Yecheilyah’s First Annual Poetry Contest – Grand Prize Winner!

Hey Guys!

I am honored to introduce to you our Grand Prize Winner of my first poetry contest!

First, a special thank you to Colleen and Lisa for helping me to put this together. With my schedule, I could not have done it without you two! Family, please go ahead and follow their blogs. You WON’T be disappointed!

Follow Lisa Here

Follow Colleen Here

Next, I would like to thank everyone who entered as well as those of you who shared this contest. It is not easy to “stand” up here and do something like this so thank you for your support.

Drumm Rollll…

Congratulations to Merril D. Smith for her poem “Zora Neale Hurston.”

Not only did it touch on our theme, but it embodied so much of Zora that I felt like if I didn’t know who she was before, I did now. Here’s what Colleen had to say:

“The author captured the essence of Zora and her strength to fight for the rights of African American women as if she was able to channel her bright spirit through the written word. Splendid imagery and descriptions. When I close my eyes, I can see Zora in all her glory!”

My favorite lines are:

“…her soul crawls out

from its hiding place

time and distance cannot shrink

her words…” – Colleen Chesebro

Whoop! Merril, here’s what you’ve won!

  • Amazon Giftcard
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (hardcover)
  • From When I was a Black Girl by Yecheilyah Ysrayl (paperback)
  • And Still, I Rise by Maya Angelou (paperback)
  • Your Poem on this Blog
  • Social Media Support

Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

Author Photo: Merril D. Smith.

MDS: Thank you so much, Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Colleen Chesebro, and Lisa W. Tetting! I am honored to have been selected as the Grand Prize Winner for this poetry contest.

My name is Merril D. Smith. I live in National Park, NJ, which is a small borough right across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. I’m an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in American history, but my blog is mostly a poetry blog. Poetry is my creative outlet, though it is something I’ve come to only within the past few years. Perhaps I needed some life experience and time to reflect, but now my muse says, “write poetry.”

Do you have any poetry collections out Merril?

MDS: I don’t have a poetry book out yet, but it’s coming! I’m currently finishing up two reference books on rape. My other books are available on Amazon and other sites.

Before we get to your poem, please tell us a little bit about it. What inspired this piece?

MDS: The theme of the poetry contest was the Harlem Renaissance. I chose to write about Zora Neale Hurston because I think she was a brilliant and fascinating woman. She lied about her age (saying she was younger than she was) so that she could finish high school. Then she went on to study anthropology with Franz Boas, and she chose to do fieldwork on Afro-American folklore. She was said to have made an entrance when she entered a party, and in the photos, I’ve seen of her, she’s often wearing a hat. She definitely had a way with words, so I used some of her lines within the poem. Though she won some acclaim in her life, she did not earn wealth, and she died in poverty. Alice Walker is credited with “rediscovering” Hurston and paid to have a grave stone placed on Hurston’s unmarked grave.

Once again Merril, thanks so much for participating in our contest and sharing your heart with us. Without further ado, everyone we give you:

“Zora Neale Hurston”

by Merril D. Smith

 

She makes an entrance

(not tragically colored)

hat on head–

red, blue, black—

she sets back,

ready, life of the party,

her oyster knife sharpened

dissecting, uncovering

(rediscovering)

life

in tales of people, animals,

the divine, the devil,

people without souls

animals who talk,

eyes watching God

she writes of birds and bees

and peach blossoms in the spring,

of love, romance,

women and men

of rabid dogs

and jealousy,

she dies in poverty

almost

(not quite)

forgotten,

her soul crawls out

from its hiding place

time and distance cannot shrink

her words,

those she left behind

to flow like the sea

to meet our shores

 

©2017 Merril D. Smith


You can reach Merril at the social media links below. Go show her some love!

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Merril-D.-Smith/e/B001HOHXH6

Blog: https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @merril_mds

Instagram: mdsmithnj


 

 

This poetry contest is sponsored by Yecheilyah of Literary Korner Publishing and the release of Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One). Pick up your copy of Renaissance today. Click here.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: The Truth She Knew by J.A. Owenby

Title:  The Truth She Knew

Author: J.A. Owenby

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: September 12, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B01HAKBWVI

The Truth She Knew is the story of a young woman who is manipulated by an abusive mother. Lynn uses religion for control purposes and has convinced her daughter that she is possessed by the demon of lust. Then, in comes, Walker Farren and Lacey feels what it’s like to be loved for the first time. Walker’s family—his mom and brother— exhibit a kindness that Lacey does not experience at home. Finally, she can experience normalcy. But not for long.

Lacey lives with her mother Lynn and her mother’s friend Patsy (though rumors swirl they are more than friends). Lynn sits in her favorite chair and utters prayers that she says keeps her in tune with God who reveals to her everything there is to know about what Lacey is doing and where she is. The number of times to which Lynn is right terrifies Lacey and she is convinced that her mother does, in fact, hear from God.

Lacey’s mom is all the way off the chain, using emotional, verbal, and physical abuse to control Lacey’s every move. The deeper Lacey falls for Walker, the more conniving her mother’s methods and my heart broke for her. I found my mouth hanging open in many instances that involved Lacey and her mother. The lengths to which she has gone to convince Lacey that she is possessed is astonishing. I enjoyed how the writer showcased Lacey’s naivete and youth. I also like that Lacey had friends who could help her so that the book was not all dark and gloomy. I was also happy to discover little plot twists toward the end because I was starting to think some things were too good to be true but I’ll leave it there. You’ll have to read the book to know what I am talking about.

The Truth She Knew is a well-written story of young love, abuse, and mental illness. I look forward to reading more into this series. (Though this is a book about Young Adults, it is recommended for ages 17+ Contains language, sex, and violence.)

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

The Truth She Knew is currently FREE 99cents on Amazon. Go get it.

Be sure to follow this author online:

Website: http://www.jaowenby.com/

Twitter: @jaowenby

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JAOwenby/

#RRBC WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour: BULLETPROOF VEST by Laurie Finkelstein

Welcome to Day Three of  The WATCH RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) WRITE Showcase Tour, a branch of The Rave Reviews Book Club.


Author Photo. Laurie Finkelstein.

Bulletproof Vest

By Laurie Finkelstein

The bulk, padding, and steel plates weigh me down. The protection of a bulletproof vest is necessary. No matter the weather, I wear the cloak. The weight is a burden, but I trek on because wrapped is the only way to navigate my journey. The jacket protects my heart from being blown to crimson shards of death.

A direct hit is avoided for days and nights, lulling me into calm and complacency. “All will work out fine,” I tell myself. The truth tells a story I want to change. All my will and might does not make an impact to stop the bombardment.

Experience and time separates me from tragedy. At any moment, the bullets strike. Inside or out. My house cannot provide security, nor can a million people surrounding me. With nowhere to hide, I am a target. Shelter and safety are nonexistent.

Discharges are held back while luck and grace harbor me. The slugs will come, however, in a piercing barrage without warning, and will pummel me.

Knocked to the ground, I am immobilized and rendered helpless. My breathing is halted. My movements are stopped, and I understand what assaulted me.

The shockwave subsides, and in small increments, I am able to take in air. Incapacitated, I continue to lie until I am rescued by the rational thinking buried under an avalanche of pain, doubt, and fear. My thoughts check my vitals to make sure I am in the here and now. “Stay in the moment,” I tell myself. “I can manage this. I will persevere.”

“Rise,” I command. The mass of the garb constricts my movement, but I stand, analyze what must be done, and begin to act. The warrior in me comes out. Battles will be fought. My impervious attire gets me through another crisis, and its weight comforts me. Without the guise, I am unable to prevail against the onslaughts, which pop out of the dark corners of another day.

Yes, my vest is cumbersome, but without my swathe I will not withstand the painful projectiles. Clips are filled, ready to punch and knock me down, disabling me should I forget for a moment to cloak myself within my protective armor.

My bullets are not made of lead, surrounded by a dense metal. The projectiles do not come from terrorists intent on decimating me. The ammo does not come from a police state or a dictator’s command. A barrel is not involved.

My bullets are made of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Composed of irrational thoughts, insipid ideations, and ignorant rationalizations, they are crushing invisible forces. The capacity to shatter my resolve and render me dysfunctional invades me.

My unsociable enemy is treatable, but never disappears. My therapists validate my experiences of being trapped, resentful, guilty, shameful, ill-equipped, grief-stricken, lost, uncertain, and disabled. My growth in therapy helps me accept the challenge with compassion and empathy in my heart.

Throughout my lifetime three stages will haunt me.

Stage one is the onslaught of rounds. The crisis mode. The shock and pain.

Stage two is being slammed down, breath taken away. Sabotaged. Terms and feelings of the emergency are acknowledged.

Stage three is advocacy for myself. Stand. Breathe. Make decisions. Tools in hand to counteract the depression and anxiety and OCD. Utilize appropriate response and care.

Encouraged by others, I enroll in Toastmasters. Time for me to improve my public speaking and thinking on my feet. Professional and compelling ways of expressing my views is a talent I want to possess. Persuasive interactions are in reach. My computer with Google as my guide, I find the Toastmasters website. The rules and guidelines answer many of my questions. Ready to take on the challenge, I enter my credit card information and become a member. A direct thrust knocks me down.

At first, I don’t understand what attacks me. My heartbeat begins speeding up. My gasps for air speed up. My head spins with dizziness. The mighty effects of terror hammer me to the ground. Despair sinks me deeper into the attack.

Stage one. The thought of standing before people enunciating in a clear voice avoiding “ums” and “ahs” strikes with negative force. In a semi-frozen state of fear and regret, I struggle to make sense of my attacker. Groups of Toastmasters are warm, safe environments to learn public speaking and leadership skills. “Warm and safe,” I remind myself. Still my heart beats faster and my breath diminishes by the second. A ghost of recognition appears before me. Panic is familiar.

Stage two. My history tells me to take an extra Klonopin. Scared to death is not an option. Upon reaching my medicine cabinet with weak, wobble-producing legs, I discover my pill case empty. In my next move, I check the bottle. Empty. My heart beats faster and my limbs go numb. Sweat trickles down my forehead. My last attempt before I collapse in a heap of despair, I call my pharmacist. My trembling voice separated from my body explains my attack and lack of pills. “How fast can you fill the prescription?” my quivering voice speaks out. “Is ten minutes okay?” the pharmacy technician asks.

Stage three. My inner voice tells me to be brave. Think of a serene place. My happy place. Take deep soothing breaths. My toolbox is ransacked for more options until I come to grips with the present. The dispensary is too far to hike, so I must drive to pick up my pills. Cranked engine. Foot on pedal. Brake released. My self-talk takes me on a wild ride to the drug store. My trembling legs walk me to the back of the aisles. The friendly face of the tech reassures me. The credit card transaction is signed with a jellylike hand, completing the purchase.

Back in my car, I down the remedy with tepid water from an old bottle sitting in my trash. My panting is steadier, my heart pounding a little less. Within thirty minutes, I am relaxed, able to pursue my day. Ready to reassess my decision to become a Toastmaster. The choice is sound and important.

My bulletproof vest is worn as a badge of honor and survival. Without my garb, I would be a prisoner in my house, hiding in bed. Sick to my stomach. Useless.

The stigma of mental illness must be broken. My vest is worn with pride. I am a survivor. I am the voice of one in every five Americans experiencing the assailant. I am not alone.


Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Laurie Finkelstein RWISA Author Page

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Stranger by Joan Hall

Title:  The Stranger

Author: Joan Hall

Print Length: 102 pages

Publication Date: October 21, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B01M8LJFMT

 

The Stranger is a short read about a woman named Julie Williams, the owner of Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, the wife of a loving man and two grown children who are doing well for themselves. Julie’s life is stable and put together and everything seems fine except the feelings Julie has of her mother.

Margie Smith has just passed and there are only a few people at her funeral. As the minister gives his words, it becomes apparent that both Julie and her husband did not like Margie. She is remembered as a mean woman who cared about only herself. Not only does Julie and Mark feel this way, but even Stella Green, the nurse who worked for Margie, found the woman difficult. It seems Margie was just a mean woman and I enjoyed trying to figure out why as the author gave bits and pieces of her persona. Meanwhile, someone is watching as Julie leaves the cemetery and he seems to have just as much disdain for Margie as she does.

Since the book is short I’ll leave it here. It’s a fast paced read and I enjoyed trying to figure out who The Stranger was following Julie. I thought the feelings she had toward her mother started to get a tad repetitive and Julie was starting to get annoying with it. I just wanted her to let it go because it didn’t seem that deep. However, this too plays into the mysterious feel of the novel. Who was Margie Smith really?

I’m starting to really enjoy these psychological reads and was excited to have caught onto The Stranger’s identity ahead of time which I gave myself cool points for. (It was like a mental game lol) The Stranger is a tad predictable for me personally and I wanted more on Julie’s mother. However, an overall enjoyable read. You can’t go wrong with a book that’s short, well written and to the point.

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall: 4 / 5

The Stranger is available now on Amazon

Be sure to follow Joan online!

Author Website: http://www.joanhall.net/

Twitter Handle: @JoanHallWrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joanhallwrites/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15256532.Joan_Hall

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/joanhallwrites/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Lyn Horner, Yecheilyah Ysrayl and Tina Frisco

Special thanks to Sally for featuring us in this wonderful update.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to the first update of the week and we have two new books and new version of a very popular book which has just been lovingly remastered.

The first book is Bequiling Delilah: Romancing the Guardians – Book Six by award winning author Lyn Horner

About Bequiling Delilah

He’s a Navajo sworn to bring her to America;
She’s a sexy genius in a race with him across France

Delilah Moreau, the glamorous French Guardian, possesses a miraculous mathematical talent that provides her a privileged life, but it can’t give her what she truly wants: lasting love. Leon Tseda, a Navajo whose homeland serves as a hidden gathering place for the Guardians, vows to bring Delilah to safety, thwarting thugs sent to capture her and the valuable scroll she guards. Opening in Paris, the story whisks the pair in a life-and-death chase across France to Nice and Monte Carlo on…

View original post 1,818 more words

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Sarah Zama

Welcome to Introduce Yourself, a new and exciting blog segment of The PBS Blog dedicated to introducing to you new and established authors and their books.

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sarah Zama. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.

What is your name and where are you from?

I’m Sarah Zama and I’m an Italian from Verona. Well, actually, I’m from Isola della Scala, which is a small town 20km south of Verona. I feel I should acknowledge it, since Isola is where I was born, I grew up and I still live. But honestly, I feel a much stronger affinity with Verona. And I know I should not brag about it, but let me tell you Verona is a beautiful city, with over two thousand years of history, no wonder it’s a World Heritage site. Aside from being Romeo and Juliet’s city, it’s just charming walking by the river, especially at night, or wondering among her narrow mediaeval streets and the plazas, or visiting the castles or one of my very best favorite places, the Roman Arena.

Fine, fine, I’ll just stop before you start thinking someone is paying me to advertise my city!!

I learned my English in Dublin, which I consider my second home. I lived and worked there for over a year, and even if I left almost fifteen years ago, I still visit as often as I can. I love Dublin nearly as much as Verona.

Sarah, you are definitely bragging. I’d love to visit. What was your childhood dream?

This may sound obvious – I mean, lot of kids have the same dream – but I wanted to be an archaeologist. I read a lot about ancient history and about archaeology and archaeologists’ lives. I loved the idea to go hunting for something that used to be alive and breathing and could still be the same if I could unearth it. Archaeological items aren’t dead. If we know their language, they can tell us so many things we’d never know otherwise.

In the end, it didn’t happen. I suppose my passion resided elsewhere. But I think writing, its pretty close. When it is any good, it also tries to unearth the unknown.

I like that. In your own words, what is humility?

It’s knowing that there will always be someone better than you at something. There will always be someone that will know more than you, in one field or another. You’ll always have the possibility to learn from other people, which is our good fortune, because learning and caring is the essence of life.

Nice. What do you wish you knew more about?

Folktales. I’ve been fascinated with folktales since I was a child, then, as an adult, when I learned what folktales truly are, I became even more fascinated. Thinking that some of the folktales we learned as children go back to Prehistory is mind-blowing. Can you imagine how much we can learn from them?

When I first read Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories, one thing he said stuck with me. He said we often wonder about what went lost over the millennia about those stories, things we will never know. And we should instead care about what did come to us though the millennia, because that’s what important to us.

Sarah, are you employed outside of writing?

I’ve been a bookseller for almost fourteen years, a job that I love. The company I work for not only owns the bookshop, but a publishing house too. I learned so many things in the years I’ve work there.

It’s a small independent company based in the university lot in Verona, run by man and wife. And I know it sounds clichéd, but really it is like a family, which – aside from the actual job – is something I really like.

That explains why you’re so well read. I am enjoying *listening* to you. What job do you think you’d be really good at?

Anything visual. I’ve always been a visual person, I used to draw when I was younger (ink was my favorite medium). Now I just don’t have the time to pursue that passion anymore.

Although who knows? Recently, I’ve been attracted to Photoshop. I’d like to learn to use it in an effective way. Maybe, sometime soon.

Indeed. I am striving to learn Photoshop better myself. What takes up too much of your time?

Commuting. Because I live in Isola della Scala but I work in Verona, I have to travel to Verona and back every day, which takes up some three hours of my day.

But I commute by train, which is good. I like travelling by train. I find public transports to be fascinating; you see all kinds of people. I’ll admit… err… that I like people-sighting and eavesdropping, but don’t tell anyone.

And on the train I can read. I do much of my reading on the train to and from work.

Eavesdropping huh? Are you nosy Sarah? Lol

Nosy? I wouldn’t say so. But I think that noticing things and especially details is a storyteller’s secret weapon. So I think that storytellers are naturally inclined to notice things… and of course, to notice them, you first have to watch and listen. 
I suppose this makes us the Confucian creature with the big eyes and ears and the small mouth. LOL!

Give Into the Feeling is Available Now on Smashwords

When did you publish your first book? What was it like?

I published my first book (which is actually a novella, not a novel) last year in March.

I self-published it, which surprised many of my friends because I had always said I wasn’t interested in self-publishing. Trad publishing is still my chief goal for my trilogy (which involves the same characters as Give in to the Feeling, my novella), but I think in the future hybrid writers will be the norm, so knowing both field is very important, I believe.

But this isn’t the reason I finally decided to self-publish.

Two years ago, when I had the first novel of the trilogy ready, I started submitting it to agents. I did two rounds of submissions, and nothing came of it. Agents are always very spare of comments, so I couldn’t really know what exactly was wrong with my samples, but they were of course not good enough. Besides, the first three chapters of the novel had always bothered me. I had in fact rewrote the first chapter at least thirty times, and it was my own fault, because at the very beginning I made a decision that then turned out to be wrong. Unfortunately, although the decision (regarding voice and information giving) was wrong, the inciting incident is right, so I had to rework the first chapter making it as different as possible, keeping it the same.

After the first round of submission turned out so disappointingly, I once again rewrote the first three chapters. It didn’t make much good, though, because, although the agents’ tone changed on the second round, they still turned me down.

So I decided I needed to go a step further and work with an editor, but I knew I couldn’t afford to edit the whole novel. I thought that I could edit a short story, though. If my writing had inherent problems, the editor would catch them in the short story and then I could apply what I learned on the novel.

So I completely rewrote Give in to the Feeling (which was five years old) and gave it to an editor.

It turned out to be a fantastic experience, I learned some very interesting things about my writing and when I had the novella ready I thought: well, why not going all the way through and experiment with publishing and marketing my work as well?

It felt like a waste to have this novella professionally edited and polished and just leave it in a drawer.

So I Self-Published it.

After a year, I’m not sure I have the characteristics to be a successful indie author (I’m a very slow writer, for example, and I don’t write in a definite commercial genre), but this doesn’t mean I’ll leave self-publishing. I do think in the future belongs to the hybrid authors, so I want to pursue this path still, though at my own pace.

But I’m very happy of the experience itself because it was very educational.

Thanks for sharing that experience with us! So, tell us more about the genre you write in and why.

I’ve always been a speculative writer, I think I’ll always be, though the way I express that speculation mind has changed over time.

I’ve been a classic fantasy writer for most of my writing life. I’ve read all the classics of fantasy and I’ve watched fantasy evolve in the early 2000s with great pleasure, though sadly I have to say that lately the genre seems to have taken a step back.

I’ve always been interested in history too (that was my favorite subject at school already) and when I started working in the bookshop I discovered anthropology (such fascinating subject). I think these two subjects in particular moved my interest to more modern settings recently, though – truth be said – I’ve been fascinated with the Deco period since I watched b/w mysteries on TV with my granny as a kid. So it probably doesn’t come as a surprise (it certainly doesn’t surprise me) that I ended up writing fantasy stories in a contemporary setting, particularly the 1920s.

I had been writing my trilogy for a couple of years when I stumbled upon the concept of dieselpunk and I immediately felt an affinity. I got involved with the dieselpunk community and I really feel that is my home, though the kind of dieselpunk I write is so soft and fantasy-oriented that even some dieselpunks don’t consider it such.

But I like to refer to one of the head figures of the community, Larry Amyett Jr. who has a more open concept of the ‘genre’.

Anyway, expect a lot of history and some very significant fantasy element in all of my stories.

Alright now. I love history so I am sure we’ll collaborate on some things in the future. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?

One thing I hate about writing advice is the attitude of some writers towards rules. On the one hand, you’ll have writers that stick to the rules to the point it becomes flat. They won’t accept any creative use of the rules. But writing is creativity. I don’t think it’s wise to try to encage it into stone-written rules. It is also an evolving activity, so rules and conventions that were good yesterday might not be as good today. Many writers who give advice on workshops and forums don’t seem to grasp this and will question you even when you explain why you made an unconventional choice.

On the other hand, I also hate when writers are too slack with rules. I have read time and again writers who say they are not interested in learning the rules of storytelling because if you are a true writer you’re going to break them anyway. Well, personally, I don’t think you have any chance at creatively and meaningfully breaking any rules you don’t know and don’t muster. Rules are there to make storytelling stronger and more coherent, so it’s a writer’s best interest to know them inside out. Only in that case, when you do chose to break one, you’ll do it knowing why you want to break it and what the effect will be. Then it will become meaningful. Otherwise, it’s only a mess.

What I love about writing advice is that, when it is thoughtful, you’ll learn a lot. I’ve been part of an online workshop for seven years­­—The Critique Circle—and I can’t even start to tell you how much I’ve learned from being critiqued as well as from critiquing other people’s work. It’s an extremely educational process.

The first thing I learned is that my work isn’t perfect. No matter how much I work on it, there will always be things other people see and I don’t… until I’m pointed out. Being too protective towards our work makes a great disservice to us, to the story and to our readers.

The second most important thing I learned is asking questions. When we write, everything makes sense to us, both because we instinctively know much more about our story than will ever get on the page and because we know where the story is supposed to go, so we are focused on getting there. But when someone who knows nothing about the story reads it, he/she will have a lot more questions, some of which will be very ‘embarrassing’. Let’s face it, most of the time the answer to the question, ‘Why does this characters do this thing?’ is ‘Because I need him to go from point A to point B’ (that certainly is true in the first draft… at least for me). When you start to have your work critiqued, you’ll learn very fast that readers are a lot more attentive and demanding than you ever thought. They have lots of sensible questions you thought were not worth pursuing, and when you let people critique your work, you’ll learn how to ask yourself those questions before readers do.

And believe me; the story will come off a lot stronger.

I love it. Sarah, what’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

The most difficult thing is to keep believing in yourself and your stories no matter what.

We writers will always have doubts about our writing. We will always be scared that we are not good enough. That’s one big reason why some writers will never let anyone read their stories, let alone critique them. Which is a real shame, because I think storytelling is communication, and there is no meaningful one-way communication. A message (which is what a story is) needs to be given, but also to be received in order to exist. When the message is received, that’s when it comes to life, not when it’s issued.

Problem is, when we let people read our stories, more doubts will arise rather than be quenched. Many people won’t like our story, and often we will never know why. Even when we understand this is natural (and believe me, this is not an instinctive understanding), it will be hard to accept it.

The rejection (I don’t like your story) and the unknown (but I’m not going to tell you why) are very hard to manage, but let me tell you, we’re not going to learn if we won’t practice. We need the help of our readers in order to become better storytellers, but this mean we also need to face rejection and handle it in a positive way.

I won’t hide it, this is hard. We need to muster the ability to tell when a critic is objective and when he isn’t, when it has something to offer and when it doesn’t, which needs a clarity of mind unaffected by feelings. But when we achieve that mastery, we will be on the right way to becoming better writers.

On the other hand, when our story is received enthusiastically… well, I think there are few feelings which are better than this.

Wow. Very informative answer! *Takes notes*. Speaking of writing, does blogging help you to write?

I wouldn’t say it helps me to write, but I will say it helps me to be a writer.

For a great part, blogging is listening, it’s looking for a connection, it’s sharing, and this is a huge help when it comes to learn to accept the reader’s rejection as well as being more critic towards our writing.

Blogging will require to make lots of decisions and you’ll see the result of the decisions you’ve made pretty soon, so that you’ll have the possibility to act on it fast enough to see a result. This is often not possible when writing and publishing a book, and that’s why blogging may help.

When I first started blogging, I did a number of mistakes, both because I didn’t know any better and because I just made the wrong choice. The only solution is to keep learning, not just because there is always something new to learn, but also because blogging – as all things internet – changes very fast. We need to the attentive and flexible.

But sometimes, we just make the wrong choice and we need to be listening in order to realize it. I have a macroscopic example of this.

When I started my blog, I decided that I wouldn’t blog about the 1920s in spite of that being a subject I had researched extensively for my stories. I didn’t feel (I still don’t feel) I’m an expert on the subject. I’ve never done any academic study, I’m just very passionate about it and I like to learn about it. But when one year later I decided to take part in the AtoZ Blogging Challenge, I realized there weren’t many things I could blog about every day, therefore I was kind of forced to write about the 1920s.

It was a success. I was shocked! People actually liked what I was writing and found it interesting and informative. As for me, I understood my mistake and changed gear. 1920s social history is the main focus of my blog now, and blogs about 1920s life are still the most popular with my readers.

So blogging gave me the possibility to make a mistake as well as to see my mistake by trying something different. It has given me the possibility to listen to the readers’ reaction and act upon it. It has also given me the possibility to believe in myself that little bit more, though honestly I should have known better even before. I might not be an expert, but I do know a few things people don’t normally know about the 1920s, and I can definitely give what little I know.

Storytelling is mainly about giving, I believe, and though we cannot give what we don’t have, what we do have, small as it may be… well, why not give it?

There’s a quote from Leonard Peltier’s Autobiography that I love and that I apparently need to remember more often: “We don’t need to be perfect, we need to be useful.”

What a wealth of information you are Sarah! Thanks for spending this time with us today.


Sarah Zama. Used with permission.

Bio.

Sarah Zama was born in Isola della scala (Verona – Italy) where she still lives. She started writing at nine – blame it over her teacher’s effort to turn her students into readers – and in the 1990s she contributed steadily to magazines and independent publishers on both sides of the Atlantic.

After a pause, in early 2010s she went back to writing with a new mindset. The internet allowed her to get in touch with fellow authors around the globe, hone her writing techniques in online workshops and finally find her home in the dieselpunk community.

Since 2010 she’s been working at a trilogy set in Chicago in 1926, historically as accurate as possible but also (as all her stories are) definitely fantasy. She’s currently seeking representation for the first book in the Ghost Trilogy, Ghostly Smell Around.

In 2016, her first book comes out, Give in to the Feeling.

She’s worked for QuiEdit, publisher and bookseller in Verona, for the last ten years.

She also maintain a blog, The Old Shelter, where she regularly blogs about the Roaring Twenties and anything dieselpunk.

CONTACT INFO AND LINKS

Email: oldshelter@yahoo.com
Blog: www.theoldshelter.com
Websitehttp://sarahzama.theoldshelter.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JazzFeathers
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jazzfeathers
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jazzfeathers/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Theoldshelterdieselpunk
Pinterest: https://it.pinterest.com/jazzfeathers/

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NEW RELEASE: Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Special thanks to Sue for hosting me. Renaissance is now available. Head on over to learn more.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

RENAISSANCE: THE NORA WHITE STORY IS AVAILABLE NOW

CLICK HERE TO ORDER IN EBOOK OR PAPERBACK

When seventeen-year-old Nora White successfully graduates High School in 1922 Mississippi and is College bound, everyone is overjoyed and excited. Everyone except Nora. She dreams of Harlem, Cotton Clubs, Fancy Dresses, and Langston Hughes. For years, she’s sat under Mr. Oak, the big oak tree on the plush green grass of her families five acres, and daydreamed of The Black Mecca.

The ambitious, young Nora is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance and decides she doesn’t want to go to College. Despite her parent’s staunch protest, Nora finds herself in Jacobsville, New York, a small town forty-five minutes outside of Harlem.

Shocked by their daughter’s disappearance, Gideon and Molly White are plagued with visions of the deadly south, like the brutal lynching of Gideon’s sister years ago…

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