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Author Interview w/ CBC

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1. What unique challenges do you face when writing about serious
non-fiction issues such as religion?

I WRITE about spiritual matters and leave religion to others. The spirit and its quests drive religion – religion just interprets. The biggest challenge I faced in THE ELEPHANT TALKS TO GOD is that the Elephant started asking questions I could not answer. Thus endeth the book.

2. You wrote The Elephant Talks to God in 1989. Why did you decide to
re-release it with the added stories rather than write a sequel?

THIS WAS the decision of the publisher, Goose Lane. When they approached me for a re-issue they were unaware of the additional stories. It was decided the marketplace would prefer one longer book over two shorter ones. Having just one book also reduced production costs, which in turn reduced consumer cost.

3. Why did you decide to become a writer?

“I WAS born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” This quote from Leonard Cohen sums it up. Not “born” this way exactly, but within one month in grade eleven I went from ‘no writing’ to ‘continually writing’. I have no explanation. I had no previous interest nor inclination toward the arts, or writing. I was not a reader, and only after university deliberately read such children’s classics as Black Beauty and Alice in Wonderland.

4. What books or authors have most influenced your life?

POSSIBLY P.G. WODEHOUSE was the most influential author in my formative period. I even sent him a fan letter and received a response. In university I experienced Franz Kafka, and I believe I have read everything of his in print. Much later I visited Prague to research a novel I have since written about him. There are reports of ‘missing’ stories and diaries of Kafka still in Berlin, which I would dearly love to find.

5. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good
writing?

SURPRISE, HUMOUR and reality. ‘In context’ (it doesn’t matter what the genre) I want to be surprised by what is happening, yet fully believe in the reality created in the book. And somewhere, at least once, every character in every novel should make me laugh at least once.

6. What are you reading right now?

“WICKED” BY Gregory Maguire. His abilities as a writer astound me. I am a slow reader, and seemingly getting slower. Soon (?) to be read will be Alice Munro’s “The View from Castle Rock ” and John LeCarre’s “The Mission Song”, both requested Christmas presents. I also do a lot of research for my novels, and will embark upon histories of China in the near future.

7. What advice would you give to writers starting out?

I HAVE two steadfast rules, one put into rhyme. “When in doubt/take it out.” Regardless of the wonder of the poetic line, or the awe of the slice of dialogue, if you have any questions about its effectiveness, that is reason enough to remove it.
The other concerns the physical writing itself. At the end of your writing day, and you know what the next line of dialogue is, or the description you are going to write, or the next line of the poem – DON”T write them down. Start with them the next day, and you will quickly get back into the writing. I find this works 90% of the time.

8. Describe your writing process.

I’M A morning writer, roughly from 9:00 until 15:00. There’s a meal in there, and research and email and such, but I will generally complete two pages a day. I generally write seven or eight days straight and then take one off. At the start of a novel I have a well developed outline and characters, though I rarely write such things down. I find that at the end of a novel I spend an additional third of the writing time editing what is done. I usually complete a novel in two years.

9. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome
it?

THREE MONTHS of writer’s block during my second novel has (so far) been my experience with this curse (knock knock knock on wood). I sat at the desk literally for hours per day attempting to continue. I think I wrote five paragraphs in that time. I know of no way to overcome it other than attempting to write each day. My number two tip in question #7 will help in avoiding writer’s block.

10. Naturally, most writer want as many people as possible to read
their work. Who did you have in mind when you were writing this book,
the “believers” or the “non-believers”?

BRITISH PUBLISHER Joseph Dent introduced “Everyman’s Library” in the early 1900’s (which is now published by Random House UK). As my mother was from England and my father was a proud UEL, there were many of these books when I was growing up. Everyman’s Library had a motto at the beginning of each book: “Everyman, I will go with thee/and be thy guide,/ in thy most need/ to go by thy side.”
This is what came to mind when thinking of who I write for. I did not write for either believers or non-believers. I wrote for everyone, and my job is to make them both accept that the The Elephant believes. 

The Elephant Talks To God

Reality/Un/Dis // Fact/You/All /// DDD /// Ghost

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I have a *new* message

From a “ghostwriter”

Who

Whom(?)

Will make my BOOK

look

BRILLIANT

Will this give me

A ghost of a chance?

{Image} https:/cdn.writermag.com/2017/10/shutterstock_715257643.jpg

Rules For Writing + One Non-Rule Rule

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1: Write regularly. Daily might be extreme, but try to be extreme.
2: When in doubt / take it out.
3: At the end of your writing day, do not complete the action/description/dialogue – but know what it is. Start with this known at your next writing time. 90% of the time you will slide right back into the work.

4: Eschew, Ignore and Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here, the notion that there are no rules. There are rules to everything. Artistic Creation demands rules.

5: Follow your characters.
6: Follow your characters.
7: Follow your characters.

 

(image) https:/c1.staticflickr.com/5/4252/34743456922_7b4deab196_b.jpg

Rules For Writing Fiction

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1: Write regularly. Daily might be extreme, but try to be extreme.
2: When in doubt / take it out.
3: At the end of your writing day, do not complete the action/description/dialogue – but know what it is. Start with this known at your next writing time. 90% of the time you will slide right back into the work.
4: Follow your characters.
5: Follow your characters.
6: Follow your characters.

[image] https://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/sites/default/files/writing-research-brief383109052.jpg

International Day of Words To Be Celebrated 23 November 2019

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Since this fine Organization has appointed me Ambassador of the Word for being a finalist in their International Flash Fiction Contest, I will happily promote their good deeds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On November 23rd, the International Day of Words will be celebrating one more year as a Link of Humanity, celebrating the date on which the Museum of Words was inaugurated, and recognized by numerous countries and Institutions.

The César Egido Serrano Foundation encourages all writers to create and promote the initiatives that you consider most appropriate. For example: Gather people who feel the need of dialogue as the only tool against violence, and thus contribute to the coexistence between religions and cultures.

You can also upload a photo or video or comment on Facebook, or make a meeting with friends. In this way, we can demonstrate that a better world can be achieved through the use of words and dialogue. That day more than ever, the word must be the bond of humankind.

 

All those proposals received will be shared with all of you through our social media, emails and websites, you can send them to info@fundacioncesaregidoserrano.com

 

You can find more information about the International Day of Words here:

http://www.dayofwords.com/en/manifesto

[image] https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/220000/velka/words-have-power.jpg

Margaret Atwood Travels Further Than Ever – Blessed Be!

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I have noted some folk looking at this post from a couple of years ago. I had put it up because of the success of the television series, A Handmaid’s Tale.

Now, Ms. Atwood has produced a new novel, The Testaments, [which, by the way, has a brilliant front and back cover] with an international launch from London, England. I can humbly state that my part in her literary life remains the same.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was not my intent to piss off Margaret Atwood.

The opposite, in fact. I wanted her to know she was an inspiration.

She was giving a reading at the University of New Brunswick in my student days. I attended, but there was quite the gathering and she was whisked away at the end. However, I overheard there was a ‘gathering’ in her honour. Invitation only, of course. Academia and literati.

I crashed the party (that was the term used by the professor who clapped his sturdy hand upon my shoulder but – happily – did not thrust me into the night).

But Ms. Atwood was kept deep in many a learned conversation and I had no opportunity to converse. I did, however, overhear where she would be spending next afternoon – the historic University Observatory.

Next day I knocked upon the Observatory door.

It was not a cheerful Margaret Atwood who answered, and answered with alacrity.

She asked my name.

She asked my business.

And she asked how the hell I knew where she was. She had stolen the day to do some writing. Some ‘real’ writing, in this window-of-opportunity grudgingly offered on the book tour.

At least I was there to praise Atwood and not to bury her with some essay question.

Nor had I a manuscript to hand to her.

I might not have garnered a smile, but her curt thank you was reward enough.

For me, at least.

Featured post

QWERTY of the World – Unite (do Not Untie)

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When In Rome!

There was:

an Abyssinian (I made her),

an Albanian,

a Bolshevik,

a Brataslzvian (he was worst),

a Brazilian,

a Canadian,

a Cannibal (uh-oh),

a Colombian (smoking hot),

a Cynic (she didn’t believe the Canadian),

a Dominican,

a Druid (he prayed for the Dominican),

a Druze,

an Eatonian,

an Estonian,

a Fool (ha ha),

a Freizen,

a Gazian,

a Graduate,

a Haligonian,

a Helgolandian (he was and gone),

an Israeli,

an Iranian,

an Iraqi (they three went into a bar),

a Jamaican,

a Japanese,

a Kazistanian,

a Kurd,

a Lithuanian,

a Lush (one in every crowd),

a Mongolian,

a Monster (them is the odds),

a Nederlander,

a Norwegian,

an Olympian (he was game),

an Opportunist (coulda been me),

a Pole (he vaulted over the rest – *joke*),

a Québécoise (I’ll never forget her / Je me souviens),

a Russian (great dancer – he had the steps),

a Scandinavian,

a Southerner (I melt when she says ‘Y’all) ,

a Stevedore,

a Transvalanian (out for blood),

an Ukrainian,

an Unitarian,

a Vulcan (he was eerie),

a Waalloon,

a Wisenheimer,

an Xanaduian (and on her dulcimer she played),

an Xaverian (he shot daggers at the Dominican),

a Yugoslavian

and

a Zarahthustain (thus he spoke a lot)

The Canadian won the first game.

 

[Image] https://droidbox.co.uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/1/a/1a_2.png

One Wedding And Twelve Tuxedos

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Until this month, I would have said the strangest thing I have researched – and written about – for one of my novels, was the chapter in my first Onion novel, where my characters built a bridge over a river in 3rd Century Italy.

Alison Alexandra seems destined to edge me even further.

In There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth, I currently find myself writing about a wedding ceremony where the bride is dressed in a tuxedo, as are all her attendants. She is a fashion designer, and has created a line of female tuxedos. She is unveiling them at her own wedding.

Peaked vs. shawl lapels – to say nothing of all the colours.

One aspect of Alison Alexandra – rarely alluded to – is that in her teens and early twenties, she was a fashion model in Europe. She left the job from boredom after five years, but it is from this enterprise she gained enough sustainable income (via investments) to be left alone, and live the life she lives.

However, her mentor – the fashion designer, Bellissima Isobella – has called her back to do a favour. Bellissima Isobella is getting married, and has created a line of tuxedos for herself and all her attendants. What better way to promote them?

There is the aspect of the tail wagging the dog in this research. And, let me tell you, the Interent is awash with photos of ladies in tuxedos.

Oh – yes.
Alison Alexandra will be in red.

Turning One Thing Into Another: Flash Fiction Contest // The Icy Moons Of Jupiter

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An Icy Moon Of Jupiter.   Turned into 100 words
AS IS:
He is not a man for grand gestures.   The gift came as a surprise, the kiss a shock. He was embarrassed by the first and aroused by the second. Time, always a constant worry – not the futile minutes, hours, days, the whirlwind passage of months, but the disappearance of the now into the past -had again taken a bite out of his life before he had realized it was gone.

 “I thought you would like it.” she said, a gift somehow made more important because it was not planned, an obvious display of spontaneity. A chance meeting in a store on a Saturday afternoon. “I’m leaving soon, in two weeks I’ll be in France.” Eyes taking in his every reaction, her voice tinged with reproach. “Do you like it?”

And of course he did, but there were too many memories laced with half smiles jamming into his head, not painful in themselves but adding now to finality. The party where he met her, surely that was just last week, at the most a month ago. Surely it did not stretch back to soft Autumn nights.

“well, here,” she writes something. “It’s for you, you know.” A look of puzzlement crosses her face as the gift changes hands, the too brief touch of her fingers. he clutches it carefully, looks back to her eyes and imagines he sees a twinge of that nonexistent past. or does she only reflect what is in his own face?

And then the kiss.

So unexpected that he almost jumps back.

The touch of lips and warm breath, the smell of fresh, soft hair against his cheek. His own mouth open in surprise, her farewell brush of lips turned partially into passion. And then she is out the door, onto the street, and he is standing by a counter feeling very old, his heart an icy moon of Jupiter.

Ah, Christiane. Salut.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EDIT:


The gift comes as a surprise, the kiss a shock.

He is embarrassed by the first and aroused by the second.

“Do you like it?”

A gift made more important because of it’s spontaneity. A chance meeting in a store on a Saturday afternoon.


“I’m leaving soon. In two weeks I’ll be in France.”

Eyes take in his every reaction.

That party they met, surely it was just last week, Surely it did not stretch back to soft Autumn nights.


Then she is out the door.

He becomes very old, his heart an icy moon of Jupiter.


Ah, Christiane. Salut!

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