Tag Archives: fiction

Guest Blogger: What Do We Mean By Creative Writing by Heidi Ann Smith

What Do We Mean By Creative Writing?

By Heidi Ann Smith

What is creative writing?  By this question I do not mean to ask how we can cause those who are not creative writers to understand a work of creative writing rather, by this question, I mean to provoke others to ask how we might understand the question. For a long time I labeled myself as ‘a free-verse poet’ until it occurred to me that if I did not label myself as aligned with any particular genre I might have more creative writing options. Rosemary Butcher argues that, “the thesis is produced in a sense in the making of the work”. By this I mean to suggest that a creatively written text is evidence of a performance that has ended and that the performance must not aim at reproduction and by ‘re-production’, I mean a ‘preconceived’ idea.  If a creative writer is aware how a creative writing performance will end before the writing process has begun this necessarily limits the creativity since the nature of creativity implies that something will ‘arise’ or ‘come to light’.  It is in the making of the text that the artist supplies the necessary space and all of the materials that provoke a work of art to come into being.

Some may argue with the above proposition by asserting that anything can be interpreted as a work of art, for example, by arguing that Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (1917) and other ‘readymade’ art proponents, have demonstrated that anything ‘chosen’ by an artist can be a work of art.  If you will recall, Duchamp argued that a urinal is a work of art simply because he ‘chose’ to submit urinal to an art exhibit (that claimed it would present all works of art).  Duchamp signed the urinal with the pseudonym, ‘R. Mutt’.  I would counter this argument by suggesting that the work of art was the designer of the urinal not Duchamp.  ‘Choosing’ a common object and signing a pseudonym does not instantiate a work of art no matter how famous the artist’s signature or how ‘well chosen’ the object. In terms of creative writing, the previous argument would imply, for example, that the poet Mark Strand could sign his name to a store receipt and that store receipt would suddenly become a creatively written artifact.  While an object signed by a famous poet may be of value, history demonstrates that monetary value or affiliation with someone famous does not necessarily translate into a work of art. Vincent van Gogh, for example, sold only one painting in his lifetime (and received very little money for it) and Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Peirce’s writings did not gain popularity until after their deaths. The previous examples demonstrate that the artist informs the field of artistic practice, not the viewer or the object, no matter how well ‘chosen’.  How was Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” altered by the viewer’s ever increasing appreciation of it?  How was Duchamp’s urinal informed by Duchamp’s artistic practice? While some may suggest that anything is a work of art, I would argue along the lines suggested by Deleuze that a work of art is ‘molded’ by a skilled and practicing artisan and that the work of art itself ‘causes sensations’ or ‘affects’ regardless of the viewer. Is a tree in a forest, a tree in a forest, if no human is there to view it? Following along similar lines of reasoning, some may want to say that a machine is a work of art. I suggest that a machine may be a work of art but a machine cannot manufacture an art theory, a machine can only instantiate an art theory.  Artists are creators of art theories that arise in the ‘making’ of the work of art. If this is not the case, then what are the fundamental notions by which we might arrive at understanding of what we mean by ‘creative writing’ and what are the conditions that allow or cause a work of creative writing to come into being?

About Heidi Ann Smith

Heidi Ann Smith grew up in the Chicago area and began publishing poems as a child. At a young age, she won various local and academic awards for her writing; based on her writing abilities, she was awarded a scholarship to a private high school and attended college courses during her high school years. After high school she began raising a family and was taken away from her writing, but soon returned to complete a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Illinois University. She then earned a Master of Arts in Humanities from California State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Several of her poems recently found homes in various journals, and she published a scholarly thesis on the German artist George Grosz. Heidi is currently a PhD student studying Creative Writing at Middlesex University in London, England. THE CLARA ANN BURNS STORY is her first novel.

You can visit the website at www.monkeypuzzlepress.com.

About The Clara Ann Burns Story

In Heidi Ann Smith’s short novel THE CLARA ANN BURNS STORY, a woman who suffered child abuse looks back over her turbulent life as she approaches her fifties. Smith describes it as “a story of a young girl, Clara Ann Burns, who was tortured, abused and neglected by her family. When she was old enough to go out on her own, she got herself into situations that were not always the best. But in the end she raises her own family and holds onto the hope of healing and living without fear.”

Smith explains that the story “is based on some of my life experiences,” which included sexual abuse. “I needed to write this book–and I needed to have the right and the freedom to bring together different events.”

Rather than creating a traditional narrative text from start to finish, in THE CLARA ANN BURNS STORY, Smith–who holds one master’s degree in fine arts in creative writing, another in humanities, and is a PhD student in creative writing–chose to express child abuse and loss by experimenting with literary genre. The result is that the protagonist, Clara Ann Burns, tells her story through written memories (short stories, lists, poems, one-minute plays) and memorabilia (hospital records, photographs, personal records). All are presented without explanation: a grandmother cooks breakfast while she speaks to her deceased husband; a mother scalds her child in a bathtub; the funeral processions of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the death of a child’s father; and the rape of a stepdaughter. This multi-genre approach, Smith feels, more accurately conveys “the impossibility of piecing together this story, and reflects the inconsistencies of an abuse victim’s memories that tend to jump from one instance of abuse to the next, rather than flowing through, perhaps, what might be considered the normal ups and downs of life.”

In addition, Smith points out, “These isolated memories of abuse that flash through Clara’s mind are what it means to have post-traumatic stress disorder. I suggest further that these isolated incidents also represent the perplexity of healing from prolonged neglect and abuse, since a constant state of fear is what is most familiar to Clara since she was abused by family members and friends for many years. If a child believes his or her own family is not adverse to his or her own torture, neglect, or rape, the child cannot survive as emotionally or psychologically intact. In Clara’s case, the abuse is pervasive, there is no relief for many years, nor hope of relief until she is an older woman and capable of looking at what happened to her objectively through the instantiation of the events as presented in the text.”

Despite the personal inspiration behind THE CLARA ANN BURNS STORY, Smith’s academic and scholarly understanding of both creative writing and fine art informs the book’s power. She likens writing to fine art: “All the great artists I studied reflected their life; in a great work of art, you cannot extricate the artist’s life from their work. When you look at a work of art by Van Gogh or Caravaggio you see some truth about their life. For me, the truth does not necessarily read like a biography; there are details that are blurred from your view. When I was engaged in the writing process, some things that were hidden from my view came out–which may grab the reader because it hit me as well.”

Smith hopes that readers who can identify with THE CLARA ANN BURNS STORY will find some comfort in it. “When I was a little girl I was very sick and I didn’t have a happy home life. I started reading poetry, and I felt some kind of resonance and a kindred spirit with the other writer’s work. I hope my work will reach someone and that they will also know that they are not alone.” And, she adds, “I also hope the work is received as a work of literature.”

 

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Interview with Bonnie Trachtenberg, author of “Wedlocked”

Bonnie Trachtenburg

Bonnie Trachtenberg worked as Senior Writer and Copy Chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She’s also written for three newspapers, and has penned countless magazine articles.Wedlocked is her first novel. She lives on Long Island with her husband, stepchildren, and cats.

Please visit her blogs at:

http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com

http://www.Wedlockedthenovel.com

and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/WritebrainedNY

Q: Thank you for this interview, Bonnie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Wedlocked: A Novel, is all about?

A: Wonderful to be here. Wedlocked is the witty, engaging tale of a struggling actress named Rebecca Ross, who, after years of disappointment and heartache, finds herself catapulted into a disastrous marriage and onto a honeymoon from hell. Readers will find that the story is like a wild ride through Rebecca’s life, featuring zany, memorable characters; unique, unpredictable plotting; and lots of humor.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Rebecca starts out as a perfectionist Pollyanna and talented overachiever but gets taken down quite a few notches by her experiences in life—so much so that she begins to doubt everything she’s ever believed and is compelled to make a desperate decision. Rebecca does what her dictatorial mother, an overzealous convert to Judaism, has always wanted her to do: she marries a Jewish man, namely Craig Jacobs. Craig is charismatic and persistent but brash and defiant too, and he comes into Rebecca’s life like a hurricane. But it’s not until her wedding day that she begins to realize just how wacky and destructive a man he is—and just wait for the honeymoon!

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: The characters in Wedlocked are closely based on real people, as the story is based on my first brief and calamitous marriage. Some characters are composites and most were amplified—but not all! I guess you could say that with a few changes, Rebecca is really me. In fact, friends who have read the book say they hear my voice in their heads when Rebecca narrates.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: In this case I was very consciously aware of the plot since it was inspired by actual events from my life. In my second novel, which is in the editing phase, I used an idea that had been marinating in my mind for a while. However, in both cases, I found that the stories took unexpected turns as I wrote.

Q: Your book is set in New York, Los Angeles and Italy. Can you tell us why you chose these places in particular?

A: I’ve lived in both New York and Los Angeles and therefore have a great affinity and good knowledge of both. Many of my life experiences can be tied to places and events in both cities. I chose Italy because I’ve been there three times and find it to be a paradise. What better place to set a disastrous honeymoon? Especially since that’s where mine took place.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Yes, all three settings are like characters in what they offer and how they each affect Rebecca’s life. They also lend a certain richness to the story that only location can.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Rebecca is about to shoot her first national commercial and is practicing her lines. She wants to make sure absolutely nothing goes wrong since, thanks to her, all her other career opportunities have gone down the drain. Of course something will go wrong, but this time it will be totally out of her control.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: Sure. This is from the prologue and sets the stage for what’s to come:
“As we were announced into a resplendent ballroom filled with enthusiastic guests, it was as if a UFO had plucked me out of my should-be life, only to plop me down in some sort of bizarre alternate universe. For it had been less than a year earlier that I was this close to seeing my dreams of fame, fortune, and romance come to fruition, when they exploded in my face like a cruel joke.

With Craig’s hand gripping mine, and the Starbright Orchestra’s lead singer channeling Frank Sinatra, the glorious, Gatsby-esque room that had so enchanted me, began spinning even faster than my shell-shocked, post-nuptial brain. What some brides know is that when you find yourself sashaying down the aisle on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life, things can sometimes turn bafflingly surreal. Sensing something’s terribly amiss, you chalk it up to jitters, refusing to acknowledge a most unpleasant fact: the man standing before you in white tie and tails is far from the soul mate you hoped for.

If I could have seen this truth in real time, I like to think I would have mustered the courage to make a mad bolt from the chapel. But I was thirty-six—trampled, lost, and romantically bankrupt—so the only thing running away that day was the train I was riding, and I kept my seat, although I was destined to wreck.” —from Wedlocked: A Novel

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Bonnie. We wish you much success!

A: It was a pleasure. Thank you!

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Interview with ‘Forbidden the Stars’ Valmore Daniels

We have a special guest today!  Valmore Daniels is here with us to talk about his new science fiction novel, Forbidden the Stars .  Enjoy!

Valmore Daniels 2In true nomadic spirit, Valmore Daniels has lived on the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, and dozens of points in between.

An insatiable thirst for new experiences has led him to work in several fields, including legal research, elderly care, oil & gas administration, web design, government service, human resources, and retail business management.

His enthusiasm for travel is only surpassed by his passion for telling tall tales.

Valmore’s latest book is Forbidden the Stars, a sci-fi novel set at the end of the 21st century.

Visit his website at www.ValmoreDaniels.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Valmore. Can you tell us what your latest book, Forbidden The Stars, is all about?

Forbidden The Stars takes place at the end of the century and concerns the decade leading up to the point where humankind enters the Interstellar Age. There are three main plotlines that intertwine. A catastrophic accident in the asteroid belt leads to the development of an element which can fuel faster-than-light travel. The first manned mission to Pluto discovers signs of alien life. And from the depths of a criminal empire on Luna, an expatriate watches all of this and makes his move to seize control of interstellar travel.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Captain Justine Turner, NASA’s youngest female astronaut, journeys to Pluto, where she and her crew discover signs of an alien civilization.

Alex Manez, who accompanies his parents on a survey mission in the asteroid belt, is hurtled through space at near light speeds when a new element is discovered and reacts with the asteroid.

On Luna Station, a criminal mastermind, Chow Yin, intercepts communications between Pluto and Earth, and quickly makes plans to seize control of the new technology.

On Earth, Michael Sanderson has to juggle the politics of the discovery between two powerful nations, deal with the interplanetary war brewing, and at the same time spearhead the search for Alex Manez and the mysterious element that began the chain of events.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Every character I create borrows from some part of me, my life and experiences, or from someone I’ve known. It’s an interesting exercise to imagine average, everyday people in your life suddenly thrust into extreme circumstances, and extrapolate how they would handle that situation.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

My personal approach to writing a book has changed drastically with every new project. When I wrote my first novel, I flew by the seat of my pants, letting my imagination take me in whatever direction the story led me. While I had a lot of fun using this approach (and the novel will always be dear to me) the end product was less focused than it could have been. So I did some research, joined a writer’s group, and eventually adopted the outline method. While some detract from this method, citing that once you’ve completed the outline, your creativity suffers in the first draft, for me the opposite is the reality. Once I’m free from the bounds of figuring out what happens next, I can focus all my attention on characterization, character traits and quirks, conflicts, dialogue and world building.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Most (not all) science fiction on the market today deals primarily with either near-future events, alternate realities, or far-future space opera. Forbidden The Stars is set seventy years from now in our own future as humankind is on the brink between the space age and the interstellar age.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Michael Sanderson, CEO of Quantum Resources, is reconstructing the fatal accident in the asteroid belt which took the lives of two surveyors. They are trying to figure out why the asteroid completely disappeared, and speculating on the whereabout of the remains of the surveyors’ son, Alex Manez, who was also on the asteroid.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Dark, cold, silent, inhospitable.

Wonderful.

Captain Justine Turner stood on the edge of the solar system. As captain of the Orcus 1, the historic honor fell to her.

It was another in a series of firsts for her; youngest female astronaut in NASA history; youngest person to get a captaincy of a space vessel; first human to set foot on the icy surface of Pluto.

She tried to think of something notable to say for the benefit of those on Earth who tracked their progress. Overcome with the tide of emotion, Justine could not think properly. The stale recycled air in her suit did not help clear her mind.

“Pluto,” she finally declared into her microphone. Swiveling her head to face the sun, a tiny glowing pinprick in the low horizon, she imagined she was speaking for the benefit of posterity.

“It’s been a two-hundred year journey to get here, since the dark planet’s existence was first theorized. Now, that dream is a reality. This occasion is a milestone in human history. From here, all that’s left is to conquer the stars.”

As she came over a rise, she shut her mouth tight with a clack that echoed insider her helmet. Below her, the science team and Helen gathered like acolytes around a divine statue.

Her eyes beheld a sight beyond anything she had ever imagined possible.

In a place where no human had ever before set foot, against the cold darkness of Pluto’s skyline, there was a monument the size of an aircraft hangar. The bulk of the structure resembled the nucleus of a complex atom.

Orbiting that nucleus, a number of spherical objects formed what looked like an electron cloud, hovering in the space around the monument without any visible tethers or supports.

An alien chill walked icy fingers up Justine’s spine.

Humankind was not alone in the universe…

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Valmore.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for having me.

You can visit Valmore Daniels at the following: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Forbidden The Stars is available at the following retailers:

Paperback: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

eBook: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

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Interview with Cheryl C. Malandrinos: “I have a basic idea and then I let things happen as they may.”

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.     

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com or the Little Shepherd blog at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/.

 

About Little Shepherd

Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior’s birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?

Q: Thank you for this interview, Cheryl. Can you tell us what your latest book, Little Shepherd, is all about?

Thanks for having me here today. Little Shepherd tells the story of the first Christmas through the eyes of a shepherd boy in the fields outside of Bethlehem. Obed is tending his first flock when the angel appears. He wants to join the others to see the newborn King, but he’s afraid something will happen to his sheep if he leaves them alone.

Some wise words from his father help convince him, but Obed is anxious to return to the fields after meeting the Holy Family. What he discovers is that it is a night of miracles.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

There are really only two in Little Shepherd—Obed and his father. Obed is very responsible for his young age of five and is determined not to let anything happen to his sheep. He knows how much his family depends upon them for food and clothing.

His father and the others witness the angel’s appearance. He is the one who suggests they visit the newborn King. His actions that night surprise Obed a bit, but like a good son he obeys his father, despite his anxiety.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

In this instance, Obed is imaginary, but I can see Obed’s father having been the shepherd who said, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.”

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Typically, when I’m working on something, I have a basic idea and then I let things happen as they may. My original idea is rarely what the finished manuscript ends up looking like.

With Little Shepherd, I knew I wanted it to be about a young shepherd who visits the Savior on the first Christmas, but the first draft had no conflict. I had to talk it through with a writing friend a bit to discover what Obed’s conflict would be.

Q: Your book is set outside and in Bethlehem. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

God dictated the setting for this one.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

It does because of the need for historical accuracy.

Q: Open the book to page 9. What is happening?

Obed is visiting with the Holy Family. He sees that everything is just as the angel had told them. He hears the wolves howling in the distance but none of the other shepherds, including his father, seem concerned.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Off in the distance, a wolf howled. Obed moved closer to his flock, scanning the hills for any sign of a pack that might race in and steal his sheep. His family depended upon the sheep for food and their wool for clothing. No sheep would be lost under his watch.

He shivered inside his cloak. While the days were getting warmer, the nights still chilled him. He walked over to the large fire blazing inside the pit. He rubbed his hands together and held them up to the fire to warm them.

Above him, the sky twinkled with millions of stars. Obed couldn’t remember a night so clear.

Suddenly, a bright light filled the sky.

Obed trembled. “Father, what is happening?”

His father dropped to the ground, his right hand blocking his eyes from the intense light.

Obed pulled the edges of his cloak closer to his face as he squinted up at the mysterious form hovering overhead. He shivered, but this time it was not because of the cold.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Cheryl. We wish you much success!

Thanks again for having me. I hope your readers will stop by my new blog dedicated to the book, which can be found at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/.  There’s a video trailer for Little Shepherd in the sidebar.

Readers can also find me at http://ccmalandrinos.com/, become my friend on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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‘Forbidden the Stars’ Valmore Daniels on virtual book tour November ’10

Valmore Daniels 2Join Valmore Daniels, author of the science fiction novel, Forbidden the Stars (Mummer Media) as he virtually tours the blogosphere November 1 – 26 ‘10 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

In true nomadic spirit, Valmore Daniels has lived on the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, and dozens of points in between. An insatiable thirst for new experiences has led him to work in several fields, including legal research, elderly care, oil & gas administration, web design, government service, human resources, and retail business management. His enthusiasm for travel is only surpassed by his passion for telling tall tales.

Valmore’s latest book is Forbidden the Stars, a sci-fi novel set at the end of the 21st century.

Visit his website at www.ValmoreDaniels.com Forbidden the Stars

Forbidden the Stars is hard core science fiction at its best. At the end of the 21st century, a catastrophic accident in the asteroid belt has left two surveyors dead, but the asteroid itself is completely missing, along with their young son, Alex Manez, who was accompanying them.

On the outer edge of the solar system, the first manned mission to Pluto, led by the youngest female astronaut in NASA history, has led to an historic discovery: there is a marker left there by an alien race for humankind to find. We are not alone!

While studying the alien marker, it begins to react and, four hours later, the missing asteroid appears in a Plutonian orbit, along with young Alex Manez, who has developed some alarming side-effects from his exposure to the kinetic element they call Kinemet.

From the depths of a criminal empire based on Luna, an expatriate seizes the opportunity to wrest control of outer space, and takes swift action.

The secret to faster-than-light speed is up for grabs, and the race for interstellar space is on!

If you’d like to follow along with Valmore as he tours the blogosphere in November, visit his official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store as you learn more about this gifted author as well as win prizes, too!

Join us for Valmore Daniels’ Forbidden the Stars Virtual Book Tour ‘10! Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

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‘The Mermaid’s Pendant’ LeAnn Neal Reilly on virtual book tour October & November ’10

LeAnn Neal ReillyJoin LeAnn Neal Reilly, author of the general fiction novel, The Mermaid’s Pendant (Zephon Books), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October and November ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

LeAnn Neal Reilly grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri, near the Missouri River, in that fertile land where corn, children, and daydreams take root and thrive. She spent countless hours reading and typing chapters on an old Smith-Corona in her closet, which luckily for her didn’t have doors. Then she put away her daydreams and her stories and headed off, first to graduate magna cum laude from Missouri Western State University, and later to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for a master’s degree in professional writing. Along the way, she majored briefly in chemistry, served as opinion editor and then editor of her college newspaper, and interned for the international design firm Fitch RichardsonSmith in Columbus, Ohio. The highlight of her internship came when she generated the product name renata for a Copco teakettle (although designing the merchandising copy for ceramic tile adhesive and insulation packaging surely runs a close second).

After graduate school, LeAnn worked first for a small multimedia startup and then a research group in the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. At the startup, she spent her time writing user manuals and multimedia scripts for software to train CSX railroad engineers. While working among geeks, LeAnn became enamored and decided to take one home for herself. After getting married and starting a family, she returned to her adolescent daydreams of writing novels. Never one to shirk from lofty goals, she added home schooling her three children as her day job.

After years of working in an office not much better than an unfinished closet, LeAnn has finished The Mermaid’s Pendant and is currently working on her next novel. LeAnn joined GoodReads three years ago where she writes reviews regularly.

LeAnn lives outside Boston with one husband, three children, a dog named Hobbes (after Calvin &), and a cat named Attila. The Mermaid's Pendant

Inspired by the beloved classic The Little Mermaid, THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a modern fairy tale about growing up and discovering who you are—and what you believe in. At times lyrical, this novel is a fantastic journey filled with magic, myth, romance, and adventure.

Four years after John Wilkerson claims the mermaid Tamarind for his wife, they have an idyllic marriage that depends on a talisman that she crafted on their island paradise. But Tamarind learns a painful truth: it takes more than legs to live on land and more than magic to sustain a bond. When the talisman breaks, she and John are forced to rely on themselves instead of magic.

Three wise women play key roles in the young lovers’ journey to mature love. Ana, Tamarind’s aging mentor, casts spells and performs seductions to keep the lovers apart. Valerie, an expat jewelry maker cum fairy godmother, works her own magic to bring them together. Lucy, their widowed neighbor, grounds the couple in the realities of marriage, parenting, and family.

THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a story for anyone who has ever believed in the transforming power of love.

You can visit LeAnn’s Web site at www.nealreilly.com.

If you’d like to follow along with LeAnn as she tours the blogosphere in October and November, visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store as you travel the blogosphere to find out more about LeAnn Neal Reilly’s newest book, The Mermaid’s Pendant.

Join us for the LeAnn Neal Reilly’s The Mermaid’s Pendant Virtual Book Tour ‘10! Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

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Interview with James Boyle, author of ‘Ni’il the Awakening’

James Boyle has been writing fiction and poetry for most of his life. He was born in North Carolina, but lived in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Washington, before his family settled down in Oregon when he was fifteen. He graduated high school there and received a degree in literature and writing from the University of Oregon. In 2003 he returned to Gold Beach, where he now makes his home. For the past five years, he has been a volunteer organizer for the South Coast Writer’s Conference. His debut novel, Ni’il: The Awakening, was an award-winning finalist in both the 2010 Indie Excellence Book Awards and the 2010 International Book Awards, both for horror fiction.

You can visit James’ site at:  http://www.jamesboylewrites.com or visit him on Facebook at : http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/?act=36902440#!/pages/Niil-The-Awakening/107253385968057

Q: Thank you for this interview, James. Can you tell us what your latest book, Ni’il: The Awakening, is all about?

<blockquote>A: Ni’il: The Awakening follows the police chief of a small town on the Oregon coast as strange things start happening. First dogs start disappearing, then people begin to be savagely killed. His invesigation leads him to the local Sihketunnai Indians and their legend of the ni’il, a type of shaman, or magic user. They tell him that it is a ni’il that’s doing the killing. They also tell him that he too has the powers of a ni’il and he must use them to stop the killings.</blockquote>

Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A: It is my first published novel. I have written two other novels, neither of which is worth showing to anybody, but it was important that I prove to myself that I could write and finish a novel-length work. That out of the way, I could concentrate on the story and my execution of the story. It made writing this simpler.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

A: I don’t recall being blocked during its writing, but I have spent my share of time blocked. I think every writer has. I actually think I’m facing a bit of a block on what I’m writing now. The only way I’ve found to break a writer’s block is to write your way out of it. It’s painful and difficult. The words come slowly and sometimes they aren’t very good for a while, but eventually I break through and the images begin to flow again.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A: They’ve received it well. Ninety percent of those that have read it give it a good review. There are a few that don’t, but I think there are always a few you don’t reach. I’ve been pleased.

The most unusual experience I’ve had was an email I received from a woman in Idaho, who’d been looking for my book for a while and couldn’t find it anywhere. Apparently, she was unable to order it off the net. I ended up selling her one of my copies, but it made me wonder how many people out there want to read the novel, but can’t get a copy.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

A: I usually don’t even begin to seriously write until late at night. The daylight hours are filled with too many distractions. During the day, I will run personal errands, pay bills, and do some of the promotional/marketing work. My writing begins after dinner, when I really begin to think about what I want to do that night. By 10pm, I’ve turned off all lights except my desk lamp, put in a dvd for background noise, and write until 2 or 3 in the morning, sometimes later.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

A: Usually, when I put my pen down it’s time to get some sleep. For general relaxation, I read a lot, go fishing when the weather permits, or just sit out on the back patio and watch the forest. (The ospreys are nesting right now).

Q: What book changed your life?

A: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. Not only is the subject one that I’ve found fascinating as long as I can remember, but it was an eye-opening experience. For the first time I realized that the ideas and “facts” taught to me in school were not necessarily the only legitimate ones. For the first time, I think I really understood that reality changes depending on your point of view. So question everything.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

A: Twisted

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: That despite some of the violence that appears in my written work, I am actually a very spiritual person and something of a pacifist. I don’t even watch boxing because I don’t enjoy seeing men beat each other up. The fiction is just that. Fiction.

Thank you for this interview, James. I wish you much success on your latest release, Ni’il: The Awakening!

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