Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!


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2011 New Year's Smash!

2011 New Year's Smash -
 International Book Giveaway Draw 
and Blog Hop!

To welcome in the New Year, The Secret Writer Blog is  taking part in the '2011 New Year's Smash Blog Hop'! The links to the ther blogs that taking part in this Blog Hop, can be found towards the bottom of this webpage. There are more book draws and goodies to be found and won by visiting the other blogs that are taking part in this New Year's Hop!


On this site, I am offering one copy of the novel 'Brooklyn' by Colm Toibin to one lucky winner in a draw. All you have to do to enter, is to be a 'Google Connect Follower' of this blog, and leave a comment to this post with your e-mail address (so it makes things easier for me to contact the winner!). If you are not already a GC Follower of this blog,  you can easily join as a Follower, by clicking on the Google 'Follow' button above the box with all the pictures of those already following this blog with Google, towards the top of this page's left sidebar.

This draw is open to International entries. Entry to the draw will close at midnight on the 3rd January 2011(GMT). The winner will be announced as soon as possible after this date, and Random.com will be used to select the winner.

Can I wish everyone a very Happy New Year for 2011 and say good luck to all who enter the draw!



Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Visiting Soon!


The author E.J. Stevens, will shortly be paying 'The Secret Writer Blog'  a second visit, in order  to talk to us about the latest book release in her Paranormal Spirit Guide Series, 'Spirit Storm'!  Keep visiting this site, so you do not miss out on this special feature!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Nestor Maronski Case

News Update!!
 Recently I was able to post a news scoop interview on this web site, with one of the main suspects being sought in the investigation of the disappearance of the book critic Nestor Maronski. I highlighted in my post that this case was being followed closely by some of my colleagues, and if there were any further developments in relation to this high profile case I would let you know.


I am putting up this post for those who have an interest and are following this particular investigation, as I have just been informed a short while ago that another interview in relation to this particular intriguing case has been posted on the web. 

If you click on the following link it will take you directly to a new interview with Dar Templeton, one of the many Indie authors whose careers appear to have been destroyed by Nestor Maronski:
I have also been told by a very good 'underworld' contact, that Nestor Maronski has set up a facebook page and that people are friending him there!!! Has this been done by Maronski himself or by somebody else posing as him?  I have not had a chance to visit the actual facebook page to check this out myself, but I have been told that the page can be accessed by searching for Nestor Maronski on the facebook search bar!

For previous updates in relation to the Maronski investigation, please follow the links below:

http://thetaleisthething.blogspot.com/2010/11/megaphone-for-small-mind.html  
http://thesecretwriterblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/news-scoop-renowned-book-critic.html


Stay tuned to this web site for updates on Nestor Maronski’s whereabouts, as well as the release of an upcoming book detailing the events leading up to his disappearance, written by Jason McIntyre and Maria Savva. The latest word on the street at the moment is, that Nestor Maronski might be trying to organise a contract !!  :-O

Monday, 20 December 2010


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This is what it is like in quite a few parts of the UK at the moment! Snow, more snow and ice.  Where I am at the moment it is minus 18 degrees C tonight. It's the coldest it has ever been here on record, and don't we know it, Brrrr!! The only upside to all of this, is that it is great book reading weather. :-) Keep warm and safe everyone. Happy reading!

Winner of the Maria V Snyder International Book Giveaway!

The Winner!
I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a follower or were already a follower and entered the draw and posted a comment, during this great event! Again I wish that I could send everyone who entered this draw a book, but within the rules, there was to be only one lucky winner! For those of you who have not won this time, there are plenty more giveaway draws to come. Please keep visiting this blog and entering the Giveaways. You never know your luck, you could be our next winner!

I visited random.org earlier today and the winner of this draw is, drum roll!!!

Voguedotcom

Congratulations!

I will contact the winner for their postal details. If I have not been able to make contact with the winner within 48 hours of this post, another winner will then be drawn. Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog. Happy reading!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Merry Christmas!


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Thank-you to the authors, writers, readers, followers and visitors to this site, who have made this blog as successful as it is. I have really enjoyed my first year as a 'blogger'. Thank-you again for all of your support!  I hope that next year will be just as successful for my blog as this year was!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas, as well as a Happy and Peaceful New Year from me, to you!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Winners of the Book Bloggers Holiday Bash Draw!

The Winners!
I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a follower or were already a follower and entered this draw and posted a comment, during this fantastic blog hop event! I wish I could send everyone who entered the draw a book, but within in the rules for this draw, there were to be only three lucky winners!

I visited random.org earlier today and the winners of this draw are, drum roll!!!!:

Lexigirl - wins the  copy of 'Never Let Me Go'
Ammy Belle - wins the copy of 'Ghost Town'
Jennifer Mathis - wins the copy of 'Twelve Days of Christmas'

Congratulations to the winners!

I will contact the winners for their postal details. If I have not been able to make contact with a winner within 48 hours of this post, another winner will then be drawn. Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog. Happy reading!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Maria V Snyder Interview and International Giveaway!

Author Interview and International Book Giveaway with Maria V Snyder



Maria V. Snyder earned an MA in Popular Fiction Writing from Seton Hill University. Her freelance articles appear in magazines and newspapers, and she enjoys teaching fiction writing classes at the local college. Maria is the very popular author of the 'Study' and Glass' fantasy fiction series.

TSR: A very warm welcome to you Maria, and a very big thank-you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.

MVS: You’re very welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

TSR: What sort of books did you read when you were a child and what was your favourite?

MVS: When I was very young, I read Dr. Seuss and Leo Lionni. My favourite book at that time was Fredrick, by Leo Lionni. I moved onto Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, and then into Agatha Christie, Dick Francis and Ed McBain (all mystery writers).

TSR: Can you tell us a bit about where you live generally and why do you like living there?

MVS: I live in south-central Pennsylvania in the United States. After I graduated from Penn State University, I was hired in this area. I met my husband here, and we settled in the area. I like the change in seasons, and being close to my extended family.

TSR: What made you choose to study meteorology at University?

MVS: As a child, I was always fascinated with storms. When I learned about meteorology in sixth grade, I thought I might want to pursue that occupation. Plus not many adults at that time knew what a meteorologist was, and I was a brat, delighting in their ignorance and asking if they even knew what a hydrometeor was. Do you? Without looking it up? (I’m still a brat ;-)*.

TSR: When did you first start writing seriously?

MVS: Back in 1995 when I was home with my son. I only had a couple hours to myself, and I spent them working on my first novel, Poison Study.

TSR: Did you always want to become a writer and why?

MVS: No. I wanted to chase tornados and do research on severe storms. I only started writing when I was bored at work (shhh...don’t tell my former employer). I discovered I wasn’t very good at forecasting, so I worked as an environmental meteorologist for a consulting firm. With consulting, you’re either busy or bored. So I started writing short stories during the slow times. I really enjoyed it, so I kept writing.

TSR: What made you decide to focus upon the ‘fantasy’ genre in your writing?

MVS: I enjoyed reading fantasy and most of my story ideas are within the fantasy genre. I also write science fiction, which I also enjoy reading. Plus fantasy allows me to play more than science fiction. For example in Storm Glass, I had magicians called Stormdancers who can harvest the energy from deadly storms and bottle it in glass orbs. Not only does it render the storm harmless, but it creates an energy source for the world.

TSR: How do you decide the names for your characters when planning your stories?

MVS: Before I start a story, I look through a couple baby name books I have, and find names I like that have a special meaning, making a list of names. For example, Yelena means shining light. Since she starts her adventures in a dungeon awaiting execution in Poison Study, I liked how her name represents a glimmer of hope that she still had even when at the lowest point in her life. I wrote an article about Naming Characters on my website. Here’s the link if anyone is interested in reading more: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/naming.php

TSR: Do you use writing plans for the books that you write?

MVS: No. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer (a.k.a. pantser ;-). I get an idea and have a general ending in mind, and I discover the rest of the story as I go. The fun part is when something unexpected happens, the scary part is I always spend the first half of a novel worried I won’t have enough plot for a full novel, and then spend the second half worried I have too much. You’d think after writing 8 books, I’d relax, but I don’t!

TSR: Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?

MVS: Yes. I write from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night and I can’t go to bed until I write at least 1,000 words. Some nights I can do 2,000 or more, yet other nights it’s a struggle to get those 1,000.

TSR: Where do you like to do your writing?

MVS: I have a home office and that works, unless I have too many non-writing things to do. Then I have to leave the house or go down in our recreation room where I can’t see the distractions. For example, I have three boxes of holiday cards on my desk that are waiting to be filled out and mailed. If I go downstairs, I can’t see them :-)

TSR: Would you have any sound advice for those who would like to start writing a book for the first time?

MVS: I have advice and tips on my website. From finding a critique group to how to find agents and publishers, there’s a good bit of information. Here’s a link for those who are interested: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice.php

Persistence is always my biggest piece of advice. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. Learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can. Consider that time an apprenticeship. Be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money proceed with the utmost caution. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos and inconsistencies easier. And I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing. He wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And don’t give up! Ever!

TSR: Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy?

MVS: I love playing volleyball, and play on two recreational teams. I also enjoy photography, and have been taking classes to learn more about the art and science of taking a good photo. Reading is, of course, a must, and I’ve been dabbling in making bead jewellery to feed my addiction with anything sparkly :-) Travelling is another enjoyment of mine.

TSR: ‘What was your inspiration for writing your ‘Study’ Series?

MVS: I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In chapter 3, Card tells the writer to consider some questions before choosing the main character. He wrote, “Too often—particularly in medieval fantasy—writers think their story must be about rulers. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses—they can be extravagantly powerful, yes, but too often they aren’t free at all. If you understand the workings of power in human societies, you’ll know that the greatest freedom to act in unpredictable ways is usually found away from the centres of power.”

This comment led me to think about a person who was close enough to the centre of power to witness important events, yet not be the Prince or Princess. I thought about a food taster and a scene jumped into my mind. I saw a woman tasting food that was most likely poisoned through the eyes of the King. He watched her with heartbreaking horror because he had fallen in love with her. That led me to wonder about this woman. Who was she? Why was she there? Why would a King fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born.

TSR: How did you think of and then develop Opal’s character, in the Glass Series?

MVS: Opal’s character grew out of my need to find a close relative of Tula, one of the victims in Magic Study. She had a bigger role in Fire Study where her glass magic was discovered. This wasn’t planned at all – I needed some way to imprison evil souls and using Opal came to me in one of those wonderful, I’m-glad-to-be-a-pantser moments! I have to give credit to my editor who suggested I expand on Opal and explore her story, and that’s how the Glass series started.

TSR: I love the covers of your books, do you have a say in their design?

MVS: No. The publisher has the right to package the book however they want. I do fill out an Art Fact Sheet where I can suggest interesting visual scenes, describe characters and clothing/colour schemes. I can suggest changes to the covers and on occasion they will change it because I had a logical reason. For example, the US cover of Inside Out – at first they had the girl looking pass the reader’s shoulder and I told them the main character, Trella is a very direct character and she’ll look you in the eye and tell you exactly what she thinks of you. So they sent me a number of pictures of the model and I was able to choose the one I liked best. But overall, the covers have been lovely and I love them all – I trust the art department to know what will grab a readers’ attention.

TSR: Are you currently reading a book at the moment and if so, what is it?

MVS: I’m reading The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa. It’s the second book in a YA fantasy series set in the world of the fae. It’s wonderful and just as good as the first book, The Iron King.

TSR: What is your all time favourite book and why?

MVS: This is a super hard question to answer! I have so many favourites in various genres. If you twist my arm....ow! Okay, okay, I’ll tell you....geez. It would be The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri S. Tepper followed closely by Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card and third would be Jaran, by Kate Elliott. All science fiction, by the way – odd considering I write mostly fantasy :-)

TSR: You have two new books being released in the UK in January and April 2011. They are entitled ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Outside In’. Can you tell us a bit about your new books?

MVS: Inside Out is a dystopian science fiction novel that focuses on Trella, a scrub living in the lower levels of Inside. The world of Inside is basically a metal cube, and the inhabitants have forgotten what’s outside their world.

Trella hates her life, the other scrubs, and the uppers who rule their world via the Population Control Police (a.k.a. Pop Cops). She prefers to stay in the ducts to avoid everyone except her single friend, Cogon. Cog is friends with all the scrubs, and he's the one bright spot in this dull metal world. He tends to believe the propaganda spouted by the prophets in the lower levels. Trella believes these prophets are all Pop Cop spies. However this new prophet claims he has the location of a Gateway to Outside on a disk that's hidden in the upper levels. He wants Trella to retrieve the disk and find Gateway.

Why Trella? Since she spends most of her time in the ducts, she alone knows every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple, but she can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered. And as soon as she finds that disk, her world gets turned upside down.

Outside In continues Trella’s story about 12 weeks after the events in Inside Out. So much has changed and not everyone is happy with the changes. Plus Trella feels her job is done, and thought she can now relax, letting others take over. Too bad she thought wrong.

I can’t say too much about Outside In as it would spoil some of the twists in Inside Out. If your readers would like more on Inside Out, there is a website with a cool video book trailer, quiz, and the first three chapters of the book. Here’s the link: http://www.whatsinsideout.com/

TSR: Are you planning to write any other books at the moment?

MVS: Yes. I’m currently working on another fantasy novel about a healer set in a world that is recovering from a deadly plague. Her world has blamed the plague on the healers and has hunted them down. She is finally caught only to be rescued by a group who wants her to heal their Prince. The group's leader, Kerrick, knows the healers aren't to blame for the plague and that she could do some good for a change instead of hiding. Unfortunately, she believes this Prince is the one who started the plague as an attempt at biological warfare so she isn't risking her life for some pampered Prince. As they travel to the Prince's hidden location, they're pursued by others who have realized having a healer around might just be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for her. This book is tentatively set for a January 2012 release in the United States.

TSR: What simple things in life make you smile?

MVS: Email from my readers. Flowers from my husband. And my children.

TSR: If anyone is interested in learning more about you and your books, where’s the best place to go?

MVS: All are welcome to visit my website. I have the first chapter of all my books online as well as a number of free short stories to read. Here’s the link:  http://www.mariavsnyder.com/ I also have a blog where I post updates, interviews with authors, book reviews, contests, and general comments on life and writing. My blog’s address is: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com/

TSR: Maria, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed by me for this site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

MVS: Thank you for this opportunity to spread the word about me and my books. It was a fun interview and a legitimate excuse to procrastinate :-)

* The answer to what hydrometeors are... they’re rain drops :-)


International Giveaway!




We have one copy of Maria's novel 'Inside Out' to give away in a draw with this post (UK edition which has just been released!). All you have to do to enter the draw for this fantastic prize is to join this blog as :
A new Google Friends Connect Follower (one entry)
A new Network Blogs Follower (one entry)
A current follower by either GFC or Network Blogs (one entry);
and also leave a comment on this post for each type of follower you are to The Secret Writer blog. This giveaway draw is also open to those who are already followers of this blog.

Please remember to also leave details of your e-mail address with each of your comments (both new followers and old!), so we can then contact the winner following the draw. Entry for this draw will close on Sunday 19th December 2010. The winner will then be announced as soon as possible after this date. If the winner cannot be contacted 48 hours after the draw has taken place, a new winner will then be chosen.

Good luck everyone!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Visiting this Sunday!

Author Interview with Maria V.Snyder

The very popular, and bestselling author of the 'Study' and 'Glass' series, Maria V.Snyder, will be visiting The Secret Writer blog this Sunday evening. Maria will also be talking about her latest book release, 'Inside Out' and its sequel, 'Outside In'. There will also be an International Book Giveaway draw linked to this interview! This is a privileged interview that you should not miss!!  Please spread the word!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Nestor Maronski Case

News Update!

Recently I was able to post a news scoop interview on this actual blog, with one of the main suspects being sought in the investigation of the disappearance of the book critic Nestor Maronski. I highlighted in my post that this case was being followed closely by some of my literary colleague's, and if there were any further developments in relation to this high profile case I would let you know.

I am putting up this post for those who have an interest and are following this investigation, as I have just been informed a short while ago that another interview in relation to this particular intriguing case has been posted on the web. If you click on the following link it will take you to a recent interview with Richard and Lily Ferguson, who appear to have suffered at the hands of Nestor Maronski:  http://www.jaletaclegg.blogspot.com

For more information on this investigation follow the links below:

http://thetaleisthething.blogspot.com/2010/11/megaphone-for-small-mind.html  

http://thesecretwriterblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/news-scoop-renowned-book-critic.html

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Book Bloggers Holiday Bash! - TSR International Book Giveaway!

Book Bloggers Holiday Bash!
Three Books to be Won by Three Draw Winners!
5th-15th December 2010

Welcome to the Book Bloggers Holiday Bash! 'The Secret Writer' blog is currenly taking part in a festive Blog Hop that includes seventeen other blogs! The names and links for the other participating blogs can be found at the very bottom of my home page. The Blog Bloggers Holiday Bash picture, can be found  above the links. Please visit these other blogs for more great prizes. The second method of hopping around the participating blogs, is to click on the Book Bloggers Holiday Bash pictures, situated at either side at the top of my site page. By clicking on either of these pictures, it will then bring you through to the organiser of this Blog Hops link page relating to this event. The participating blog links can be found there as well!

If you visit this blog and join this blog as a Google follower, and leave a comment on this post (also include your e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you if you are a winner), you will be entered into a draw for one of the following great book titles:

'Ghost Town' by Rachel Caine
'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro
'Twelve days of Christmas' by Trisha Ashley

                                   








Only one book can be won by each  draw winner. There will be three winners of this draw. Each entrant will be allocated a sequencial number. After the closing date for this draw (15th December), the winning numbers entered for this draw will be chosen by random.org.

Followers of this blog can also enter this draw too, by leaving a comment to this post (again do not forget to leave your e-mail address in your comment, so I can contact you if you are a winner). This is an International Giveaway! Hopefully I will have the winners books in the post to them by the 16th December 2010!

Good Luck Everyone!

Trisha Ashley - 'Twelve Days of Christmas'

Book Review

Published by Avon: 2010
ISBN No: 13:978-1-84756-115-2

This book not only has a great seasonally designed  cover, it also contains a great story inside! Trisha Ashley has done it again by producing another five star read. I have recently become a fan of Trisha Ashely's writing and I think Katie Fforde has got it right when she states that Trisha Ashley is, 'one of the best writers around'.

'Twelve Days of Christmas' is a romantic comedy, full of the fun for the festive season and some delicious tales about cooking as well! The book tells the story of the young widow Holly Brown who is asked to look after a remote house in the Lancashire moors. Without providing any spoilers, lets just say the fun and romance starts to begin here! There is always some down to earth humour in Trisha Ashley's writing and her descriptions of her characters always leave a lasting impression in my mind. The characters of Holly Brown and Jude Martland are no different within this particular story! This is a story that once started is hard to put down.

Fans of Trisha Ashley will not be disappointed with 'Twelve Days of Christmas'. This title has been consistently at the top of the Tesco book charts for the past number of weeks and it has also been in the top of the Amazon charts for a number of weeks as well. This book is very reasonably priced within the UK for a 408 paged paper backed book, both with Amazon and Tesco. It would make a very affordable Christmas present or stocking filler for a friend or family member who would like reading  this type of story!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

International Indie Books Holiday Giveaway Event!

Fantastic International Indie Book Giveaway!
Today Darcia Helle Indie author and founder of the BestsellerBound website launched the great Indie Books Holiday Giveaway Event! A couple of months ago, this idea drifted through Darcia's mind. Darcia wanted to showcase indie authors, thank Indie readers for hanging out with Indie authors, and introduce new readers to indie books. Darcia sent her idea out to her networking world and received an incredible response. That passing thought quickly spiraled into a pretty huge event and here's the result. Hundreds of print and e-books, written by 47 indie authors, offering 76 unique titles! This is an international event. Regardless of where you live, you have a chance to win one of the prizes. All you need to do is fill out the entry form on Darcia's website. But first, let's take a look at the authors who are participating:

1. Darcia Helle
2. Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick
3. Stacy Juba
4. Sylvia Massara
5. Jason McIntyre
6. Susan Helene Gottfried
7. Pendred Noyce
8. Judith Marshall
9. Cheryl Anne Gardner
10. Jenny Hilborne
11. Philip Nork
12. Roseanne Dingli
13. Sydney Tyler Thomas
14. Charlie Courtland
15. Ottilie Weber
16. Marty Beudet
17. Magdalena Ball
18. Carolyn Howard-Johnson
19. Jennifer Lane
20. Jaleta Cregg
21. Jane Kennedy Sutton
22. Adelle Laudan
23. Tonya Plank
24. Magnolia Belle
25. Patricia Rockwell
26. Diane Morlan
27. Christopher Dunbar & Heather Poinsett Dunbar
28. Maria Savva
29. Roy McConnell
30. Linda Gould
31. Theodore Odrach with translation by Erma Odrach
32. Ann Mauren
33. Sherrida Woodley
34. Jennifer DeLucy
35. Tricia L. McDonald
36. K. Michael Crawford
37. Apryl Skies
38. Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid
39. J.R. Lindermuth
40. Debra Purdy Kong
41. Scott L. Collins
42. Karen Vaughan
43. Doug Hiser
44. Karen Boutilier Kendall
45. Michael Dyet
46. Donna McDine
47. Gregg Seeley

This event runs throughout the month of December. Winners will be picked at random on January 1. Winners will be anounced on Darcia Helle's blog, as well as on the entry form page for the event. There will be one winner for each prize, so you've got great odds of winning something!

Ready to see the books? You can browse through all the titles by visiting the holiday event page on Darcia Helle's website. Each title is linked to Amazon, so that you can click for further details. Also, you'll find each author's website listed beside his/her name. After you've checked out the selection, click on the entry form link on Darcia's website and fill out the form. That's all you need to do! Oh, and don't forget to tell your friends!

Happy holidays, everyone! And good luck!

Web link to Darcia Helle's blog and the International Indie Books Holiday Giveaway:

http://www.quietfurybooks.com/blog/2010/12/holiday-giveaway/

Thursday, 25 November 2010

News Scoop!! - Renowned Book Critic Abducted from Hospital.


This was the front page of the Post three weeks ago. As of this morning, Mr. Maronski has not been located, and the police are still investigating. The story was first brought to the blogging world by Indie author Joel Blaine Kirckpatrick, who posted an article and interview on his blog about this news story. Joel's post and interview can be found under the post title, 'Megaphone for a Small Mind' which he published on 22nd November. You can read this 'groundbreaking' news story post and interview, by following the link which you wil find at the end of this 'special' news post.

The police investigation so far has also included this very interview, written for this blog, the week of the attack on the critic. Mr. Maronski’s disappearance has shaken many who were known to revile him, even those who never made their dislike public. There have been dozens, this blogger included, who had much to say about him, and about his reviews. That should in no way imply that we wish anything other than his safe return.

Russell Flemming interview; taken during a chance meeting the week of Nestor Maronski's disappearance. (Agreed planned blog press release date: 25th November 2010) This interview has been cleared by the Police department and Interpol for publication.


TSR: Is it true Mr Russell Flemming that you helped Mr Nestor Maronski get a job at 'The Post'?

RF: The son of a b*%$&! Yes, I got him that job, and I will regret that for the rest of my life. Do you know he ruined my life? I lost my house, my wife, my livelihood because of that man.

TSR: Why did you help him get the job at The Post?

RF: Why do you have to bring this up? You bloody journalists, you know how to wind people up! I have to live with that mistake every day of my life... I never get any peace.

TSR: Was Mr Maronski your friend?

RF: Friend? Huh! The squirmy toad. He is no one's friend. If you look up the definition for 'enemy' in the dictionary you'll probably find Nestor Maronski's name right there beside it. No, he wasn't my friend. I met Maronski at one of his fancy dinner parties at his grand mansion. I gatecrashed the party actually. I found out about it when I tried phoning my former agent... yes, I had an agent once... and a potential publisher! That was before Maronski came along and took it all away! Anyway, I went to the party after my agent told me she was going. I have a talent for getting into buildings and out again without being seen. I fooled Maronski; he thought I was a guest. He was quite interested in me when he heard I worked for The Post, and he kept plying me with cherry brandy, asking me over and over how someone would go about getting a job at The Post. He told me he was a book reviewer. He said he had a lot of money and could do great things for the reputation of the newspaper. By the end of the night, I was so drunk, I could hardly stand and I somehow promised him I would get him a job. He even congratulated me when I told him that I'd been making a living from my writing. He is so underhanded. The next day I mentioned to my boss that Nestor Maronski wanted a job as a reviewer, he said he knew Nestor. I hated my boss and under the influence of cherry brandy I had quite liked Nestor, so I was hoping he would get a job at The Post and that I could somehow persuade him to use his influence to get my boss fired. It turned out that Nestor and my nasty boss were old friends; it makes sense now that I know Nestor better. I later found out through an acquaintance that he and Nestor had been lovers at one time. It makes my blood boil just thinking that I was the one who got him that job, but how was I to know he was the personification of evil and spite rolled into one?

TSR: And when Mr Maronski wrote a bad review in relation to your new novel, how did you really feel about this, as you had helped him get is job at 'The Post'?

RF: How do you think I felt? I was angry... very angry. I wanted to kill him. He knew that by writing that review I would have no chance of getting a publishing deal. I had been doing well with my writing. I only had to work part time at The Post. But after his review, my sales plummeted and none of the publishing companies wanted to know me.

I had an argument with Nestor a few weeks before, because he'd written a bad review of a friend's book. Nestor said: "He's an indie writer, do you really think I would write a good review for him? Are you losing your mind?"


I couldn't believe he said that because at the party, when we'd first met, I'd told him I was an indie writer and he'd been complimentary... at least I think he was... I was under the influence of brandy, so sometimes I think I may have imagined that bit.


Anyway, he got me fired. He made up something about me stealing some paper from the office to print my manuscripts on. My new novel was sent to The Post for review. The protagonist in that book is an evil man who hates indie authors, Nestor thought it was based on him. Where he got that idea from I don't know. Anyway, he saw fit to write a scathing review, saying that he could write a better book with his right hand tied behind his back and blindfolded, he said it needed an overhaul, I needed to "cut the fat".

TSR: Shrieker tell me the truth on this one...

RF: How did you know my nickname? Are you an undercover cop or something? I didn't have anything to do with Maronski's disappearance, OK!

TSR: Okay, calm down. I can't remember where I heard your nickname, but I wasn't insinuating anything. I just want to know what was Mr Maronski's opinion of Indie authors?

RF: Nestor loathes indie authors, if it was up to him we'd all be burnt at the stake. Any opportunity he got he would blast us, and rip our books to shreds with his reviews. I'm glad he's gone.

TSR: When you say "gone", what do you mean exactly?

RF: Er... well... he's disappeared hasn't he? If you're trying to make out that I had anything to do with it...

TSR: No, I'm not. We just need to speak to people who knew him to get an idea as to where he might have gone. Can you tell me your whereabouts the day Mr Maronski was found hanging by his maid?

RF: I was writing my latest novel, it's a crime story about an evil reviewer who is brutally murdered by a gang of indie writers.

TSR: Again where were you the day Mr Maronski was kidnapped from the hospital?

RF: I was still writing my book. Do you have any idea how long it takes to write a book?

TSR: What is your favourite book and what are you reading next?

RF: My favourite book is 'Enemies and Playmates' by Darcia Helle. Do you know, the main character, Alex, reminds me of Nestor in many ways. I'm reading 'Shed' by Jason C McIntyre next.

TSR: When you were apprehended at the airport this morning why were you planning on flying to Rio?

RF: What are you trying to say? I don't like your line of questioning. I have to repeat again, I had nothing to do with Nestor's disappearance. I'm just glad he's gone and I hope he never comes back. As I already told the police, I was going to Rio on holiday. Writing a book takes a lot out of a person, you know.

Mr Russell Flemming abruptly concluded our interview at this point and was last seen running in the direction of Oxford Street Train Station in London. I was not permitted by the police to discuss any of these matters until now and was instructed by them to release this article today, however, a few of my friends and colleagues at BestsellerBound assure me, that they are watching and monitoring this particularly harrowing case very closely! If I obtain any more updates on this story, I'll post again on this blog.

Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick's blog site: http://www.thetaleisthething.blogspot.com

International Giveaway Winner!



After visiting random.org , I am delighted that I can now announce that the winner of an e-book edition of Grace Elliot's book 'A Dead Man's Debt ' is, (drum roll!):

Fiction Books

Congratulations to Yvonne who is the winner of this International e-book giveaway! Yvonne, I will pass on your details to Grace who will then organise the delivery of your prize. Well done!

Thank-you to everyone who entered this particular book draw and left wonderful comments. Thank-you as well to Grace Elliot, for agreeing to partake in this marvelous feature, supplying the International Giveaway prize and for visiting 'The Secret Writer' blog!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Friends in America!


Happy Thanksgiving Comments and Graphics for MySpace, Tagged, Facebook
Share Comments & Graphics - Thanksgiving Layouts - Photobucket

International Birthday Party!

'No Hope For Gomez!'
 International Birthday Party on 2nd December 2010




It's the age-old tale:      
Boy meets girl.     
 Boy stalks girl.      
Girl already has a stalker.      
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.”

A Message from author Graham Parke:
It's hard to believe, but it's been a year since I handed in the final proofs for my weird little book ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ To celebrate this, and the fact that it just became a finalist in 2010's Best Book Awards, I decided to throw an international party. As I’ve had a debilitating fear of throwing parties and no-one showing up since early childhood, I’d be more than delighted if you’d come! Of course, with every cool, international party comes a gift bag. Here's just some of the stuff attendants will get:

- Exclusive short story collection
- No Hope for Gomez: The Lost Chapters
- Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
- Signed hi-res poster + bookplate (These are all exclusive items and will not be available again)

Additionally, several lucky attendants will win a Kindle or an iPod!

To find out more visit:
http://grahamparke.blogspot.com/
                                

Friday, 19 November 2010

New Book Launch & International Giveaway by Guest Author:Grace Elliot

Writing as Therapy.

Firstly, a big thank you to the Secret Writer for giving me this opportunity to share my enthusiasm for historical romance…and who knows perhaps make a few converts!

A recent post at TSW struck a chord with me – the author worked in the mental health field.

You see I also lead a double life, as a veterinarian by day and author by night. I’ve read a deal of blog entries where authors always wanted to write, or came from creative families, but it just wasn’t like this for me. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a vet; I poured everything into school work, faced the competition and was rewarded by a place at University. So how then, did I come to be the proud author of my debut novel ‘A Dead Man’s Debt.’

To tell that I have to go back to a school reunion, meeting friends I hadn’t seen for twenty years. Struggling to remember names but they remembered (if not my name)… the stories I wrote for English homework and was forced to read to the class.

‘What did you do?’ They asked. ‘Did you become a writer?’

‘No…’ I shook my head, ‘No, I went to Uni and became a vet.’

But the seed had been sown. After two decades of science it was time to dust off my creative side…and boy was it a revelation. People that wound me up during the day, found themselves on the page at night. Tales of revenge at first, bitter and embattled, pouring out bile… but then I began to notice the world afresh; the amber tones on horse chestnut tree, smell the rotting leaf mould and feel the autumnal mist dampening my skin.

Now writing is my therapy after an emotionally demanding day at work. It keeps me sane. It’s taught me the knack of immersing myself in romantic characters and escape to their world - of satins and silks, of blackmail, peril and duty, where real men rode stallions and a woman with opinions was considered rebellious. I love manipulating their world, reeking havoc with the order of things, placing twist after twist on their tangled love lives…and so much more.

‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is - A story of personal sacrifice, pain and redeeming love, set against a background of blackmail and family duty.

Celeste Armitage has a plan…and that plan doesn’t include marriage.

After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…


Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a fa├žade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer tries to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….


Excerpt from ‘A Dead Man’s Debt.’

[Lady Sophia reveals her portrait to a friend.]

With a swoosh the drape hissed to the ground.

Georgiana’s eyes widened, flushing crimson as a hand covered her mouth.

“Oh my!”

The oil showed Sophia Cadnum stripped of her satins and silks with her natural beauty shining like an exotic flower. In just a gossamer shifts, with a rope of pearls wound round a swan like neck, she reclined in a woodland clearing, happy as a nymph. Ringlets of rich raven hair, unpowdered and unrestrained, tumbling over her shoulder to provide a modesty not offered by the transparent gown. On closer inspection, the male viewer would be enchanted to discover the ghost of a nipple peeping between ringlets.

“Well?” Sophia asked breathlessly.

“Sophia you are too bold! This portrait will be the talk of every salon. Why it, every rake and rogue hang will beat a path to your door to ogle daring Lady Sophia.”

Sophia smiled happily. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

Georgiana grew quiet, nervously averting her eyes.

“I speak as your dear friend and only with your interests at heart, but is it quite…” she glanced at Sophia then steeled herself, “…appropriate?”

Black thunder darkened Sophia’s pretty face. “And by that you mean?”

Georgiana took a deep breath. “Well, what with you being a mother now, something less… provocative… might be more correct?”

Sophia scowled. “But that’s precisely the point. Producing a son was my duty… and I won’t be made into a dowdy matron because of it. I need to feel alive and have my heart race for joy…heaven knows already the Duke talks of producing another brat for the nursery.”

Comprehension dawning Georgiana gulped. “Was it so very awful… giving birth?”

Sophia closed her eyes. “Hateful, from start to finish.”

Silence stilled the air. Georgiana cleared her throat.

“Has the Duke seen the painting?”

“In truth I don’t think he cares enough to have an opinion. As long as I serve my purpose as mother to his heirs, he won’t object.” She stroked her tightly laced stomacher, resting a hand on the barely perceptible dome of her belly. The light went from her eyes as she whispered. “Please God grant me respite from duty.”


‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is now available from most good eBook retailers, Amazon Kindle Bookstore and http://www.solsticepublishing.com/products/a-dead-man%27s-debt.html

If you would like to know more about Grace Elliot and her work please visit:
http://www.graceelliot.webs.com/
or
http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com/

International Giveaway
Grace has very kindly supplied an e-book copy of of her new novel 'A Dead Man's Debt' to accompany this post. All you have to do to enter the draw for this fantastic prize is to join this blog as a follower and then leave a comment on this post. Please also leave details of your e-mail address with your comment, so we can then contact the winner following the draw and to e-mail them their prize. If you are already a follower of this blog you can also enter the draw by leaving a comment on this post (do not forget to include your e-mail address with your comment!). Entry for this draw will close on Wednesday 24th November 2010. The winner will then be announced as soon as possible after this date.

Good luck everyone!




Thursday, 11 November 2010

Author Interview: Anjuelle Floyd



An Author Interview with Anjuelle Floyd



Today it is a great privilege for me to be able to welcome the author Anjuelle Floyd to my blog. As well as being a well known author of books, Anjuelle Floyd is also a voice to the world of Internet Radio! Anjuelle host’s a BlogTalk Radio discussion show with artists, entrepreneurs and authors, that broaden our understanding of the creative process, address the importance of family, and highlights the impact of books in our lives. The radio show is called 'Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters'.

Anjuelle Floyd is a wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work. As a graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral San Francisco. She has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology Berkeley, California, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has also received certificates of participation from 'The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week' and 'The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops'.

A student of Process Painting for the last decade, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.

Anjuelle facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on the 'Need for Family' and the 'Writing Process as a Path towards Self-discovery and Healing'.


_____________________________________

TSR: A very warm welcome to you Anjuelle, and can I thank-you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.

AF: Thank you so much, Calum, for having prepared this wonderful interview.

TSR: Anjuelle, can I begin by first asking what do you like best about California and what are your fondest memories of growing up in this part of the world?

AF: I actually grew up in North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina, where I met my husband on my first day at college, and graduated with the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Yet from the moment we arrived here California felt like home. It is the place where I have ultimately found my passion—writing fiction—and come home to myself.

My life has been varied in that I have lived in so many places.

Growing up in North Carolina provided me a lot of freedom to think and be with myself. I grew up on a 300-acre farm that my paternal grandfather had purchased 2 years after my father’s birth. Often I would accompany my father into corn and tobacco fields. I also roamed the woods with my dog, Benji.

My time in North Carolina gave me an experience of being with older individuals who bestowed much wisdom simply by being in their presence. I was extremely close with my maternal grandmother. Unfortunately my paternal grandmother died 5 months after my birth. My maternal grandmother lived five months from my home on the farm. My mother was an elementary school teacher. My father was a farmer. Until I reached five years of age I spent weeks during the school year with my grandmother. My mother would bring me home for the weekends.

My grandmother graduated finishing school at the turn of the century. She had been trained to teach. But instead of going out and teaching she married and began a family. She had a great love of reading.

In the summers I would spend various weeks with my grandmother. Granny’s home was really a kind of second home. She lived until I was 21 years old and wonderfully before dying, she met my husband. Life moved slowly, at its own pace, in North Carolina. My maternal grandmother had this small bookshelf--it was big to me--lined with books. I used to sit on the carpet going through those books. Those books spanned many genres. She also subscribed to Jet and Ebony Magazines. I spent many days and afternoons reading those books and magazines.

This was all great preparation for writing. My grandmother also told me stories about her family, most of whom were deceased. She gave me a great love of family, family connections and stories.

I married in 1982 when I graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science Degree with a certificate in Medical Technology. I then moved to Boston, Massachusetts where I worked in a HLA Lab, typing organs for transplantation, and then a Blood Bank while my husband studied medicine.

I remained in Boston for nearly a decade while my husband did a surgical internship and then entered a residency for urology. I gave birth to our first child while in Boston. It was then that I also made the decision to become a stay-at-home mother.

Growing up in the Southern United States also gave me an interest in understanding human individuals and myself. It also fostered what I now realize is a deep interest in psychology. When I became a stay-at-home mother in Boston, I began to read Freud and Jung.

Moving to Oakland in Northern California in 1991, a bed-rock of self-introspection in America, enlivened my interest in studying psychology, but I also have this spiritual side. Attending the California Institute of Integral Studies, founded by Haridas Chaudhuri, provided me with the opportunity to study psychology along with taking courses in Eastern Philosophy. It was during this time that I studied Old Testament Literature at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.

It is here in California that at the outset of my second pregnancy I entered graduated school studying psychology. I graduated from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 1995, with a MA in Psychology. In 1999, two months after the birth of our third and last child I became licensed to practice Marriage and Family Therapy.

By this time I had begun writing fiction. In 2000 I wrote my second novel in two weeks and realized that crafting novels was something I not only enjoyed doing, but as an outgrowth of having studied psychology and become a psychotherapist, also formed a major part of my personal healing.

TSR: Do you think books that you read during your childhood may have influenced your current writing in any way?

AF: Yes, most definitely. I loved reading Nancy Drew Mysteries that revealed my love for wanting to figure things out. Reading mysteries helps you to learn plot. I still love reading mysteries, particularly Victorian mysteries. I spent this past year reading the first 5 novels of Anne Perry’s William Monk Mysteries. I love the way Anne Perry interweaves authorial narrations with character dialogue. Her physical descriptions of characters reveal much of the character’s personality.

TSR: What made you decide to study psychology and follow the path to qualify and work as a licensed psychotherapist?

AF: I’ve always held a deep interest in wanting to understand why people do what they do? Again, growing up in the southern United States gives way to quietly observing individuals. I also developed a great capacity for listening. Growing up in the southern United States combined with African roots lends one the capacity to move slower, seek to understand that which cannot be seen, but felt, and to recognize the invisible ties that bind us to each other, and ourselves.

TSR: You have also studied Philosophy and Theology! By also studying these particular subjects, do you think it may have had an influence in the development of your thinking and writing style in any way?

AF: Oh most certainly. The most important aspect of studying philosophy and theology along with earning my Masters in Psychology was the development of a great respect for all that binds the heart, mind and soul, or rather the psyche, and how as a psychotherapist you cannot ignore the soul when working with a client.

An individual’s soul has nothing to do with their religion or lack thereof. In fact, Hinduism teachers the atheist is the most devout. It’s about what a person feels, what binds her or him to others and what she or he feels bind her or him to their own self. How do they envision their immortality? Or do they truly belief the physical death brings an end to everything for them?

Listening to clients’ thoughts about these and other aspects of life, enable you to help them decide what they truly want to do with their life, how best to achieve their wishes and desires and most importantly, how to address their life challenges, something that no human being escapes. And of course the ultimate challenge we all face is the great transition of Death.

TSR: What are your thoughts in relation to the use of 'therapeutic writing' with some individual's in the latter stages in their recovery from mental health problems?

AF: Writing is a great practice for coping with mental illness. I struggle from depression, and clearly my writing, along with taking my medication and my 3 decades of psychotherapy have brought me to where I am today. My practice of writing, for it is a spiritual practice, has taken me places where I could not have travelled without it. Crafting characters, developing dilemmas that challenge their heart and soul, force me to look inward and examine myself.

Every novel or story I write is a journey, one that is external--the literal act of writing the story and revising it to a point of completion where I feel I have given my personal best--and an internal one where through self-examination I flesh out not simply my characters’ personalities, but how they will navigate the obstacle before them--plot.

TSR: Did you always want to become a writer?

AF: I have always written stories. But I never really thought anyone would want to read them. I enjoyed reading what I had written as a child, but I was afraid others would find it stupid. In this way it has taken time to take seriously myself and what I write, even when I returned to writing as an adult 15 years ago.

I enjoy my stories, but it is hard to see where others might find them helpful. In this matter I focus on craft, trying to write clear sentences and paragraphs that have a clear flow of thought, and dramatic scenes that possess an emotional arc. Focus on revision and craft helps me deal with my intensely critical self or rather my pernickety internal editor.

TSR: Do you have a set writing routine when you are working on a novel?

AF: My routine is to write one novel a year. I usually do this in the fall around October and November. I am usually finished in December. I lay aside the rough draft of that novel and then start on revising the novel I have written from the previous year.

I take a novel through several revisions. I wrote my latest novel, ‘The House’ in January 2007, laid it aside and returned to it in fall of 2008. From October 2008 to May 2010 I took it through 3-4 revisions.

When I am writing a novel I try to write something each day. Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo that asks that you write 1600 words a day. I’m finding that can be a bit much to expect from yourself. This year I have started my novel at the outset of October with a goal of 800 words a day. That’s about 4 pages a day. I should have the rough draft finished by mid-December.

When I’m revising a novel, I print out the entire novel, and read each page while making edits as I go. I usually read about 50 to 100 pages and then take those pages with my notations made in red, blue, green or purple ink and go and insert changes based on my notes, onto the computer draft.

TSR: Where do you write best?

AF: I write at the desktop computer on the desk in our study. Everyone knows this is my place. I wrote at this desk before entering the Creative Writing Program at Goddard College where I earned my MFA.

Goddard’s program was long distance. Except for 10-day residencies we spent on campus at the outset of the 4 semesters of the program, we, the students conducted all other writing and work at home. This was great for finding a way to interweave your work as a writer/author with your life as a wife, mother, psychotherapist and/or your other responsibilities.

On graduating I did not have to find a way to re-establish myself and my routine for writing. I simply came home from Port Townsend, Washington and continued writing as I done throughout the 2 years.

TSR: Working as a therapist can be very demanding, as is writing novels to publishing deadlines. Do you have any hobbies or other interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from the demands of your professional life and writing?

AF: It’s important to have a writing routine. Writers write and I have found that it is best, or rather we revise and craft our best writing when adhering to some sort of continual schedule. This does not mean we have to write every day. But writers who want to write more than one book need to develop a routine that holds consistency. For some this means writing something every day. Others may find that writing every weekend works best for them. And of course you don’t and cannot keep up the routine, whatever it is without unexpected interruptions and/or scheduled breaks.

Writers need vacations, and time away from the computer. We also need to read. One of my great past times is reading. One of the most beautiful by-products of earning my MFA in Writing was not simply having the time to focus on my writing, but the experience of developing my ability to read as a writer and developing a consistent routine of reading. Before earning my MFA I always erred to the side of writing. If given the choice of writing or reading, I always went with the former. Now I choose the later. Reading replenishes my imagination.

Playing the cello and piano, and painting do that also. Engaging in the cello, piano and paint brush also allows me to work through difficult spots in crafting a story without thinking heavily upon the matter. So much of writing fiction involves learning to work with the unconscious. Developing a routine and engaging with other creative arts assists our development as literary artists while helping us take a writing project deeper, and to far reaches we cannot access simply by writing.

TSR: Can you tell us a bit about your current book of short stories, called ‘Keeper of Secrets – Translations of an Incident’?

AF: Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident is a collection of interconnected short stories, what some would term a linked novel. The common denominator is a restaurant incident that when viewed by the protagonists of the first and second short stories, travels to others who either hear about the incident from the protagonists of the 1st and 2nd stories or those that the protagonists of those first two stories know or with whom they are acquainted.

The protagonist of each story views or interprets the incident through the lens of the dilemma they are presently facing. And yet that dilemma stands connected to an unresolved loss, tied to an internal conflict delivered back to them in the form of having witnessed or heard about the incident. Their translation of what the incident means to them opens a road of deliverance that when travelling or deciding to travel on it, brings redemption, grace and transformation.

Those interested in ‘Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident’ can sample the first story at:  http://www.freado.com/book/6176/dancing-siva-from-keeper-of-secretstranslations-of-an-incident

TSR: ‘What was the inspiration behind the writing of your new book ‘The House’?

AF: Interestingly I wrote The House while taking a class entitled ‘Story Basics’. Having earned my MFA in Creative Writing, I was scheduled to teach the class in a Masters level writing program. My experience as a student in the class served as training for me to teach it.

The main primer for the class, ‘Story Basics’, is Writing for Story by Jon Franklin, a Pulitzer Prize Winning Essayist. In Writing for Story, Franklin addresses the importance of career writers learning to develop an outline or blueprint for writing their fiction.

Upon graduating from my MFA program, I began exploring various ways and methods for planning out my stories and novels, but that also left enough undiscovered territory that I gained even more excitement to write the story. I wanted to develop or find an outline that fueled my desire to write, not take it away with planning to point of leaving no mystery. The Franklin Outline as explained in Writing for Story did that for me.

A requirement of the class is to use Franklin’s Outline or some variation thereof to plan a story or novel and then write the story or beginning of the novel, about 10,000 words. I had intended to write a short story. Having written 10,000 words by the end of the first of 15 weeks evidenced the outline worked for me.

Creating characters has always been easy. Developing a way to keep the story moving and not bogged down in dispensing information about a protagonist’s personality has presented my greatest challenge. Plotting stories is where my growth points lay, most specifically deciding where and when to dispense what knowledge, as deemed by the action, interaction and conflict at hand.

The Franklin Outline cleared the path for me to write by giving me a road map, while leaving the territory untouched. Following the blueprint I created for my story, I simply wrote plot--action, what was happening, the cause-and-effect movement of the narrative.


Unlike with other stories I had written, I uncovered or rather realized the personalities of my characters along the way as I wrote. This is much like what readers experience when reading a good story. The writer does not throw at readers everything about characters all at once. Rather she or he drops breadcrumbs as demanded by the action in scenes. The action in scenes is essentially plot.

Since writing ‘The House’, I have modified my method for sketching stories and novels, but Job Franklin’s Method of outlining a work of fiction sits at the heart of how I plan. The Franklin outline helps me chart where the story is destined, and yet I have no idea the roads that the story will take in getting there--i.e. discovery. This makes writing less stressful and fun and ultimately allows me to write more deeply of the places action and experiences my protagonist undergoes along the journey.

Those interested in learning more about ‘The House’ can sample opening pages at:  http://www.freado.com/book/6208/the-house

TSR: Have you any other books in the making at the moment?

AF: Oh yes. I’m in the middle of the 8th revision of a novel I wrote in 2001, entitled ‘Seasons ‘and I have begun writing my novel, yet untitled, for this year 2010.

I aim to write a novel each year during the fall. On completion of that first draft, I lay it aside and begin revising the novel I wrote either the previous year or as in this case the one I wrote in 2001. ‘Seasons’ chronicles for one year the plight of a woman who has lost her sight and how her efforts to help a man dying of AIDS assists her in adjusting to her blindness and gaining a new perspective and insight on her husband and herself.

TSR: Do you think that you professional background has helped or hindered you in writing comfortably about the dynamics, emotions and sometimes problems, that can be found within some close personal relationships?

AF: I write about marriages, and families, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, the emotional threads that bind them and the nuances of interactions that drive emotional tension both externally and internally.

I recently read an author assert, “An unresolved internal conflict sits at the bottom of ever story or novel. Plot,” he added, “--is but a demonstration in scenes of the external actions the protagonist undergoes to resolve that conflict.” I would agree, and simply add to his statement that the writer undergoes a parallel process of resolving an inner conflict when writing and then revising said story.

The first and foremost conflict is that of writing the rough draft of the story and that uphill climb of revising and editing the novel or story until we reach knowing that we have given our personal best, both in craft and skill to the work and soul, heart and emotion.

To bring a story or novel to full completion the author must reach a place of truthfulness within. This goes beyond adhering to craft. And yet a sincere and stern focus on craft can take us into emotionally riveting places that we otherwise could not enter.

Essentially a writer has to know when we have reached that place of emotional authenticity in writing a novel. How much of the story have we ignored or edited out for comfort’s sake? Or how much were willing to take the time needed to go where the story was asking that we travel? At this point in the writing it becomes a matter of are we writing to meet a deadline or ourselves.

This is the wonderful aspect about self-publishing. I can take as long as I need emotionally to write the most authentic story or novel I can. Recently developments in Internet and computer technology have allowed us to print and bind books or create electronic copies of novels in seconds. And yet the human imagination cannot be rushed. In fact these recent developments allow, if not force us as writers, to give more time to the creation and refining of our work. As a result of the Internet, readers are now becoming more savvy; their consciousness is broadening by leaps and bounds. What once held their, your and our attention as readers, no longer engages us.

We are evolving both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Writers must bear this in mind. And here again is why we must take the time to read widely and deeply, both as writers and as readers, wanting to nourish our minds, hearts, and souls.

TSR: What genre would you say that your books fit into?

AF: Women’s Fiction; Spiritual, Psychological, Family, Marriage.

TSR: Is it an impossible task, or can you give any advice to new writers, as they struggle to try to achieve a work life balance when working, bringing up a family, writing and also possibly trying to promote their books as well?

AF: Stephen King writes in his memoir, “On Writing” that the most important thing a writer can have is a stable family. He then explains how his wife has provided that for him, both emotionally and practically, in seeing to the running of home, engaging plumbers to take care leaky faucets, having the cars serviced, addressing the day-to-day responsibilities that must be met by any household.

My husband has provided that for me. I have not had to worry about how to make a salary from my writing in order for me to write, and yet I am a fulltime wife and mother. The two have jobs--and they are jobs-- have required much of me. And my passion for marriage and family, have seeded my love for writing. Marriage and family are what I write about. Committed relationship with my husband, the bonds with my children, my determination to live out my love for all four of them, has provided fertile terrain on which for me, to examine the nature of human family interactions.

For me, God is relationship. And we engage with God most fervently by either interacting with or avoiding family, those from whom we have descended and lived beside in our growth towards adulthood. We are who we are both because of and despite our families. Most, if not all internal conflicts arise from unresolved family dilemmas, tensions with those whom we lived during our childhood years. This is Freudian. Our observations of others and our own personal experiences evidence and bear witness to this.

I find balance between my roles as wife and mother, writer/author and promoter/entrepreneur, by remembering what is most sacred and sustains me--my spirituality, my relationship with God from whom all good things, people and experiences arise most of which is my faith and my family.

My writing would not be what it is without my husband and our children. It is through them and my engagement with them, and how much I value my relationships with them, that I write. My husband is my muse. Without him I dare say I would not be writing. I might have some stories inside me, but the passion and compulsion to write and refine them for public consumption would not exist.

TSR: What is your favourite book and why?

AF: Oh, I have several favorite books but the one that stands out from some time back is A Sin of Color by Sunetra Gupta. I also have to say that The Inheritance of Loss by Kirin Desai comes in at a tight second.

These two books explore aspects of life for which words most often provide insufficient demonstration and explanation. Sunetra Gupta and Kirin Desai craft scenes containing action, dialogue and setting that show long distances the heart and soul travels within myriad interactions with those we most love and least understand. In short, they explore alienation at its deepest core, the disconnect that most often lies between family members, unspoken and many times unacknowledged, but all the more present and palpable--and how we are made better or worse or left unchanged by these experiences.

TSR: Are you currently reading any books at the moment, and if so what are they?

AF: I am presently reading The Disorder of Longing by Natasha Baunman, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and In Sickness and in Health by Maxine Billings.

TSR: From what you have shared with us today, it can be clearly seen that you are kept very busy within your life but enjoy it to the full! To conclude this interview can you finally tell us what simple things in life make you smile?

AF: I love sharing a meal with my husband at the end of the day, hearing about the drama and special moments of caring patience. Surgeons are so focused. Hearing about what he has experienced I ask a lot of questions in that I am a psychotherapist. Often his responses make me laugh.

The wife of one of my husband’s fellow residents in surgery was a social worker. When our husbands were in the thick of their training such that we never saw them--they spent every other night in the hospital--she said two things that have stuck with me. “We [the wives] cry of these guys, get sick for them, hold all the emotions the nature of their work inhibits them from doing.
Of the nature of their work she said, “The idea of surgery is crazy. You make an incision, cut someone open, to make them better.” I have since that time learned that while many internal medicine physicians (male) marry other (female) physicians, surgeons (male) tend to marry psychotherapists, social workers, and psychiatrists.

TSR: Anjuelle, it has been a great pleasure for me to work with you on this interview for my literary site. I would like to thank-you once again for taking the time to speak to us in such depth today.

AF: And thank you. I always like doing these type of interviews. Answering your questions provokes me once more, to turn inward and look at myself, something that a writer can never do too much.

Peace and Blessings.



If anyone would like to discover more details about Anjuelle Floyd and her writing, Anjuelle’s website can be accessed by clicking on the following hyperlink:
  
http://www.anjuellefloyd.com/