New Book! BEWILDERMENT by Michael Onofrey

Cover of Bewilderment A Novel by Michael OnofreyLast September we had a special guest post from Michael Onofrey, an author I met through the Five On The Fifth Magazine‘s authors group. His post, About Writing, let us peek into his writing life. Today, I am happy to announce his novel Bewilderment is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be officially released on April 17th and I was given a digital copy to review.

MICHAEL ONOFREY was born and raised in Los Angeles. Currently he lives in Japan. Over seventy of his short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, in print and online, in such places as Cottonwood, The Evansville Review, Natural Bridge, Snowy Egret, Terrain.org, Weber–The Contemporary West, and The Williamauthor Michael Onofrey bio pic and Mary Review. Among anthologized work, his stories have appeared in Creativity & Constraint (Wising Up Press, 2014), In New Light (Northern Initiative for Social Action, 2013), Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), and Imagination & Place: An Anthology (Imagination & Place Press, 2009). He is the author of “Bewilderment,” Tailwinds Press.

BEWILDERMENT

By Michael Onofrey

four stars

 

Reading Bewilderment took me on a true adventure. From an uncomfortable homecoming in Los Angeles to a sweat-soaked bicycle tour of India; from an artist’s studio in Los Angeles to a voyeur’s job in Pakistan; I followed Wade’s life from the most mundane to the most unusual with an even, honest, matter-of-fact account in Wade’s refreshingly open world view.

The feel of the book brings you into the life of a longtime traveler with focus on the most basic human needs: the danger of unclean water; gathering sustenance; finding shelter; a life spent relying on strangers and not building sustained relationships. Mr. Onofrey’s use of these detailed daily needs highlights the contrasts of Wade’s life as a traveler and the life he tries to create back home.

I enjoyed how the structure of the novel also lends to the telling. In the beginning, the chapters alternate between Wade’s life after returning home to care for his sick mother and events during his previous bike tour of India. As the story progresses, the format changes and Wade’s travels become stories he tells to his lover in the present. By the end of the novel the past and present appear to intertwine.

Though I found the detail, format, and crisp conversational language engaging, I often felt kicked out of the story by the present-tense telling. I felt like the story slipped from past tense to present tense in a jarring way. I also noticed a couple of moments when the story head-hops to Wade’s girlfriend which took me from the story, but only for a moment. I think it was part of the honesty of the telling and Wade’s world view, but there were a few times I thought, “That was interesting, but he just dropped it.” However, none of this stopped me from hungrily turning the pages.

Bewilderment is a unique read with a skillfully developed protagonist that pulls you into the life of a traveler and leaves you pondering your own life experiences.

* I received a digital copy of Bewilderment in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Did you like this book review? Any tips to make it better? Would you like to see more book reviews on Experience Writing? Please let me know in the comments.

Book Spine Poems: Happy #NationalPoetryMonth

This morning, I came across an article in School Library Journal called

Here’s How You Make a Book Spine Poem with Your Students/Patrons by Travis Jonker

The concept is simple, fun and it inspired me. Here are my poems, created from my bookshelf in celebration of National Poetry Month. I hope you will join me and link to your poems in the comments.

Blind Sided: a short poem made of stacked books

Blind Sided

Beyond good and evil

Back roads inside the criminal mind

Blind side our kind

Mothers Talk: a poem in three books

Mothers Talk

In the company of cheerful ladies

The devil’s teeth serving up the harvest

Paper and Fire Don't Mix: a poem in three books

Paper And Fire Don’t Mix

The people of paper

Civilization and its discontents

The girl who played with fire

The Happy Evening News: a poem in four books

The Happy Evening News

Who’s writing this

furiously happy

evening news?

Bad monkey!

Stained Glass Death Switch: a poem in five books

Stained Glass Death Switch

The book of illusion’s stained glass death switch

Crowns what the dead know

The Unforgettable Photograph: a poem in eight books

The Unforgettable Photograph

The unforgettable photograph:

point zero; nowhere wild.

Chop wood, carry water

where there is no doctor.

When you are engulfed in flames,

teach yourself to dream the dream of Scipio.

Author Interview with Diana Rose Wilson – November: It’s not just #NaNoWriMo. Don’t forget #Movember.

pumpkins with mustaches

Visit saralukecreative to get your mustache stickers

bio pic of Diana Rose Wilson

Last month, author Diana Rose Wilson shared her great writing tips and tricks in her guest post Be Outrageous!  Now, just in time for her favorite holiday, Halloween, she has agreed to answer my questions about her writing, her websites and her love of mustaches.

We met at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference (#PNWC16), so let’s start off with: When did you first know you were a writer?

I got the writing bug when I was in about 3rd grade. Between reading The Black Stallion and Watership Down, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I tried it up through high school but knew by then I didn’t have the chops to make a living doing it. In my twenties I wrote fan fiction and played text based role-playing games but couldn’t get anything published. I hung up my pen and went to the corporate world until a few years ago when I decided to try again with some life behind me.

Do you write every day? Tell us a little about your writing practice.

I do write every day but not always on a story. When I’m in story mode, I try to put down about 3k words. I love when I can get 5k but sometimes it’s more like 500. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I still play text-based role-playing games. When I’m in editing mode I don’t keep a word count and I will spend two or three hours ‘writing’ on the game.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (someone who outlines and plans or someone who writes by the seat of her pants)?

I was a plotter when I first started and then I went to pants’ing and now I think I’m a plantster. I like to have my characters fleshed out and some ideas of the story’s direction but I string the plots together a little like Christmas lights. Bulb by bulb. Right now I have a wide reaching story so I have a lot of wire to put bulbs in. I know where they need to go, I just never know what color light is getting hooked in next. Maybe I’m a new mutation: The Stringer.

What is your best trick for getting more words on the page?

When I can’t get a scene or plot to move forward, or when I’m completely blocked. I physically make myself type. I have sat down and wrote myself a pep talk until the scene started to form in my mind and I could transcribe it. I have written random character descriptions and histories and drawn up family bloodlines just to put fingers on keys to write something.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from music. Sometimes a song will just strike me just right and I’ll get an idea for a scene or a character or it will help drive me through a less than interesting point in a story.

Who have you found most influential to your writing?

My husband absolutely is the most influential. Not only because he’s a sounding board for all my ideas but he really pushed me to do what I love. He always encouraged me to write, even when I had completely thrown away the idea that I had ‘it’ in me.

Do you listen to music while you write? What do you listen to? Do you create playlists?

I always have music going when I’m writing. Depending on what I’m writing the music will change. I like a lot of sappy love songs when I’m doing the sweet scenes but very hard metal when for action and drama related scenes. I keep a few playlists and I have a songs I relate to various characters and tend to play them to get into the mindset to write them. I’m not a big country music fan but if I want to write something emotional it’s western music all the way.

Who are your favorite authors?

Richard Adams

Sharron Lee & Steve Miller

Jim Butcher

George R. R. Martin

Christina Lauren

What are your favorite books?

Watership Down (Who doesn’t like war-rabbits?)

MAIA

The Stand

Korval’s Game (Liaden Universe®), (Ok, so it’s two novels: Plan B & I Dare but do yourself a favor and try it. They are addicting. You’ve been warned.

Dresden Files (15 books) – I can’t order them in favorite.

What three writer’s blogs do you visit most often?

Jane Friedman – https://janefriedman.com/blog/

Janet Reid’s blog – http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/

L.M. Pierce’s most awesome and helpful blog – http://www.piercebooks.com/blog

What three writer’s websites do you visit most often?

http://www.georgerrmartin.com/ (For any whisper of the next book)

http://korval.com/ – Sharron Lee & Steve Miller. Sharron Lee has a great blog too.

http://christinalaurenbooks.com/ – Keeping up to date with release dates.

Also http://www.writersdigest.com/ – is a great site /for/ writers.

I know you love Halloween. Are you dressing up this year? Tell us about your favorite Halloween costume.

I love Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos and Samhain too. Then there are costumes! There’s something fun about pretending you’re someone else for a day (or weekend). I am pulling off Wonder Woman this year, just so I can wear tights, a cape and a mask! My favorite costume would be the year we cross-dressed as Napoleon and Josephine. I make a sexy Napoleon!

Very cool. I made Napoleon and Josephine costumes for my friends’ band. He wore his Napoleon costume for Mardi Gras this year.

I noticed you changed your name on Twitter from @DianaRoseWilson to DIE-ana Thorn Wilson. Are you doing any fun Halloween themed things on your website spiritbeast.org? The name sounds perfect for Halloween already.

I don’t have anything planned for Halloween but I am trying to get a gathering together this weekend. I released a free Halloween story for fans and hope to reconnect with some people I haven’t seen around for a few months. I welcome people to drop in and make a persona and check it out.

Let’s talk more about your webite. You have to swear you’re 18+ to enter. Is it scary in there?

Scary? Well, not really. I have been writing primarily erotica and worried if I didn’t have my disclaimer someone was going to get offended. I set up the spiritbeast.org site for fans that were dying for updates. I have this page set up for guests to make more of a persona rather than their ‘real’ information. I want it to be a safe chat area to talk about adult themes in text. There are forums and a chat feature. I have a few story-related goodies like the Harris and Wallace family trees (going back to the 1800’s). I’ve really thrown myself into world building so the website is a place to share some of the goodies.

You have another website Direwill.com. What will readers find there?

This is more of a general author website with information about upcoming books and what’s going on with me. I keep it tame and all-ages appropriate without spoilers, goodies or role playing.

You play a mean game of #pessimisticmoustache. Where do you get those great mustache GIFs?

I love me some manly facial fuzz! https://giphy.com/ is a great place for some action GIFs, or I do a search on Twitter for them. I have some secret weapons in my photo ‘stash’ as well. I come from a long line of bikers and outlaws, I think it’s part of the rule book that the men must have face fuzz.

This November you and I will be talking a lot about Movember. Can you tell the readers what that is and how they can participate?

Movember is a fundraising effort for men’s health issues. Like wearing pink for breast cancer awareness, the ‘mo’, slang for mustache, is the ribbon guys wear. For the 30 days of November men grow their ‘stache and form teams to raise money. No shaving for the guys upper lip for the month. Check out information and how to set up a team here: https://us.movember.com/

Since I’m not going to grow out a sister-stache, I’ll celebrate facial hair using your awesome game I have hijacked: https://experiencewriting.com/2016/07/22/the-pessimistic-moustache-game-avoiding-cliche-description/

There will be a mix of blog and twitter posts coming out using the #pessimisticmoustache hashtag.

Now, in your original game you encourage other body parts and throw an ‘ism to name it, but for the sake of Movember and awesome beards/mustaches/goatees/chops everywhere, I’m going to focus only on the hair.

I’m locating some random face-fluff pictures ala Santa Clause and players are encouraged to describe it with one word. An ‘ism, an ‘istic or something completely off the wall. I may have a list of a few for a multiple-choice vote to mix things up.

What are you going to do for Movember?

In past years KISW’s The Men’s Room (Seattle seriously has the best radio station!) usually has a Movember team and I donate to that. A have threatened to try to grow my own stache, but I’m just not brave enough. 😉

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you ever?

I will! NaNoWriMo got me back into writing when I decided to try writing again. The first two years I didn’t win but the third year is when it finally clicked and that is the story that started the whole ball rolling. I’m not sure what my project will be exactly but I have a few weeks to pick what to focus on.

When you’re not writing, what is your favorite thing to do?

I’m very lucky to live in wine country between Napa and Sonoma where I can enjoy as much wine and fancy food as my little heart can handle. Food. Wine. Writing. Sounds prefect to me.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Cat person, on the crazy cat lady end of the spectrum.

What bit of wisdom would you share with new writers?

I encourage writers to to keep writing. Give yourself permission to write what you enjoy. Write as much as you possibly can and experiment until you find what brings you the most joy. The other thing is to find a support group of writers who you can talk and work with. Look for people who will lift you up and be kind in their feedback. Not a lot of non-writers can grasp what we go through when we’re living in an imaginary world with our invisible friends for weeks, months, years at a time.

Thank you, Diana.

Currently Diana lives in wine country with her husband where she enjoys good wine, better food, loud Harleys, 3-day eventing and the delights of deviant erotica. She is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Redwood Writers, Snoopy Writers and CFTW Writer’s Block.

Readers, make sure to visit Diana at spiritbeast.org and Direwill.com and follow her on twitter @DianaRoseWilson.

Diana and I look forward to more players at #pessimisticmoustache for the month of #Movember.

 

Beware The Creeping Nouns

creeping-nouns

I am reading A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work by Jack Hart. Though it is geared toward journalism,  the information is useful and inspiring for my fiction.

One sign of a skilled writer is avoiding redundancy. Mr. Hart uses the analogy of felling a a-writers-coachtree. The skilled woodsman takes efficient strokes and controls where the tree falls, but the “city slicker” hacks away, exhausting himself and endangering his neighbors.

Sharpen Your Axe

During your first draft, you don’t want to think about word choice, you just want to get your ideas down, right? But what if, some of those overused words, those pesky redundancies and expletives never got on the page? It would save you a ton of time during editing.

This Halloween, you are sharpening your axe for a monster hunt. You are hunting E.B. White’s “leeches that infest the pond of prose” and Jack Hart’s parasites that live alongside them in that pond. Once you are trained to recognize these monsters you can stop them dead before they get to your pages!

The Leeches and Parasites

leech

Leeches –

Expletives are more than the beeps we hear on TV. The word expletive also means any syllable,word, or phrase conveying no independent meaning,esp inserted in a line of verse for the sake of the metre (from dictionary.com).

Make sure to hack away at “it is,” “it was,” “there is,” “there were,” and “there are.”

Creeping Nouns are nouns that attach themselves to other nouns but add nothing but dead weight. Mr. Hart believes that if we avoid unnecessary use of “situation,” “field,” and “condition,” we could eliminate half the creeping nouns published. Here are a couple examples from A Writer’s Coach.

. . . and one source said the Cincinnati Reds manager faces a possible suspension for gambling activities.

Gambling is already the activity causing the possible suspension. Activities is redundant.

Officials are saying the combination of millions of dying trees, the seventh year of drought conditions and . . .

Drought is the condition thus conditions is redundant.

Hart’s other examples of creeping nouns you should include on your monster hunt are: field, industry, profession, concerns, event, experience, facilities, situation, and status.

Remember: these aren’t words you want to eliminate from your writing, they are words that can become creeping nouns that create redundancy when they cling to other nouns.

parasites

Parasites –

To avoid parasites, you want to avoid over using qualifiers. A qualifier is the same as a modifier – a word, phrase, or sentence element that limits or qualifies the sense of another word, phrase, or element in the same construction.(dictionary.com)

Mr. Hart calls these parasites “petty modifiers” and “needless qualifiers.” The monsters that should see the sharp blade of your axe before they mangle your writing are: rather, somewhat, generally, virtually, pretty, slightly, a bit and little.

And don’t forget the pernicious overused words: very, like and just!

Happy monster hunting and happy #Writober.

 

Poetry and The Fiction Writer

Pictures of books I recently read as a poetry study

Discovering The Art Of series and further study

The collection of books pictured above was inspired by discovering The Art of series at my local library. The Art of discusses different aspects of writing with examples from a great variety of texts. I wanted to learn more about the authors who wrote the series, so I picked up their poetry and essays as well. I’m glad I did. This group of books :intelligent discussion, imparted wisdom and beautiful poetry.

But I’m a fiction writer, why spend time with poetry and poets?

Words are a writer’s tools and poets have to use words in the most efficient manner for maximum emotional effect.

Ellen Bryant Voigt

The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song

Rhythm is what makes Ms. Voigt’s poems so amazing. Her contribution to The Art Of series is my favorite of the bunch. I learned some interesting vocabulary specific to the rhythm of words:

enjambment – the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

trochee – a foot of two syllables, a long followed by a short in quantitative meter, or a stressed followed by an unstressed in accentual meter.

caesura –

1. Prosody. a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. Classical Prosody. a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

fricative

palimpsest – a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

Headwaters: Poems

I loved these poems. Though completely lacking in punctuation, the message is never lost and the rhythm is clear. Her word choice is beautiful. These poems felt like a magical discovery.

Mark Doty

The Art of Description: World into Word

I enjoyed the idea of “the sensorium”–finding the places of sensory overlap and allowing the senses their complexly interactive life.

I also noted that I should read :

Middlemarch by George Eliot and
Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975-1997 by James Galvin

Deep Lane: Poems

These poems take you on walks with the dog and inspections of the garden. They take you there through lovely description and word choice.

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter is the editor of The Art of series.

The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

Full of examples of how subtext is used in fiction.

Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

Mr. Baxter’s essays get into his thought process. They let the reader into the flow of a writer mind.

Here I also learned a new word: Pusillanimous – lacking courage and resolution

Brenda Ueland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

It felt like serendipity when Charles Baxter started talking about Brenda Ueland’s book because I already had it on my bookshelf. It’s a great book for those times you need a cheerleader, which, as writers, we often do.

I just opened to a random page and found this bit of fun:

Now Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all of their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.   –Brenda Ueland

Excited to fill up on some poetry?

Here are some links to poetry sites I enjoy, so you can get your fill while you wait for the books you just ordered from Amazon to arrive  🙂

Poetry Foundation

Poets and Writers

Eunoia Review

Tweetspeak Poetry

Are You Thrilled

Joy Write

Happy Reading and Writing

Don’t be pusillanimous. Get out there and explore!

Who is your favorite poet?

What is your favorite poetry book?

What is your favorite poetry website?

Interview with Christopher Bailey, author of WHISPER

cover of Christopher Bailey's new book WHISPERWe are in for a treat today! Christopher Bailey’s new book Whisper just hit shelves and he has taken time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about his writing life. Christopher Bailey is the author of many books including the Starjumper Legacy YA sci-fi series and Without Chance.

As I mentioned in my previous post Exciting Firsts, this is the first of a series of upcoming author interviews and what a fun and informative interview it is!

Let’s get started:

We met at a writer’s social meet-up, so let’s start off with: When did you first know you were a writer?

In the third grade, I was given a school assignment to write my own Greek myth. It didn’t have to be long, only 200 words, but I was dreading it. I complained and fussed about it until my mother finally made me sit down and get it done.

What I ended up with was a thousand-word short story about the God of Lost Socks, the one who was responsible for the disappearance of single lost socks all throughout the world, leaving its mated pair only to taunt you.

It was creative, it was funny, and to my third-grade mind, it was brilliant. I turned it in to my teacher the next day with more pride than I’d ever had in an assignment before or since. It was filled with errors and problems, but my teacher raved about it. Instead of berating me for the problems, she loudly praised my creativity and originality. She constructively showed me how to fix the problems, and then gave me an A on the assignment.

I was hooked, and haven’t stopped writing since.

Do you write every day? Tell us a little about your writing practice.

I wish. Seriously, I’m currently working on arranging my schedule to allow for this, but at the moment I write only a couple of times a week. Usually binge-writing, if I’m being honest. I’ll sit down on a Saturday morning and write non-stop for ten straight hours.

Luckily, my wife is a candidate for sainthood, and interrupts only occasionally to bring me food and give me kisses. Both are required to keep up my writing flow you understand, so those interruptions are welcome.

Countless times I’ve been told by other writers that I should write every day, but it’s just not possible right now in my life.

My best advice to writers struggling to write every day is this: write when you can, and don’t feel guilty when you can’t. Make sure you’re getting some time in, but it’s far better to write once or twice a week than not at all.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (someone who outlines and plans or someone who writes by the seat of her pants)?

Definitely a pantser. I plot only a start point, an end point, and maybe one or two key points along the way. My characters and worlds live so vividly within my mind that they inevitably stray from any planned course if I get more rigid than that.

When writing my first novel, I tried a trick one of my favorite authors told me about at his book signing. He writes out the major theme for each chapter on index cards, and sorts and reorganizes them until he has the best flow. Then for each chapter, he writes another set of business cards with major points he wants to hit in that chapter, and then does the same organizing and reorganizing procedure. Then he sits and writes it exactly as scripted.

I’ll be honest, I made it halfway through step one of that process, and I almost gave up writing for good. It was only after I realized that there were two different types of writers, plotters and pantsers, that I understood I could still write a full novel without scripting every single nuance before ever sitting down to write the story.

What is your best trick for getting more words on the page?

Detailed descriptions added in the first round edit. My rough drafts are never too short of my intended goal, since I’m a chronic over-writer anyway, but the best way I’ve found to push that word count up is to flesh out my descriptions during my own first round edit.

Changing “He pushed opened the creaky door,” to “He slowly pushed open the ancient, cracked wooden door and winced at the ominous creak,” only adds a few words to the sentence, but it adds a great deal of flavor, and will significantly contribute to your final word count when you do it to a few hundred sentences throughout the manuscript.

In my push to get the story out, I find I often miss opportunities to add flavorful descriptions like that in my initial rough draft. I just have to be careful not to overdo it.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Like most artists, I draw inspiration from the world I see around me.

With my Starjumper Legacy trilogy:Starjumper Legacy: The Crystal Key, Starjumper Legacy: The Vanishing Sun and Starjumper Legacy: The Plague of Dawn for example, the idea originated from an argument between a pair of fourth graders I had been working with. They were arguing the advantages of magic over science and vice-versa, and I couldn’t help but point out that magic is simply science we don’t understand yet. The discussion that grew between the two children eventually became the idea for Starjumper Legacy.

My standalone Without Chance was inspired by a difficult situation I helped a friend through many years ago, as his parents threatened to disown him when he came out as gay.

Whisper, my newest standalone novel, came from a news story I had been watching about a kidnapping victim, and from a girl I dated in my teens who was schizophrenic.

Of course, once the initial concepts take hold, the stories themselves take on a life of their own and grow into something far beyond what I’d ever initially envisioned.

Life is such a wonderful, terrible, beautiful, ugly thing, that there are no limits to creative inspirations for stories of any kind if you’re willing to look for them in your own life.

Who have you found most influential to your writing?

My brother, Jeff. Since we were little, we’ve loved reading many of the same books and analyzing the stories to death. We look at everything, from the broad concept of the plot to the delicate nuances of character, right down to any hidden subtexts we can discern. We then debate the finer points potentially for hours on end. Our shared love of the written word has been a huge influence on my life, and most especially in my writing.

Do you listen to music while you write? What do you listen to? Do you create playlists?

Absolutely. I can’t write without music playing. I don’t create custom playlists, but rather add a few artists to a Pandora station and let it take over from there. My musical tastes are greatly varied, and I love everything from Beethoven to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, from Michael Bublé to Metallica.

Interestingly, when I write I prefer heavy metal. I’ve tried a dozen different styles during my writing, including changing styles to suit the scene. For me, it breaks my flow to change styles, and anything other than the hard-driving metal seems to negatively impact both my flow, and the power of my writing. Some favorites include Samael, Rob Zombie, and Celldweller.

Who are your favorite authors?

Wow, this is a hard question. All right, some favorites that come first to mind would be Dean Koontz, Bruce Coville, Robert Heinlein, Brandon Sanderson, Terry Pratchett, Mercedes Lackey, Brian Lumley, and R.A. Salvatore. This is by no means a complete list.

What are your favorite books?

As above, this list could go on forever. There have been a few that have really changed my perspective, though.

I read Homeland by R.A. Salvatore as a youth, and the theme of a young man fighting to be a virtuous soul despite the darkness of his upbringing really resonated with me. I’ve carried that message with me my entire life, and attribute a great deal of who I am today to that book.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein almost literally rocked my world. His ability to take social norms and spin them so completely to force the reader to look at them from a completely outside perspective is staggering. So many things about our world that we simply take for granted. This book shook them all up for me.

Hogfather: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett is, I maintain, one of the finest pieces of literature ever created. The entire Discworld series is great, but this book in particular was absolute genius.

What three writer’s blogs do you visit most often?

http://thewritepractice.com/ is great for tips and tricks on the more technical aspects of writing.

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/ has some amazing information on marketing.

And of course, https://experiencewriting.com/.

Ha. Ha. Thank you very much. What three writer’s websites do you visit most often?

http://rebeccaconnolly.com/ This is a personal friend of mine and while I openly admit I’m not a big romance fan, her books are genuinely fun to read. It’s always interesting to see what she’s up to, since she always has some reader-participation game going.

http://brandonsanderson.com/ This guy is a brilliant writer in the Fantasy and YA Fiction categories, and I have yet to read one of his books I didn’t appreciate.

http://www.deankoontz.com/ Dean Koontz has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, and I’ve read more of his work than possibly any other single author. The Odd Thomas series is among my favorites.

Let’s talk about your book:

What inspired you to write Whisper ?

Whisper was inspired by a combination of a news story I read about a kidnapping victim who had recently been rescued, and an experience I had with a girl I dated in high school who was schizophrenic. Sounds like an odd combination, but in my mind the pairing just clicked and the story came alive in my mind.

What was the hardest part to write? How did you push through?

The most difficult part to write was the part of the book where Jackson is in the mental institution for treatment of his schizophrenia. I had second-hand experience with schizophrenia, thanks to the girl I mentioned above, but have no personal experience in a place like that.

Wanting to get this part right was important to me, so I interviewed a number of people who had spent time in institutions just like the one now in the book. Some readers may have had different experiences than that portrayed in the final book, but that part is based closely on the personal experiences of several people who’ve spent significant time in a variety of hospitals and institutions.

Following that, the difficulty was in not allowing the darkness and hopelessness in many of those places from overwhelming the greater story. It was a tricky balance, keeping the realism of his experience there while not detracting from the story I was trying to tell.

When you’re not writing, what is your favorite thing to do?

I sort of collect hobbies. I paint, play guitar, do some low-grade woodwork and leatherwork, all sorts of random things.

That said, my two favorite things in the entire world are curling up next to my wife with a good book, and playing with my daughter.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

I’m very much a dog person. They make sense to me, and I relate well to them. My wife teases me a little about this because she says I behave much more like a cat. Funny thing is, she behaves much more like a dog and is very much a cat person. Perhaps that’s why we’re such a good fit.

What bit of wisdom would you share with new writers?

Writing is an art form. Like any art form, nearly nobody starts off brilliant. We all start from the bottom, learning the tools of our trade and the techniques of our craft. Even the masters have things they are still learning.

Don’t get discouraged if your first piece isn’t a masterpiece. Nobody’s is. Practice, refine, listen to constructive criticism and tell those who offer only nonconstructive criticism where they can shove their unfounded opinions.

No matter what, keep writing. Brilliant or not, marketable or not, popular or not, pursue it because you love it. Write because the stories live in your mind and need release. Write because it is a passion, a freedom, and an outlet.

Just keep writing.

Thank you so mush Chris! Readers, go get your copy of Whisper !

picture of author Christopher Bailey
Christopher Bailey lives in Seattle with his incredible wife and daughter, eagerly expecting their second child. A lover of literature from an early age, he began writing short stories in the third grade for a school assignment and has never looked back. Having worked professionally with children and teens for many years, he has developed a particular fondness for young adult fiction, which is where he now focuses his writing in the hopes of helping a few more children learn to love the written word.

About Writing: Guest post by Michael Onofrey

picture of man sitting next to his dictionary on a grassy hill writing in the park

The urge to write is what got me into writing fiction, or trying to write fiction. And by “urge” I mean a feeling that I want to write. This was what motivated me and what continues to motivate me. I don’t think this is unusual—the urge to write. A lot of people have it. But of course those numbers diminish considerably when it comes to picking up a pen or sitting down at a keyboard.

It wasn’t until well into middle age, forty-five years old, that I sat down at a keyboard with the intent of writing fiction. Of course in college (community college and then university) I wrote papers (essays and book reports) like everyone else. But that’s different than composing fiction with the intent of submitting to publications. Of course all writing counts. I’m not belittling college. I’m simply distinguishing between college papers, with the exception of creative writing classes, and fiction for publication. I think anyone who has done both understands the distinction.

Also, in college I majored in U.S. History, which is now call American Studies. So my only background and my only qualification for writing fiction was, and is, reading books, fiction mostly. But there, too, I got a late start, for I didn’t begin to read until I was in my last semester of high school (Industrial Arts major). I could hardly read. This might strike some people as strange. But it’s not strange. A lot of people coming out of high school are poor readers.

An odd set of circumstances prompted me to pick up a book. I was dating a girl from another high school, which made our dating possible because we were of very different social circles, for if we had been going to the same school we wouldn’t have gotten together. But by going to different schools neither one of us, her in particular, suffered any social embarrassment, for high school life is all about cliques. She was a half a year ahead of me, which meant she would be graduating in June, whereas I wouldn’t be graduating until the following year at the end of January.

When summer rolled around, the summer of her graduation, university life about to begin for her in September, she jilted me, which, even though I expected it, sent me into a mental tailspin. Strangely, on the afternoon of that devastating phone call I started driving and wound up in front of a bookstore. She had mentioned the titles of books during our time together and I, for whatever reason, had remembered two—The Stranger by Albert Camus and Another Country by James Baldwin. Still dizzy with confusion, I went into that bookstore and asked for those two books.

What a way to begin reading, not to mention having to look up words on nearly every page. Fortunately, as if it were a minor miracle, I was able to follow the stories, and a window flew open and there I was, looking out at a new world.

Man carrying dictionary by a lake
“I carried a dictionary and a novel everywhere I went”

I carried a dictionary and a novel everywhere I went for eight years, and when loading up a backpack every bit of weight counts. I’m still a poor speller. I still consult a dictionary often for spelling and definitions and word usage. I wouldn’t recommend getting a late start on reading, just as I wouldn’t recommend getting a late start on serious writing. Six years after I started writing and submitting, a small literary journal (Words of Wisdom, North Carolina, a publication that has since ceased publishing) accepted one of my stories.

Six years—that’s a lot of rejection. And I still get a lot of rejection. My writing is not consistent, and I don’t think it ever will be, just as I will never be a good speller nor will my vocabulary have the natural range that it might have had if I had started reading at an early age. Okay, so that’s the way it is. A lot of other people have it worse. Imagine trying to write in Aleppo, Syria.

Writing will probably never be more than a hobby for me, and by hobby I mean an activity that doesn’t generate enough money for me to live on. I wish there was another word besides “hobby.” “Pastime” maybe? But that’s even more nonchalant than hobby. If I were teaching at a college or university, I could say that publishing stories, while getting little in the way of remuneration, was worthwhile because it adds to my curriculum vitae (CV), which might serve to boost my position and income. But I don’t teach at a college or a university.man carrying dictionary by some shops

In addition to not making millions there is rejection, which is always painful. In dealing with rejection, stoicism would be a nice rejoinder. After all, rejection is part of the weather. Even the most renowned writers have had work rejected, primarily before they became famous. There are only two choices when faced with rejection: feel the pain and move on, or feel the pain and give up. This isn’t about heroics. This is pragmatism. Most stories that are submitted to a publication are going to be turned down.

I’m hardly different from anyone else. I like acceptance. I write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and submit. Rejection, rejection, rejection. After six months or so, another look, another rewrite. Revising has become fun. I don’t know why. Maybe because it presents an opportunity to play with words and sentences, as well as ideas and point of view. I do give up on stories, but I keep them on file. Now and then an idea will occur that pertains to a story I’ve given up on. I’ll draw the story up and try the idea. And then I’ll submit. Hey, all they can do is turn it down. Now and then one of those formerly dead stories will get accepted.

Also in the hash are different publications with different editors who have different tastes. Usually a rejection carries no real comment, perfunctory comments yes, but no real comments. Every once in a while, though, there is a genuine comment. Some are encouraging. But some . . . On a couple of occasions an editor has given me a totally pissed off lambasting, boredom and tedious detail cited. I guess they had had it up to their necks with that stuff, dull writing and details, and took it out on me. Or maybe they had a hangover, or maybe they couldn’t meet a mortgage payment, or maybe they were in the middle of a divorce. Yet, within that same week that same story (respective stories, but at different times) got accepted by a publication which I had deemed more reputable than the one(s) the tongue-lashing(s) came from. Highs and lows—the landscape.

man with dictionary walking by rocks

“Highs and lows—the landscape.”

 

At other times, I had given up on a story only to have it accepted after a whole lot of time by the last publication where the story was still (as it turned out) under consideration. Recently a story of mine was accepted and published by a university journal after the story went through two years of rejection and rewrites—forty-seven rejections. Why did I keep at that story? Because I believed in it. Giving up on a story or continuing with rewrites and submissions is a tricky thing, a case-by-case thing. But—I keep all my stories on file.

Favorite authors—here’s the link to my listing on Poets & Writers where I’ve listed my favorite writers: http://www.pw.org/content/michael_onofrey

About books concerning reading and writing—I return again and again to How Fiction Works by James Wood and Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) by Francine Prose.

 

author Michael Onofrey bio picMICHAEL ONOFREY was born and raised in Los Angeles. Currently he lives in Japan. Over seventy of his short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, in print and online, in such places as Cottonwood, The Evansville Review, Natural Bridge, Snowy Egret, Terrain.org, Weber–The Contemporary West, and The William and Mary Review. Among anthologized work, his stories have appeared in Creativity & Constraint (Wising Up Press, 2014), In New Light (Northern Initiative for Social Action, 2013), Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), and Imagination & Place: An Anthology (Imagination & Place Press, 2009). He can be found online at Directory of Writers, Poets and Writers, and on Facebook.

Do all of your Holiday Shopping right here! Then you’ll be done!

Pictured: Wooden jigsaw puzzles from Artifact Puzzles, Gator McBumpypants picturebooks and T-shirts and pillow cover from Red Bubble

Pictured: Wooden jigsaw puzzles from Artifact Puzzles, Gator McBumpypants picturebooks, and T-shirts and pillow cover from Red Bubble

Get All Your Christmas Shopping Done Right Here!

Think of all the great people on your Christmas list. I bet, even though you want to get each person something great, you are dreading the drudgery of driving all over town from store to store only to shell out money for the latest piece of plastic that your loved ones most likely won’t even appreciate.

Now, imagine with only a few clicks right here, from this page, all of your shopping could be complete. Each person you want to celebrate with will have a unique and thoughtful gift and you don’t need to move from your seat. Sounds amazing, right?

 

A great gift for the whole family

To keep every mind in the family sharp, take a look at Artifact Puzzles. Their beautiful wooden jigsaw puzzles are wonderful at any gathering. They are great collectors items because they are fun to do over and over again.

My family has a tradition of setting out one or two Artifact Puzzles for after meal entertainment. They are a great group activity and really bring people together. Artifact Puzzles has puzzles for all ages and skill ranges.

 

Give the gift of reading this year

Think of your gift list again. Think of the adorable little ones running around and screaming. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were sitting quietly being read to or reading a book? For children new born to age seven-ish, Gator McBumpypants adventures  are fun colorful stories that teach children about appreciating the differences in others and making friends. The stories are about being brave and trying new things.

Gator McBumpypants is a fun, sweet read that takes you through the highs and lows of friends that discover the greatness with each other and with themselves. What a delightful read and the choice of photography is brilliant! The perfect story to fuel the imagination in us all.                                                         – Amazon reviewer Zappathedog

With three adventures, each a standalone story and more to come, Gator McBumpypants books are gifts that keep on giving.

Already own all the Gator McBumpypants books? I have designed Gator McBumpypants products over at Red Bubble. There are onesies for the babies and pillows, tote bags and many more fun products for Gator McBumpypants lovers of any age.

 

Looking for something unique, creative and fun?

Interested in unique art products for the creatives and fashion conscious on your list? Head over to Red Bubble. At Red Bubble art and photography can be purchased as prints, posters and cards, or products like tablet and phone covers, T-shirts and sweatshirts, and so much more. Simply click on one of the images to see all of the great products with that design on them.

Have a nature lover in your family? How about an animal calendar or a tote bag? You will find something for everyone over at Red Bubble.

 

There you go! Gifts for everyone. Now, think of all the free time you have to read, write, relax and reward yourself.

Merry Christmas              Happy Holidays             My Best to You and Yours

Book Giveaway Linky: #Freebooks

Book Giveaway Linky

Thank you to Mother Daughter Book Reviews for hosting the Book Giveaway Linky. It provides a great platform to let authors inform readers about their book giveaways.

Please click on the link and enjoy all the free books.

Happy reading.

Two books for only 99 cents !!! The Anticipation Builds for Dee Dee Makes Three

sticks and canvas in the grass

I mentioned in my last post that my new Gator McBumpypants picture book will have props. What do you think the one in the picture could be?

You can find out soon! As soon as this weekend!! I sent Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three off to Createspace review mere hours ago. I can’t wait to share it with the world.

In the meantime, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is still free to download and as of today, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly is only 99 cents.

You don’t need to read the first two books to enjoy the third adventure of Gator McBumpypants and his friends. But here’s your opportunity to meet a happy alligator and his friend Herman, read how they became friends and learn how Herman learns to fly. All of that, and you will have the inside scoop for Dee Dee Makes Three for only 99 cents!

🙂  But wait, there’s more  (:

You don’t have to have young children to enjoy Gator McBumpypants. Photographers, artists, writers, alligator lovers, stuffed animal aficionados–Here is your chance to inspect progress over time. The first book was inspired by a new DSLR camera and a photography class. The second book was inspired by feedback from readers and some new photography techniques. In my last post I mentioned many of the fun new things to expect in the third book, but I will add: this last year my photography focus was light and I received weekly critique. Have my efforts paid off? You will need all three books to judge. 🙂

I can’t wait to hear what you think  is in the picture!

Enjoy the books and happy writing.