I was invited over to Judith Barrow’s blog as a guest in her Places in our Memories series. I’m sharing a simple moment in time.
There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.
Today I’m welcomingDebby Kaye, one of my online friends whom I seem to have known forever, and who is going to tell us about one of her forever memories.
Thank you so much Judith for inviting me over today to share a fleeting memory so dear to my heart.
A memory is a snapshot in one moment of time that locks in a forever imprint engraved in our minds and hearts.
Forever moments are the forever memories that will continue to live with us long after they occurred. All memories aren’t always good ones, but they are there despite, to remind of places we have been to and mark events experienced in our lives. To live on peacefully, it’s the happy memories we choose to keep at the forefront of our minds.
Having recently lost the love of my life, my beloved husband, I’ve been working diligently to push the tragic moments of the last few months of his life from my forefront of videos playing on in my head, instead, trying hard to focus on the so very many good times in our life together. Besides the many milestones of beautiful events that stick out in my mind, sometimes it’s just the simple moments we remember most clearly that can warm our hearts.
Memories. As I sit here right now and think of him in this moment, I’m listening to the sound of a riding mower in the back park of my condo; it took me back to a simple moment of just one of our happiest times when life was good and simple where I’d drink my second cup of coffee on a Sunday morning after our breakfast together and my hubby would put on his big straw hat and Wellie boots, and hop on his big John Deere riding mower and circle the trees in our vast back yard, complete with one of his favorite Cuban cigars hanging from his mouth as he proudly trimmed his pride and joy, his green grass he laid, mostly by himself at our beautiful newly built home. He’d notice me watching as I sipped my coffee in front of the big kitchen patio window, and he’d give me his special wink full of love and acknowledgment of our perfect life. His smiling eyes could tell me so much.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to transport back to one of those what seemed ordinary Sundays that turned out to be not so ordinary, but a beautiful reminder of love and joy in simplicity. Those were the days most of us think were unremarkable, but just another day. Looking back at that snapshot of bliss taken for granted, I can see how those were far from ordinary days, but a culmination of days that were part of a patched quilt of days which became the pattern of a happy life together.
Welcome to my September Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring, friend and author Trish Power who writes under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Her recent release, Means to Deceive, a psychological thriller, which I’ve read and reviewed, is her latest release.
Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.
Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.
When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.
Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.
Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.
Eighteen months ago, Gwen Meredith left the job she loved and came back to Pembrokeshire to help support her irritable and increasingly confused grandmother. But someone is pursuing a vendetta against her.
As the attacks become more malicious, her old anxieties begin to build. She’s attracted to her new neighbour who is keen to help…but can she trust him?
When those closest to her are threatened, her desperation mounts. Who can she trust?
Gwen has a dark secret of her own. Can she even trust herself?
Gwen is having a bad day, many bad days. She is a teacher’s assistant who does not like the school principal, Ian, yet someone snapped a shot of her shaking his hand at an event and it became taken out of context, big time – internet big time, and a smear campaign ensued.
Gwen noticed an alcoholic, abusive father physically abusing his child. She tried to intervene and the man drove off with his child. Her alerting authorities angered this man and he began harrassing Gwen.
Dyleth has a crush on married principal Ian and believes Gwen is hot for the two timing married principal and spreads gossip.
Gwen had a boring, quiet life before these incidents happened. She moved in with her ailing, demanding, grandmother Edith less than two years ago to take care of her. The only good thing that has happened in Gwen’s life lately, was meeting her new next door neighbor, Ben. Ben becomes her shining knight in armor when all the weirdness, attacks and chaos begins. Is Ben too good to be true, or should we now begin suspecting him?
Strange and evil things are taking place at Gwen’s home. The abusive man is doing drive bys and knock knocks, someone lurks in her garden at night causing damage and painting vile words on her car and lawn. Gwen feels like she’s losing her mind when even the police aren’t doing much with her many complaints.
Gwen’s brother Gethin is having relationship problems at home and decides to come visit his sister and grandmother to help figure out what is going on around that house. He too is attacked one night, and once again, neighbor Ben manages to save his life.
A lot is going on in Gwen’s life and she begins to question her own sanity when too many strange things keep happening. Gwen also struggles with a childhood incident where she blames herself for her parents’ deaths. We’ll later discover that everything Gwen thought happened wasn’t really as it seemed.
If you are already curious as to what is going on, trust me, you will continue to feel that way as you will be eager to keep turning the pages to find out what is going on. Who done what? Is there a traitor among family? Is the principal or the abusive man responsible for all the chaos and accidents? Could Gwen’s developing relationship with Ben the neighbor be real or does he have ulterior motives? You will want to find out as Craigie takes us on a carefully plotted out story that won’t give us a hint until the very end.
Let’s Welcome Alex and get to know a little more about her.
Hi, Debby! I’ll begin by thanking you from the heart for for this great opportunity to share something about myself and my writing with all of your followers.
D.G. – I’m thrilled to have you over Trish. ❤
Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?
I suspect my whole life is a bit quirky!
There are several practical things I do to try and keep the words coming. For instance, I have a small pile of paper on my desk that has only been used on one side. I fold each sheet in half, blank side outermost, and when a new idea comes to me when the flow is going well, I grab one of these pieces of paper, scribble the idea down and then forget about it to stop it intruding. When I’ve written myself to a standstill, I come back to peruse the idea and decide what to do with it.
In a similar vein, some of my best ideas come to me in the night. Sadly, come the morning I’d remember I’d had a wonderful line or brilliant way to tie-in a new section but had forgotten the details! Turning on the light to write them down certainly meant that I remembered them, but didn’t make for a great night’s sleep for me or my husband… Now, I have a similar stack of used paper on my bedside table with a pencil resting on top of it. When an idea surfaces, I write it down in the dark. Quite often, I’ll have several different things occur to me and I have to try to recall how far down the page I’d reached with the last comment. It doesn’t always work and it’s well nigh impossible to untangle two or more lines of writing scrawled on top of each other.
The ‘half asleep writing’ frequently extricates me from a tricky dilemma I’ve written myself into. My other method is to go into the garden and do some weeding. There’s plenty of weeding to be done and so I never run out of material! There’s something about mindlessly pulling stuff out of the ground that sets the subconscious free to untangle things.
D.G. – Lol Trish, I had to laugh because I use a similar method. When I’m writing and following thought and think of something else I want to add, I add it in the margin – don’t forget, I write longhand. As for night thoughts and not wanting to disturb, you could open your Kindle and use the backlight to shine upon your paper without disturbing hubby. That may work better. Tip: I keep my Kindle on low light at night so it doesn’t keep me wide awake when reading late at night.
Do you find your writing is geared towards a specific audience or do you just write what inspires you to write?
Frequently, my writing is driven by a need to share experiences that concern me. That does sound self-indulgent and “worthy”, but it’s what was behind many of the short stories for magazines that I wrote when the children were tiny. I wrote about peer pressure, domestic abuse, inequalities – that sort of thing. There were others that I wrote simply for fun and they were well-received, too, but those were a pleasure to write and there wasn’t that driving need to pen them.
My first novel, Someone Close to Home, was written because I’d been visiting family and friends in the generation above me in a variety of care homes and what I saw was so upsetting I found myself crying at one point, not in sorrow but in rage. This book crossed so many genre boundaries it was a nightmare to categorise. I decided that my next book would sit nicely withing a recognized niche. It was a romantic suspense/psychological thriller about a young woman damaged by guilt from the past who found herself in increasing danger from someone in the community. Means to Deceive was started when the first book was being sorted for publication. But… … it was the end of 2015 and the situation in our health service was bothering me. Our NHS has been a gold standard model throughout the world, but parts of it were being hived off to private companies and the core of it wasn’t being maintained. So, I stopped the second book and went off on another social grouse! This was Acts of Convenience, but it had to be shelved for several years because my mother developed two different forms of dementia that made writing impossible. When I did get back to it, I ended up with another published book that didn’t sit nicely in a category. So I dug out Means to Deceive again.
D.G. – No doubts our connection is kindred spirits. We are both people bothered by social injustice. Although I say it out loud in nonfiction, you work those issues beautifully into your fiction.
Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?
Well, after that last answer, I’m sure you can guess my response!
Someone Close to Home was written in the first person because I wanted readers to be able to identify with the situation where you leave your home and all the possessions you’ve acquired over your lifetime and end up in one cramped room totally dependent on the goodness of others. Most of the staff I came across on my visits were absolutely brilliant, but all it takes is someone who treats you like a commodity – or worse – to turn it into a nightmare. I’ve had so many people write to me about their shared experiences that I know this situation isn’t restricted to the UK. I wrote about residents who were unable to feed themselves, having their food left on the tray in front of them only for it to be removed untouched by someone (tutting) later. That resonated far too often with people. The concerns I’d classify as abuse were also horribly familiar to others.
Acts of Convenience takes the central character Cassie from 2017 to 2055. She’s a nurse and she and the family are at the sharp end of the consequences of expedient legislation made by successive governments. It reflects my concerns about cutting funding for the treatment of the elderly and chronically sick, working conditions, the exploitation of our information and privacy by unscrupulous companies, the manipulation of media, our exposure to foreign hacking – loads of things that concern me! Because Cassie eventually joins a group to expose the corruption she’s witnessing, the book begins as social description and ends as a thriller. I was so unsure of it as a format, I haven’t tried to market it but I’ve had some terrific responses from people and may decide to do so some promotion in the future.
In similar vein, I realized that my romantic suspense/psychological thriller, Means to Deceive, was becoming hijacked by my concerns about social media and so I made a conscious decision to nip that in the bud and stay within the traditional genre. Instead, I’ve transferred my concerns about the abuse of social media into a novella called The Bubble Reputation which I’m polishing at the moment to get it ready for publication.
D.G. – I am looking forward to eventually reading your two other books, which currently are resting on my reader. As you pointed out the content, and had previously warned me of the content, and due to the too much I myself have witnessed with my husband’s frequent hospital visits, I’m not yet ready to read such content. But I am looking forward to your new, upcoming book!
What’s your favourite mode of writing – computer, hand written, dictation, and why?
My mode of writing has evolved through the years. When I was six, I wrote with a stubby pencil in an exercise book. The pencil was replaced with one of those “new-fangled” biros when I was a bit older.
The short stories for magazines were hand written in a big notebook and then transferred to my portable typewriter to send for publication. Typing then was considerably tougher than it is today! For a start, you had to properly jab the keys to get the letters to hit the paper. There was also the dismay when you reached the last line of a page and made a mistake. I never feltI could send a copy with the offending error blotted out in that bright “Bay Watch teeth white” corrector, and so I’d roll another page in place and take it from the top again.
We bought a secondhand electric typewriter in an auction and it was so touch sensitive, I’d written a whole line of “T”s before I managed to add the “h” and “e” of the first word. It was so easy to use but it didn’t remove the irritation of making mistakes. Writing by hand was less frustrating.
Then we come to computers. Oh my! To be able to correct errors was a delight in itself, but it’s also blessedly easy to move things around, change vocabulary, check for overused words and insert new material that improves a section.
When mapping out a novel, I always start with a pen and paper because it’s easier to brainstorm that way, but for the actual text it has to be my trusty laptop.
(Here I must add a caveat: when saving my precious work at the end of the day, I add the current date to the title. This prevents me uploading an older version or, worse, overwriting one. Learn from my bitter experience!)
D.G. – So nice to learn that you too write longhand, even to start. As you know, I’m a dinosaur who writes her books, reviews and blogs in longhand first. Lol. And thanks for your last tip, adding the date. Don’t get me started how many times I found myself creating new copies with edits. Oye! ❤
How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
Overwhelming doesn’t come close!
I’m from that generation that was castigated for “blowing their own trumpet”. I find it really hard to sell from that point of view alone.
I’m only on Facebook. (I tried to get to grips with Twitter but reading the guides to it were like wading through molasses in concrete boots.) Everyone who knows me also knows what an eejit I am when it comes to Facebook. I feel anxious every time I have dealings with the site (daily) because I don’t know if I’m following etiquette correctly or posting where I should. I could do with someone to go through it with me in short sentences composed of simple one-syllable words. An example of my stupidity is that I haven’t had any notifications for at least four days. I wondered if everyone was on holiday (!). When I dug deeper today, I discovered hundreds of posts, some of which were important. I’ve been on the help site but, despite thinking I’m fairly competent in the English language, I still don’t understand what’s going on – or what on earth a push post is.
It’s also a source of shame to me that I don’t have my own blog where I can post other people’s reviews. I don’t know how you do it and still find the time to exist. Our three children and seven grandchildren all live within a few miles of us and can drop in any time (still socially distanced) in our garden. They fill my days with delight. I also have several health issues that mean that when things are bad I need to slope off to bed. These are my excuses, but I know that others who manage blogs have families, full-time jobs and other commitments.
My admiration and unbounded gratitude go to people like you, Debby, who give me the oxygen of publicity in a form that I can handle. Well, to be honest, I’m not handling it -you are! It must take considerable time and trouble to organize this promotion for me and I can’t stress how much I appreciate it, particularly as I know you have your own writing projects on the go.
Sally Cronin is also a tireless promoter of authors which must cut considerably into her own writing time. Diana Wallace Peach is yet another terrific writer who goes out of her way to review and boost those of us without big publishing companies behind us. There’s really too many supportive people to list here but I have to give another shout-out to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore who give me a nudge when there’s a review about me on Facebook that I’ve missed, and who post those same reviews for me. I really do need that Facebook lesson!
D.G. – First, don’t beat yourself up about ‘fakebook’ (as I prefer to call it, lol). They are forever changing their set up. Most of us don’t get our notifications until days or weeks later. They have taken away all the easy ways for us authors to navigate our pages. I, along with several author friends have discussed this and have given up posting on our author pages, or our author pages, period. We are a supportive community, and I so appreciate the sharing and help from others when I too need it. I will second what you said about Sally. As for me, I’ve been a multi-tasker all my life and spent a lot of time learning the tediousness (Is that a word?) of social media. But trust me, I, along with others, have certainly had our share of technical blog issues. I am grateful to have Colleen Chesebro as a Sister/Friend who always comes to my rescue when things get out of control. It does take a village sometimes. I love promoting other authors and giving back, so it’s worth the work for me. ❤
It was a pleasure having you here today Trish. I do hope readers will check out your addictive books.
Excerpt from Means to Deceive
The blisters have burst and some of them are seeping blood. I’d been so desperate to obliterate the obscene writing that I’d worked through the pain but now the sensation is making itself known and I suck my lower lip between my teeth and clamp down on it.
Ben speaks quietly. ‘I didn’t appreciate the extent of the damage. This must hurt like the devil.’
I shake my head and release my lip. ‘It’s just a few blisters.’
‘Well, let’s get some antiseptic onto them and then see about covering them up. I’ll try to be as gentle as I can.’
He opens an antiseptic wipe and dabs my damaged palm. For someone with such large hands he has a remarkably light touch.
‘I’m afraid some of this is down to me.’ He continues dabbing at my palm which is now on fire. ‘That shower will have softened the skin allowing things to get this bad.’
I shake my head. I’m trying to keep the pain hidden and don’t trust my voice. He picks up the cream and applies a coating that quickly brings the fire down to a smoulder and then he fixes a clean white dressing in place.
‘Right. Time to do the other one.’
He takes my left hand and studies it. Mine is pale and tiny in comparison with his.
‘These don’t look so bad. They’re still raw but they’re not bleeding.’ He starts to dab at them. ‘I think you’ll get away with some plasters on these.’
I say nothing, watching as his hands continue to work methodically and efficiently. There’s something soothing, almost mesmerising, about the process and it comes as a surprise when he announces, ‘There. I think that’ll do.’
‘Thanks. You were right. It was quicker and easier this way.’ I don’t know what else to say and that familiar gaucheness overcomes me. ‘You’ve obviously done this sort of thing before.’
‘I’ve a younger sister who was always getting herself into scrapes.’ His mouth tightens into a straight line and he busies himself putting things back into the green tin.
The kitchen door opens and Claire bustles through. ‘Right. Well, that’s me finished, Gwen.’ She notices the two of us sitting together and adds, ‘Sorry, I didn’t realise you had your young man here.’
Our response is instant and she simply nods and carries on as normal. ‘Well, your grandmother’s comfy. She wouldn’t have a shower but she’s had a good wash, eaten most of her breakfast and she’s watching TV now.’ She heads for the door and turns to add, ‘Don’t forget she has an appointment with Dr Kumari at 4.30 this afternoon.’
A groan escapes me. ‘Thanks, Claire. It’d gone completely out of my mind.’
‘It ain’t surprising, my dear, after all the …er…’ The words drift off and I appreciate her tact but squirm at the knowledge that she’s aware of what’s happened. ‘Well, I’ll leave you to it then.’ She takes another couple of steps and then stops again. ‘Will you be able to get her there? Without your car, I mean?’
I can feel heat flame my face. ‘Yes. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.’
‘There we are then. I’ll see you again on Tuesday. Bye’
Ben hands me the tin and I cross to the dresser and replace it in its drawer. I stand with my back to him, giving myself time to recover from this latest blow. How am I going to get her to the surgery without my car? Can I afford two taxis?
I turn back to Ben. ‘Many thanks for all your help. If there’s anything I can do to repay you, please let me know.’
It’s a dismissal and he knows it. He clicks his fingers at Atticus who chooses to obey him and crosses to his side. But he’s hesitating.
‘What will you do without your car this afternoon?’
‘I’ll get a taxi.’ I’ve made my voice light and assured. ‘It’s not a problem.’
He heads towards the door, Atticus lolloping faithfully at his heels, but he pauses and then comes back. ‘Look, I need to book myself in with a medical centre and I may as well do that today as I have to be in town this afternoon anyway.’
‘No. It’s all right. We’ll manage.’
He runs a hand around the back of his neck. ‘Are you always this obstinate?’
I’m stuck for an answer. Part of me is bristling at the accusation while the rest of me is shouting that his help in this would be a godsend.
‘Gwen, I’m going into town later. It would be no bother at all to give you and your grandmother a lift to the centre. It’s up to you.’
I swallow my pride, audibly. ‘Thank you. It would be a great help.’
He gives a nod of his head. ‘Right. If I come round at about ten past four will that give you long enough?’
‘That would be perfect.’
‘And I’ll come in to the centre on my way back from dropping off some plans at the office, sign up and drop you back home again.’
I open my mouth to protest, notice the humorous challenge in his eyes, and meekly thank him.
Alex’s upcoming book:
Coming soon! – The Bubble Reputation! An unscrupulous editor does a hatchet job on Emmie Hobson, based on weasel words such as ‘our sources say’, ‘an insider confides’ ‘friends disclose’, etc. Social media picks up the baton runs with it, unleashing hateful rhetoric that threatens Emmie and all that she holds dear…
Today I’m happy to be sharing my friend, Fey sister, and author/poet, Marjorie Mallon’s new release – The Hedge Witch and the Musical Poet. This is a lovely book with a magical story, some flash fiction stories and some touching poetry. I’d also like to add that our other sister – Colleen Chesebro from Word Craft Poetry, has recently opened up shop with her Unicorn Cats Publishing, and she formatted Marje’s book and also created the beautiful cover. Check out Colleen’s publishing page if you’re looking for some help in your self-publishing.
MJ’s favourite genres to write are Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories, various forms of poetry and flash fiction. She celebrates the spiritual realm, love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious at her blog home:
She is a reading, blogging and photography enthusiast!
M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained, and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile.
MJ writes fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic! Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black-hearted shadows.
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet is a collection of poetry and flash fiction celebrating the beautiful vulnerability of the forest kingdom. It begins with the poetic tale of the kind-hearted Hedge Witch, Fern, who discovers an injured stranger in desperate need of her woodland spells and magic.
The sweet pairing learn from each other and through Fern’s guidance, Devin embraces the power of magic to leave behind his trouble past to become The Musical Poet.
Poetry/flash fiction titles in section one of the collection include:
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet, Rain Forest Love, A Forest Baby Boy, A Forest Baby Girl, A Modern Witch, Rock of Mine, Chester Don & I, The Network of Trees, More Trees Not Less, Two Boys Watching War, Mum Climbing Trees, Let’s Play, The Scorched Tree, Owl’s Holiday Home, A Man’s Holiday Home, A Child’s Excitement, The Teddy In The Woods, Run! The Organutans, All Hallow’s Eve Candy Girl The Forest Bash, Dreaming At Halloween, A Face on Bark, Golden Willow Tree, Rainbow – Parasol of Light, Lollipop Sunshine Tree,
In Section two I pay tribute to the following poets: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, Ruby Archer, King Forest, Bliss Carman, Woodland Rain, Emily Dickinson, Who Robbed the Woods, Rupert Blake, Stopping by The Woods on A Winter Evening,Oscar Wilde, In the Forest.
With my poetry:
The Forest Weeps, The Forest King, Raindrops and Childhood Dreams, The Woodland Treasures, Winter Woodland Moon, Child Me.
My 5 Star Review:
This is a lovely book by MJ Mallon. She brings to life stories of her loving family, in poetry and flash fiction stories. The Hedge Witch and the Magical Poet is a short story about Fern, who rescues a man she names Devin, distraught and parched, found under a tree. When he recites a poem to her in such lyrical fashion, he sounded like an instrument. We also find some touching poetry in mixed styles, reminding us of some yesteryears of the past – some spoken by the trees. These poems recall some of the easier days of the past when children played in nature and climbed trees – and not on their digital devices, as the trees lament.
In other poems, like, ‘Let’s Play’, the author calls for reforestation to improve air quality and shade, as climate change is taking that away. The flash story of ‘The Network of Trees’ is another lament as the trees discuss among themselves what will become of them as they are cut down and are replaced with cement and buildings.
There are some wise words here from both Mallon and the trees about life in simpler times, stories about nature, childhood memories in snippets of flash fiction, as well as some whimsical Halloween tales. One of my favorites was ‘All Hallows Eve’ – Candy Girl, with rich magical descriptions.
Mallon’s love for trees and nature shine through all of her stories. If you love nature and enjoy lyrical prose and poetry, you will enjoy this book.
Nightmareland compiled by Dan Alatorre “Scrabble Boy” (Short Story) Spellbound compiled by Dan Alatorre “The Twisted Sisters“ (Short Story) Wings of Fire compiled by Dan Alatorre “The Great Pottoo” (Short Story)
I was recently invited over to Marcia Meara’s – The Write Stuff blog, where she’s been running a fantastic summer series, Ten Things You May Not Know About Me. So many authors and bloggers were featured in this series where we get to know some personal things about each one that we’d never otherwise know. Today I’m sharing my feature, but I also encourage you to visit some other entries in this wonderful series.
#TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAbout – #D.G.Kaye
I’m sure today’s author needs no introduction for most of you, but just in case there are some new folks reading along, I’m delighted to say that author D. G. Kaye is with us today. Debby is widely known in the blogging/writing world as a memoirist and a writer who generously spreads humor wherever she goes. Please help me give Debby a big welcome this morning. Debby? You’re on!
Thank you so much Marcia, for inviting me to share some of myself here today in your wonderful series – #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe.
1. In high school, I always managed to maintain an over 80 average – despite my one year failing art and gym! Yes, art and gym! How do you fail art and gym? Well, I did. I was the girl in the Janis Ian song – At Seventeen – when choosing sides of basketball, I’d be last pick. I was nowhere near athletic, nor was I interested in sports. My only saving grace was dance segment and health classes which helped bring up my saggy average in that class. I remember getting booted for a class or two when I was caught cutting across the track field instead of running the length of it, hoping I wouldn’t be discovered doing so, to no avail. And don’t even get me started with those ugly blue rompers, sack-like outfits we had to wear. Art was a whole ‘nother thing. I still cannot color in the lines! Even when it comes to my book covers, I have the vision of what I want, but cannot express with drawing anything with my own hands – okay, maybe stick people.
2. Ambidextrous, I am, sort of. A weird mixture of one who writes with her right hand yet does most other things with the left. I also sucked at baseball because I have to wear a glove on my left hand for catching, and must take it off to throw the ball back with my same left, leaving a runner too much time before I could throw back the ball. I have no sports coordination with my right hand. When I attempted in my younger years, to play guitar, that was also strumming with the left hand. It’s complicated.
3. Before I met my husband, I was in an abusive relationship with someone for seven years. I realized it after the first year of living together, but by then I was trapped. I have written much on the subject, but to this day am still petrified of publishing anything about those years, for fears of being sued by my vindictive stalker and abuser.
4. I had many jobs and careers in my younger years. I was never fired, always left on my own volition. My earlier days were working in the fashion industry – selling clothes and doing the buying for some of those stores. I did a lot of temp secretarial in between jobs, and I was an executive secretary to the general manager of one of our downtown hotels for a few years. Before that, I worked for a photography company doing company sales for family portraits. My job took me all over the province of Ontario – with me as the driver. Those were my fearless days. I also became a certified travel agent, not because I wanted to work in an agency, but I’d struck a deal with an agency owner, I’d bring him clients on the side so I could keep my regular job and get my travel perks, commissions and benefits from the agency. I became office manager for an architectural firm, and later for a construction company, and then a real estate company. In my 30s, I went to ‘dealer’ school and became a certified casino dealer for blackjack and poker, then ultimately, became a pit boss. After a few years doing that, I got scouted out to work for a private company doing private parties. I only worked two or three nights a week and made more money (in tips) than I did all week working in a casino. I ultimately met my husband who was a guest of someone I knew at one of those parties. Once my husband moved in with me, he didn’t want me to work anymore. I must admit, it felt weird not working when I’d worked since a teenager.
5. I am an empath and very spiritual and sense when spirits are around me. As of yet, I have not directly sensed my own husband directly around me, but, I have definitely received many signs. I am an empath who can sense spirit by smell and touch and an inner knowing, this makes me clairsentient, clairalient, and claircognizant. I also read souls through looking into eyes, sort of like a human lie and empathy detector. This has never failed to be an alert system for me. Except when I was younger and dismissed what I thought I saw. I rely on my instincts to guide me. My father and my dear aunt come to visit me sometimes. I know when they are around, my body starts to shiver, and I can smell my aunt’s perfume or my father’s cigarette smoke when they appear.
I was recently invited over to Wendy Van Camp’s writing blog- Nowastedink, to share an article on writing. As I have been comtemplating writing my next book (now in very rough draft) in Epistolary writing style, I thought that would be the perfect topic to write about.
Hi Wendy, thanks so much for inviting me over again to your blog. Today I want to talk about writing in Epistolary style. What is epistolary writing? As a nonfiction/memoir writer I’ve been exploring this form of writing for a book I’ve been drafting about grief. I am seriously considering presenting the book in this form.
Epistolary writing is a style that addresses the reader through a diary format (think Bridget Jones’ Diary) or in journal or letter format. In this era of digital life, epistolary writing can also include email and blog post entries, police reports, newspaper articles and transcripts. This style involves the writer speaking directly to another person, expressing the bond in a particular relationship through the content being written, which gives the reader an intimate peek into the writer’s private self and thoughts regarding the person she is writing to, and an inside scoop into that relationship between the writer and the character being spoken to. Journal and diary entries are more contemplative writings, but there is also the method of writing strictly in dialogue. Epistolary writing is in essence writing dialogue from one’s self. It is important that the writer let the reader know to whom they are writing to. Epistolary stories can involve one or more characters the writing conversation is being directed toward.
Often, in this form of writing, the focus is more on evoking emotion, more so than a dialogue driven story. Epistolary writing is also classified as a sort of confessional-like writing, also known as monophonic point of view, letters to one specific character. It is referred as ‘dialogic’ if two people are writing letters, or, ‘polyphonic’ with three or more characters writing and receiving the letters. It is ultimately, a first-person point of view that allows the reader to get inside the writer’s thoughts. It’s a correspondence between characters or to a character. This form is a different take from third person POV where the usual plots and characters are the driving force of the storyline. Instead, the reader gets to understand the character’s interactions through what is implied by the writer.
The word -Epistolary, is derived from the noun – Epistle, which is the Greek word meaning ‘letter’. This is an actual literary genre that pertains to letters written for delivering story through personal messages from the writer to her subject(s). This format can be used as context for a relationship, friendship or even a business relationship between the writer and receiver.
Because this method of writing is a person telling, it can be written in multiple tenses. For example, the writer might go back in time with an entry and bring it up to present to invite in some tension. In most stories in other points of view writing, they are written in the classic, ‘show more, tell less’. This could be challenging to write in epistolary form because there is no narrator building a scene. But description that paints a picture to the reader can still be done. The more ‘real’ a story feels to the reader, the more they will engage in the emotion. Epistolary stories can be written in both fiction or nonfiction. . . Please continue reading at Nowastedink
Welcome to my June Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring author Wendy Van Camp who writes Sci-Fi, speculative fiction, and offers up a weekly ‘Writers Links’ information post for writers with some great collaborated shares on her blog at Nowastedink. Wendy recently released her newest book where she is the editor and contributor to the anthology – Eccentric Orbits – Book 3 in the collection of anthologies of science fiction poetry – Scifaiku, and today we’re going to get to know a little about her.
Wendy Van Camp is the Poet Laureate for the City of Anaheim, California. Her work is influenced by cutting edge technology, astronomy, and daydreams. A graduate of the Ad Astra Speculative Fiction Workshop, Wendy has won Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future Contest, is a twice nominated finalist for the Elgin Award, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Dwarf Stars Award. Her poems have appeared in: “Starlight Scifaiku Review”, “Quantum Visions”, “The Junction”, and “Far Horizons”. She is the poet and illustrator of “The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection” and editor of the annual “Eccentric Orbits: An Anthology of Science Fiction Poetry” by Dimensionfold Publishing.
The function of speculative poetry is to engage the mind to a new understanding, not rehearse the past or the ordinary. This anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry explores new concepts, folklore, myth, and the fantastic, by some of the most exciting, speculative poets of our time. Discover the insights of these contemporary wordsmiths that are surging from the pages of science fiction into the reality of our world.
This speculative poetry anthology is perfect as a gift for poetry lovers, readers of science fiction, fantasy, or horror literature or to complete your own book collections.
Speculative Poets represented in this anthology:
JANUARY BAIN * STEWART C BAKER * ROBERT BEVERIDGE * CATHERINE BROGDON * FARUK BUZHALA * DALE CHAMPLIN * LINDA M. CRATE * BILLIE DEE * KENDALL EVANS * GARY EVERY * MARK A. FISHER * JEAN-PAUL L. GARNIER * LEE GARRATT * KEN GOUDSWARD * FIN HALL * MICHAEL HOFFMAN * DEBORAH L. KELLY * DEBORAH P. KOLODJI * DAVID C. KOPASKA-MERKEL * BLAISE LANGLOIS * GERRI LEEN * RICHARD MAGAHIZ * JACK MASSA * ALLENE NICHOLS * MICHELLE OUCHAREK-DEO * RK RUGG * RYFKAH * JUSTIN SLOANE * JOSHUA ST. CLAIRE * SEAN STUBBLEFIELD * REX SWEENY * LISA TIMPF * LAMONT TURNER * WENDY VAN CAMP * MIKE VAN HORN * RUTH E. WALKER * TD WALKER * LYNN WHITE * JEFF YOUNG
Let’s get to know more about Wendy!
Did you have a passion to write as a child? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
Thank you for having me on your blog, Debbie. To answer your question, I suppose I was born a storyteller, although I come from a family of non-creatives. I was always telling stories verbally, even at a young age.
Some of my earliest memories are of writing “books” all in child’s scrawl on cheap loose-leaf paper. My first effort was about mermaids and was a comfortable 150 pages. I wrote it when I was four or five years old. My second “novel” was a Tolkien inspired fantasy that I wrote on a broken typewriter when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. The carriage return didn’t work, so I had to move it manually with one of my hands. I learned to type quickly with one hand due to this. My parents never thought to fix the typewriter since this might encourage me to write.
During my pre-teen years, I wrote poetry. I purchased a small deep green journal with my allowance, which I had fallen in love with from the stationery store. I handwrote short poems with no real knowledge of how to write poetry. I simply wrote what I felt. However, my younger brother discovered the poetry journal and ran through the house reading my poems out loud, laughing at my private musings. As a young pre-teen, it humiliated me. I gave up on poetry for a very long time due to this incident. Thankfully, I did not give up on writing.
D.G. – Wow Wendy, it sounds like we have a common thread between us with our young writing, and our ridiculing and unappreciated talents by our family members. I am sorry to hear, but applaud you on following your passion.
Do you find your writing is geared toward a specific audience or do you just write what inspires you to write?
I do think about my audience when I plan my projects. I am a science fiction author and a speculative poet. I also dabble in Austen Regency historicals because of my love for Jane Austen’s work, but honestly this is more of a one-shot effort and I have no plans on becoming a romance writer. I have been part of the speculative community for two decades. I write reviews of classic science fiction novels for journals, have read the genre extensively, and have met many of the A-list authors whose work I love. I am a regular panelist at science fiction literary conventions all over the United States and teach speculative poetry workshops. I suppose this is why I breathe science fiction concepts and most of my work, both prose and poetry, are speculative.
D.G. – That is commendable work Wendy. I should think it’s not only inspiring, but fun to be part of such a big community of this specific genre.
What’s your favorite mode of writing – computer, hand written, dictation, and why?
I use all three methods, but at different times in my writing process. I use dictation to get ideas from my thoughts onto the page for both novels and short stories, and for longer form poetry. None of this ever makes the final cut of my writing, but I find sometimes verbalizing a concept can bring out ideas you didn’t realize were in you.
I am a power-user of Scrivener for my novel organization and revising. I tend to not draft in Scrivener, for that I use an Alphasmart typewriter, google docs, or other word processing programs, but wherever the draft is done, I always put it in Scrivener in the end. Scrivener also can create an epub of my work which I find handy.
I write poetry in an unlined A5 journal with my fountain pen. I love the messy way the pages fill up with words and cross outs. I rewrite the lines, count my syllables, and then bracket my poems. When I feel the poem is done, I type it into digital storage. I used to keep my poetry on Evernote, but lately I’m trying a new filing system in Scrivener. It allows me to print up a poem if I have a reading. My specialty is scifaiku, which is science fiction themed haiku and haiku style astropoetry which you can read in my Elgin Nominated poetry book, “The Planets”.
D.G. – I love how you are so versatile with your writings and collections. I commend you with Scrivener. I purchased a lifetime license for Scrivener a few years back, and I still cannot grasp the hang of it.
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
I am working on a couple of projects this year. I am continuing the work on my Austen Regency Historical series. The final three books are close to completion. I fell behind schedule due to the pandemic, but lately I am gaining more speed and feeling more creative. It helps that I’m able to get outside the house to write again. Besides the Austen books, I’m writing poetry for several literary magazines that I support and for a new poetry collection that I am tentatively calling “Time, Space, & Technology”.
I am editing three poetry anthologies in rapid succession during 2022 and 2023. My next one is “Eye To The Telescope” which is published by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. I am to be their Fall guest editor. When that one is complete, I begin work on a literary poetry anthology for the City of Anaheim where I have recently been named the Anaheim Poet Laureate. I plan to make this an annual project and do two books during my two-year term. Finally, I will start next year with the fourth edition of “Eccentric Orbits”, an anthology of science fiction poetry, which is published by Dimensionfold Publishing. This will be my third year as its poetry editor.
D.G. – You are certainly busy with so many projects on the go. And interesting that you feel you get your best writing done outside of the home.
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
Life is not all writing and poetry! Over the past few years, I have branched out from my black and white poetry illustrations to ink & wash urban sketching. The urban sketching is done when I am on the road. When I speak at conventions and conferences, I find I like to sketch the hotels and surroundings of where I am working. The vivid watercolors and the mathematics of getting perspective correct appeals to me. I wish I had more time for painting, but these days I fit it in when I can.
D.G. – You are a multi-talented creative Wendy, very commendable that you can also write, sketch and paint. I can’t even color in the lines, let alone draw.
Thank you so much for visiting with us today Wendy, and sharing your work with us. I do hope my sci-fi, fantasy and horror readers will check out your work. I wish you much success with all your projects.
Sally Cronin has been running a wonderful series – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now, at her Smorgasbord Blog Magazine. There have been some fantastic entries by several writers and bloggers that many of us here know. I urge you to check out a few
I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.
I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.
Today my friend and fellow collaborator here on Smorgasbord, D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) shares her thoughts on the prompt.
I Wish I Knew Then by Debby Gies
Thank you, Sally for inviting me here today to share my thoughts on, I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now. This was an interesting question because of course, hindsight is always 20/20.
I’ve lived my life learning from life – life lessons. These are experiences in life that we could never imagine until we’ve lived through them, that’s why they’re called life lessons. This makes it somewhat like a trick question because if we didn’t experience something yet, we’d have never been able to learn from it, so hence, that’s my answer, it’s really not possible to know then what we know now, but wish, yes. We didn’t know any better or different then that nothing is stagnant, the world is always changing. We followed in the direction that life led us, we experienced and then we learned.
Don’t we all wish that in some of our most glorious times in our heydays, that we knew then that those days could quite possibly become some of the best years of our lives? Did we take those days for granted? Did we think that the good times would always continue to roll unknowing the times would change and quite possibly there may be leaner years? I know that I just took it for granted that the good things would remain and continue to get better. I wish I knew that our accumulated abundance in life was never anything to take for granted, that nothing is permanent, and that we should always keep alert and protective over everything we’d worked hard to attain.
But I suppose back then, as we live in the now and endure new struggles, we didn’t consider that those days of past would become the very days we often long for in the now as this world becomes more difficult to exist in.
I wish I knew, what feels like not so long ago, that I was living in my glory days without struggles of today – not much to worry about, giving not much concern to the coming years, which ultimately became leaner and less. Less tolerance, less love, less acceptance, less understanding, less brotherly love and that it could possibly become more difficult to live with the lesser of these things taken for granted back then as we under-estimated change in the world, thinking life would get even better with progress instead of going backwards.
I wish I knew then that my thinking that the harder we worked and saved for our retirement years would undoubtedly add fruit to our baskets if we saved and invested smart like the generation before us, was no guarantee and offered a false sense of security.
I wish I knew then as we thought we were prepared with our future plans and our false sense of security that the ‘powers that be’ would be making the rich get richer, and big corporations and greed would become as powerful as governments while diminishing the middle class’s ability to stay afloat ( let alone those who already lived back then, and still, in poverty levels) and could possibly threaten our financial futures, and that flying high in the gravy days by no means was any guarantee for tomorrow’s riches.
But as I watch the world change and devolve in so many ways, I can look back on the errors of my ways and I’ve learned to adjust my sails and go with the wind and not against it while keeping my eyes wide open, so I don’t have to say in the future again – I wish I knew then. But, no doubts, I may quite possibly be fooled again and have to repeat those same words – I Wish I Knew Then.
Earlier this week I posted my guest feature over at Valentina Cirasola’s blog about Spring Beauty and Books. Once the series was completed, Valentina kindly, made this beautiful short video, incorporating all the books from the authors she hosted. It’s a lovely video, and it was so nice to have my book be part of the video along with books by many of my writing friends. I’m reblogging Valentina’s ‘thank you post’ here, along with the video.
Note: Click on the Youtube link as the video will not show here.
Spring Beauty and Book Series has ended:
This Spring flew by, between winds of war, fake news, new diseases, corrupted politicians, investigations, and protests around the world to gain the lost freedom, we have arrived almost at Summer. What will it bring us? My hope is always that humanity will mend itself and be infused with so much love, compassion and empathy, as without these elements, life cannot be called life.
With the arrival of Spring, my goal was to instill beauty. Beauty multiplies as it is an entity that everyone wants and everyone recognizes for their wellbeing. I also wanted to spread kind thoughts. Who better than authors can do that? Authors are good with words, they know how to craft them to let the readers live a fantasy, see places and experience new emotions.
Please continue reading at Valentina’s blog and see a complete list of authors who were included in this series.