makeup careers).

Rachel Thompson, Julie Anderson, Marla Carlton, Feminine Collective, and all the empowering women who challenging the stereotypes daily.

Nicole Lyons, writer and founder of The Lithium Chronicles, the fierce, courageous Mental Health Advocates I’ve met through sharing my Mental Illness story.

Anyone, and everyone who champions others and dares to dream. There are quiet and loud warriors changing the world in positive ways.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

The ‘Zen room,’  where I wrote The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine. It’s filled with talismans, inspiration Buddhas, crystals, a vast landscape canvas portrait, and childhood memories.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m a goof, I like to watch Lifetime Movies and chew Bazooka Bubble Gum.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

I was blown away and delighted by the overwhelming visceral reader response to both The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine. Readers have an immediate and intense connection to the stories. Their response and desire to dissect the characters, understand, talk about the tears, joy and connection they felt. That still shocks me in the very best, and humble way.

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

I wrote my truth first and foremost for me. I gave Harrison all the messiest, strongest, ugliest, prettiest, chaotic, stoic and flawed parts of my character. But I also created a fantastical, sanctuary for her to live and dream. The Cove, the safe, mystical, magical dwelling by the sea filled with stars, sunshine, beach, hope, love, emotion and family. For her, and me. And, ultimately the readers.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Don’t try to mold yourself into some preconceived idea, lust after another, more successful author and don’t compare yourself to anyone. That is a recipe for disaster. Find your unique voice and look around, pay attention. Humans are complex fascinating creatures. The possibility for good stories is happening all around you. It took me forty-seven years to get published, and I’m still learning the craft. Write like you can’t live without it out, and don’t be in a hurry.

Website?

Author site: jacquelinecioffa.com  http://jacquelinecioffa.com

Gravityimprint.com http://gravityimprint.com/team/jacqueline-cioffa/

Bleeding Ink on FeminineCollective.com http://femininecollective.com/jacqueline-cioffa/

Where can we find your book?

The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine are currently available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Jacqueline-Cioffa/e/B00H4EZKVE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Look for The Vast Landscape re-release in early December and Georgia Pine to follow with Gravity Imprint of BookTrope Publishing.

What’s next for you?

Writing my column, Bleeding Ink for Feminine Collective, Mental Health Advocacy,

The repub of Georgia Pine, the sequel to The Vast Landscape with Gravity Imprint, and finishing Evergreen, completing The Vast Landscape Saga. 

Then it’s back to the red bench, and a walk in the woods, to start fresh.

I do my best writing while walking.

Thanks for chatting with us today, Jacqueline. I wish you continued success with your writing and blogging!

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

 

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical literary novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, and book clubs in across the United States have enjoyed the book. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

 

 

November Featured Cases: Honoring the Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Reblogged via http://www.pen.org/blog/honoring-day-imprisoned-writer

Throughout history, writers, from Dostoevsky to Wilde, have been imprisoned in an attempt to silence them and their ideas. Though over a century has passed since these authors were writing, the imprisonment of writers by governments to stifle them and stymie any advocacy on their behalf continues. To keep these writers’ stories and hopes for release from fading, PEN American Center honors the Day of the Imprisoned Writer on November 15 by featuring three cases from around the world that represent the dire situation imprisoned writers face.

Source: November Featured Cases: Honoring the Day of the Imprisoned Writer