Monthly Archives: August 2018

Author Interview – Laurel Deedrick-Mayne


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get started but once ‘in’ the time flies. I leave this world and am immersed in the work. I love that feeling when the heart starts to race a little; there’s a fullness to the breath; a hum in the muscles.
  1. What is your writing Kryptonite? Procrastination in all its wily disguises.
  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I have enough challenges figuring out who I am on any given day with the names I DO have. I generally go by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne. How can you tell I got married in the eighties when everyone was double-barrelling their names? A pseudonym would only confuse the issue.
  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I’m friends with a number of other authors and I am always simultaneously inspired, intimidated and encouraged by them. Some have such tremendous self-discipline. Others are such Smarty Pants I whither in their presence. But all of them remind me of the endlessly vast stories that are worthy of being told.
  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I definitely want each book to stand alone. A Wake For The Dreamland was Canadian Historical Fiction spanning 1939-1979 and somewhat male-centric, taking place during WWII and the aftermath. The new project is about an intrepid nurse in the Yukon from 1949-1958.  There is some crossover in time period and sexual orientation of protagonists. Ironically, the published memoir of said nurse was titled: No Man Stands Alone.

wake

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Every penny I’ve spent has been worth it but the highlight greatest honour was touring the battlefields of Sicily and Italy with very elderly Veterans who were paying homage to their fallen friends, comrades and their own youth.
  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? In the 60’s when I was very young the Jello company changed all their boxes to the same colour with the differing flavours merely spelled out on the box but no associated colour; ie: No yellow on the lemon, purple on the grape etc. My mother fired off a letter to the company and in no time flat we received a great parcel of – you guessed it – JELLO – in ALL the appropriate colours. But seriously, the power of words was bred in my bones: my forebears being great correspondents, my grandfather- a broadcaster and journalist. I grew up to the tap of the typewriter and texture of imprint on the page.
  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? I don’t actually have one.
  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? I spent a considerable amount of time writing at the Banff Centre in the Rocky Mountains and would often be visited by deer outside my studio window. They would stand stock still, always listening, alert, responsive, agile and swift. I took cues from them. As a writer I watch, listen carefully and when struck with an idea, run with it.
  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? There are three on the stove but only one on the burner.
  1. What does literary success look like to you? Touching, connecting with readers. For example, at one of over 50 book clubs, a woman said she’d always had a problematic relationship with her father and not much sympathy or respect or even love for him but she knew he had been in the Italian campaign during WWII. While reading my book she felt like she began to understand what he had gone through, and she felt more compassion. She cried as she told this story because he had passed away and she could never tell him. That’s pretty powerful stuff. The book seems to inspire people to think about that generation which has largely passed on now and share their own stories. I’d call that success. Of course being 67 times on Edmonton’s Best Seller List means people are still buying and reading and talking about the book and that is hugely satisfying. Winning the Alberta Readers Choice Award and being a Finalist for the Whistler Independent Book Prize are both great honours, but somehow it still feels like I just got lucky. Many people want to write but never do. Success is in the process and completing the project to the best of one’s ability. Anyone who has climbed that mountain and finished a book has already achieved something extraordinary and should be celebrated. Literary success is probably subjective and certainly fleeting and hardly the most important thing in life.
  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? My method was to write the heart of each scene and honour the story first and foremost, at least in early drafts. I conduct my research concurrently, strengthening and supporting the story as I delve deeper into the well and wormholes of research. Some authors get so excited about what they have learned that they wear their research on their sleeve and it can get in the way of the story. It’s easy to fall into that trap because the learning is tremendously rewarding and exciting and we kind of want to shout our discoveries from the rooftops. I have read every page of the Regimental diary, hordes of newspapers (British, Canadian and Local) from the war years, dozens of books, listened to audio recordings and read countless diaries and letters and collected hours of interviews BUT that should not be blatantly evident to a reader. I have read books where all the clever and obvious research overshadowed the characters and their drama. I have followed in the footsteps of the Canadians in Sicily and Italy with Veterans who were revisiting. I have to know all those gory details and all of that research is the bedrock of the book but what appears on the page must be more lively and transparent and leave some room for the reader to connect and use their own imagination.
  1. How many hours a day/week do you write? I still only have one designated day but much of my life revolved around child and elder care with my last book. My mother died the week my book went to press and my father 444 days later and I have been working through the process of grieving, settling estates, etc. etc. Life can get in the way and that isn’t a ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse. It is the way the world turns. I should soon be able to add at least one more day/week.
  1. How do you select the names of your characters? Oh, I know it sounds corny but they kind of introduced themselves to me. I made a couple subtle changes as I went along. Part of my editing process includes reading aloud and recording and if a name (or anything for that matter) doesn’t sound right, then it isn’t right and needs to be tweaked a little.
  1. What was your hardest scene to write? Some of the war scenes nearly broke my heart but were also the most satisfying. It wasn’t a technical challenge but an emotional one. Some of the love scenes had me in hysterics and gave me a whole new appreciation for writers who can pull them off.
  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them? Writing is like being an explorer and it is great fun for me to try different genres on for size: Goldie Locks-ing my way around the story finding what feels right, challenging myself, flexing my writing muscles. Even if I trip and fall, success is the quality of the journey. Quick! Call the Cliché Police.
  1. How long have you been writing? Since I could hold a pencil
  1. What inspires you?  Oh—simply this crazy thing called life.
  1. How do you find or make time to write? It’s my biggest challenge. And fear. Because I think there is so much to write about I’m afraid I’d never stop. But there’s a great deal of living to do as well and I don’t want to miss that.
  1. What projects are you working on at the present? The work-in-progress is looking like a combustible and controversial biography. It’s about Amy Wilson, a Nurse In the Yukon. You can even Google her. It’s scary as hell, for many cultural and political reasons.
  1. What do your plans for future projects include? There’s a Prisoner of War, WWI era play (or maybe musical) on a back burner. It’s not as ridiculous as that sounds.
  1. Share a link to your author website. awakeforthedreamland.com

Bio:

Once an Arts Administrator, Laurel Deedrick-Mayne has been a dance publicist, concert promoter, ad copywriter and box office bunny. She has served on multiple arts boards while maintaining her ‘day job’ as a massage therapist. Her independently published debut novel, A Wake For The Dreamland won the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award in 2016 and has been on Edmonton’s Best Seller List for 67 weeks. She has been a guest at over 60 book clubs and other book-related events. A late bloomer to publishing but a life-long third generation letter and story writer, Laurel celebrates the ‘love that dared not speak it’s name’ while paying tribute to the generation who took the time to hang on to family letters, clippings, stories and poetry — all those ‘treasures’ that inspired A Wake For The Dreamland.

EVENT:

Find Laurel at Words in the Park, Spark Gallery, Premier Way, Sherwood Park, Alberta on 29th September 2018

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Hello All,

I’m back from vacation and getting back into the swing of things gradually. For today’s prompt please use this image.

humphrey

This is my response – enjoy!

There was Humphrey, big, bold and yellow. Weren’t shadows supposed to be black or at least grey? Martin only knew the brightness of the object before him from as long as his memory allowed. As a small child, Martin played for hours with his yellow playmate, making his parents happy that he could entertain himself so well at such an early age. They boasted about his ability until that fateful day.

“Your first day at school, Martin. Are you excited?”

“Yes, very. Humphrey and me will have such fun there.”

“Now, Martin, that’s enough of this Humphrey nonsense. Big boys don’t have invisible playmates, we’ve told you that before.”

“Yes, son you have to be a big boy at school. You want to fit in with all the other children don’t you?”

Martin looked from mother to father to Humphrey in bewilderment. Why wasn’t Humphrey allowed to go to school with him? When Martin protested that Humphrey was real, his parents got mad and forbid him from mentioning his invisible friend again. Tears flowing down his cheeks, Martin ran to his room shouting back as he went that Humphrey wasn’t invisible at all. In fact he was bright yellow and his parents must be blind if they couldn’t see him. Martin didn’t get supper that evening.

Now Martin sat on a park bench unable to steady his emotions. He had needed to walk away from Cheryl and Tommy for a few moments. Humphrey had been his dark secret for decades. A constant companion through school and college but never shared with anyone not even Cheryl. They had courted and married without Cheryl ever knowing she was part of a trio.

“Daddy, are you alright? Did I do something bad?”

Tommy’s little face shone up at Martin, an innocent five year old, who saw the world as a fascinating place.

“No, Tommy, you didn’t do anything bad. It’s just that no one else has ever seen Humphrey. I was shocked when you asked him to play with us.”

A shadow fell over father and son. Martin looked up at Cheryl unsure how she would react. He sighed with relief when he saw her smiling.

“Now your secret is out maybe you can be a more relaxed person, Martin. What do you think?”

“I love you both more than ever before. Come on Humphrey we need to make sandcastles.”

Have fun.

Genres of Literature – Magic Realism


Magical

Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is a genre of narrative fiction that encompasses a range of subtly different concepts. These express a primarily realistic view of the real world, while adding or revealing magical or supernatural elements presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.

Matthew Strecher defined magic realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe”. 

The characteristics listed below can be included but not exclusively.

Fantastical elements

Fantasy traits are given to characters, such as levitation, telepathy, and telekinesis, which help to encompass modern political realities that can be phantasmagorical.

Real-world setting

The fantasy elements provides the basis for magical realism in the real world. The author does not invent new worlds but reveals the magical in it. In other words, the supernatural realm blends with the natural, familiar world.

Authorial reticence

This is the deliberate withholding of information and explanations about the disconcerting fictitious world by the author, which proceeds with “logical precision” as if nothing extraordinary took place. Magical events are presented as ordinary occurrences. 

More recent examples are Life of Pi and Big Fish.

Do you write or read magical realism?

What is your favorite book in this genre?

Author Interview – Phyllis H Moore


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Phyllis Moore

Please welcome Phyllis – as you can see she is a prolific author!

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me. It’s all I really want to do. Once I sit down and start, I don’t want to stop. It’s what I think about when I’m doing other things. Characters talk to me while I’m moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer or unloading the dishwasher.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

My characters drive me. Once I have their name down on paper, these people and animals lead the way. Sometimes they do things I didn’t anticipate, and they are always right.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I briefly considered a pseudonym, but decided against it. My thoughts were, I wanted readers to know me personally and I didn’t think that would be possible if I didn’t use my name.

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

I have virtual writer friends and a few mentors. Social media groups are the place I get the most assistance. I have found other writers to be a generous lot, willing to share their failures and expertise.

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

Currently I have a series of books that could stand alone, but they are based on the same coming of age of the main character, Sabine. The four book series follows her from age four, living in severe neglect with her mentally ill, alcoholic mother, to the age of sixteen. These were the first books I wrote. I only intended to write about Sabine as a child, but I couldn’t stop. I have five other stand alone novels, a pair of middle grade books, an anthology of short stories (a little spooky), and a non-fiction book on retirement. I have learned I am a story teller first and my stories are not always related, so I have no desire for my books to be tied to each other.

Sabine

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

First, I would say editing is the best money spent and second is the money I’ve spent on BookBub promotional deals. I say this because the BookBub deals have garnered reviews.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

My paternal grandparents used to tell me stories and read to me. I remember picturing images from their words. I could literally see the fairies and beasts in their stories. I think that was my earliest experience, the knowledge I could see what they spoke.

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

I like historical fiction, and I think my favorite was Cleopatra, by Stacy Shiff. I could visualize the palaces, her clothing, the ships, everything described. It takes me back to the time and place.

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

A dog would be my spirit animal. All of my characters have pets. Many of them communicate with their pets. I think we all do that to a certain extent, but my very first character, Sabine, was psychic. Her dog, Auggie, was her only confidant. When Sabine missed human cues, Auggie could help her. For me, that was a metaphor of what we take for granted with animals every day.

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

One book unfinished. I have a rough draft and a few rereads. I hope to get it to the editor in February to publish in late spring. I have a cover and the title is Birdie & Jude.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Success for me would be people reading my books and enjoying the story. I hope readers can take away something they can apply to their own lives. I love it when readers say they feel like they know my characters or can identify with a place. When I hear that I know I did a good job.

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

Characters inspire my stories, so I get to know them first. If they take me to a time I’m not familiar with, I do some research on what appliances, vehicles, clothing, etc. were common. Often, the book is set in a time I’m familiar with. My novel, And the Day Came, was set in the 1930’s, so I read about the history of some of the families in the story. It is historical fiction based on the childhood of my mother-in-law. There were other books written about the family, so I took some time to read those. That was the most time consuming research I’ve done.

And the Day Came

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I write most of the day and sometimes late into the night. I would say I write about 6 to 8 hours/day. Sometimes my time is blurred between writing and promotion. I spend a lot of time on the computer doing blogs, newsletters, submitting short stories, etc.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

Selecting names is a challenge. I have to admit I gravitate toward short names, so I don’t have to type so many letters when I’m writing the story. One of my editors criticized a name choice once, but I refused to change it. The young girl’s name was Beatrice. She was a minor character. I live in south Texas. Growing up, I had many Latina friends. Some of my best friends were Veronica, Beatrice, Norma Linda, Mary Helen, etc. The book, The Bright Shawl, begins in San Antonio and ends in Galveston. It would have been perfectly normal for a female to be names Beatrice. However, if she had been the main character, I might have given her the nickname, Bea. I like Pinterest and pin many inspirations there for my books. I have a board for every book. If I’m looking for a name, I do a search on Pinterest. There are wonderful categories, Bohemian, Hollywood, Biblical, etc. Pinterest is a great source for names for humans and animals. I used Pinterest to name the horses in Secrets of Dunn House.

The Bright Shawl

Secrets of Dunn House

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I had to think about this one. I think transition scenes where there is not much emotion or description. It’s hard to come up with a new way to describe the mundane. I don’t do romance, so that would probably be hard for me to write.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

My experience, my age, and my characters dictate my genre. I wrote first and then decided on the genre. I lean toward southern gothic, but the more I write, the more I think my books are generally Women’s Fiction. I’m aware I’m not the traditionally branded author where all of my books are linked by an atmosphere, font, cover, etc. They reflect me and the issues that concern me at the time. As I learn more, I try to do a better job of branding those things and one of these days I may have a more professional look. I have done some do-overs to tie things together. It does look better on the shelf. I’m a work in progress.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing all my life, but not stories or books. I didn’t start trying to market what I wrote until about six years ago.

  1. What inspires you? 

I like to people watch and I always find things to apply to my characters. This past August, we had a hurricane in Texas, Harvey. Some of the situations I watched on television and read about in the newspaper inspired the story in Birdie & Jude. I started thinking about people who get stranded due to unpredictable circumstances and meet other people they become attached to. It’s not a literal story, but a “what if” that I think about in those types of situations. I have been through a few hurricanes, so the details were easy for me to get in touch with. It’s interesting when I look back at other stories to see how much weather inspires me. My short story, Audrey and the Summer of Storms was inspired by spending summers in the Texas panhandle with my grandparents. They had to deal with tornadoes. There was a summer when I returned from several trips to the storm shelter in Quanah to my home near Corpus Christi to face Hurricane Carla. I can find inspiration in most anything. Houses, food, fabrics, animals, travel, illness. It’s never ending.

Audrey

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

I’m lucky because I’m old enough to be retired. Because I’m old, I have many life experiences to draw on and lots of time to think about them. My normal routine is to write most of the day after I’ve finished my few chores. During holidays, I get a little resentful that there are other demands on my time. Writing is my priority and I’m lucky to be able to do it most of the time.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

My current project is Birdie & Jude. As I said it was inspired by Hurricane Harvey, but it’s also about the relationship that grows between two women from very different backgrounds. They connect because of their differences, but also because they have the same insecurities and desires. One rejects her family and social status, while the other longs for family and a stable home and friends. One is elderly and healthy as a horse and the other is young a medically fragile. However, as in real life, there is a spirit that unites them and it’s not what they might guess.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I would like to begin writing something to release around the holidays, 2018. I love a good holiday story. Opal’s Story, my best-selling novel. Culminates in a Thanksgiving celebration. Josephine’s Journals takes place during preparations for a holiday open house. I like to decorate using the accoutrements in my imagination. They are free, after all, and I can rummage around in someone else’s attic and polish the silver without getting my hands dirty. I can also order someone else to do it if I’m that character. I can be sweet, or a real “you know what”. It’s the most fun, like playing house and mud pies.

Opal's Story

Josephine

  1. Share a link to your author website. http://www.phyllishmoore.com

https://www.Amazon.com/author/phyllishmoore

Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it and reading about it. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Trilogy, Sabine, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her web site http://www.phyllishmoore.com. Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.

Billy's StoryTangledJackson Roadretirement

Heartbeat 1heartbeat 2

Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.

Writing Prompt Wednesday


path

Today’s writing prompt is a view of a pathway. What story or poem does it inspire in you?

I wrote this response for it. I hope you enjoy it.

“What’s down there, Mummy?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart. Shall we go and look?”

“Yeh, an adventure – follow me into the jungle. I’ll protect you.”

 The irregular shaped stepping stones draw us into the unknown depths of his imagination. With a stick for a sword, he leads the way. He is a Commander and fearless leader of an army, searching out the enemy.

It feels pleasant to be under the shade of the tree’s canopy, out of the hot sun. As I watch Sebastian dart back and forth taking cover behind tree trucks, my heart warms. He is the miracle I never thought would be mine. So many years of trying to get pregnant and then the indignity of numerous medical tests had made life so difficult. Gerald tried so hard to comfort me, and accompanied me to all my appointments and endured tests of his own. It was only when I caught him unawares on that fateful evening, that I knew I would have to stop pressuring him to carry on. The total despair in his voice; as he had spoken to his mother; had chilled me to the bone. He was blaming himself and truly believing I would leave him or worse. I had crept away unnoticed and walked for hours along this very path, deciding our future. My decision made, I  surprised Gerald with a candle lit dinner the very next evening and announced.

“I cannot struggle any more, Gerald, let’s enjoy life again. Put all this behind us.”

“Are you sure, Claudia? You have so wanted a child.”

“Yes, I’m very sure. It’s obviously not meant to be.”

I had to ‘eat my words’ three months later, when my stomach upset was identified as ‘morning sickness.’ Our specialist was not surprised. He told us it was quite common for women to conceive once the stress was absent.

“Mummy, come on. Keep up.”

“I’m coming, Commander. Have you found the enemy yet?”

Please leave your response in the comments.