Category Archives: #BHBW

Discover #RRBC author Laura Libricz in this interview with @DianneAscroft @HFVBT THE SOLDIER’S RETURN blog tour

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Today, I’m over at Dianne Ascroft’s blog for an interview! Read more here:

Today I’ve invited Laura Libricz, author of The Soldier’s Return, the second book in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy to Ascroft, eh? to tell us about her latest novel.

Welcome Laura.

Thank you so much for having me over today, Dianne!

Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel.

LL: The Heaven’s Pond Series is a three-part historical series set in Franconia, Germany, in the early 17thThe Soldier's Return covercentury during the Thirty Years War. These are the novels I have always wanted to read. Written in English and taking the German viewpoint of the war, the story is told by a young maid, a patrician, a Jesuit priest and a young Dutchman. The Master and the Maid is the first book in the series and begins the story in 1616. It’s about a young woman who loses her home, her job and her freedom. Harboring…

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How to cope with #cancer #treatment : @BlueHeronBW author Fanny Barry’s new release

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Today I’d like to welcome Blue Heron Book Works author Fanny Barry to talk about her re-release of I Wish I Knew:

Fanny: “So proud that my I Wish I Knew books for breast cancer patients, family, and friends have been republished! Nearly 15 years after the event, they are all together and in color, and available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0999146025 

“So blessed to still be here with them with the hope that they help others.
Thank you Blue Heron Book Works and my cousin and graphic designer extraordinaire Megan for making this happen. They could be the best thing I have done! But who knows, I am not done yet!”

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Fanny Barry’s trilogy, I Wish I Knew…Notes from a Breast Cancer Survivor is now in one full-color volume. Fanny gives wise and witty advice on coping with treatment, how to help friends who are undergoing treatment, and how to make sense of who you’ve become after undergoing cancer treatments.

About the author: Fanny Barry, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, is a writer, artist, engineer, and yoga teacher who wrote the I Wish I Knew books as part of her recovery process from breast cancer. She moved to Tulum, Mexico shortly after surviving cancer where she re-built her life from the ground up, literally. She recently published her memoir about her adventures in survival called Map of Life and Beauty. She manages a yoga studio and shalla in Tulum, Mexico called Tribal tribaltulum.com. She blogs at her website thatbarrygirl.com.

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Discover “Songs of Ourselves” #memoir #anthology A Great Read @BlueHeronBW

“Songs of Ourselves is a real trip into and across Americana. If you haven’t read it, I compare it to about two dozen Blue Highways wrapped into one volume.”

Online Home of Susan Feathers

In 2015, Blue Heron Book Works published a collections of blog posts, journal entries, and other writing forms from writers across the nation. Bathseba Monk, the intrepid and visionary editor of Blue Heron Book Works, and her editor Mary Lawlor, put together a book of American voices as varied as the landscape between our coastlines.

Songs of Ourselves is a real trip into and across Americana. If you haven’t read it, I compare it to about two dozen Blue Highways wrapped into one volume.

Listen to Tomas Benitez: Quietude in the Gully. No moaning animals or ruckus. It’s as if the Pomona Freeway Ocean knows and slows to a steady heartbeat rhythm. The waves rumble with a distant peace. La Luna is framed by the dark outline of the palm fronds on the left, the Yucca tree on the right seems to be reaching up like a hand holding…

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Read LuAnn’s #review for #histfic novel THE SOLDIER’S RETURN @KentuckyGal @HFVBT

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Today I’d like to welcome LuAnn Braley and share her wonderful review of THE SOLDIER’S RETURN! Please take the time to visit her at Back Porchervations.

LuAnn’s Review:

The second book in Laura Libricz’s “Heaven’s Pond Trilogy”, The Soldier’s Return, pulls no punches when it comes to describing some of the more horrifying aspects of war in the early 1600s.  Granted, there were no air strikes or nukes, but plenty of damage was done to the countryside and the people living there nonetheless.

The whole Catholic vs Protestant issue was cooking on high heat and littlle bits of land would go back and forth from the control of one religion to the control of another.  And wo to the Catholic who found herself in a Protestant village, and vice versa.  It was as bad back then as it is these days between gangs in many areas.  And interactions could be just as deadly.

And Ralf, the Jesuit whom I grew to dislike intensely in the first book of the trilogy, The Master and the Maid, doubled down on his fanaticism when it came to ferreting out ‘witches’, which a rather disproportionate amount of the time were Protestant sympathizers.  If the suspect in question did not give an answer that Ralf wanted, he would apply various ‘methods of persuasion’ to ‘drive the devil out’ of said person.  I remember a vivid description of thumb screws…and he just got nasty from there.

Herr Tucher and Katarina (the titular master and maid of the first book) were still at Sichardtshof farm, trying to hold things together for the little group of people living and working there.  Not an easy job when army after army comes through.  In those times, the soldiers were not paid their promised wages very often, and scant if any rations were provided, so they took what they wanted from farmers and villagers – food, drink and women.  I am glad the author did not resort to the crass terminology that seems to be prevalent in some modern erotic romances, but the scenes are quite disturbing nonetheless.  That is not a criticixm, but an observation.

Pieter had gone back to Amsterdam shortly before his father passed away, ran into all kinds of trouble shortly after and after a stint in jail in the Spice Islands, returned but had to leave town fairly quickly again.  He wanted to go back to the farm (probably the closest thing to family he had left), and joined up with various military units on the way south to Sichardtshof.  He changed units as often as needed to suit his purposes.  Unfortunately, he did not resign or ask for re-assignment first…which tends to upset the commanders of said units.  Deserters faired no better, and probably much worse, than they do today.

Reading the book, which was difficult to stop, I felt like I was there – slogging through mud, feeling fear for the women and children on the farm when soldiers and ‘camp followers’ marauded through.

I do wonder about the title, a wee bit.  The story seemed to have as much or more to do with the goings on at Sichardtshof itself, than with Pieter’s return to the farm.  For me it’s one of those ‘it would be interesting to know someday’, but had no bearing on my enjoyment of the book.

The Soldier’s Return is not always an easy read.  Don’t get me wrong, the story is wonderful … but life for the people living in that area and at that time was not..  There was not a ‘HEA’ ending, but the core group of characters (Tucher, Katarina, Isobel, her father and Pieter) were still standing.  If you are a reader, The Soldier’s Return is a satisfying, filling read.

And now I’m really looking forward to the last installment of the trilogy, Ash and Rubble, to see how Isobel fulfills the White Witch’s predictions for her!

THE SOLDIER’S RETURN receives 5 stars from @AmyBooksy @HFVBT

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Read the latest review for THE SOLDIER’S RETURN from Locks, Hooks and Books via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Amy’s Review: 

The Soldier’s Return is the second installment from the intriguing The Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. I enjoyed this one as much as book one, The Master and the Maid. The author masterfully crafted a wonderfully written historical. I felt like I was right there living among the people experiencing the struggles and horrors of the time.

I am anxiously awaiting for the third book from The Heaven’s Pond Trilogy to release and find out where the author takes the reader next.

I highly recommend it.

Five stars.

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Svetlana reads and reviews THE SOLDIER’S RETURN #historicalfiction #review

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Thank you to Svetlana for her review of THE SOLDIER’S RETURN, Heaven’s Pond Trilogy Book 2. Read the review in its entirety here and visit Svetlana’s Reads and Views:

“Characters: Main characters include Katarina, Ralf, Pieter van Diermen. With some characters I couldn’t tell if they were main or secondary, but I think those three are main characters. Katarina is a maid as well as a lover to Sebald Tucher. She seems to be in charge of everything and is more of a mistress. She also wants to take all the burdens on herself at the cost of friendships and relationships. Katarina is intelligent, resourceful but she tends to keep her heart guarded up, especially towards her surrogate daughter Isabeau. Ralf is the villain of the book who seems to be delusional and who sees evil everywhere. He is also a Catholic priest who feels faith is more important than anything else. (He also literally sees women who use herbs as witches because they don’t trust in god!) Pieter van Diermen is a difficult character for me to describe aside from the fact he has little to no taste in warfare and just wants to leave the soldier’s life. Despite his personal feelings, he has already been damaged by the war and the things he had to see and participate in.

“Theme: There is no glamour and glory in war.

“Plot: The story is in third person narrative from multiple points of view; namely from Pieter van Diemen’s, Katarina’s, Isabeau’s and Ralf’s points of view. There is definitely a psychological aspect to the novel because its not desensitized and constant ugly things happen to characters. The author, I feel, seems to ask how much can the characters handle before they reach a breaking point? I know that reading and witnessing horror in the story that’s rarely unremitting but continuous can drive any reader to exhaustion and weariness.

“Opinion: First of all, reading the first book in the series is a must because the reader will get lost with what’s going on as well as the characters and how they all know one another. Second of all, the book doesn’t glamorize fighting or wars at all, but instead its richly detailed about the travails that war has on men, women and children in 17th century. There is some plot in the story, but most of it is day to day situation that survivors have to go through such as securing food, hiding from rowdy soldiers, and trying to move on from horrors seen and inflicted, which I actually enjoyed a lot. If you are looking for realistic fiction, I would highly recommend the book.”

“Rating: 4 out of 5 (0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)”

Please visit Svetlana’s Reads and Views for more historical fiction reviews!

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Join us for THE SOLDIER’S RETURN @hfvbt #blogtour Jan 30-Feb 16! Enter the #historicalfiction #giveaway

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This week, THE SOLDIER’S RETURN is on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours! During the Blog Tour we are giving away a paperback set of The Master and the Maid and The Soldier’s Return to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form featured on this link: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thesoldiersreturnblogtour/

The year is 1626. A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But religion only plays a minor role in this lucrative business of war.

The young dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, returns to Amsterdam in chains after a period of imprisonment in the Spice Islands. He manages to escape but must leave Amsterdam in a hurry. Soldiers are in demand in Germany and he decides to travel with a regiment until he can desert. His hope of survival is to reach Sichardtshof, the farm in Franconia, Germany; the farm he left ten years ago. His desire to seek refuge with them lies in his fond memories of the maid Katarina and her master, the humanist patrician Herr Tucher. But ten years is a long time and the farm has changed. Franconia is not only torn by war but falling victim to a church-driven witch hunt. The Jesuit priest, Ralf, has his sights set on Sichardtshof as well. Ralf believes that ridding the area of evil will be his saving grace. Can Pieter, Katarina and Herr Tucher unite to fight against a senseless war out of control?

The Soldier’s Return is the second book in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy.

 

Readers’ Favorite announces the review of the Fiction – Historical book “The Soldier’s Return” by Laura Libricz.

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Reviewed By Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite: After ten years, a young Dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, is returning to Amsterdam in chains, after being captured and imprisoned in the Spice Islands. But he can’t stay in Amsterdam. After his escape, the only place he hopes to find solace is Sichardtshof, a farm in Franconia, Germany. But after being away for ten years, will it still be the same and will he still find the hospitality and warmth of the patrician, Herr Tucher, and his maid, Katarina? Follow the protagonist during a period of turbulence, of conflict between Catholics and Protestants. It is against this backdrop that Pieter navigates through deadly traps and dangerous terrain to find refuge, but can he? The Soldier’s Return by Laura Libricz is a powerful historical novel with a strong setting and memorable characters.

The language is what first caught my attention: it is beautiful, at times poetic, and it unveils elements of the religious, historical, and cultural settings in intelligent and relevant ways. Apart from writing a gripping story, Laura Libricz has taken readers on a historic ride to relive the religious conflicts of the seventeen century, weaving into her narrative great social, religious, and political commentaries. I enjoyed the descriptive style of the narrative, the well-written dialogues, and the surprises and twists in the plot. The tone is unique and compelling, the conflict huge and masterfully handled. It is no wonder that The Soldier’s Return will appeal immensely to fans of historical novels with great settings and compelling characters.

You can learn more about Laura Libricz and “The Soldier’s Return” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-soldiers-return

Read the 5* buzz for The Soldier’s Return #historicalfiction by #RRBC author Laura Libricz

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“Men’s favorite sport was ceaselessly played on the battlefields…”

Ms. Libricz finds sure footing in this follow-up to The Master and the Maid. The Heaven’s Pond Trilogy is especially pertinent today when women’s role in society is being questioned and hard-won territory challenged. In 1630 Germany, single women, especially with money, were singled out by the powers that be as witches and their fortunes confiscated. Daughters were valuable only if they brought acreage with them to their marriage and were used as pawns. And war, men’s favorite sport, was ceaselessly played on the battlefields of their lives. Besides the attention to historical domestic accuracy which Ms. Libricz displayed in her first book, her storytelling talents are running on all cylinders in The Soldier’s Return. Ms. Libricz has accomplished an admirable feat: creating a riveting fictional world in the context of historical accuracy. You do not have to read the first book in the series to enjoy this one, but I think it will enhance the experience. I am definitely looking forward to the third book in this series and, in fact, much more from Ms. Libricz.

Read The Soldier’s Return in paperback or as a Kindle book or for free with Kindle Unlimited: http://bit.ly/TheSoldiersReturn

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What Are We Hungry For? #amwriting #MondayBlogs

ab4db-hugoWeek #1: Idea

Or:  What Are We Hungry For?

Writing is much like the art of cooking a fine meal or baking a tasty cake. Our tastes grow, change and become more refined as we hone our skills. Not only are they both fun but they are life sustaining. There’s a certain amount of creativity, a joy of experimentation as well as trial, error and experience that goes into both disciplines. Each finished product is the result of a process. And each process starts with an idea, one based on our personal habits, whether we’re cooking a meal for unknown guests or writing a story for unknown readers.

Before I started seriously writing I had to look at my own reading habits. I’ll ask you these same questions: What sort of reader are you? Do you read one book from start to finish? Do you leave books unfinished? Do you read multiple books at the same time? Do you supplement your literary diet with short stories? Do you favor one genre or do you read just about anything? And, as a writer, how do you think this will this affect your readers?

I personally read just about anything. I read multiple books from different genres all at the same time, setting them aside when I’m not submersed in the story. I prefer to read obscure writers. Right now, I read a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction mainly because I am writing historical fiction. But I sneak a bit of chick-lit, suspense or erotica in there just to make it interesting.

So, compare this to cooking: what are my eating habits and how will that affect my guests? What am I hungry for vs. what should I feed these people?

Are you a picky eater? That will limit the choice of foods you have to choose from. Do you detest veggies? A certain fresh characteristic may be missing from the meal. Do you leave meals unfinished while others are asking for more? Or do you maybe have special needs, allergies or morals that reduce the types of foods you can ingest?

My eating habits are similar to my current reading habits: I would eat just about anything. But for some reason, mostly health issues, I reduced myself to a vegan diet last year. It works for me right now, but once in a while, there is nothing else to eat and I have to set my issues aside and eat whatever is offered. Also keeps things interesting.

Notice I ask myself what am I hungry for vs. what should I feed these people. I need to take them into consideration when I’m cooking and when I’m writing. But I can’t get too caught up in this. The main person I have to please is myself. Our ideas come from our personal tastes, experiences, capabilities, from our hearts and souls, a problem we need to solve. Is everyone else going to like it? We’ll keep that thought in the back of our minds right now. But the first step is to formulize the idea, get it rolling and make it personally palatable.

I am seldom stuck for an idea of what to write or what to cook but it’s getting it tangible and edible that is sometimes a problem. I know what I want it to taste like, to smell like, to feel like. I can just about touch the atmosphere I want to create and how I want to make my audience or my guests feel. But sometimes I need a bit of guidance: a recipe, a plan. A writing prompt. Last night’s dream or a smell on the wind can trigger me off. Something someone said on the train. A random title generator can help me solidify the idea, too.

And the right tools. I cook in a tiny kitchen with a wood stove, a slow cooker and two electric hot plates. That means I need a clear workspace because any clutter will hold me up. While I clear and arrange my tools, I am thinking of how I want my creation to take form. I check my cupboards to see what ingredients I have, if I have enough of everything and, of course enough time.

The same goes for the writing process. I need a block of time, a not-so cluttered workspace and my laptop. I don’t like to write free hand. And I like to have a block of time so I can unfold. I’d rather take one day and write for eight hours than write an hour a day. But of course all rules are made to be broken. In cooking and in writing there are no absolutes for me. Flexibility and the ability to change direction mid-stream are key.

Do I have the right ingredients? Do I have enough knowledge of what I’m writing about or do I have to research? Am I writing a short story? Should I write a series of short stories and see if there’s enough material to write a novel? Can I even write a novel?

Will I be making a salad for myself or will I just put on a pot of noodles for the family? Is this going to be an intimate dinner for two? Am I having guests expecting a three-course perfect dinner? Well, if I am inviting four people for the perfect dinner, I will have to plan. If I’m writing a novel I will have to plan. But if I’m only cooking for the family, it will be more informal and the planning will not have to be as extensive.

So, here’s my proposed project for the next three months:  I’m going to write a short story for you with a beginning, a middle and an end. At the same time, I’ll work through the practice round of a three-course meal for some four unknown guests, a beginning, a middle and an end. I’ll describe my process here and compare them where I can.

I’ll post the recipes, some of my favorites, on my blog in their chaotic style. For the story, I’ve taken a title from this random title generator, The Women of Tragic Hearts. I want it to be about a restaurant owner and her recently-surfaced old friend who cook a meal together and how the evening changes their lives.

So, let’s raise a toast to our project with an aperitif. I’ll offer an Aperol Spritz or a Hugo, all the rage here in Germany right now, along with a sparkling non-alcoholic drink for those who wish not to imbibe.

d1638-aperolTry an Aperol Spritz:
(Aka lovely, poison-orange liquid in a wine glass.) Here’s the 3-2-1 principle. Three parts white wine or prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part sparkling water. For example: 60 ml wine, 40 ml Aperol and one splash of sparkling water. Add an orange slice and some ice and you’re set!

Or try a Hugo:
(could be compared to a Mojito, but fruitier and much lighter) Why don’t we mix a pitcher while we’re at it? Take 500 ml prosecco, 100 ml elder blossom syrup, 3 limes, some mint leaves and a splash of sparkling water. Crush the mint leaves and the lime in the bottom of a glass pitcher. Slowly add the prosecco, then the elder blossom syrup and top it off with a shot of sparkling water. Can also be served in a wine glass but a cocktail glass will do fine.

Non-alcoholic Hugo can be prepared with an alcohol-free prosecco or with a sparkling water.

Join me for the Aperitif of this six-part post that first appeared at the Mslexia Blog!

The theme of my blog residency is The Love of Writing Compared to The Love of Cooking. Now what do these two things have in common? Everything starts with a dilemma; a problem that needs solving. Out springs a bright idea that I think is as good as when the wheel was invented. This evolves to some sort of planning, then chaos, then the clean-up and an eventual surrender to discipline. And this results in a readable story or an edible meal. So I hope.

Part 2 of the series

Part 3 of the series

Part 4 of the series

“Live more. Be less afraid.” #BHBW author @jmcgarra Jim McGarrah answers 25 Q #authorspotlight

JimPrincetonJim McGarrah:  Marine, social worker, carpet layer, janitor, bartender, race horse trainer, and college professor, McGarrah now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.  Jim McGarrah’s poems, essays, appear frequently in literary journals such as The American Poetry Journal, Bayou Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Connecticut Review, and North American Review.  He is an award-winning poet and author of four books of poetry: Running the Voodoo Down (Elixir Press, 2003); When the Stars Go Dark (Main Street Rag, 2009); Breakfast at Denny’s (Ink Brush Press, 2013) and the Truth About Mangoes (Lamar University Press, 2016).  His memoir of war, A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007) won the national Eric Hoffer Legacy Non-Fiction Award, and the sequel, The End of an Era, was published in 2011. He is editor, along with Tom Watson, of the anthology Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana and the former managing editor of Southern Indiana Review. His memoirs Off Track and Midemeanor Outlaw were published by Blue Heron Book Works.   

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing does both things, especially if you feel like you’re writing well. The energy that generates my creativity is often very emotionally intense and when that energy is spent, I’m drained emotionally for a time. I had a mentor in grad school years ago, a very highly respected poet, who cautioned me that the type of writing I did would cannibalize my emotions and I would need to rest from time to time and replenish that autobiographical material. I’m one of those people who live to write and write to live. This isn’t my job. It’s me.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

No. That would defeat my purpose, I think. My identity is at the core of my writing.

  1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers and the audience what they want?

This requires balance. Solomon said in Proverbs that there was nothing new under the sun. And, there was an Egyptian writer whose name I can’t remember and couldn’t pronounce even if I did who wrote about his battle 4,000 years ago to say something that hadn’t already been said. So, the struggle for originality lies in the “way” we say things, not the themes we reflect on. To answer the question, I want to be original in how I write and connect with my audience in what I say. But, for me that requires a certain honesty that means I can’t always give the audience what they want to hear. As a poet and an essayist, I think my function is more related to describing what it means to be human, which isn’t always pleasant and doesn’t always have a happy ending. I want what I write to be true and in a way that is accessible to others both.

  1. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? 

Certainly. The emotionally depth of what is written depends on context. A writer of a brilliant technical instructional book does not have to be emotional invested in the information to communicate it. On the other hand, literary writers are most assuredly and deeply connected to plot, character development, and themes in their material. And in telling a story or writing a poem, the writer needs to communicate that emotional connectivity to a reader. Literature we understand, but don’t necessarily feel, tends to be a huge sleep aid.

  1. What other authors and creative people are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have a fairly large network of writers and poets that I stay in touch with, some whose names you would recognize instantly, and some who are better writers that you’ve never heard of and probably never will. I have two or three close friends that I rely on for “first” readings of my material because they are excellent editors as well as writers and they’re honest with me. If something isn’t working they have no qualms about saying, “Jim, this sucks.” That forces me to re-evaluate, revise, and reflect on what I’m doing and why. But, I don’t limit my association to writers. That seems a good way to limit rather than expand your thinking.

  1. What sort of projects are you working on now? 

I’m in the process now of putting together a “New and Selected” volume of my poetry from over the past twenty years for a university press. Also, I’m trying to help sell copies of my newest nonfiction work from Blue Heron Book Works – Misdemeanor Outlaw. Unfortunately for my editor Bathsheba Monk, I’m a terrible business person.

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each of my ten books so far does stand alone, but although I’m not attempting to make connections, they are inherently connected because I’m an autobiographical-type of writer. Most of my work is based, in some way, on my life experiences.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Live more. Be less afraid.

  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Fifteen years ago I won a national book competition with my first full-length collection of poems. One of those good writers and friends we were talking about earlier, Victoria Redel, laughed and said over a celebratory drink, “Enjoy yourself tonight because tomorrow you’ll wake up and find that the world is the same. Nothing has really changed. You just go back to work.” She was correct.

  1. Is there any one author that influenced you somehow?

I’d have to say Hemingway and Mark Twain in how to tell a story, Dylan Thomas in the use of language, Bruce Weigel and Tim O’Brien in how to write about the hard things in my life. But, I’d hope that everything I read teaches me something.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos

  1. As an artist, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I’m going to answer that with a poem from my latest collection of poems The Truth About Mangoes (Lamar University Press, 2016)

How to Find the Animal Inside

 

Today I took a quiz,

one of those internet pseudo-scientific lists

that some fool thought up while snorting bath salts,

and found out my past life was spent roaming

among trees and rivers in the American West.

No, I was neither cowboy nor Indian.

As it turns out my personality evolved

from Canis lupus in various tell-tale ways.

I am swift, agile, and cunning. Well,

at least I’m a cunning linguist.

If you ignore the bad knees and arthritic hip,

one out of three ain’t bad.

I value my family’s well-being above all else.

That’s true, but they refuse to believe it if I’m driving.

As far as being master of both day and night,

I nap well in darkness and light.

This quiz states that the wolf has a fiery temper,

which may explain my multiple marriages and a face

remodeled several times by knuckles. To be fair,

my father compared me more often to a catfish than a wolf.

He said, “You’re all mouth and no brains.”

Of all the answers given that prove my swap

from wolf to human, the most accurate is “not very social.”

Ask a friend of mine, if you find one. I’d like to say

this self-examination, like my last testicular one, found no

abnormality or tragedy,

but the wolf may not agree.

 

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

A better brand of bourbon

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Most of my research comes from living as vividly as I can. I will do some historical research, especially news media, when writing nonfiction (names, dates, places, etc.)

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I’m not really sure what this question means. I’ve always believed that fiction (i.e. the writing and telling of imaginative stories) is an art form that far surpasses the recording of history itself in what it reveals about the society and culture that creates it because it allows the reader into the minds of the characters. I guess some would argue that since its conception of an actually form called the novel, probably somewhere around Cervantes and Don Quixhote, novels have entertained and educated us in ways no other genre has done. And, some would argue that the form of the novel has become stagnant since Barthelme and post-modernism, that it has reached the outermost limit of its evolution. I can see both sides. My favorite period in fiction runs from Conrad and Joyce through Hemingway and Faulkner. I guess critics call that the Modernist period. Certainly, the current darlings of the critics like Jonathan Franzen bore me to death. But, I still see really good stuff, especially in historical fiction, because written well it speaks to contemporary issues as your own The Master and The Maid speaks to present roles of women in our society, how they’ve changed and how they still need to change even more.

  1. Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Sure. Even the negative ones give the book free publicity. I deal with them like I deal with writing workshops. I listen. What improves my writing I incorporate, what doesn’t or is personal, I ignore.

  1. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really secrets. I deal with nonfiction-memoir events that really happened to me personally and how I remember them, so I do often change the names to keep from embarrassing the innocent and the not so innocent. Maybe in that way, I hide certain things.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I think the scene of combat in which I lost a very close friend and my violent reaction afterward in the book A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007)

  1. Do you Google yourself?

Sure, when I’m drunk. It helps me remember that I’m only a legend in my own mind.

  1. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I don’t have the slightest idea since it is so tied with my own identity, my self as it were.

  1. What is your favorite childhood book?

As a pre and early teen I was fascinated by the romantic adventures written by authors like Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers) and Raphael Sabatini (Scaramouche) and Stevenson (Treasure Island) and the biographies of famous 20th century baseball players like Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and others. One I especially enjoyed was the story of Jim Thorpe, the great Native American athlete.

  1. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I haven’t the slightest idea.

  1. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written ten books, twelve if you count two not good enough or ready to be published, in the last 15 years. Sometimes, I’ve worked on two at simultaneously. But, I’m seventy years old and slowing down somewhat.

  1. Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Not as most people believe in it. There is a difference between writing and writing well. There are no periods when we can’t write, but there are certainly periods when we don’t write well. I’ve learned to adjust to those periods by labeling them hot and cold in my mind. Although my shrink tells me that most writers have to deal with some bi-polar traits, I simply call them my times of writing new stuff (hot) and my times of revising old stuff (cold). My doing that, I stay busy and don’t get bogged down by inertia or existential dread.