March 4, 2015

Alyson Hagy on the Roots of Fiction

Today in the Earth's Imagined Corners Bewitching Book Tour, I get to hang out over at Lisa's World of Books. Thank you, Lisa! I also came across a great interview with one of my mentors, the wonderful Alyson Hagy on Whole Beast Rag.

Alyson Hagy
"I was thinking about writers who I thought did a good job writing both genders. It seems to me that it’s more an issue of temperament. I would also say that great fiction often gets written when there are roots of fever or hatred or grief, which says to me that our own failures or fears about love or heterosexual or homosexual interaction fuel our fiction." ~ Alyson Hagy
Read the whole interview here.

March 3, 2015

That Age-old Writer Question: How Do You Get Your Work Done?

As part of the Earth's Imagined Corners Bewitching Book Tour, I'm honored to be hanging out with Roxanne over at Roxanne's Realm today.  Telling interview ~ you should check it out!  But in the meantime, I am so stoked to have my greatest writer friend Jessica hanging out here today! And she's answering that age-old question: How do you get the writing done? She's amazing in her dedication!

Pembroke Sinclair, aka Jessica Robinson

Pembroke Sinclair, aka Jessica Robinson, is a rock star when it comes to getting her work done.  She has two darling boys and a husband, she works full time as an editor for a foundation, and she occasionally freelance edits for publishing houses.  Yet she has six excellent fiction works and two nonfiction books to her name and lots of short pieces, and she’s a model of how writers can get their work done. You should check out her Road to Salvation series—the second of which (Dealing with Devils) just came out—and also her Life After the Undead series, especially if you’re a fan of zombies.

One of the many things I admire about you is that you get your shit done.  You are not only very productive in your personal life and work life but most importantly in your writing life. How do you do it? Maybe talk about your mindset in approaching getting your writing done.

I’m anal retentive and obsessive compulsive and I have no friends.  Ha!

In all seriousness, when it comes to writing—first and foremost—I have to remember that not everything is going to get done.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day, so I have to be OK with what is left unfinished.  And, believe me, I’m fine with floors not getting vacuumed or dishes sitting in the sink for a few days.  All of that stuff waits for me, so I can come back and do it whenever I need to.  

It’s a sense of priorities, really.  And those change on a daily basis.  My family always comes first, but there are times when they can entertain themselves for a while so I can disappear and work.  

What’s your daily schedule of writing? Do you have any rituals? 

My daily schedule of writing is that I fit it in when I can.  Thankfully, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, my boys have wrestling practice, so I have a dedicated hour and a half that I can work on what I want to work on.  When they have tournaments, I work on my stuff in between matches (we’re usually there all day). 

On the weekends, I try to balance my schedule between doing laundry, cleaning the house, and getting writing done.  That usually means I’ll limit myself to writing/editing a chapter, then start a load of laundry, fold a load, or get the bathrooms clean.  Then I’ll do another chapter, and when that’s done, another piece of house cleaning.  To me, writing is a reward after working on my other obligations.

Do you write on the computer or on paper or both? 

I do both.  It’s so much easier to carry a notebook and a pen with me where I go rather than a laptop.  But I do find that when I write on paper, my writing tends to be a bit sparse.  Knowing that, however, means that in the editing process I have to flesh the story out.  

Talk about a project in particular, maybe your latest book.  How long did it take you to write? To revise? What was the process?

The latest project I worked on is called Good Intentions, and it’s the third book in The Road to Salvation series.  That took me 5 months to write, including initial editing.  (At the moment, it’s with the editor, who will no doubt come back with things I need to fix.)  I handwrote that entire story in a notebook before transferring it to the computer.  People keep telling me I got through it really fast, but it didn’t feel like.  Five months felt like a very long time.  I just worked on it every free chance I got and in between all of my other obligations.

How do you get yourself motivated and focused when there are so many other responsibilities and fun things to do?

I’m not going to lie, some days are tougher than others.  Some days I just want to veg in front of the TV or play games on my phone—anything other than write.  And I do.  But writing is a compulsion for me, and most of the time, I enjoy doing it, so it doesn’t feel like work to me.  If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.  It’s my escape, my way to explore new worlds.  

I wasn’t lying about being anal retentive and obsessive compulsive, hence the schedule on the weekends about working.  But I feel like if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t get anything done.  As I mentioned earlier, there’s only a certain amount of time in the day, and it’s about priorities.  More often than not, writing is a priority of mine—especially if I have to decide between writing and cleaning a toilet.  Duh!  No brainer!  So being motivated and focused is only about taking the time to sit down.

Any advice for writers on this topic? 

Writing is work.  Words don’t magically appear on the page, you have to put them there.  You’re the one who decides how you’re going to spend your days.  You’re the one in control of your schedule.  If you want to spend it writing, you’re going to spend it writing.  But something will have to be neglected for writing to happen.  If you want to make excuses, that’s what you’ll do.  The world stands in your way.  It doesn’t care if you accomplish your goals.  It constantly keeps throwing distractions at you.  Only you get to decide if you’ll let them get in your way.
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today, Pembroke! And, readers, please check out Dealing with Devils!


March 2, 2015

Bewitching Book Tour for Earth's Imagined Corners

Welcome! Today is the first day of my Bewitching Book Tour for the historical novel Earth's Imagined Corners! I'll be hanging out at all the coolest places on the interwebs. I hope you'll join me.

My first stop is Andi's Book Reviews.  I get to chat with Andrea about my relationship to the past. I always joke that I was raised in the 1880s, but it really wasn't halcyon days for women.  But it makes for good fiction! Here's a taste:

I’m honored to be hanging out with Andrea today on the fabulous Andi’s Book Reviews!
She asked me these great questions relating to my historical novel Earth’s Imagined Corners: Why do you feel you belong in the 1800s? If you could blend today's society and that of the 1800s, what aspects of each would you include?
Well, it isn’t so much that I feel that I belong in the 1800s. In fact, I think it would have been pretty tough to be a woman in that time period. You were property in the true sense of the word: for most of the period, you couldn’t own anything because it belonged to your husband or father. You did not “own” or have any legal rights to your kids. You were at the mercy of the men in your life and had not legal or social right to much of anything.
It’s not that I feel I belong there. It’s that I joke I was raised in the 1800s. That’s because I was raised on a ranch in Wyoming that did things old style. Over the summer, we would take cows to summer pasture and live without running water and electricity and ride horses to get pretty much everywhere. Over the winter, we rode the bus 25 miles both ways to get to school, and the pipes would often freeze so you had to go to the outhouse. We had a party line for a phone, which meant you could listen in on your neighbors. There were always dangerous animals around. If it wasn’t my uncle’s buffalo and ostriches and kangaroos (wallaby), it was the bears coming down off the mountain to eat the apples in the orchard across the creek.
Click here to read the rest of the post.

And if you'd like to join me for the rest of the tour, here are my stops. I'd like to thank the lovely Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours!

Bewitching Book Tour for Earth’s Imagined Corners, March 2 - April 2

March 2 ~ Andi's Book Reviews

March 3 ~ Roxanne’s Realm

March 4 ~ Lisa’s World of Books

March 5 ~ Fang-tastic Books

March 6 ~ The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

March 9 ~ Mythical Books

March 10 ~ Deb Sanders

March 11 ~ Eclipse Reviews

March 11 ~ Author Karen Swart

March 12 ~ Deal Sharing Aunt

March 18 ~ Shut Up and Read

March 19 ~ BookwormBridgette's World

March 20 ~ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!

March 24 ~ More Romance Please

March 25 ~

March 26 ~ feedmeinbooks

March 27 ~ CBY Book Club

April 2 ~ Books Direct

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Earth's Imagined Corners by Tamara Linse

Earth's Imagined Corners

by Tamara Linse

Giveaway ends April 02, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

February 27, 2015

What We Say vs. What We Do

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

Today is Book Day at the kids' school, and so each of them chose a book to take in. My daughter had one in her desk and one in her bag, just in case. My son took in a book I discovered for him recently: When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds, which won the Coretta Scott King Award.  It is so well written and I love the protagonist Ali and his friends Needles and Noodles.  This is what it's about:

In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should've been—where the people aren't so friendly, and even less forgiving.

My husband takes the kids in in the morning, and they all went out to the car but then my husband came back in: "Is this book a kids' book? Is it okay for him to take in?" I assured him it was. I totally understand where he's coming from ~ someone might object to what they think the book is about.

Which got me to thinking.  One of the driving forces of my writing and reading, since I was very young, was the fact that what I felt and understood about the world wasn't what people agreed the world was. In fiction, though, people would talk about those things.  They'd acknowledge the disconnect and hypocrisy in life.

And that's something that flabbergasts me in public life and politics.  On one hand, we tell each other this is the way we are, and then when we think people aren't looking ~ or even when they are ~ we do the total opposite. We crusade against adults doing consentual kinds of things while in our back rooms we're assaulting our own children. We talk about freedom and equality and fairness but what we actually mean is that I should have everything in my favor ~ freedom and equality and fairness only for me.  And ISIS/ISIL ~ don't get me started. How can anyone do those things, such a smorgasbord of horrors?

Even when everyone in the room knows what is reality, they talk around it and construct this story about what's really happening.  There's everybody's reality and then there's what we acknowledge publicly.

Which brings me back to books. They're lightning rods because they can tell the truth under the lie.  They can make people uncomfortable. For example, the book that my son is reading.  This is one type of truth about what it's like to grow up in Bed Stuy. And there's a truth in what it's like to grow up female on a ranch (my book of stories How to Be a Man). And there's a truth about what it's like to be a slave in Texas in the 1870s (I'm reading the wonderful The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock). And so on and so on and so on.

More and more, I realize that the hypocrisy of people is what drives a lot of my outrage. How can they say these things but then do these things? This post has turned into a bit of a rant, but it's a burning question that has always spun me. Why are people such monsters?

February 25, 2015

Is the Sublime Sublime?

Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Today, we tend to think of the sublime as a positive concept, but the Romantics didn't.

According to Edmund Burke, the sublime is "whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger ... Whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror."

Wordsworth said:

Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burden of the mystery
In which the heavy and weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened

Coleridge said, "No object of the Sense is sublime in itself; but only as far as I make it a symbol of some Idea. the circle is a beautiful figure in itself; it becomes sublime, when I contemplate eternity under that figure."

And so the sublime is not something inherent in nature but rather is manmade and within ourselves. As such, it's a product of language. 

I was thinking this morning how it's the human condition, how hate and love and elation and depression are all tied together in this gordion knot. On my good days, I think that's wonderful ~ the highest are higher because the deep lows are there. But on my bad days, I think, what's the use?

February 23, 2015

Reader Reviews: You Love It!


The first reader reviews of of Earth's Imagined Corners are coming in, and it's five stars and you love it!  Oh my gosh!  Thank you thank you!  I worked for 15 years on this book, and I'm so so gratified that you think it's a good read.  I'm just over the moon! I can't use enough exclamation points today!

This is what a writer works for.

February 20, 2015

What's Next?

The Letter Writer, by Haynes King
So what's next for me, with the historical novel Earth's Imagined Corners out?

I always have so many ideas that vie for my attention!  And they tend be novels or full-length nonfiction, and so I have to pick and choose carefully.

First of all, the next two in the Round Earth series are not completed, so I'm doing more historical research and following them as they make their way west.  You saw yesterday where these novels are taking Sara and James Youngblood.

The lovely P. J. Morgan is working on the audio version of Deep Down Things. She's so amazing and I can't thank her enough for taking on these projects!  

I'm also working on a young adult series called the Wyoming Chronicles.  They're British classics set in contemporary Wyoming, and there's a girls' part and a boys' part.  I'm in the middle of writing Pride, which is Pride and Prejudice set in Jackson, Wyoming. Oh, it's so perfect because you have the locals and the summer people, the dialog translates so well into modern times, and there's so much tension in the dialog and the relationships. The first I'll do for boys will be Moreau, based on The Island of Dr. Moreau. It'll be set in the Hole in the Wall country, and it'll be about genetic modification instead of vivisection.

I have two children's books I've written, but I've been stalled looking for illustrators. I'll probably end up playing at doing the illustrations myself. Art is something else I love, so if nothing else, it'll be fun!

I think I might put together an art book of some of my Project 365 photos. I also have a memoir called Up a Creek that I haven't been brave enough yet to attempt.

And just last week a high school friend of mine suggested I write a middle grade fiction that is Little House on the Prairie but from a ranch girl's perspective.  My mind has been catching fire with that one!

As you can see, I get lots of ideas. Now I just have to apply the seat of my pants to the seat of the chair and get cracking!