Thank you, Erin Leary for the invitation to participate in this blog tour. Read about her writing process and her novel in progress, BROKEN PARTS here.
What am I working on?
At present, Friday Fictioneers takes a fair amount of my time. Besides facilitating, which entails choosing photo prompts, provision of the venue and commenting, I spend at least two days on my own one-hundred word story.
I am a few pages away from finishing edits on my second novel entitled FROM SILT AND ASHES. Once I’m satisfied with how it reads I’ll send it to my agent Jeanie Loiacono who is seeking a home for my first novel PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. The second book is a sequel to the first. A third book, AS ONE MUST ONE CAN is in the works to create a trilogy.
How does my work differ from others of its genre and why do I write it?
My first two novels could be subtitled “The Dark Side of Fiddler on the Roof.” As the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants I’ve always had a personal affinity for the play. However there’s a grisly side to an otherwise romanticized history that isn’t widely known and I wanted to tell the story.
My characters aren’t the stereotypical Jews who settled in New York’s Lower East Side. Like my grandparents, when my main character Havah and her family immigrate to America, they settle in Kansas City.
When I first started to write in earnest, I imagined my muse looked a little like Yenta the Matchmaker. After all, aside from Jewish historical fiction, what else is there? The answer is, “Plenty.”
In 2010 I’d had short stories published in two High Hill Press anthologies. To my surprise Louella Turner, owner of High Hill Press, emailed to say she wanted to publish an anthology of just my stories. I had to read that email several times. Then I did what any aspiring writer would do when offered a contract, I set the novels aside for a year. During that time I explored all sorts of themes and settings.
Two years ago I “fell” into Friday Fictioneers, run then by creator Madison Woods. It’s a wonderful venue for further exploration. I’ve tried my hand at memoir, speculative fiction, science fiction and, of course, my favorite genre, historical fiction.
Quite a bit of what I write comes from personal experience. One of the perks of being a bit further along on this journey called life is that I have plenty of grist for the mill. I’m still in discovery mode. In which case, the questions,”how does my work differ from others” and “why do I write it” are still being answered.
How does your writing process work?
Because I work a full time job and have to be there by 7:00 AM, I’m up and at the computer by 3:00, the quietest time of the day. Of course this morning ritual includes caffeine. Must have coffee—strong and black. As sleep-fog lifts I’ll read what I’ve written the day before to see if it’s worthy of survival.
Often I’ll print a chapter or story and then pencil whip it. Then I make the corrections on computer and save it on three flash drives, my hard drive and an external hard drive. Thank heaven for word processors. If I had to use a typewriter I’d have to own a paper mill and a white-out concern.
Another part of my process is daydreaming which I do during my 45 minute drive to work or while I swim laps. Conversation or scenes play out in my head like movies. My job is to figure out the best way to articulate it.
Research is my passion and a huge part of the process. Old newspapers are better than textbooks for history because they’re written in the language of the day. I’ve found some incredible articles that have served as fodder for events in my books.
One of my biggest pet peeves is to read a piece of fiction where the writer didn’t do his homework. This applies to novels, short stories and screenplays. One such example is a movie I saw a few years back. For the most part it was a wonderful movie. Great acting. Known stars. But the only thing I remember is a scene set in the 50’s or early 60’s and the female lead is holding a piece of Tupperware that didn’t come out until the 70’s. Am I a nitpicker? Perhaps. I’ve been known to spend hours combing the internet to find the origin of a word or phrase to make sure my characters would use it. I can’t have someone in 1903 saying, “Whassup yo?”
An important part of my writing process is feedback from other writers. I used to belong to a wonderful critique group but we disbanded a couple of years ago for the winter and never re-banded. There are still friends I can go to for crit. I am blessed with one particular writing buddy, a gifted writer, who I appreciate for his sometimes brutal honesty.
So why do I do what I do? Isaac Asimov said it best. “I write for the same reason I breathe–because if I didn’t I would die.”
Every writer is unique. Special thanks to these three sister writers who have agreed to participate in the blog tour. Look for their answers next week, Monday, March 17.
Born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, STEPHANIE BRIGGS is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a refugee from corporate America. Stephanie charged into adulthood with the words, “No one is going to tell me what to do, I’m joining the military.” Out of the frying pan into the fire, but the choice was hers to make, and she is grateful to the women who fought the good fight to make it possible. A no-nonsense attitude keeps Stephanie true to the value of living an authentic life. She is married to a loyal New York Yankees fan with whom she has raised two children, relocated a dozen times, and shared the best years of her life. She currently resides in Texas where community service, creating content for HonieBriggs.com, and the pursuit of higher education keep her occupied. Experience has taught her there is always more to learn. SUMMONING THE STRENGTH, available on Amazon, is her first published work of fiction.
MARIE GAIL STRATFORD is a writer, poet, interpretive dancer and all-round creative woman from the greater Kansas City area. She enjoys spending time with her family, especially her five nieces and three nephews, all of whom live nearby. In addition to writing and creating, she passionately loves candles and reluctantly admits to also loving cats. A self-proclaimed “dog person,” she only has two cats, one of whom thinks he is a German shepherd. She hasn’t had the heart to disabuse him of this notion.
Currently, Marie Gail works as a freelancer, creating unique web content for a wide range of clients. Between drafting descriptions of plumbing parts and composing narratives for travel blogs, she also finds time for creative writing projects. Currently, she is working on a book of jazz poetry inspired by the stories and sounds of American roots music. Publication is tentatively set for early this summer, but she wonders if her publisher might be slightly delusional concerning the projected timetable.