I am privileged to share a guest blog with you from my friend Robert Walker. I first met Robert on Facebook a couple of year ago.
Since then I have read and enjoyed his wisdom, insights, humor and books. He is a warm and delightful, man as well as a talented author. He shares freely his wisdom, kindness and knowledge with all who wish to partake of his words.
His books are a delight to read full of twists, turns and suspense. I consider myBravo to my friend and thank you for taking the time to join me.
I am privileged to share a guest blog with you from my friend Robert Walker. I first met Robert on Facebook a couple of year ago. Since then I have read and enjoyed his wisdom, insights, humor and books. He is a warm and delightful, man as well as a talented author. He shares freely his wisdom, kindness and knowledge with all who wish to partake of his words.
His books are a delight to read full of twists, turns and suspense. Bravo to my friend and thank you for taking the time to join me.
Great FICTION Can Be Stranger & Stronger Than FACT…or: Can a Story be More Useful than the Truth?
It slays me every time on the news or talk shows some bozo uses a trite phrase, but in particular this one – "Aww…that's just fiction." or "We're talking fiction here" and always with disdain for fiction and story and storytellers, when in fact there are few things on the planet as powerful as a story example to prove a truth. The same attitude is three-fold in academic circles when your colleagues learn that you not only write fiction but OMG – genre fiction. If it isn’t what they consider to be “literature” (which is in the eye of the beholder) then your colleagues and even your bosses diminish your fiction titles with such phrases as, “Oh, yeah, he’s published a novel, but it’s just genre fiction—one of Rob’s types of books, likely just a fluff-piece mystery.”
I have gotten this sort of response at every college or school I’ve ever worked at rather than gaining support in such circles, and sadly, in a teaching career spanning over 30+ years, I have heard this kind of put-down of my fiction for a long, long time now. Honestly, this attitude toward genre fiction in particular is not unusual. There is an unspoken belief on the part of academics that if they wished to waste their time any one of them could do what I do in terms of writing a horror or suspense novel.
A professor across the corridor from me writes a novel based on the life of Jane Austen and it is given high praise among our peers, and instantly stamped “literature”; I write a fast-paced historical thriller set in Chicago in 1893 and it is just another novel to throw on the stack. Admittedly, I have a large stack, some fifty published works to the single title about Jane
Austen, so I am surely looking like the ‘hack’ writer of the department, but I will tell you this: it takes an enormous amount of research, writing, editing, proofing, rewriting, more research, more editing, more writing to craft any novel, and we who write genre fiction, we work like dogs.
We work as hard if not harder than the person who labors for ten years over a so-called “literary work of genius” conceived first as a thesis.
In our own way, we successful genre authors are also creating works of genius in the sense that we know our tools and use them with skill unmatched by so many “classics” that are in fact chockfull of boredom, books with what I call a straight line to nowhere like the straight line you find on the monitor hooked to a dead patient. We genre authors know our field, we know what moves people, what prompts a reader to turn pages and even finish the book, no matter its length. We know how to create a real seismograph of action, no straight line dead chapter after chapter of inner monologue or passive descriptions that lose sight of actors
and action on the page or ‘stage’ if you will.
I cannot tell you how many so-called “literary classics” are read via Clift Notes and the book itself remains unfinished. This is certainly the case with Moby Dick, most of the works of Dickens, especially Bleak House (what a bleak book). Even my hero and spiritual mentor and guru, Mark Twain’s most famous novel failed to have a proper ending, classic that it is. But then Twain in his day was closer to a ‘genre’ author than he is today in hindsight. Academics love him now but they hated him during his lifetime, and Huckleberry Finn was banned from the outset of its publication not for the word nigger but for the fact his heroes were the
uneducated orphan and the runaway slave—the vulgarity of the whole of it, just SHOCKING to the sentiments of the day. Twain, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Alexander Dumas, Shakespeare,Victor Hugo even wrote the ‘genre’ fiction of their day.
Simple as that. These writers wrote for the masses in their own time and not for academics or newscasters who may not have a clue as to what the world of fiction really, truly conveys; people who actually do not know what the word even means.
Getting back to the TV pundits and their flippant use of the word “fiction”. How can they use it as if it was interchangeable with the word LIE. Let me tell you that every honest TRUTH about the human condition and our bondage of the flesh, as well as our mental state is found in Shakespeare’s plays—his “fiction”. Fiction that predates Sigmund Freud yet is chockfull of psychoanalysis in Hamlet alone. All that we know of the human condition is found in FICTION – which is by many defined as ‘a pack of lies to prove a truth’. It comes from the Spanish word ficciones. Look it up some time.
What do you think? For me, fiction is art, and good fiction, entertaining fiction is a work of art that has taken perfect shape whether a gem of a short story, a novella, a novel, a film script, or a play. A shapely work of art which the careful author takes pains shaping—many pains over a
long-suffering time period but not ten years long-suffering, I would hope! I have taken four months to create a simple, straightforward horror novel, and on and off, I have taken years to complete other novels. Every project dictates its own time, it seems to me.
My most recent ‘horrible’ genre novel is a sequel to my Dr. Abraham Stroud, archeology meets the supernatural trilogy which I penned back in the 90s with a character I enjoy spending time with. Here in what others often consider a “schlocky” horror series, I do my utmost to make it shapely and artistic in its delivery to the reader, which is all we can hope from an author. Below is an excerpt with annotations on what I am thinking/doing at each point of the 300 word excerpt, opening pages of Bayou Wulf. The annotated opening I feel could be eye-opening and instructive of how this art of the novel works in my mind but certainly not everyone else’s.
Excerpted opening of BAYOU WULF by Robert W. Walker O N E Oasis Bayou, Oasis County, Louisiana 3:10 AM, March 14,2011 **establish setting, place, time, date immediately or as soon as possible.
There came a strange sound to Dr. Abraham Stroud’s ear, but then Stroud’s ear was always to the ground—two grounds in fact. Where he slept atop the Louisiana bayou earth made one
ground. The second came of that pesky steel plate in his head, which ‘grounded’ him in two worlds. It kept him alive in the reality other humans enjoyed, the so-called normal world, yes, but it also kept him attuned and in touch. It acted as his private, built-in, high-frequency radio to the paranormal world.**
** start in the middle of things going on NOW…establish crisis moment of drama as opening; if you can string along a metaphor (groundings in this case), do so.
K. Dawn Byrd, a talented writer. K. Dawn Byrd has several books already published. I am pleased to have her announce her new book and plans for her next ones on my blog. Thank you Dawn.
Title: This Time for Keeps
India McGuire's peaceful life is shattered when on the night of her engagement to David Richards, she comes face to face with Chase Porter, a long lost love.
India must come to terms with her overpowering feelings for Chase and choose
between David, the neighbor who says he loves her, and Chase, the man who broke her heart.
Chase's plans of leaving quietly turn to disaster when he finds that it's impossible to disappear without seeing India one last time. Feelings begin to surface that he believed buried forever and he finds himself fighting to win her back even as David struggles to hold onto her.
India longs to follow her heart, but she's been hurt too deeply. Who will she choose? The neighbor who can provide stability or the man she vowed to love forever who may once again heed to the call of the open road?
1) How did this story come to you?
This story actually started as a post-WWII story about a man who goes away to war and returns many years later to find his ex-girlfriend engaged to someone else. Once I began writing, the WWII era just didn't feel right and the story became a modern day romance.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I had already published several books with Desert Breeze Publishing and when they reopened submissions, I pitched it and they reserved a spot.
3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1) I own two hairless Chinese Crested dogs.
2) I love sour things....pickles, lemons, sour candy.
3) I used to ride a Harley, but gave it up in order to have more time to write. (My husband always wanted to stay out way too long and take the scenic route home. He still has his bike, but I don't miss mine at all.)
4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I'm writing the sequel to my first young adult romance, Mistaken Identity, which released in June.
Future releases are:
January 2012- Zoe
Mack and the Secret of the Love Letters (the first book in a college-age mystery
series that's heavy on the romance)
April 2012- Shattered Identity (young adult sequel to Mistaken Identity)
June 2012- Zoe Mack and the Case of Fatal Attraction
December 2012- Zoe Mack (Book #3- not yet titled)
5) Parting comments?
Thank you for hosting me! For those of you who love Christian fiction, please
check my blog for weekly book giveaways. I interview 3-5 authors a week who give away their books. www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com
6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
I'm also on Twitter (kdawnbyrd) and facebook (K
Dawn Byrd.) I am the moderator of the Christian Fiction Gathering facebook group
Thank you I have enjoyed having you visit. I wish you continued success.
With the greatest pleasure, I'm introducing you to one of the most compassionate, tolerant and wonderful women I know, Elle Amberley.
Since reading her first blog post, I have known that Elle is a woman that I will never forget. She has added to and changed my life.
Thank you for taking the time and honoring me with this interview. Hugs
1.) I understand you have lived in several countries, which countries did you live in?
I have lived in almost every Western European country there is, America and Australia.
2.) Is there one thing you liked about particular country more than another or something you learned by living in different places?
I love France and never quite understood why we kept moving around when it my was my mother’s favourite country. I loved the language and the culture which I assimilitated very quickly. I also love Italy, it’s such a wonderful country and its inhabitants are so friendly and welcoming. Australia wooed me as a twenty-something.
America was a big turning point, provided an escape. It was also a culture shock. I loved the friendliness of Californians even if I didn’t always like what I saw, especially how some viewed homeless people. My stint in California inspired my latest novel.
3.) When writing about women’s and children’s issues what do you like to focus on? Is there a particular thing you like to bring attention to?
General injustice and anything related to abuse. I’m a firm believer in equality, so yes I am a feminist in the sense I believe women and men should have the same opportunities and rights.
4.) I too love all different styles and types of music, from the classics, big bands to today’s new
artists. What kind of music moves you the most and do you use music when you write?
I’m an intense type of person, I like big emotions. I like to be surprised, a dramatic change of rhythms for example. I always say two things saved me while growing up; books and music.
I love different styles but a few years ago I found the whole package. We have a program on the British radio called “Desert Island Disc” in which a celebrity discusses music tastes and what they would take with them if stranded on a desert island. No hesitation for me.
5.) I understand you write in both French and English, what do you find to be the main difference between writing a story in French or English?
Writing in French came as a shock to me. It followed a trauma and a new person coming into my life, the person who understands me the most.
I had not managed to talk to anybody about this. This happened on a particularly dark day when I was torn between decisions; he simply sat at me his desk and placed a pen in my hand. The whole sorry tale poured out in minutes, in French and through tears, and in the form of poems. I stared at it afterwards, shocked but liberated.
I love writing in French, I’ve developed a whole
new style which I suppose is fitting since I like variety.
6.) Most people hide something about themselves from others and many write under an assumed name. Is there a particular meaning behind your pen name?
There is a rather personal one. I’ve heard a lot of pros and cons regarding pen names, sometimes people judge without knowing the full reasons. Noms de plume are nothing new, it’s a choice we make. Sometimes we have to hide for good reasons; living in fear is never fun.
7.) Will you tell us a bit about your new novel“Nowhere Left to Hide,” when it will be available and where we can find it?
Signed copies will be available through my
website. Otherwise all usual channels and Amazon of course, either in paperback or as an ebook.
The story follows Natasha Parker, a British
student, as she is offered the opportunity to study in California. She jumps at the chance to leave her childhood ghosts behind her and once in America finds friendship and love. The question is: can she really let go? And what happens when her visa runs out?
8.) If you could change one thing about the world or how we deal with each other what would it be?
Injustice would cover it, people going hungry, homeless, racism and abuse of any kind. How to deal with? Good question! More tolerance, more awareness, better education, more fairness.
9.) After reading so many of your posts on various blogs, your website, and The Women on the Verge I am
intrigued and astounded by your ability to show such compassion and knowledge of people. What helped you most in learning how to be so compassionate of others?
I have no idea; I am hypersensitive, same as my
children. Perhaps certain experiences have reinforced my compassion. You have a choice, always, to react to whatever happens to you. You can go into victim mode or pick yourself up.
I’m not always as tolerant as I’d like though. I also have a short temper.
I suppose I’m good at seeing things from a different angle and all too often put myself in other people’s shoes. Empathy is good, there is a lack of it in our society, and too much can be emotionally shattering. Sometimes I get too angry in reaction to what I see or read, or I cry. That’s when I know I need a break and need to refocus.
10.) Where can people read your writing or contact you?
I love hearing from readers and they’re always welcome to follow me on Twitter and Facebook or email me.
There is a contact form on my website www.elleamberley.co.uk
I also regularly blog on Women On The Verge, a wonderful community where I found my voice and have shared many very personal experiences.
Thank you so much Marta, I’ve loved taking part in this interview and answering your very thoughtful questions, such a pleasure and honor. Thank you for your friendship, I hope we meet in person one day.
Elle, that would be a joy for me. I hope also to meet you in person one day. Thank you for your friendship. You honor me and I have grown since knowing you. I am looking forward to reading your book.
I have the pleasure of introducing the lovely Robbie Kaye. Robbie’s love of beauty and ability to find it in the most unusual places;
brings joy and color into our lives. Her Beauty of Wisdom project is a tribute to all of life.
Thank you Robbie for sharing your spirit and joy with us.
1.) In your interview with FabafterFifty you talk about your Beauty of Wisdom project finding you. Can you tell us a little more about what captured your imagination when you took your first photograph in the series?
The first photograph I took was “Jenny” and that orange background was amazing, along with her black turtleneck and face. I went in there thinking I would photograph something humorous. But in fact, I found that these women had more integrity that anyone could imagine. As I continued photographing I realized that what I wanted to convey was just that, their integrity… with themselves and their connection to self-care, and connection with others. And… I was looking in the mirror, if I’m lucky to get to their age and if I do, if I’m lucky enough to be as courageous and wise as they are.
2.) I have never been one to think of myself or anyone else as being a particular age. Yet I do find myself missing the days when people dressed a bit. Do you believe we as a society are
losing something by our casual attitudes toward each other, life and ourselves?
I try not to speak for an entire society; I can only speak for myself. I really feel on the fence about this, because there are days when I would really like to get dressed up and days when I would really like to dress “casually.” I would have to think about the presence of formality that is equated with dressing up… and if that represents a sense of “respect” or not… it’s all so subjective really…and probably somewhat generational… generally speaking.
3.) What have you gained by talking to these women as you were photographing them?
I’ve gained an increase in respect and admiration for them and the road they have paved. They also, keep me connected to the memories of my own grandmothers. They were very special in my life…
4.) You also write music which is heartrending, loving, and tender. Your music covers a gamut of emotions, where do you find your inspiration when writing a piece?
I find my inspiration in so many places… inside myself, in relationship to others,sometimes even politics or social issues…But mostly, I just let whatever inspires me go through me… and out of me musically… hoping to offer relatable music and poetry.
5.) I understand that you studied music; can you tell us where you studied and what is your favorite genre?
I was trained classically on piano then studied music at Georgia College and then jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I concentrated on piano and composition. I don’t really have one favorite genre… I have several… classical, jazz, blues and rock.
6.) Your photography speaks to the soul as if it was visualized music. How do you pick your subjects when not photographing for the Beauty of Wisdom project?
I’d have to say that as with Beauty and Wisdom. The subjects pick me… by intriguing me, sometimes it’s about content, or color, and many times about light… light shining in unexpected places…
7.) You have said that Georgia O’Keefe has been an influence on your work. What aspects of her work inspire yours?
I love her fearlessness in her work, her boldness and grace all at the same time... I love that while she liked to paint big, she was not precocious or ostentatious. She was humble and bold all at once, attributes I aspire to.
8.) Be it in your music, photography or your writing there is a sense of compassion, beauty and joy that shines through. What helps you most to keep this sense of wonder, joy, beauty
and compassion alive?
I suppose it is like a flower that grows out of the mud… and it remembers where it came from and how beautiful it feels to bloom in the sun and above the mud…. So in essence, remembering that I have a choice as to where I want to be helps me... In the mud or in the sun, filled with joy and love and happiness. I practice the law of attraction and read text about it and listen to excerpts of talks about it… I have been blessed with attracting mentors that teach me how to get closer to the mastery of life and being. Beautiful comrades like you, who share the journey with me and remind me of all the joy that is present in life if, I just choose to see it.
9.) Would you tell us about your dreams for the Beauty of Wisdom project?
That’s easy! My dreams for Beauty and Wisdom are that I get to exhibit the photos in museums and galleries, while also having a wonderful book to accompany it. And… perhaps a documentary. Ultimately, that this work will aid in the changing of the perceptions about age and beauty. That it will offer an alternative way of thinking. So that we all can embrace the process with ease and compassion… and at the same time, creating a visibility and honoring for our elders who are already there.
10.) Where would people find your work and learn more about you?
My work can be found at www.robbiekaye.com for Beauty and Wisdom and 2 other series. More work can be found at www.robbiekayegallery.com - that’s where my portraits and landscapes are as well as other work.
I am honored to introduce one of my favorite women. Ana Lewis, the founder of Women on the Verge.
Ana is an inspiration to women everywhere, bringing women together to help and support each other. Her love, joy of life and care for all those she touches shines light on us all.
On this the second anniversary of WOMEN ON THE VERGE, we are celebrating the diversity and courage of women everywhere. Thank you Ana.
1.) What prompted you to start Women on the Verge?
I believe in women - as nurturers, as friends, as sisters. We typically nurture and support the important people in our lives: husbands, children, parents, etc.. What happens when we nurture each other? Women on the Verge happens. We blossom, we grow and we are fed - in the same ways that we have been feeding others. It busts the stereotype of women in the competitive settings all to shreds - and I love that!
2.) Two years ago when you began Women on the Verge did you believe that it would grow to include so many women from all walks of life and all cultures?
Yes, actually I did. And I also believe that we have only begun to scratch the surface. Women thrive in a supportive atmosphere with other women. The Internet is a physical example on how we are all connected. When we exercise and feel that connection, we thrive.
3.) Did you grow up surrounded with what is the best in women, seeing firsthand that women could be nurturing to each other?
I would say yes and no to this. My mother and her sister were very close and supportive - and I always yearned for a sister for myself to have that kind of connection. My mother was also very, very good at nurturing other people, but quite frankly, she continually put herself in last place. I would have liked to see her supported in the same way she supported others. I think that it may have even lengthened her too short life (she died at the age of 46 years old).
4.) Do you see women in today’s culture being able to maintain their competitiveness while still sustaining their natural nurturing abilities?
This is such a tough question. I think we have to really, really try to remember who we are as women. We are still trying to gather our bearings in a male dominated world. What works for men is not necessarily what works for women. I think that as long as we accept ourselves and focus what makes us grow in the world, we will be able to balance support and competition. That will be a beautiful time for us and will open avenues to us that we had no idea existed before as they will be brand new.
5.) Your belief that women can be more nurturing of each other has made a decided impact on thousands of women. What helped you to understand that this was what women’s true nature could become in the face of today’s society?
I simply listen to what it feels like when I nurture and when I am nurtured by others. Simple things, such as knitting a prayer shawl for one of my closest friends in celebration of being a grandmother, is a two-fold love experience: I felt love for her while doing it, she felt love in return. I think that kind of simplicity in doing what feels right, is where we need to be and put our energies.
6.) When you have your monthly radio show what message are you trying to bring to others?
We are digger deeper into our monthly topic. Plus, it's really fun for me to be able to talk to these phenomenal women. They are fearless in their opinions, they make me laugh and I admire them so much.
7.) Women on the Verge has over the last year made me laugh, cry, learn and find a keener understanding of other women’s successes trials, tribulations and joys. Each topic is geared
toward helping all women find a deeper knowledge not only of others but of themselves. How do you pick your topic of the month?
Most of the topics have been emailed to me by women in the membership. And, I agree with you so much. It seems like when we focus on a topic, I see it everywhere. The learning process has transformed me and my life.
8.) In the last two years has there been anything you would have liked done differently?
I think that my comfort zone has typically been staying in the background, quietly working by
myself and my dog at my side. Women on the Verge has been helping me come out of that comfort zone - which has been a little bit of a challenge for me. I think a couple of years ago, I put a little bit of pressure on myself to act like I am okay being "out there", when I am not always. This past year, I have learned that I can simply be myself - some days I am quiet and some days I am noisy - and the community is still going to be here - not only for me, but most
beautifully for each other. I guess it's my own lesson in self-acceptance.
9.) If you had one wish for Women on the Verge what would it be?
That we bust the ugly stereotypes to smithereens. That the daughters of tomorrow are told stories of how we actually used to compete against each other in a non-productive manner - and look how far we have grown! I hope that supporting each other through our ups and downs in life become the norm and not an exception.
10.) Where would you like the movement to be year or two from now?
I would like to meet every single member in person. I would like for each of us to have our messages spread in ways that showcase how each of us can have success - not by competition, but by sisterhood. I would like for us to live our talk out loud and bask in the light of our connection and feel the strength of it every day.
Thank you Marta! You have truly made me think. :)
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Author & Poet
Marta Moran Bishop, is an author and poet. Ms. Bishop writes many books for children as well as for more mature audiences.