Archive for the ‘The Writing Craft’ Category

patrick headshot interviewsAs a toddler, Patrick C. Greene was creating horrors in crayon and magic marker upon every available surface. Not surprisingly, he soon discovered comic books and immersed himself in the fantastic worlds found therein. Horror fiction and films came next, and despite spending nights of terror hiding under covers, he always found himself drawn back to tales of dark fates.

Greene cut his fangs in the screenwriting business but found his true calling in the world of prose fiction of the kind his heroes King, Barker and Koontz create. With the success of his first novel PROGENY, and the upcoming THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene presents a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful.

Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Greene answers the call of his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of horror, kung fu and doom metal.

Connect with Patrick on the net: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Check out The Crimson Calling on Amazon.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Crimson Calling To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: modern day military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers. Enter Olivia Irons. Ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?

Q: What do you think makes a good vampire novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: It’s a bit of a balancing act, given that there are so many vampire films and books now. You have to meet certain expectations while defying or reversing others. For me, I’m never going to read a vampire romance novel but they aren’t written for me. For me, it has to be scary.

crimsonThree elements I think are necessary are intelligence on the part of the vampire (s) whether they are pro or antagonist, some sort of relationship between mortals and vamps, and, lastly, some erotic undertones. Vampires have become as much a symbol of sex as of death.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Most of it was on the fly. I knew there would be a loner recruited by (more-or-less) benevolent vampires. It surprised me that the loner was a young female, as I had pictured a male.

Some times during the process, I could outline a few scenes ahead, but then I had to leave it alone and hope for the best upon finishing that sequence. By the midway point, it basically stream of consciousness. Even as a writer, I don’t like to peek too far ahead.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I wrote a brief bio for Liv, the kind of thing you might pick up in a conversation with someone you’re stranded in an elevator with for an hour or so. Beyond that I did find myself revising some elements of her but not to the point of deus ex machina, if that makes sense. Sometimes you have to lay down the cards and leave them, see what play off of them.


Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: With Crimson and my previous novel Progeny, I tried to intersperse exposition-heavy scenes with the more action driven elements of the story, which often means jumping around a bit in the timeline. It’s important to know, for instance, that Olivia is dealing with heavy emotional baggage, but my reasoning was that the source for said baggage need not be tossed right onto the table as one complete package. We all understand loss. We all throw up barriers against its effects. It’s interesting to me to understand not just the loss itself, but the coping strategies as well, through the action, not outside of it. So, though there’s no set formula, I try to create a scene that leaves the reader with a feeling of “Good lord, why’d they do that?” then offer a piece of backstory that serves as a brief respite while giving some clarity while the event is still fresh.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: When reading Ian Fleming James Bond novels as a youth, I found that 007’s globetrotting gave the character a sense of confidence and coolness. I personally tend to have some trepidation about being in places with which I’m not familiar, and Bond was always up on local traditions and customs. So the setting becomes a character inasmuch as it is viewed through the character. When discussing the various international locales of Crimson, I sought to deal with their strangeness rather than their familiarity. Vampire stories need an air of mystery, which is one of the few small differences from zombie stories, for instance, which work better with a sense of familiarity.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Redemption is the only theme isn’t it? Even if it’s never achieved, we’d all like to have done something differently at some point, or get a shot at a similar situation so we can use what we have learned. A good many characters get a shot at redemption in Crimson and their success levels are wildly divergent.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: Eye of the beholder, simplistic as it sounds. Think of a movie or book that terrified or thrilled you as a child, yet seems almost laughable all these years later. If the creator felt some sense of accomplishment beyond the financial payoff, they can be said to have endeavored in genuine art, by definition.

Editing is an absolute necessity for an author, and all authors should learn to crush their egos underfoot for the sake of the work itself. You need beta readers, you need a sense of neatness and fulfillment throughout your work, and you need to realize that as a creator at any professional level you are giving away that work and letting it become the property of your patrons. So learn to value criticism and outside input. If you can’t cut the fat, be willing to hire someone who will.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Hm. If I’m limited to three I would say third is an enjoyment for at least some part of the process, be it the writing itself or reading the reviews.

Second would be a very thick skin. This plays into the above comment about editing; criticism is unavoidable, unless you’re never putting your work before the public. Unreasonable, even hateful criticism is very likely. Welcome it.

Finally is the habit, discipline or irrational impulse that, like a whispering devil on your shoulder, says you have to do it. Even if it’s only a few sentences, or just a few letters – if you’re not impelled to write something daily with an irresistible force, just forget it. Go back to your smart phone. Some of us are trying to take a serious crack at this and you’re making us look silly.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Disagree. Writing is like entering worlds with more meaning and adventure and love than anything you’ll find in reality. You can enter this world essentially at will and bring the essence of its joy or sorrow or strangeness back with you and cloak yourself in it. You can move people, and that’s a gift not a curse.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Of course I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and of course I recommend it. I don’t know if they still print that big ass Writers Market manual every year, but if not you can track down copies pretty easily, and they always have several articles about the process from famous and successful writers. I recommend those.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I would say to all those solitary writers out there languishing on obscurity or oppressive isolation – you are not alone, clichéd as it sounds. You’re tethered to me and a million other world makers, and we are feeding one another.

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BigSmileSquared_Retouched (1) (1)When Marie Bacigalupo was nine, she read Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and was instantly hooked on fiction. She grew up to teach high school English before focusing exclusively on fiction writing, studying under Gordon Lish at The Center for Fiction, taking classes at the Writers Studio, and attending a number of university-sponsored craft workshops.

Marie won First Prize among 7000 entries in the Writer’s Digest 13th Annual Short-Short Story Competition with her entry, “Excavation.” Her other works have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Journal of Microliterature, The Examined Life Journal, Romance Magazine, and elsewhere. Ninth-Month Midnight is her debut novella.

The author is a native New Yorker who lives and writes in Brooklyn. Visit her at www.mariebacigalupo.com.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Ninth-Month Midnight. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: After struggling for years to conceive, Dolores Walsh, a New York City schoolteacher married to her college sweetheart, loses her beloved daughter to cancer. A year later she remains consumed by grief, rejecting the consolations of her lapsed Roman Catholic faith.

The loss transforms Dolores, a once willowy brunette, into a zombie-like chain smoker who stays unwashed and unnourished until her husband, Joe, bathes and feeds her.  With another pregnancy highly improbable, Dolores wants the seemingly impossible: she wants her baby back. And she resents her husband for having put off starting a family.

Enter Salvador Esperanza, a charismatic psychic who helps the bereaved communicate with their dead. Dolores cannot resist this new hope or the man who offers it. But in order to attend Sal’s séances, she must do battle with her jealous husband’s hard-core rationalism. When Sal decides to move on, only a miracle can save Dolores from the numbing despair that threatens her sanity.

Ninth-Month_Feb9 (2)The initial idea for Ninth-Month Midnight arose out of the questions, What if the souls of the dead linger among us for a while? Would we be able to communicate with them on some level? When Hamlet says, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” I say, You betcha! I combined this idea with the story of a troubled woman who develops a desperate attachment to a male psychic.

Q: What do you think makes good women’s fiction? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: In the process of writing, my mind is filled with thoughts about the best way to create compelling characters and immersive plots. The “women’s” part of the genre distinction simply means that in most of my fiction, though not in all (you’ll find male protagonists in my short stories), the main characters are women. I’m interested in their strengths and vulnerabilities as well as the preconceptions of our society regarding their presumed limitations.

Like any other writer, I hope to continue perfecting my craft, and to do that I fill my mind with the strategies of great authors. In other words, I read; therefore, I learn. To answer your question, what makes good women’s fiction is the same as what makes any kind of fiction good: an engaging story laced with conflict, a well paced plot, and realistic characters.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: For me writing is a long process of trial and error. The first draft of Ninth-Month Midnight was a straightforward chronological narrative that began with the discovery of cancer in the protagonist’s child and chronicled its devastating effects over a year.

Many drafts later, I decided Ninth-Month Midnight would be the story of the mother’s arc from suicidal depression to acceptance with a twist of fate. I needed a hook to get the plot rolling, so I used the protagonist’s explosive refusal to leave the gravesite of her four-year-old daughter.

Sometimes while writing, I get caught up in words and sounds, and then language takes precedence over the other fictional elements, a tendency I need to curb. My ultimate goal was to structure the book to keep the reader entertained.

For help, I turned to a library of craft books that I’ve accumulated, including a number of books on plotting that I refer to again and again. For example, from Larry Brooks (Story Engineering) I learned to introduce change—a new situation, a new development, new information—at specific and critical junctures, and to use these plot points to develop the character arc. Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey is another useful text for shaping a story.

To keep all the pieces together, I used Scrivener, a word processing program that makes it easy to organize notes and chapters. Scrivener integrates into a single project all aspects of the writing process from research to final draft.

Often I struggled with the “Are you kidding?” inner voice, as in,  “Are you kidding, taking yourself seriously?”  The antidote to this particular poison involves ignoring the voice and plodding on.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I suspect the seed of Dolores Walsh, my protagonist, was planted by a reading of McEwan’s The Child in Time and McShane’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon. The mother in McEwan’s novel is benumbed by the kidnapping of her child and unable to access emotion. In McShane’s work, the protagonist wants to convince people of her ESP and kidnaps a child whom she pretends to help the police locate through her séances.

The ideas must have been swirling around in my creative unconscious. Without a vivid memory of specifics, I suspect what lingered was the sense of the powerful emotions generated by the loss of a child. After I conceived my character—a mother who is driven to extremity by the death of her four-year-old and seeks her out in the afterlife—I re-read the novels and set to work focusing on the impact of the loss on Dolores.

Let’s see if I can recall my process: I jotted down notes to myself. I did a character interview, parts of which I integrated into Dolores’s sessions with her psychiatrist. I thought about my protagonist a lot, imagining a Natalie Wood look-alike and keeping a photo of Natalie Wood in my word processing program to keep the character’s image vivid in my mind. I made her a chain smoker, I think because I once used cigarettes to cope with stress, and stress was threatening Dolores’s hold on reality. When I needed ideas, I looked at how other authors handled works with similar themes. And so it went.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: In Nine-Month-Midnight, McShane’s psychic re-emerged as Salvador Esperanza. I used Sal to reveal the character of the protagonist, advance plot through an extra-marital love interest, and beset Dolores with internal and external conflict. Dolores is drawn to the psychic both spiritually and physically, much to the dismay of her husband.

I shaped the character of Esperanza to produce ambivalence in the reader, who must determine if he’s mostly antagonist creating conflict or villain creating havoc. In either case, like real people, he’s not entirely good or bad. I further individualized the character by giving Esperanza arresting bi-colored eyes to reflect the ambiguity of his character and a machismo softened by tenderness toward the grief-stricken men and women who attend his séances.

His backstory, I think, is also realistic. The son of Hispanic farmworkers, he starts a small landscaping business tending to the million-dollar estates on Long Island and has an affair with the owner’s daughter that leads to his ruin.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: One way I kept the narrative exciting (I hope!) was to inject suspense by maintaining the mystery of Salvador Esperanza, as expressed in my tag line: Is he a selfless savior or a self-seeking seducer? Powerful scenes also generate excitement. For example, when the protagonist’s husband confronts her in the psychic’s apartment, emotional fireworks explode. In addition, I withhold information, like details regarding Dolores’s past, till key moments when it will have the most impact, and I end the novella with a surprise I won’t give away.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: The attention to setting was primarily focused on the séances, which I charged with sensory description and with the reactions of participants to multiple stimuli. Some writers, I find, depend on visual and aural images, neglecting smell, taste, and texture; yet all the senses are important to capturing the essence of a place, time or event.

In the case of the séances, I paid attention to the spectral nature of the conjured dead, the foul odors of fiendish spirits, the contrasting voices of the psychic and the spirits he conjured, the aura of candlelight, the rushing wind of released spirits, the brush of a passing soul. Participants were at different times ecstatic, horrified, saddened, credulous, and skeptical.

Dream settings and reveries are suffused with Dolores’s memories of her child, with the soft touch and sweet scent of baby flesh, the horror of blackened eyes, and the cries of pain.

Q: Did you know the theme of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme recurrent in your other work?

A: It does seem I’m drawn to end-of-life issues; they appear in my short stories as well. With regard to Ninth-Month Midnight, I discovered the theme early in the process of writing the first draft.

The novella’s epigraph is a passage from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which gives voice to the idea that life reasserts itself in constant replenishment, like the tides of the primordial ocean.

Without giving away the ending, I’ll say that in Ninth-Month Midnight this theme is expressed in the unbreakable bond between mother and child, and the existential pain that results when death intervenes to test that bond.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: That first question is a toughie, perhaps better suited to a philosopher. I can only speculate that after craft has done the best job possible to express the writer’s vision, the writer evokes some magic to raise the work into a rarefied sphere called art, inexplicable but recognizable to all.

Everyone can learn a craft; fewer can create art.

As for your second question, in my opinion, editing can destroy the initial creative thrust only if the author lacks the objectivity to distinguish what is valid in the editor’s suggestions from what is not. Valid criticism speaks to the aims of the book the author has written, not to those of the book the critic wants her to write. In general, I think editing and revision sharpen the writer’s vision and produce a better work.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Persistence, willingness to keep learning one’s craft, openness to valid criticism. If I may add a fourth: love of reading.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I would agree in the sense that practice—another word for homework—is as vital for a writer to master her craft as it is for a student to master a subject. Every author must be proficient in the 2 R’s: Reading and ‘Riting.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: I took creative writing classes at NYU, The New School, the Writers Studio, and later The Center for Fiction under Gordon Lish. I participated in the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, the One Story Summer Workshop for Writers, and the Narrative Magazine Workshop under Tom Jenks.

I attend conferences and festivities whenever I can. To keep abreast of developments, I visit numerous writing sites at various times. The Creative Penn, Storyfix, Plot Whisperer, and Grammar Girl come to mind. Point of information: Writer’s Digest has an annual issue listing the 101 Best Websites for Writers.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I’ll share some advice that helped me: Allow yourself to write garbage; just get the words on paper.  Once purged, you can sift through the waste to find that kernel of value to expand on. And keep in mind you don’t need an M.F.A. to write. Alternate routes for learning craft abound: Take noncredit courses; attend conferences; enroll in workshops; join writers’ groups; read, read, read. If you have the will, the way is clear.






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Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. She is the author of The Asset (Carina Press), the first novel of her Wounded Warrior series and three other novels scheduled for release during 2016.

A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

The_Asset_High Res.jpgQ: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Asset. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: Sure! The Asset is a contemporary romance about a woman, fleeing from her sinister past, who must defy her fears and risk her life to care for a wounded warrior, a SEAL, running away from his uncertain future. Together they learn that fear can give way to courage and love is a healing journey. The Asset is the first novel of my Wounded Warrior series, a collection of novels that feature strong, self-reliant heroines trying to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy military heroes who will lay down their lives to protect the women they love.

I was inspired to write both the novel and the series by the amazing people I met while my husband was in the Navy and we lived as part of the military community. I wish that everybody in the world got to meet these brave souls. More specifically, my heroes and heroines are inspired by the wounded warriors coming back from the wars abroad and the incredible resilience they show every day.

Q: What do you think makes a good romance? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: A romance is a novel that aims to discover the mysteries of the human heart, the forces that bring us together, the prejudices that pull us apart. I don’t know that you can ever narrow down the elements that define a good romance, but I think most romance writers would agree that strong, vivid, authentic and evolving characters make a difference, as does a well-constructed plot and a rich, interesting setting. The relationship is always at the center of the story and our ability to connect to those characters is key. But the ultimate measure of a good romance has always been and will continue to be the story’s ability to touch the reader’s heart.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I usually have a broad idea of what the plot will entail and how it will flow. I might even have a loose outline that I use as an overall guide to check my progress. But the best plot twists are those that surprise not only the reader, but the writer as well. I love it when that happens! So I’m always open to see where the story and the characters will lead me. I’m always thrilled to be surprised.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Some of these characters have been living in my mind for quite some time. Take Lia, for example, The Asset’s heroine. She’s fleeing from a drug lord who has terrorized her existence. Her early life mirrors some of my experiences growing up in Latin America and the perils of a world riddled with conflict and violence.

Likewise, Ash, The Asset’s hero, is a Colorado native, born and bred. I’ve spend a lot of time in the Rocky Mountains and I think that my vision of that part of the country shapes Ash as a person and as a hero. I don’t usually do character interviews of sketches prior to writing, but sometimes I keep a list to clarify the traits that feel strong to my writer’s heart.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: As I mentioned above, I grew up in Latin America. The villain in this story is someone who by definition is familiar to the reader, someone who by virtue of his power and money is a ranking member of the global society, despite being ruthless, violent and cruel.

In The Asset, Ramon Ruiz Rojas—Red—is the ambitious, brutal head of the Rojas cartel, the most powerful drug lord in the States. I won’t give up any spoilers, but suffice it to say that he’s after Lia with a vengeance. After stalking her for years, he’s now on her heels and, this time around, he intends to snare her for good.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Pace is very important to keep the story rolling, focusing on the key aspects of the mysteries at the heart of the novel. The flow of information is another vital element that helps keep up the suspense, when a character knows what and why. It’s also important to eliminate any aspects of the narrative that don’t contribute to advancing the story. If it’s not necessary, chop it off and move on to keep the narrative exciting.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: I’m huge on experiential research and observation. As a writer, I like to put myself in situations that are similar to those that my characters are experiencing. Research goes a long way to add resources to the writer’s toolkit and helps build authentic stories with realistic details. But there’s nothing like being there to create rich settings.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I knew the theme and yes, the theme is recurrent in the Wounded Warrior Series. The series is not really about physical injuries. It’s about the wounds we all carry deep inside, the pain we all experience as human beings, the courage that it takes to face and overcome the challenges life throws at us. Above all, the series is about hope, love’s extraordinary healing power and the joy that comes from the journey.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: In my view, writing is an art, but technical proficiency helps the artist convey her gifts. Editing is an art too. Sure, an editor has to be technically proficient to do her job, but without a feel for the story, the editing process can become a misadventure. Romance requires an editor able to connect with the story at a gut level, who can feel through the narrative, understand the characters and evaluate their authenticity. Moreover, you want someone who brings practical applications to the editing process. If you’re writing romance and you’re interested in publishing your work, you need to have an editor who knows the genre, the romance community, and the romance publishing industry.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: A passion for writing, a personal and professional commitment to storytelling, and perseverance to see the journey through.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I guess it would depend if you like doing homework or not!  I wouldn’t want to devote my life to doing something I hate. On the contrary. Life is too short to for that. To me writing feels as if I’d won the lottery. I get to sit down every day of my life and write my stories? And I get paid for that? I’m the luckiest girl on earth.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: The best investment I’ve ever made in my career was working with my private editor. A good editor teaches, encourages and guides in addition to everything else. She or he provides personalized learning opportunities that save you time and effort as an author. A good editor can be the difference between publishing or not.

One other resource that I think it’s important, and it’s free for the most part. Your writer friends are a great source of support, knowledge, information and perspective. Find them and stick with them. You’ll be happy for the company along the way.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I’ve been saying this a lot lately: Writing is an act of love.

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CoverAlthough I have written for decades, I don’t have a wide variety of publishing experiences. So, this is how I will proceed for my next project from what I know now.

I’ll write about something that intrigues me. I think one of the most powerful forces in society is the ability to utilize insights. My fiction writing will continue to celebrate the quirky nature of subtle lessons and relationships.

I will fully develop characters, relationships, and motivations. However, I will write loosely concerning times, days, and seasons. I have spent more time during revision adjusting the details of the weather than the important points of the plot.

I will try to master the use of the audio-notes feature on my phone to record ideas, details, or entire action scenes when talking is more convenient that writing.

I’ll stay well organized.

I’ll take energizing walks when my brain is dry.

I’ll continue to seek out like-minds with whom to share ideas, phrasing, and coffee.

I’ll stay in touch with the mentors I have come to know.

I’ll hone my skills of interviewing experts for primary research.

I’ll try to stay on top of organizing my photos. Although my book did not require photos, the website did, and the trailer will. It’s a lot easier to take pictures at the time of the writing than to dig them up later.

I’m going to research my next project and confirm the salability of my topic, presentation, and length before I do much writing.

I’m going to expect to send out many queries for my next book before I get a nibble.

I’m going to continue to explore different modes of social media.


Last Import - 15To Contact Chris McCloskey, you can go to www.tootenandter.com. Check out the pics and quotes from some of T&T’s adventures, meet some of the Guide Dog puppies, and send a comment or add to the blog.

Email Chris McCloskey at http://www.tootenter@gmail.com

Download a copy of Tooten and Ter: A Nose for Crime go to www.smashwords.com. In the Search box in the upper right, you can enter “McCloskey” or “Tooten and Ter” or “Nose” or “Crime”!

This is day 4 of Chris’ tour with the National Writing for Children Center. Continue her tour tomorrow at http://www.thelearningleaf.com.

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PND TOUR BannerI am always repeating the story of how I started to write poetry.

Because of the origin of my poems, I feel that were gifts to me.

When I share a poem with readers, it’s like sharing a treasured gift.  I wrote my very first poem on February 14th, 2007.  I woke up out of my sleep with this poem swirling around in my head. I got up and quickly scribbled it down.

The poem was “Our Place”. It was the first of many more poems to come. After that day, the poems just started to flow and flow. Within the span of about six months, I had written well over 200 poems.

Most of the poems in both of my books Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories and Musings came from that initial period of writing/inspiration.

It’s funny that I very rarely, ever, sit down to intentionally write a poem. Most of my poems come to me as I am going to sleep, waking up, or ODDLY, when I am alone in my car.

I can safely say that well over 50% of them came to me and were written in my car. It still amazes me when I hear myself say that.

I call my car my ‘personal think tank.  When I am riding alone, with no conversations to distract me, with no music on or inside noise……..the magic happens. I have little scraps of paper, envelopes, bills and all kinds of things with poems scribbled on them.

I feel that my poems came and come to me in that way because they are truly an overflow of the heart. My poems are filled with my love for Mississippi and the southern way of life. It is my hope that, through my poems, I can help others see the many positive things about our state and region. Most of what everyone hears about Mississippi and the south is very negative. But I want to show that there is so much more to the story.



Where to Purchase Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia

Amazon Paperback
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Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia

My Magnolia Memories and Musings

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john-paul-jaramillo authorA native of Southern Colorado, John Paul Jaramillo now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He has an MFA in creative writing from Oregon State University, and presently holds the position of Associate Professor of English at Lincoln Land Community College.

His writing has been featured in Acentos ReviewCopper Nickel Review, Antique Children Arts Journal, Fogged Clarity Arts JournalDigest Magazine, Verdad Magazine, Polyphony Online, Paraphilia Magazine, Sleet Magazine and forthcoming in Palabra Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art. 

He’s the author of the short story collection,The House of Order, published by Anaphora Literary Press.

About the cover…

“The artwork is from an amazing Illinois artist named Felicia Olin. Her work inspires me and this particular piece titled ‘Breathe Out’ caught my eye at an art showing at the University of Illinois Springfield. I’ve been told these stories are very raw and I hoped the artwork matched. I also liked the way composite stories could break down a family and also a man so that we might see a fuller understanding. A fuller dimension in the layers of storytelling and narration. I like the idea that narration of a story can give us the inside and outside view of something. As in Olin’s work I guess things aren’t as pretty on the inside of folks or in the inner-workings of the world. I’m all for more complication in fiction to match the complication that exists in what Amy Hempel calls ‘the problem of being alive.’ Hopefully when one reads the book they might see a fuller view of a man or character, or situation for that matter, they might otherwise ignore or become offended with.”

About his writing style…

“I’ve always been more interested in the form of books rather than the meaning. Expressing rather than communicating. I try to teach that to my students. Content only matters as much as it is organized and structured on the page and I have studied literary minimalism so closely. Obsessed with it really. I’m attracted to the idea of doing more with less. That’s the failed poet in my I guess. I’ve always been inspired with the minimalism of Amy Hempel and Denis Johnson. The minimal form works best with stories about such weighted subject matter such as abusive fathers or delinquent parents. I’ve tried to steal an elliptical and bare bones style to match the laconic male family members.”

About what makes a good story…

“I think I’m particularly interested in trouble. Folks getting in and out of trouble. The thing within folks that creates that trouble around them. Expecially Latino males. Tom Spanbauer describes his style as dangerous writing. And I’ve tried to steal that for my stories. I think finding the trouble and putting the reader in an uncomfortable position along with the characters creates the most interest for the reader. So that’s one. I also think the language needs to mean more to the writer than the reader. That comes from my study of poetry. Tracy Daugherty told his workshop members that language is a character’s skin. I like that idea. We have to get inside of our character utilizing more and more intimate language. I guess that’s when I started using more and more mixing and switching of English and Spanish in my stories. To match the intimate language of the old folks from Colorado that influenced me and that best represent me. So that’s trouble and language. I guess the story must also be affecting. And I guess I mean that stories need to be less plot-driven and more driven by emotion. The best stories that I return to again and again are stories that give less plot and storyline but through the deep use of language and care for the main character makes me feel the most. The work has to be character driven and affecting to create a true immersible experience to compete with films and television and more visual mediums.”

What’s next for John Paul Jaramillo…

“I’m working on a follow up to my first collection of stories. I’m tentatively calling the book Huérfanos named after the nearby county I grew up around and it is more of a traditional novel rather than literary minimalism styled collection of short stories. The criticisms of my shorter stories have been a complaint on the length of the stories. We don’t spend much time with characters and within a novel I can spend that time. I can give a fuller trajectory for the characters. I jump from generation to generation in the short work but I like the idea of adding even more dimension of time within a novel. I also like the idea of following more characters. I’m also interested in creative nonfiction essays about the steel mills and steel unions of Southern Colorado. I’m also interested in turning blog posts from my writing and teaching weblog I keep into fuller essays on the subject of so-called “Spanglish” and the use of intimate language within my written work. I’m interested in writing on the representation of Latinos in popular culture and in films as well as in literature.”


house of order

The House of Order, the first collection of composite stories by John Paul Jaramillo, presents a stark vision of American childhood and family, set in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Manito Ortiz sorts family truth from legend as broken as the steel industry and the rusting vehicles that line Spruce Street. The only access to his lost family’s story is his uncle, the unreliable Neto Ortiz.


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Note from the author:

The Goodread’s Paranormal and Horror Lovers BOOK OF THE MONTH is now up for voting BUT JUST UNTIL OCTOBER 5! PLEASE vote for my EVIL STALKS THE NIGHT-Revised Author’s Edition. I would so appreciate it. VOTE HERE:
Warmly, author of 16 novels, 2 novellas and twelve short stories, Kathryn Meyer Griffith rdgriff@het.net


Evil Stalks the NightRevised Author’s Edition is special to me for many reasons. It was my first published novel in 1984 and as it comes out again on June 1, 2012, rereleased from Damnation Books for the first time in nearly thirty years, it’ll bring my over forty year writing career full circle. With its publication all fourteen, and one novella, of my old books will be out again for the first time in decades. Sure, it’s been a grueling, tedious two-and- a-half year job rewriting and editing these new versions but I’m thrilled it’s over. I have my babies reborn and out in the world again…and all in e books for the first time ever. Now, perfectionist that I am, I can finally move forward and write new stories.

I’ll start at the very beginning because, though Evil Stalks the Night was my first published novel, it wasn’t my first written one.

That first book was The Heart of the Rose. I began writing it after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, no longer going to college, not yet working full time, and was bored out of my skin. I read an historical romance one day I believed was horrible and thought I can do better than that!

So I got out my borrowed typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I’d tentatively called that first book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer who was falsely believed to be a witch but who was loved by Edward the Fourth. At the library, no computers or Internet back then, I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty, the civil and political strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the infamous Earl of Warwick and Edward the Fourth.  Edward’s brother Richard the Third.  A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league, though. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote page after page, emotions high believing I could create a whole book. So naïve of me. Reading that old version now (a 1985 Leisure Books paperback) I have to laugh. Ironically, like that historical novel I’d thought in 1971 was so bad, it was pretty awful. That archaic language I’d used–all the rage back in the 80’s–sounds so stilted now. Yikes! Yet people, mainly women, had loved it.

And so my writing career began. Over 40 years ago now. Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? Flown away like some wild bird. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, getting a real job and finding the true love of my life and marrying him. Life, as it always seemed to do and still does, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a time.

Then years later I rediscovered it and decided to rewrite it; try again. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, shipping it here and there to publishers, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that’d make suggestions or comments on how it could be better. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive. But eventually, as you shall see, it sold.

Now to Evil Stalks the Night.

In the meantime, as I waited for the mail, I’d written another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky ambiance to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the story into a horror novel…like Stephen King was doing? Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would sell easily, she said.

Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood and my young adult life–my heartbreaking divorce, raising my young son alone, my new love–as hers. It was more of a romantic horror when I’d finished, than a horror novel. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and began sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly to a mass market paperback publisher called Towers Publishing.

But right in the middle of editing Towers went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! What terrible luck, I remember brooding. The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract, didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a new husband, my son and my minimum-wage assistant billing job was one step above poverty at times. In those days, too, I was so clueless how to deal with the publishing industry.

That was 1983, but luckily that take-over publisher was Leisure Books, now also known as Dorchester Publishing. A publisher that quickly became huge. Talk about karma.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate stepped in and the Tower’s editor, before she left, who’d bought my book told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to give it a read. She believed in it that much.

Out of the blue, in 1984, when I’d completely given up on Evil Stalks the Night, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy it! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and, liking it, too, she also bought it in 1985; asking me to sex it up some, so they could release it as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?).  It wasn’t a lot of money. A thousand dollar advance each and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But in those days the publishers had a huge distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, sent to bookstores and warehoused. So 4% of all those books over the next couple of years did add up.

Thus my career began. I slowly, and like-pulling-teeth, sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years–as I was working full time, raising a family and living my hard-scramble life. Some did well, my Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when publisher Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, an apocalyptic end-of-days-novel, and The Woman in Crimson, a vampire book, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course–and all in ebooks for the first time ever) my 7 out-of-print paperbacks, including Evil Stalks the Night–I gave her a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite Evil Stalks the Night for the resurrected edition, as well as my other early novels, because I discovered my writing when I was twenty-something had been immature and unpolished; and not having a computer and the Internet had made the original writing so much harder. Also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it.  There were so many mistakes in those early books. Typos. Grammar. Lost plot and detail threads. In the rewrite I also decided to keep the time frame (1960-1984) the same.  The book’s essence would have lost too much if I’d updated it.

As I finished the final editing I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the life changes I’ve had since I’d first began writing it so many years ago. Though it was actually published in 1984, I’d started writing it many years before; closer to 1978 or 1979. I’m as old as my Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother and who the grandmother in the story was loosely based on, was back then. While I was first writing it so long ago, I was a young married woman with a small child holding down my first real job and trying to do it all. Now…my Grandmother, mother and father have all passed to the other side. Many other family and friends I’ve left behind, too. I miss them all, especially my mom and dad. It’s strange how revising my old books reminded me of certain times of my life. Some of the memories I hid from and some of them made me laugh or cry. This book, though, is the most autobiographical of all my novels as it contains details of my childhood, my devastating divorce, and what my life was like when I first met my second husband, Russell, who’s turned out to be my true love. We’ve been happily married for thirty-four years and counting. Ah, but how quickly the years have clicked by. Too quickly. I want to reach out, at times, and stop time. I want more. I have so much more life to live and many more stories to write.

So Evil Stalks the NightRevised Author’s Edition (http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 ) republished by Damnation Books/Eternal Press will be out again for the first time in nearly thirty years on June 1, 2012, and I hope it’s a better book than it was in 1984. It should be…I’ve had over thirty more years of life and experiences to help make it so.

Written this 1st day of June, 2012 by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith


A writer for over 40 years I’ve had 14 novels, 1 novella and 7 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, the Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRERevised Author’s Edition was a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books(all out again from Damnation Books http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 and Eternal Press http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***

You can keep up with me on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019954486, my Author’s Den www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith  or my My Space www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

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