Lake Love

A guest post by
LINDSAY EDMUNDS

ChautauquaLakeIn my life have been three New York lakes: Otisco, Skaneateles, and Chautauqua. I couldn’t have written the stories in New Sun Rising without them. This is the literal truth: without knowing the lakes well,  I would not have known how to create the village central to the action in New Sun Rising, or how to describe it.

The lake in my fictional world is named Star Lake. It is mostly based on Chautauqua. However, the emerald green color in autumn is from Skaneateles. The sense of “home is here” comes from Otisco, the lake of my childhood.

Star Lake is the first thing I describe in the first story:

Star Lake is as it has always been: restless, beautiful, and bewitching. I believe it is the source of our town’s various spiritualities. The veil between this world and other dimensions is very thin here. Very thin. For all we know, our lake is a gateway through which unseen beings pass back and forth. I—who have no coherent religion—become mystical when I see the water. We all do.

From the day it knocked Garvis Stillwater to his knees and got him praying to God for direction, Star Lake has had a way of getting people’s attention.

The beginnings of the lake in glacial upheavals are unknowable. Native Americans had a name for it that could not be coherently translated. “When you see me, you will know me” was one stab at it.

On a clear night, the lake mirrors the night sky, as all lakes do. Therefore, early white settlers named it Star Lake.

Star Lake is more than 1300 feet above sea level. Its altitude protects us from the worst heat of the lowlands, but the winters are hard. Sometimes the lake freezes so quickly that individual waves turn into ice sculptures, just like that. A glorious sight to see. In autumn, the lake turns emerald green, with fall colors reflecting in the water. Spring brings refreshment. Summer brings the luxury of long days. When people devoted to progress—meaning personal wealth—tore up everything, they overlooked our small part of the world.

—From “The Town With Four Names”

Utopia dreaming

Dystopias have always been with us. I doubt that the dystopias imagined in science fiction are worse than anything people have already experienced for real. In the past, you could prick your finger on a rosebush thorn and die of it. You could be burned at the stake for practicing the “wrong” version of Christianity. You could see some or all of your children die from diseases now preventable or curable.

The struggle toward utopia is a hero’s journey.  Little bits of goodness are realized with tremendous effort.  These are not necessarily big things. For example, if you had to spend a good part of your life doing laundry by hand, you might consider the invention of the washing machine as a needful ingredient of a utopian society.

The town by Star Lake has utopian ideals. What would happen, I wondered, if a girl raised in this community decided to try her luck in the outside world.  The result was New Sun Rising: Ten Stories.

New York dreaming

In the 19th century, the state of New York saw some remarkable events. The Chautauqua Institution was founded at Fair Point on Chautauqua Lake in 1874. Not to be outdone, spiritualists founded Lily Dale in 1879 on Cassadaga Lake. In 2015 both communities are still alive and more or less true to the principles on which they were founded. Lily Dale is the largest spiritualist community in the world. Chautauqua continues to answer the human desire to reach higher, know more, feel more, and be more.

There was the Oneida Community, which was dedicated to “perfectionism.” Its survival for 33 years (1848-1881) was an extraordinary achievement. Utopian  experiments tend to fall apart quickly because trying to realize a utopia is the hardest work on earth. The Oneida Community has a lasting legacy: Oneida silverware, though it is not made in the USA anymore.

In 1848, a convention was held at Seneca Falls on the subject of women’s right to vote. This right was made a plank in the Liberty Party Platform. Seventy years later US women got the vote.

Every civilizing step, every bit of scientific progress or ease or comfort we know is achieved with great effort against the contrary pulls of brutality, indifference, and Murphy’s Law. Utopia beckons us forward like a shimmering vision.

There was the Cardiff Giant, too, in 1858, but he was sort of silly.

Mary Pat Hyland’s lake is Y-shaped Keuka, and my three are elsewhere, but you don’t have to explain lake love to anyone from upstate or central New York.

Lindsay_NewSunRising_thumbnailAbout New Sun Rising

The year is 2199; the place, the Reunited States. The stories are about a girl who was raised in a utopian community and then tries to make her way in a dystopian society.

New Sun Rising: Two Stories is the “appetizer” version of  New Sun Rising: Ten Stories.  It is inexpensive in terms of both money (99 cents) and time (43 pages on the Kindle).

Amazon | Amazon UK | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

New Sun Rising: Ten Stories is available for preorder now and for purchase on May 25, 2015.  For the first month, it will be a good buy at half price of $1.99.  It will eventually cost $3.99 and will stay at that price for quite awhile. There will also be a print version.

Biographical note

Lindsay Edmunds

Lindsay Edmunds

Lindsay Edmunds’s highest ambition is that her stories be true “in the way that stories are true,” to quote Nancy Willard, who wrote the wonderful novel Things Invisible to See. She believes that everybody has stories to tell. (If you doubt it, get someone talking about their job.) Everybody sees a lot. Everybody knows a lot.

Although she loves New York, Lindsay Edmunds lives in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Read an E-Book Week

ebookweek2015

Today begins SmashwordsRead an E-Book Week. It’s a great opportunity to download heavily discounted ebooks from the countless authors who publish through this great service.

If you’re not familiar with Smashwords, it’s a place where you can download an ebook in the format of your choice. Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Apple versions as well as other formats are available.

wrapkindle300x480oniondomes_cover_300x456I’m participating and all of my books are on sale, priced no higher than $2.00. Two of my books, my new release In the Shadows of the Onion Domes and my best-selling book of all time, The House With the Wraparound Porch, are priced at $1.50 each.

All you have to do to get the discount is use the coupon on the page for the book at checkout.

Spread the word and get yourself some bargains today!

All quiet on the wintry front

cato1

It’s bleak midwinter. Snowstorm after snowstorm have been dropping white post cards from the heavens. Winds that skied down the Canadian Rockies and across the great plains have plummeted this area into a frozen state. No better time to stay inside and work on the second draft of my new novel. Right? If only it were that easy. Relentless snowfall requires constant shoveling. My writing den is chilly, so layers of clothing are required to sit here for long spells. Outside there is the sound of snowplows dropping their iron walls on the pavement and scraping along as they shove white walls across my driveway’s recently cleared entrance.

I take long walks with the dog when possible to seek inspiration. Most days I note the different birds chattering. Bluejays seem to grouse the most about the cold weather, I’ve decided. Once we were watched by a peregrine falcon atop a telephone pole. It was hungry, just like the cottontail rabbit in the back yard who has been gnoshing on the Indian corn that adorned the front door in the fall.

This second draft entails typing the handwritten first draft as I edit, but I also end up adding more text. So far I have about five thousand more words in the second draft, and I’m barely a third of the way through the manuscript for this new suspense novel. Once this draft is done, I imagine the third draft will reduce in size. The process is not unlike building a clay bowl on a potter’s wheel. Build, take away; build, take away.

And so I plow along in my small creative world, awaiting the coming spring thaw. Soon, I whisper, soon.

What will you read tomorrow?

me_readingTomorrow, Jan. 24, 2015, is National Readathon Day. The effort, spearheaded by Penguin Random House, is targeting the 40% of Americans who are barely literate.

All they ask is that you pick up a book to read, between noon and 4 p.m. your time. Read at home, the library or a bookstore.

When you’re done reading, you are invited to share your experience across social media through photos and posts. Be sure to include the hashtag #timetoread.

Need an idea for a book to read? May I suggest any of THESE?

Un-Select-ing my ebook

oniondomes_cover_300x456I released my first collection of short stories, In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, last fall. For the first time I enrolled one of my books in the Kindle Select program.

When you do this, the ebook version must be available exclusively at Amazon for three months. In return, Amazon offers you a choice of two promotions: the Free Promotion (in which the book is free for a limited time) or the Countdown Deal (in which the book is reduced and then the price is raised over a period of a few days before it returns to the list price). Kindle Select books also receive higher royalty sales in certain markets (India, Brazil, Japan and Mexico) and are eligible for Kindle Unlimited (in which a user pays a month fee to read all that the person wants to) and Kindle Owners Lending Library (in which copies can be shared).

This was my first foray into the short stories genre, so I decided to experiment with new marketing ideas and give it a try. After three months, I have just removed it from the program. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t believe in the concept of giving your book away unless it’s a copy provided to a prospective reviewer. Why not do that when it’s very successful for many authors? To me it’s the principle of the thing. I work very hard on these books and in my opinion making them free devalues that effort. Stubborn? Yes. Luddite? Not quite; it’s more a matter of pride in my art. Because of those strong feelings, I opted for the Countdown Deal. The ebook retails at $2.99 and I lowered it to 99 cents for three days and then raised it to $1.99. Did it work? Well, the book rose to No. 9 in the short story category at Amazon’s Kindle Store. (Yay!) I had very good sales (comparable to the bump from past good book reviews), but they weren’t what I would classify as outstanding.
  2. I did have a few Kindle Unlimited/Online Lending Library borrows, which will make me eligible for a piece of the pot o’cash Amazon disburses quarterly to members of the Kindle Select Club. I have no idea how much that will be. I don’t expect to put the down payment on a new car anytime soon.
  3. To date, I have never made a sale in Mexico, Brazil or Japan (I have sold books in India). So the lure of higher royalties in those countries isn’t that much of a draw.
  4. What I think drives sales for these deals is investing in advertising. Many authors get big rankings with pricey ads on well-known book promo sites. Wish I had the income for that but I don’t yet. I paid for some far less expensive Facebook ads. The targeting for those ads is impressive, but not sure how much the click-throughs actually contributed to sales. During the event I held a book blog tour across fellow indies’ blogs. I know that helped. The book sale was also broadcast all over social media.
  5. In my opinion, what truly matters in making these Select options a success (besides writing the best book you can) is your choice of genre. Mystery, fantasy and romance are almost a given to do very well. Short stories? Eh…not the same.
  6. I use Smashwords coupons for sending free copies of books to reviewers. Currently I do not have software for converting my MS to ePub format. Because of the Amazon exclusivity contract, that coupon option was not available to me. Surely that hurt the launch of this book. Perhaps if Kindle gave you that option, the Select program would be more attractive.

On Monday I uploaded In the Shadows of the Onion Domes to Smashwords where it is available immediately in all ebook formats. Within weeks it will be available directly at the Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo and Apple stores.

C’mon little book, it’s time for you to learn to fly

Meanwhile I writing the second draft of my new novel. Did I mention it’s a mystery?

SHARE: Age of Greatness

fyodorI love this chart on Blink Box Books’s blog. It shows the age of famous authors when they published their most famous works. How do their ages compare to where you are in your writing career?

Twenty Questions with Fox Frazier-Foley

foxfrazierfoley1. Name:  Fox Frazier-Foley

2. How long have you been a writer? 
I wrote my first poem down on paper when I was four, so I guess technically I’ve been a writer since then? Ha. I had my first poem published when I was 16, in a feminist literary magazine called Sojourner. It was titled “Fallen,” and was a persona poem about this one particular (real-life) woman I had learned about while researching the European witch hunts.

exodusinxminor3. What formats do you publish in? It depends. For individual pieces (poems, reviews, essays), I only submit to online and digital magazines/journals (e.g., NonBinary Review, which is put out by Zoetic Press, is a really great digital/downloadable literary magazine). The one exception I make to that personal rule is that I do publish in Denver Quarterly (I write book reviews for them), which is a print-only journal. I’ve loved Denver Quarterly for so long, I’m excited any time I get a copy — but, as a general rule, I don’t believe in paper magazines or journals. I think of it as disposable literature, and it strikes me as too wasteful for my tastes. I try to be earth-friendly.
For full books, it’s different, of course! My first collection of poetry, Exodus in X Minor, is available as both a free e-book (http://sundresspublications.com, click on the cover image to download) and as a $10 printed book (http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-X-Minor-Fox-Frazier-Foley/dp/1939675189). My first full-length book, The Hydromantic Histories, which comes out in June, will only be released as a print book. Going forward, I’d like to do both — I’m particularly excited about the possibilities of doing things like a print book with digital components — a written text that has complementary audio downloads, for one example.

4. What genres do you write in?
I identify mainly as a poet, but I’ve also written fiction, scholarly essays, critical reviews, and lyric essays. I’ve never written a play, though. I love attending plays as a spectator, but I’m not sure I’d be very good at writing one.

5. What social media do you use?  
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fox.frazier
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/foxfrazierfoley

6. How do you want your readers to feel after they’re read your book?
I’d like my readers to feel as though they have experienced something new, something different. I suppose I’d also like them to feel as thought they now see a little piece of the world differently than they otherwise might have. Those are the best feelings I have, myself, after reading a book that means a lot to me. And, of course, I want everyone to feel like they can’t wait to read my next book!

hydromantic7. What’s your current book?
I have two books coming out this year! Exodus in X Minor, which was just published by Sundress Publications, is a chapbook of dark, atmospheric poems (you can see the book trailer for it here: http://vimeo.com/116451872) about upstate New York — past lives, addiction, violence, spirituality, love, inner strength, trauma. It includes a series of poems about the St. Patrick’s Day Four. It’s pretty gritty. I think of it as being like Tom Waits singing in your ear. My first full-length collection of poetry, The Hydromantic Histories, drops from Bright Hill Press this June. It has similar themes, but it’s a little more like chamber music, I think (to go with the Tom Waits/musical metaphor). It deals with trauma and violence, but also the human capacity for joy, enlightenment, kindness, truth. Some of the poems deal with my initiation into Haitian Vodou, but in a very dreamlike, delicate way that honors both the religion and the experience of coming to the religion (you won’t find any weird, sensationalized stuff in my writing). It deals with real-world pain and loss and viciousness, but it’s also very hopeful and spiritual.

8. What’s your next book about?
I’m working on a few manuscripts that are close to completion. The two I’ve been spending most time with are An Art Like Everything, which is a dossier-like book that combines letters, recipes, religious documents, and early medical texts — it’s an examination of the way medicine and religion have historically involved American women — and Monster, which is a book of mythological poems about medieval monsters, medieval Catholic saints, and also some secular medieval-ish figures — including Thomas More, King Henry VIII and all his wives, and Erzsébet Báthory (the “Blood Countess”).

9. What types of jobs have you had other than writing?
Among other things, I’ve been a waitress, an administrative assistant, a college professor, an art teacher, a receptionist, a tutor, a copy-editor, a personal assistant, and an Associate Editor at The Foundation Center.

10. What did it feel like when you were first published?
Like a message from God not to give up. When I received the message saying that Exodus in X Minor had won a literary prize and was going to be published, I was researching nursing programs. I had just started to think I was not going to get published at all, so being given that opportunity was a very sacred experience for me. It felt like the first deep inhale after you’ve been forced to hold your breath for far too long.

11. What’s your go-to song when your writing muse needs to be recharged? 
It depends on the piece I’m working on in the moment. While working on Monster, I’ve been favoring a lot of instrumental pieces and chants and such from the Middle Ages. Usually, I listen to things that help me travel down to the expressive/subconscious emotional level I’m trying to get down to for whatever particular piece I’m working on. Working on An Art Like Everything, I sometimes listen to hymns, Dolly Parton, other stuff that’s evocative of my reactions to/relationship with my subject matter.

12. What do you do when writer’s block strikes?
I try to figure out why. Usually, when I feel “blocked,” there’s something specific that’s stopping me from finding a way into what I’m trying to write about. I try to be patient with myself, too (I’m an extremely impatient person, especially with myself). I don’t think you can force immediacy. Sometimes, you have to take a little time. I’ve found that showers, baths, and running — solitary, meditative experiences that allow me time to stare off into space — can be more helpful than anything I would actively “do.”

13. What’s the best compliment your writing ever earned? 
Ha! Once, when I was getting my MFA, I was fifteen minutes late to meet with Richard Howard. I had promised that I wouldn’t be late, because he was very busy that day — but I was new to my neighborhood in south (very-south) Brooklyn — I had just moved from a nice neighborhood in Manhattan, where the trains run more reliably and with greater frequency! So I wasn’t navigating my new train line very well, and I was late, and he was so displeased with me. I apologized three times in the first two minutes, and he was still upset with me. So I just sat there while he berated me a little bit, and I just didn’t say anything else in response. I think that probably made him even more annoyed. So, after a few minutes of that, he asked to see my poems (the point of our meeting that day), and I thought, oh great, he’s probably going to be really mean to me because he’s so mad that I was late and that I won’t apologize any more. He read the first few lines out loud, then stopped, looked up at me, and said, “This is better than anything I’ve read in … a very long time. It’s really something. You’re really — a very difficult person, Fox — but just a phenomenal writer.” It is, to this day, my favorite thing anyone’s ever said about me. Probably because I still laugh every time I think about it. (I’m laughing right now.) I met with him many times after that. He was very kind and encouraging, very supportive. I always arrived early after that first meeting.

14. If you’re stranded on a desert island with a solar battery recharger, what would you be reading on your Kindle?
I don’t get to read very much for pleasure these days, because I’m in the last years of my PhD program, so if I were stranded on a desert island, I would probably go buck wild and read all the things. Top of the list would be finishing Nan Dòmi, by Mimerose Beaubrun, and reading Women Born With Fur, by Beth Couture. I also just acquired copies of Lisa Flowers’s first book of poetry, Diatomhero, and Lauren Gordon’s chapbook of Nancy Drew poems, Keen. So I’d definitely be reading those, too. I’d also want a copy of Emily Wolahan’s forthcoming Hinge. I’d also want all the written works of Maya Deren, H.D., Gertrude Stein, Toni Morrison, Anne Carson, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, E.E. Cummings, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop. And I’d want Lady Murakami’s Tales of Genji. See? I’m going to stop myself now, but I would definitely go nuts and be a total bookglutton. I’m dreaming of that desert island, now . . .

15. If you could have dinner with three other writers, who would they be?
Geoffrey Chaucer, Maya Deren, and I think Anne Bradstreet. (I would like to have a one-on-one dinner with H.D.; she seems perhaps a bit socially anxious to enjoy the kind of dinner party I would want to throw.)

16. Describe the setting and food at that meal.
I suppose I’d want to host it. If I had my druthers, it would be a picnic in the meadow in front of my late grandmother’s old house at Bittersweet Farm. My husband would build a nice gazebo for the occasion. I’d make some cocktails, and probably a meal with several courses. I really like to feed people. And ply them with booze. So, we’d have a nice, leisurely, al fresco dinner. I think it would be a pretty interesting conversation, with the personalities and perspectives coming together at that table. Afterwards, maybe a game of Cards Against Humanity. Then, later into the night, a conversation about poetry, writing, travel, weird life experiences.

17. Cats or dogs?
I love both, actually, but unfortunately I am horribly allergic to cats. I own two dogs, Dalí Nimbus and R2D2 La Joie.

18. What’s your blog and/or website address? 
My own website (www.foxfrazierfoley.com), is currently under construction, and will be up sometimes in February. In the meantime, though, I want to encourage everyone to check out the section of TheThe Poetry Blog (http://www.thethepoetry.com/category/infoxicated-corner) that I edit and curate, as well as my Amazon author page (http://www.amazon.com/Fox-Frazier-Foley/e/B00RI70S5K).

19. What fictional character do you identify with most?
Mildred Pierce’s work ethic (and sometimes her unfortunate propensity for tolerating other people’s nonsense), Delia Alton’s sense of vision and wonder and curiosity, and Jo March’s everything else. (Also, for any horror movie fans out there, the main character from You’re Next.)

20. What’s the closing line of your latest book? 
Exodus in X Minor ends with, “We escaped — we are escaping, one carved tree trunk at a time, towards our Croatoan — not being, but becoming: creatures newer, more brightly made.” The Hydromantic Histories closes with, “Who is one among many or few: we carry us to Bondye. Bon Dieu.”

AUTHOR BIO
Fox Frazier-Foley is the author of two prize-winning poetry collections, Exodus in X Minor (Sundress Publications, 2014) and The Hydromantic Histories (Bright Hill Press, 2015), and is currently editing two anthologies: one of contemporary American political poetry (Sundress Publications, 2016) and Among Margins, a collection of critical writing on aesthetics (Ricochet Editions, 2016). She is a founder and Managing Editor of the small literary press Ricochet Editions, Editor-Curator of TheThe Poetry Blog’s Infoxicated Corner, and creator of poetry horoscopes for Luna Luna magazine. Her critical reviews have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Tarpaulin Sky, Open Letters Monthly, and Denver Quarterly. She is a Provost’s Fellow and PhD candidate at the University of Southern California.

MILESTONE: A million visitors

amillionvisits

Just shy of 10 a.m. today, this blog received its one millionth visit. Wow, I never expected such traffic when I began the blog on March 3, 2011, after just three years into the world of indie publishing.

The industry has changed rapidly in that time. This site has aimed to keep up with trends, connect writers with valuable resources, and introduce the world to many indie authors.

Here are some of the indie authors I’ve been proud to host and discuss on my blog: Heather Adkins, Arshad Ahsanuddin, Nicholas J. Ambrose, Dani Amore, Barbra Annino, R. Lynn Archie, Daniel Arenson, Randy Attwood, Joey Avniel, Cliff Ball,  C.M. Barrett, Elias Barton, Linda Barton, Jeremy Bates, Jean Marie Bauhaus, Laura J. Bear, J.A. Beard, Gabe Beyers, Sarah Billington, Danielle Blanchard, Eva A. Blaskovic, Chris Blewitt, Cheryl Bradshaw, Peg Brantley, Sebastian Breit, Amanda Brice, Sean P. Bridges, Cristina Garcia Brindley, Fabio Bueno, Debra Burroughs, David H. Burton, Terry Callister, Elaine Calloway, Karen Cantwell, Angela Carlie, Gayle Carline, Kathy Carmichael, V.J. Chambers, Philip Chen, Andy Christofferson, Julie Christensen, David Cleutz, Eileen Cruz Coleman, Robert Collins, Huw Collingbourne, M.A. (Mel) Comley, Mike Cooley, Amy Corwin, Karin Cox, Julia Crane, Penelope Crowe, Brian Curtis, Elita Daniels, Paul Daniels, Karla Darcy, Craig Davis, Dan Dawkins, Christine DeMaio-Rice, Mike Dennis, Scott Dennisen, Marci Diehl, Kevin Domenic, C. S. Dorsey, Steven Drennon, Simon Dunn, Monte Dutton, Deirdra Eden, Lindsay Edmunds, Barbara Ehrentreu, Barry Eisler, Laura Eno, Diana Estill, Geraldine Evans, L.C. Evans, Lia Fairchild, Donna Fasano, Maurice Fawcett, Kat Flannery, Mike Foldes, Lizzy Ford, Gayle Foreman, David Gaughran, Alain Gomez, Buddy Gott, Susan Helene Gottfried, Andrei Guruianu, Shanon Grey, Shana Hammaker, Jolea Minnick-Harrison, Sam Havens, Christy Hayes, Kevis Hendrickson , Rachel Hockett, Amanda Hocking, Sibel Hodge, Traci Hohenstein, Marilyn Holdsworth, MJ Holmes, Holly Hook, Lynn Hubbard, Jennifer Hudock, Ty Hutchinson, Mary Pat Hyland, Greg James, Dafeenah Jameel, G.W. Jefferies, Kenneth Paul Jones, LA Jones, PJ Jones,  Tonya Kappes, Gordon Kirkland, Daniel W. Koch, J.A. Konrath, Benjamin Joseph Kuniyoshi, Dean Lappi, Nicholas La Salla, Alexis Leno, Allan Leverone, Mike Lewis, Victorine Lieske, Fred Limberg, Laura Lond, Carol Davis Luce, Jacqueline T. Lynch, Julia March, P.H.C. Marchesi, Bella Marie, Valerie Maarten, Joshua Corey Mays, Angela McCullough, Gerry McCullough, Brianna Lee McKenzie, Brian McMurray, M. Edward McNally, Donna B. McNicol, Neil Menzies, Tanya Parker Mills, Bradley J Milton, Marsha A Moore, Faith Mortimer, Roz Murphy, Michelle Muto, Deborah Nam-Krane, Alan Nayes, Christine Nolfi, Melissa Ohnoutka, Lorne Oliver, Katherine Owen, Sue Owen, Melonie Phillips, Kate Policani, PJ Port, Robyn Porter, Josh Price, Karen Pruitt, Jennifer Rainey, Keryl Raist, Marsha L Randolph, Lexi Revellian, Alyssa Reyans, Elizabeth Reyes, Tony Reynen-Slater, Susan Ricci, T.K. Richardson, J. Rock, Patricia Rockwell, Carolyn J. Rose, Imogen Rose, Katharine A. Russell, Amy Kathleen Ryan, Gordon Ryan, Consuelo Saah-Baehr, Katie Salidas, Jamie Salisbury, Paul Salvette, Rick Sand, Allen Schatz, Liz Schulte, Collette Scott, Alonna Shaw, LeAnna Shields, Cheryl Shireman, Barbara Silkstone, Terry Simpson, Richard Simms, Mark Smith, Melissa Smith, Cheryl Solimini, Lis Sowerbutts, Nick Spalding, Kipp Poe Speicher, Eddie Stack, Katie W Stewart, Edward G. Talbot, Red Tash, Amy Tupper, Kathleen Valentine, Vianka Van Bokkem, Lisa Vandiver, Louise Voss, S.L. Wallace, Jack Wallen, Emily Ann Ward, Lin Welch, Ben White, Dawn McCullough White, Katrina Parker Williams, Sarah Woodbury, Kate Wyland, Laura Yirak, Georgina Young-Ellis, Cristian YoungMiller.

Twenty Questions with Andrei Guruianu

andrei_photo1. Name: Andrei Guruianu

2.How long have you been a writer?
I began writing in my early twenties, so about 15 years, give or take.

3. What formats do you publish in?
Mostly traditional print, though some of my books are available as eBooks. All can be found via Amazon.com

4. What genres do you write in?
At this point the majority of my published work has been poetry, though I have also written a collection of short stories and a memoir. I am leaning more towards prose these days, especially short essays, and have been working on a novella for some time now.

5. What social media do you use?
Tumblr: andreiguruianu.tumblr.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrei.guruianu

6. How do you want your readers to feel after they’re read your book?
Unsettled. Caught in a brief moment of recognition, questioning, of seeing the world as it is, re-imagining it as it might be.

7. What’s your current book?
The most recent publication is a pair of poetry books titled Made in the Image of Stones and Portrait Without a Mouth (BrickHouse Books, 2014). The books are meant to be read together, in sequence, essentially creating a larger dialogue. I like working on “projects” such as these, something more beyond a single book, though each one can certainly stand on its own.

8. What’s your next book about?
I am currently working on putting the finishing touches on a book titled Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passages from Europe to America (co-written with Anthony Di Renzo, professor in the Writing Department at Ithaca College). Dead Reckoning is a dialogic and ekphrastic exchange composed of pairings of prose poems with short essayistic commentaries and reflections that aim to place the language and sentiments of the poems within a larger cultural framework. The book explores such topics as war and genocide, art and history, nationalism and immigration, commerce and communication.

9. What types of jobs have you had other than writing?
I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter and columnist, had a short stint as a cook, as well as several retail gigs to help pay bills through graduate school. Writing has never really been my job, and I think that has saved me from looking at it as a chore, as something that “needs to be done”.

10. What did it feel like when you were first published?
Nerve-wracking, exciting, a bit disappointing. The world did not stop at that moment. It was a wonderful lesson in humility and one that keeps me pushing myself to always do more, get better, if only for myself.

11. What’s your go-to song when your writing muse needs to be recharged?
I don’t listen to music when I write or for inspiration necessarily. I prefer quiet when I write, or looking at artwork – photography, paintings. But if there are musicians whose work and lyrics I find overall inspiring it would have to be Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

12. What do you do when writer’s block strikes?
Try not to force it. I used to do that when I was younger, try to get something, anything onto the page when it didn’t want to be there. I found that it leads to work that is trite, didactic, and overall mediocre.

13. What’s the best compliment your writing ever earned?
Anything to the effect “I never thought of it this way”.

14. If you’re stranded on a desert island with a solar battery recharger, what would you be reading on your Kindle?
I don’t own a Kindle. But if things really got desperate I bet it would make for a pretty handy digging tool in case of an emergency.

15. If you could have dinner with three other writers, who would they be?
Hunter Thompson, Milan Kundera, (we tried calling up Bukowski but he hung up as soon as I mentioned the word “writers”).

16. Describe the setting and food at that meal.
Coffee. Bourbon.

17. Cats or dogs?
Dogs.

18. What’s your blog and/or website address?
www.andreiguruianu.com

19. What fictional character do you identify with most?
I don’t. Trying to identify with one’s self is difficult enough.

20. What’s the closing line of your latest book?
From the novella in progress:
Eventually it lifted cleanly off into the night, drifting on the breeze, until all that we could see was a fist of light, trembling.

Andrei Guruianu was born in 1979 in Bucharest, Romania. He is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and prose, and currently teaches in the Expository Writing Program at New York University.

Ten thoughts on social media

twosentsI had a discussion with a PR professional for a nonprofit recently and she provided some interesting tips on timing tweets, emails and posts.

  1. Make sure that important news for the day has already been posted/emailed by the time your potential customers wake up. How many of us scroll though social media on our phone while we are still in bed?
  2. Lunch hour is a good time to send out messages.
  3. People often make a last check of social media just before leaving work, so ten minutes before the typical end of the work day (4:50 p.m.) is good.
  4. Do not post during dinner time (through the 7 p.m. hour)
  5. You’ll get a lighter response to tweets made in the later evening. Usage drops off dramatically.

In my own experience with social media, I’ve also learned a few things.

  1. Try to post an image that clearly illustrates the post. Some search engines give preference to posts that are illustrated.
  2. If someone engages you in a positive and non-aggressive way, make sure to respond. This may sound like a duh!, doesn’t everyone know that idea. A surprising number of people do not respond. Remember, social media is a conversation. Similarly, if someone responds in a provoking manner, it’s best to just ignore the response and not react.
  3. Make sure your links to various social media are everywhere you have a presence.
  4. Always use hashtags. They are a way to search for your content.
  5. Always add tags to your blog posts. Here’s a trick I use: always make the last tag your name or the organization you want to promote. This is a way of guaranteeing your name comes up on the first page of Google searches for you.