Writing Wins and Woes: Writing through Pain

0613151627aAlthough it may look like my post should be entitled writing through rain, this picture reminds me of a dark time in my life. A time where I experienced pain. Nicholas Sparks experienced many traumas in his life. Among them was the 1989 death of his mother in a horse back riding accident. The result of that pain was the popular novel he wrote, Message in a Bottle. Many authors have written through pain. Sylvia Plath had periods of depression, mental instability and severe sinus problems. She went on to write The Bell Jar and many pieces of poetry. Author James McBride, writer of the National Book Award, The Good Lord Bird, also wrote a memoir surrounding his mother’s life. It was a story of pain. As a young Jew she married a black man, Daniel McBride, a minister. Her family said kaddish and sat Shiva for her, deciding she was now dead to them. McBride used the pain he felt growing up to write. Although pain isn’t funny, he manages to find humor in pain when he writes.

I am in pain right now. It’s not physical pain. It’s emotional pain of a kind I’ve never felt before. Pain can be a catalyst to the darkest of depressions, or it can be a springboard to strength and healing because sometimes pain is priceless. Pain doesn’t have to be an end. It may be a beginning.

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Writing Wins and Woes: Finding Treasure

Gradma's letter page 2 001Have  you ever found a treasure that wasn’t worth anything to anyone else but is worth everything to you? When I was eight years old, I got a letter from my grandma. It was an ordinary type of letter. She tells me she loves me. She describes her day. She was a cleaning lady, which is kind of ironic, because I am a part time custodian. She tells me to trust in God, to pray and to never give up even in the darkest hour; there will eventually be light. I love my grandma’s letter. It’s the only one I have. Shortly after she wrote it, she died. I am so thankful that I spent a few weekends with her. I remember them in detail. We went shopping, got barbecue chicken in a bag at Woolworth’s (or some store in downtown Lancaster where she lived), we went to the movies. We saw Planet of the Apes, one of the sequels. She fell asleep and we had to sit through it twice, so she could see what she missed. It was a matinee, and in those days you could stay for as many showings as you wanted for the price of your ticket. We went back to her apartment and stayed up late at night watching Dr. Shock theater. She liked scary, campy old movies just like me.

I misplaced my grandma’s letter for awhile but just recently I found it again. I was looking for something else that was more important but what I found was treasure. I never found the more important document, but it is replaceable. My grandma’s letter is not.

It is stuff like this that made me write. Each childhood event became a story. I had to write them down, from the story of my first dog, my mom’s sleepwalking experience where she stole a stuffed animal right from my bed to a matinee with my grandma. I’m so thankful for memories like these that became the stuff that stories are made of.

Do you want inspiration to write? Look no farther than your own story book life. After all, writing comes from the heart.

Writing Wins and Woes: Hexes and such

1264I mentioned previously that my husband and I love to go to book sales. We went to one last summer and I got a booklet entitled, Facts and Folklore of York, PA.  Being the bookworm i am, I read it. A lot of it was  just info about tourist traps in York, PA but one of the articles in the booklet was about the 1928-29 Hex murders. This event is a little confusing because it involves a murder of a man named Rehymyer by another man named Blymire and two of his friends. The two similar names threw me quite a bit. Anyway, Blymire was a man down on his luck who happened to believe in hexes, being somewhat of a witch himself. At one time he performed pow-wows to help people’s ailments and such, but he lost this power, if he ever had it, and his livelihood went south and he began to look for a reason for his misfortunes. So, he consulted another witch who told him the reason for all his troubles was that Rehymyer had put a hex on him and he needed to get a lock of his hair and his hex Bible to undo it. So he gathered up two underage conspirators and set off to obtain these items which Rehymyer had no intention of giving up. Therefore, they killed him. Incidentally, they never found the Hex Bible. They were able to cut the hair after they murdered the man, but it didn’t seem to help his luck because he went to jail for murder for 23 years. This article prompted me to read the book, Hex by Arthur H. Lewis. Don’t bother looking for it. It’s out of print and hard to get and it’s not worth reading really. It contains very little interesting detail about the actual murder and more on hexers in general, name dropping and talking about delivering people from warts and such.  It doesn’t say much that I found the booklet info more exciting than the actual book about the event.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in witches, hexes or pow wowing? Sounds like it could make a good story.

Well, enough for that. Here’s two more interviews. Hope I’m not overwhelming you with all these.

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I loved comic books as a kid—anything that showed a world that was more mysterious, more fabulous than my school-bus/school-day existence. But I was never satisfied with reading other people’s stories, so I wrote my own. As far back as I can remember, I wrote thinly-veiled autobiographical tales of superpowers and magic. I illustrated them, folded them into booklets, and shared them with friends and family. As I got older, the stories matured and I began to experiment with different genres and media, including music.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

There are so many great books that planted spec fic seeds in me, but, if I was forced to choose one, it would have to be The Phantom Tollbooth. Why? Because that story brought magic to the real world. To think that an ordinary kid just like me could stumble upon something so fantastic, so magical—really?!?! Sign me up.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

My all-time favorite book … hrmmm … that’s a hard one because I love so many stories for so many different reasons. But pressed to decide from among my darlings, I guess I’d have to go with Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. Why? I suppose it was her use of realism and human drama as a frame within which she unfurled a wild science fiction tale. Reading the book, I felt as if I was experiencing that crazy planet and alien life because I was so connected to the character’s emotional arcs. It was very effective; images from that book have haunted me for years.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

I can’t really point to any one author who inspired me to start writing. I come from a family of story tellers—there wasn’t a day that passed by that wasn’t made more interesting by some creative embellishment. Writing came naturally to me. It was a way to explain and respond to the word. That said, there are several authors whose unique use of language inspires me when I put pen to paper, including Karin Tidbeck, China Mieville, Kathe Koja, and August Strindberg.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Don’t be afraid. You will constantly hear voices telling you that you can’t do this or you can’t do that. Listen and understand why we have so many “rules” to art. But don’t fall into blind obedience. Experiment. Make mistakes. Be Bold. Most of all, write your truths. Never, ever let anyone make you afraid of your own voice.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

Without a doubt, waiting for responses to submissions is the hardest part of the publishing grind. I love writing. I love editing. I hate waiting. When I’m done with a story, I’m a proud dad. I want to post pictures of my wriggling, pink story all over my social media channels, but I can’t. I have to lock that baby in a dark closet and let it squirm all cute and bubbly until it’s finally selected for showcasing in a magazine or anthology. Sometimes, it’s still a little darling (like Eyes of Woods, which thankfully was selected while it was still an infant). Other times, the tale is grey and grizzled and almost unrecognizable from age.

7. On what projects are you currently working?

I have a literary Sci Fi story, A Song Unheard, coming out later this year in the anthology, Startling Sci Fi, to be published by New Lit Salon Press. Tissues are a necessity. Several of my fantasy and magical realism short stories are in the submission/publication process, including my fantasy novella (which subverts the mage’s apprentice trope).

Read Brian’s story, Eyes of Wood, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

..About the Author..

BRIAN T. HODGES lives in the mossy forests of the Pacific Northwest, where he works as a lawyer, researcher, and non-fiction writer. He is also a musician, having released several albums of esoteric and ethereal music under the moniker, the Blue Hour. His fiction has been published by New Lit Salon Press, Liquid Imagination, The Strange Edge, received an Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest (V31 Q1 2014), and was a finalist in the 2013 N3F Amateur Short Story Contest.

..Connect with the Author..

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I wrote my first story in 6th grade for a class assignment and I haven’t been able to stop.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

Harry Potter; it opened me up to a world I never knew existed.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. When I first read it, I fell in love with the writing style and I felt like I connected to Mercy.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

Stephen King. His determination to have his work out there is inspiring.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Writers need to rember to have fun. Its too easy to get caught up in edits and promoting. Both are important, but you need to have fun writing so you keep doing it. Don’t let the pressure get to you.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

Edits. I like getting lost in the story. When you edit you can’t, you need to check grammar and spelling, make sure the story flows.

7. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart the others?

Scarlette Gunn. She’s the main character in a series I’ve been working on for a few years. She is who I want to be, but won’t become. She stands up for herself and won’t let anyone beat her down.

8. On what projects are you currently working?

My latest paranormal romance, Emily’s Captive, was just released on May 30, 2015.

Read Bobbie’s story, Iron Strong Adalie, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

..About the Author..

BOBBIE PALMER writes both paranormal and thriller novels. She loves reading just about anything and when she’s not writing she has her nose stuck in a book. She loves to cook and hang out with her nephews and two cats. She is very involved in the writing community, hosting a writer’s breakfast once a month and a former municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo.

..Connect with the Author..

Writing Wins and Woes: Interviews

Here are some more interviews for Twice Upon a Time. I am a proud contributor to this fairy tale retelling book. It is full of great stories. If you don’t have a copy, you should buy one, especially if you have Nook or KIndle. It is now offered on both.

!–Start Copy–>

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

Ten. By thirteen I was writing short stories, plotting out novels that were far too unwieldy for my skills. I also wrote Star Trek fanfiction (although I don’t think it had an official name yet. It was 1969).

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

Beauty, by Sheri S. Tepper. I’m pretty sure I’d read speculative fiction prior but Beauty was the first one that I said, “oh, this is that thing which isn’t exactly science fiction but also isn’t remotely mainstream. I’m going to write this.”

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

That is a horrible question to ask a writer, you know. Currently, my all time favorite book would be Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. The way the clues to the twist have been layered in from the first page and you only realize it at the same time as the narrator, when it’s too late and you’re hit with the same crushing betrayal and rage and desperate fear. As a writer, it’s kind of awe-inspiring. I’m so glad I knew nothing about it when I began the read.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

To really really start writing? Margaret Atwood and The Handmaid’s Tale. She boldly claimed she didn’t write science fiction, damn it, she wrote fiction. All fiction speculates. It’s all fiction. Plus, that’s a brilliant little book.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Most important, trite but true, write because you love it, because you want to, because it challenges you and also gives you joy. Odds are you will not become rich from writing, you may never make enough from it to live on. There was a great cartoon in The New Yorker once, showing a guy on the street selling pencils and the caption was, “Sold my first story and foolishly quit my day job.” Don’t do that.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

Well, your work is going to be rejected so you have to get over that. The toughest I think for most writers (as most of us are introverts) is having to self-promote. It’s easier now because of the internet, but not that long ago when print publishing was starting to slow, publishers required new work to be all lined up with blurbs and glowing reviews before they signed a contract with you. Which worked fine, I suppose, if you’d gone through Clarion or another prestigious workshop. If not you were forced to beg for a person who didn’t know you to “please, please, please read my book and write a little blurb!”

7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?

I was thinking about women as exploitable commodities now and throughout history. So my story was going to deal with that in some way. I have always been interested in the cultural clashes and co-mingling of the early interactions between white traders and Native Americans. So I began with the idea of a Shoshone man who offers his daughter to a mountain man in exchange for saving his life. The similarities of mythical figures from varied cultures is one of the most consistent connecting threads of our humanity. There is always a beast somewhere that can be tamed, tricked, or rescued by a woman.

8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

My favorite character is, of course, Dove, the narrator. I liked her from the moment she started talking. I think every narrator is my favorite character when I’m writing them though.

9. On what projects are you currently working?

I am working on three novels and must soon decide which one I’m going to spend the next six months working on until the end. One is a time-travel, YA thingy called The Moontree Women. The other is the second novel in my Erasing Sherlock series. And the third is an expansion of a short story called Project Thunderbird, which is due out in March 2015 in the anthology Liberating Earth, edited by Kate Orman.

Read Kelly’s story, Blood Medicine, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

..About the Author..

KELLY HALE lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where the streets are paved with espresso beans and the garbage recycles itself. She is the author of a bunch of short stories in a bunch of anthologies, and a couple of novels (including the award-winning Erasing Sherlock). She has loved science fiction and fantasy for so long that the characters from the original Star Trek represent archetypes in her dreams.

..Connect with the Author..

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I used to use my grandmother’s typewriter when I was around 6 or 7, and finished my first story on it. But when I was 19, I tried National Novel Writing Month. I ‘won’ this, completing a 50,000 word draft in 30 days, and that gave me the boost to try writing on a regular and more dedicated basis.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

I grew up reading about animals who talked and curses/prophecies. The most influential for me was The Sight by David-Clement Davies. Mixing a strange-to-me landscape, wolf gods, sentient animals, and prophecies was my window into fantasy and supernatural books.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

My favourite book is probably still The Moon Riders by Theresa Tomlinson. It introduced me to strong female characters, spoke of living in harmony with the seasons, and held divination and dance as sacred powers. In terms of writing, it’s the book I remember when I need to create more tension because the main character survives and manages so many devastating events.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

I began writing more seriously due to a friend asking me to do National Novel Writing Month with her. When I’m stuck or struggling to write how I want to, I re-read Dianne Sylvan’s first Shadow World book, Queen of Shadows. I personally find her writing style works for me, and I own nearly every book she’s written, so she’s definitely a positive influence.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Perseverance. And because picking just one is tricky, I’d also say to expect your first drafts and early planning to have gaps, holes, issues or be plain rubbish. Writing isn’t a race. I believe even well-known, prolific writers have rubbish chapters in their first drafts and sit staring at a scene wondering how on earth they can fix it. Therefore, my two-sided advice is to not rush the process—to give the writing time to breathe and yourself time to recharge when writing. However, don’t give up. Don’t let your writing sit in a drawer for too long. Keep moving forward, step by step.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

It’s difficult to pinpoint something specifically in publishing, but while people at the publishing end are getting things sorted, the author can be left waiting without much communication (as they’re busy getting things rolling) at times.

7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?

I studied the story of Taliesin as a module on Celtic mythology, so I felt familiar with the symbols and messages often found within it.

8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

When I studied the tale, it rarely gave Morfran’s view of this magic to be bestowed upon him; that led me to tell his side of the story—with his secret power and the balance of wanting his own life versus pleasing those around him.

9. On what projects are you currently working?

I’m currently editing a young adult novel draft which focuses on a young falconer and her hawk discovering the secrets of a city during rebellion.

Read K.R. Green’s story, The Night of Awen, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

..About the Author..

KRGREEN writes about dragons, falconry, mythology, and sorcery. She attends a local writing group, and outside of writing enjoys herbal teas, reading, and gazing up at the stars. When she isn’t painting pictures with words, she works in the Mental Health sector in London and for Children’s Services in Sussex.

..Connect with the Author..