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Interview with Rick Lenz, Broadway & Film Actor, Playwright, Turned Author

Cactus Flower circa 1969, Rick with Goldie Hawn & Walter Matthau

TS. Rick Lenz is a graduate of the University of Michigan, past member of the Actor’s Studio, and active member in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is a veteran Broadway, television, and film actor who first came to national attention when he repeated his Broadway role in Cactus Flower,

the film version. He went on to appear in a long list of movies and TV shows. As a writer, his plays have been produced Off-Broadway, on PBS television and in regional theatres across the country. His memoir North of Hollywood was called “masterful” by Writer’s Digest, while his first novel, The Alexandrite was named “one of the best books of the year” by Kirkus Reviews. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

RL. I write anywhere I can: in my office on my computer. I write in doctors’ offices on a legal pad and also in the car when my wife Linda is driving. I write on my laptop in bed, or in the backyard on nice days, which most of them are in southern California. I write at the dining room table or, actually, anywhere I can do so without being rude to someone.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

RL. I honestly have no rituals or quirks about writing; I just do it whenever the muse is kind enough to land on my shoulder. My wife suggests I not answer this question in regard to anything else in my life.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

RL. I used to be tall, dark, and more or less handsome. Now, I am not quite so tall and I’m gray, and a bit funny looking.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

RL. I really don’t. I usually meditate in the morning, have coffee then start writing. On the other hand, if I’m going through a period of insomnia, I may write all night—I may do it in bed or sitting in my favorite chair in the living room.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

RL. Write a paragraph or two and see if that doesn’t get you going.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

RL. All of my characters are born when they have to be for the story. Most of my characters—when things are going well—are based on people I have known at sometime during my long life. There are a lot of characters, more than I’ll ever be able to use, lolling about in my brain.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

RL. I’m not sure. I liked the idea of writing when I was a kid. Later, when I became a theater actor and director, I saw the usefulness of writing too. So I was about 21 or 22 when I first started writing short plays.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

Rick’s granddaughter

RL. Sometimes an idea for a character suggests the situation. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. Maybe what I’m saying, probably I am, is that they really show up about the same time.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?  Join Us for Part 2 of this Intriguing Interview ~~ Feb…. 23rd

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Author, Molly Gloss (part 2)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MG. Yes, absolutely. The best part of writing is “getting lost” in the story you’re telling. My own words can (pathetically) make me cry, or make my heart race from the stress I’ve put my character under. But then I do have to pull away and look at it objectively, cooly, so I can revise, revise, revise.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

MG. I have three previous novels returning to print, soon—Outside the Gates (Jan), Wild Life (Feb), and The Dazzle of Day (Mar) from Saga Press/Simon & Schuster. And in July from the same press, my first collection of short stories, titled UNFORESEEN. Sixteen stories, including three written just for this collection.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MG. I had written bits and pieces of things while my son was little, but had never finished anything. Then, when he started kindergarten and I had big unclaimed blocks of time, I buckled down and wrote a whole novel. It wasn’t very good, but I learned a lot by writing it…and I also learned that I wanted to keep on writing. That was 1980. My husband and I had earlier agreed that I’d return to the workforce after our son was in first grade, but now we agreed that I should give “this writing thing” a serious try. And I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MG. My first short story was published in 1981, and several more in the following years. My first novel—Outside the Gates, a fantasy marketed as young-adult—in 1986.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

A. Never! People will always want to hold a book in their hands, turn the pages, feel the paper, leaf back to reread favorite passages, leap ahead to read the last paragraph! The e-book craze has already peaked, and paper book sales are holding steady. Don’t worry, books will always be with us. But any way you choose to read—e-book, paper book, or audio book—is fine by me. I listen to a lot of audio books, myself, because I have a daily 30-40 minute commute each way to my horses. Is an audio-book “reading”? Yes, of course it is!

Q. What makes a writer great?

MG.  Huh. I may not have an answer for that question. What does “great” mean? Best-selling? Admitted to the “canon” by literary gate-keepers? In print more than 100 years? (Think how few writers are still being read, who were popular in 1918?) There are books and writers I have not loved, though everyone is calling them great, and I have loved books that disappeared quickly without anyone else seeming to notice, and loved writers who fell out of print and were forgotten. (This has happened especially to women writers.) So I think “greatness” would be defined differently by every reader and every generation. As perhaps it should be.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MG. Slow, difficult, daily grind. Revision, worry, uncertainty, more revision, groping and mucking through the middle, then skating to the end in a joyous rush, or inching up to it in an agony of doubt, feeling fragile as you hand it off to a couple of trusted readers, and later, holding a hardbound copy in your hand, a mix of elation and disbelief. Oh, and then all the new worries, will anyone read it? will anyone like it? will it sell, will it be reviewed, will it stay in print? and will I ever write again? Ah, the bittersweet writing life.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MG. Long road trips back to Texas when I was a young teen, reading cowboy novels in the back seat of the car, absolutely imprinted on me and is the reason I’ve so often written about the history, mythology and culture of the ranching west.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MG. I write poetry, does that count? And I’ve written one fanfiction for the television series Person of Interest. (I have ideas for more.) My novels and stories range from historical/western fiction to science fiction/fantasy, though to my mind these are all on the same spectrum. (That’s for another essay.) I love a good, well-written detective novel, so maybe someday I’ll try one?

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MG. Life is so short. Tell your friends and family you love them, every time you see them. And get over your reluctance to hug, even if you grew up in a family of non-huggers.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~~ When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

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5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review

 

Perfection!  Saying anything more would be superfluous.

If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery, you must read this one!  If you’ve never heard of Susan (fat chance) you must read this story. The writing is (like I said) perfect. The characters are so interesting and believable. And the plot…oh, the plot.  Delicious! 

Readers of my reviews know that I don’t write spoilers…nothing has changed. I’m not a writer of cliff notes. You have to experience this entire journey that Susan takes her readers on.  But I will say this; the way Mallery brings the four main characters together is flawless writing.  

Reminder: In August I will be interviewing Susan Mallery and asking her about her writing processes.

To Purchase When We Found Home 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Manning Wolfe. July:  K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #34

The first thing that makes a buyer reach for your book is the COVER!  Is it professional? Does it convey a visual story? 
The second thing that keeps the book in their hand is the BACK COVER and what it says about your story!
The third thing that keeps them from putting it back on the rack (or swiping their tablet for more choices) is that all important, FIRST SENTENCE!

 For example:

Swamp sludge dripped off the massive head while the cold, murderous, purple eye watched them.’

‘As I stepped into the street I didn’t notice the bus bearing down on me.’

‘I sat in the prison waiting room about to interview a convicted killer.’

‘Slow down, Al,” Vi screamed and laughed from the back seat of the car that was plummeting down the mountain side. “You’re gonna kill us.’

 ‘My first audition since I had arrived in Hollywood and what if I fail?’

‘The teacher grabbed my math work book and marched to the front of the room. He began to read my poetry aloud.’

‘As the saloon doors creaked back and forth, the trail weary cowboys backed away when they saw him saunter in.’

“Mother must be spinning in her grave. Not in her wildest dreams, or mine for that matter, would she imagine her daughter in a prison.” Kitty muttered, as her chauffeur drove up the long driveway to the main entrance of the State Prison.

Since the buyer hasn’t put your book down yet, you have to ‘hook’ them with your first sentence. Make them ask, ‘what happens next’?
                                                    *************

“No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky.” ~~Bob Dylan

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” ~~ Charles Dickens

“None but ourselves can free our minds.” ~~Bob Marley
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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1..girl.write..mouse_1Now that  I have some time (4 yrs) and some traction under me with regard to my blog, I would love to hear from my subscribers, friends and fans.

What do you enjoy reading the most? What direction should I  continue in?

 

The series:  Motivational Moments…for Writers

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Dean Koontz


Interviewing other authors


Reviews of books
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The series: Nostalgia
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Warmest regards,  your fellow writer and friend,  Trish

Motivational Moments…for Writers! by fellow author, Mike Wells #18

1..girl.write..mouse_1TS: A fellow writer that I have interviewed was kind enough to contribute to my Motivational Moments…for Writers!  Thanks, Mike!

‘One of the most common questions that novice writers ask me is “How do you overcome writer’s block?” I would define Mike. Headshotwriter’s block as a heavy psychological state in which you’re completely out of ideas about what to write. Usually writers seem to experience it somewhere in the middle of a story rather than near the beginning or end. It can last for days or even weeks and can really get you down and undermine your confidence.

My solution is a simple one, and many writers report that it works for them as well. When you experience writer’s block, jump to some other point in the story, some other scene or episode that you already know will be there, and start working on that. This can included jumping all the way to the very end and working backwards. Writers who prefer to write their stories sequentially, from start to finish, may feel uncomfortable with leaping over to some faraway section of the story, but believe me, if you force yourself to do this, there’s a strong chance that you’ll break through the barrier.

Mike.onBench_nI don’t know how this solution works–maybe subconscious plot connections take place or it’s simply getting your creative energy flowing again, but it usually does. Give it a try next time you’re stuck and see if it works for you.’ ~ Mike Wells

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”― Madeleine L’Engle

Did you see my interview with Mike Wells? Click here

Visit Mike at: http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com/

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Interview with best selling author, Lisa Jackson

lisajackson2010Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

LJ. I write on a laptop in a chaise lounge with coffee near me and my dogs at my feet.  The space is my bedroom, though I’m moving and will actually have a dedicated office within the year.  But this works for now.  I just need the place to be relatively quiet where I can get away from the distractions of life.  You know, that nagging laundry or beckoning cross word puzzle or enticing walk?

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

LJ. No real rituals, but I have my synopsis of the current story close at hand and usually a cup of coffee. As stated above, the dogs (three—two pugs and a beagle) are usually close by and snoring as they’ve already been fed and walked.  I don’t like a mess around me, but at the latter stages of the book my work area becomes a disaster.  Also, I really hate to admit this, but when I’m late with a book, at the tail end, when my stress level is in the stratosphere, I eat sugary things to stay awake and keep at it.  I recommend Hot Tamales candy and M&M peanuts.  But be wary, extra pounds do appear!

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know? jackson-workspace more »

Motivational Moments…from a Fellow Writer! #17

1..girl.write..mouse_1TS. My friend and best-selling author, Jodi Thomas, did me the honor of contributing to Motivational Moments.

‘The hardest thing a writer does each day is sitting down to work.  In 28 years as a working writer I’ve published 45 books and 13 novellas.  The hardest thing wasn’t learning to write, but learning to managing time. I picked up a few tricks but it is still the dragon I fight every day.

Jodi.photo (Small)

Jodi Thomas

Build your nest.  I find this makes it easy for me to step into fiction.  It doesn’t matter if your nest is in a secret room in the attic or a small desk in a hotel room, it needs to be your nest. I usually start with a notebook.  My facts book, my bible for the series.  It includes all characters’ names and basic facts.  Maps of the area—if you’re making up a town, make up the map.’ ~~Jodi Thomas

‘Peace and rest at length have come, All the day’s long toil is past; And each heart is whispering “Home, Home at last!’- Thomas Hood

‘Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.’- Robert Frost
 

This piece came in a full posting when Jodi joined us in a guest blog

Did you miss my INTERVIEW with Jodi? Click here 

http://www.jodithomas.com/   for more information about Jodi’s books.
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, ghost writer for Robert B. Parker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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The Queen’s Accomplice ~~ A Review

queens-accomplic-coverreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  reviews, authors, writing 5 out of 5 quills          A REVIEW
The Queen’s Accomplice
On Sale: October 4th

Susan Elia MacNeal plunks the reader down on the streets of war torn, bombed out London.  We can see and hear the determination of the British people as they pull together and try to overcome the ravages of war.  So how can it be that a serial killer is on the loose mimicking the infamous London ‘ripper’ from a previous century?  And targeting only women who are ‘doing their bit’ for the war effort; many of them secret agents for MI-5.

Maggie Hope is still working for the British version of the CIA. But, now she’s been dragged into a murder investigation. And it’s suddenly gotten very personal when her own acquaintances and friends are the victims.

As always, with a MacNeal mystery, there are a couple of story lines within one book and at the end Susan ties it all together with a tidy bow.  Fans of MacNeal’s Maggie Hope mystery series won’t be disappointed with this new offering.  I was engaged to the last page by Susan’s excellent writing, and now can’t wait for the sequel, The Paris Spy.

Did you miss the wonderful interview I had with Susan: click here
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes
Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Interview (conclusion) with Author, Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid-1970s when she started writing fiction, an Air Force wife, educated as a nurse, whose husband’s frequent assignment changes made it difficult for her to work in her profession. Little did the aspiring novelist know then, as she wrote with babies on her lap, that she would become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, that 11 of her novels would earn the #1 berth on the New York Times bestselling books list.  www.robyncarr.com

Q. …579655_439735352717582_234453917_n and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

RC. It’s complicated yet simple. There’s an idea.  I usually talk to my editor and agent about the idea and it’s barely an embryo.  Then I start typing.  I let them peek at it at about 100 pages and at this stage it barely has arms and legs.  We discuss it to death – and frankly I hate that part.  I don’t want to talk about it, I want to write.  I have never had a good pitch.  I can’t even pitch a book that’s finished!  I’d much rather you read it than have me tell you what it’s about.

During the writing of that book, other writing business interferes.  The line edit on the previous book.  The copy-edits on the previous book. The release of a book.  Q&A’s you don’t have time for (she says, blushing).  Book tours.  Cover art.  Cover copy.  Blogs.  Meetings.  Etc. more »