Reviews

The Difficult Journey to You

Click the image to download or play the audio clip.

In China there is a wisdom that states if you feel there urge for revenge sit by a river, and eventually your enemy’s body will float by. I find the same happens with people you admire. If you keep living, every now and then, someone familiar, or whom you admire, passes…and it’s cool.

Mary Karr

In 1995, I interviewed then-Syracuse University professor Mary Karr and reviewed her memoir, The Liar’s Club, which became a nonfiction classic. I noted the publication  of Cherry and Lit, her other memoirs, but did not get as deeply into them, mostly because life moved on. 

Nonetheless, the native Texan stayed lodged in my memory. I noted the depth of her reflections on her path, when I gave a quick read to  Sinners Welcome, her first book of poetry, but always looked for her to share more of the personality I briefly came to know.  That happens in The Art of Memoir. The link shares an audio clip.


My best choices for books on the writing craft are still Stephen King’s On Writing,  and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. That said, the audio clip linked above, shows me Karr could supplant Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, as third on my short list of book about how to best write your story. 

Fiction is no easier to craft than the truth. As Chilean author Isabel Allende once stated: “There’s basically an element of fiction in everything you remember. Imagination and memory are almost the same brain processes. When I write fiction, I know that I’m using a bunch of lies that I’ve made up to create some form of truth. When I write a memoir, I’m using true elements to create something that will always be somehow fictionalized.”

Memoir takes a different level of courage and spirit. “I don’t know where the idea originated that memoir writing is cathartic,” says U.S. writer Koren Zailcks, whose 2005 debut memoir, Smashed, is considered another landmark work. “For me, it’s always felt like playing my own neurosurgeon, sans anesthesia. As a memoirist, you have to crack your head open and examine every uncomfortable thing in there.”


Karr, who is the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, takes readers into the classroom as she shares a spirit and technique for getting into the dark depths of one’s being that is as direct, unvarnished and as true to the heart as the advice and instruction she gave in courses on writing memoir years ago.
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Here is a News Source Worth a Thousand Times the Cost

BTSemag_July/August 2015

Here is a great free resource for the latest news and interviews. Well, in addition to Veereads, that is. Check it out. Do you agree?

A Clever Nod to the Best Pulp Tradition

MISS STAKE
AVeronica Benoit Short
Terra Stellar Press
69 Pages
ISBN:1514159842

Veronica “Ronnie” Benoit is a self-described “testament” to her family’s “tenacity,” but the Louisiana teenager has no idea that she is a linchpin in its legacy.That, briefly, is the plot in the first entry in CG Powell‘s MISS short-fiction series. The Virginia author breathes the Louisiana Bayou onto the page in this work as if she were a native. At the least, she has probably been there because her bio boasts that she has “traveled everywhere – thanks to her innate curiosity about the world and the Navy.”

 In style, Miss Stake: A Veronica Benoit Short is a clever nod to the days before television when imagination reigned, and adventure junkies got their fixes through radio serials such as The Shadow, or paperback books sized to stick into the back pocket on a pair of jeans. Those penetrating adventure and thriller stories popular from the 1930s to the Sixties were woven around the plight of characters as familiar as the curiously odd person next door, up the block, or down the street. That is how pulp novels and story collections gained credibility as page turners, or pot boilers.

The brief story is set in the swamps with more than enough references to all things New Orleans. The first chapter is a little slow, but readers will be seduced to read more because “Ronnie” Benoit and the other characters are obviously headed for something not good. The opening leads the reader to believe that the 17-year-old heroine’s biggest worry is how to maintain her virtue against the sometimes not very polite hits from a trio of ordinary outback romeos. The fact that most of what the reader thinks the tale is about is way off from the truth is a tribute to Powell’s gift for storytellng. By the middle of this paranormal saga, Veronica discovers that her reality is a very carefully constructed charade. In the best tradition of Louisiana stories,”Ronnie” is tumbled into a world for which she is far under-prepared as her grandfather reveals the family’s most tightly held secret.

The only downside to the work in style and story is that the tale ends about the time the adventure shifts to a new level of intrigue in the story. It’s what we hate most about serials. We have to read more. E-books are available FREE OF COST through the author siteAmazon Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
  AMAZON    BARNES & NOBLE   SMASHWORDS

Goodbye Indie Writers…Until Next Year

There are writers conventions, salons, workshops, retreats, and meetups throughout the country. I have been to many, but few have I enjoyed as much as last weekend’s  Orlando Indie Bookfest 2015. Most of the activity -panels, signing, authors, bloggers – were the same as other events. The chief difference was the camaraderie. 

Tawdra Kandle

I spent time with an earnest crowd of more than 100 authors, fans and bloggers who were as anxious to meet and encourage solid acquaintances as well as nurture newbies in the nuance of their crafts. One thing is certain, if you already are, or want to be a serious author, the road is open. The publishing industry has undergone a paradigm shift. E-books have revolutionized where an author can reach. The rest depends on desire, talent and organization. You could feel the warmth and good spirits in the sessions where candor was key in shaping an atmosphere where those new to authorship could find a leg up, and old guys like me, who have published in traditional houses could find a a boat load of information and encouragement to reinvent.

Mandie Stevens

Orlando hosted similar events in 2013 and 2014, so IBF 2015 co-convener Tawdra Kandle, who writes Paranormal, New Adult and Contemporary Romance, said she and partner, blogger and Urban Fantasy and Contemporary Romance author Mandie Stevens were not new to the idea. At the same time, they had no concept the biggest challenge was going to be time. 


Between February and the opening July 30 session, Kandle and Stevens pulled together a tightly dedicated crew of helpers that included their pre-teen and teen-aged children to organize authors,speakers and activities, as well as the nuts and bolts of a three-day event at the upscale Caribe Royale Resort Hotel and Convention Center about two miles from Disney World.
“We really had to scramble,” Tawdra said. I saw proof of that in Mandie and her during the three days. They were on the move, and seemed to have skills at
“herding cats.” 

“Organizing an event like this while also being a prolific romance writer, attending other events and releasing books  was a challenge, said Tawdra, who released three titles during the build up to the convention. “I didn’t sleep much.”
Beyond that, they found that those who were used to past IBF conventions were a hard sell. Most of them were skeptical of the newcomers. As might be expected, comments such as, “But we’ve always done it this way,”  were tossed. Others wanted to know why Kandle and Stevens made certain decisions. “Mandie and I tried to explain our rationale at every step,” she said. “Eventually, everyone seemed to understand!”
As she gave further explanation I began to understand that the optimism was warranted. Tawdra said the target audience – authors, bloggers and readers – were “genuinely excited,” was a surprise. In her words, “The enthusiasm was contagious.”

More surprises:
  1. How much physical work went into tasks on July 31, the first full day of the gathering. “My body is one big hurt today,” she wrote.
  2. How accommodating everyone was at the Caribe Royale Resort. 
  3. The awesomeness of Jana Oliver. “She is so much fun,” Tawdra said. 

I can attest to that, too. I called the award-winning prolific author a force of nature. Throughout the three days she moved through session after session with conversations in between and always held a ready smile and a quick wit. Some credit in that should extend to her husband/roadie Henry. He was always behind the scenes with what she needed to shine. When I complimented them on their contributions to the event, and mentioned Henry, Jana joked, “He says I’m his retirement plan.” 


As for next year, Tawdra said, “YES!! We already have tentative dates,  likely in the fall. We have authors eager to sign up. We have readers making plans! And we’ve made a list of what we want to change in our process. 2016 will ROCK!” 

Interested? Here is a link to sign up for IBF2016  information.

Independent Authors Stake Out A New Vision for Publishing in Orlando


Independent Publishing pioneer Jana Oliver’s keynote message 
– publishing is in a paradigm shift and authorship is in new day – launched an Orlando celebration

(l-r behind table) YA fiction authors Jana Oliver
Susan Burdorf, Raine Thomas, Nadege Richards
and Tricia Zoeller discuss techniques and ideas.

of independent authors and publishers at Indie Bookfest this weekend.

The July 31 to Aug. 2 event featured dozens of authors on panels. Writer after writer, as well as some of the 80 authors who displayed their works, greeted fans and introduced themselves to new readers, declared the days when writers pinned their hopes for exposure on agents and tried to woo their way into a few stodgy mainstream publishing houses have gone the way of the electric typewriter.

Travel author Lee Foster laments the decline of the traditional publishers, yet confirms that the shift is more than theoretical. The technology offered by outlets such as Amazon and CreateSpace have kicked open the markets.

“A critical aspect of the rise of independent publishing is each author’s answer to the question, ‘Who actually sells my book today?'” he writes in , “Independent Book Publishing: Is it the Viable Future for Books?” an essay on his website In the past, the publisher was a major seller. A bookstore would stock every book in a given publisher’s lineup. Now the author himself or herself is the main seller, aided by Social Media reach.”


Technological developments have allowed authors to publish and market themselves. That opens the industry to a wider variety of stories and perspectives.

“If an author needs to create the market, why not take 100% of the profit?” writes Foster. “That’s what I get from BookBaby for my ebooks, 100% of the net ebook sales, vs a “generous” 25% from Countryman Press. I use the word “generous” because Countryman upped the payment to me from 15% of net for printed books to 25% of net for ebooks. As mentioned, for my print-on-demand books, I earn about $4.25 per sale of a book through Amazon or Ingram, vs about $1 some six months later for a sale of a printed book from a traditional publisher, such as Countryman Press. Given these dollar disparities, it may be increasingly difficult for traditional publishers to attract authors.”

During the weekend participants explored methods to develop ideas and write for Young Adult, New Adult, Erotic, Adult and Mystery, Science Fiction, Paranormal, and Romance genres. Beyond that, various panels addressed the nuts and bolts of the business of being an author, Published writers and experts gave pointers on editing, promotion, formatting books and covers, as well as sales.

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