Tag Archives: writing

Guest Blogger Stefan Vucak: The Drive to Write

The Drive to Write…

By Stefan Vucak, author of ‘Cry of Eagles’

Bright sunshine has flooded the landscape with light and shifting shadows as the wind whips branches into restless frenzy. A thin tendril of steam is rising from my cup of coffee and I gaze at it momentarily, captivated by the patterns it makes. I am staring at the computer screen, at the paragraphs running into each other, making no sense as I search for inspiration. No, that’s not quite right. I am driven by inspiration to pour out the words clamoring to get out, my characters screaming at me to write down what they have to say. I just don’t hear them, my Cry of Eaglesmind wandering as I look out the window at the shadows, the light and the patterns they make. There is an avalanche of ideas waiting to be unleashed, but I have stumbled into a pothole and I am too weary to drag myself out. I take a sip of coffee, taking in the aroma and the satisfying taste, and sigh as I stare at the words across the screen…

It’s strange, but I always wanted to write. Ever since as a kid when I stumbled across an illustrated book of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was hooked. A whole new universe was opened for me, one I never knew existed, one far beyond the narrow confines of my childhood pursuits and shallow games. When I discovered a library not far from the primary school, I gladly plunged into that universe. Of course, reading led me to think that I could also create a universe of my own, something others could share and hopefully enjoy. It didn’t look all that hard. After all, it was simply putting down words on paper. Although the drive to write never left me, it was some years later that I could unleash that part of me and allow my imagination full flight. But like Pandora, I unleashed a part of me that ever since has given me moments of intense pleasure, soul-wrenching frustration and disappointment.

Part of the frustration was mastering the mechanical craft of writing, learning how to write good dialogue, not allowing myself to get swept up in flowery prose, how to plot, research…a raft of skills a writer needs in order to produce something good. And I am still learning. But why put myself through all that pain, accumulating a stack of rejection slips along the way, harboring murdering thoughts at authors whose crappy books are on the stands while stuff I produced cannot make it? Why put up with lonely hours cooped up in my study, bent over my notebook or pounding away at the keyboard, enduring cramped muscles, mental blocks, endless hours of tedious editing, simply to turn out that novel? Why do I write?

The answer is simple as it is complex. I am driven to write. It is a fire that burns within me and one I cannot quench. I tried to once or twice, but that urge to write, to create, never let go, could not be extinguished. It’s a curse and it is also a gift. Once I recognized that I could not change what I was, I accepted my fate and allowed myself to soar. All the frustration and tedious work, the attention to detail and the rewriting, it fades into insignificance when I look at the rewards of my creativity. When the words flow and I can hardly keep up with them, when my characters live and laugh and cry with me, and come alive on paper, when it all clicks and my spirit cries like an eagle high in the sky, the buzz of pure creation can be giddying and addictive. And it is addictive, far better than any smoky weed or pill.

I write primarily because I must and because I want to share with others the joy of my creations. Once that book is done, the moment of accomplishment passes, but there is always a sense of power, knowing I have left something behind that is lasting. The doubts about getting published, having the thing sell, marketing, all those things will weigh on me later. But even if one person reads what I have produced, I am satisfied, although I am egotistical enough to want as many readers as possible. Then there is a period when I must recharge and get ready for another book, more frustration, more loneliness, more tedium. Sometimes I really wonder why I put myself through all this.

I’m driven and I’m cursed and I must write. The passion and the drive that keeps pushing me is relentless and won’t give me peace. But I have ceased fighting the current and have accepted my destiny, because there is nothing more fulfilling in life.

I take another sip of coffee, now gone cool, flex my fingers and smile at the keyboard. I have come for you, I tell my characters…

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Stefan VucakStefan Vucak is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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Interview with Karen Glick, author of ‘Questions in the Silence’

Karen Glick lives outside of Philadelphia. She is a clinical psychologist whose other interests include writing, painting, and acting. When not feverishly engaged in these pursuits, she enjoys spending time with her four children, husband, cavalier king charles spaniels and cats.

Karen has just published her first novel, Questions in the Silence.

Visit her website at http://www.bellalunavoicecompany.com/.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Q: Thank you for this interview, Karen. Can you tell us what your latest book, Questions in the Silence, is all about?

I always wanted to write a novel and had many false starts where the idea or the characters just didn’t sustain my interest.  Finally, the idea for Questions in the Silence emerged from two of my life passions: (Don’t ask about the others!)psychotherapy and a spiritual approach to life.  The protagonist, Ari Rothman, is a young Jewish woman whose childhood is flavored by unusual dreams and visions. Some of her dreams are derived from her Jewish education, but others are more mystical and cryptic. These experiences inspire her to become a seeker of spiritual truth, not limited to her own religious upbringing.  At the same time, she is driven to find her life purpose and feels she may find it in helping people through psychotherapy.

Questions in the Silence chronicles Ari’s personal growth from her childhood when she feels like an outsider because of her precocious approach to life, to her search for a life partner, and her attempts to initiate a mature relationship with her parents.  At the same time, in her professional life, Ari faces mounting conflict when she tries to integrate her traditional training as a psychologist with her intuitive abilities.  Her struggles come to a head when she treats her first long-term client whose problems resonate deeply with some of her own issues.

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

Ari Rothman is a sensitive dork who really doesn’t fit into her peer group very well.  Her loneliness reinforces her interest in the spiritual world and she spends a lot of time searching for meaning in life and worrying constantly whether she will ever find her true purpose.  Since she spends so much time living in her head, her real relationships sometimes suffer.  Once she decides that she can best fulfill her purpose by becoming a psychotherapist, her next challenge becomes balancing the advice of her supervisors and her strong intuition about patients.

The supporting characters include a neurotic but loving mother who teaches Ari about the importance of boundaries in relationships, her boyfriend, Evan, who starts out as a study partner and becomes the key to Ari’s discovery about meeting her own needs, and James, Ari’s first long-term client, who comes from a very different background, but whose therapy forces Ari to question her own family relationships.

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

There are some components of my characters that are drawn from my life.  To some degree, Ari’s struggle to incorporate things she knows intuitively into her work mirrors my own.   I must emphasize she is truly a fictional character, as are all of the other characters in the book, although I am fortunate enough to have experienced people who may have added some of the dimensions to the characters.  In particular, some of Ari’s experiences such as her Jewish education, meditation adventures, and training as a psychotherapist were suggested by some of my own experiences.

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

My writing began with a strong sense of the fictional characters, their backstory, and their current struggles.  Each day as I wrote, I felt that the plot should be driven by the way the characters would interact, knowing them as I do.  When I was finished with the first draft, I had a better vision of the plot and my revisions were all about cutting out  a lot of writing that didn’t further either the plot or key knowledge about the main characters.

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

I love the Philadelphia area and have lived here since college.  Philadelphia is a great city for the exploration of ideas like spirituality and psychotherapy.  My familiarity with attending college and graduate school here provided a strong foundation for Ari’s development.

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

Not really.  Much of the story really takes place in the minds of the characters.

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

Ari, the main character, has just attended her first college party.  In her attempt to reinvent herself, she overindulged and is suffering the consequences.  On page 69, she is filled with remorse and is worrying how her overdrinking may have affected her relationship with her roommate and with her romantic interest, Charlie.

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

Saturday morning. Ari rolled on her side to read the time on her clock…six thirty five. She groaned. Why was she awake?  She peered at Evan who was sleeping so silently she watched the sheet over his chest to make sure it rose and sank with each breath. His face was totally relaxed, and she loved to look at the way the early morning light played with the golden highlights in his wavy hair and his long eyelashes. The stubble on his chin seemed so dark, forming a blue gray contrast to his pale skin. She lay quietly next to him, trying to match the rhythm of his breathing, wishing to fall back asleep and to share his dreams, he looked that peaceful.

But sleep wouldn’t come. So, she slipped out of bed and walked over to the couch. Pulling a soft old afghan around her shoulders, she sat down and closed her eyes to meditate, a form of Sabbath observance for her. She immediately felt as though she were drifting in a downward pathway, but she was able to maintain a relaxed, detached posture and she did not pull back from the sensation of slowly falling. As she descended, she became engulfed in a glowing indigo light. She sensed another presence with her and curiosity briefly coursed through her mind. She heard a voice answering her unspoken question…Eliyahu. And then there was complete silence. Ari’s old blue afghan had grown to encompass the entire universe and everything was wrapped in its comforting softness. At some point, when she opened her eyes, Ari wasn’t sure how long she had meditated, or even if she had fallen asleep. She patted her blanket with affection, thinking how much she loved the color blue. She could hear Evan stirring faintly in the alcove, so she went to investigate.

Thank you so much for this interview, Karen.  We wish you much success!

 

 

 

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Guest Blogger: C. Elizabeth ‘The Writer Within Us’

THE WRITER WITHIN US

By C. Elizabeth

I believe that everyone has a niche in life.  The question is…are you willing to look for it or would you recognize it if it were to come along in a not so “up in your face” manner?  The answer is yes.  That is, if you are willing to open your eyes a little wider, hone in on your senses and pay attention to the little details that present themselves, all of which will ultimately lead you on your next path in life.  I also believe that is how one becomes a writer.

We are always listening, watching with great fascination facial expressions and the words that go along with them, the slang of each person that crosses our path, and  gestures of every kind, collecting them for future use.  However, if we don’t pay attention, the writer within us will never come to be.

With these skills we learn to play with our words, putting a new spin on them so as to take the story to a whole new “feeling” level.  Example: 

                 He angrily shouted, “I want a divorce!”

                 Stunned by his words, I said, “What?”

– or –

                 He flung the words in the air.  “I want a divorce!” 

                 I desperately tried to catch them, but failed miserably.
                 They landed in my chest…shards of glass piercing my
                 heart and with a fiery cough, “What?”

Try the other side of that:

                 He moved in closer, kissed my neck and whispered, “I
                 love you.”

– or –

                 He leaned in, his moist lips found my neck…his sweet
                 breath swirled around my ear.  “I love you.” 

A writer is someone who can spin hope where there is none, guard a heart from exceptional pain and can cause pain just as quick, can heal a lovers’ relationship or destroy it, all with the stroke of a pen.  But remember, before those words are ever written on paper, those thoughts and sensitivities have been collected and nurtured by another…that is the writer.

Have a great day.

C. Elizabeth lives in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada.  She stumbled upon writing, it found her, she finds writing a peaceful escape and is very excited to have her characters come alive in her readers’ minds. Her contemporary romance novel, Absolute Obsession, is about 42 year old Rose Gerbaldi who by an intervention of fate unites her heart and soul with 30 year old British movie star, Michael Terrance. Please visit and blog with her at www.celizabeth.ca. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/search/users/CElizabeth4 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1567713637.

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Writing as a Sacred Path: Interview with Writing Coach Jill Jepson

Jill JepsonJill Jepson is a writer, writing coach, college professor, and linguistic anthropologist. She is the author of Writing as a Sacred Path: A Practical Guide to Writing With Passion & Purpose, published by Ten Speed Press. She runs Writing the Whirlwind, a business that offers workshops and coaching for writers, activists, caretakers, and others (www.writingthewhirlwind.net ). Her personal website can be found at www.jilljepson.com.

Thank you for this interview, Jill. Can you tell us what your latest book, Writing as a Sacred Path: A Practical Guide to Writing with Passion and Purpose, is all about?

Jill: Writing as a Sacred Path explores the practices of four spiritual vocations—that of the shaman, warrior, mystic and monk—to provide a new approach for writers. It is for all writers who wish to write with purpose and direction and to develop a deep connection to their writing. It contains more than eighty exercises—although I prefer the term “sacred tools”—using myth, meditation, ritual, dreams, crafts, nature experiences, and other means to help writers deepen and expand their writing practice. Writing as a Sacred Path offers readers a way to approach writing as a life-changing spiritual practice.

Writing as a Sacred PathIs this your first book?  If not, how has writing this book different from writing your first?

Jill: Everything I write is a new experience. I have two previous books out and many articles in newspapers and magazines, and every one of them has been a unique experience. Writing as a Sacred Path came in a clear, fresh stream. It is the work of my soul, something I believe in very deeply, so writing it felt very natural. I’ve spent many years exploring spiritual traditions throughout the world, and I’ve written my entire life, starting before I was even in kindergarten, so I had all that behind me and much of it went into the book. It seemed as if every time I needed an example or a specific idea, one would simply come to me out of that store of memory. The book was a pleasure to write.

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

Jill: I don’t experience writer’s block and haven’t for years. The reason is because I’ve developed techniques for dealing with the fear that creates blocks. Fear is the major reason writers find themselves stuck. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of exposing yourself on the page. It’s not that I don’t have fear—I think all writers do. It’s just that I’ve learned to write through it. To know it’s there and just keep writing anyway. I remember once watching an Olympic figure skater who took a terrible fall and got up and just kept going. One of the commentators said, “She must be in a lot of pain right now,” and the other—who was a former skater herself—said, “Oh, she’s not even feeling that pain. She’ll feel it later, but right now, she’s just skating.” That’s how I feel about writing. You may be in pain, you’re may be anxious and frustrated and scared out of your wits, but you’re not feeling it. You’re just writing.

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

Jill: I get some wonderful correspondence from people. It’s lovely getting an email from someone in India or Australia or Finland, saying that my book spoke to them or helped them in some way.

What is your daily writing routine?

Jill: I write every morning. I’m not really a morning person, in the sense of someone who gets up at dawn. I’m a fairly late riser. But once I do get up, that’s when I’m most creative. I try never to schedule meetings or appointments in the mornings if I can help it. I write for several hours, then have lunch. When I’m really in the flow of things, I can write right through the afternoon and evening as well.

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

Jill: I read, I play Baroque music on the recorder, and I sit on my deck with my husband and just watch the waterfalls in my back yard. I try to exercise every day. My cats and dogs help me relax, too.

What book changed your life?

Jill: This may sound like an odd choice, but it was a book called The Forgotten Pollinators by Stephen Buchmann. It’s about all the creatures who pollinate the plants of the world, about how pollination takes place, and what would happen if the pollinators died out. I’ve always had a fascination with science, especially biology, and a regret that I was essentially shoved out of it by insensitive science teachers when I was a child. This book touched that love in a special way. It spoke to me about the web of life and the importance of protecting our precious planet.

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

Jill: A Comedy of Terrors. Or A Farm Girl in the Twilight Zone.

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

Jill: That I’m a bit of an empath. I don’t mean I’m psychic, I mean I seem to absorb the feelings of the people around me a little too much. It’s as if I have a super-refined intuition about what others are experiencing. It helps my writing, but otherwise it’s just a massive pain.

Thank you for this interview, Jill.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Writing as a Sacred Path: A Practical Guide to Writing with Passion and Purpose!

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