Redwood Summer [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Robert Kirkendall. It’s the first chapter of his novel, Redwood Summer. Thanks, Robert!

aerial photograph Santa Clara, San Clara county, California

SAN JOSE, CA 1990

Was it all just too good to be true?  Jason was in the passenger seat of a work truck as he reflected on the life changing events of the previous few months.  He looked out across the austere expanse of unadorned one and two story concrete tilt-ups of Silicon Valley as the truck passed one building after another.  I had a good job with room to grow, Jason recalled, I had all my friends, Christine and I didn’t have a care in the world.  How did all change so quick? Jason lamented, then wondered if all the good times were gone.  The morning sun was above the eastern Mount Hamilton range and shone across the late autumn sky.  The faceless buildings cast shadows on half filled parking lots and dry landscaping.

“So what do you think about all this?” Hal asked from the driver’s seat.

“Huh?”  Jason was knocked off his train of thought.

“You know, what’s going on in the Persian Gulf.  They’ve been talking about it on the radio all morning.”

“Oh, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”  Jason once again noticed the news talk over the radio.  He was a little annoyed at the interruption, then wondered how long his mind was somewhere else.

“Don’t you follow the news?  This is going to be major.”

“Of course.  I was just thinking about some other stuff.”

“We may soon be going to war,” Hal emphasized.  “What’s more important than that?”

“Look, I hear ya,” Jason agreed, “but I got other things on my mind right now.”

“More important than what’s going on?”

“Maybe not, but it’s important to me.”  Jason sensed Hal’s waiting for an answer.  “You know, personal stuff.”  He tried to hold onto the series of memories he was thinking of as he waited for the intrusion to end.

“Okay, I won’t pry.  But you might want to start paying attention to what’s going on.  I’m too old to be drafted, but you aren’t.”

“No one’s been drafted in years,” Jason replied.  “I’m not worried about that.”

“Well if things gets worse, you’ll hear about it,” Hal warned.

“No doubt,” Jason said reflexively.  They drove along further through the maze of nondescript structures.

“Well, maybe it’ll be good for the economy.  Wars usually are,” Hal pointed out.

“Yeah, as long as you don’t get killed.”

“Serious, look around at all these tech businesses.  This whole valley was built because of the Defense Department, and with the Cold War over we need something new to keep the wheels turning.”

Hal continued to talk as Jason looked out the window in thought.  He tried to focus on the day and the job ahead, but the past kept drawing him in.  When did it all start to change? he wondered.  The year started out really good, every weekend was a party, I was working toward my A.A.  Jason then remembered how credit card bills suddenly piled up at around the same time the rent on the house he was sharing went up.  When was that, he wondered, April?  May?  He remembered how his parents let him move back home so he could pay off his debt quicker.  He remembered how he told himself at the time that it was only to be temporary situation, but he also couldn’t help but be bothered by the idea that it was a step backward.

Jason leaned back in his seat and rested his arm on the window frame.  Did my life already hit its peak? he worried.  When did things began to go downhill?  His memory searched from the beginning of the year onward.  He thought back to a company meeting at his last job, not long after he moved back home, but when things were still good.  That was some day, he thought.  They said everything was looking up, and the future was only going to get better.  We were true believers.

Jason focused on that day.

About Robert

Robert KirkendallRobert Kirkendall grew up in San Jose, CA, lives in Santa Cruz, CA, and is the writer/producer/director of Pacific Television Theater, a live drama anthology broadcast from Community TV of Santa Cruz.

Meet Jessica Dall, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jessica Dall to my blog.

Jessica Dall

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a history nerd turned writer who, I think, has finally worked out how to properly join the two. I’ve written a little bit of everything at this point, but most recently have been focusing on my historical fantasy and just plain historical fiction works for the last year or so. It takes a good deal of work when you’re writing things in historical settings (especially since I’m a stickler for accuracy. I spent much longer than I should have looking up the moon phases in 1755 to make sure I had the right moon on a particular date in the work I’m shopping at the moment…) but I find it incredibly enjoyable being able to marry my two passions so completely.

How long have you been writing for?

My mom will tell you that I’ve been writing since before I actually knew how to write. As a four-year-old I would take pieces of paper and do a bunch of loops on them pretending it was cursive (before leaving the scribbled papers around and driving my mother crazy, of course). I didn’t seriously get into writing until much later, though. I dabbled in fan fiction early on in high school because my friend was very much into it, which then led me back into writing original works (though I entirely admit my first novel is pretty much Harry Potter with the characters’ names changed…) By college, I was fully immersed in writing once again, and it’s been my life since!

What is your writing process like?

Since I have recently been focused on settings that take a fair bit of research these days, I start out with my trusty friend Scrivener (a writing software) and begin researching. Most of the time that ends up getting a relevant book on my Kindle and then taking notes from it so I have a good background in the time period I’m using. From there I work out who my main characters are and how they fit into the events playing out around them. Since I’ve never been able to fully stick to an outline, I try not to over plan, though. If I have my beginning worked out, I’ll start that and then stop and plan again when I hit a snag. This often means that there are times when I’ll have to stop and do some more research along the way, but as I said I’m a history nerd, so I like the researching almost as much as the writing some days.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I admit I’ve never been good at sticking to a routine. I work from home most of the time, so I tend to have whatever I’m writing open in one tab with whatever editing work I have open in another and then bounce back and forth throughout the day whenever I need a change of pace. Some days that means I get thousands of words written, some days nothing (especially if I’m up against an editing deadline and my focus is entirely on that other work), but everything always seems to get done in the end, and so the system works for me!

What motivates you to write?

I always joke and say I have self-diagnosed hypergraphia (the compulsive need to write). Whether or not I actually do, I do get rather tetchy if I go too long without being able to write something, so it’s often not what motivates me to write but what keeps me from writing the times that I’m not. If you run into me sitting alone somewhere, you’re very likely to find me scribbling away wherever I am.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

The first time I got an acceptance, I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down then felt the need to tell everyone I know. Sadly I’m a little jaded at this point down the line, and so there hasn’t been jumping recently, but it’s still always an amazing feeling to hear that it isn’t just you who thinks your book is good and it really is going to get out there for the world to see.

Are you currently working on anything new?

There are a bunch of pans in the fire at the moment. I’m in edits for the third book in my historical fantasy series (currently titled Shattered Tempests) which will be out sometime this year if all goes as planned. I’m also shopping my straight historical fiction novel, set in Age of Enlightenment Portugal, which is a really interesting time period I knew absolutely nothing about before writing the book. As for writing, I’m in the early stages of working on a book set a little closer to home—namely colonial Maryland.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I actually have a political science degree, since in high school I was planning on going to Law School after college. It was an internship junior year that turned me on to being a writer/editor full-time (with some teaching on the side). I love what I do so much that it’s difficult to imagine being as happy in another profession, but I have to imagine I would now be somewhere in the legal profession, had I not had that switch in college (lawyer, paralegal, wherever life would have had me end up).

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me has always been dialogue. Once I develop my characters, they seem to take on a life of their own and writing dialogue becomes me trying to keep up with what they’re doing. Coincidentally, the hardest part is keeping everyone on track. I have a tendency to end up with conversations that don’t move the plot forward/add much that I know need to be cut but really like. I’ve started another document full of conversations that don’t add anything to the stories they were a part of but are too enjoyable to delete entirely.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

While your first novel is always going to be your baby, it likely isn’t going to be very good. There are certainly people who are the literary equivalent of Mozart and the first thing they put down on paper will be brilliant, but for the rest of the world, you will finish your first novel, think it’s amazing, and then look at it five years later and go “What was I thinking?” Writing is a skill. One that gets better the more you practice, and that means while your first novel will always have a special place in your heart, it likely isn’t the first thing you’ll want readers to see—not unless you edit it several years down the line once you have gone from “beginner” to “professional.”

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Unsurprisingly, my favorite genres are what I’ve ended up writing—namely historical fiction and fantasy. When it comes to a favorite book, I have plenty, but the one that I tend to come back to is The China Garden by Liz Berry. I first read it in high school, and the historical and fantastical combination really spoke to me, I suppose. I still have the beat up copy in my bookshelf now and I pull it out from time to time since it has a brilliant sense of nostalgia mixed into the storyline now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

Write. No matter how good or bad you feel you are doing, you need to keep going and put words on the page. As said above, writing is a skill, and you can only get better if you practice. And remember, there’s always editing. You can’t compare your rough draft to a completely edited, published book. Editing fixes many sins; it just can’t fix an empty page.

About Jessica

Jessica Dall finished her first novel at the age of fifteen and has been hooked on writing ever since. In the past few years, she has published novels such as, Raining Embers and The Paper Masque, along with a number of short stories that have appeared in both magazines and anthologies.

In college, Jessica interned at a publishing house, where her “writing hobby” slowly turned into a variety of writing careers. She currently works as both as an editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC.

Connect with Jessica

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jessica’s Books

raining-embersgraven-idols-hi-res

Buy Links

Raining Embers
Graven Idols

Meet Phyllis Edgerly Ring, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to my blog.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Because I began life as an Army brat, and I’m a Baha’i, I value a world citizen’s perspective about where our human family is going on its shared journey.

My nonfiction books explore how to create balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. I write fiction because, like so much of art, it can help us discover just what shape this balance is taking within our own lives. More than any other kind of writing, book-length fiction requires an absorption and immersion that will lead to what wants to be known and realized — in a story, and in a life. When a writer goes the distance with this, it allows mysterious unseen threads to weave into what both emotions and spirit can recognize as true and, in that recognizing, encounter what transcends this earthly life.

How long have you been writing for?

Since my teens and, in a focused way — selling and publishing work — since my late 20s. I wrote for magazines and newspapers, which was a great way to build the skills I now value and rely on as I write books.

What is your writing process like?

I allow whatever portion of a work that wants to come to reveal itself and I capture it down. I’ve never started at the beginning, but what the beginning is always becomes clear as I allow the process to reveal things in its own way, which is almost never in chronological order. Once enough pieces come into existence, they begin to show me how they connect and relate to each other, and what further directions to take. This, for me, is one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I’m possessive and protective about the start of my day (which may come even before the sun shows up) because of the quality of its energy. For newly arriving writing, this is the very best time. For revision work, late morning and late afternoon seem best. I don’t necessarily get words onto a page every day, but I am always writing – living with the work, and “noodling” and discovering more about it.

What motivates you to write?

The utter joy of it, immersion in this deeply absorbing and revealing experience. As some writers describe, it can be like living in my own movie. Plus, the research that most of my writing requires is a delight for nerdy me. It never feels like work, just pure delight in discovery, with inevitable surprises.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Called my sister, who is also a writer, as was our mother. Then I went straight downtown to inform my wonderful local independent bookstore.

Are you currently working on anything new?

My first book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is coming out this year. And my latest novel, The Munich Girl, keeps me busier as I interact with book clubs and other widening circles of readers, and offer presentations about it at libraries and such. I’ve also waded into 2 new projects. One is what I’d term spiritual memoir, based on my experience with writing The Munich Girl and some of the nearly inexplicable synchronicities that it brought. The other is historical fiction set in 19th-century New England.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Something that incorporates the powerful role of story in human experience, and healing. I worked in the healing field early in my life. I learned that story plays an enormous part in how people heal, because it supports how they come to resolution, understanding, and eventually, find peace as they make meaning about life experience.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest: that it’s there waiting for me everyday, and I can pursue it anywhere I am in the world. Hardest (sometimes, at least), is that every writing work has its own timetable, directly related to the one connected with my own development, and that it’s wise not to try to force or speed up.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

If I am true to the nature of my own writing self, allow it to be the soul-led experience it is, the process will be enjoyable, full of discovery, even empowering. It will amaze me. And, I believe, it will be a part of what transforms me.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Historical fiction has attracted me from my earliest (grade school) reading days. The first book I read on my own that made a huge impact on me (third grade) was a biography of the medieval life and work of St. Elisabeth.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, persevere, learn craft — do all of these until you find both your voice and the process that works for you. Then relish the rewriting as much as you do the exciting early drafting that brings with it so much discovery. Also, learn how to be edited, so that you’re able to recognize when someone’s applying this fine skill to your work and it really does improve it, help you past your blind spots, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love hearing from readers with their thoughts and reflections about my books. They can contact me at info@phyllisring.com. Thanks very much for this opportunity, Rachel. ☺

Author bio:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Connect with Phyllis Edgerly Ring:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s Books:

munich-girlBuy Links:

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Audible

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I’ve finally put together a newsletter for my blog! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and it’s finally ready.

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Cover Reveal: Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

I’ve had the pleasure for doing a cover reveal for Citrus Publishers! Deceived by Heena Rathore is a psycological thriller that will be coming out in February 2017.

The blurb is enticing and so is the cover to go along with it. Bare feet with blood trickling down one leg in the middle of the forest is an interesting grab, especially with the jagged title bright and bold in the middle.

If I were to see this cover on the shelf in the bookstore along with the title, I would pick it up and take a look at the back. The summary of the story has me sold and I can’t wait to give it a read.

 

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

PUBLISHING: FEBRUARY 2017 BY CITRUS PUBLISHERS

Blurb:

How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl who’s trying to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist who is chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughters her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

A psychological thriller that weaves its way through the sadistic past of a traumatized child to the snare of dark mysteries of a beloved father.

Add to your Goodreads to-read shelf

About Heena Rathore P.:

Author Heena Rathore P. Heena Rathore P. is a 25-year-old full-time novelist, part-time Social Media Strategist, Novel Critic, Book Reviewer and a YouTube Podcaster.

She draws her inspiration from the works of legendary Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon.

She is an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader and a GSD-lover. In her free time, she loves watching apocalyptic, thriller and slasher movies and series.

She lives in Pune with her beloved husband in a house full of books, music, and love.

She loves creating fictional worlds, but more than that she loves living in them.

WEBSITE: https://heenarathorep.com

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/rathoreheena

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/authorheenarathore/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/heenarathorep/