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Author Interview – Victor Enns

September 10, 2019
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AuthorInterview

Victor

What inspired your latest book?

My new poetry collection, my fifth, was inspired by my life and my reading, most importantly Anne Carson’s book, The Beautiful Husband and Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese. The life events included love, marriage, surgery and complications. 

How did you come up with the title?

Music for Men Over Fifty was the earliest version of the title, then Music for Men over Fifty; Songs of Love & Surgery, and finally and more easily on a book cover, Love & Surgery. There are many references to music, from Bach to Oscar Peterson. Many of the love poems have reference to jazz and made their first appearance in an online jazz journal called Jerry Jazz Musician, out of Portland Oregon. Pain has become part of my life and my work. I’ve rehabbed from six surgeries this decade and can still walk, if with a prosthesis, and continuing pain; the complications I’ve mentioned.

Love & Surgery

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

I think the section epigrams lead the way, “Exuberance is beauty” (William Blake), “A wound gives off its own light surgeons say– “ (Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband) and “Pain is always new to those who suffer, but looses its originality for those around them (Alphonse Daudet).

How much of the book is realistic?

The Beatles and Robert Kroetsch would say nothing is real. The words on the page can’t read themselves, readers bring their own experiences and reality to the text and take what they will. My caution to anyone reading my work is I write to make a poem or a story convincing of itself, not of me.  I recently read a reviewer complaining about a book because they couldn’t tell what really happened and what the writer made up.

It shouldn’t matter. That’s why I try to keep labels off my books.  The word “poems” does not appear on any of the five  except my chapbook Jimmy Bang Poems (1979, Turnstone Press.) Poems are often confused with non-fiction, sometimes even with truth. “Bleah,” as Snoopy would say.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

“Based on,” yes. Love & Surgery may be the concluding words  of a three book “Life Studies” cycle including boy (2012 Hagios) and Lucky Man (2005 Hagios).

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Facebook: Victor Enns, hiding behind a rhubarb leaf; and Get Poetry.
Website   www.victorenns.ca

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

Yes. Several. There’s the Complete Jimmy Bang, which includes the Jimmy Bang Blues Project and Jimmy Bang’s Dispatches from the pain room. A collection of short stories called What Men Do and then another trilogy Boundary Creek,  Susann with 2 nns; and Preacher’s Kids.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Reading and working alone with my imagination.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?
 11

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
It is changing now.

What genre are you currently reading?
Prose & long line poetry.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I can hear my biological clock ticking…there is only so much time before my brain clocks out. Research is winning out these days even if it’s to look at examples of how material is handled.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
Ted Dyck and before that Robert Kroetsch (deceased).

Where is your favorite writing space?
My writing studio in Gimli.

 

 

Writing Prompt for Ask a Question Thursday

August 29, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Several people enjoyed the button prompt, so today’s question is:

What story comes to mind with this image? Use 69 words or less.

Here is my interpretation:

The streets lay deserted and dirty. The last flickering of an advert splashed against the buildings husk. Nature will encroach to claim back what is rightfully hers, once again. The structures will house animals and insects and plants will flourish as the cement and steel crumble and rust.

Please comment below and share your story.

Author Interview – Danielle Metcalfe-Chenai

August 20, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest book?

Alis the Aviator was initially inspired by my son. Andre was two years old and a very wiggly, spirited kid who loved airplanes – but couldn’t sit through long books. I’d just published my second popular aviation history for adults, and had so many fun facts swirling around in my head. I sat on the back porch of my house one day when he was napping and most of the first draft poured out onto the page in the bouncy, rhyming style I love from growing up with Dr. Seuss.

How did you come up with the title?

Alis is based on the real-life Dr. Alis Kennedy, likely the first Indigenous woman in Canada to get her private and commercial pilot’s licenses. I found out about Dr. Alis after I’d completed the ABCs of the book, and then was able to layer in her inspirational story in the bio. Dr. Alis has flown planes, but also is a veteran with a doctorate in psychology, who now dedicates her life to amazing volunteer causes around the world.           

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Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

I hope that little kids – especially girls – read the book and feel like aviation is a dream they can pursue. The illustrator, Kalpna Patel, did such an amazing job getting the people in her cut-paper art to reflect the incredible diversity we have in Canada and the US. The number of girls and people of colour in aviation is tiny, unfortunately – and I recently learned that only about 1% of all picture books feature Indigenous characters. I hope kids of all backgrounds see themselves reflected in this book!

How much of the book is realistic?

This book is 100% fact-based. It’s a nonfiction picture book that incorporates my years of aviation history research, but presents it in a colourful and quirky way to hopefully capture the imaginations of tykes and their grownups.

Do you have plans for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I have a few manuscripts in the works. The one I see following on from Alis the Aviator is a picture book biography of the pioneering Gwich’in pilot, Freddie Carmichael. We’ve known each other for ten years and it was incredible spending a week with him in Inuvik this past March working on the book. I can’t wait to share his story with the world!

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Do you favor one type of genre?

I write across genres and audiences, which can be tricky from a branding perspective! So far I’ve published nonfiction for adults and kids, but I’ve got two novels in the works (a WW2 book and an upmarket contemporary novel). I’ve also been researching and writing a book about the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital that is part memoir and part history.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I’m a plantser – half and half. It really depends on the project. With my picture books, it’s like writing poetry or songs. I do a ton of research and thinking and then the first draft pours out of me in one or two sittings (with multiple rewrites and tweaks). With my adult popular histories it was easier to plan out ahead of time because I had most of the research done and they were chronological. But even then there were surprises! My novels and creative nonfiction are somewhere in the middle because they are largely based on research and real-life events.

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What is your best marketing tip?

It’s also my best writing and life tip! Make friends. Join communities. Be a good literary citizen. Remember that high tides raise all ships. 

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

A little of column A and a little of column B. Or a lot of each, actually. Social media has been a great way to connect with people around the world – especially as I move around so much. I learn so much through those channels as well. At the same time, it can have a toxic quality to it full of judgment, comparison and shaming. I find if I think about it too much it can have a silencing effect, because I worry too much about what other people will think of me. And, like the news, it can be devastating and overwhelming, so I have to be careful how much I take in.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It’s hard to pick just one! While it’s true that sometimes it can make me cry with how challenging it can be, with how exposed I feel, there are those times when I’m in the flow and it’s like all is well. I’m in alignment. My words come out and I feel that maybe I will be understood and seen.

High res PW cover

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

My parents saved the clippings from when I was a kid – so there’s (often embarrassing) proof that I was scribbling little stories and poems from a young age. I created a little zine in my neighbourhood with friends when I was in elementary school and then was co-editor of a school newspaper in middle school. I think I published my first letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen in Grade 8 – then I was totally hooked on bylines!

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I have jumped all over the place – poetry, fiction, nonfiction, kidlit and freelance writing for magazines and newspapers. They all feed into each other in interesting ways, I’ve noticed, and taught me different lessons. Freelancing was excellent discipline for hitting deadlines and pitching ideas, and not taking edits personally.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I belong to several writing organizations: the Writers Union of Canada, Creative Nonfiction Collective, and the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators. I was a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta for five years and it was excellent – I still miss it! I’ve created two critique groups since moving to Houston. One is online-only and focuses mostly on creative nonfiction. Members span from Canada to California to Texas. The other one is in-person here in Houston. I realized it’s not natural for me to write in a cave all the time!

Do you see writing as a career?

Actually, I see it as more of a compulsion. A job you can quit. This is forever. My son (who is now 7 years old) asked me the other day, “Mama, will you ever stop writing?” And I told him, “As long as the stories and ideas keep coming, I’ll keep writing.”

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

If readers would like to connect with me, they can find me at my website (www.daniellemc.com), and on social media: @Danielle_Author on Twitter, @dmchenail on Instagram, and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail on Facebook. I also have a blog dedicated to my Camsell Hospital research, www.ghostsofcamsell.ca.

 

Ask a Question Thursday & Writing Prompt

August 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question is by way of an exercise to inspire the writing Muse. I hosted my writing group’s meeting on Tuesday and used a bag of multiple buttons as a 10 minute writing prompt. There were hundreds of buttons in various colours, styles and shapes. Each participant choose one to three buttons and then had to use them in one of the following ways.

  1. Describe the button in as much detail as possible.
  2. Tell a story of the garment the button came off and the person it belonged to.
  3. Give the button(s) personalities to match their appearance and tell a story about them.

The result was a variety of stories, each with individual ideas stemmed from the chosen button(s).

So today’s question is: you can use the photo herewith and pick a button or two or pick out buttons of your own and tell their story. I would love to read your stories – so comment below.

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I will share one of my stories as the other one is not complete.

My Perfect Doll

Adeline picked up the purple button,  a tear running down her cheek.

“Poor Sandy, your beautiful coat is ruined.”

Picking up her favorite blonde haired doll, Adeline ran downstairs calling for her mother.

“Mummmmeeee….” the last syllable became a long whine, as she ran through the living room into the kitchen. The room was filled with the aroma of chocolate cookies.

“Mummy…”

“Oh my goodness, whatever is the matter?”

“Sandy’s coat is ruined – look. Now she isn’t perfect.”

She held up the doll dressed previously to perfection and opened her clasped hand to reveal the large purple button.

“Well, I wouldn’t say she is ruined, darling. It’s just a matter of sewing it back on.”

Adeline’s tears stopped and she looked up at her mother full of hope.

“Really, you can mend it?”

“Yes, of course I can. Sit here and have a nice warm cookie, I I get my sewing box. Sandy’s coat will be as good as new in no time.”

Comforted by her mother’s words, Adeline took a cookie and watched fascinated as the button was sewn back onto the doll’s coat.

“There all perfect again, I love you Sandy. And thank you Mummy.”

Her mother shook her head as Adeline disappeared back upstairs. I really need to teach her not everything has to be just so or prefect. She turned to the kitchen counter and began cleaning the counter top, every inch was meticulously scrubbed.

 

 

 

Author Interview – Andrew Glen

July 30, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

My latest novel, “After The Sun Rises”, was written as a sequel to my first novel “War Dads”. Without giving too much away, “War Dads” ends with a tragic event and “After The Sun Rises” picks up from there.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came from two sources. The first is a tribute to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” (Hemingway is my favourite author) and the idea that even in tragedy some good can happen. We need to get up and meet every new day.

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Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message I was trying to convey is that sometimes good can come out of bad. Sounds hokey, but I just tried to imagine what I would like to see happen if I was involved in the same situation as the characters.

How much of the book is realistic?

Not much of “After The Sun Rises” is real. However, in “War Dads,” the trip Jill and her family took to find her dad is based on a family trip my family and I took to Florida when I was in high school.
In “Beating the Odds” (the book I wrote on beating Stage IV bladder cancer), that entire book, is sadly real.

In “The Grotto and Other Short Stories” (a book of short stories I wrote) most of the events in the stories are based on real life events.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, there is a little bit of both events that took place in my life and my characters are all based on people I know; family and friends.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I have an author page on Amazon: amazon.com/author/andrewglen and a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Andrew-Glen-Author-1916016901959620/

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I have three books hopefully coming out next. Another kids book, a book of poetry and prose, and perhaps a sequel to “After The Sun Rises.”

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite and why?

I have three.  In “Eli and the Fisherman” (one of my kid’s books) Eli is based on my son and the book is based on Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”. In “Sebastian’s Fish (another of my kid’s books) Sebastian is based on my other son and the story is based on us going to buy his first fish.  And in “After The Sun Rises, Charlotte is my favourite character, because she is what I would like the world to be; good people doing the right thing.

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Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I have dabbled in several genres and have enjoyed them all, but kid’s books are my favourite. Most of my energy will be concentrated on them going forward.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Bit of both. My first novel was totally seat of the pants style. The second novel was more planned out.

The kid’s books and the short stories were planned out and the memoir was just an honest portrayal of what I went through.

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What is your best marketing tip?

I honestly wish I was better at marketing but if I have learned anything in life it is the fact that patience and perseverance pays off. Well hopefully for some. In my opinion there is no such thing as overnight success. Success comes from never giving up. One other thing I have learned also is, if you have your books on Amazon, you need to get as many people, family, friends etc. to buy off there. It is the only way to use their algorithms to your advantage. Selling books in person is nice but unless those people write reviews or share your books on their social media sites, in the long run it doesn’t really do you any good.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

As I said social media can be a great tool, but getting family and friends to share your work is sometimes very difficult. (Example: if all the people who liked my author page bought just one book, I would be a best seller on Amazon. Same goes for the books I have sold personally, if all those people had bought my book on Amazon, I would be a best seller according to their algorithms.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the fact that writing allows me the chance to express the things that I truly believe in. It may be fiction, but there is a lot of what I think and feel in my writing.

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What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I have been writing since I was in high school but I only started to take it serious after I was diagnosed in 2008.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I have always dabbled in poetry and fiction. The kid’s books I started writing after diagnosis. In case I didn’t make it, I wanted my kids to have something to remember me by. I guess they will now.

What genre are you currently reading?

Both fiction and non-fiction. I’m what you might call a political junkie, so I read a lot of stuff on politics fact and fiction.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both. I also find that reading really helps with my writing.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My mum and dad encouraged me to read from a very early age.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I have a place in my house where I put all the finishing touches on my work; it used to be my mum’s office space, (we live in m parent’s old house). But I always carry a notebook with me to jot stuff down. I never know when the muse may come so I like to be prepared.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I belong to several groups on FB.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Ernest Hemingway; he was/is my idol. I just loved the simplicity of his writing and how every story would take you on a different adventure. He instilled in me a passion for travel as well. Because of him I have been to Paris and Cuba because I wanted to see them first hand. Hopefully Spain will be next, or to see Mt. Kilimanjaro.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Cuba. I have been there twice and love the people and the climate. That or Italy, again because of the people and the climate.

Do you see writing as a career?

I would love it if it were, but realistically, no.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Chips are my favourite snack food. (Salt and Vinegar)

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I don’t reward myself with anything in particular. Completing a book and seeing it published is enough of a reward. I have always wanted to be a published author, and now I can say I am. Not too many people can say that. For that I am truly grateful.

In closing I would like to thank everyone who has bought a book and supported me thus far.

Bless you all.

Bio:

I have been writing for the better part of thirty years. In that time I have written a memoir, several children’s book, a collection of short stories, a book of fiction, numerous poems, works of prose and free verse.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and I underwent two years of treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. In January of 2010 I had my bladder removed and thankfully I have been cancer free since then.

During treatment I found writing to be very therapeutic and I kept notes throughout my treatment. These notes then became my story.

In 2014 I self-published my memoir “Beating the Odds”, A Chronicle of a Cancer Survivor’s Battle with Cancer, Inadequate Healthcare and Social Injustice.

Unlike most cancer survivor success stories, my book, in my opinion, differs because it provides the reader with a poignant look into the trials and tribulations that all cancer patients have to deal with above and beyond their treatment.

Since then I have gone on to publish:

“War Dads” a fictional story about the unfortunate killing of a war vet who was living on the street and suffering from PTSD.
“After The Sun Rises” a sequel to “War Dads”. After Jill and the family are met with a tragic event they must learn to cope with the help of an unsuspecting aide; the woman who caused the accident.

“The Grotto and Other Stories” a collection of short stories based on real life events.

“Eli and the Fisherman” children’s book that tells the story of a young boy and an old fisherman.

“Sebastian’s Fish” children’s book that is a delightful and beautifully illustrated story about a boy who goes to buy his first fish.

All of these books are available on Amazon worldwide, as paper backs or E books, at: amazon.com/author/andrewglen

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