Book Review: Citadel by Jack Remick

June 24, 2018

In Jack Remick’s newest novel, Citadel, a complex, mind-bending, apocalyptic story, the author weaves genetic science, a Citadel of women, complete with warrior women, and valuable lessons for writers and editors into a masterpiece. Remick takes risks with this fascinating novel; it’s a story within a story within a story—a literary gem that opened my mind to casting aside limiting thoughts on genre, style, and structure; encouraged me to ponder deeper questions about what it means to be a woman today; and then forced me to ask questions of myself and of the characters in my work-in-progress. Yes, all that in one book and the writing is impeccable.

In Citadel, Remick explores relationships between men and women, and what the world could be if women were in control. Each story is relevant and timely, as many of the themes in Citadel make up today’s headlines—femicide, atrocities perpetrated against girls and women, domestic violence, misogyny, and rape culture. I was reminded of Margaret Atwood’s quote, “Why do men feel threatened by women? They’re afraid women will laugh at them. Why do women feel threatened by men? They’re afraid of being killed.”

The author introduces readers to scientists, writers, editors, publishers, and the warrior women, protectors of the women of the Citadel called daughters. The stories of Trisha, Daiva, Rose, and Clara will feel familiar, might feel uncomfortable—and that’s the point. We are challenged to think about choice, our humanity, motherhood, the relationship between men and women, and our future as a species. Throughout the book, I found myself saying, “I am her. I am them.” I love this book.

I won’t give away the story. Readers must experience Citadel for themselves. Here’s a taste,

“The way you build the world without men, you show me that there are no accidental pregnancies in the Citadel. There are no rapes. There is only a complete dedication to the altruism of birth. It boils down to this—a daughter, in a Citadel, not only chooses the kind of fetus she will carry and why she will carry it, but she chooses to perpetuate the race until the final decision is made—to continue, to let the race go extinct, or to let the Y decay and on its own cease to be.” (Y, as in the Y chromosome).

The character Trisha says it best: when you finish this novel, you won’t be the same person who started it. And that’s a good thing. Let the discussions begin.

 
Buy the book:
 

About Eleanor Parker Sapia:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English, at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English, at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

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The Writing Life: Signing A Creativity Contract

The Writing Life: Signing a Creativity Contract

By Eleanor Parker Sapia

My novel ‘A Decent Woman’ turns one-year old on February 20, 2016, and you best believe I will be celebrating with champagne, just as I did the evening my publisher emailed to say, “Your book is live on Amazon.” I drank the entire bottle–no wine glass–and yes, I was alone! That day ranks right up there as one of the most thrilling days of my life.

I am currently writing my second book and thinking back to my experiences on the road to publication. I am happy. Every setback, challenge, and joy, and each little miracle with my first book reminds me that choosing to live a creative life at age 50 was worth it all!

In looking back, I’ve come up with a writing contract for myself for 2016. I’d love to share it with you. Whether you’re a writer or a reader, I hope you’ll glean a little encouragement to live your life to the fullest, and do what you love. If you don’t write, replace ‘writing’ with whatever you like to do, or simply think of the sentences as they pertain to life.

What I will do in 2016:

  • Continue to tell stories that matter to me, with characters who do extraordinary things while leading simple lives during extraordinary times.
  • Remind myself how blessed I am to do what I love when writing becomes difficult.
  • Push myself to write every day. When I don’t think I can write another word, I will stand up from my writing chair and take a walk in nature. Or write a blog post. Call a good friend. Knit. And return to my writing chair.
  • Connect with friends and family on Sundays, and take days off when I feel the need to rest my mind, body, and soul.
  • Treat my writing (and marketing my books) like a job because it is.
  • Remember that my writing life is my writing life.
  • Learn more about developing my craft; read more; and keep writing to the best of my ability.
  • Maintain writing excellence.
  • Continue connecting with my readers, who are awesome. But limit Facebook time 🙂
  • Encourage more fellow authors by buying their books and writing more reviews.
  • Pay it forward with my fellow writers on social media, and continue offering them author interviews at my blog.
  • Pat myself on the back for a job well done after a good writing session, and remember that it’s not life or death, even though it feels like it!
  • Keep writing about what is deep in my heart; whether it’s popular or not.
  • Silence my inner censor–I can write another good book.
  • Pat myself on the back for a job well done after a ‘bad’ writing session–I showed up and put in the hours.
  • Keep writing!

What I won’t do:

  • Follow the literary trends of writing books in the popular genre of the month. I write what I’d like to read and hope my stories resonate with readers.
  • Obsess about reviews, positive or negative (a tough one for me). My writer friend says that what readers say about my book is none of my business. We all filter information through our life experiences. The book is no longer mine.
  • Push myself to the point of mental exhaustion. I can play with my animals, read, sit in the sun, or daydream for 30 minutes to refresh and regroup. Or take a nap.
  • Compare my writing to other writers, whether they’re in my genre or not. I’m on my journey and path. They are on their journey and path.
  • Become impatient with myself. The words will come.
  • Sweat what I don’t know today. The journey is as important as reaching the goal.

What can you do as a good reader and fan of your favorite writers?

  • Buy their books, books, books.
  • Soon after finishing a book, write an honest review and post it on social media and on Amazon while it’s fresh in your mind. We truly appreciate your reviews.
  • Interact with your favorite authors on social media. Writing is a lonely business.
  • Keep reading! Who wants an empty Kindle or bookshelf?

What would you add to my creativity list? I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you!

Happy writing.

About Eleanor

ellie

Puerto Rican 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.

‘A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, ‘Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season’. Book clubs across the United States continue to enjoy A Decent Woman. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society, and she is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor is a mother of two wonderful adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’, and a collection of short stories.

http://amzn.to/1kzKdGq

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

LuthiersApprentice_med

 

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

satori book

 

 

 

 

 

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