Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anthology Author: Ann Cefola

Ann Cefola
Ann Cefola is today's featured writer from InkSpotter Publishing's upcoming anthology Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra.

She is the author of St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped (Kattywompus Press), Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press) and the translation Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions). A 2007 Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency recipient, she also received the 2001 Robert Penn Warren Award judged by John Ashbery. Ann lives with her husband Michael in the New York suburbs. 

IS: What motivated you to start writing?
AC: I can’t recall—writing began early. My second-grade teacher sent a note home to my parents, saying, “Your daughter speaks in poetry.” I’d been writing well before then, inventing stories and drawing pictures.

IS: What is the primary source of inspiration for you?
AC: I don’t have one source; instead, certain subjects appeal to me depending on what’s happening in my life. When I began visiting Vermont years ago, that landscape worked its subtle green influence on me and culminated in my first poetry chapbook, Sugaring.

IS: Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?
AC: Both! I hear rumblings of a poem and write them down. It’s like a sculptor seeing a block of marble and intuiting that a beautiful shape waits inside. What also helps is having a deadline: for years, I have set a date to review new poems with dear friends and award-winning poets Linda Simone and Terry Dugan.

IS: Please describe your process.
AC: I write in journals, identify intriguing themes and maybe scribble more on them. When a certain shape or integrity seems evident, the poems go into the computer. From there, I edit and then show them to my poet friends.

St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped
IS: What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?
AC: I write my monthly e-newsletter, annogram, which goes to 200+ poets, writers, editors, artists and architects worldwide. Then I publish it on my blog. I am updating my poetry website and have created an extensive literary community on LinkedIn. To promote my new chapbook, St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped, I am doing interviews, arranging reviews and having a book launch party.

IS: What's left to do?
AC: Probably to book some readings in New York City—which I will be able to do thanks to poets Jackie Sheeler and Cindy Hochman, who both host popular reading series.

IS: When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?
AC: I don’t know if I have one. When people hear my work, they always comment on my “range.” I write in many styles—from compact lyric narrative to expansive long lines, not to mention experimental poetry translated from French.

IS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?
AC: Recently I wrote a small poem that brought together two divergent subjects in a way that deepened the resonance and meaning of each—for me, it was a moment of realizing, on a deeper level, how poetry works.

IS: What's the most recent book you read?
AC: Now in November, a 1934 Pulitzer Prize winner, by Josephine Johnson. If you want to know what would have happened to the Joads if they’d stayed home, this is the book to read! The consistently lyrical language provides a startling contrast to the harrowing storyline.

IS: Who are the writers you admire most?
AC: I love inventive or outrageous poets, like John Ashbery, John Berryman, CD Wright and the French poet I translate, Hélène Sanguinetti. Along these same lines, my favorite book is James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which combines journalism, memoir and poetry as well as Walker Evans’ renowned photos. In novels, I prefer dense lyric narrative that sounds like poetry—such as Tinkers by Paul Harding or The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

IS: What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?
AC: Twenty years ago, Stephen Dunn told me, “The secrets of any art do not reveal themselves until you live with them.” This means you have to jump in and write: commit to writing the way doctors commit to medicine, deacons commit to priesthood, pilots commit to flying. However, unlike those vocations, it’s a calling without a map—equally terrifying and freeing. As Terry Dugan likes to quote, “You make the path by walking.”

IS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AC: I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with your blog audience. Anyone who would like to receive my free poetry e-newsletter can let me know by e-mailing Thank you, Betty!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Anthology Author: Amy Thompson

Amy Thompson taught English and writing before becoming a freelance writer. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been published in many journals and magazines, and she is one of writers contributing to InkSpotter Publishing's upcoming anthology Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra. She currently resides in South Dakota with her family and owns Prairie Fire Gallery and Studio, her own art gallery.

IS: What motivated you to start writing?
AT: At a very early age I knew pain. I knew what it was like to not have a voice, to hold everything inside. So, when I was about 11, when I discovered I could write what I couldn’t say, it was a release of this monstrous power that I never knew I had. Writing has always been confessional for me.

IS: What is the primary source of inspiration for you?
AT: My life experiences, whether my own living or what I have seen others experience, have been my choice of content. Whenever I have tried to write about something I do not know or have not felt, it’s always been a disaster.

IS: Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?
AT: I was taught that you need to set a daily schedule and write no matter what you write about. I’ve tried that—it’s miserable for me. I’ve now chosen to write when I feel like writing—when a feeling or scene hits me. I no longer push myself. I can sit on a poem for years before I go back to it for revision. That lack of process or schedule doesn’t bother me anymore.

IS: Please describe your process.
AT: I’m a big believer in freewriting, even when writing poetry. My process of writing begins by writing it all out of my head. I then “cut my darlings.” That’s it. I’m not one for processes anymore.

IS: What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?
AT: My main promotion as a writer is entering individual works into a few contests and publications. It hasn’t been until recently that I have put together two manuscripts, Twisted Apples and Giving Up My Ghosts: The Women I Carry. I am just now entering into the world of book publishing. It is a whole new world of publication that I need to get used to.

IS: What's left to do?
AT: In my life, I have much to do. I’m relatively young. I have a young family. I have a lot left to tell the world about the world.

IS: When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?
AT: I was about 11 when I discovered writing in general, but I’d say it was in high school that I discovered what I later learned was confessional poetry. It wasn’t a process—I just wrote that way. I didn’t want to write about anyone else, about a tree—I wanted to write my life—so I did.

IS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?
AT: This is a tough one. I have this narcissistic dream of having a book published. It hasn’t happened. That would be my greatest achievement. But, right now it’s every time I am published. I get as excited as the first.

IS: What's the most recent book you read?
AT: I just went back and reread Ariel (Sylvia Plath). It was fun to read the notes I had made in the margins.

IS: Who are the writers you admire most?
AT: The Confessional poets; most certainly Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Elizabeth Bishop.

IS: What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?
AT: Don’t take rejection and criticism as devastation. Take each person’s opinion/advice with a grain of salt. What one person likes, another won’t. When I first started letting others read my work, I took every criticism to heart, I doubted myself, my writing; thought I should give up. But with each criticism, my skin grew thicker, I honed my voice, my eye and soon I was picking up on my own mistakes and could call bullshit on some comments from others. Confidence, ego, patience, vulnerability, craziness, sense of humour and narcissism are what you need. Writing, I believe, is one of the hardest gigs. Sometimes I don’t know why we do it!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anthology Author: J.M. Cornwell

The spotlight continues to shine on contributors to InkSpotter Publishing's upcoming anthology Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra.

Next up is J. M. Cornwell, who began writing at the age of eight while living in Panama. Under the influence of Homer and Edgar Rice Burroughs, she wrote her first book about a girl who, while lost in the jungles of Central America, finds an ancient civilization. Since then, Ms. Cornwell has written articles and won awards, raised a family, divorced and moved around the country with the Air Force and on her own, always coming back to her first love—writing.

In the shadow of Pikes Peak, she spins stories about relationships and secrets. Stories have been included in several anthologies, including A Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup for the Soul. She also writes book reviews for Authorlink, has ghost written eight nonfiction books, and her debut novel, Past Imperfect, was published by L&L Dreamspell in 2009. Among Women is her second novel, the first of two connected stories that take place in New Orleans (view the video book trailer at the end of the interview).

IS: What motivated you to start writing?

JMC: I began writing at the age of eight after reading Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Greek mythology. I wanted to create my own stories.

IS: What is the primary source of inspiration for you?

JMC: Life. Everything that happens, everything I read, everything I hear starts a spark that eventually grows into a story. Good things, bad things, anything inspires me.

IS: Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?

JMC: I do both. I write when the muse strikes, as long as I'm not working my day job, and I follow a schedule that begins around 4 a.m. every day. I find that I am more productive and creative first thing in the morning, which is a turnaround from when I was younger and nighttime was the best time to write, usually after I had my homework done, bath taken, and was getting ready for bed.

IS: Please describe your process.

JMC: I don't have a specific process, other than getting an idea, taking notes, and letting the story germinate. Sometimes an idea will strike hot and I sit down and write it immediately. Other times, a story has to germinate for a while until all the characters, motives, themes and plot settle. That's when I write. I go with the flow—whatever the flow happens to be on a given day.

IS: What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?

JMC: I've done interviews, written articles, blogs and stories, do a little social networking (I'm pretty inept at that since I spend most of my time working, reading and writing) and talk about and teach other writers about the process. This interview is one of those promotion techniques.

IS: What's left to do?

JMC: Keep writing. The one thing about writing is that there is no age limit and even physical limits can be modified or overcome to continue writing. I'll keep writing stories, articles and books until I take my last breath. It would be nice, however, to get a few books on the bestsellers lists or at least be circulated around a few thousand book clubs.

IS: When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?

JMC: From my journals. I've been keeping paper journals for years and writing a lot of nonfiction. Fiction eluded me. The dialogue was wooden, the characters not yet three-dimensional, and I tended to overwrite. Then a writing colleague told me I should write the way I wrote in my journals. I thought he was crazy and then I tried it. I'd have to say that I was born with my unique voice and didn't realize I didn't have to have a separate voice for nonfiction and fiction, and the best way to write a story is just to get out of the characters' ways. The process is ongoing. Writing more refines my voice.

IS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?

JMC: Every book, every story placed in an anthology is the greatest achievement. The best achievement of all will be when I can fully support myself as a writer. I'm still waiting on that one.

IS: What's the most recent book you read?

JMC: The Traitor's Emblem by Juan Gómez-Jurado.

IS: Who are the writers you admire most?

JMC: I have a lot of old favorites: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Algis Budrys, Julian May. Most of those writers taught me how to write and what I wanted to achieve. I also have a few new favorites: Jasper Fforde, Salman Rushdie, Brian Keene, Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Douglas Kennedy, Laura Ann Gilman, Maynard & Sims, David Baldacci, to name a few. I enjoy Dan Brown's stories, but his books are not well written. Still, he is a great storyteller despite his technical and grammatical flaws. I'm always discovering new writers and the list continues to grow.

IS: What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?

JMC: Read everything, not just in your favorite genre, but in every genre, nonfiction and fiction. Stretch yourself as a reader and the writing will stretch along with it. Write. Write all the time, write when you don't feel like it, write especially when you do, and don't worry about the mistakes. You can correct those when you edit and rewrite. Get the story down in a white heat and edit with a cool head. Whatever else you may think or have been told, mistakes do count.

IS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

JMC: The best thing any writer can do is venture outside the comfort zone frequently, in reading and writing. I began writing fiction and stopped because it was hard for me. Nonfiction came as easily to me as breathing, but I didn't give up on fiction. I kept reading and found a story that wrote itself. Once the first one was done, the rest came easier and I learned to write better dialogue, plot good stories, write fully fleshed characters, and had a lot of fun doing it.

Writing is fun, but it is also work, hard work, and it is worth the effort and the time even without publication. Publication just helps me keep score and lets me know that most of the time I hit the mark and reach readers the way intended.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Anthology Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Patricia Wellingham-Jones
Welcome to the first in a series of author interviews with contributors to InkSpotter Publishing's upcoming anthology, Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra.

Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a former psychology researcher and nurse, also a writer and editor, published widely in journals, anthologies and Internet magazines, including HazMat Review, Ibbetson Street, Edgz and Wicked Alice.She has a special interest in healing writing and leads the “Telling Our Stories” writing group at EnloeCancer Center. Her poetry column appears monthly in the Palo Cedro East Valley Times. She writes for the review department of Recovering the Self: a journal of hope and healing. Among her ten chapbooks are Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.
IS: What motivated you to start writing?
PWJ: I’ve written all my life, from age 10 when I couldn’t find any more horse stories in the library and wrote my own. In my professional life, I wrote articles, essays, scientific and academic papers on a variety of subjects, including my own research in health and handwriting. Twenty years ago, in the throes of severe pain and eventual cervical spine surgery, that life collapsed but opened the gate for creative writing. Since then I’ve written poetry, short fiction, essays and articles; now I also write book and movie reviews for the healing journal Recovering the Self.
IS: What is the primary source of inspiration for you?
PWJ: When the creative juices started bubbling, I told myself I’d write poems to capture the happenings around me, strictly for my own pleasure and to hold the memories of small as well as large events. That still holds true; what I see going on around me is mostly what I write about.
IS: Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?
PWJ: I write only when something demands to be written, which means lots of fallow spells, too. Not very convenient when she wants to be heard in the middle of the night, of course.
IS: Please describe your process.
PWJ: I’m intrigued to learn that I can write directly on the keyboard for articles, essays, even short stories. But poems demand a more physical approach—mind to fingers to pen to paper. That tactile sense seems necessary. So I keep a notebook with me most of the time, just in case a poem springs into view. Probably most creative writers carry one tucked away in purse or pocket.
IS: What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?
PWJ: In earlier years, I was quite active. Had a publishing house for 23 years, produced my own niche market books in health and handwriting then, later, poetry for myself and selected others. I had a website (no longer), did readings and talks, ran workshops/seminars, sent work out for contests and publication (thousands of poems eventually were published; some continue to be), the whole gamut a working writer does to become known.
IS: What's left to do?
PWJ: Not much in the writing world, truthfully. I’ve done more than I ever dreamed and seem to have lost the drive to keep pushing forward. Health issues are part of that, losing my husband a few years ago plays a role. I don’t seem to have as much to say as I used to, though the pen does like to keep moving.
IS: When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?
PWJ: Everybody has his/her own voice, as you know, and mine was apparent in the nonfiction writing I did originally. The creative side took awhile to become established because I’d never had any writing classes and had to learn some technique before the voice became confident. Still, within a year I suspect that voice was clear. Like it or not.
IS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?
Don't Turn Away
PWJ: Just being able to do it. To get the thoughts in my head out on paper the way I want them to be, unlike drawing or painting, which was frustrating because the image on paper was never what I saw in my head. As for must useful—and I do like to have my words be useful—probably Don’t Turn Away: Poems about breast cancer is the chapbook that fits the bill; it has resonated with many, many women and had three printings to date. My primary interest these days is healing writing, which reflects my background as R.N. and psychologist, no doubt. I lead a healing writing group at our regional cancer center, do that review column I mentioned earlier, and have done talks, workshops and readings along those lines for several years. I like harnessing the healing aspects of writing with the creative joy that comes along with it.
IS: What's the most recent book you read?
PWJ: I just finished for the second time Lake of Sorrows, about the bog country of Ireland, by Erin Hart, and, even better, next week I go there with her and a few other people to explore the region she writes about.
IS: Who are the writers you admire most?
PWJ: There are too many to mention, especially if I included novels among the poems(I’m a mystery buff). I like stories, realistic not abstract writing, and read eclectically. Not sure it matters what or who you read, you learn from all of it, and grow if you let yourself.
IS: What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?
PWJ: Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Read, read, read. Keep doing it, don’t get discouraged, learn craft as you go, keep writing. Do it for the joy of the writing, not with thoughts of becoming rich and/or famous.
IS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
PWJ: Thank you for inviting my thoughts. It’s a great pleasure to be invited and to organize my thinking along these lines. Although any major career in writing seems to be ebbing, the joy of putting my words on paper remains. I hope and expect this will be a lifetime endeavor.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Scoliosis Handbook Now Available for Kindle

Dangerous Curves: A Scoliosis Handbook is now available in's Kindle Store.

Dangerous Curves covers the causes and symptoms of scoliosis (curvature of the spine), along with various treatment options and reference material for further reading.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in my final year of high school and underwent spinal fusion surgery just before graduation. My personal experiences, including ongoing pain issues lasting more than 30 years, motivated me to compile this short, inexpensive reference tool (originally produced in conjunction with Our Mail Network/Your Information Center).

If you suspect (or know) that you or someone else has scoliosis, Dangerous Curves is an easy, affordable way to understand the condition and its implications. Just click on the link below to buy a copy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Prioritizing Tips: or Making the Mountain into a Molehill

Karina Fabian
Guest blogger Karina Fabian shares her advice on juggling multiple priorities, along with a video book trailer for her new release, Mind Over Mind.

Even though it's been a hot summer, I've had this impression for months that I'm staring up at an impending avalanche. No snow is involved, however; just a pile of tasks that could daunt the most skilled organizer. On days I feel more like running for my life than tackling my to-do list, I have to remember that only two things will save me from my self-imposed danger. Prioritizing and getting to work.
Prioritizing is what gets the important things done first; think of it as helping you get the worst of that snowdrift out of the danger zone so you can pick at the icicles later. How do you do this? Decide before you look at your list what is most important to you and why. Since I'm a professional writer--meaning I sometimes get paid for my work--I prioritize my tasks this way:
1. What do I have a contractual obligation for? If I have a contract for a book or story, it gets done before anything else.
2. What can I get paid for? If my publisher might like the next book on my mind, I put it higher on the list than one I've got no market for yet.
3. What will support my other books? Sometimes, I will stop and write a short story in one of the universes I have novels in to submit to magazines. This is both writing and marketing!
4. Is there an opportunity I need to jump at?
5. What's going to further my dream? Sometimes, this might have to force itself higher on the chain. For example, I have a trilogy I think has a good chance with one of the Big Six. I've not had time to write it yet, however, so I've earmarked several months in 2012 for it.
Here is my avalanche:
My publisher is interested in a second Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator book. Another publisher has the first in my Mind Over Mind trilogy, which came out in August. I had the chance to pitch a book I've been working on to my ideal publisher for it. I had three anthologies I want to write for. I have a book coming out in April (Live and Let Fly), and I have an idea for a book that I think could get me an agent.
It sounds like a huge, impossible mass of work--and avalanche ready to happen, right? However, because I have it prioritized, I could handle these in sequence:
--Mind Over Psyche, the second in the trilogy, went out in March
--April-June, I worked on Neeta Lyffe II, putting it aside in June to finish Discovery to pitch to Ignatius
--in July, while finishing Discovery, I also wrote a story with the main character from Mind Over Mind to send to the anthology. The other stories will wait until October
--in August, I am alternating between Discovery's polish and Live and Let Fly's edits
--I will finish Neeta II in September
--I start the serial stories in November (and they will be pretty automatic once I finish the set-up)
--I will write Damsels and Knights Jan-April
I conquer each task by priority, and while other things may pop up, they will get put in their proper spot (or disregarded if they don't make the priority list).
Sometimes as writers, we're tempted to give in to the stereotype that as creative people, we cannot bind ourselves to a particular task. That attitude gets you buried under the avalanche. You can identify your priorities, so before you take on the tasks, figure out what's important to you, set priorities, assign tasks and go!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Interview with Author Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian
Karina Fabian is hard at work promoting her latest release, Mind Over Mind. As part of a month-long blog tour, she's making three stop here at InkSpotting. First up is my interview with her. She'll also be my guest blogger next week, and you can expect my review of Mind Over Mind later in the month.

IS: What motivated you to start writing?

KF: The need to do something other than play with toddlers and clean house! I've always loved writing and telling stories, so when the kids were very young, I took it up after a long hiatus of college and career.

IS: What is the primary source of inspiration for you?

KF: Ack! Tough question, because different things inspire different ideas. However, I think talking with friends is probably my best source for ideas that turn into stories. That's why I love my writing friends, like Ann Lewis, Grace Bridges, Fred Warren, Walt Staples... And the WritersChat Room is an excellent way to meet a group of writers. In fact, TWC helped me come up with the title for the Mind Over Mind books.

IS: Do you write when the muse strikes, or do you follow a writing schedule?

KF: I don't believe in waiting for the muse. I start writing, and she usually comes over to see what's up. So I write, not necessarily on a schedule, but each day for as much as I can--stories, novels, marketing, interviews, blogs... In the Fall, I have set word count goals for my work-in-progress, but in the summer, I just do the best I can with what I have.

IS: Please describe your process.

KF: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. From there, it differs by book. Usually, I'm a pantster, which means I know the beginning, the ending and a couple of points on the way, and I let the characters do the rest. If I get stuck, I might put ideas on Post-It notes and play with them until the next scene comes to mind, or I chat with a friend. This summer, however, I had to do the plotter method to revise a manuscript that refused to work. Even then, the story threw a curve ball--in this case, an asteroid-sized curve ball--so part of the outline went out the window. Made for a better story, though.

People can usually see my process on my Thursday blog posts, "My Novel's Journey." I usually write about whatever manuscript I'm working on.

IS: What have you done to promote yourself as a writer?

KF: What haven't I done other than a nationwide tour? I've done everything from magazine ads to tweeting.

IS: What's left to do?

KF: Make enough money to hire someone to do it for me.

IS: When did you discover your unique voice? How long did the process take?

KF: I don't know that I ever "discovered" my voice. It's grown over time and practice. I don't think it took a million words, but it did take learning to be comfortable with who I am and what I like. I also think (hope) my "voice" changes with the story. My quirky humor of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, would be totally out of place in Mind Over Mind, a fantasy, for example.

IS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a writer?

KF: In 2006, I started a novel for NaNoWriMo. I loved the characters and the basic idea, but I couldn't finish it. For five years, I've struggled to finish it. I realized the plot was too small; then that I needed to make the story more sci-fi. Then the case got HUGE--31 named characters--and I'd never done that before. The computer ate the manuscript twice (yes, even the backups; I cannot explain that). Other things, from family to new assignments, got in the way just as I was getting my groove...

This summer, I set aside my novel I was working on and determined to revise Discovery. The first feedback I got from my beta reader was, "Wow. Just...Wow." I knew at last I'd achieved what this story wanted to be.

IS: What's the most recent book you read?

KF: [As of July,] Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman. A very fun little book based on Lewis Carroll's famous poem. Looking forward to his next book.

IS: Who are the writers you admire most?

KF: Terry Pratchett for his humor. Madeleine L'Engle for bringing in spirituality to her fiction. Dean Wesley Smith for his extreme prolificness.

IS: What's your best piece of advice for novice writers?

KF: Don't make excuses. Write. Learn. Submit. Accept rejection and write some more. Otherwise, find something else to make you happy and clear the field for those of us who love to do this.

IS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

KF: I have several exciting things coming up over the next six months, including more books coming out, serial stories on my website, classes and more. Please visit my website or register for my newsletter to get more info.