Archive for the ‘writing wednesday’ Tag

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dad3b-l114087125281280x9602529This week’s interview is with Iona Visan, author of science fiction and horror novels.

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   1 comment

baa10-bluetypewriter-whitepinkflowersThis week’s interview is with CMT Stibbe, author of Fowler’s Snare and Chasing Pharaohs.

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

Today’s interview will be with Becky Akers, author of Halestorm and Abducting Arnold, and purveyor of anarchist philosophy.

Interview with RJ Askew   2 comments

Today’s interview is with RJ Askew, author of One Swift Summer (previously titled Watching Swifts).

Tell us something about yourself, Ron.

Ron AskewI am from Lancaster in Lancashire in the North-West of England. I did a law degree, but was destined for a career in words, and so moved to London where I got a job as an assistant with a firm that published a book called GO – Graduate Opportunities. It was a start.
So, you became a writer?
I segued into selling advertising space for a couple of national newspapers, but was better at writing adverts than selling space and so used this knack to talk my way into a copy-writing job with a small-time advertising agency.Several copy-writing jobs later, I wormed my way into a reporting job with an American news agency’s London office on Fleet Street. They let me loose on the coffee, sugar and oil markets. It was a great job. I’d made it. I even had one of those early mobile phones the size of a clog. And they used to send me to Geneva and Vienna to chase OPEC oil minsters around, or up to Orkney to check out oil terminals. But all good things must end.

No! That sounds like a dream reporter job. I was a journalist myself and the farthest I ever got was Anchorage, Alaska! You were in the hotspots of Europe.
The mighty Reuters was about five doors down Fleet Street in an imposing Lutyens edifice of imperial grandeur, and they paid a lot more. So I talked my way into the world’s greatest news agency as a reporter. I put down roots and spent the rest of my glorious career in the arms of The Baron, as Reuters is known to insiders.I edited millions of words written by hundreds of reporters from all points of the globe. I loved fooling around with their words, supposedly honing them into things of beauty, mostly just hacking them about. Still, it was great fun.

Reuters is the elephant for journalist. So how’d you get from journalist to novelist?
Meanwhile, I was quietly working away at my own writing for the joy of it, biding my time. Reuters was a news factory where words hurtled at you like trucks on a multi-lane highway. It made me yearn for more poetic forms of expression. That said, without a telling story even the most elegant of writing is as – nothing.I wrote ONE SWIFT SUMMER in 2001, touted it around a few London literary agents, to no avail, after which I forgot about it for a decade. Enter Amazon. I got some feedback for the story, which I then re-edited and self-published in Nov 2011. I had no idea what to do next. And so did nothing.

The story sold a fair few copies in its first eighteen months or so, winning some supportive reviews along the way. Then it stuck.

In for a decade, in for life – I changed the title from WATCHING SWIFTS and ditched my DIY cover in favour of something a little more professional.

Meanwhile, I wrote a series of collaborative stories to keep my hand in. I also wrote a second story of my own – IN THE ROOM WITH THREE DOORS – a short tale of three twenty-somethings escaping the succeed-or-die pressures of London for the watercress beds and nightingales of Hampshire.

ONE SWIFT SUMMER also has a London theme, being a story of redemption set in Kew Gardens, where a jaded young war-photographer finds herself drawn into a wistful relationship with an enigmatic guy who can’t stop smiling and glancing at the sky.

While not a long story, ONE SWIFT SUMMER has had a long maturation and, in spite of its title, is not a story to dash through, being unconventional and gently challenging. I hope you will find the outcome artfully enlivening, a nourishing read that will earn and deserve your enduring regard.


What are you passionate about in life?



One Swift SummerAh! Hence … poets rule! The main female character in One Swift Summer is a photojournalist who has worked in war zones. Do you have a similar background or know someone who does?


Yeah, I’ve met people a few people like Emma Saywell, excitement junkies who like riding tanks into dangerous places. War rocks. People love it. It draws many like flies to its total nastiness. It’s the drama, the danger, the excitement, the buzz of death. Some people feel compelled to get up close to smell death, to know war. It’s such a human thing, killing. We have a complex relationship with killing. I was never tempted to seek out bloody doings myself. Tom in ONE SWIFT SUMMER has known blood and death. But he has changed and turned from them. It is no surprise that he finds himself in a garden. In a way he’s an ancient man, a green man like the one the medieval craftsmen carved high up in the fabric of dreams in stone like St Albans Abbey. Emma is a very modern woman with her go-places career and her hi-res camera eyes.


Tell us about the book.

ONE SWIFT SUMMER – formerly called Watching Swifts – is an allegorical novella of about 40,000 words set in London’s Kew Gardens. Nature is the silent voice in the story. She is the ultimate creator, the poet-in-chief, god if you will. She is limitless in her creativity. In ONE SWIFT SUMMER two of her creations are contrasted, the dynamic swifts which spend all their lives on the wing in the blue, positivity in  motion, and the static, defensive monkey-puzzle tree, a violence of vicious daggers. Tom aka Leonardo is the human equivalent of the swifts, while his foil, Parker, the jobs worth who baits him is the equivalent of the dagger tree. On a deeper level there are 14 sonnets stitched into the seams of the story – perhaps they are swifts, too, albeit of a metaphorical swiftness.


Talk a little bit about your experience as an indie author? What got my attention on you was that you had a highly successful giveaway on Amazon recently. I want to know how you did that.


My experience as an indie is a work in progress. I am lousy at all the social media flimflam. I’m a natural born thread killer. I leave a comment. Instant death. You can sense the life drain from the screen. I’ve been on several sites — Authonomy, Writerscafe, Goodreads. And I have two zombie webbies of my own, presently being galvanised back into life, and which has all sorts of radical junk on it. The best aspect of being an indie author to date has been finding some cracking stuff to read, stuff that is really, really good, strong writing, yet writing that will never get an audience because, because, because… We are living in a golden age of creativity. Never in the whole of human history have so many people been able to turn their hands to writing. There is a massive and marvellous outpouring of talent and beauty going on and we are all part of it. Where it will go no one knows. But it won’t be stopped now — of that I am certain. Yes, there is a lot of deadwood in the jungle. But the jungle is a wonderful and beautiful place in which to find oneself, quite magical. Because we are all little synapses in a larger human soul and that soul’s finest instinct is to create. Can we really be part of the same species as warlords and those of a more petty destructivity we are liable to encounter every day of our lives?

Interview with Joe Attanasio   1 comment

This week’s interview is with Joe Attanasio, author of several historical fiction novels and — a new one for the blog — a book of poetry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATell us a bit about yourself, Joe.

I am the oldest of eight siblings born in Buffalo, New York. I had five sister and two brothers. I dropped out of high school in my junior year and joined the army at the age of seventeen. I spent three years in the army including a one year tour in Vietnam from 1967-1968.


My older brother served in Nam the same time frame. What did you do after your service?

I married a girl from California and lived there for 35 years before returning to New York. I was a meat cutter and then manager for most of that time working in various grocery stores. We have a grown daughter who lives out of state. I have been married to the love of my life for almost 45 years.

When did you write your first story and what was it?

When I was a boy I loved to read. Stories like Tom Swift and the Hardy boys plus numerous comic books were a mainstay for me. About the age of 16 I stopped reading for pleasure. Except for chess books, computer manuals, magazines and the newspaper, I did not read again until I turned 60 years old. I was getting a haircut one day and talking to the barber about playing dungeon and dragon type games online. He told me if I was interesting in medieval times I should read ‘Pillar of the Earth’ by Ken Follett.

I found a copy in a used bookstore and it was 1,200 pages long. I bought it but never thought I could ever read such a tome. I put it on the table next to my easy chair and read about ten pages a day for a few weeks. My eyes and brain got used to reading and the story started to captivate me. I found myself reading while I ate lunch and breakfast and a few times a day. Before I knew it the story was done. I loved the story and the fact that I completed it.

I was on a treadmill at the YMCA a few weeks later and overheard the man next to me talking to a friend about having read some book he enjoyed. When the friend walked away I turned to the man and told him I just read ‘Pillars of the Earth.”. I did not know he was an English professor at a local college and a writer himself. He had read the same book and we talked about it. The following week he brought me a book he thought I might like from his collection.

Over the course of the next year I read about 40 books and renewed my interest in reading. However, I felt an urge to write a book myself. Since I liked medieval times so much I decided to write a fiction based in that time period but I felt strongly that it should be accurate and educational as well as entertaining. At the age of 62 I wrote my first novel called ‘A Butcher’s Tale’.

Butcher's TaleThis historical adventure is the story of a passionate and idealistic young man named Joseph in 14th century England. He gives up his career as a butcher with his trade guild in York and follows a young woman named Dorothy and her family into the border country to the north. Dorothy and her family are going to take over the farm they inherited when her uncle died. The English-Scottish war is heating up and the border region is very unstable. This is the time of Edward I, (Longshanks), and William Wallace. Every effort has been made to ensure the historical events and flavor of the times is accurately portrayed. For those that are familiar with the reference; this story resembles a 14th century version of “Little House on the Prairie” written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This story is suitable for ages 13 and up.


What is your writing process?

I make notes about some of the things I want included in the story, but it is far from an outline. I do not start writing until I have a solid idea for the start of the story. Once I start the story I let the characters and the plot drive the story. I work out the scenes in my head and write them as they come to me. I usually end up writing about one thousand words each time I write. I take the time to polish my writing as I go and my first drafts are usually very readable despite the places that need to be fleshed out more and tweaked. My wife reads all my first drafts and makes notes and comments as she goes. We discuss character behavior and description detail in addition to obvious typo’s and unclear sentences. After my rewrite I give it to a few family members for a beta read and then a third rewrite. There comes a point when I decide I fussed with it enough to be happy and I publish it.


Treasure_Trove_Cover_for_KindleYou write a lot of historical fiction. Is history a passion for you?

I love doing research and using history as a framework for a story. I like my stories to entertain and educate people and historical works seem like a natural way to accomplish this. I love reading historical works for the same reason.


Tell us about Treasure Trove. 

When I wrote ‘A Butcher’s Tale’ I didn’t realized just how many words I would have to avoid using to keep in the flavor of a 14th century novel. I wanted to free myself from those restrictions and try something modern. I had been reading a lot of Steve Berry novels where he built his stories around ancient mysteries. I happened across the fact that most of Captain William Kidd’s treasure had never been found and that was my inspiration. Since many ‘fake’ maps had surfaced over time allegedly leading to the lost treasure, I followed that idea. I decided to tie the main character into Captain Kidd’s family while doing genealogy research and discovering a connection.


Tell us about A Butcher’s Tale.

I started the novel as a short story that was going to highlight the Mystery Plays from the early 14th century in England. When I started writing the short story my mind was plagued with the idea that this could be much more. I had passion and desire but lacked the education and experience to try a novel. I literally thought to myself, “I will write it anyway, someone might read it and besides it will be fun and interesting to try.” I let the characters drive the direction of the story based on historical facts and the flavor of the High Middle Ages.


Sarah_Cover_for_KindleTell us about Sarah. 

When I wrote ‘Treasure Trove’ and researched the genealogy for the story I discovered Captain William Kidd’s wife Sarah. She was married to four wealthy men including Captain Kidd. Sarah and Captain Kidd were suspected of murdering her second husband. She was sent to prison along with Kidd in an attempt to discover the location of his hidden treasure. The idea of writing this story haunted me the whole time I wrote ‘Treasure Trove’. I had to write Sarah or go crazy!

I took all the known facts I could discover about Sarah and weaved a fictional story to showcase her life and the times.


Writing Sarah presented a lot of obstacles for me. Very little is written about that particular time and place in America. The city of New Amsterdam was just conquered by the English and what little is written was in Dutch. It took considerable research to get a good perspective of the times there. In addition this story deals with people of means and as such demanded rich descriptions of their lifestyles and clothing. As a man I was up to my ears in corsets and breeches.


I hate describing historical clothing myself and admire any writer who can.

This is an example of one of the descriptions:

Sarah wore a crimson colored mantua with elbow-length cuffed sleeves over the lace-ruffled sleeves of her chemise. Her gold and rust colored brocaded skirt was looped back to reveal her petticoat. She wore white elbow-length gloves and a cap with a high lace fontange. Mary pulled her hair back under the cap and tied it with silver ribbon leaving ringlet curls hanging onto her shoulders.


Caboodle_of_Poems_Cover_for_KindleYou also write poetry. Tell us about the poetry book.

This caboodle or collection of poems was written over the last 40 years. A majority of these were written in the last five years. My poems deal with love and nature but also social issues, science, sex and humor.

This Caboodle of Poems contains a variety of rhyme schemes and free verse. A number of these poems have been written from the female perspective or Point of View POV.

The book contains over 100 poems.


What are your future literary plans?

My goal is to try all different genres. I am learning and growing every day as a new writer. I feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I am writing a fantasy adventure which takes place on an earth like planet circa 800-1200 AD. In other words swords, gunpowder, hand cannons. The story involves tribes of catlike people and nomads that resemble man. My first draft is almost done at 33,000 words but is very lean and will easily double on the first rewrite. In this case I may well require three rewrites before the final.

I am also half-heartedly working on a steamy romance to see how it feels to write one. I am at around 11,000 words and not sure if I will end up keeping it or chalk it off as an exercise.


In my opinion, romance is the hardest genre to write. I’ve never completed one. Good luck to you with it! What are some of  your writing challenges.

English was my worst subject in school; grammar, spelling and composition being the reason.
I have always been interested in words and would look up their meanings when I found a new one. I like to do crossword puzzles. I got my GED diploma in the army giving me a high school diploma even though I dropped out in my junior year. I have no credentials to write.


Some of the best writers have “no credentials” to write. Sometimes education gets in the way of writing, especially fiction. What would your advice be to others who want to write.

I have a ton of potential stories in constantly stirring in my brain. I tell them the best way I can and many readers seem to connect with that. My advice is to write, if only for your sake. Get your stories out there. Share your ideas with the world. Take the bad criticism and learn from it but then throw it away. Do what makes you happy.

My author’s page at US amazon is:

My Author Page in UK Amazon:

My Goodreads author page:

Facebook Fan page for Joe P Attanasio:

Booksie – A popular writer’s website.

My Blog-Spot Blog:

A website sharing the works and links for about 30 traditional and independent published authors called The Booktrap:

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   1 comment

This week’s interview will be Joe Attenasio, author of several historical novels.

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

dad3b-l114087125281280x9602529This week’s interview is with Michael Faris, non-fiction author of Forever Laowai, who lives in China.

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

This week’s interview is with Kristin Gleeson, author of Selkie Dreams and Anahareo. She’s going to talk about her upcoming book Along the Far Shores.


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