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Interview with best selling author**Sheila Connolly

 

Sheila Connolly

Sheila Connolly

This prolific writer has three series of mysteries and I love them all.  But, my favorite is the Cork County (Ireland) mysteries.  Her Orchard ‘who done it’ series is also a fav.  So I am always happy to snag an author that I buy and read and enjoy!  This is an exceptional interview, funny and fascinating so read on; you won’t be disappointed!  Ireland, a great mystery

Q. 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.

A. I moved into a Victorian house over ten years ago, when my husband and I fell in love with it. When I first toured it (what I could see of it—the people we bought it from were serious antiques hoarders!), I saw an open landing at the top of the stairs, with a window overlooking the street, and I said, “that’s where I’ll write.”     I can watch for delivery men at the front door, and I can hear anything that happens in the house (usually involving the cats).

I write at a vintage knee-hole desk that my mother bought for my father, which works surprisingly well with a laptop. There’s a very messy 3’x5’ cork-board that hangs in front of it, where I collect inspirational pictures and things I can’t lose, like appointment reminders. And there’s a calendar at eye level—it’s too easy to forget what day it is!

My dream space? An entire room devoted to books—mine are already stacked three deep on my wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

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.)

A. (Wait until I stop laughing at the “neat” part.) Coffee, definitely. I do almost everything on the laptop, but I do like to write notes to myself and plot on regular lined paper, in pencil. I collect pencils from everywhere I travel—they’re easy to fit in a suitcase. Now I have pencils to go with each series, as well as those that I’m fond of because they bring back memories. The problem is, I hate to use them up!

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

A. I worked in a department store in London the summer after college, and sold Ingrid Bergman a very ugly silk shirt.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

A. I’m at my computer every morning, including weekends. My brain works best in the morning, so that’s when I get the most creative stuff done. The rest of the day…there are always emails, and Facebook, and I write for three blogs, and, oh, now and then I let myself actually read a book for pleasure. And then there’s all the research.

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

A. If you find you’re putting off applying your butt to the chair, it usually means something’s not right with your story—plot, characters, setting, point of view, almost anything. Forcing it won’t help because you’ll just get frustrated and bored. Either set it aside and do something else that’s completely unrelated (no, you don’t have to clean the bathroom), or let your mind drift until you figure out what the problem is. Writing should be a happy process for you, not a painful one.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long?

A. For reasons I don’t begin to understand, I usually write a chapter a day, and each chapter averages

Sheila's desk with catabout 2,500 words. It’s not as though I set a goal, or say, I must get this many words done—that’s just where they all seem to come out. But having said that, if the muse is yelling in my ear, I just keep going. It’s kind of unpredictable. (But I do thrive on deadlines.)

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment ?

A. Ireland. While my father’s parents both came from Ireland, I never had a chance to know them. I didn’t even visit the country until 1998. But when I did, it just felt right. After my third trip, I came home and wrote a short sweet romance with an American protagonist and a nice Irish bar owner, but it never sold. I couldn’t let it go, though, so I salvaged the setting and swapped some characters, and threw in a couple of murders, and the County Cork Mysteries were born. It’s still the quiet place I go to in my head when things get crazy in the real world. And I visit whenever I can.

Book 1 of County Cork

Book 1 of County Cork

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

A. I started dabbling when I was between jobs around 2001 (it may sound trite, but 9/11 pushed me into it—if there was something I really wanted to do, what was I waiting for?). Then I stopped for a while when I got what I thought was the ideal job in Boston—which lasted all of six months. But by then I had a great house-sit in a beautiful, peaceful neighborhood out in the suburbs, so I said, what the heck—let’s get serious about this writing thing. I turned out a not so great book, which landed me an equally not so great agent, but at least I was on my way. And I had so much fun with the first one that I couldn’t stop. I think I wrote or began five books in six months while I was there—and some of them ultimately did get published.

Q. How long after that were you published?

A. After dumping that first agent, I started over and landed a much, much better one in 2006, with a three-book for-hire series with Berkley Prime Crime. But I sold them a second series under my own name, the Orchard Mysteries, before the first book in that first series was released.

Q. What makes a writer great?

Don’t miss Part 2 tomorrow, Saturday!

I just reviewed her latest, “An Early Wake“. Check it out.
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“Must Read” rating for “Butterflies & Bullets”

Eric Jones, a reviewer on BookReview.com, just wrote a lovely piece on “Butterflies and Bullets”, my book of Poetry, Essays and Musings. Click here to read it on their site, or scroll down for a reprint.

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Poetry 
Title: Butterflies & Bullets
Author: Trisha Sugarek
Rating:  Must Read!
Publisher: Trisha Sugarek
Reviewed by: Eric Jones

I knew Sugarek’s work in the past from her collection of short children’s plays, “Ten Minutes to Curtain”, which involve the complicated dynamics of growing up. Flannery O’Conner said that if you live through childhood then you have enough material to write forever, and Sugarek has been there and then some. Her short work for the stage has put her in the perfect position to transition from play to poetry with her new book, “Butterflies and Bullets”.

Even the title denotes the strange duality between innocence and loss, and that theme is prevalent throughout the work. Mostly in free form, Sugarek keeps everything in a minimalist range, lending focus to intimate moments like a man playing his Mandolin beside a fire, or the quiet landscape of the Serengeti just before rainfall. These truncated pieces of life feel like literary snapshots. These are Sugarek’s butterfly collection. Then, of course, there are the bullets.

The bullets are also set in free form, however they deal with much more happenings and are more narratively set. My favorite poem is one of these. “Hair Cut… Two Bits” chronicles the return of a barber from war-torn Europe in 1934 via a freighter into the Mississippi from the Gulf. The story, though scarcely a few pages, manages to convey the loss, struggle, and triumph of war given a single, near microscopic, experience. Not to mention that it’s all the more topical today, given the current mess in off the shore of New Orleans.

There are many that are like these, managing to say a lot with only a little. And given their accompanying illustrations by Lori Smaltz, which are printed small in keeping with the book’s minimalist structure, “Butterflies and Bullets” comes off splendidly. The collection feels complete and utterly whole, no piece of the pie excluded. Such close ups reveal that every place is connected. The ocean, if you look closely enough, looks just like rain on the blistering asphalt of your driveway. Shanty Irish curtains, at a certain scale, are indistinguishable from the sculpted wood of a Native American totem pole. This is the nature of Sugarek’s poetry, that when you pull back you see how different everything is, but when you put it under the microscope, a butterfly is really just a bullet with wings.