<![CDATA[Marjorie Reynolds          Welcome To My Website - Blog]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 09:30:48 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Sex!]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 00:23:11 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/sexI posted this blog in 2014 and it attracted so much attention I thought it might be fun to resurrect it and see if it snags a lot of readers again. 
​                                                 - Marjorie
                     

​                                    WHY A SEX SCENE
​            IS NOT ABOUT SEX

 
     If you choose to go all the way in your novel, you had better have a good reason for it. A well-crafted sex scene is not just about sex, unless you’re writing pornography—and even then who wants to read about body parts poking body parts without any genuine emotion involved?
     1. A memorable sex scene should tell us something about the characters.
​We should care about the people in your story, and any character worth writing about has motivation for her behavior. Is the protagonist eager to be deflowered because she’s 25 and tired of being a virgin? Is the encounter somehow forbidden? It could be a young man with an older woman as in the movie, “The Graduate,” or an older man with a sexually precocious twelve-year-old girl as in Lolita.
     A physical relationship between a white woman and a black man in the 1800s would be more about the era’s social mores than about sex.
  Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence’s graphic 1928 novel about an adulterous relationship between an aristocratic woman and a gamekeeper on the Chatterley estate was originally banned in several countries but later considered “a study of integrity and wholeness” and a “contrast between mind and body.”
     There are countless novels that have intensely erotic scenes that aren’t really about sex but have everything to do with insecurity, fear, anger, curiosity, anguish, jealousy or (believe it or not) love. Without emotion, sex is just pornography.
    2.  You don’t need a sex scene in your novel. If it makes you uncomfortable, it will likely sound false. You can eliminate sex altogether or you can dwell on foreplay and have your characters close the bedroom door when things start to get steamy and sticky. One of my favorite passionate scenes in which the characters never touch occurs in the movie, Witness. John Book, a police officer played by Harrison Ford, is attracted to a young Amish woman, Rachel (Kelly McGillis), who lives in a conservative, nonviolent culture. In a dimly lit scene, she bathes before him, half-naked and unashamed. Their desire is palpable, but he walks away without a word.
   3. You are not writing a sex manual so avoid anatomical references. Genitals as in penis and vagina don’t sound particularly lyrical and you don’t really need them. If you say your male protagonist is hard, we’ll know which appendage you’re talking about.
    4. Desire can be just as titillating as doing it. In his novel, The Companion, Lloyd Meeker has the protagonist and his potential lover ask each other questions over dinner. They discuss their previous love affairs, their families, their feelings on long-term relationships and their fears. They talk about their deepest feelings and about sex, foreshadowing a serious but hot and playful love affair. Not only do the characters learn about each other, the readers do too. Another example of sexual foreplay is the juicy eating scene in the movie, “Tom Jones”, based on Henry Fielding’s novel. As saliva and food drip from the characters’ mouths and they literally drool over each other, lust crackles between them. In a more sedate movie, Madge (Kim Novak) and Hal (William Holden) dance in “Picnic,” their movements as erotic as any sex scene. 
     5.  As in any other scene in your book, you should use the five senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell recreate the experience, but if the characters are actually making love, leave out the, um, sweaty armpits, dirty bits, references to battering rams, horses, dogs and dead fish (as in “Her hands fell at random places on his back and stayed there, passively riding his rhythm like a pair of dead fish tossed by the sea” from an actual book or His throbbing member pierced me like a lance.”) and dialogue like “Give it to me, baby” or “Do you think it will fit, big boy?“ Also, do not use the following words in sex scenes: panting, heaving, kneading, rubbing, flicking, biting, burrowing, plunging, thrusting, bucking, shuddering, swelling and convulsing.
     6. In case you need more bad examples, check out these God’s-honest-truth passages from published books:

“So magnified and so keen were her feelings that her inner nerves could even feel the bumps, the ridges, the pimples, the few stray hairs along the shaft of his male rod.”
 — House of Earth  by Woody Guthrie

I closed my eyes as well and moved inside her, imagining the ribbed flesh, the supple rings of muscle. Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle.”
--Secrecy by Rupert Thompson

“In my mouth her nipple turned from strawberry to deep raspberry but the taste I wanted was missing. I had sweat and what had to be soap from washing her dress or herself. Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it.”
--The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood  (Even the novel’s title is a hoot.)

   7. Most important of all, the sex scene should advance your plot. Need I say more? Every scene should advance your plot and change your protagonist.
 
     Go forth and write—until you reach the climax. When you’ve finished, slowly withdraw your pen and lay it aside.
 

 

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<![CDATA[August 07th, 2017]]>Mon, 07 Aug 2017 19:03:07 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/august-07th-2017<![CDATA[WRITING FICTION]]>Sat, 08 Jul 2017 16:22:49 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/writing-fiction

THE ARDUOUS WRITING PATH YOU'LL TRAVEL

Every one of us is a beginner at some time. 

​So what happened between the time I started writing novels and now when I've reached the point where I can teach a class on "Pitch, Query and Synopsis" at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference? (July 21-23 in Seattle)

Overnight success? No, more like 25 years and a steep, often discouraging learning curve. Times when I said, "Why am I doing this? I must be crazy. I can make more money working at MacDonald's."

Occasionally, I stopped having anything to do with writing for months, even a year. At first, I felt massive relief. I kicked back and relaxed — for a short time.

Soon I felt guilty. I missed being creative. I was wasting my abilities. I still had my writer friends, but I felt left out. People who weren't writers or at least avid readers weren't interesting. I was miserable.
(My husband says the only thing worse than a wife who is writing is one who is not.) 

After a reasonable period of grieving, I went back to writing and teaching the craft. I had needed the break, but I just couldn't stay away.

What must a serious writer  do?

1.  Study the craft. Then study the craft some more. If you aren't learning something new about writing every month, you'll stay an amateur or you'll be writing novels that bore even you.
2.  Attend writing conferences if you can afford to. They're great resources for learning the craft, meeting agents and connecting with other writers. 
3. Find a writing community, not just any group but one that has the same or better writing standards than you have. They must be honest in their critiques but supportive. At the first group I attended, it quickly became apparent there was excessive antipathy between the men and the women. I didn't stay long.
4. Don't leave your meetings feeling beaten up. Listen to the critiques without defending yourself. If more than one person mentions a problem with your manuscript, take it seriously. If the criticism doesn't resonate, don't make the change. 
5. Don't give up, no matter what. Actually, that's not usually a problem for fiction writers I know. They're addicted, but it's a relatively healthy addiction. They can't imagine not writing. They may encounter writer's block. They may be distracted by such things as family commitments, illness, work or similar interruptions. They may become discouraged, even depressed after years of rejection. They may become so irritable their families can't stand them. They may temporarily switch to another activity but they return to writing because they just can't help themselves.  Even Stephen King, who in 2002 declared he was retiring from writing, remerged.
6. Trust yourself. You're  likely to come to a point where all the critiques begin to sound like noise. Take a break, step away from the project and let it marinate. I know too many people who go from a conference to a workshop to a class and then another conference, workshop and class. They make changes based on what the latest teacher said. A strong, original novel can't be written by a committee. 
7. Enjoy yourself. The journey is the destination. If you can sell your work, you'll probably make only about ten cents an hour anyway. If your story isn't working, if it's becomes an unrelenting chore, if you're beginning to eat ice cream at an alarming rate, do something else. Think of a book you'd really like to write and go that direction. Don't worry about whether it will sell. Kick the critic off your shoulder. Just step into your fictional world and have fun until you begin to experience flow, that state where the outside world disappears, the words tumble out of your imagination and you no longer crave ice cream. 


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<![CDATA[CHILDREN'S LITERATURE]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2017 23:00:06 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/childrens-literaturePicture
Writing a Children’s Book Is No Stroll in The Park!
                           By Ben Jackson

 
You would think it would be easy. You’d be wrong! Prepare yourself for some hard work and long hours!
 
I have worked on children’s books for almost eighteen months now. I started writing non-fiction books, wrote a fiction book, and then switched to children’s books. The only easy thing which I have discovered since switching to children’s books is that they’re a hell of a lot shorter! A lot of this information is also pertinent to any book you write, not just children’s books.
 
Thinking about writing a children’s book? Prepare yourself for some hard work! You start off a children’s book the same as any other. You have a plot, an idea, characters. You need your book to be able to sell itself based off its plot or characters, or you need to write a book aimed at a specific market. Sports, learning, school, friends, pets, animals, holidays or whatever. I have worked with another children’s book author that wrote and published their book and has had to fight every step of the way to gain any market traction. It’s hard to market any book unless it has a market to focus on.
 
Then you start to flesh out the book. Now, you should think about who’s going to be reading your book. Little boys, little girls, older kids, teens, babies, their parents. This is important, if you get this part wrong, you’ll be trying to market a book at the wrong audience, and you will have a written a book which your target audience has no interest in reading. Now you have worked out what you’re doing it’s time to start writing.
 
So, you write the book. Then you read it like a child or parent. Now you get some kids to read it. Now, you chop it up and try to get the length down. It’s hard. Children don’t want to read a novel, but you don’t want to leave them missing vital elements of your story. Then it’s off to the editor, proofreader, illustrator and formatted.
 
When you’re working with an illustrator, you need to help them as much as possible. If you have something in mind, then give them some examples. Send them pictures, examples of scenes, show them where their pictures will fit in with your story and how you perceive the book to look once it’s completed. Work through sketches, to begin with, and then once you are a 100% satisfied move onto final drawings. I always recommend organizing your cover art at this stage and ask for the PSD files of any sketches and final drawings. I used my outlines as images for coloring books which I sell cheap alongside the books or giveaway with the books.
 
Once you have your images, and the story get it all formatted by a professional. My wife does all our formatting, Indie Publishing Group, but she also works full time for a professional book publishing company. When you’re dealing with your formatter be willing to accept advice just like you would from your editor or proofreader. For the most part, they have your books and your best interest at heart. They don’t make any money off your book, but if they do a good job, you’ll come back.
 
Books finished, choose your publishing route. Shop it around to publishers, self-publish or print and sell yourself directly. If you choose self-publishing either prepare yourself for some long hours marketing or pay someone else to do it. Now your book is the same as any other book. You have to sell it, market it, sell it and then market it some more!
 
Good luck!
Ben Jackson
 
The author of The Day My Fart Followed Me to Soccer, The Day My Fart Followed Me To Hockey and
 If I Was A Caterpillar and several other children’s, non-fiction and fiction books. 

Ben lives in Tasmania, Australia. While working during the week as a Boiler Maker/Welder, specializing in Aluminum Welding, he also writes of a night as a Freelance Writer and Author. Ben is in a Long-Distance Relationship with his wife Sam, who lives in Canada. She works as a full-time formatting professional, publisher, and author. Be sure to check out all his books, there is definitely something there for everyone!

                         Ben Jackson Social Media Links 
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15144197.Ben_Jackson Goodreads Page 
https://www.amazon.com/Ben-Jackson/e/B00S4A4W5C/ Amazon Author Page 
http://bennsam.tumblr.com/ Tumbler 
https://au.pinterest.com/benandsamauthor/ Pinterest 
https://www.facebook.com/BenandSamAuthors/ Facebook Ben & Sam 
https://www.facebook.com/MyLittleFart/ Facebook My Little Fart 
https://twitter.com/AuthorsBen_Sam Twitter 



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<![CDATA[May 17th, 2017]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/may-17th-2017Achieving Flow Through Writing
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Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Professor and Author
​     If you have ever experienced “flow” while you are writing, consider yourself fortunate. Flow is a state of consciousness that produces a sense of satisfaction and euphoria that every writer hopes for.
     Humans probably discovered it quite early as shown by pictures on cave walls, but psychology professor, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, first identified and popularized the concept in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. He calls it “flow” because that’s how people in their studies described it. They said they were “carried on by the flow” or they felt as if they were “floating.”
      The one element all successful creative people have in common is deep concentration on their goals. Time is distorted, external activities disappear and a person effortlessly withdraws into his own consciousness. Flow happens to scientists, athletes, architects, musicians and many others as they strive for excellence. They use all their energy, their focus, their desire toward an endeavor that has nothing to do with achieving fame or becoming rich.
      In fact, studies have shown most of the wealthiest people on Earth say their happiness does not come from money. Rock bands probably had more fun before they became famous than after. Imagine how a tightrope walker feels when he reaches the end of the line.
       I have friends who say they have to write, regardless of success. They feel terrible when they can’t. They don’t know what to do with themselves. In some ways it’s an addiction: writing gives them a high, a release of endorphins. They do it for the pleasure and excitement of it, for the love of it.
     I have experienced flow while writing, and once or twice while swimming, and I can testify to the thrill of it. It’s what an astronomer feels when, after years of work, she discovers a new galaxy. It’s what the basketball player feels when he’s so totally into the game he can’t miss the basket. Jonas Salk must have felt it when he succeeded at creating a vaccine to combat polio. Flow can be shared. The composer of a beautiful piece of music can kindle flow for the listener as well as the artist.
   Czikszentmihalyi believes that, despite the difficulties of life, we’re genetically programmed to experience pleasure. It’s no surprise it has been compared to an orgasm during sex.
      So how can you achieve flow? You can’t just “think” your way into it. On the contrary, self-consciousness must disappear. Occasionally, it happens by chance. I first experienced it when I was in college working on a writing project. Later, when it happened, I was so excited I had to tell someone so I called a friend. Other than downing LSD, you might try establishing challenging goals and devoting your complete attention to them. The purest form of flow for humans is to break through their limitations, whether it’s writing or running a marathon.
      I met Czikszentmihalyi twenty years ago when he gave a speech on flow at the University of Washington. Afterward, I asked him if I’m experiencing flow, does that mean what I’ve written is superior to my usual work? He said, “Not necessarily” but didn’t elaborate. Later, when I thought about his response, I realized flow is a side effect of achieving your personal best, not always a measure against the competition.
     I'm curious to know how many others have reached that state of flow. Has it happened to all of us who write? Is it the reason we write?
 
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<![CDATA[TAKE YOUR NOVEL TO THE NEXT LEVEL:                                                                                                       ADVANCED TECHNIQUES FOR THE FICTION WRITER]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 18:30:08 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/take-your-novel-to-the-next-level-advanced-techniques-for-the-fiction-writer Picture
I am fortunate to have James N. Frey (fondly known as Jim) review my new book on the craft of writing, Take Your Novel to the Next Level.

Jim is the author of the widely read How To Write A Damn Good Novel, How To Write A Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques, The Key: Writing Damn Good Fiction Using The Power of Myth, and How to Write a Damn Good Mystery: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript. He is an award-winning playwright and the author of nine novels, including The Long Way To Die, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, and Winter Of The Wolves, a Literary Guild Selection.

Here's what he said about my recently released book (available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon):


"Don’t let the subtitle of Take Your Novel to the Next Level: Advanced Techniques for the Fiction Writer lead you astray. This book is not just for advanced writers. It’s for all fiction writers, from dewy-eyed beginners to crotchety old masters. It’s clear, insightful, and full of wonderful object lessons from Marjorie’s personal experience. The learning curve for mastering the craft of fiction writing is long and steep. The principles detailed in this book will help flatten the curve and spare you many battle scars. This book is far more than a manual on the craft. It’s a guide to living the writer’s life and living it well.
                                                                                                 —James N. Frey

Thanks, Jim.

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<![CDATA[Pre-order REDEMPTION LAKE]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 19:03:00 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/pre-order-redemption-lake]]><![CDATA[A BIT OF WISDOM]]>Tue, 14 Mar 2017 17:08:56 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/a-bit-of-wisdomPicture Author George Saunders
             
​                    
AN AUTHOR'S RELATIONSHIP
WITH  HIS CHARACTERS AND READERS

I came across a humorous/serious essay about the writing process from author George Saunders, and I want to share a portion of it with you. He tells us he didn't want "to be the guy whose own gravestone would read “Afraid to Embark on Scary Artistic Project He Desperately Longed to Attempt." He goes on to say "My novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is the result of that attempt, and now I find myself in the familiar writerly fix of trying to talk about that process as if I were in control of it." 

​If you would like to read more of the essay, you can find it at: 
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/what-writers-really-do-when they-write

         
​         
WHAT WRITERS REALLY DO WHEN THEY WRITE
                                                                 BY GEORGE SAUNDERS
                                                     
What does an artist do, mostly? She tweaks that which she’s already done. There are those moments when we sit before a blank page, but mostly we’re adjusting that which is already there. The writer revises, the painter touches up, the director edits, the musician overdubs.

I write, “Jane came into the room and sat down on the blue couch,” read that, wince, cross out “came into the room” and “down” and “blue” (Why does she have to come into the room? Can someone sit UP on a couch? Why do we care if it’s blue?) and the sentence becomes “Jane sat on the couch – ” and suddenly, it’s better (Hemingwayesque, even!), although … why is it meaningful for Jane to sit on a couch? Do we really need that? And soon we have arrived, simply, at “Jane," which at least doesn’t suck, and has the virtue of brevity.

But why did I make those changes? On what basis?        

On the basis that, if it’s better this new way for me, over here, now, it will be better for you, later, over there, when you read it. When I pull on this rope here, you lurch forward over there.

This is a hopeful notion, because it implies that our minds are built on common architecture – that whatever is present in me might also be present in you. “I” might be a 19th-century Russian count, “you” a part-time Walmart clerk in 2017, in Boise, Idaho, but when you start crying at the end of my (Tolstoy’s) story “Master and Man," you have proved that we have something in common, communicable across language and miles and time, and despite the fact that one of us is dead.

Another reason you’re crying: you’ve just realised that Tolstoy thought well of you – he believed that his own notions about life here on earth would be discernible to you, and would move you.

​Tolstoy imagined you generously, you rose to the occasion.    
 
The empathetic function in fiction is accomplished via the writer’s relation both to his characters and to his readers.
 
We often think that the empathetic function in fiction is accomplished via the writer’s relation to his characters, but it’s also accomplished via the writer’s relation to his reader. You make a rarefied place (rarefied in language, in form; perfected in many inarticulable beauties – the way two scenes abut; a certain formal device that self-escalates; the perfect place at which a chapter cuts off); and then welcome the reader in. She can’t believe that you believe in her that much; that you are so confident that the subtle nuances of the place will speak to her; she is flattered. And they do speak to her.

​This mode of revision, then, is ultimately about imagining that your reader is as humane, bright, witty, experienced and well intentioned as you, and that, to communicate intimately with her, you have to maintain the state, through revision, of generously imagining her. You revise your reader up, in your imagination, with every pass. You keep saying to yourself: “No, she’s smarter than that. Don’t dishonour her with that lazy prose or that easy notion.”


And in revising your reader up, you revise yourself up too.

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<![CDATA[BUILDING AN AUDIENCE]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 23:27:52 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/building-an-audienceTIPS TO HELP YOU BOOST READERSHIP
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   A FEW WEEKS AGO, AUTHOR SUSAN CLAYTON-GOLDNER WROTE ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE LAUNCHING HER NOVEl. SHE HAS LEARNED A GREAT DEAL ABOUT MARKETING AND IS WILLING TO SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROCESS AND HER SUCCESS.
             HERE IS SUSAN'S STORY:



      I'm 5 days into launch week for my novel, A Bend In The Willow. It has been a time of excitement, anxiety, awe and of humbleness for me. At last one of my big dreams is coming true. I spent a lot of years saying I wrote because I loved to write. That publication wasn't important to me. But I was only fooling myself.  Most of us write because we want to be heard. Without readers, we remain mute. 

    As of this hour, the novel has 47 reviews on Amazon and 60 on Goodreads. They average about 4.5 stars. A Bend In The Willow is rated #1,462 in all Amazon Kindle books, #31 in Saga, #33 in Family Saga, and #48 in Women's Fiction Saga.  

    And this morning, as if I needed anything else to dance about, I learned it was selected as one of Amazon's Hot New Releases--rated #4. It has already dropped to #5 (the stats change hourly) but still, I was thrilled beyond measure.  The rainbow in the photo above was taken a few minutes ago from my front porch. It seemed somehow appropriate on this banner day.  
     A friend suggested I talk about the process of getting to this place--that it might be of interest to other writers.  This is what I've learned:

1. Write the very best book you can possibly write. Don't think you're finished because you've come to the end. Edit. Rewrite. Edit and rewrite some more until you've done all you can.

2. If you are self publishing, hire a good editor. Take her suggestions unless you have a very good reason not to. 


3.  Get someone who is good with grammar to proofread the book. 

4. Have a great cover design. I was very fortunate that Tirgearr assigned me an editor, had the book proofread and designed a fantastic cover. If you are self-publishing, you need to take the same steps.  

5. About six weeks before the book is to launch, start soliciting reviews. Some publishers will do this for you. Most will not. I went through Amazon's Top 10,000 reviewers and pulled out the ones who reviewed books similar to mine and who'd left an e-mail. There are websites you can join that will do the scanning for you and provide you with a list of e-mail addresses.  

6. I wrote query letters to each one--giving them a brief summary of the book along with the cover art. I was polite. I told them how much it would mean to me if they'd review the book. But even if they didn't want to, I appreciated the time they'd taken to read the query. 

7. When I heard back, I sent their requested format. Since Tirgearr publishes first in e-book, I had mobi (for Kindle) e-pub (for Nook and other e-readers) and PDF.  Be polite. They are doing you a favor. I sent out twice as many ARC's (advanced reader copies) than I have, so far, received reviews--but 50% is a good turnout. 

8. When they wrote back with their reviews, I thanked them profusely and asked them to post the review on Goodreads (they allow reviews on books that have not yet been launched)  On launch day, I already had 35 or so reviews on Goodreads. I also asked if they would like to be on my list of reviewers for my next book, Redemption Lake, which will launch in May. All of them said, "yes."  This is important because it will decrease your work load when your second novel is released. 

9. The morning of book launch, I sent an e-mail to everyone who'd requested the book, reminding them that they could post their reviews on Amazon. I told them not to worry if they hadn't read the book yet, I'd greatly appreciate their review whenever they had time to do it.  Again, be nice. 


10. About a month before launch, I set up promotions for that week. Places like: Book Lovers Heaven, Book Goodies, My Book Place, Ebook Soda, Read Cheaply.  EReader News Today (ENT) is one of the better sights but requires reviews. As soon as I had some reviews in place, I contacted them.  According to my publisher, 162 ENT readers bought the book. Well worth the investment of $50.00

11. You might want to start out with a low price. Tirgearr started A Bend In The Willow at .99. The price goes up to $4.99 tomorrow.  Readers are more likely to take a chance on a new writer with a low price. And for the first book, you want to get your name out there. You may not make a lot of money, but you are getting name recognition and fans who will want to read your next book.  

12. Don't be afraid to ask other writers who have been through this process (either self publishing or with a small press) for help. I would have been lost without my very generous writer friends. Most writers like to help and share what they've learned. 

    I hope you found this advice helpful. I'm flying by the seat of my pants a lot of the time, too. It's a learning curve. 

    Watch for your rainbow. But be willing to work to make it happen.  







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<![CDATA[AUTHOR OF A BEND IN THE WILLOW]]>Sun, 08 Jan 2017 17:09:22 GMThttp://marjoriereynoldswriter.com/blog/author-of-a-bend-in-the-willow

MEET SUSAN CLAYTON-GOLDNER

I am fortunate to know a talented novelist and poet, Susan Clayton-Goldner, whose new book, A  Bend  In  The  Willow,  will  be  released  on January 18.  You  can  pre-order  it on  Amazon,     
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0HL432
or at http://tirgearrpublishing.com for $.99 until January 25 when the price will go up to $4.99. Susan’s previous novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. She won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. Wellstone Press released a collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality, in 2014. Susan and her husband, Andreas Goldner, live in Grants Pass, Oregon.

​Welcome, Susan. How does it feel to have a new novel coming out?

Susan:
It's been an interesting and exciting process from the letter I got from Tirgearr Publishing last July saying they wanted to send me a contract up until all the edits were made, the proofreading done, and the cover designed. I have also signed a contract with Tirgearr Publishing for another novel, Redemption Lake.

Marjorie:
What is A Bend In The Willow about?

Susan:
It takes place in Willowood, Kentucky in 1965. Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their five-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family, and the product of rape, her nineteen-year-old son  she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?

Marjorie:
Sounds like a fascinating concept. What inspired you to choose that story?

Susan: 
Almost all my stories start out with a question. What would happen if a teenaged girl killed her abusive father, disappeared and reinvented herself? One question builds upon another until the story emerges. It seems I most often write about themes of forgiveness and redemption. How a character finds her way back to herself. 

Marjorie:
Have you received any reviews yet? 

​Susan: 
I'm in the process of getting reviews. I have to admit I was terrified when I sent out requests to Amazon's Top Reviewers. Would they hate it? Would they say terrible things about my book? When the first five-star review came back only two days after I sent the Advanced Reader Copy, I cried. I hate to admit it, but I did. I shared the review with some of my best writing friends, confessed my meltdown and asked the question, "Why does it mean so much?" My friend, Lloyd Meeker, a wonderful writer himself, sent the following e-mail and I think he nailed exactly why it means so much to us writers. This is what he said. "This is wonderful, Susan! It's incredible when someone really ‘gets’ what we write—not just the technique, structure, pacing, dialogue, etc., but the actual story. Why does it mean so much? Because an understanding stranger really ‘saw’ your creation, and therefore saw something of your truth, too. The anthropologist Eliade declared that the two strongest desires in human experience are to know another and to be known. When someone ‘gets’ something I've written, I feel known at some deep psychic level, and it is an indescribably rich, nourishing experience for me."

Marjorie:
That’s an inspiring message. When did you decide to become a writer?

Susan:
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Let’s face it, writing is isolating and doesn’t pay very well. I’m not sure many people would choose to write if they could avoid it or were of sane mind. When I was a little girl, my father won a Smith Corona portable typewriter in a poker game. He gave it to me. It came with 45 rpm records guaranteed to have you typing. It was the beginning of my life as a writer. I taught myself how to type with the help of those records and started writing poems and stories.

​Marjorie:
How would you describe your writing style?

Susan:
Somewhere between commercial and literary. My creative writing focus in college was on poetry, so my style tends to incorporate metaphor and simile. I make use of some poetic devices while trying to keep moving the story forward. I realize most readers are more interested in the story than in beautiful writing—so I strive to find balance.

Marjorie:
You said a writer who chooses this career might not be “of sane mind.” How were you able to handle the inevitable rejections that come with this business?

Susan:
My father and his struggles have influenced my writing more than any other person. A grenade blew up in his hand during WWII. It was before the birth of four of his five children, but in many ways that bomb blew up in our lives as well. He was in and out of VA hospitals for years and suffered from what would now be called PTSD. He was often difficult, but had more tenacity than anyone I’ve ever met. Tenacity is a wonderful gift for a writer. My father never gave up. He was a carpenter by trade and the grenade blew off most of his right hand. It broke nearly every bone in his right leg. He was told he’d never walk again. But he did with the help of a brace. And he became a pretty good one-handed carpenter, as well. If he could overcome all of that, I could survive the rejections that come from being a writer.

Marjorie:
Writing is a solitary career. Do you have connections with other writers?

Susan:
I belong to a group of writers who have supported me for the last twenty years. Many of them are very accomplished. We meet once a month for two days and critique each other’s work. We celebrate whenever anything good happens for one of our members. We encourage and console after rejections. They are the best support group a writer could imagine. My mentor, James N. Frey (author of How To Write A Damn Good Novel), has also been an enormous influence in my life. I knew how to weave words when I first attended Jim’s workshop, but he taught me how to tell a good story.

Marjorie:
What advice do you have for writers who hope to be published someday?

Susan:
My advice is to stick with it. Tenacity pays off. I received over one hundred rejections letters before I finally got a New York agent. I thought my trials and tribulations were over. She loved the book and was very vocal in her praise. But a few months later, she accepted a salaried job with another agency and let go of her clients who weren’t yet making money for her. I can’t blame her, but it was a huge blow. This was the first time I ever considered quitting, but I couldn’t. I have to write. I was born to write. And if you were, too, don’t let anything or anyone stop you.

Marjorie:
Good advice. Thank you, Susan. Best of luck with A Bend In The Willow.
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