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Know Your Local Writer: Katiedid Langrock

Welcome to the fifth in a series of interviews with Athens-area writers.  The hope is to inform you about new techniques you might want to try, increase your knowledge of the individuals in your community, and inspire you on your path.  Please contact me if you’re interested in answering our writing questionnaire and being featured here as a future ‘local writer’.

NOTE: Special thanks to AWA co-founder Jill Hartmann for originally supplying us with these wonderful questions for the series, and to the author below for supplying the photos and memes.

At what point in your life did you become a writer and how did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I have one of those amazing stories of superb teacher intervention. I was eleven years old, combating a rough spell of pre-adolescence and lost my drive to succeed. I wouldn’t do my homework or take any tests. Rather, on the back of the forms I routinely refused to fill in, I would write stories about a rebellious young girl who could do no right.

I should have failed that year. I was practically begging to fail. But rather than seeing a flunkee, Mr. Patrick saw a kid in need of a little special attention. He called me after class one day to make me an offer. If I could muster the ambition to ask him for an alternative to the homework or tests, he would give me a unique story-based assignment. However, if I ever asked and then failed to hand in the work, the deal was off.

From that day on, I never answered math equations, but rather, wrote word problems that proved I understood the lesson. I never took another scantron exam about ancient Egypt, but rather wrote stories from the point of view of King Tut. Mr. Patrick saw potential and put the pen in my hand. He could have failed me that year. Many other teachers would have. Instead, he gave me my career and a creative outlet has never let me down.

 

What books have you read that shaped you as a writer? Which authors’ work do you admire and why?

No book shaped me more as a writer than Catcher in the Rye. That book inspired my foray into screenwriting. I had never read anything written in that way; in the first person with such a command of voice and such a unique world-view. As a fifteen-year- old, Holden Caulfield was my heartthrob of choice.

I was so smitten by CITR, that – in my free time – I wrote monologues from the perspective of the other characters in the story who didn’t get a fair chance to speak. The monologue I wrote from the perspective of the prostitute won an award the following year when, at sixteen, I attended summer-college at Syracuse University. It was there that a professor told me for the first time that I could write professionally. If only I were brave enough to try.

Which piece that you have written are you most proud of and why?

Oh man, I have no idea. When I am writing for myself, I always like to push myself to try something new. I will tackle a new genre or story-telling style. Anything to force myself to learn and adapt and mold language in new and exciting ways. A few of these attempts have ended in miserable failures, but each of these experimental babies are loved equally. I can’t pick a favorite because, since they were each equally out of my comfort zone, they each equally taught me something profound.

The accomplishment comes not from believing I have a new style or genre nailed down, but rather, in knowing that I don’t have to be afraid of it. In learning that now I have yet another arena in which I can play. And isn’t that the best part of being a writer, getting to play?

All this being said, getting to go to the Emmys when Project Mc2, a show I helped develop and write, was nominated for Best Children’s Program, was a pretty spectacular experience.

— Walt Whitman

Do you gravitate toward a particular genre(s) and/or format when you write? Tell us more about which genres and/or formats are your “passion?”

As stated in the previous question, I love to play and try new things. However, I will say I have two passions and though folks find them quite dissimilar, I couldn’t disagree more.

I love to write for kids, particularly around the preteen age, and to give them stories full of complicated emotions. It is so important that we tell kids, “I see you” and offer them stories in which they see themselves and their feelings are validated. Superheroes and dystopia are fun and have a place, but to take a story that walks along the school halls with them and shows the complicated inner-workings of young friendships is key to a kid’s self-esteem and understanding of their placement in the world.

My other passion is female raunch-comedy, such as Bridesmaids or The Heat. And though it seems like an odd departure, I love it for a similar reason. Women, for too long, have been silenced. Our humor is silenced. Our sexuality is silenced. Our emotional wants and needs are silenced. We are currently in another wave of the feminist movement and I love being a part of it. I have spent my entire life (not just career) being asked whether I think women can be as funny as men. Duh! Now, finally, this is changing. Of course we are just as funny.

The true question was never whether women are funny, but whether men are willing to laugh. And the answer we see now, is yes!! Male allies are supporting funny women. And through these stories, women can talk about things we were never allowed to talk about and show off talents that, before, many felt uncomfortable with us showing off.

Just like with writing for kids, this is a genre that helps women see themselves reflected in media in a way they haven’t been allowed to see before. For as silly as it can be, it is also important because it validates and helps women find their footing and their voice. I love them both.

Have you studied writing and/or attended writing seminars, workshops or conferences? Where and what did you learn from your classes/sessions and other writing teachers? Did any of them stand out to you and why?

I majored in Creative Writing at Miami University. Two teachers stand out above the rest: Steve Bauer and Dave Kajganich, both excellent writers. They were hard on me. They were clear on what makes a story and what is just fluff. They didn’t give a whistle if you used pretty words. They cared about conflict, about stakes and about emotional connection. They geeked out to authors who did it differently; they encouraged me to try new things. They didn’t get annoyed or dismiss your talents if you failed, but kicked you in the butt to try again. I’m so lucky to have had them as my mentors.

Have you had any formal writing jobs and/or published any of your work? If so, tell us about your jobs and/or your publications.

I am a TV writer and I have a syndicated humor column that appears in newspapers every week around the country. My television work is primarily for kid/teen shows: Lalaloopsy, Project Mc2, etc. Before moving to Athens from LA, I also worked on the network-side of things as a story development executive. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep getting work writing for television since I moved here 10 months ago. I’m currently writing for three TV programs (including a live-action show coming out of Atlanta), but due to the NDAs [nondisclosure agreements — Ed.] I can’t disclose more. Other fun scripted work comes in the form of writing scripts for games and apps. A Disney game I wrote should be coming out soon. I’m also a columnist for Script magazine. Last year, my book was published, titled, Stop Farting in the Pyramids.

What is unique about your writing process? What works for you, and what doesn’t work?

My number one must-do is finding my emotional connection to the story. Emotional connection is everything. When people ask me what is the one thing publishers and producers are looking for, my answer is always this: all they want, is to feel something. And here’s the trick, when you feel while writing it, your readers will feel it to.

So the challenge now becomes, how, during the writing process, do you, the writer, get out of your head and into your heart? Whenever I coach writers through my company, Write in the Wild, one of the first things I have them do is take a walk in the woods with me. There is a lot of science behind this that I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say, nature provides a quick access road to emotionally connecting with your story and characters in a way that can’t help but show up on the page.

It’s probably the most unique thing about the way I work and has never failed me. It took a girl with no film school experience, only $86 to her name and no Hollywood connections in one of the most competitive industries in the world, and provided the career of a lifetime. I love what I do, and getting my readers, specifically the publishers and producers, to feel is what earned me my career.

What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

Dialogue is my forte, so I often get so wrapped up in what my characters are saying, that I forget (or neglect) to account for what they are doing. This is particularly bad when it comes to the cartoons I write, because cartoons are visual and rely far more on action than words spoken.

What are you currently writing?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently on 3 shows and ghostwriting a really awesome book about service dogs. I also have my weekly humor column. But, man, I really can’t wait until things slow down a bit and I can write some stuff for me again. I have 3 books I want to write and a deliciously cheesy Christmas movie that would be perfect for Hallmark channel. It’ll pour some sap right into your eggnog.

What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning to write?

Good question! Take the time to read about and learn structure and character archetypes. It’s important to have this in your arsenal. But do not, under any circumstance, feel beholden to them. Humans have been telling stories since the dawn of our existence. It’s a species gift and a special gift. You have storytelling in you. So study it, then put it on the backburner and really consider what it is that you want to say.

What is the message you are trying to send out into the world? People always like to say, “It’s true that every story has been written, but no one has written like you would.” But this statement is only sorta true. You can only add something new to say if YOU actually show up. If the unique YOUR shines through. So, get in there. Get dirty. Find your emotional connection to the story, to the characters. Let them surprise you, inspire you. Let them make you cry. Let them make you laugh. Let yourself feel all of this.

Because you can’t write anything worthwhile if you are simply following someone else’s mile-markers. Set off on this new trail and see it as an adventure. Don’t force the course, or your story, in any particular direction. Once you are tuned in to your craft and into your characters, you can let them lead you. Writing is hard, but it is oh-so fun.

And lastly, be brave and be kind to yourself. If you want to be a writer it takes guts to put stuff out into the world and then you have to be prepared to accept that rejection will come. It does for all of us. Bravery is a must to get started. Being kind to yourself is a must for having a long career.

How has being a writer changed your life?

I don’t even know how to answer this; it’s given me my entire adult life, my entire career. I get paid to jump into the mind of a teenager saving the world, and then into the mind of a bumblebee out to become a princess. How cool is that!? And, I believe, if you are doing it right, writing anything can be a healing experience. When you breathe emotional truth into your characters, the actions and decisions they make, give you pause. The connectedness creates a mirror from which you can see how you personally respond similarly or dissimilarly. You are able to play with choices and thus get to know yourself better. By empathizing with characters, you can better empathize with, and forgive, yourself.

Writing is such an amazing tool that utilizes your complete mind, body and spirit. Your imagination leaking down into your fingertips, your brain and heart communicate in open dialogue. It’s a wondrous thing.

Cheers to everyone who has chosen this path, it is a winding, twisting road, but the views are amazing and the adventure is oh-so worth it.

A NOTE FROM Katherine Cerulean: I’m very excited to have such an experienced TV writer teaching here in Athens and I’ve signed up to take Katiedid’s special 8-week screenwriting / TV writing class which will begin mid-September! She’s offering it at a one-time only introductory price and it will go over the basics and then get into the tips, tricks, and nitty-gritty that made her – someone with no connections who didn’t go to film school – a successful working  professional writer – even from here in Athens. Come be my classmate and we’ll learn together!

She also has a writers retreat that she will hosting along with Silver Compass Tours – known for their fine wine and food tours – in Italy in spring 2018 (!).

Find out more at WriteInTheWild.com

New Online Critique Group!

A newer member of our group, Isham James, would like to start an AWA online critique group and we’re looking for other interested parties.

I know sometimes it’s hard to be able to meet up in Athens at the same place and time. Whether you work odd hours or live a little outside the city (as I do), it can be a challenge to make it to a physical meeting for a critique group. This online group will hopefully provide a chance to improve your craft on your schedule.

What are we looking for?

We’re looking for 5-7 prose fiction writers who are willing to commit to trying this idea for a few months. Why prose fiction? As well being very popular within our group, other kinds of writers like poets and nonfiction writers may be disappointed be find themselves surrounded by those who don’t understand their craft as they do. If you’re interested in leading a differently focused group, let me know!

The loose plan right now is that the group will post to private Google Docs files and each member would submit new material once a month (probably a short story or chapter). Please email me at katherinecerulean@gmail.com by August 19th, 2017 if you are interested or have any questions.

Know Your Local Writer: Charles Beacham

Welcome to the fourth in a series of interviews with Athens-area writers.  The hope is to inform you about new techniques you might want to try, increase your knowledge of the individuals in your community, and inspire you on your path.  Please contact me if you’re interested in answering our writing questionnaire and being featured here as a future ‘local writer’.

NOTE: Special thanks to AWA co-founder Jill Hartmann for originally supplying us with these wonderful questions for the series, and to the author below for supplying the photos and memes.

At what point in your life did you become a writer and how did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

First of all, I’m honored to answer these questions for the Athens Writer’s Association. Thank you for this opportunity.

The simple answer is: I don’t know how not to be a writer. From an early age, I enjoyed writing, beginning with silly childhood poems and moving onto teen angst-y kind of poetry about the passions of young love, the tribulations of separation and rejection, as well as parental friction.

In high school, my English teacher told me, “Whatever you do in life, make sure writing is a part of it.” I never forgot his advice, but also didn’t take it completely to heart, until rather recently.

Instead, I entered the public policy field, which required an abundance of writing, although of the academic and technical kind. However, the profession, and my series of positions, was less than satisfying. 

The turning point came when a dear friend of mine committed suicide in 2009. The event changed my life. I pondered questions deeply. Are you satisfied with your life? What do you want in life? A meeting with mortality has extraordinary potential for setting and/or redirecting the course. The night of his passing, I sat down and words poured out of me. More specifically, I felt his words poured through me, as if I was a vessel for his story.

It was the first time in many years that I allowed inspiration to flow without the internal editor questioning and sculpting and rearranging. I realized how much I wanted and needed to write.

For the past seven years, I’ve dedicated myself to practicing, learning, and growing as a fiction writer, a bit of a rewiring, if you will.

At this point, I consider myself a writer, but the next step is becoming a published author.

What books have you read that shaped you as a writer? Which authors’ work do you admire and why?

My all-time favorite is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m enamored of his reporter’s style and the atmosphere he creates in his settings. Most of his work is set in revolutionary Colombia, but the applications and connections are universal. I can imagine his stories taking place in the Civil War-era United States, for example. I enjoy his lesser known works, the novella entitled ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold,’ and ‘The Autumn of the Patriarch.’ Garcia Marquez’s calling card is magical realism. I love how he weaves the material world with other realms and I’m grateful I discovered him early in my writing journey.

Another favorite is Hunter S. Thompson. In a sense, he’s similar to Garcia Marquez but opposite. Garcia Marquez makes the unbelievable feel real, while Thompson had a penchant for making the real feel unbelievable. His brutal telling of politics and public policy beginning in the 1960’s serve as reminders of where our country was at the time and warnings about where we’re going.

A third author I’ve learned from is Dennis Lehane. It’s strange, because I don’t find his books overly entertaining, but I’ve taken cues from his works about grounding my settings and developing pace. Incorporating elements of Lehane’s style provides a certain balancing mechanism to the atmosphere and lyrical beauty of Garcia Marquez and the vitriolic, face-smashing prose of Thompson.

Other inspirations include Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and local author Eddie Whitlock. I also like darker writers like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Some call it horror, but I see it more as the shadowy side of our subconscious selves.

Which piece that you have written are you most proud of and why?

Two pieces come to mind.

First is the first short story I had accepted for publication in 2013. ‘Snout of the Alligator’ appeared in an anthology of “new” Southern Gothic by a small publisher in New York. I still keep in contact and receive advice from the editor. Opening the acceptance email was a profoundly rewarding and motivating experience.

As writers, we spend so much time alone with our thoughts and characters, and little victories along the way serve as motivation to continue. ‘Alligator’ began life as a chapter in the novel inspired by the life and death of my friend who committed suicide. He made a big impact on my shift to a writing life, so it feels fitting that my first publication was inspired by him.

The second piece is the novel I completed last year, ‘We Were Hungry.’ I’ve written four novels over the past few years, but none satisfied me enough to submit to agents or publishers. When I finished ‘We Were Hungry,’ I felt for the first time that I’d written the book I really wanted to. I’ve always wanted to give readers a similar feeling to the atmosphere in Garcia Marquez novels, and for the first time, I felt I was in the ballpark. Not a home run, or perhaps a base hit even, but watching the game from the bench, at least.

‘We Were Hungry’ was the first piece I submitted for a writer’s conference and it won a ‘Best Manuscript Award,’ which was very rewarding and signaled: “Yes! I’m in the ballpark!”

Do you gravitate toward a particular genre(s) and/or format when you write?   Tell us more about which genres and/or formats are your “passion?”

Determining genre is a huge challenge for me. My writing isn’t formulaic, but genre is extremely important when self-publishing or querying agents and publishers. As humans, we love to categorize, and fiction is no different. My style has been called “dark but hopeful,” so I wish that was a genre.

I enjoy reading thrillers, magical realism, Southern Gothic, some dystopian, and what they call literary fiction (I’m still unsure about what that means, exactly). The English teacher mentioned above read one of my pieces and called it: “Hunter S. Thompson meets Edgar Allan Poe with a twist of Bram Stoker,” and I can live with that, but must also keep pushing and redefining those boundaries.

My stories are psychological, about what pushes humans to the edge of their own minds and what either pushes them over or pulls them back. My protagonists are often people viewed by society as different or outcasts. Schizophrenics, addicts, war veterans, and others who are often marginalized. Society casts wide nets of judgment about those perceived as different from the status quo. But at the essential core, all humans are on a journey and have unique stories regardless of the circumstances surrounding their lives.

I believe the health of a culture is mirrored by how “the outcasts” are treated, and when I look at our culture, the image in the mirror isn’t pretty. Everyone deserves a voice, and I hope my writing honors those who rarely have one, and that it’s accomplished within a story that is entertaining, thought-provoking, and dashed with some humor. After all, a bit of humor helps us take ourselves less seriously.

Have you studied writing and/or attended writing seminars, workshops or conferences?  Where and what did you learn from your classes/sessions and other writing teachers?  Did any of them stand out to you and why?

I’ve attended the Atlanta Writer’s Conference. The best part was being surrounded by other writers, networking and making contacts, and comparing experiences. The icing on the cake was presenting my work to editors and agents and receiving feedback, which is next to impossible with online querying. I urge anyone who is serious about publishing to invest in yourself by attending a conference.

The Athens’ Writers’ Association provides presentations and reading/writing groups, which are great sources for meeting fellow writers, motivation, and feedback.

Have you had any formal writing jobs and/or published any of your work?  If so, tell us about your jobs and/or your publications.

In the past five years, I’ve worked a few freelance jobs for magazines, writing articles on organic gardening, crystals and minerals (I co-own a mineral and jewelry business with my partner/wife), and the practice of gratitude. One was a lifestyle magazine in Nepal—a friend of mine was the editor—and that was pretty cool. I’ve also had short stories published in online journals and in two short story anthologies.

What is unique about your writing process?  What works for you, and what doesn’t work?

I’ll answer this question in two ways—process and writing routine.

Process (how my stories come to life): Writers, in so many ways, are social and cultural observers. Often, I find my story ideas by observing people, overhearing conversations, or reading newspapers. For a writer, just about anything can become a story!

The first part that comes, typically, is a character, so I spend time with that character in my head, learning how he/she would handle a situation. If I’m open to the character and his/her journey, they’ll often lead me to the setting. Sometimes, I’ll write a short story about the character to better familiarize myself with them. This begins the process of identifying conflicts and eventually pushes forth the inciting incidents which move the story along to its completion.

This is where inspiration turns into effort and perspiration.

Routine: Each story is unique and, in my view, each story requires its own rhythm. I recently read an interview with Dennis Lehane that resonated with me. He said he doesn’t like routine because it breeds a dependence on formula.

I don’t have a daily routine, but I do give a certain amount of energy to writing each day. Depending on the work in progress, I might rise with the sun or write in the evening or through the night. I try to be open to what the story and characters need at the moment, and each one, so far, has been different.

I usually have at least two queries out, whether for novels or short stories.

What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

Overall, the most challenging area is time!

As a father and business owner, the time I can devote to writing is somewhat limited, so I have to make that time count. I’ve learned through experience that writing is “ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration,” although ten percent might be too high, perhaps more like five-ninety five.

As for the writing process, editing as I go is a challenge, and one, I believe, magnified by computer software. For me, it’s important to brainstorm the story to completion before the sculpting and editing begins. I’ve found that writing the rough draft, or at least parts of the rough draft, with pen and paper keeps me in the present moment and allows the story to finish before the analysis begins.

As for the business of writing, my biggest challenge is marketing and building a platform. I want to write, not try to sell my writing, but the current environment is one of self-promotion. It’s the way of the world in the age of social media.

What are you currently writing?

I’m revisiting some short stories, tweaking them with an eye for developing a short story collection. I’m also working on a novel about a man who may or may not have schizophrenia.

What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning to write?

If you feel the urge to write, do so without hesitation and without holding on to the ultimate results. Your stories are important! Even if you’re the only one who ever reads them.

If you love writing, you owe it to your deepest self to get it out. Do it for the love of writing, or because you can’t help yourself, or as a form of therapy. Tell your story! It’s the best way I know how to connect with myself, my longings and challenges, the way I interact with the world around me.

Everyone has a story to tell, and writers are the chroniclers of their time. If you want more than self-reflection and satisfaction, read books on the craft of writing, attend workshops, join a writing group, and when you get really serious, delve into the business of writing. It’s not my favorite part for certain, but if you want to publish successfully, an understanding of the writing market is crucial.

READ! Allow the books you enjoy, and the ones you don’t, to inspire and influence you. You can learn a lot about your own writing by reading the work of others.

And…don’t discount the time you spend in contemplation sitting in front of the screen for minutes, maybe hours, on end. Those moments are when the gears are grinding inside your mind, and hopefully, they lead to something satisfying.

How has being a writer changed your life?

Committing to writing and publishing has shifted my life to a more creatively-inspired one. Writing has always been my favorite and most successful form of communication, so intentionally focusing on it drives me to learn and develop more. My desire to live a writing-focused life inspired the development of a small business, so I could shift my attention from nine-to-five office existence to a more home-based life, which in turn, allows me to spend more time with my son.

Writing allows the time for reflection and contemplation, and helps me come to terms with myself, the world, and my journey. It allows me the opportunity to give a voice to those who might not otherwise be heard, and I don’t take that opportunity lightly. And hopefully, I can provide an entertaining, thought-provoking story to make a reader’s life a little bit better. Planting seeds and singing songs.

Thank you and happy writing (and reading!)!

So Many Submissions!

Submissions are now closed for our new comedy collection and — WOW.

We had over eighty pieces (counting each poem separately), from forty writers, adding up to over 60,000 words! That’s incredible. Our previous collections only had 22,000-25,000 words submitted. Thanks to everyone who got the word out; we’re especially indebted to Jill Hartmann and Jennifer Innes for their tireless help.

And many thanks to all who shared their wonderful pieces with us!

What happens now?

For those who submitted, you will be contacted by the end of May to let you know if your piece has been accepted. We have a panel of experienced writers as our content editors and they are now busy reading through all 60,000 words (I think they ended up with more than they bargained for!). And we’ve already read some WONDERFUL pieces.

The editors will meet in May and hash out the layout, tone, and submissions to accept for this collection. We are striving for a coherent book, so know we may end up cutting pieces of good quality if they don’t fit in with the stated theme (funny) or with the other accepted submissions.

If your work’s accepted, you will be asked to write a short bio and return to us a formal agreement allowing us the right to publish your work in our collection (you’ll retain all rights to your piece). You will receive one free copy of the paperback book that you can pick up at an future AWA event. You’ll also be able to buy as many wholesale copies for your own use as you’d like.

For everyone else, our plan is to publish the paperback on Createspace in late summer/early fall, and to have a public reading of some of the selected pieces in Athens. Please make plans to attend our event to hear these wonderful works and to just come hang with your fellow AWA writers. And if you’d like to check out the collection on Amazon or in local stores and consider buying one, that would be awesome too!

More details will be posted on this website as the publication date nears.

How exciting! And what a massive response from the Athens community — we are touched, and excited to watch this project come together.

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Know Your Local Writer: Eric McMurtrey

Welcome to the third in a series of interviews with Athens-area writers.  The hope is to inform you about new techniques you might want to try, increase your knowledge of the individuals in your community, and inspire you on your path.  Please contact me if you’re interested in answering our writing questionnaire and being featured here as a future ‘local writer’.

NOTE: Special thanks to AWA co-founder Jill Hartmann for originally supplying us with these wonderful questions for the series, and to the author below for supplying the photos and memes.

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Question: At what point in your life did you become a writer and how did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Answer: I actually became a writer because of two episodes of a science fiction television series called Star Trek : Deep Space Nine. One of the characters, Jake Sisko, found that his passion was writing and it became a story line that followed throughout the entire run of the series. Jake’s mother had been killed early in his life, so it was just him and his dad, Ben. Ben was very supportive of his son’s hobby turned profession – particularly early on, it was something they bonded over. I’d recently lost my own father when I saw this, and I decided that by writing, I might bond with him as well, so I took it up.

Q: What books have you read that shaped you as a writer? Which authors’ work do you admire and why?

A: My favorite author is Lee Child. I have read several of his ‘Reacher’ series of books. In particular, his book ‘The Enemy’ is my favorite. It was written in a first-person perspective that I found really inspiring. It gave an intimacy to the story that I had never really run into before. I’ve since adopted first-person as my primary perspective for storytelling. ‘Star Trek: Best Destiny’ is my other favorite. In the story, a young (and troubled) James T. Kirk connects with his father while having an adventure and saving the day. While I definitely connected with the book on a personal level, a friend called it ‘a commentary on people’. That phrase has really stuck with me – my dearest hope is that I’ll one day write a book that is referred to in that same way.

lee-child-quote-night-school

Q: Which piece that you have written are you most proud of and why?

A: The honest answer would be the one I have thought up but not written yet. The truth is, I don’t feel like I’ve developed yet to a point where the reality of my work meets my dreams, so… The dream is more fun. But, as I said, I assume you are looking for a different answer. “Ben and the Snow”, one of the stories from my Christmas anthology, is my favorite. In the story, a man is trying desperately to make sure his wife can make it home after she’s been gone for longer than either of them would have liked. Near the end, he believes he failed, and to be honest, my eyes still tear up when I read that moment of profound sadness as he lives it – he just wants to see the woman he loves again. And then she shows up. How can a story get any better than that?

Q: Do you gravitate toward a particular genre(s) and/or format when you write?   Tell us more about which genres and/or formats are your “passion?”

A: *Grin* I’ll be honest, a lot of my stories are ‘Chick Flicks’. I also definitely gravitate toward short fiction – very few of my stories even make it to twenty pages. In fact, I’ve been flirting extensively with my version of ‘flash fiction’ where a given story is about 250 words, and I really enjoy it. My passion? It would be the stories that surround ‘The Ticonderoga Project’. We’ll see if I pull it off, but it’s the story of Earth’s first interplanetary spacecraft. In its whole vision, I’d like to see it tell the entire tale of the ship’s life, from the conception of the idea to her trip to the scrapyard once her day is done.

Q: Have you studied writing and/or attended writing seminars, workshops or conferences?  Where and what did you learn from your classes/sessions and other writing teachers?  Did any of them stand out to you and why?

A: My wife sent me to a writing conference at DragonCon. There were several speakers – it was a great experience. The two things I learned that I consider to be the most valuable were (first) HIRE A PROFESSIONAL EDITOR! I took this advice, and it was an incredible experience. Sure, I learned a lot about my bad habits as a writer – grammatical errors, plot issues, annoying habits… The one-on- one personalized interaction was very helpful, plus, I have the comparison of my version of the work to compare with the edited version so I can go back and learn from the changes a professional advised. But, moreover, to hear someone I respect tell me that if I logged the hours to improve, I could really succeed as a writer was incredibly motivating. The second piece of advice was ‘Develop Your Brand’. There were a multitude of ideas presented, but the thrust of it is, get your name out there. Build a website. Interact with people. Join groups. Support people. Accept support from people. My ‘Brand’ is Ticoproject, as an example. I even have a little story drafted to explain where that exact name comes from. Some day there needs to be a ‘Crest’ or ‘Symbol’, maybe toys… But… Yeah… Develop your brand.

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Q: Have you had any formal writing jobs and/or published any of your work?  If so, tell us about your jobs and/or your publications.

A: Nothing formal. Most of my work so far has been given away in one form or another so far. Honestly, I don’t feel like my work is far enough along to expect people to pay for it yet, so the bulk of it is released on my website, while I have been able to join an anthology for a writer’s group I was a part of in Wisconsin. Getting people to read something for free is much simpler than expecting them to pay, and some of the feedback I have received has been most encouraging. So… It’s been great. But, I’ve also grown to the point where I’m ready to think about how to publish some of the things I’m working on. It’s exciting to think about the future where I can really see my work in a book somewhere. Self-Published or traditional is still up in the air, but it will happen.

Q: What is unique about your writing process? What works for you, and what doesn’t work?

A: I’m a little ADD (Undiagnosed – *Grin*), but I’ve learned that if I don’t stick with one project, I’ll pretty much never finish it. So, I might peel off to do a bit of flash fiction which happens in a few hours, but I try hard to work one thing until it’s done. One draft, one rewrite, whatever. I don’t do well typing straight into the computer. I think for me, there are too many distractions, and paper both looks less intimidating and feels great, so… I write most everything out longhand and then enter it into a word processor as my first editing step. I listen to a variety of music, and it seems to serve as an inspiration for many of my story lines. Trust me, the fact that I’ll never sing publicly is a service to humanity, but I really respect the art form. As a point in fact, I was just listening to some Eminem on the way home. There is some great rap out there, and ‘Stealing the Enterprise’ has more plays on my iPod than most anything. It all helps.

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Peanuts by Charles Schulz

Q: What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

A: Ah, finally, an easy question. Editing. I don’t like it at all. It’s painful to re-read some of my earliest efforts in particular. Working with an editor taught me how much I can improve from the process. I’m the first to acknowledge that I’ll always need the help of a professional, but I’ll learn more if I improve my editing.quote-there-is-hope-in-honest-error-none-in-the-icy-perfections-of-the-mere-stylist-charles-rennie-mackintosh-73-30-03

Q: What are you currently writing?

A: I’m working on the second draft of ‘The Deeds We Do’, which is my tale of Captain Allison Mackenzie’s adventure aboard the U.P.E. Ticonderoga, Earth’s first interplanetary spacecraft. I like to believe she’s a strong leader that my wife would approve of, and you wouldn’t mind if your daughter admired. Just for fun, I’ll tell you this – I created her on a dare from a friend.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning to write?

A: I was really bad when I started. I am better, but I still have a very long way to go. Two things have helped me to improve – I’ve sought out the support of others, and I’ve practiced. I’ve read a few books, gone to one seminar, but when the writing hit the paper it was because I picked up a pen and started writing. Start writing anything and just don’t stop. I wouldn’t have believed it, but it will come. You’ll figure it out as you go along.

Long exposure photo of the night sky taken by the author

Q: How has being a writer changed your life?

A: I’m pretty anti-social when it gets right down to it. I have to force myself to want to be around other people, so you’d think writing would be all reclusive for me. It has actually been very much the opposite. I think a lot about things before and during the process of writing. That thought process has helped me to see when I should have turned left when I went right (a great number of times), when I shouldn’t have said something (again, a great number), and when I should have (let’s not even get into that). All of that introspection has made me more considerate of the trials and tribulations of others in the world. I see people differently because I write about people, and it’s made me a more understanding person.

The other change has been because of the people I have connected with. I’ve been involved with writer’s groups in two different states, and off and on, and received comments on my work from complete strangers around the world. Those interactions have been amazing. The people that have allowed me to exchange ideas with them, supported me, and allowed me to support them are the best. I’m a much better (and happier) person because of the people writing has put me in touch with.

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Join ‘Indie Author Day’ at the Athens-Clarke County Library

from OnlineAthens

from OnlineAthens

The ACC Library is presenting an Indie Author Fair that will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2017, from 11 AM to 3 PM. One table will be provided to each author. You will be permitted to sell your books, and the Library will provide seating and snacks. Following the marketplace, you are invited to attend an author symposium.

This is an amazing FREE opportunity to get your name out there, interact with the public, and meet like-minded writers.

The deadline to reserve your table is February 10, 2017.

Full details here.

UPDATE: Here’s some pics of the successful event!

An overview of the event (while standing on a chair!)

An overview of the event (while standing on a chair!)

 

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The Tuesday Writing Critique Group

 

The AWA table

The AWA table

 

AWA founder Katherine Cerluean's table (who couldn't stop talking about her new orange tablecloths ;-)

AWA founder Katherine Cerulean’s table (who couldn’t stop talking about her new orange tablecloth 😉

It was a lot of fun and hopefully the library will do it again!

Call For Submissions! We Need Your Funny Stories!

from eBaum's World

from eBaum’s World

The Athens Writers Association is pleased to announce its third collection is in the works.

We need you! We are looking for the finest FUNNY songs, poems, non-fiction essays, and short fiction. Whether your piece is just LOL funny or about making people grin and think at the same time, we’re looking for bold, polished, and wonderful pieces that bring a smile to the face and laughter to the world.

Submission Guidelines: Poets can submit 1-3 poems, and prose must be 5,000 words or less. Super-short pieces are welcome. Please send your best, most polished, completed work. Please no offensive, hateful humor that belittles anyone — be it a gender, race, identity, or even just the cashier at the checkout line. Heartfelt, more emotional pieces will be considered but please let the takeaway be a smile, not just a tear. A panel of editors will decide the winning entries.

Deadline: Midnight, March 12th, 2017. The expected publication date is late summer/early fall.

Note: There are no fees for entry. By submitting you understand that, if your piece is selected for inclusion, you will receive one copy of the Createspace-published collection for free (to be picked up at an AWA meeting). You will also have the opportunity to purchase books at the wholesale price to sell on your own and keep the profits. But the proceeds from online sales and sales by the AWA will go to support the running cost of the AWA. We very much appreciate your support!

The world need you!

Send us that piece you love and can’t stop grinning about. Make the planet a happier place!

SEND YOUR SUBMISSIONS TO: katherinecerulean@gmail.com with the subject heading: AWA Book Submission

from Whisper App

from Whisper App