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A New Short Play for Teens in the Classroom

AVAILABLE NOW! 
I Can’t Breathe  ©

I have just completed writing a new, ten minute play for the classroom and teens about the protests in our streets and the murder of George Floyd. 

Synopsis: Jorge, a young black man is asked to teach a social studies class by his teacher. What it’s like to live the black experience. Only to become a victim, himself, later that same day. Driving home from school he is stopped by cops for a traffic infraction. It quickly turns deadly.

Sample:

At Rise: The interior of a car.

            (JORGE is driving HIS small SUV down a   neighborhood street, at a reasonable speed. Blue lights         erupt in HIS rearview mirror.)

 

                                                    JORGE

Oh crap. (He talks to himself.) I wasn’t speeding….was I?

            (JORGE pulls over and watches in HIS side  mirror as a white COP walks from HIS squad car towards JORGE’s car. JORGE starts  reciting everything his mom told him to do in case HE’s  pulled over.)  

                                                                                                                                                           JORGE

Be polite. ‘Yes, sir’, ‘No, sir’. Don’t argue, don’t resist. Be polite whatever happens.

 

            (The COP arrives at the driver’s side window. HE taps on the closed window.)

 

                                                                                                                                                      JORGE   (Rolling down the window.)

Good afternoon, Officer.

 

                                                                                                                                                       COP

Reason why you didn’t stop when I lit you up?

 

                                                                                                                                                  JORGE

I did….sorry, sir. No reason, sir.

 

                                                                                                                                                    COP
License, registration, proof of insurance. Who’s the vehicle belong to?

 

                                                                          JORGE
                             (Scrambling to get the documents out of the glove box.) 

My mom, sir.

                                                                                                                                                   COP

What are ya?⸺a wise ass⸺with all the ‘sirs’?

 

                                                                                                                                                 JORGE

No, s….no, officer. I’m not.

                                                                                                                                                    COP
                                                                                                                   (Grabbing the door handle. It is locked.) 

Step outta the car.

                                                          JORGE
                       (Getting scared. Forgetting everything HIS mom ever told HIM.)

Why?

                                                                                                                                                  COP

Unlock the door and step out…NOW!
                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Available soon at Amazon.com and all other fine book stores. Or contact this playwright for your “pre-order” copy.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author, Mike Maden, writing for Tom Clancy (Part 2)

Mike Maden

Q. what it is like to be a co-author on this hit franchise?

MM. I’m certain that Tom Colgan got the wrong phone number and accidentally called the wrong guy when he offered me the chance to be

Tom Clancy

an author in the Tom Clancy franchise. (To the other Mike Maden out there: sorry about that. Okay, not really.) It is such an honor and privilege to write in this world and to hang out with the iconic characters that he created. I care deeply that I get the characters right and to do the research to the best of my ability. It is a tremendous responsibility to carry on the Clancy legacy but it is also a heck of a lot of fun. It’s also crazy weird to see my name beneath Tom Clancy’s. My only regret in writing for the franchise is that I never got to meet Tom who sadly passed away in 2013.

Q. Did you write some of the teleplays or contribute as a consultant?

MM. Having written screenplays in the past, I would dearly love to contribute to the Jack Ryan TV franchise put out by Amazon Prime. Sadly for me, the creators of that show don’t need my help. They’ve re-imagined Jack Ryan senior as a young man operating in today’s world rather than in the 1980s when he was first created by Tom Clancy. Judging by the huge fan base they have (including me) I’d say they have their hands firmly on the tiller. And in a way, I have the best of all worlds. Because the TV series features a young John Krasinski, readers think the series is about Jack Ryan Jr. (which is my bailiwick) so I’m getting all kinds of credit that I don’t deserve—and at the same time, I get to watch a really great TV series without having to do any of the hard, hard work that those folks have to do to create a smash hit.

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

MM. Every time one of my novels appears on the shelf it seems like an impossible gift. Why in the world is my name on the cover? How did that happen? How have I managed to win the lottery eight times in a row? I am one blessed dude. Speaking of blessed, I also have a secret weapon at my disposal. My amazing wife is always my first reader but she goes the extra mile and also reads the entire manuscript to me out loud before I send in the first draft to the editor. All one hundred thousand words. (She is a saint.) Sometimes a sentence reads fine on the page in your mind but when read aloud it punishes the ear like nails on a chalkboard—syntax, cadence, word choice all have a different resonance when heard as opposed to read. And the typos? Those last, lurking, invisible wee beasties that are the bane of every writer? She manages to scare them out from under the covers by the sound of her parched and rasping voice. (Okay, not all of them. But a lot of them. Thank heavens for professional editors who wrangle the rest of them.) Here’s my pro tip for the day: audiobook sales are becoming a huge percentage of total book sales. By doing an “audio” edit, I’m creating prose that will read and sound better for amazing audio talents like Scott Brick (www.scottbrick.net) who has read all of my Clancy stuff.

Research is very, very important. Of course, no one was better at research than Tom Clancy and his fans expect it of me as well. A lot of my internet research focuses on weapons and technology. But I prefer spending time in the countries featured in my novels in order to provide context for the characters and story. It’s also a way to show respect for the people and cultures I write about. Fortunately, I travel with a beautiful and amazing research assistant who happens to be my wife. Here Angela is in Spain helping me thoroughly research a plate of freshly sautéed pimientos de padrón for FIRING POINT.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

MM. My favorite tool is my giant white board—which is actually a 4’ x 8’ piece of white panel board I bought at Home Depot for about $15 . I use a lot of “mind mapping” to brainstorm my way through each story problem—or just dream. I do all of my writing on my laptop (MacBook Air) and I break the first draft completely on Scrivener which is the best word processing program in the world to do it—and it’s very inexpensive.  The subsequent drafts that the publisher and I trade back and forth are on Word because that is their software of choice. My 4’ x 8’ white board (newly installed, soon to be marked up with my next story):

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

Hiking the Julian Alps

MM. I have a strict word count I hold to slavishly seven days a week. If I meet my word count early, I stop and do something fun as a reward. But I will work as many hours as it takes to hit my number even if that means I don’t go to bed. At the end of the day, I can’t hand in my calendar to my publisher and show them how many days I worked. My contract specifies that I must turn in 100k words of polished prose so my focus is on words and not hours worked. Neither publishers nor readers care how hard you work. They only care about what you write.

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

Did you miss Part I of this Interview?

For the answer come back on June 26th for the conclusion of this wonderful Interview.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Interview with Mike Maden, writing for Tom Clancy


Mike Maden grew up working in the canneries, feed mills and slaughterhouses of California’s San Joaquin Valley. A lifelong fascination with history and warfare ultimately lead to a Ph.D. in political science focused on conflict and technology in international relations. Like millions of others, he first became a Tom Clancy fan after reading THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and began his published fiction career in the same techno-thriller genre, starting with DRONE and the sequels, BLUE WARRIOR, DRONE COMMAND and DRONE THREAT. Mike’s fourth Tom Clancy novel, FIRING POINT, featuring Jack Ryan Jr., was released June 9th.
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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.

MM. My office is a converted screened-in porch with a stunning view of the Smoky Mountains. We put in a giant plate glass window to capture that view and it’s a constant source of both inspiration and distraction for me as the seasons unfold before my eyes. I split my time equally between a sitting and a standing desk.

Witness the distractions (actual photos from my office/deck. My desk (seldom this uncluttered while working. My “stand up” desk (notice the hand crank). A gift from my wife after publishing my second book:

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.)

MM. Gallons of coffee and a workout at the gym (in that order) are my first morning rituals. I usually arrive at the desk late mornings where I begin the writing day with meditation and journaling. And coffee. Always more coffee. This period of time is always my least productive in terms of word count but absolutely necessary for my process. After lunch I crank out a few more words and often crash into a power nap and then really get rolling on the word count. The late evening is when the afterburners kick in; I’ve kept track of my word counts and writing times over the years and invariably 60% of my work occurs during this later period. I strongly urge all writers but particularly new ones to track their word counts. You might be surprised that your best writing doesn’t occur at either the time or place you assumed. All of us, including full-time writers, simply don’t have enough time to do everything that needs to be done. So if you are particularly time-challenged—balancing career, family, and other responsibilities against your writing time—then being as efficient as possible is absolutely necessary. Nearly every book on creativity will tell you that early mornings right after you wake up is your most creative time and many writers will tell you that they fall out of bed and onto the typewriter even before they have their first cup of coffee or tea. I’m here to tell you, that ain’t me and I have the stats to back it up. So take a week and assiduously track your writing hour-by-hour and find out when you are at your personal best as a writer and ruthlessly schedule yourself accordingly.

Q. How do you ‘get inside’ Tom Clancy’s head and write for him?

MM. The day I got the call from the series editor, Tom Colgan, and was offered the position was both the best and most terrifying day of my literary life. I’ve been a fan of Tom Clancy’s ever since I read THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. He was a giant and, in my opinion, single-handedly invented the techno-thriller genre, or at least the one we’re all familiar with. What an honor to be asked to join The Campus…but what a responsibility! It was as if Queen Elizabeth had called me up and asked me to add a play or two to Shakespeare’s First Folio. What to do? I was already writing in the genre that Tom Clancy had invented which meant I pretty much had to accept the offer, right? Otherwise, time to hang up my spurs. Except…I did have one pre-condition in my mind that would kill the deal: if I was asked to imitate Tom Clancy’s voice. It’s a huge mistake for anybody to try and imitate a wholly original voice because it simply can’t be done well and I was incredibly relieved to hear Tom Colgan warn me against trying to do so before I even had the chance to ask. This showed me that both Tom Colgan and the Clancy Estate knew exactly how to approach the problem of inviting writers into the Clancy world. I was told in no uncertain terms to write in my own voice and in my own style and I think that’s why all of the other Clancy writers have done such a great job over the years as well.

Q. Do you find your ‘voice’ creeping in when writing for another author?

MM. Absolutely—see above! The single most difficult but most necessary task of an author is to find their own unique voice. The only original thing we have to offer the world is our unique selves; the words we all use are the same, aren’t they? Have you ever read someone slavishly imitating the style of another writer? Yuck. It smacks of artifice and desperation—the act of someone utterly lacking in confidence and originality. We love writers who are original which is another way of saying that they are being their true selves on the page. There are, of course, rules—precious few, mind you—in the Clancyverse that I must obey (e.g., no one in the world recognizes Jack Ryan Junior as the son of President Jack Ryan Senior). But so long as I stay within the guardrails, I’m free to drive as fast and as violently as I care to.
And I do.

Tune in for part 2 of our chat with Mike Maden, June 19th 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Storytelling….. (Nostalgia series)

I was reading a particularly good story (Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde)  the other day and it set me to wondering;  when was my first memory of a story being told to me. The very first one? I must have been three or four when I first heard of Cinderella. Many stories were told orally by my mother.   It’s really amazing how many fairy tales she knew by heart. I believe that began my life-long-love of story telling.  When I got a little older, my mother went on to tell me hundreds of stories about her five sisters and their growing up in the woods of Tumwater, Washington.  (Wild Violets)

At about age eighteen my sister gave me three books by Erich Maria Remarque. I don’t remember why those particular books, or why that author. Arch of Triumph, A Time to Love and A Time to Die, and All Quiet on the Western Front. (First Editions, copyright 1954) I wasn’t a reader of books; a typical teenager who got plenty of assigned reading in high school left no time for pleasure reading. Sigh. I can’t believe I was ever of that mindset!

 I had idolized my big sister since birth and wanted to please her in all things so I began reading the first book. I was enthralled with the writing and the story. Sixty years later I still have those books; From that moment on I have always had a book in my hands. 

There came a time when I felt I should try my hand at ‘storytelling’.  Writing plays at first. Telling a story in less than 100 pages. It came so naturally. Friends who read my plays wanted more of the stories; fleshed out as it were. (What happened to the characters after the play was over; what were their lives like before the play began?) and they insisted I expand the stage play into a full length novel. Which, even though it took me years of labor, I did. 

As I lived my life I was always the one who sought out stories. I never tired of my mother’s tales about her and her sisters and what hellions they were. My own library of books grew and grew.  Walls  of books.

Around 1994, I sat down and wrote my first stage play…and as they say…the rest is history! By this time I had read hundreds of scripts (during my acting career)  so I found it extraordinarily easy to write in that format. It certainly sharpened my skills at writing dialogue. Along the way, I discovered that ten minute plays were very popular and for me, easy and fun to write. 

In another life I must have been a forensics detective because, as a hobby, I love murder, gore, forensics and clues. Characters come first for me when writing and one day Detectives Jack O’Roarke and Stella Garcia popped into my head. They were fully formed and rarin’-ta-go!  (World of Murder).

My advice to writers? If you’re just starting out, tell a story you know . You can always research a topic that you don’t know anything about but your writing will take longer, because you must get it right.  Keep writing!

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Look Inside ~~ How.To.Write.A.Play/Journal

                                                                                   Introduction

I created this journal/workbook to encourage other playwrights to pursue their dreams.  It doesn’t matter that you are just beginning your journey as a writer. Whatever your level of writing may be I have tried to create a journal for the playwright inside all of us. Perhaps you have been journaling for years and want to try your hand at a stage script.  Or you are a more experienced writer and need a little inspiration to get you started on your next project. Regardless of your experience, I hope you find this journal encouraging and a safe place to store your characters, your story outlines, and your private ideas for future plays.

Only when I began to write seriously did I come to realize that I had been writing my entire adult life.  But back then I considered it just ‘scribbling’. 

A thought I didn’t want to forget, or a feeling I had to capture.  Or a phrase that I was inspired by. I have written over fifty plays of all lengths. 30 of these are short, often ten minute, plays for teens in the classroom. No sets, no props, no costumes. Being an actor and then a director (in a past life) I have read hundreds of scripts and I urge you to do the same. It’s great research on being a better playwright.

But most important, have fun. Stop to enjoy the process. You will stumble and fall. If you write something that is bad, remember, that’s what re-writes are for!   

                                                              Table of Contents

                          Section 1…How to Begin…                                                           

                          Section 2…How to Write a Play…                                          

                          Section 3…Creating Rich Characters…                             

                         Section 4…Story Telling                                                           

                          Section 5… Protagonist, Antagonist, Conflict  

                          Section 6… How to Block…                                                   

                          Section 7… Snappy Dialogue…                                            

                          Section 8… Set Design…                                                         

                           Section 9… Formatting your Play…                                  

                         Section 10.… Terminology…                                   

 

 

The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug.

Mark Twain

How to Begin

   To stare at a blank page or screen this is the scariest thing of all and sometimes causes a writer to give up before they have begun. Ray Bradbury said, “Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.”   Forget for a moment about writing a Tony award winning stage play. Begin with the first outline of your story.  Don’t let people tell you it starts with the first word that’s just silly. Practice writing that first piece of dialogue. For example:

SAM. (Pulling the stranger out of the street.) Watch out! Didn’t you see that bus bearing down on you?

JANE. (Clinging to his arm.) No. I wasn’t thinking I didn’t see thank you.

And…

BILL. (Sitting at the steel table.) What the hell am I doing here? What was I thinking visiting a convicted killer?’

And…

VIOLET. (Laughing and clinging to the hand strap.) Slow down, Al! You’re gonna kill us. BUTCH. Shut your pie-hole, Vi. That Sheriff is hot on my bumper.

And…

BRITTANY. (Sitting in a waiting room and muttering.) My first audition since I hit Hollywood and what if I fail?

BRET. (Standing in the doorway.) Ms. Jones? We’re ready for you.

And…

TONY. (Cringing behind his desk.) Don’t read that, Mr. Nelson. The poem’s not finished. JOANIE. (Sighing, murmurs to herself.) He’s so handsome. He doesn’t even see me. I wish I was as pretty as Mary Jane.

                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 You have an idea for a play in your mind.  Write down the first idea.  Write two ideas that are different.  Now choose the one that is your best idea.  Ideally, the first few lines of a play should capture the audience from the first utterance. This will launch your writing and your play. 

 Be certain that the main characters are well developed before you get too far into the dialogue (See Section 3.) 

 This is the chapter for ‘character building and character analysis.   Use this chapter to not only develop your characters but to jot down your observations of real people that you’ve seen and heard.

         Listen to people. Notice how they speak; the cadence of their speech, the slang that they use. 

               I can only tell you how my stories come to me.  I’m certain it’s different for everyone.

An idea will pop into my mind.  For several days it will germinate and then it starts to write itself.  When my brain is full of ideas, dialogue, and people I have to sit down at my keyboard and transfer it.

 Do not feel as though you must have a whole script ready to write.  I’d never get anything written if I put that kind of pressure on myself.   My hope is that you find this work book/ journal helpful in that way.

                    Now, write the first few lines of dialogue for your first or newest script here:

“A will finds a way.” Orison Swett Marden

Following each section are blank, lined pages for you to write on, experiment with ideas, and practice dialogue. Each  blank page is embedded with a famous quote to inspire you on the road to becoming a playwright. 

                                                                                                                                            “When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m  thirsty, I drink.                                                                                                                                                                                   When I feel like  saying something, I say it.” Madonna

                                                                               

“An actor without a playwright is like a hole without a

doughnut.”  George Jean Nathan

 

To See More Pages, Click Here 

 

There’s another journal/handbook for creative writers, covering fiction, playwriting, poetry and much more.

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LOOK Inside

Maybe you journal and are looking for a simple, easy to use journal for your daily entries. Blank, lined pages with inspiring quotes from famous people to keep you writing. 

Look Inside

(MORE)

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Author, Joram Piatigorsky (part 3)

           Q. What makes a writer great?

JP.  What makes a great anything? Perhaps confidence stashed somewhere in the brain, talent, work, work, work, persistence coupled with a big dose of luck, and not trying to be great. Being authentic, having courage to reveal.

It’s interesting that you asked what makes a writer great, not what makes a great book. I guess that means a great writer can be the source of ideas and insights, like Socrates perhaps, who was, thanks to Plato, a great writer who didn’t publish. Leonardo di Vinci too in a way: he had thousands of pages of unpublished notes about all sorts of ideas, but never published them. Was he a great writer?

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

JP. That’s a hard question and forces the difficult, subjective issue of when is enough? There’s always more that can be done. The choice of when to wrap it up is subjective. Of course, in today’s world, a book is only truly “finished” when it’s published, and that generally doesn’t occur without changes by editors and publishers after submission. Thus, even an accepted manuscript is probably not “finished” until published.

A “no book” is different. Obviously when it’s still an idea it’s not a book. The same may be true when the author has more to write and hasn’t finished it. But what if it is a complete manuscript, but not accepted for publication, and then rejected multiple times and remains in a desk drawer? Is that a “book”? I think so, but still…there’s some question about how to define a “book.” If a science article claims to make a discovery but is not published, it’s not really a discovery in the sense that the discovery would be credited to someone else who had similar published conclusions. Unpublished science is not “finished.” I know all this is semantics in a way, but from a practical point of view, publication is important to move a “no book” to a “finished” book.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JP. My life experiences and family have had major influences on my writing, as I’ve discussed above. I became a scientist from exposure to art, which influenced my view of science as a form of self-expression, not just a search for practical contributions. And then, moving from science after many years to writing took me some time to “loosen” my writing, not explain too much, let the reader in. My science background was an obstacle to overcome in that sense. On the other hand, my seeing the world scientifically probably has helped me organize my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JP. Downtime? What’s that? No, seriously, it’s hard for me to put my mind in neutral. However, when I do take a writing break, I don’t worry about it and just enjoy my free time, whatever that is – seeing friends, going to movies, traveling, seeing my kids (2 boys and their wives) and grandkids (3 girls, 2 boys), the usual, guilt free.

I love movies and often learn from them about writing. The camera work is like exposition, the dialogue about character, and I think of how the director “hooked” me immediately and then kept my attention (or didn’t). It’s all like writing, with an added twist: I see the result in a short time span.

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

JP. I have written in different genres. First it was science, for years, hundreds of articles, as I described above. Then a novel, short stories, a memoir and now essays extracted from blogs. I never wrote a play and I doubt I will. But who knows? I like crossing boundaries. It’s always challenging and a learning experience. It’s somewhat how I feel about teaching: it’s a great way to learn an area!

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

JP. That’s not a question, it’s the platform for a novel. Three lessons are: It’s never over unless I quit; An authentic voice is the only voice that matters; Wasting time is almost impossible, since everything I do or think comes back in some form to make me who I am and what I write.

Here’s the link to the beginning of this WONDERFUL Interview
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
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An Interview with Author, Joram Piatigorsky (part 2)

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

JP. Good question. I think I discover my characters in combination with when a story comes to mind. The story usually comes to me by having an idea – almost an image – nothing more, of what I want the story to be about. For example, I had the idea that I wanted to write a story about a man whose favorite activity was standing in line. Crazy, I know. The story is called The Open Door and it’s about a man who lives vicariously hearing the experiences of others in line. That was the character in mind that came essentially with the story idea. He is timid and struggling with the conflict of who he is, himself or a product of everyone else.

The protagonist of my novel, Jellyfish Have Eyes, is an Argentinean scientist who studied jellyfish eyes (yes, jellyfish do have eyes and I have published several research papers on them). My protagonist, Ricardo Sztein, is partly my alter-ego in a world of science, mixed with large doses of fantasy as well as issues about basic science — the world I inhabited for so many years. It’s the classic first novel – one with autobiographical meaning.

The characters from my latest short story collection, Notes Going Underground, are pure fantasy. The character in the title story gives a eulogy to himself as he watches his live body slip into the coffin at his side. He developed as I wrote, and he changed personality a bit this way and that as the story unfolded. This story also includes a question of identity, as well as the fantasy of a porous nature between life and death. So, there is no one way that I create my characters: They are all a part of me, but none completely me. They are also my imagination, and sometimes have a foil for contrast and sharp relief.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JP. Although a science major at college, I loved literature courses and took quite a few and wrote a bit, ideas and such. While science dominated my life, I still liked writing, so I was prolific writing science. Then, at 46 and fully engaged as a scientist, I started writing a short story on vacation in Maine and loved creating an imaginary world. On returning home, I took writing workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, kept writing, more and more, and here I am, a writer.

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

JP. Interesting question. I think the characters come to me first since they are all embedded in me in some form or other and I can’t run away from myself. Then, the story or situations I put them in follow from who they are.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JP. Yes, on good days. Sometimes, however, my mind just doesn’t click and it’s a struggle to write anything I like. I think it’s important when that happens to not to push it, when to take a break and do something else. But on the good days, writing is like quicksand. I sink and get absorbed, time suspends, and I forget to take a break now and then. I just write. I love when that happens.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

JP. I have blogged on my website and on Facebook for the last four years. The blogs are disorganized ideas, free associations in a way, about writing, creativity, personal experiences, Inuit art, whatever. I thought of the blogs as a foundation to expand and develop later. Now I’m at home sheltered in self-quarantine like the rest of the world, which gives me time to do just that. I’m putting together my collected thoughts in organized short essays grouped in themes. It’s coming along. Stay tuned.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JP. I began to write seriously when I returned from a vacation in Maine, where I wrote my first (very) short story. I loved doing that and wanted to continue. However, science still sapped my time when I returned, so I only wrote short pieces now and then, in cracks of time as I called it, nothing with publishing in mind. I also took writing workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, for about 10 years, until I closed my research laboratory to devote my time to writing. It’s been ten years since then and I keep writing.

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

JP. Certainly not in my lifetime (I’m 80!). But I think paper books will continue for a long time. There’s nothing quite like a tangible book that can be held and read. I read electronically from time to time, but I don’t like it. It’s not the same as holding the “real” book. They last generations and are not dependent on the operating system in vogue at the time. I can’t imagine we would have the dead sea scrolls if it were only as an ebook!

Don’t Miss Part 3 of this Fascinating Interview ~~ May 29th
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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Book Review ~~ Robert B. Parker’s Grudge Match

reviews, authors, writing  reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing    4 out of 5  quills      ~~  Book Review   

 

This reviewer is a big fan of Robert B. Parker but I  hadn’t  read  a Sunny Randall story  in  about ten years. Grudge Match was an excellent way to get reacquainted with Sunny. 

Sunny is hired by one of her nemesis, gangsta’, Tony Marcus. His business (criminal enterprises) partner has disappeared and he needs to find her. All the old characters are back; Susan Silverman, Spike, Junior, Ty Bop, Jesse Stone and Molly Crane, just to name a few. 

There’s a sub-plot involving Sunny’s ex-husband, Richie, that nicely breaks up the through-line of crime, murder and mayhem. Richie becomes,almost over night, the awkward step-father to a endearing, wise (beyond his tender years) boy, Richard. Completely unprepared he sucks Sunny into a sometime auntie/babysitter role. 

Mike Lupica, the writer, does a superb job of continuing this series. The writing is total Robert B. Parker and Mike doesn’t miss a beat. 
Enjoyable story and I was delighted to, once again, run the streets with Sunny Randall .

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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Books by Trisha Sugarek

 

 

 

Interview with Author and molecular biologist , Joram Piatigorsky

Joram Piatigorsky penned his first novel, Jellyfish Have Eyes, following a distinguished career in scientific research at the National Eye Institute. He went on to author an autobiography, The Speed of Dark, in which he describes the influence and expectations of his exceptional parents – world-renowned cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, who had escaped the pogroms in Russia, and Jacqueline de Rothschild, a Parisian heiress.

Joram’s parents fled France just days before the outbreak of World War II and weeks ahead of his birth. As the family’s first American citizen, he set out to find his own identity and voice while honoring his heritage, pursuing a career in science and as a writer.

His newest collection of short stories, Notes Going Underground  and an earlier collection, The Open Door, and Other Tales of Love & Yearning  are published by Adelaide Books. Both were illustrated by award-winning Spanish artist Ismael Carrillo.

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.

JP. I write in my study downstairs surrounded by my Inuit art collection, which energizes me, but also can be distracting. Large windows let the outside in, so to speak, and look out on the lawn, flowering trees (depends on the season) and woods; I see deer roaming, several foxes coming and going, squirrels galore and many types of birds. I don’t need blank space for my imagination to roam and concentrate. My space is what I’m writing.

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.)

JP. I don’t have any special rituals that I follow before or while I write. I do try to keep my desk and surroundings somewhat neat. A messy place tends to make my mind messy too. As for dress: Sometimes I’m in regular clothes, sometimes exercise garb, but not pajamas. I leave those upstairs in my bedroom. Physical discipline helps me, as uninspiring as that sounds. When I start to write I typically go over what I wrote the last few days. The problem is that when I start looking over what I wrote yesterday I can’t help rewriting. That slows my progress, of course, but I can’t help it. I’m always rewriting, even in my mind once it’s published!

Before I quit writing for the day, I often remember what I read Hemingway did: Stop when I have an idea to explore. If I follow that advice, I can play with whatever my ideas are overnight, let them expand or shrink, mature, and I’m not stuck on how to start the next day. It doesn’t always work! Nothing always works.

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

JP. Readers of my memoir, The Speed of Dark, know, I never feel fully at home in one world or another. I live in two mental universes. I was conceived in France with my mother Jacqueline de Rothschild, the daughter of the Rothschild French banking dynasty famous for their art collections among other things, and my father Gregor Piatigorsky, the renowned Russian 20th century cellist who lived through pogroms and escaped the Bolshevik Revolution as a teenager. My parents and 2-year-old sister eluded Hitler on September 3, 1939, the day France and England declared war on Germany, and made it to America. Whew, just in time! I was born the first American citizen in my family six months later in upstate New York and raised speaking French before English, with a European outlook. So, to some extent, I feel American in Europe and European in America. It’s not by fluke that my publisher, Stevan Nikolic of AdelaideBooks is Serbian married to a Portuguese woman, lives in New York and Lisbon, and publishes in both places.

My family and lineage were entrenched in art and knew nothing of science, yet I became a research scientist studying evolution and gene expression. Thus, I have always felt split between being a scientist by profession and an artist by temperament and family roots. After 50 years of science I switched to writing fiction, memoir and essays, another world to inhabit where I can express my artistic bent.

Inuit art

So, what else might you not know? Thirty years ago, I fell in love with Inuit art and have amassed a major collection of Inuit sculptures, so add that to my several worlds. And, oh yes, I played tournament tennis in Los Angeles growing up and took that very seriously, so there’s another world I experienced. … As I said: I’m a chimeric person, so to speak.

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

JP. I prefer to write in the mornings when I’m fresh and my mind works better. Later in the afternoon is less productive for me, but I still often trudge on anyway.

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

A. I hesitate to advise writers about procrastination or anything else, since, when I give advice, I’m really telling what has worked for me, not what they should do. And what do I do about procrastination? I force myself to write. Procrastination for me usually means I let other things interfere with my writing, so I do my best to put writing first and procrastinate the other stuff. I believe that procrastination often reflects that I don’t know what to write, not that I don’t want to write, so I’ll start and let the work bring the muse rather than have the muse stimulate the work. When I’m stuck in front of a blank screen, I’ll write something, almost anything, to get going and often keep at it even when I know it’s not quite right.

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

Join us for part 2 of this Interview on May 21th
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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How To Write Poetry (Isolation Series)

Poetry is created in much the same way as other genres of writing. Something will trigger my poetic side. It might be a crushed carnation on a hot, asphalt parking lot or the combination of smells from the biting snow air to a bonfire. The call of a wild bird or a memory from childhood. I begin with the first line of the poem. Duh! Perhaps I won’t write the second line for several days. I can’t stress this enough; it’s okay if that happens.
Nothing else in the writer’s world is more from their soul than poetry. Yes, there is structure that should be adhered to (Haiku) (Sestina) but the creation of words should originate from the soul. Flowing like life’s blood from the heart.
I include here other types/forms of poetry and their disciplines. What is the difference between a sonnet and an epigram? A canzone and a narrative? Every poet is attracted to different styles. Why don’t you try one?
All of my poetry is limited to free verse or Haiku and Renku. This is where my soul sings and my heart beats. 
Start with free verse so you are not hindered by strict rules of construction, (see below). 

ABC: A poem that has five lines and creates a mood, picture, or feeling. Lines 1 through 4 are made up of words, phrases or clauses while the first word of each line is in alphabetical order. Line 5 is one sentence long and begins with any letter.
Ballad: A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tale or legend which often has a repeated refrain.
Ballade: Poetry which has three stanzas of seven, eight or ten lines and a shorter final stanza
of four or five. All stanzas end with the same one line refrain.
Blank verse: A poem written in unrhymed iambic pentameter and is often unobtrusive. The iambic pentameter form often resembles the rhythms of speech.
Burlesque: Poetry that treats a serious subject as humor.
Canzone: Medieval Italian lyric style poetry with five or six stanzas and a shorter ending stanza.
Carpe diem: Latin expression that means ‘seize the day.’ Carpe diem poems have a theme of living for today.
Cinquain: Poetry with five lines. Line 1 has one word (the title). Line 2 has two words that describe the title. Line 3 has three words that tell the action. Line 4 has four words that express the feeling, and line 5 has one word which recalls the title.
Couplet: This type of poem is two lines which may be rhymed or unrhymed.
Dramatic monologue: A type of poem which is spoken to a listener.
Elegy: A sad and thoughtful poem about the death of an individual.
Epigram: A very short, ironic and witty poem usually written as a brief couplet or quatrain.
Haiku: A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five morae, with three sets. Usually containing a season word.
Horatian ode: Short lyric poem written in two or four-line stanzas, each with its the same metrical pattern, often addressed to a friend and deal with friendship, love and the practice of poetry. It is named after its creator, Horace.
Idyll: Poetry that either depicts a peaceful, idealized country scene or a long poem telling a story about heroes of a bye gone age.
Lay: A long narrative poem, especially one that was sung by medieval minstrels.
Limerick: A short sometimes vulgar, humorous poem consisting of five anapestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 have seven to ten syllables, rhyme and have the same verbal rhythm. The 3rd and 4th lines have five to seven syllables, rhyme and have the same rhythm.
Narrative: A poem that tells a story.
Ode: A lengthy lyric poem typically of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanza structure.
Pastoral: A poem that depicts rural life in a peaceful, romanticized way.
Quatrain: A stanza or poem consisting of four lines. Lines 2 and 4 must rhyme while having a similar number of syllables.
Rhyme: A rhyming poem has the repetition of the same or similar sounds of two or more words, often at the end of the line.
Rondeau: A lyrical poem of French origin having 10 or 13 lines with two rhymes and with the opening phrase repeated twice as the refrain.
Senryu: A short Japanese style poem, similar to haiku in structure that treats human beings rather than nature: Often in a humorous or satiric way.
Sestina: A poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in varied order as end words in the other stanzas and also recur in the envoy.
Shakespearean: A 14-line sonnet consisting of three quatrains of abab cdcd efef followed by a couplet, gg. Shakespearean sonnets generally use iambic pentameter.
Sonnet: A lyric poem that consists of 14 lines which usually have one or more conventional rhyme schemes.
Tanka: A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the other seven.

test

Terza Rima: A type of poetry consisting of 10 or 11 syllable lines arranged in three-line tercets.
Verse: A single metrical line of poetry.

Free verse by yours truly:

Windstill © 

Subtle silence
Windstill
trees await the next
message on the air

Windstill
not a whisper of birdsong
not a leaf-rustle intrudes
it falls
fluttering to the ground

The wind has departed
beyond the next hill
leaving in its wake
Windstill

Will it return? The breeze
dancing amongst the leaves
to the tune of the forest

Shall the still wind haunt
amongst the trees?
or come roaring back, shrieking?
Windstill

Renku

Ruin © (Haiku)

The barn, sad and old
forgotten still standing strong
cob webs in sun beams

recycled boards raped
floor torn away, back bone gone
dust haze dance in light

the barn sad, noble
survives the last season proud
the roof falls, barn death

Did you Miss my Other Isolation Writing Ideas?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Books by Trisha Sugarek