Posted in authors, books, characters, conflict, family, favorite books, fiction, friend, love, mystery, novels, pain, publishing, purpose, readers, romance, series, small towns, support, WFWA, womens fiction, writers

Multi-published Women’s Fiction Author Kathleen Paterka says “don’t give up.”

Kathleen Irene Paterka Author

A very special welcome to Kathleen Paterka. We met through the wonderful group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers of America.  Kathleen, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I fell in love with the written word in the 2nd grade reading my first Trixie Belden® book. In case you’re not familiar with the series, Trixie was a girl detective who teamed up with her brothers and best friend Honey Wheeler to solve mysteries occurring around their little town in the Hudson Valley area of New York. Trixie Belden changed my life. It was the first time I’d read a book with a plot and no pictures. I devoured the existing series (12 books), and anxiously waited for the next one to be published. It was around that time I made the decision that someday, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden novels. While I never did tackle the world of Trixie Belden (the last book was published in 1986), I did start my own series. The James Bay novels (Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned) are set in the fictional resort community of James Bay, Michigan. After finishing those four stories, I wrote another two books set in different locations. Royal Secrets is about a family-owned Las Vegas wedding chapel, while my upcoming release, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. For my next book (which I’m currently researching), I’ll be taking readers back to James Bay.

I too well in love with writing over Trixie Beldon, as you can see from my own tattered copy. It is one of my treasured possessions.

Trixie Belden

Do you have a background in writing? What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

In school, my teachers tried steering me toward Creative Writing classes, but I dug in my heels, screaming “No, no, no!” I didn’t like being forced to write poetry or short stories. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, and I couldn’t see any point in wasting my time by writing Haiku (sincere apologies to any Haiku-enthusiasts who may be reading this). While I concede that there are basics to the craft that must be mastered (sentence structure, proper grammar, plot elements, etc.), there’s simply no way another person can ‘teach you’ how to write a book. Want to know the secret? Sit down and start. It’s as simple as that. Caveat: notice I did not say it was ‘easy’. It may be simple, but it’s definitely not easy. After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, plus a few years spent working for a local newspaper, the Catholic church, and the law, I finally settled down where I belonged: in a beautiful castle located in Northern Michigan. My job as staff writer at Castle Farms (a century old French Renaissance castle listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is like a fairy-tale come true.

Kathleen, what advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

The best advice I can pass along was given to me by an author friend when I was just starting out. This highly successful NY Times bestselling author told me: “Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent. Your belief in yourself… is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds who will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Work hard, work smart, work tirelessly. Be tough, be brave and be persistent. All clichés, yes. But when they apply to you and how much you want to realize your dream, they are very apt.” I’ve kept my friend’s message tucked close in my heart through all the ups and downs of my publishing career, and it’s served me well. Today, I’m sharing her message with you. Don’t give up!

FattyPatty ForIHaveSinned HomeFires LottoLucy RoyalSecretsCream

Tell us about one of your book in 3 sentences. Fatty Patty (my first novel) is semi-autobiographical. Though I’m now at a normal weight (and have been for over 35+ years), I weighed three hundred pounds while in high school. Fatty Patty tackles the issues of dieting, dating, self-esteem, and exposes the gritty honest truth of what it’s like to be overweight in a society that worships thin.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? My upcoming release, The Other Wife, will hit the shelves (and the cyber-world of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, plus Kobo) in February 2015. What happens in a woman’s life when her husband dies? What kind of secrets might be revealed? I came up with the idea when my own husband, Steve, actually died in front of me early one morning. I was sitting at the end of his bed in the semi-darkness when he made a strange sound. At the time, I thought it was the oddest snore I’d ever heard. Turns out, it was the infamous ‘death rattle’. Believe me, if you’ve never heard it, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up! Luckily, Steve was in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. They called a Code Blue, and the medical team managed to resuscitate him. He’s since had a triple by-pass and doing well, thank you! But that hospital experience in 2011 got me to thinking: What if Steve had been at home, asleep in our bed? What if he’d let out that horrible sound, and I’d assumed it was only a loud snore? I probably would have poked him, rolled over in bed, and gone back to sleep… what a horrible thing to wake up to in the morning. And what would my life have been like after that? Thus, a new storyline was born.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

Here’s the Prologue from The Other Wife… I hope you enjoy it!

It wasn’t much of a sound. Later, she would remember it as an odd sort of grunt. Still, it had been loud enough to wake her. Eleanor rolled over in their king-size bed, stretched out an arm, and nudged him. Richard’s snoring had worsened in the past months. She lay there in the darkness, waiting to see if another nudge was necessary. Just the other day, she’d read how snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, leading to other, more serious, health problems. Perhaps tomorrow, depending on what kind of mood he was in, she’d mention the subject over breakfast. Maybe she should insist that he see a doctor. Not that it would do much good. Richard rarely listened to her. For most of the thirty-eight years they’d been married, he hadn’t listened to much of what she had to say. He’d probably give her his usual shrug, tell her to quit worrying.

Quit worrying. It wasn’t until five hours later that she realized she’d had good cause to be worried. She should have known that sound was different. She should have stayed awake. She should have tried to rouse him. Instead, she waited another minute, surrounded by silence. Then, turning over, she laid her head back on the pillow and curled up in her spot, still warm from sleep, snuggling into the clean, fragrant smell of freshly laundered sheets changed by Martha the day before. Closing her eyes, Eleanor drifted off into the most pleasant dream… only to wake the next morning to every woman’s nightmare.

Richard, in bed beside her, was dead.

Readers, go to Kathleen’s website. There is a place where you can enter to win a FREE copy of her new book, The Other Wife. I have read Fatty Patty and Royals Secrets.  They are both fantastic.  I can’t wait for The Other Wife to come out.

Thank you, Kathleen, for being on Author Interview Friday on Writing Under Fire.

Author website:          http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/KathleenIrenePaterka

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/KPaterka

Amazon:                      http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Irene-Paterka

Barnes & Noble:         http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kathleen-irene-paterka

 

 

Posted in authors, editing, family, friends, Indie, journal, LGBT, love, memoir, old, personal growth, support, transgender, transition, writers, writing

My Husband is a Woman Now

Leslie Fabian pic

This is one of the most unusual  interviews I have ever done since starting Author Interview Friday.   As you can tell from the title, My Husband’s a Woman Now, it is quite an unusual story. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Leslie Hillburn Fabian, today’s Author. And because this is such an unusual topic, I’d like to change the order which I normally do my interviews. So hold on to your seats  readers, as I reverse the order. (just to keep you on your toes  LOL)

What shelf would we find your book if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

            With the ease of ordering on-line these days, I seldom go into book stores anymore, so I’ll have to create some shelf labels, to wit: LOVE STORIES; TRANSITION STORIES; RELATIONSHIP HELP; PERSONAL GROWTH & AWARENESS; MEMOIRS; TRANSGENDER…things along those lines.

Leslie, Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

From My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love by Leslie Hilburn Fabian, LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)

            “When I met my husband, he was wearing a dress.” I had occasionally made this surprising declaration during the first twenty years of my marriage to David. I’d been selective, of course, trusting my instincts to determine when and to whom it was safe to reveal this.

            Making this bold pronouncement, I’d been “outing” my husband as a cross-dresser, exposing his life-long secret of sometimes wearing women’s clothes. The statement was invariably shocking and confusing to others, but I had found it the least complicated, most direct way, of opening a conversation about who he truly was—or rather, who we thought he was.

            Then, in 2009, after twenty-one years together, we both realized that David was more than “just a cross-dresser” and he began moving in a much more audacious direction. His sporadic feminine expression, the act of cross-dressing, had morphed into a plan to become a woman full-time. This revelation was alarming to the majority of people in David’s life. They’d known him only as a man and it was unlikely they’d ever thought to question his undeniable masculinity, a perception based on observable details.

            …All who know David saw a skilled orthopedic surgeon, beloved and respected by hospital and office staff, patients, family, friends, and particularly by me, his wife. But the physical form, the skills, integrity, and brilliance of this individual—all that one could witness of his life—masked the inner workings of David R. Fabian, M.D.

            This transition story begins in middle age, in our early sixties. It is about the deconstructing of our previous life and the creation of a new one. My husband, David Robert Fabian, M.D., began living as a woman in the fall of 2011. This woman, Deborah Rae Fabian, has existed internally for all of David’s remembered life.

Did you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time’s?

            I have no formal training in writing, other than occasional weekend workshops and a class I attended years ago. All of the reading I’d done throughout my life, prior to beginning my book, contributed to the structure I used. There was, in fact, little structure in the beginning. My daily writing was essentially a “free-form” recording of what was occurring, both internally and around me. As I promoted my husband’s transition, maintaining a desire to remain in our marriage, emotional fluctuations were rampant.

            In the second year of my three-year writing process, the composition emerged. Working with a book shepherd was enormously helpful, as she guided me in structuring my work into the finished product that manifested. The book gradually took a chronological shape in four parts: our past, the process during the two transition years, journal entries from the first year after transition, and, finally, what I learned from the entire process.

As someone who’d never before written a book, how did you know how to start, once you believed you had something to say?

     After I’d written for a year and had accumulated 150 pages of writing, I believed I had a book-in-the-works, yet had no idea how to proceed. Fate stepped in; a book on self-publishing practically fell into my lap at a Barnes & Noble! In the midst of looking there for clues to my next steps, I read about the concept of Book Shepherds, people whose work it is to advise, encourage, and support writers. This led to four phone interviews and the hiring of my incredible book shepherd, Judith M. Weigle, Book Shepherd, Judy@JudyWeigle.com.

     For two more years, to the completion and publishing of my book, Judy was a God-send who kept me afloat and assisted me in creating my first literary work. I doubt I’d have done it without her!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Both of my parents (now deceased) aspired to write; each wrote beautiful, inspiring letters. While providing incentive, however, neither ever got serious enough to create a book.

            In the nineties, I was in graduate school for social work at Boston College, and a professor noted on one of my papers, “You are a gifted writer!” I’ve always loved writing and was pretty sure I did it well, and that short statement stuck with me until I got serious about it in my sixties. Then, with a profound transition occurring in my life, I felt compelled to write the on-going story as it unfolded. Voila! A love story emerged, and my first book was published.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

            I actually used a print-on-demand publisher called Virtual Bookworm. I consider this a “step above” self-publishing, as companies such as VBW provide myriad services, much as a traditional publisher does, for which the writer contracts. Their services are available both individually and packaged, and they are selective about what they publish.

            There are many reasons why I avoided the traditional route. Foremost was the warning of a friend who’s published several books and  found that the results of using a traditional publisher for one of them have been highly disappointing. The publisher made changes to her book with which she was not in agreement. She makes a pittance on the thousands of books sold, while the publisher makes much more. Further, the publisher now owns the book and she must buy it back if she wants to change publishers. She also warned me that it would likely take a couple of years to see my book in print, since I was a first-time, unknown author.

            I chose Virtual Bookworm after researching print-on-demand publishers and liking their services, packages, and responses to my inquiries regarding their work. They have been wonderful to work with; I highly recommend them.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

            As I said, I felt compelled to write this book, under the circumstances occurring in my life. I found the writing to be therapeutic and instructive to my own process, as I have for thirty years of daily journaling. I also knew that what I had to say could be helpful to others—to those going through similar processes, to anyone going through a huge transition, and also to those who might be curious about our situation and how my spouse and I handled it. There was no stopping my “Voice,” once the writing began!

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

            I developed this technique in graduate school, with lengthy papers to write, and it’s continued to work for me whenever I have a project of any kind. First I decide on a total time I want to write for that day. Then I prepare my work space, read something inspiring, and set a timer for one hour. I work until the timer goes off, then take a break. If I’m highly engaged in my work when an hour is up, I might continue working for another half-hour or to the completion of that piece, and I’ll set the alarm again for thirty minutes (to keep track of my total time). Then I get up and do something fun, completely unrelated to my writing, for fifteen to thirty minutes—e.g., walk the dog, grab something to eat, read something unrelated. Then I begin writing again, resetting the timer until I reach my total time for the day. This system promotes meeting my daily goal, as well as providing rewards for satisfying work.

 MY Husband is a Woman

Thank you Leslie.  This is a strange and compelling story. It took a lot of courage to expose your personal life, knowing that some people would never understand and attack your views and decisions.  Yet, it is something you felt compelled to write.  Reader, to learn more, go to her website: www.lesliefab.com

Below is a intro into her story and links to buy her book.

Nothing is more certain in life than change, and this change is bigger than most. In 2009, Leslie Fabian’s husband, David-an orthopedic surgeon who’d been privately cross-dressing for most of his life-realized that brief forays into the world as Deborah would never be enough.
This came as no surprise to Leslie. For two decades, cross-dressing had been a part of their lives; but she had witnessed her spouse’s devastation each time he returned to his male persona. To purchase, go to any website below. These are for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my publisher, Virtual Bookworm.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Husbands-Woman-Now-Transition/dp/1621374319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394127297&sr=8-1&keywords=9781621374312

(http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-husbands-a-woman-now-leslie-hilburn-fabian/1118828078?ean=9781621374312)

http://www.virtualbookworm.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH

Posted in authors, books, poetry, purpose, readers, support, writers, writing

The Life of a Poet – Thomas Noel Smith

Thomas Noel ,

Joanne:  Welcome Tom Noel Smith to Author Interview Friday.  Tell us a little about yourself.

Tom:  I am interested in promoting my book anywhere I can. I am a local Florida writer—Arcadia—I have written three books of poetry.  “’Dust’ and Other Poems,” “Words of the Times,” and “Impressions and Memories.”  “Impressions and Memories” has just recently been published.  I have also written several short stores,  not yet  published.  I am currently working on my fourth book of poetry as  well as two short stories.

Dust  Words of TimesImpressions and Memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanne: It is a pleasure to have you with us today. Do you have a background in writing or did you take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Tom:  I have a degree in English and a degree in Theatre.  Speaking strictly as an English major, I found myself fascinated by literary works of all genres.  In poetry I was fascinated by the works of such writers as Andrew Marvel, Matthew Arnold,  Longfellow, Emily Dickinson.  Of course I was enthralled by the master, Shakespeare.  I studied their words and listened to the rhythms of each piece.  It was like a grand symphony—words and rhythm, all working together to weave a wondrous spell on the mind, the heart, and the spirit. Yes, poetry touched me in that way and I wanted to be able to write with command of words and rhythm and music.

In terms of writing I was swept away by such writers as Dickens and Conrad.  I was fascinated by the works of Twain and Cooper, and even contemporary writers such as Pat Conroy fired my imagination.

But my background…I suppose life’s experiences demanded that I listen and hear and feel.  I spent the early years of my childhood in France, Germany, and England.  I lived in a number of states and I guess that the knowledge that we would be moving about every 18 months (or every 3 years, if we were lucky) taught me about the instability of the world around me, and that in itself must have sparked  the creative demon that came to live within me.  I suppose all of that guided my steps toward writing.

Joanne:  I think life’s experience can sometimes be our biggest inspiration.  You know the old saying, that truth is stranger than fiction. What other work have you done and how has it impacted your writing career?

Tom:  I began my experiences as a magician.  I did stage shows, close-up magic, mentalism.  I have worked in professional theatre.  I went to Ringling Brothers Clown College and travelled with a small, one ring circus for two years. I was a professional clown, I also did magic in the show.  I taught Theatre in the public schools, but I gave up teaching and went back to my first love—acting.  I now work as a film actor in Florida.

How has this impacted my writing?  I think that it is rare that any individual gets to experience so many different phases and faces; smiling faces, young faces, old faces, care-worn faces.  How can all these work experiences not impact my writing?  Just being an active part of life and all its experiences—all this must impact the manner in which one writes and the subjects about which he writes.

Joanne:  A magician, that is interesting.  Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

Tom:  Yes. I do have a special time.  I like to write late at night when all the world is sleeping.  The air is still.  There is a quiet that I may not find during the earlier hours.  I go into my office and I write for hours.

Joanne:  What does “finding your Voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?

Tom:  I think that our “voice” is always within us, just begging for the chance to free itself and find its way onto our pages.  Finding a voice, for me, is akin to listening to a melodic sound and then humming what’s within one’s head.  For me, it means casting away one’s inhibitions and allowing the passion that burns inside to have a vent, a way to express itself.  It means to me, that one must give himself permission to be himself.

I went to a poetry conference not too long ago, and there were poets who were telling me that I did not write in the modern style or the style that was accepted by the contemporary world.  At first I felt dejected. I felt as if I didn’t have any talent.  However, there was something within that telling me that if I heeded all those voices, I would not be true to myself. I would not be an individual poet.  I remember they kept asking me rather contemptuously if I just wanted to write for myself.  I took this as a rebuke.  Then I found myself.  Yes, I want to write for myself. If I am not pleased with my words how can I expect any reader to be pleased?  But I am writing with my own voice not someone else’s.  The key to finding one’s voice is to remember the words: “And this above all: to think own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Joanne:  I can’t agree with you more. First, we must write for ourselves, before our voice can be heard by the masses.  What inspires you to write when you’re feeling down or less confident than usual?

Tom:  This is the time the I do my best writing.  I don’t know why but when I close myself off and I begin to write and the words seem to come more easily, and I often surprise myself at what happens in those dark hours when I am down or upset.

Joanne: Why do you write?

Tom:  Why does the sun rise each morning? Why do we pursue dreams that could easily be deemed foolish.  I write because there is that within me that I cannot explain. The words must come out.  They aren’t always intelligent words, sometimes the words weave nonsensical tales, but all those words are a part of me and they beg for release.  I would be miserable if I did not write.  Isn’t acting enough?  Acting is a very concentrated art form, like writing.  But each art form is different, and while acting satisfies one aspect of fulfillment, I also need writing to make me complete.

Joanne:  Spoken like a true poet. Thank you Tom. You are not alone in your feeling. I have heard it said “Writer’s write because we have no other choice.”  We walk around with these characters or thoughts in our heads all the time. We are never really alone.

Readers, if you enjoy poetry, click here to buy Tom’s books on Amazon.

Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Noel-Smith/e/B004MIE73C/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

 

 

Posted in authors, books, conflict, environment, KIndle, love, memoir, political injustice, remember, support, writers, writing

In the Footsteps of a Palestinian Refugee

October, 2012-Ghazi holding up out of the box the first copy of his Memoir

Welcome Ghazi, you have such an amazing story. Your memoir is an important story, not just for you, but also for the thousands that others have struggled in countries with conflict affecting the daily lives of everyone.  I am so pleased to have you on Author Interview Friday.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Very early while in my teens. I had an unusual life. I saw first hand the struggle for Palestine Vs. Israel (1935-1948). Because of this, I felt impelled to record my experiences. I learned to write by doing it. My hopes are that the reader will feel the  direct channel to my emotions, feelings, thoughts, etc. I spoke directly to the reader naturally and from the heart.

What was the hardest part of writing your story?

Building the narrative coherently.

Have you done anything special to help promote your book?

So far, through personal appearances, talks to social or book clubs, sending out sale sheets to individuals or groups, organizations, etc. Joined social clubs: Facebook, twitter, Linked-in, associated website.

What has been your primary drive to write?

To believe in the worth of the story to many others; that it is going to do some good to a significant number of people. Also, that the process is beneficial emotionally (cathartic) to me and enjoyable at the same time.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Humanity is progressing toward better universal values, which will diminish wars and promotes harmony and peace.

Walking Out Into the Sunshine

Please the give the readers a peek into your story by giving us a small excerpt.

“I saw the fragmentation of the world along racial, ethnic, religious, or national lines is an outcome of past history, full at times of misconceptions and misunderstandings, that will not stand for long against the accelerating influence of the information and transportation revolutions worldwide; the result of which is that diverse groups of peoples are getting to know each other more quickly and intimately in positive ways, and work better together. I saw human beliefs about nationality, religion, and related identifications are useful practical models for good and righteous living, culturally intertwined, functions of time, history, and place. They are relative, subjective and evolving.”

 “It is in the context of celebrating diversity in humanity, combined with the underlying universality of man’s spirituality, manifesting faith, love, and brotherhood, that I have been able to liberate myself from much of past burdensome inner conflicts and traumas. I have done so with considerable effort over a long time, and against great odds. Yet, I feel blessed to have been able to do so.”

Windy City Publishers. Kindle Edition. …..

 

The website is:  www.ghaziqhassounphd.com

Buy Link: Print Edition:   Walking Out Into The Sunshine

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Amazon+ebooks+Ghazi+Hassoun

 

 

Posted in authors, books, disabilities, elder care, family, Indie, love, parents, purpose, readers, remember, schools, senior care, support, writers, writing

5 time author Pauline Hayton never intended to be a writer

Pauline Hayton

Pauline Hayton was born in 1946 in the north east of England and worked as a probation officer in her hometown of Middlesbrough before emigrating to the United States in 1991. She and her husband currently live in Naples, Florida with four abandoned cats who adopted them.

She started writing in 1996, after listening to her father’s war stories and reading his wartime diaries. She found them so interesting, she felt compelled to write her first book, A Corporal’s War.

Researching for this book, she discovered the true WWII story of a remarkable woman, Ursula Graham Bower and wrote Naga Queen. While researching Naga Queen she became friends with Ursula’s daughter through whom Hayton became involved in bettering the lives of the Naga tribes in north east India. This also led to a new book,Chasing Brenda, a lighthearted adventure in Nagaland, written after the author visited Magulong village where she and her husband support a school.

Myanmar:In my Father’s Footsteps. A Journey of Rebirth and Remembrance is a travelog of a trip taken in 2006. After recovering from two battles with cancer, Hayton wanted to do something to make her feel alive and decided to visit the places where her father fought the Japanese in Burma during WWII. It was a healing, life-changing journey for her.

Her latest book, If You Love Me, Kill Me,  is based on the author’s painful, personal experiences while caring for her elderly parents.

If you Love Me, Kill Me

You can purchase her books by going to her Amazon Author page  http://www.amazon.com/Pauline-Hayton/e/B003YGSLJY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Naga Queen by Pauline HaytonChasing BrendaA Corporal's WarIn my Fathers Footsteps

Joanne:  Pauline, it is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  You say you never intended to be a writer, yet you have five books published. How did that happen?

Pauline: Thanks for having me, Joanne.  It’s true. I still don’t enjoy being a writer; it’s such hard, lonely work, but the stories keep coming into my head, and I need to share them for other to enjoy them. I started writing when my dad began to tell me his WWII stories. I was 55 at the time and was living in Florida after emigrating from England.  I thought them so interesting that I wanted to write them down for my grandchildren to read. They had only ever known their grandfather as a doddery old man. By reading his stories, they would discover that in his younger days he was a dynamic leader and a brave hero. His memory was detailed and incredibly accurate when he was telling me of his experiences at Dunkirk. Then he brought out the tattered diary he wrote when he was sent to India, and I discovered there were detailed records available at the Public Records Office in London and at the Imperial War Museum in London that I used to describe the bigger picture in which my dad’s personal story was taking place. The project blossomed into a book.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Pauline:   I took a Writer’s Digest novel writing course which helped a lot and read books on writing. Before that, the only writing I had done was as a probation officer when I wrote reports about defendants for the courts.

Joanne:  How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Pauline:  It took three years. After almost 40 rejections, I self-published. My dad was growing old and before he died, I wanted him to hold his book in his hands.  

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Pauline:  No. When I was researching for “A Corporal’s War”, I came across another amazing WWII story of a young British woman who was living with the Naga tribes of NE India, doing anthropological work. She was recruited by a clandestine unit of the British Army, V Force, to spy on the Japanese who were expected to invade India. She received a medal for her activities. I knew immediately that her story would be my second book, which I called Naga Queen.  Writing this book changed my life.

Joanne:  Naga Queen changed your life? How so?

Pauline:  I became friends with Trina, the Naga Queen’s daughter, when I researched her mother’s private papers. Trina moved to New Delhi, India and became involved in the neglected Naga tribes’ welfare. She told me how sad she was that one village school looked like it was going to close, because it was so remote and most of the villagers were so poor, they could not afford to pay teachers to teach the 100 school-age children in the village. That village was Magulong, the school was Mount Kisha English School. This village was Ursula Graham Bower’s (The Naga Queen’s) favorite Naga village, and it was where she married her British Army officer husband in a true Naga ceremony. In 2007, my husband and I took on the job of sponsoring the school. Now all the children in the village are being educated. We have been there twice. The village is like paradise, well worth the eleven hour journey from the nearest town of any size, in a four-wheel drive vehicle, over crumbling mountain roads, followed by a five hour hike up a mountain. The villagers treat us like family, and indeed to us, they are our extended family. 

Joanne:   That is a fascinating story and I can see how those people have changed you forever. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, If you Love Me, Kill Me, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore and what is the premise to the story?

Pauline: It would probably be in general fiction.  I hope If You Love Me, Kill Me will help anyone going through tough times caring for a loved one to forgive themselves for not being perfect in their care. All you can do is your best. I didn’t have a support system during the years I cared for my parents. Get one in place before you become so worn out that you don’t have the energy to do it.

Joanne:  Let’s talk a little about the writing process.  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Pauline:  No. After numerous rejections, enough to paper a wall, and being a cancer survivor who wanted to ensure my stories were available for others to enjoy, I self-published. I don’t waste time trying to deal with regular publishers.

Joanne:  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Pauline:  I published through Create Space, a part of Amazon.com. I am delighted with their service and would highly recommend them.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Pauline:  I wrote If You Love Me, Kill Me in first person. It is a very personal story interwoven with some fiction, based on my 7 years of caring for my elderly parents.

Joanne:  Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.

Pauline:   I generally write in third person and usually stay in chronological order. However, I wrote my dad’s story, A Corporal’s War first of all in third person then rewrote it as a memoir because, in first person, it felt more personal and poignant. If You Love Me, Kill Me I also wrote in first person for the same reason. As in If You Love Me, Kill Me, the book I am currently writing will have some flashbacks.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Pauline:  Building the story itself is the easiest part, especially since a psychic told me I had to write about my own life in order to have success in my writing. I’m afraid I laughed at her and dismissed such an idea. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in my life. Nevertheless, I wrote Chasing Brenda and If You Love Me, Kill Me, two stories based on personal experiences, as is the book I am currently working on. Once I decide to write a particular story, I let the idea ruminate in my subconscious and after several weeks, the storyline and title suddenly appear. Then I start pounding my keyboard. I find writing the synopsis and outline difficult and ask my writing friends to advise me about how to improve and tighten them up.  

Joanne: What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Pauline: Marketing is my weakness. (Laughs) In my twenties, I once took a vocational guidance course as I had no idea, and therefore no direction, on what to do in my life. I scored the lowest marks possible for sales and marketing. The only things I do are to tell my Facebook friends when I have published a new book, hand out bookmarks I have designed when I meet people who are interested in my writing and ask Tom Witt of the Naples Daily News to review my books. I must say I have noticed my Amazon.com sales are slowly increasing in a few countries, which I assume is from word of mouth advertising.  

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Pauline:  Don’t let the big picture of writing a novel make you freeze. Start with a vignette or a scene and build from there.

Joanne: I too was the primary care giver of my father, so I can relate to this story. I know many others will find your book encouraging and helpful when they take on this task so foreign to most of us.  Can you share a few paragraphs from If You Love Me, Kill Me, to wet out appetite?

I half carried and half dragged her into her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Her left side seemed paralyzed.

“I won’t be a minute. I’m going to call 911.”

Waiting for the ambulance, I held her hand, stroked her hair—and silently cursed God.

   How cruel can you be, you sick bastard? She’s blind, deaf, can’t walk, and now you’ve given her a stroke! Couldn’t let her die peacefully in her sleep, could you? No, you just have to keep heaping on the shit. I despise you!

The paramedics arrived, and I took them to Mum’s room.

“I think she’s had a stroke.”

They took in her distorted face, asked questions, and generally agreed it looked like a stroke.

“Which hospital do you want us to take her to?”

I was flummoxed. I hadn’t been expecting the question, thinking the paramedics would make that decision. I was too distraught to think straight.

“I don’t know.”

“The Community Hospital has the best reputation for treating heart and stroke patients,” said one paramedic.

“Oh no, I don’t want her to go there!” I blurted out. “They killed my father.”

He looked at me questioningly.

“They infected him, and he died,” I said.

“It’s where I’d take my mother,” the paramedic persisted. “It will give her the best chance.”

Overwrought, I kept looking at my mother and back to the paramedic not knowing the best thing to do. Close to tears, I surrendered my power and acquiesced to his suggestion. They quickly gathered her up and carried her from the house.

Posted in children, economy, family, friends, laborers, love, nurses, plumbers, retail, service, support, thanks, writers

Cheers for our Laborers

Happy Labor Day.

For most people, this is a day off, to spend with family, to relax on a beach, or to knock out a round of golf.  But all laborers in America are not off on this day. Many still work their regular jobs, while we go about our merry way.

The grocer
The grocer

The purpose of this day is to honor them, and the lucky ones that got a day off. Everyone thinks to honor the “heroes”, the fireman, the police, the first responders. But the everyday service people don’t always get the thanks they deserve.

the plumber
the plumber

Why, I ask? Why do they labor?  Most labor to provide for their families, to put food on the table, to pay that doctor bill. Hopefully they are working a job that they enjoy. Many are not so lucky. Many do it out of need – they cringe every day they get out of bed to face another day at a job they hate. This day – let’s say “thanks” for sacrificing their life to do what they have to do. Head into work on your next workday with a smile on your face knowing someone cares – and thanks you.

the retail store clerk
the retail store clerk

Then there are those that serve out of labors of love. Maybe they are volunteers, or maybe they draw a salary – but their purpose is clear. They love to serve. Perhaps you a nurse or a nurses aide,  thank you for the love and care you give your patients. Perhaps you volunteer or run a non-profit organization that serves the needy, the challenged, the high-risk youth. Thank you for your service.

nurses and aides
nurses and aides

So today, or tomorrow, or the next day – keep this in mind. They deserve your thanks.  I customarily thank a serviceman or woman every time I see one in uniform. This week – make it your pledge to thank the laborers that keep America moving, food in your mouth, clothes on your back, your home running smooth.

the dry cleaner
the dry cleaner

How many of you will say thinks to this week?

Posted in authors, characters, children, editing, love, parents, support, writers

Author Marc Simon brings The Leap Year Boy

Marc Simon
Marc Simon

I had the pleasure of meeting Marc Simon last February at Marco Island’s AuthorFest.I have read his story, The Leap Year Boy and highly recommend it. It is with great joy that I have him with us today. We’ll get right to the questions:

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Marc: I used to be in advertising as a copywriter in creative departments and as a freelancer. I used to write TV and radio commercials, print ads, brochures, web site copy, etc. Writing ad copy gives me a sense of how to be economical with words, as well as be colorful in descriptions of people and places. Also, I used to write and perform comedy. Doing comedy well requires a good sense of timing. I think there’s a carry over to fiction.  But as far as having a degree in creative writing or journalism, no. I did take some workshops at a writing school in Boston called Grub Street. They were quite helpful, and I met a lot of fine writers along the way.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Marc: Actually, no. I like to write plays, and last year, my one act play titled Sex After Death was a winner in Naples in the Sugden Reader’s Theater New Play Contest. Also, I don’t write only novels. I’ve written and had published several short stories. But I guess that’s still fiction.

Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Marc: You would find my novel, The Leap Year Boy on the fiction shelf. It’s literary historical fiction with a touch of magical realism.

Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Marc: My situation is a combination of the two, so let me explain. I do have a literary agent, Joelle Delbourgo, president of Delbourgo Associates in New York. I met her at a writing conference in Miami in 2010. The conference offered attendees an opportunity to have a short story or a chapter of a novel reviewed by an agent, editor or a writer. I had modest expectations, but low and behold, she liked my chapter so much she asked to see the entire novel. I sent it to her and three months later she offered to represent me. After I received about 25 “glowing” rejections from the traditional publishers, she sent my novel to Untreed Reads, a publisher that does eBooks only. They “bought” the novel pretty quickly.

After my novel was published as an ebook, I found that many people wanted a traditional paperback.  Since my publisher doesn’t do paperbacks, I decided to self-publish the print version. I had a graphic designer prepare the cover and the inside pages. I used a company called Lightning Source as my printer. They are a print on demand company that also distributes worldwide, so in my contract with them, they distribute my novel to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Lightning Source is very professional and I think a step above many self-publishing companies in terms of quality.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Marc: I think every story calls for its own voice—unless you are writing a series, like a detective series or maybe a romance series. My novel is in 3rd person, past tense and takes the POV of several characters. My stories in many cases are first person, which makes switching POV in the story a no-no.

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Marc: For me, the hardest part is sitting my butt down in the chair, shutting off the internet and writing. I don’t do outlines. I let the characters and the setting build the story. I’m always surprised at what happens after I struggle for an hour or so.

Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Marc: In my opinion, a new writer should just sit down and write and crank something out, whether it’s short story, a play or a novel and not look back until a first draft is done. There will be plenty of time to revise. And I recommend getting feedback from only a few people, and people who are not going to pat your on the back and tell you that you’re the next Faulkner, because quite frankly, you’re not. Only then should you go back and revise, revise, revise and rewrite.

Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Marc: The Leap Year Boy is set in Pittsburgh in the early 1900’s. It is the story of a working class family and an extraordinary boy named Alex Miller, born in the family’s home on February 29, 1908. What makes Alex so remarkable is that even though he’s full term, he weighs just two pounds, one ounce and is nine inches long.

Despite his size, Alex is perfectly healthy. However, his body grows at one-fourth the rate of a normal child—so that after one year, he’s the size of a three-month-old—but his mind grows much quicker. Eventually, so do certain parts of his body and his ability to do various and unusual things with them. As Alex’s special abilities become apparent, those around him see him as both a miracle child and a freak of nature—a freak to exploit.

How Alex saves himself from the designs of others—his religious fanatic grandmother, who sees him as the new Messiah; his money-grubbing immigrant doctor, who wants to put him on display; his unstable nanny, who believes Alex is her lost child; and his father and father’s mistress, who are eager to tap Alex’s commercial potential—is at the heart of the novel.

Ultimately, a family that has been fractured by ambition and circumstance rediscovers loyalty and love, thanks to Alex’s courage.

Joanne:  This sounds so interesting. Where can readers get your book?

The Leap Year Boy
The Leap Year Boy

Marc: It is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Leap-Year-Marc-Simon/dp/0615802907/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375201891&sr=1-1

Joanne: Thank you Marc. If you may, please share with the readers a sneak peak into your book.

The Leap Year Boy

Chapter 1

Alex Miller was born on February 29, 1908, at 12:01 a.m., precisely nine months and a day after he was conceived. He weighed a mere two pounds, one ounce and measured just nine inches long, yet despite his size, his breathing was relaxed, his heart beat like a metronome and his blue eyes were active and alert.

Alex entered the world headfirst in the home of Abe and Irene Miller at 707 Mellon Street, Pittsburgh, less than 20 minutes after Irene had gone into labor. Ida Murphy, Irene’s mother, was in attendance, not so much out of concern for her daughter or the welfare of her nascent grandchild, whom she hoped would be her first female grandchild; rather, Ida wanted to see firsthand why her daughter had engaged the services of a medical doctor, since she herself had delivered without an attending physician during the births of her own three children, the third stillborn, each more agonizing than the one before it.

Ida felt a pang of jealousy when her daughter delivered so quickly and relatively pain free. Not that she didn’t love her daughter, in her own guarded way, or wish her well, but still, she thought, suffering builds character. If she’d had to go through it, why should her daughter get off so easy?

When she saw the tiny baby, she remarked to the doctor, “That’s it?”

Irene’s physician, Dr. Malkin, shrugged and assured her that it was indeed “it.”

Malkin was a hairy, bear-like Russian/Jewish immigrant with filmy pince-nez glasses he wore on the tip of his pointy nose. The veracity of his medical credentials was somewhat suspect, had anyone cared to investigate, since his professional certificates were printed in Cyrillic type and framed in clouded glass on the walls of his so-called surgery, which happened to be on the second floor of a cold-water walkup. He served the Miller family as general practitioner, pediatrician and dentist.

“But it’s so small. Are you sure there aren’t more babies in there somewhere?” Irene admonished him to keep looking, that there had to be one or two more, look at the size of the thing, it was no bigger than the runt in a litter of pigs. It was all she could do to keep from looking herself. But when Malkin shook his head no, that’s it, Ida put her hands on her wide hips and said, “Well, in that case, doctor, there’s no use me dilly-dallying around here anymore, is there?” She washed her hands with rough soap in the basin on the dresser next to the bed, put on her gloves, quickly kissed her daughter on her damp forehead, harrumphed at the tiny baby boy and went downstairs. As she put on her coat, she told Abe Miller, who was waiting with a cigar in one hand and a beer in the other, that his wife had given him another boy, and that she was fine, and he should go on upstairs but be ready for a surprise—and no thank you, she didn’t care to spend the night at their house, she was perfectly capable of walking home by herself or catching a trolley.

Abe bent down to look at the baby. His cigar fell out of his mouth. The baby blanket quickly smoldered until he tamped it out.

Malkin came by the next morning, expecting to find the teensy baby dead in its crib, but there it was, alive and kicking, nursing and crying and eliminating like any other newborn, albeit in miniscule quantities. He asked after Irene as well, who happily reported that she felt so good, she was ready to go down to Rooney’s for a ham sandwich and a bottle of lager.

Posted in authors, editing, fiction, support, WFWA, writers

Editing Tip: 10 Words to Search For in Your Manuscript

Posted by Juliet Madison

I found these tips on Juliet Madison’s website. Thank you Juliet.  This is  a great tip.

When I’m editing, and before I do a final read through and tweaking of my manuscript, I use Microsoft Word’s ‘find’ feature to search for the following ten words. These words can usually be deleted in order to tighten up the writing and focus on ‘showing vs telling’.

1. almost

Sometimes ‘almost’ can work but often it’s not needed. Eg: With his sunken eyes and pallor he almost looked like a ghost. An example where it may work could be: She almost slammed the door in his face. Or instead of that, it could be changed to: She resisted the urge to slam the door in his face.

2. very

Usually there is a stronger word available to replace the need for ‘very’, or the phrase can be changed completely to something else. Eg: ‘very sad’ could become ‘despondent’. Eg: It was very sunny. Better: It was sunny. Even better: She squinted as the sun’s glare rebounded off the pavement and hit her eyes.

3. started

When this is used alongside ‘to’, as in ‘started to’, it’s probably not needed. Eg: She started to get dressed. Better: She got dressed. Even better: She zipped her jeans and put on a t-shirt.

4. began

This is similar to ‘started’. Eg: It began to rain. Better: Droplets of rain dampened her hair, or: He flicked on the windscreen wipers as rain blurred the road ahead.

5. stood up

Remove the word ‘up’. If someone stood, it’s obviously up.

6. sat down

Remove the word ‘down’. If someone is going from a standing position to a sitting position it is obviously ‘down’. Except if the person is lying down and then changes to a sitting position.

7. heard/hear

Removing ‘heard’ or ‘hear’ gives the reader a more vivid experience. Eg: She heard someone call her name. Better: A voice called her name. Eg: I could hear the rain pelting against the window. Better: rain pelted against the window.

8. saw/see

Same as with ‘heard’. Eg: She saw his face through the window. Better: His eyes glared at her through the window. Eg: I could see him coming towards me. Better: He came towards me.

9. felt

Telling a reader what a character felt is not as powerful as showing them. Eg: She felt relaxed and happy. Better: She leaned back in the chair and a smile eased onto her face.

10. just

Eg: If she could just find a way to get through to him, he might understand. Eg: “The shop is just around the corner.”

Posted in authors, conflict, parents, poetry, political injustice, support, writers

Local Poet visits Writing Under Fire

It is with with great pleasure that I have my first poet on Author Interview Friday. Dr. Nick Kalvin has an interesting story and his unconventional poetry is thought provoking and sure to elicit an opinion – although every one’s may not be the same. He is a deep soul. Nick, please tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Nick Kalvin

Nick : I was a Depression baby, June 1933. Mom was Mary Kasarda, US born daughter of coal miner-tenant farmer Slavic-Rus immigrant. She left school in 7th grade to help her family. She met Dad, Nicholas Kalvin, in Lakewood Ohio St. Gregory choir. Both loved books, music, were multilingual. Dad was born here also, but raised from infancy in Eastern Czechoslovakia, educated with degrees in teaching and music, came back to the US in his twenties, where he met Mom. Maternal Grandmother Ann wrote and Dad did the songs for musical plays performed on the church basement stage.

Raised in Lakewood Ohio, went to Medical school at Ohio State in Columbus, 1955-59. Active duty at the Naval School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola Florida, was a Flight Surgeon,’60-’63, served aboard two aircraft carriers. I served last, with VFP-62, Navy Recon Photo Squadron which won the Presidential Unit Citation for work done in the Cuban Missile Crisis. I did eye surgery residency at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, was also a pilot examiner for the FAA, non-commercial pilots for 20-30 years. I have 5 kids sons, 1 daughter and have 9 grandkids plus.one on the way. My wife, Judy C.(Greene) Kalvin of Lockhaven PA., is an ophthalmic technician. I was Collier County’s first eye surgeon, practised 34 years, 1966-2000, also a past president of NCH Staff, CC Medical Society and Florida Society of Ophthalmology.

My hobbies inlclude writing, tropical fruit trees, tennis. I used to sail, scuba dive, snow ski, travel when in practice.

Joanne: When did you begin to write?

Nick: Before I could, according to Mom, She said at 3-5, I’d use a book-rack footstool as a desk, scribble and sketch with a pencil. When she’d call, she said I usually refused to come, saying “I busy!” Actually, I did some poems in high school, a few Edgar Allen Poe like short stories. Was an editor for my high school paper, wrote and presented medical papers on my research.

Joanne: What got you started writing again?

Nick: I found it a release during the terrible years 2002 to 2005, when we had some serious issues with our children. Residential rehab, bills, legal, that broke our financial back. We lost our Naples home in 2009. . . Lots of suffering, regrets, betrayal. Judy and I went to parental support groups, learned a lot about each other, got closer despite taxing times. Suffering served as motivation. Suffering makes fictional characters find wisdom, endure and develop, just as in real life.

Joanne: That is more trauma than any family should have to go through .As writers, we have the ability to create illusions or to tell stories. What makes you want to create?

Nick: To express awe and thanks for life, to be useful, express feelings and to think. I praise and recall good human beings and to bring attention to those that are not . . .the controllers, dividers, the liars those churning envy into jealousy, then into class/racial hatred to elevate themselves into positions of controlling elite. There they make decisions based on their own desires for vengeance and imagined wrongs. Dad’s observations of pre-war Europe ring true today. Back in the 40’s and 50’s, he predicted, quite accurately, the current American political and financial quagmire brought about by Socialists and Collectivists, racial and religous fanatics. Dad was not alone. For example:

PHILOSPHER HEGEL: “History teaches that people and government never learn anything from history.”

ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS said, “Government is like fire, a necessary servant to be controlled, uncontrolled, becomes a cruel and fatal master” I think it was Jefferson.

Joanne: I know your preferred genre is poetry. Tell us a little about that.

NIck: Poetry is a distillation, concentration in rhyming brevity. Almost all mine are based on facts, history, current events, political trends, my physician experiences. Most are wake-up calls. With a few lines or a page, observations, events can be compressed in the same memorable fashion used since the Stone age. One poem, VITIMOLOGY,IRONIC IMMORTALITY, in a page and a quarter is the gist of almost 2 pages of newsprint.

My works vary . . .inspirational, expository, fiction, entertainment, history, news, opinion, personal or family history. I prefer rhyme and rhythm, going against obvious academic and editorial faddish prejudice against such as this time. I’ve been criticized, locally for Limerick form used with serious topics. Some of the critics in my old group seemed to enjoy serious topics in rap “music.”

I have several unfinished short stories based on my own experiences and two started novels, one based on my only malpractice experience . . .later dismissed. It was from a man who quite likely murdered his wife and got away with it, right here in Collier County, back in the 80’s. I talked with you about it once.

Joanne: I am really unfamiliar with the process of writing poetry. Does it stay in a particular point of view as in fiction writing?

Nick: No, point of view depends on the character and the story told. Some are first person, as in mine. Most fictional ones are from a narrative or observer viewpoint. I make use of dialogue, quotes, even quotes within quotes. Stimulating topics, bit of poems, pop out from newspaper articles, TV news, memories, rarely dreams. I enjoy browsing through my medical library. Occasionally I re-read my old med school, Navy or surgical training textbooks to be sure the facts, concepts are correct in poems or stories.

Joanne: Do you have a particular time of day or place that your inspiration comes to you best?

Nick: I use some of most mornings after chores on a 2 acre rural county home. I care for our own lawn and trees with hand tools and a push gasoline lawn mower. Ideas come, as I work or drive. Once in a while, I will read and write in bed if I can’t sleep. Rarely, I’ll wake up from a dream to jot down an idea or scene.

As for places and techniques, I start writing on the patio, mostly mornings, with dog at my side, untamed woods beyond the fence, a small cigar and black coffee. I begin with longhand in a notebook or tablet….revising until the work gels, several times, shifting stanzas. I try for a dramatic ending. Later, I type it into my Documents, usually edit several times. Years later I redo some published, that I once thought perfect. I date revisions, to avoid confusion with older versions. It appears wise to set work aside, let it sit or cool, go back later for a fresh look.

Joanne: How do you handle rejections to your submissions?

Nick: It is frustrating to have a good piece turned down. One medical journal has a poetry section. Most of the poems published are just unconnected phrases, free association, without rhythm and rhyme . . . some are hard to understand the message and sound awkward when read aloud, just awful. Today there’s a faddish prejudice against rhyme. (I sent in some poems on misogyny, for a special edition on torture, genocide, victims of fanaticism and war that fit right into the issue’s theme. I read some of those to our local writer’s group, Marco Island Writers. One was THE WITNESS, about a girl who sees her drug crazed father beat and kill her Mom, and testifying in court. The last line reads, “Please Judge, can you send my father to the electric chair?” I saw the reaction at MIW, and heard a few gasps. Of course, it and the others were not published in that issue of my medical journal, despite appreciation from “submissions” people, who unfortunately, did not edit the poetry section.)

I had a former English professor and poet read about 50 of my poems several years ago. He was not impressed. He said, “You haven’t found your voice, was too choppy, compressed, and struggled with word order to achieve rhyme, was old fashioned. I followed his suggestions. I had three poems published in Florida Weekly during two contests shortly afterward. One poem was the runner-up in Fall 2012 Florida Weekly’s contest of prose or poetry, done from a FW picture prompt.

Joanne: Are there particular books that you have read lately that inspired you?

Nick: FAR EAST OF THE SUN by Janina Chung hit nerves in me. Her family and mine were from the same area. My Dad saw much of what she wrote . . .political control, persecution, prison-labor camps, violence by Communists, Quislings, Nazi Socialists and cruel bureaucrats.

THE TRUTH ABOUT MUHAMMAD (Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion) by Robert Spencer. It’s a terrifying, truthful account. Muslim extremists will, no doubt, case WWIII.

LUCY, a story about a girl who was half ape, her tribulations, the hate, threats she inspired, the implications for social norms and beliefs.

Joanne: Tell our readers a little about your poems and your style of writing.

Nick: I’m like the little boy who, unlike the “politically correct” crowd, tells the Emperor he is, in fact, naked. Like that child, many of my poems focus on things that are unjust, stupid, cruel, selfish, dangerous to life and freedom. Some are family history, memorable experiences and teachings.

Joanne: We know that the writing process can be a lonely and sometimes discouraging process if you are looking from motivation from outside sources. What are your motivations?

Nick: My motivations are to create something, to discover or to expose the truths. Several artists in various fields have said that the art of creation is really an innate need to worship by imitating the Creator. One example is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I’m driven to write about the things that I see or find out about that disturb me. A visiting poet at FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University) who came to give a reading, said if his poems disturb the reader or stir up critical thought, he has done his jobWe all seek attention, appreciation, want to show off our works . . .from the first sketches or attempts to write until we die. I guess I want to leave some of me behind when I’m gone. Our gift of imagination has to be used, encouraged or it withers.

Joanne: What kind of training or formal education have you received in writing?

Nick: I have attended several writing/author seminars put on by the Naples Press Club I belonged to Crossed Quills…a critique group, now defunct, met weekly for two years or so.

I do get help and background from the following books:

The Art of Readable Writing by Rudolph Flesch, which contains a graphic scheme to measure such depending on “personal words,” syllables per 100 words, words per sentence.

Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood

Elements of Style by Strunk and White

History’s Timeline by Cooke, Kramer et al

Lure of the Limerick by Wm. Baring-Gould

The Student Bible with notations and references by Yancy and Stafford

Beyond Star Trek by LM Krauss

Joanne: How has your publishing experience been?

Nick: I’d love to publish an entire book or two of my own poetry, but find that to be difficult. Poetry books are not profitable for publisher or author. I might submit an E-book of poems to Amazon. Publications containing my poems include:

FLORIDA WEEKLY, 3 poems in 2 contests last two years. got second place overall in 3012.

INTERNATIONAL WHO’S WHO IN POETRY, 2012, Judy Lynn Editor, Los Angeles

BEST POEMS AND POETS OF 2012 ,World Poetry Movement, Suzanne Hillary, Utah

GREAT POETS ACROSS AMERICA, National poetry month, 2012, Brooke Alexander Ed.

STARS IN OUR HEARTS,. World Poetry Movement 2011 Suzanne Hillary Editor, Utah

Joanne: Nick, please share with us a couple of your poems and tell the readers where they can go to read or purchase more.

Nick: You can go to my website or any of the books above to read some of my work. http://www.PoetryPoliticallyIncorrect.com.

all 4 books

VICTIMOLOGY, CORRUPTION

(this is one of a series of poems)

“You look like you were always tough, well-built and tall,

Heck, I bet, in school, no one ever bothered you at all,

Shoved you into lockers down at the far end of the hall,

Or tripped you, when teachers were too far away to call.

You can’t know how much I’ve been pushed around and abused.

Outside school, I was teased, became a punching bag they used.

They chased me, hid my violin, threw mud and pulled my hair,

Then, they’d all laugh, when I said, ‘Guys, you’re neither nice nor fair.’

The Principal asked me if I had any proof which I could produce?

Unlucky me, they didn’t hit hard enough to leave much bruise.

Mom went to school, complained again, in the office just last week.

Grandpa said, ‘Stand your ground…you can’t always turn the other cheek.’

In class they frowned when I’d raise my and to provide an answer,

In gym, their teams quit choosing me, like I had some disease or cancer.

They stole my lunch money, even though I noticed they got theirs for free.

They sure loved making life one long misery, for the kids like me.

Well, Sheriff, guess I should say I’m so sorry, but I’m really not.

Truthfully, it felt good, to see them kneel, cry like babies, while I shot.”

OUR LADY CARDINAL’S OBSESSION

For several days now, pecking at our panes,

A scruffy, lady Cardinal just can’t abstain,

Nor her compulsive, odd behavior somehow explain.

Is she darkly obsessed, or simply featherbrained?

Perhaps, like us, poor creature can’t, or will not restrain,

Choosing acts that logic surely deems insane,

Over duties, likely, even life itself sustain,

And wastes divine gifts on weird urges unrestrained.

Does this bird perceive a rival in her domain?

Love, kiss her glassy image? Is a bird that vain?

All day long, this poor one ignores water and grain,

Like us, her compulsions not all ever ascertained.

Why choose destructive pathways in life’s vast terrain,

Ignore the safe, productive ones, with obvious disdain,

Blindly passing so much good our lives do contain,

Hung-up, side-tracked, (ordained?) to provide her own pain?