Blog Tour Continues!

I want to introduce you to two of my writer friends, whose blogs are “next-stops” on our blog tour:

Theresa_MunroeFirst, novelist TA Monroe: Theresa is one of the writers I’ve met on Facebook, and our FB friendship is one that’s very meaningful for me. She works really hard – really, really, really hard – on making her writing not just good, but great. Her book, Another Place on the Planet was one of the first ebooks I ever bought. A new edition is out and can be found on Amazon through this link:  Another Place on the Planet.

Her official bio: T.A. Munroe lives just outside of Phoenix, AZ with her husband, two cats and one very active puppy. She’s been telling herself stories all her life, but has only been writing them down for the past six or so. Another Place on the Planet is her first novel. Its sequel, Places Bright and Dark is scheduled for release in September.

Please check out her blog, where her “tour date” is currently being held, to find out all about this writer’s process: TA Monroe.

We’ll also be meeting the second writer I’ve asked to be on this tour: poet Daniel Ari. danielariDaniel is one of my few FB writer friends that I’ve met in “real” life: after hoping to get to meet him for years, I finally got to read with him and several of his friends at a gallery show, and what a lovely event it was! He’s a phenomenal poet (he won an early contest here on inourbooks) .Some day I’ll have to talk about their involvement in the best mother’s day present I think I’ve had: my husband surprised me with a trip to see them – I won’t say more now because it deserves a whole blog post. Let’s just say it was wonderful and amazing and relaxing (and I am NOT a relaxed chick, let me tell you).

Daniel’s official bio (which will tell you all you need to know about why I think he’s great):

Daniel Ari married poetry in 1987. Today the relationship is intimate and subtle like the flavor of vichyssoise. A poet, copywriter, teacher and performer, Daniel deeply loves words and is awed at their power, but he still needs help spelling vichyssoise. His forthcoming book One Way to Ask pairs poems in an original poetry form called queron with illustrations by 60 different artists. He has recently published poems and essays in Poet’s Market (2014 and 2015), Writer’s Digest, carte blanche, Flapperhouse, and elsewhere. He would submit poems to a journal, if one existed, called Vichyssoise.

Please check out Daniel’s blog Fights With Poems to check out his entry on his poetic and artistic process. And please top by his collaborative poetry and creativity blog, IMUNURI, to which I am going to be a contributor (if you can’t hear the 10,000 gleeful and excited exclamation points, just insert them in your imagination).

I hope you enjoy these two great writers as much as I do.

ina

Virtual Blog Tour: Hi, World

1I was fortunate enough to be invited to be part of this virtual blog tour by Claudette Young. I met Claudette when  I was first becoming aware that there was a supportive online world of creative writers and was putting out tentative feelers at places like Writer’s Digest and Facebook.  She’s inspired me in so many ways – among other things, she and her blogging partner, Meena Rose, were the inspiration for this blog. Theirs was the first writer’s blog I’d seen that was co-written: Two Voices, One Song. I can’t recommend the blog enough.

Claudette herself is an ongoing inspiration: she’s been writing seriously since 2008 in multiple genres: poetry, science fiction/fantasy, flash fiction, children’s literature, women’s fiction, along with creative non-fiction, essay, and memoir. Claudette has been published in numerous online publications for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as print magazines and two international poetry anthologies. I’m always amazed at the number of writing projects she has in the works – you’d never know she was juggling so many different enterprises (including her blogs), because she makes it look so effortless. Even as I type, I know she’s working on some book length work as well as some poetry. I can’t encourage you enough to stop by her collaborative website and blogs at: http://2voices1song.com/ as well as her one-woman blog at www.claudettejyoung.com/

I feel so fortunate in the friends Andrea and I have here, and Claudette is proof of that. But for now, let’s move onto the tour info. The point of this blog tour is to give people a chance to see the writing process as its engaged in by various writers. So I’m giving you a picture of my writing life as well as pass this tour torch to other writers who can share their process with us.

The tour questions:

1) What am I working on?

SQUIRREL history america gray 1This is a tricky question. I know that the minute I tell you what I’m writing, I will instantly think of four more things that sound great to start on, and trying to rein myself in..well, it’s a bit like harnessing squirrels.

I’ll take the risk though and say that right now I seem to be working on three things: First I’m writing a poem a day. It’s not for a contest or challenge or anything; I just have the time and mental space to do so. It’s convenient because August Poetry Postcard Month is coming up soon; it’s absolutely my favorite writing event each year, and I’m already in the rhythm for it.

Second, I’m working on an epistolary novel.Well, sort of. It started as a vague idea that I’d like to write a novel with a writer friend. We decided that her protagonist and mine aren’t writing to each other, but they are communicating. Between worlds. Without, at first, knowing it. No spoilers, but I will say that I am having a blast and without the pressure of having to do the plotting myself, I am writing much more than I’d planned.

Third: a few years ago at NanoWrimo, I wrote a “novel” that wasn’t – it was more like a really long world-creation exercise.  I’m now writing a couple of short stories set in that world and at the same time writing a longer piece in that world that seems to be turning into something that looks suspiciouslylike a novel.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve been writing since I was 5, and published my first poem when I was eight. But if you ask me how I defined myself, even early on, I would have said that I was a biologist, not a writer. I used to draw pictures of paramecia and imagine walking giant ones on a leash down the street. I spent lots of time just imagining the way in which humans and other animals were alike, with parallel bodies and live minds. I had pet fish that I watched avidly, trying to understand them, and tried to grow every kind of plant from cuttings. That sense of being part of the biological universe still seems to pervade everything I write.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Partly, I can’t help it. A phrase or a sentence pops into my head and it sticks there until it’s on paper. Partly, though, it’s because I’m a very poor visual artist – often I can see something beautiful with my eyes or in my mind but can’t draw it or photograph it, so writing it, describing it with words, is often the only way I have of sharing what I’m seeing with others.

4) How does my writing process work?

Gerrit Dou - Scholar sharpening a quill penI used to have a sort of process. When I was in school, I’d come home and write almost every night – not because I had set aside the time but because I’d be “downloading” everything I’d seen or felt during the day. Now with a family and a young child, I find myself having to put off writing more than I like. I do two things to help with that. First, a yellow Post-It notepad.  I write poems in the five minute slots between doctor’s appointments and chauffeur duties to sports events on a yellow sticky pad (I have a lot of sympathy for William Carlos Williams, who often wrote poems between patients, fitting them on his prescription pad). Second, I keep a list of inspirations. At the back of my family to-do notebook, which I also carry with me, there’s a page with a completely random list of phrases, images, notes on a place to go back and see again, sometimes a sketch or a website. That’s where I go when I’ve managed to snatch a few minutes for myself.

So that’s a look at my writing process. I want to say thank you again to Claudette for inviting me to join this amazing tour. I am looking forward to our next tour stops, with writers:

I’ll post when more information is available about each of these “tour stops.” In the meantime, there have been some really inspiring blogs and bloggers who’ve gone before me on this tour. You’ll really enjoy:

Xo – ina

 

And about time, too

Gerrit_Dou_-_Scholar_sharpening_a_quill_penIt’s been a long time since there’s been a post on InOurBooks. Andrea and I both ran into “stuff” (you know, that life stuff that happens even when you’re writing and wish the world would just get out of your way). Anyhow, my life stuff is (knock much wood) starting to ebb a bit, so I’m taking this breather as a chance to be both a writer and blogger again.

In writer mode, I’ve started submitting poems to journals again and fortuitously one of the writers we’ve published here (Hi!) posted this blog post on his FB page. I liked it so much – it’s the first time I’ve agreed with every single thing a blogger has said about publishing – that I wanted to share it with you-all.

http://campus.poetryschool.com/just-one-poem/

Besides, I miss our InOurBooks friends and would love to know how you’re doing – how *are* you? ~ ina

Monday Coffee: A poem and a promise

19th century tea- and coffee-cups anaglyphIn case you hadn’t heard about this, Poets.org will send you a poem every day – all you have to do is sign up and you get an email with a new poem, every day.

It’s one of the best things I’ve ever signed up for online. There are days where my inbox is full of crud (to put it no higher) and knowing that there’s one beautiful thing in there makes all the difference.

Kasturba washing Gandhi s feetThis poem by David Kirby showed up today. It made me cry, like really – tears and everything – in part because I come from a family where we touch the feet of elders, but mostly because of this pair of lines:

So let this poem brush across the feet of anyone
who reads it. Poetry is
my religion—well, I wouldn’t die for it. I’d live for it, though.

I hope you enjoy the poem, too.

Wednesday, I will have the privilege of posting an interview with JC Cassels, author of Sovran’s Pawn  and the just-published sequel, Heroes End. She’s a great author, and (esp. if you’re a sci fi fan), you’ll enjoy hearing how she brought this story to life.

Thanks for stopping by!
Ina

Monday Coffee: Summer Challenge Results

Gmatta ancient arabic coffee kettle570x720mmI loved every entry in our Brighter Light Summer Challenge. Each one made me feel so summery, warm and glow-y. I was originally planning on picking one “kid-participation” winner and one “grown-up alone” winner, but I had a terrible time deciding. But at last, after a nice pot for warm, sweet coffee, I’ve managed to pick three poems as our challenge winners. Our “kid” team prize is divided between:

Dr. Pearl and her grandgirls for “My Summer” AND Michele and her girls Skyler Ide and Elizabeth for their beautiful “In the Midst of Summer.”

And our Adult Alone winner is Barbara Ehrentreu for “Summer on the Beach,” which won me with the clincher, “It’s
a young person’s sport and I remember the summers when
the day was over and I packed up things herding children
smelling like sun tan lotion toward their dinner.”

I also have to give a special shout-out to SEIngraham, whose “Summertime in Edmonton” inspired me to ask her to talk with me about parenting and poetry (see an upcoming post) and Linda H., because I am totally allergic to mosquitoes and her poem really got how ANNOYING they are 🙂

We’ll be following with interviews and/or profiles of our winners – thank you everyone who participated; you’re the heart and soul of this blog ❤

Ina

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Friday surprise: grow, eat, write

Homemade tartIt’s getting toward the end of strawberry season here in California. The neighborhood kids have all-day pink mustaches, and the farmer’s market has ruby red heaps of almost-too-ripe berries that you can smell when you’re within a block of the fruit awning. Friends who are good at making preserves buy them in huge baskets and months from now, we’ll get jam in pretty glass jars for birthdays and Christmas.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor here for writing: transforming beauty and simplicity into something sumptuous and delicious. Or maybe it’s about growing things. I found this article in my email inbox last week, about how Charles Goodrich grows not just plants but poems in his garden, how his relationship to gardens is also his relationship to words and to writing. He’s a creator of edible things – both literally and metaphorically.  Which is what Eat This Poem is looking for in their first annual poetry contest. There is lots of gorgeous writing about food (from Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table to Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin) out there for inspiration, so if you love to write about food…here’s a great chance in a new venue. And if you’re a little shy about entering contests (I am, largely because of the cost), Nat Towers just passed on some good advice on his blog about how to decide whether a contest is worth it that you might want to check out. Regardless, however, of the particular creative endeavors you’re approaching this weekend, I hope something luscious and joyful is part of it~ Ina

Morangos - Strawberries - Flickr - Adriano Aurelio Araujo

Connections : A day in the life of Bonnie G. Vaughan

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Bonnie G. Vaughan

This is our first post of our “Day In The Life” series, in which we interview authors of books released through small or independent publishers. Today, I’m delighted to post my pre-publication interview with Bonnie G. Vaughan, whose novel Spaceborn was released by Black Opal Books last week.

Bonnie became fascinated with space travel when the first lunar lander took off from the moon. A journalist and award-winning tech writer, Ms. Vaughan has had many opportunities to tell the stories of others, writing her own science fiction stories on weekends. She received technical advice from Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the geologist who walked on the moon, for Spaceborn. I’ve just finished reading Spaceborn this weekend, and I’m hoping to get a chance to ask Bonnie some follow up questions later this summer.

IOB: Will you describe your typical “writing day” for us? When does writing happen? where?  How does it get fit in to the rest of life’s activities? Anything else make a part of your “typical” day with writing?

BGV:  I like to write the first hour of the morning, before work or weekend activities, while my conscious mind is still close to my subconscious. Often I get up as early as 5 a.m. to make time for writing my stories. Research happens mainly on weekends or evenings.

IOB: It sounds like a lot of your creative work happens in those morning hours. Does editing happen at those times too? Or does that happen more during research hours?

BGV: The editing to me is rewriting, so I usually do that in the morning hour. I’ve learned over the years, though, that I can write almost any time and anywhere—on a baseball field waiting for my son’s game to start, in our Corvette on the way from San Jose to LA, in an airport terminal or a doctor’s waiting room, and in my office all night if I have a deadline. Even 15 minutes is enough to accomplish something. My favorite time and place is early morning with a laptop in my easy chair.

IOB: It also sounds as if, like many writers, you spend time balancing your work/family life with your writing life. Do you have advice for other writers on achieving that balance successfully?

BGV: You always have time to write. If you’re doing something else, it’s a higher priority to you.  For me, only time with family and friends is a higher priority, and I still need my day job. Finding enough time for what’s important to you can be tricky if you have to earn a living. I’ve taken jobs that allow flexible work schedules and telecommuting so I could write in the morning and pick up my children after school. Steve Hamilton, author of the Alex McNight detective series, who was in my technical writing department at IBM, told me he wrote his stories after his children went to bed at 9 p.m. A poet friend once said, “Take some time for yourself each day, to do what you love, even if it’s only 15 minutes.”

IOB: On your site (www.bonniegvaughan.com) you mention that you were first intrigued by space travel when the first lunar lander took off from the moon. Was it that event that inspired you to start writing fiction?

BGV: Classic literature inspired me when I was in high school and liked to read novels for an hour before school. My first stories emulated Edgar Allan Poe. I told my Aunt Verna that when I saw a blank page, I wanted to fill it up. She said, “You’re going to be a writer.”

IOB:  I’m really looking forward to Spaceborn and particularly intrigued by the premise: the main character, Morgan Zeller, is pregnant, and her pregnancy a key feature of the novel. How did you come to conceive of (no pun intended) Morgan and her interesting situation?

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Click picture to purchase; please note that inourbooks receives no renumeration for sale of this item

BGV: One day I asked myself, “What if an astronaut discovered she was pregnant on the way to Mars?” The story grew from that.

IOB:  Any other “what ifs” you’ve had recently that you could share with us?

BGV: What if a boy discovers intelligent life on his colony planet and has to expose the planet’s governor for colonizing an inhabited world? What if people establish an independent colony on Mars and the government tries to take away their Martian homes? What if lizard-like visitors are luring people to leave Earth for a colony on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and a pregnant engineer learns that her friends are dying in alien mines there?

IOB: I’m always impressed at the range of people and resources successful authors find for support. Where do you find your writing support systems? Do you have a writing community or communities that you interact with?

BGV: All of my friends and family are supportive, especially my son, Chris Vaughan, who has always encouraged me to write my own stories. My mentor, Bonnie Hearn Hill, and her friends have been my writing community over the last several years. I took several fiction courses from her and like to attend conferences where she is speaking.

IOB: What advice would you give to other writers who are working on a first novel?

BGV: Read Digital Ink: Writing Killer Fiction in the E-book Age by Bonnie Hearn Hill and Christopher Allan Poe, write every day, read lots of novels, and find a mentor.

IOB: What did you find to be the most relaxing part of drafting Spaceborn? The most difficult part of writing a novel? What were the hardest parts of reworking the novel for submission? How do you overcome challenges in the writing and rewriting processes?

BGV: The most relaxing part of writing for me is when I start a book and put all of my initial ideas for the story into words. Rather than outline, this first draft is mainly a summary, with some scenes that occurred to me as I was writing it. I let my subconscious produce whatever it wants to get the book started. The most difficult for me is the final rewriting and polishing because I want to fix everything. The hardest part is reworking the beginning to make an agent or editor want to keep reading. When I get stuck, I give myself permission to write garbage, as Natalie Goldberg said, and the words flow again.

IOB: I love Natalie Goldberg – I find her so supportive! It sounds like there are a couple of authors who have inspired your work – where else do you find inspiration?

BGV: Since the day after I graduated from high school, I’ve been inspired by astronauts, who are my heroes. After grad night at Disneyland, my mother surprised me with a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings about the space program, which she’d been saving for years. Then she made me stay awake to watch astronaut Ed White take the first American spacewalk.

I’m also inspired by everything around me–a hummingbird’s flight, the planets and stars in the night sky, they way people interact with each other, sunsets, moonrises, news about space exploration, movies like “Roving Mars” and “Contact,” children laughing and playing, discussions with brilliant engineers, bonds between family members and friends, the variety of life on Earth, and new technologies like the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

IOB: If you could have had any author, living or dead, to help you with the process of editing drafts of this novel, who would it have been?

BGV: Other than Bonnie Hearn Hill, I would love to work with the late Anne McCaffrey, who has been my favorite author since I met her in Berkeley, California, where she was on a panel of women writers. I love her Dragonriders of Pern series.

IOB: What would you tell other writers about the pros and cons of working with a smaller publishing company?

BGV: So far working with Black Opal Books is great. The staff encourages new authors. The editors do excellent work, and they tell me they like Spaceborn. They seem to care about authors. Maybe spending a lot of time on promotion is a con, but I understand authors also do this at large publishing companies.

IOB: My mother-in-law was just telling me how shocked she is at how much more publicity work she’s expected to do now than when she published her first book. What sorts of publicity have they encouraged you to pursue? And how do you fit it into your already tough schedule?

BGV: They have encouraged me to do blog interviews, press releases, book signings, and other appearances. I do as much as I can and try to fit it in with my other activities, like scheduling a book signing during vacation. The first promotion I did was in February at a National Association of American Pen Women luncheon that I had already planned to attend. For part of the program, the luncheon organizer wanted three members to speak as Pen Women of the past, present, and future, so for a few minutes I spoke as astrogeologist Morgan Zeller, the main character in Spaceborn.

IOB: Can readers follow you on Twitter?

BGV: I would like them to follow me on Twitter : @bonniev and @spacebornishere

IOB:  Do you have future writing plans, and if so, would you give us a hint about what we might be hearing about you next?

BGV: My plans are to write many more novels and short stories. I will be coauthoring a young adult science fiction book with my son, Chris. I have also started two other books, one science fiction and the other set in the 1950’s.

I am also doing research for the sequel to Spaceborn. As part of the research, I’m going to the Mars Society international convention August 15-18 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

IOB:  Wow! Sounds like you’re busy, which makes me doubly appreciative of the time you’ve given me and inourbooks.com readers. Thanks again, Bonnie, and best wishes for the success of Spaceborn!

BGV: Thank you, Ina, for the opportunity to talk to you and your readers.