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So Long, Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Review)

5 out of 5 stars           Book Review

 

Spoiler Alert:  In order to write a formal review (which would include telling a little about this fascinating story), it would be riddled with “spoiler alert” warnings.  So I won’t.

Instead, I want to write about this author’s uncanny talent for concepts.  She writes about people, everyday people, about life, and how messy it is.  It may not be a conscious thought, but somewhere inside you, you are wondering, ‘How did she come up with this concept for a story?’ 

In my interview with Catherine, she addresses how she comes up with her stories:

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

CRH. When I have finished a novel and turned it over to my agent, I know I need a new idea. I open up to a new idea, and I meet a character. I generally see a glimpse of them, having some sort of life experience. Then I spend a few weeks in my head, with nothing down on paper yet, coaxing them to tell me more. (end quote)

That’s what I tell my writers (fans); to keep their eyes and ears open because you may get a mere glimpse of your next character. Just waiting there, in the shadows,  for you, so they can tell you their story. 

But I digress.  If you have never read another book, be certain to read So Long Chester Wheeler. It’s a distillation of everything that’s so wonderful and horrid about the humane species. Beautifully written. Like Catherine examines each word to make sure it’s worthy to be in her story before she lays it down.  And, as with most of her books, there are lots of surprises, plot twists and turns the reader never sees coming. 
This author is everything we mere mortal writers should aspire to be.  Sharpen your pencils!!  

Available now at your favorite book store!

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

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Marc Cameron ~~ Author Interview (conclusion)

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

MC. Not in my lifetime. Too many people I know, including me, love the feel of a physical book.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MC. I wish I knew… An ear for a good story? Insatiable curiosity? Persistence, for sure. I will say, though, that there are a lot of great stories out there that still haven’t seen the light of day for one reason or another.

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

MC. I start with a lot of plotting talks with my wife and adult kids, bouncing ideas and scenarios off hem. I do a lot of freewriting, exploring various plot ideas. Then I take that free writing and distill it into scenes. That goes onto a computer. Then I work through those scenes, usually in order. If I’m going fishing or camping, I’ll take pencils and paper and work on a few of the scenes while I’m away. I try to get 2,000 words a day but some days I do 1,000 and others I may do 4,000. I have a large whiteboard in my office that I use to get the big picture of the plot, POVs, and to make sure I’m writing about the correct time zone when I’m jumping from one locale to another halfway around the world—IE it can’t be morning in Boston and Beijing at the same time. I’m a detailed plotter, but I still deviate from my outline all the time. It’s a guide, not law. My wife reads everything when I’m done. I submit to my editor when I get the nod from her.

New Release Dec 6th

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MC. I’ve been fortunate to do some interesting things, work with some stellar people, and have some incredible adventures. The nature of work with the Marshals Service might have me in New York City working a protection detail on a Supreme Court Justice or in deep in bush Alaska tracking a fugitive through the woods. Both my sons were in law enforcement for a time. One of them still is. My eldest son is a physician in the military. My daughter and my youngest son share my love of motorcycles. I’m able to pick their brains and benefit from their experiences as well as my own. The bad, even harrowing experiences like violent fights, evil people, and horrific crime scenes can’t help but inform my writing.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

MC. There has been a lot less of that lately. I love motorcycles, boats, all things outdoors, and I love spending time with my grandkids. Teaching my grandkids about nature and tracking is one of my favorite ways to spend time. They’re inspiring and often end up in the books in one form or another.

Cook Islands

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

MC. As I mentioned, I spent a lot of times around horses and cowboys and a youngster, so when it came time to try and seriously write a novel, a Western vernacular came naturally to my pen. I wrote several while I was still with the Marshals Service. Some were ghostwritten for another author. TO HELL AND BEYOND, is a compendium of two of them are under my earlier pen name, Mark Henry.

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

MC. Noticing that I wasted a great deal of time being social when I had more important things to do, my freshman college theater professor took me aside and gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. “Marc,” he said. “You will never amount to your full potential unless you learn to use those little fifteen-minute segments of time that most people waste.” I took him at his word—and have written a lot of books in airports, on planes, or in waiting rooms. One of the reasons, I think, why I like to write longhand.

Did you miss the Beginning?
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Interview with Horror Author, Kevin Kennedy (conclusion)

Kevin out on pizza night

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

KK. Nope. Paperbacks have outlasted radio, tv, cd players, Netflix, and all other forms of entertainment. I am a big fan of Kindle but I still have around a thousand paperback/hardbacks.

Q. What makes a writer great?

KK. Knowing how to entertain a reader. Every author has their own style and writes in their own genre or sub-genres. No matter what you want to write, if it doesn’t entertain the reader, they will find something better to read.

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

KK. Stress, worry, giving up, picking it up again. Starting multiple projects in between. Writing short stories for other anthologies when I don’t have time. Getting back to it. Finally getting to an endpoint. Formatting it. Sending it out for edits then proofreading, then publishing it.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

KK. Writing has to feel real and I’m not one for spending hours researching things so I tend to write about stuff I know about. I may warp the experience and change it but I will be knowledgeable about it.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

KK. Downtime? Na, I tend to chill with my wife, go out for lunch or dinner, snuggle up with my cats and watch something on Netflix. Visit my mum or take her out shopping. I live a quite life now and I like it that way.

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

KK. Pretty much Horror or Bizarro. I occasionally slip into gangster type crime with a horror element.

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

A. Do what works for you. The best advice might not suit you personally. Read the guidelines to wherever you are going to sub. Editors often ignore anything that falls outside of the guidelines for subs. Don’t wait on a response before starting something new. Keep working, keep sending your work out, and remember, it’s supposed to be fun. Don’t take rejections too personally. Re-sub it somewhere else. What one person doesn’t like, another may enjoy.

Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

Interview with Horror author, Kevin Kennedy

 Kevin J. Kennedy is a horror author, editor, and anthologist. He is also the owner of KJK Publishing.
He lives in the heart of Scotland with his wife and his three cats, Carlito, Ariel and Luna. He can be found on Facebook most days if you want to chat with him.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? 

KK. I tend to work where I can. Often on the couch or in bed. I do have a desk, but you rarely find me there.

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

KK. Nope. Up until recently, I done most of my writing on an old broken laptop. I recently got a new Chromebook but I am finding it difficult to get used to it. You can only use Word online which is different to Word on my old laptop.

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

KK. I only began writing about 7 years ago. Most of the time, writers always seem to have been involved in one way or another. I sort of stumbled into it after seeing an advert for stories on Facebook and deciding I’d give it a go. I feel I have been lucky in how well everything has gone in such a short space of time.

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

KK. Straight onto the keyboard, often with no real planning. Just an idea and see where it goes. I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants type of guy. I rarely plan anything out and I find I work better under pressure.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

KK. Three. Carlito and Ariel are brother and sister cats. Both ten years old. Carlito is jet black. Ariel is a tabby. We also have a little Calico called Luna who is now 2 years old. They rarely leave my side.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

KK. I have written mainly short stories with a few novellas. I still haven’t written a novel. I’m not sure I will. I prefer reading novellas so I imagine I will stick to writing them. I have co-written a few as well. Over the last few years I have written several poems that have been picked up but it will remain a once in a while thing and I love drabbles. I’ve written loads of

Carlito

drabbles (100 word stories.) I also fee that my 4 book series, 100 Word Horrors was the main instigator in the drabble craze in the horror market. I’ve stepped away from publishing that type of anthology now as I feel there is just too many coming out but I still sub to other publishers Anthos.

Watch for part 2 of this wonderful interview next week. 
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

 

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Interview with Simon Gervais, writing for Robert Ludlum (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SG. I’ve always been a reader. I used to read at least thirty books per year. When I started writing in 2014, there weren’t many authors with a background like mine. I sometimes felt that the action scenes written by some of these authors—although fun to read—weren’t realistic. I naively believed that I could easily do better. It didn’t take long for me to realize how difficult it was to write a novel…

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

SG. Usually, the plot comes to me first. Then the characters.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SG. Not really…But I can lose track of time when I write. I often write for 16 to 18 hours in a row in the weeks before my deadline.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

With his writing buddy, Louna

SG. This is what I know. This is what I used to do for a living. I’d have a hard time writing science fiction or romance novels.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

SG. I’m presently working on THE LAST GUARDIAN, which will be published in October 2023, and then I’ll start on BLACKBRIAR #2, the second book I’m writing for the Robert Ludlum estate.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SG. When I left the RCMP.

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

SG. Absolutely not!

Q. What makes a writer great?

SG. Somebody who, while I’m reading his/her book, can give me a solid 6 to 8 hours of pure entertainment.

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

SG. My process is to first write a 4,000- to 5,000-word outline. The outline can take me months to write. This is usually when I’ll go on a research trip or two. Then I write the book, which can take me between 45 and 90 days to do. I then submit the manuscript to my editor—rarely with no more than five minutes to spare before my deadline!! We then go through a few rounds of developmental and copy edits before the book moves to the publicity and marketing departments. I then start the outline for my next book on contract.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SG. Yes, they certainly did. I think my life experiences are my most important assets as a writer. Having served in the military as an infantry officer and then as a federal agent, my work experience gives me the necessary credibility to write in this genre.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix. on the St Lawrence River.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

SG. We spend most of our weekends during the school year at our cottage in Mont-Tremblant. I enjoy skiing, mountain biking and hiking with my family. We travel a lot, too. We’ll spend several weeks in the Bahamas, but we’ll also go to Europe at least once or twice for a couple of weeks. Our family also enjoys yachting.

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

SG. No, and I don’t think I could pull it off.

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

SG. Failure and adversity are the greatest teachers.
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Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?

To find more of Simon Gervais’ books, click here
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Interview with NY Times Best Selling author, Simon Gervais

Simon Gervais is a former infantry officer and federal agent. He spent twenty years in the military and in law enforcement, specializing in protective operations and counterterrorism. His assignments took him all over Europe and the Middle East. He left the RCMP in 2014 to pursue writing full-time.
Several of his books are listed on the New York Times Best Seller List (Hunt Them Down, Trained To Hunt, and Time To Hunt) and he is Amazon’s #1 bestselling author. His new Clayton White series was published in November 2021. (The Last Protector). Quickly followed by The Last Sentinel and The Last Guardian.
“I had the immense honor to be chosen by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and the estate of Robert Ludlum to write a new series within the illustrious Jason Bourne universe.” The first book in the series Robert Ludlum’s The Blackbriar Genesis will be released next month. A sequel is planned for next year.
Simon lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and two children He is an avid skier, diver, and boating enthusiast.

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

SG. Although I can write pretty much anywhere when I’m facing a deadline, there are indeed a few special places where it feels good to

write. This is at our ski cottage in Mont-Tremblant. The main living room, with its two-story high stone fireplace and humongous windows with direct views on the mountains, is grandiose. It’s by far my favorite room in the house. It just feels right. And that’s especially true during the fall and winter season. The second is on the terrace of our beach house in the Bahamas. There’s something very special about writing a novel while enjoying the ocean breeze.

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

SG. I do! To the absolute delight of my wife, there’s no way I can start writing before the kitchen is perfectly clean and the dishwasher is emptied out. I don’t know why … But that’s the way it is!

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

In the waters off the Virgin Islands

SG. I’m a certified open water diver. I love the freedom it gives me. I did my certification in Saint John, USVI, while researching my upcoming book THE LAST GUARDIAN, the 3rd book in my Clayton White series. For those of my readers that don’t know what an open water diver is….  it means that we’re allowed to pan and to execute dives anywhere in the world up to a depth of 60 feet—though we can go deeper with a certified instructor. My personal deepest dive was at a depth of 80 ft in the USVI. Diving is similar to driving a car or piloting a plane, you must receive training and get certified in order to be allowed to do it. An Open Water Certification involves approximately 15 to 20 hours of theory, a written exam, a swim test, 5 confined water dive, and 4 open water dives with an instructor. 

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

SG. I only use my laptop. I do take a few notes on my phone if I have an idea for a plot twist while I’m away from my computer, but that’s pretty much it.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

SG. I don’t. Now that I’m writing two books per year—one for the Robert Ludlum estate at Putnam and another for Thomas & Mercer—I simply don’t have the time to do anything else when it comes to writing.

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

SG. Be on contract to write two books per year! You’ll have very little time to procrastinate…

The conclusion next week. Don’t miss it!
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

More Interview with Culley Holderfield (Conclusion)

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

CH. I work at it until I can stand it no more. Then, I share the entire manuscript with readers I trust to give me honest feedback and step away from it while they read. If I’m lucky, it will take them a while, and I can gain some distance from the project. Once I have their comments, I’ll reread it myself, then revise it all over again. Sometimes it may take only a draft or two after that. Other times, as with Hemlock Hollow, it may take an entirely new draft and then eight more passes to get to the point where I feel the novel is where I want it. Then I start submitting it. If I’m lucky, it will get picked up by an agent or an editor, at which point I get to go through the process all over again.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

CH. Tremendously. As I mentioned, my writing was influenced heavily by the cabin my parents bought right after I was born. Growing up, I learned to love storytelling on the front porch of that cabin when my grandmother would tell tales of her childhood and adults would share the goings on of their worlds. My fiction is often about the importance and

Anything that’s out-of-doors, Culley’s there

impermanence of place over time, how we can be nurtured and haunted by the places that make us who we are. And that comes directly from my own past of falling in love with places that change because all places change. Much of my writing is an effort to come to grips with that truth.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

CH. What’s downtime? Just kidding. Sometimes it does feel like I don’t have much downtime. I have a demanding job that I love, and writing takes up most of what would otherwise be my free time. But I do manage to spend quite a bit of time in nature. I hike and paddle and camp when I can. Travel is one of my favorite things to do, and I read a lot and watch a lot of movies.

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

CH. That first novel I set aside was a spy thriller set in Ecuador, and at some point, hopefully not too far down the line, I have a pre-historical fantasy novel I’d like to write.

Cooking in Tuscany

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

CH. Step one, if you want to be a writer, is to read widely. Step two is to write often. Step three is to find your place in a community of writers and engage with them.

You don’t have to do it all yourself; in fact, you can’t. When I was just starting out as a young writer, I thought all it took was sitting down and writing. Writing a novel is hard work, but it turns out that just writing well is not enough to succeed in this business. In addition to grit and persistence, you really need to find community. That’s hard for writers. Most of us are introverts, after all. But for me, finding other writers with similar goals and similar levels of commitment has made all the difference in my writing life. My twenty-five year-old self wouldn’t believe me if I told him this.

Cabin that inspired book

He would shrug me off and shoulder on alone, but no writer has ever succeeded in that way. Take advantage of writers’ groups and associations. Go to conferences. Meet other writers. Be willing to share your work and to have others share their work with you. In North Carolina, we have the North Carolina Writers’ Network, which has really been important to my growth as a writer. Other states may have similar organizations, so seek them out.

 

Did you miss the start of this wonderful interview?
    Look for my review of this book December 2nd. 
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Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for ROBERT LUDLUM, November: Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Interview with author, Culley Holderfield (part 3)

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

CH. My debut novel, Hemlock Hollow, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing on December 6 of this year. It’s a historical, Appalachian novel about a college professor who inherits a cabin and with it the ghost who haunted her childhood. In the process of renovating the cabin, she uncovers a journal written by Carson Quinn a hundred years before, and she can’t square the boy’s voice in the journal with the murderer he became. 

One of Culley’s writing spaces. Albemarle Sound in eastern NC

My work in progress is a historical novel set in Western North Carolina during the Civil War. It involves the Red String Order, also called the Heroes of America, which was a secret organization in North Carolina that opposed secession.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CH. I started to write seriously in college. I crafted my college career around becoming a novelist. I started at Wake Forest, then transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill. At UNC, I completed the undergraduate creative writing program, studying with Bland Simpson and Doris Betts. I finished my first novel shortly after graduating college. It was okay for a first novel, but it was a first novel, and needed a lot of work. I rewrote it seven times over fifteen years, all the while marketing it to agents. Despite some close calls, no one ever picked it up, so I set it aside. When that didn’t sell right off the bat, I realized that my path to success wasn’t going to be Garp’s path to success. I tried freelancing. Interestingly enough, freelancing wasn’t great for my fiction. I changed tactics and found a good, meaningful day job that has left enough time for me to continue to write. Five years or so ago, I was fortunate to find Writeaways, which is a unique writing workshop model run by Mimi Herman and John Yewell. They are great mentors and pals. Being immersed in a community of like-minded and supportive writers has made a huge difference in both the quality and volume of my work.

Carl Sandburg Home in Flat Rock, NC, ‘ a place that never fails to inspire me.”

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

CH. No. Not in our lifetime. I think we’ve seen and will continue to see a resurgence in paper books as people realize how much damage staring at screens does to our emotional and mental health, and how utterly addictive the virtual world is. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part. I may be the only serious reader remaining who doesn’t own an e-reader.
I do think eventually, if we figure out how to survive climate change intact, we will eventually wind up reading entirely on Star Trek-like tablets. While we clearly have the technology to do that now, I think it won’t be ubiquitous until long after we’re gone.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CH. I think there are a lot of different ways for writers to be great. Ernest Hemingway is great differently than Margaret Atwood is great. But the kind of great writing that moves me and that I aspire to write is work that creates an authentic narrative experience for the reader. In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner describes the fictive dream that readers enter into when reading good fiction. The writer can get away with pretty much anything as long as she or he doesn’t wake the reader from that dream state. So, I think at a minimum, a great writer entrances the reader into this fictive dream state. There are writers who can do that by spinning a great yarn and others who do it by turn of phrase, but the best writers do both well without one overwhelming the other on the page.

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

CH. It starts with an inkling, a voice calling out, begging to enter this world, then a blank page that in its blankness contains infinite possibility. Each word inscribed on that page constrains those possibilities exponentially. Eventually, with enough words comprising enough sentences composing enough paragraphs, a story emerges. If I’m successful, that story holds me for the year or more it takes to build a first draft. Once the draft is complete, the work begins. Now I have the clay with which I can mold my novel into something coherent.

Watch for the conclusion to this wonderful interview next week.

Did you miss part of it? Click here
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Interview with author, Culley Holderfield

Writing my next book

TS.   Culley Holderfield is a writer from Durham, NC. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he completed the undergraduate creative writing program. He primarily writes fiction but has been known to dabble in poetry and essays. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Dime Show Review, Amarillo Bay, Yellow Mama, Scarlet Leaf, Kakalak 2016, Kakalak 2020, and Floyd County Moonshine. Hemlock Hollow, his debut novel, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in December 2022 in their Sour Mash Southern literature series.

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

CH. I have a really nice desk that my in-laws gave me that I often use, but I sometimes I write in my easy chair with my feet up. I’d love to have a writing shack or hut. A few years back, I visited George Bernard Shaw’s home in Hertfordshire, England. He had a writing hut in his garden where he produced the bulk of his work. It housed his writing desk and typewriter and a day bed. The best part is that it was built on a swivel so that he could rotate it throughout the day to follow the sun. If it’s good enough for George Bernard Shaw, it’s good enough for me!

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

CH. I try to steer clear of rituals when it comes to writing. I don’t want my creativity to become dependent on having to meet particular needs. That said, writing itself is its own ritual for me. For a while, I used to start my writing sessions by doing a few minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing to get my creative juices flowing. I don’t do that anymore, but I journal and meditate before I write, and those serve a similar purpose.

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

CH. My favorite bit of trivia about myself is that I’ve officially resided in nine different counties in North Carolina in my life, dispersed throughout the state, from the piedmont to the mountains to the coast.

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

CH. I tend to do all my work on a computer. I’ve tried notebooks and legal pads and index cards, but my organizational skills are subpar, and I tend to lose track of

Debut book

them. If I keep everything in the same folder in Word, there’s a chance I won’t lose them. When starting a project, I begin with research and characters, and those usually go hand in hand. When I was beginning my current work-in-progress, I knew that it would be set in North Carolina in the 1860s and I had a good sense of two of the main characters. I then immersed myself into the era and place, and gained a lot of ideas and insights for the arc of the book that I fleshed out in different documents on my computer.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)? If yes, tell us about it.

CH. Yes. I often write short stories and poems in between my longer projects. I have an ideas document that contains a number of ideas for short stories or poems. When I have time, I’ll work on those. Short stories and poetry are harder for me to write than novels. I was a long distance runner in my younger days, and I think I’m just built for sustained pacing over time. A short story is like running the 400, and a poem is like a 100 yard sprint. I can do them if I force myself, but it induces a lot of pain and suffering to get them right, and I’m never going to be great at them. Just like it’s good to mix in high-intensity and low-intensity modalities of exercise, I figure it’s good for me to mix in different forms of writing every once in a while.

My writing partner

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

CH. There’s procrastination, and then there’s writer’s block. It’s probably good to figure which one you’re dealing with. If you know what you want to write and just aren’t able to make time for it, I think there are a number of strategies that can help. Most of them boil down to making it easy on yourself by setting small, attainable goals. My goal for any one writing session is to grow my manuscript by at least one page. Sometimes that means I don’t even have to write a full page. I can just edit my work until the manuscript grows by a page. So, if I have 35 total pages in the document when I start, I want to see that there are 36 pages when I finish. (Note: adding spaces between paragraphs doesn’t count!)

If I’m having trouble getting going, that’s more of a writer’s block issue. I may just tell myself that all I need to do is to write one word. If I can change or add a single word, I will have made progress. Also, it’s freeing to remember that whatever you write today, you’ll probably wind up changing during revision. All that really matters is that you make progress. This takes the pressure off. All of that said, once I get going it’s rare that I only add that one word. I usually wind up writing a page or so, and a page or so per day is a novel a year.

Join us next week for Part II of this wonderful interview with new author,  Culley Holderfield.
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Book Review ~~ Where The Sky Begins

4 out of five stars  ~~  Book Review

 

This stand-alone novel by serial author Rhys Bowen  (Molly Murphy series and Royal Spyness Mysteries) is well written and a remarkable story. Set in war-torn London during the Second World War air blitz, the reader crawls with Josie Banks from the rubble of her home and her life. The ‘pace’ of the story is just right, relaxed, with just the right amount of detail. So typical of this author…getting it right.  

Until the last sixty pages or so, Bowen jams years worth of story into these pages.  This reviewer found the change of pace disconcerting. Josie’s lover is pronounced officially missing and presumed killed in action. She goes to work for the government, all very top secret until Bowen winds up the whole book with one last surprise. (I am trying to avoid a spoiler alert.)  

While I enjoyed the story and appreciated the fine writing, I felt the book deserved better. I recommend this book to my readers despite the few stumbles. 

Did you catch my Interview with Rhys Bowen?
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To receive my weekly posts, sign up for my Watch for more interviews with authors.  September: Culley Holderfield. October: Simon Gervais for  (Robert Ludlum’s The Blackbriar Genesis)

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

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK