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From Samurai Warrior to Haiku Poetry (Nostalgia #14)

As I swiveled around in my office chair I faced the back wall of my office and stared unseeing at a (manually) typed letter from James Clavell dated June, 1971. Clavell being the author of the classic and world renowned, ‘SHOGUN‘. (for you poor pathetic illiterate readers out there who have never read this classic or heard of James Clavell.)  The letter was a response to my asking him for more information on the word ‘joss’ and how it was used in ancient Japan. He responded with my answer and an invitation for us to sail up through the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island and his home.  WOW! 

‘SHOGUN‘ began my love affair with Samurai Japan and the history of ancient Japan.  The Samurai, a military caste in feudal Japan, began as provincial warriors before rising to power in the 12th century with the beginning of the country’s first military dictatorship, known as the shogunate. They continue to rise to great power, known for their superb fighting skills, their unwavering loyalty, and (oddly)  their poetry.  I became a student of this warrior class for over two decades. Searching out and reading their Haiku and Renku writings. 

I was fascinated by the fact that these fierce, bloodied, bigger-than-life warriors who dedicated their lives to their lord and war could, in turn, write delicate, tender poetry. So delicate you felt as though the paper the poetry was written on would crumble if you held it too tightly. So tender your heart wept at the reading.  

One day; I don’t know which day or what prompted me, I wrote my first Haiku. And as they say, the rest is history.  I have written Haiku for over three decades, published three books of poetry. 

It is a wonderful exercise in brevity and translates over to your other writings. Helping you to cut away the excess, the fluff in your writing. And if you write enough of this poetry, the fluff in your writing will never appear in the first place. 

The Garden

I wander my blooms
the morning sun barely peeks
above the far hills
~~Trisha Sugarek

Samurai Song (Renku)
                                                                                                                                                   
delicate blossom                                                                                                                       
rests in the still gnarled hand                                                                                                                              
bruised petals weep tears                                                       

weary eyes open
tiny cuts, the body bleeds
peace still years away

sun rise breaks the hill
heralds another battle
draw your sword and charge
~~Trisha Sugarek

If you want to try writing some Haiku, click here

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Inspiration Comes in All Forms

  chilren's theatre, children's plays, fairy tales, inspiration, actors You find inspiration in the strangest places.   I was dedicated to writing scripts for the stage.   A few years back, I attended this production of my children’s play, Emma and the Lost Unicorn, outside of Boston .

After the actors had their curtain calls, the Director told them that if they changed out of their costumes and did their assigned tasks back stage, they could ‘have some time with  Trisha’.

So I found myself holding impromptu stage craft classes with these adorable young actors (age 5–18).  I was struck how serious they were about their craft.  Their questions were very sophisticated.  And then it happened……the inspiration to dare to write something completely out of my comfort zone…..a book.

children's theatre, plays for kids, writing, stage plays,

Emma

The  youngest ones begged me to write the stories from my scripts into storybook form.  They wanted to have Emma, Stare, Cheets, and Stanley in their personal libraries.  Six children’s books, a mystery series and three novels later I have found a new outlet for my story fairy tales, dragons, books for children, children's playstelling.  These children, who knew no fear, gave me enough courage to try chapter books, poetry, and becoming a novelist. Experimental at times, risky at times, scary, but so rewarding.
 
I was lucky and had a head start using my stage plays as a story outline as I adapted them to story book form.  But for my true crime series and the novels, I was flying solo….staring at a blank screen, typing that first sentence (that I am always talking about). 

   So step out of your comfort zone and try writing in a different format… it’s very liberating and you might surprise yourself.  I did!
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Book 1 in series

 

 

 

Book Review ~~ The Raffle Baby

 5 out of 5 stars ~~~~ Book Review

 

This is one of those rare books where the reviewer wants to give it ten, no, a hundred, no, two thousand stars!  The writing is stunning. Ruth Talbot has a delicate, beautiful usage of words that we mortal writers can only dream of for ourselves. 

And her words craft a wonderful story. Griping, grim, tragic at times, nostalgic and loving. About friendship, perseverance, crushing hardship, with no real happy ending.  Talbot takes us tramping across this great nation of ours during one of the bleakest times in our history. The Great Depression. I, for one, never imagined that children….yes, you heard me correctly….children were cast out into the world to join the thousands of ‘hoboes‘ who jumped on and off trains and used them as their only transportation. Following work and seasonal harvests in order to not starve to death. 

Beautiful writing….a book you’ll want to take your time with. Mulling over a turn of phrase in the prose if you are a ‘English literature’ buff….or view, in your mind’s eye, the stunning visuals Talbot paints for her readers. 

This appears to be Talbot’s debut novel and we can only hope that she is working on her next one.  
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Buckle-bunny

Another pair of cowboy boots
beneath my bed
banishing dreams of
a permanent man
right out of my head

They call me a buckle-bunny
but that sets low the bar
for at the end of the night
I take home the rodeo star

He rides wild horses
and even wilder bulls 
I lap him up by the mouthfuls

Lust curls in my belly
when I spy the champion buckle
his laughter is sweet as honeysuckle

An aging buckle-bunny is what I see
until the next cowboy smiles at me
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With years of practice writing Haiku, Renku (and prose) poetry, I feel as though I have acquired some skill. Because that is what it takes, practice.  The more you do anything the better you become. This my first attempt, ever, at ‘rhyming poetry’.  For two consecutive mornings I had lain in my bed, between that creative space of half-sleep and wakefulness.  The poem swirling around and around until it distilled to this and I had to write it down. (for better or for worse.)

The biggest reason that “rhyming poetry” has fallen out of favor is that it is often forced and unnatural. … To the ear, it will sound more like internal rhyme (but to the eye it will appear as some form of end rhyme). In a good rhyming poem, the reader might not even realize it is rhyming poem (until later).  (Unknown. From the Internet.)      If I accomplished this, dear reader, it was by pure accident. 

The title: A young country-western song writer made up this term and it caught my fancy.  She meant it as a name for the groupies that follow the rodeo and its cowboys.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Gautet
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Conclusion: Interview with Regency Author, Jennie Goutet

Author, Jennie Goutet

Q. What makes a writer great?

JG. There is natural talent, of course. But I think what makes a writer great is being able to handle critique and to incorporate the good critiques into future works – to constantly learn and grow in the craft.

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

JG. I get a rough idea and write a few chapters that I love. Then I crash and don’t know what to do next so I call my development editor and we talk through the ideas. I write a really skeletal first draft and hate it. Then read through and think it’s not quite so bad. I get my critique partners to have a look and take their advice. I edit again then send it to the developmental editor in completed form (or at least at 80%). I edit again on the computer then on paper and send it to the line editor. I edit again with her changes and do text to voice to catch repeats or strange wording. Then I read it on my kindle to see it as a reader would before sending it to the proof editor. In the final stages, I send it to early readers who catch all the typos and other mistakes no one else caught. Then it’s ready to go out.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JG. I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’m curious about human nature. I observe. I’ve suffered from the darker things like grief and depression. I’ve known wild joy and adventure. I think my characters come to life from what I’ve experienced.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JG. This is a weakness of mine. I do not have down time. I work all day on writing or the other aspects of the business (marketing, social media, production, translation, audio), then make dinner and listen to my teens talk about their day. On the weekend I’m doing ministry stuff. (We serve the teen ministry). I know this is just a phase, though – these teen years – so I’m okay with it. I really enjoy reading in bed at night. And we go away a few times a year, which is great. Sometimes I take a walk by the Seine river, or visit a friend, or go into Paris, but there is no regular downtime.

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

JG. I’ve written contemporary romance. A Noble Affair was my first novel and it’s not the finest in terms of literature but it was good practice for a full-length fiction work. And A Sweetheart in Paris is a decent book, I think, but it hasn’t attracted much attention. I’ve written a memoir as well, Stars Upside Down. I think if I were to switch genres I wouldn’t stray far. Georgian or Victorian as opposed to Regency. But I really love what I write.

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

A. Well, this won’t be relatable to everyone, but my main life’s lesson is that when I draw my last breath my books won’t matter. Only my relationship to God will. So I need to make sure that success doesn’t go to my head and that failure doesn’t destroy me. I am just God’s kid, and He’ll make sure I have all I need.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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A Little Haiku

Flat Busted

broke down in Tucson
flat-busted, him punchin’ cows
and her slingin’ hash

Haiku (c) by Trisha Sugarek ~~  More Haiku

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Gautet
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Friday Refreshment

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately. Another self-help book for my readers and fans. Trying to share the practical, no-nonsense tips that others forget or don’t think to share. My approach being down-to-earth, pragmatic, and helpful (I hope). That which has grown out of my years…no… decades of creating books. Starting from scratch, like you, not knowing the first thing.

So I find myself weary after putting the final touches on this book, just newly released on Amazon.
I frequently go to Charles Bukowski for renewal, for refilling my tanks. Strange but true. So thumbing through my much read copy of The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain I came across this:

help wanted and received ©
I’m stale sitting here
At this typewriter, the door open on my little balcony
When suddenly there is a roar in the sky,
Bruckner shouts back from
poet, wisdom, Charles BukowskiThe radio and then the rain comes down glorious and violent,
And I realize that it’s good that the world
Can explode this way because now I am renewed, listening and watching as
Droplets of rain splash on my wristwatch.
The torrent of rain clears my brain and my spirit ads a long line of blue lightning splits the night sky.
I smile inside, remembering that someone once said, “I’d rather be lucky than good,” and
I quickly think, “I’d rather be lucky and good”
As tonight as Bruckner sets the tone as the hard rain continues to fall
As another blue streak of lightning explodes in the sky
I’m grateful that for the moment I’m both.

Today I am lucky and good!

Did you miss my Interview with Bukowski?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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To Write or Not to Write….more Dialogue…more Description?

(Some posts deserve another airing. Thought I’d share this again from July, 2013)
Most of the authors that I have interviewed are avid readers like myself.  We seem to all agree that is what makes us better writers.   I was reading Caroline Leavitt’s,  ‘Is This Tomorrow’  and it struck me how very different our writing styles are.  Caroline writes pages of beautiful, meaningful description with a few lines of dialogue.  Much like Edna Ferber did.

My fiction has tons of dialogue (probably as a result of my being a playwright) and just enough description to set the time, location and who my characters are.  I have to repeatedly check myself to make certain that I am giving my readers enough description.

Why am I telling you about this?  I need to be sure that you realize that there is no WRONG way.  If you tend to write in story telling form, a narrative, that’s great!  If, like me, you write a lot of dialogue and let that method tell the reader what your characters are doing, what the weather is like, who just showed up at the house, who she/he is in love with, who died, (well, you get the idea).  That’s okay too.

Aspire to write better every day….but don’t worry about your ‘style’, if it turns out that an author you really respect writes differently than you do.  It’s a DIFFERENT style but that doesn’t mean that your writing style is wrong.  Or that their writing is right.  It’s just about style, and what we feel comfortable writing.

If you are more a descriptive writer be certain that you keep your paragraphs short.  Don’t ramble on and on in one paragraph.  The eye of the reader needs a rest.  

 

 And double, triple check your grammar!   

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Available Now!

Want To Publish Your Book?

NEWLY RELEASED!      I’ve just finished some final editing on my latest “How To…” book and it is now available on Amazon.com and all other book outlets.

I’ve tried to create a handbook that will lead the writer, step-by-step through the self-publishing world.  Topics such as picking the right size for your book to advice on choosing a title. Manuscript formatting tips to  recommending self-publishing programs. From royalties to creating a dynamic cover for your book. And much, much more.  

This book is available at your favorite book store and on-line. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Gautet
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A Study in Elegant Writing ~~ Book Review

  5 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review

We can all agree that historic, Victorian romances are a dime a dozen. Some writers are better than others and the market place doesn’t seem to care. Unless, of course, the reader stumbles upon Jennie Goutet (as I did). 

Ms. Goutet writes with an uninterrupted elegant flow. She never drops out of the genre with a more modern turn of phrase or word. The formality of this period deserves a formal treatment when writing the story. It takes great talent to never break the flow, never break the cadence or flavor. And until you have read Jennie Goutet, Grace Burrowes, and Mimi Matthews, the reader will not notice the glaring difference. 

Selena Lockhart comes with neither dowry nor connections, and she knows better than to expect Society to give her a welcome—especially after her father gambled away his fortune, precipitating the family’s sudden fall from grace and Selena’s betrothed to break off their engagement. It therefore comes as no surprise that her new neighbor, Sir Lucius, treats her with disdain. Why should he look beyond appearances when her own promises so little?
 

A Fall From Grace was a speculative purchase on my part, having never read anything by this author.  I am so relieved that I didn’t miss this author or this book. I look forward to reading some of her other books, which I have on order. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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