With all the disruptions and upheavals in daily life, the fears and anxieties of isolation and of looking bad, it’s always tempting to find a place – anyplace – where one can feel comfortable and secure, where one belongs. We are all social creatures and seeking out a group that offers validation can be an incredibly powerful motivator for behavior. The problem with that kind of pursuit, though, is that it’s all too possible to get caught up with the wrong crowd. By that I don’t mean a law-breaking, rock-throwing, breaking-into-someone’s car kind of crowd. I simply mean the kind of crowd that doesn’t really work with where you happen to be in life (other than by offering that very human need for validation).
[Read more…] about One Big Problem with Comfort and Security
I figured out what I wanted to do with my life before I was 20 years old. That is a far cry from Carl Daniels, the protagonist in my upcoming novel, Green Bay Outsiders, who has absolutely no clue what he wants to do when he graduates from college. By that point, he is 22. And the realization that he has to start making plans to find out what he wants to do is crucial if he wants to avoid falling into a miserable lifestyle set by everyone else’s expectations.
Not long after I discovered a love of writing during a creative writing course my senior year in high school, I knew that was something I would want to do in the future. But of course I was going to have to make countless choices in the following years – education, employment, travel, friendships, romance, adult responsibility – and for a while I drifted from one experience to another, experimenting, trying things out and ultimately returning to what I always loved.
This is how it all went down and what happened when I realized what I wanted to do with my life. (Too bad for Carl who doesn’t realize what he wants to do yet; he must decide if he needs to rip himself away from everything he already has in his life to discover something he considers more fulfilling.)
[Read more…] about What Happened When I Realized What I Wanted to Do with My Life
My current work in progress, Green Bay Outsiders, is about a group of friends who recently completed their undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and are facing the real world for the first time as newly graduated adults. Things don’t end up going well for several of them and, in particular, for the protagonist Carl Daniels. He is, however, also the source of disappointment for one of his female friends due to his reluctance to return her romantic affection.
The post-college world can be a scary time. And there will be no shortage of well-meaning advice. A lot of important experiences that new graduates face never get communicated and can only be found out through personal experience. Hence my interest in writing this book. It’s been more than 20 years since I graduated college, so Green Bay Outsiders is not an autobiographical story by any means. But the topic is of great interest to me. Occasionally, I will trace my life decisions back to find out what earlier experiences brought me to where I am today.
[Read more…] about Six Things Nobody Tells You When You Graduate from College
The reader’s guide for my novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, is now available. It provides several questions that book groups can rely on for an in-depth discussion of the novel. For purposes of a getting a quick snapshot of what’s inside as well as potential discussion topics, below is a list of questions from the guide. After you’ve reviewed them, you’re encouraged to download the full guide for purposes of sharing it with other members of your book group.
As part of launching the guide, I will also offer any reader who participates in a book group a free copy of Billy Maddox Takes His Shot so that they might consider introducing it to the other members of their group (though, of course, this is not a requirement).
[Read more…] about Billy Maddox Takes His Shot Reader's Guide Now Available
Kelly Photography / Kathleen Lavine
Greg Kalkwarf is the author of “Was That Thunder? More Than a Boston Marathon Bombing Story.” A Nebraska native who currently lives in Colorado, Kalkwarf has completed 10 marathons, including the 2013 Boston Marathon when two terrorists exploded bombs near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 250 others. In a 13-month period leading up to the bombing, Kalkwarf experienced a raging forest fire near his family’s mountain home, the tragic death of a family member, the happy birth of a baby girl, and a crosswalk collision with a taxi cab. His book, available on Amazon, illustrates goal-setting, trying new challenges, determination, self-belief, and overcoming adversity.
[Read more…] about Interview with Greg Kalkwarf: Author of Was That Thunder
Emily Kazmierski is the author of the new novel, All-American Liars, which is currently available as an e-book on Amazon and in paperback and hardback. Below is an interview with Emily (originally published as an Author Spotlight on Melissa Carter’s blog), a book description and links to the sales page on Amazon and Emily’s social networks.
Read on to learn more about Emily and her writing history.
1. For all those not aware of your awesomeness, what should we know about you?
Hmm, I live in Southern California with my beautiful family (hubby and two daughters). We have two dogs and six chickens. I love using the eggs to bake. Dessert is my kryptonite*, especially homemade ice cream. And cake. Basically I love to eat.
2. Why do you write?
Honestly? I write because it’s fun. I enjoy writing about people who are not me. I enjoy getting to know fictional characters and understanding how they think and talk, why they make the choices they make, and how those choices affect the people around them. I write to help myself understand people who are different from me. Writing forces a person to think about people from all different walks of life, and I value that.
3. What writers inspire you?
Anyone who can take an ordinary person and make you root for them and cry with them is inspiring to me. There are tons of writers out there who do this… Some authors I’ve read recently and been impressed by are Thomas Hardy, Wilke Collins, Patricia Wrede, Dan Gemeinhart, Trenton Lee Stewart, Paul Buchanan, Francine Rivers, and Ingrid Law. I could go on. And I can’t forget to mention J.K. Rowling, simply because her world building and hint dropping skills in Harry Potter are legendary. She really did an extraordinary job with the details. It’s something to aspire to, certainly.
4. What does a typical writing session look like?
I do most of my writing late at night once the rest of my family is in bed. I sit in our guest room at our industrial style desk with only a desk lamp for light, and I type away. I usually don’t listen to music or anything. I do best without distractions. I’ll sit for an hour and a half or two hours and write. Sometimes I take a few minutes to research something and try not to get distracted by the Internet.
5. What are you currently working on?
The story I’m working on started as a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Richard III, but at this point it doesn’t have more than a passing resemblance to the play. Many of the characters share their names with Shakespeare’s characters, and my main character, Dick, does horrible things to lots of people in order to get what he wants. Other than that, it’s completely different.
All American Liars by Emily Kazmierski - from Amazon
Three teenagers with one goal -- to make it through the next two weeks without spilling their secrets.
Tristan's an ace basketball player who dreams of playing college basketball at UCLA. But a reputation-shattering discovery threatens his future. Annie's made a lot of terrible choices lately, and the secrets she's keeping from Tristan could tear them apart, especially if he finds out about her role in his downfall. Rich's only ticket out of their tiny town is the All-American basketball team. All that stands between him and success is the town darling, Tristan.
For these three, making decisions isn't a slam dunk. If they make the wrong choices, they'll lose everything.
6. What do you love about this piece of writing?
I’m writing from three different characters’ perspectives, and I’m enjoying working to make their voices distinct. It’s a challenge. I have to pay specific attention to their personalities and the words and phrases they tend to use. It’s my first work that doesn’t follow just one person.
7. Give us a little sneak peak, what insights can you share about the main character?
Well, as I mentioned, Dick is kind of an antihero. He’s a 17 year old basketball player who is trying to leverage a nomination to the All American team so that he can go to college to become a pharmacist. And he’s also trying to get the attention of his team captain’s girlfriend, so he makes lots of bad decisions. Ha. He’s fun to write.
8. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is getting off the couch, sitting in my desk chair, and getting the words down. I love it, but often at the end of the day I’d rather be lazy and watch TV. It’s tricky to find a balance, especially now that I’m a mom and most of my day is devoted to my girls.
9. Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
As was hinted above, I love Superman. Dean Cain is my favorite and has been since I was eight. I would love to meet him in person someday. I once had a dream that I ran into him in a shopping mall, and he was thrilled to meet me until I told him how old I was when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman aired. He was angry that I’d reminded him of how old he was, so he chased me through the mall with a crossbow. That was fun.
10. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself as a new writer?
I have so much to say on this, but I’ll try to keep it short.
a. Finish your first book – Yes it’s hard. Yes you’re scared, but get it done. You will be SO GLAD you did.
b. Get a critique partner before you publish your first book. Your grammar may be close to impeccable, but you aren’t infallible. Swallow your pride and really think about the comments they make.
c. Study the top sellers in your genre and get a pro to design a cover for that book. This is absolutely essential. Your book could be a masterpiece and it still won’t sell if it has a crappy cover. People absolutely do judge books by their covers, especially now that most people buy their books online rather than in a bookstore.
As a reminder, All-American Liars can be published now on Amazon. Connect with Emily on Twitter and Facebook.
Original interview publication. Emily Kazmierski: Author Spotlight on Melissa Carter Writes.
Click here to read other contributions in Jay Lemming’s interview series with authors of literary and contemporary fiction.