" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "
" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "
" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "
After Regal House Publishing recently released Cliff Garstang ‘s new novel Oliver’s Travels, I asked him to be a guest author on my blog and sent him some questions about his writing process, including how he comes up with titles, the origins of his characters, literary inspirations, what feeds his writing, how he researches his books, and more.
Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist. He’s taught internationally at the university level, holds patents in a base, disruptive technology, created a company that grew from his basement to offices in four countries, helped companies varying in size from mom&pops for F500s develop their marketing, and most of this bored him.
“Braided in Fire tells the story of Lieutenant John Fox, a forward artillery observer and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient, who directed friendly artillery fire on his own position as German troops overran Sommocolonia, Italy, on December 26, 1944. Fox’s selfless sacrifice went unrecognized by the U.S. government for half a century simply because he was black. Solace Wales has invested decades in researching this instance of forgotten valor, producing a rich tapestry that interweaves the experiences of the black GIs and Italian villagers caught in the hellish maelstrom that engulfed Sommocolonia the day John Fox died. The result is a moving meditation on the cost of war and a tribute to the African Americans who fought for a country that treated them like second-class citizens.” — Gregory J.W. Urwin, Professor of History, Temple University, author of Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island Continue reading “Meet Solace Wales, the author of an amazing story of black soldiers under fire in 1944 Tuscany, Italy”→
Cindy Rasicot is a retired Marriage Family Therapist. Her life has been a spiritual journey that took on new dimensions when she and her family moved to Bangkok, Thailand for three years. There, she met her spiritual teacher, Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the first fully ordained Theravada nun—an encounter that opened her heart and changed her forever. This deepening relationship led to writing her memoir, Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand, which chronicles her adventures along the spiritual path.
Thanks to author Bobbie Kinkead for sharing the following post with me and my viewers!
When interviewing an author on CWC Berkeley, (CWC = California Writer’s Club) have many links included in the blog post. The author can then post the author’s interview on their blog or website for their audiences to read. Most writing programs on your computer, iPad, emails, texts, online newsletters, or blogs, allow linking; look at the menus under editing or find the linking symbol. Both the interviewer and interviewee should add links to connect twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook page, Amazon’s Author page, Smashword author interview, and online sale sites Kobo, iBook, Sony, Barnes&Nobles, etc. Continue reading “Make your blog posts come alive with hyperlinks!”→
If you’re used to me posting something about reading and writing, you may be wondering why my guest interview today is with the visual artist Betsy Kellas. The reason? I think there’s a strong link between painting, sculpture, art installations, and written art, poetry and prose. Both use the line intensively though differently. Both intensely explore our everyday reality. And both use layering to create their effects and to add texture to a work. Here, then, is my interview with Betsy, but I urge you to visit her website and view the range of her artmaking: betsykellas.com
We are so excited to welcome our newest contributor to Writer Unboxed—-Ann-Marie Nieves! Ann-Marie is the founder of the highly respected company Get Red PR, with expertise in PR, advertising, marketing, copywriting, community relations, social media, and more! From her bio:
Ann-Marie is a communications generalist grounded in traditional media and proficient in accessing the power of social media. Within traditional outlets, she has garnered placements in media as diverse as: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, Fitness, Parade, Working Mother, Fox Business Network, Life & Style, InStyle, E!, New York Magazine and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
It’s my 20-something year in PR, my 10th in social media, and good ole lucky 13 as a tiny business owner. While I’m thoroughly enjoying the wisdom of my 40s, I can honestly say that each day at my desk, seated in my well-worn chair, feels brand new.
You’ve seen the substantial changes in the media world in 2018—several magazines will cease printing or reduce print schedules. (We’ll miss you Glamour!) You’ve experienced the seismic shifts in social media world. (I can follow #dogsofinstagram hashtag?!) While much has been written in the marketing communications sphere about highlights for 2019, here’s what I’d like my colleagues in words to pay attention to:
What’s your story? Sure, you write stories, but what stories are you telling about your past and present self? What stories could help sell you to say CNN or The New York Times? “People forget facts, but they never forget a good story,” says Esther Choy, founder of Leadership Story Lab and author of the book Let the Story Do the Work.
Think holistically about your marketing communications So you’ve written a book, and the scene from the Lion King when Rafiki lifts Simba above his head and all the animals bow at the new prince of the pride – plays in your head on continuous loop. You want your book to get the most exposure as possible. We do too. There’s a but here. But you will write another. And another. Sure, a meaty project can be adrenaline pumping, but stepping in and then saying goodbye often makes me feel like we missed considering you.
Pay attention to what’s going on in the media world. Having learned my field working in-house at PR firms, I spent my hours making one pitch call after another. I was hung up on, cursed at, laughed at. I would learn which reporters had left, who changed beats, and who preferred a certain kind of story. I don’t expect my clients to know these things, but I do expect them to have a working knowledge of the media that they could get exposure in. Also, understanding the shifts in the media world—vast layoffs at digital outlets and newspapers alike—gives the client a better understanding of how hard our work is to bring their stories to light.
Consider the in–betweens. What are you doing in-between your book launches, initiatives, and projects? You should be (in no particular order): updating your website, editing your bio, cleaning up the “about me” sections on your social media, making sure mastheads on social media are up to date, and reviewing insights and analytics on your platforms.
Embrace a platform. I’m not an all-or-none type of girl. My life—professional and personal—are not well-documented. Truth be told, I forget to take pictures of my kids. (I like to think I’m truly experiencing the moment!) Social media is not just about the #tenyearschallenge; these platforms are also about business, sales, messaging, spin, and building meaningful relationships. Determine which social media platforms you genuinely enjoy and learn the hell out of that platform.
Find your voice. As you learn the ins and outs of Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook, be able to describe your social media voice in a sentence. One of the biggest issues most of my clients have with their social media is content development, and it’s because they haven’t determined their voice.
Create a big impact with a tiny idea. Sharon Rowe, founder of Eco-Bags Products and author of The Magic of Tiny Business, offers this sage tip. She brought the first reusable bags to the marketplace some 30+ years ago as a new mom with the desire to rid the streets of single-use plastic bags. I want you to think about something outside of your book that you can share with the world. Make it part of your story.
Be generous. This may come as a shock, but the social media platforms we frequent can be places of true kindness and generosity. Be a part of that. Take a moment of your day/week/ month to give a shout-out to another member of the writing community. Share a sale, buzz a launch, shout-out a book you devoured.
Ann-Marie Nieves is the founder of Get Red PR, and an award-winning communicator with experience across a broad range of industries in both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business sectors. She has experience within all communications platforms including public relations, advertising, marketing, copywriting, website development, community relations, and social media.
Leslie Lehr is a prize-winning author whose latest, A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession shaped Me… and You was featured in People Magazine, Glamour, Good Morning America, and in Entertainment Tonight’s short list of books by “trailblazing women changing the world.” Salma Hayek is producing a comedy series based on A Boob’s Life for HBO Max. In addition to her novels and nonfiction books, her essays have been in the New York Times Modern Love column (narrated by Katie Couric for NPR). Leslie is the Novel Consultant for Truby Writers Studio.
Here is my interview with Leslie:
What inspired you to write A Boob’s Life?
One night when my husband and were about to celebrate our first home together, I got out of the shower and noticed my breasts didn’t match. I’d just completed breast cancer treatment and was grateful to be alive. But I was also upset. My husband accused me of being obsessed. As a feminist, I was insulted. Then a comedian on TV made a boob joke, proving it wasn’t just me. I couldn’t sleep.
Next to my bed was my favorite picture of my mom and sister and me in matching red bikinis. It makes me laugh because my baby sister couldn’t keep her nipples covered, I was three and I already knew that nipples were taboo. How can this not be a huge influence about how we feel about our bodies?
I went to my computer to find an answer. There were books about breast cancer and breastfeeding and of course lots of porn, but nothing that put it all together. I could track my whole life by my breasts – wanting them as a girl, hiding them to work, showing them to date, breastfeeding, breast implants, breast cancer… I had to investigate further. Turns out that the way we view breasts, the part of a woman that enters the room first, has influenced both men and women in profound ways.
How do you come up with book titles? Do you know them from the beginning, or do they evolve?
Titles are super important, so I always decide at the beginning. It’s the easy part for me, and the most fun. A good title can also remind me of my story goals as I write. When I consult or teach, I suggest that writers brainstorm titles based on character, setting, plot, and theme to come up with options. Sometimes the publisher changes it, but at least I’ve had my version.
As people learned about your book, what unexpected things happened along the way?
The most unexpected was having a producer want to make A Boob’s Life into a TV comedy series. That was before I even got a book deal. It’s in development now with Salma Hayek’s company for HBOMax. I also am always surprised at the letters I get, and the real opportunities I have supporting related causes that help people. From cancer to breastfeeding to parenting, divorce, and domestic violence, I’ve been able to have a voice to attract support and fundraising. Different themes of the book really speak to all kinds of readers. And recently I’ve had one fan sending me her favorite lines – a lot of them! Writing is lonely, so this is a best result.
What is your preferred genre to write in?
I write to explore the lives of contemporary women. I think that’s why reviewers have called me a “bold new voice for feminism.” I use whatever genre works best for the story I want to tell. I usually start with personal essays that evolve into books, from nonfiction (Welcome to Club Mom) to drama (66 Laps, Wife Goes On) to thriller (What A Mother Knows) to this pop culture memoir (A Boob’s Life).
Where do your ideas come from for stories/books?
You know that old saying, write what you know? I write what I want to know, to find ways to understand the divide between sexy and sacred, the way women are challenged and defined and limited when we are truly complex and doing our best. This passion drives all my work. And, of course, I want to have fun and entertain readers while doing it.
What have people most liked or found most meaningful/funny/creative/ challenging about your book?
Readers of all ages are relating to my personal experiences because all of us with boobs get up in the morning and decide what to do with them. We all get judged by them and have feelings about them. I get letters from both women and men, mothers and daughters, teens and seniors, because it’s A Boob’sLife for all of us. That’s why the subtitle is How America’s Obsession Shaped Me… and You. The mix of memoir is woven with anecdotes and songs and fun facts about how our culture was defining women at each stage. This unique combination made it hard to sell. But it’s also what makes the book so popular, especially now, for Women’ History Month. It’s the history of how America has defined women by our breasts for decades.
Why do you write?
I write to have a voice. I started with essays to figure things out and have my opinion on record. I wrote the NYT Modern Love essay to show something that truly surprised me about love. I had no intention of going deeper. Then one day I knew I had to write a book related to it and go much deeper. It’s incredible to start with an idea and make it real, to work hard and create something that can move and delight others. It’s magic.
What’s the hardest part of writing or publishing?
Writing is the fun part for me. Not the first draft but revising. It’s like having a puzzle and playing with the pieces. Publishing is all hard. It’s such a gamble. Writers have no control unless we do it ourselves and publish independently. But that is not my strong skill set. I just want to write!
What are you currently working on or have future plans to write?
I’m currently working on a novel based on real events that I’ve been trying to approach from different angles for decades. It’s a historical novel combining love story and drama. Just recently, I found a notebook from high school saying I needed to write this story before I was 25 and “over the hill.” Ha!
What is your most bizarre talent?
I don’t know of a bizarre talent, but I sure have a bizarre lack of talent: typing. I was forced to take typing in high school because girls needed to have a fallback career as a secretary. I was not interested, so I nearly failed. (I wasn’t planning to be a writer.) I still type with four fingers.
When We Were Shadows, for middle-school students, is based on the true story of a Jewish boy and his family hiding from the Nazis in WWII in Holland. It traces his journey at the age of 5 from Germany to Holland in 1937, where the family thought they would be free of the persecution happening to Jews in their home country, only to have their haven invaded by the Nazis 3 years later. The story describes how the family fled from one hiding place to another, aided by people in the Dutch Resistance, until they found refuge in a hidden village in the Veluwe forest. For 18 months they lived in fear of discovery, and were assisted by local villagers and the Resistance, and trying to make the best of their situation. After the village was attacked, the boy and his family had to take on new identities and continued to hide until liberation in Zwolle by the Canadians in 1945. Continue reading “In WHEN WE WERE SHADOWS, Janet Wees shows how to explain the Holocaust to a child”→
After being interviewed twice by Kate Raphael on KPFA Women’s Magazine program, I turned the tables and invited her to share her writing journey on my blog. Her second interview with me will be aired on 1/8/18.