Author Archive

Brooklynite gives back: Lowery interviews Florio

November 20, 2013

Interview with Patricia Florio, by Heather Lowery

Patricia Florio

Patricia Florio

Patricia Florio’s book My Two Mothers: A Memoir with Recipes was released this November. A recent graduate from the Wilkes University creative writing program, Florio reveals how her experience at Wilkes helped shape her into the writer she has become. From Brooklyn to Jersey, Florio is doing great things in the creative writing community.

Heather Lowery: Your book, My Two Mothers: A Memoir with Recipes, was just recently released this November. How does it feel to have your work out there in the open?

Patricia Florio: My Two Mothers: A Memoir With Recipes is a spinoff of my original MA thesis at Wilkes. The idea for the book was inspired in my 510 nonfiction class with John Bowers. I guess it was the way I shared the scenario with the class, “My mother gave me to her sister after I was born.” That sentence triggered a whole lot of conversation between friends and cohorts from other classes that I shared the idea with, and the idea constantly churned inside my head in stages of how I would sit in front of the computer and write this all down trying to make sense of it.

HL: With memoir, the potential of revealing something about yourself that a small amount of people, and sometimes no one else, knows about you can be paralyzing. How did you overcome this fear?

PF: It felt a bit odd writing about my family, to actually expose one’s self to whatever type of criticism from peers. For one thing, there was a part in the book that a kidnapping took place, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about that fact. I backed away from writing the book for several weeks, trying to come up with another idea for my thesis, until I could figure out how to handle this much talk about family situations. When it was clearer in my mind, and without using names, or I should say giving this particular family member, the kidnapper, a different title, Uncle Sly Fox, I was able to live with the fact that in memoir the facts have to be true, the names didn’t have to be. So I continued moving My Two Mothersforward writing. But for a while there, I thought I was going to chuck out a year’s worth of writing. Then I remembered why I was writing this book: I wanted to acknowledge both of these women, pay them a tribute for raising me the way they had with all the difficulties like “too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the …” Yes, I was doted on by Aunt Jennie. I also knew I was loved by her. It made me feel privileged, even to this day, to have two mothers at different parts of my day, every day of my life.

HL: Where did you get the idea for your title?

PF: The title is from the second chapter and a sentence in the book, “When I came into the world, I came in having two mothers.” My mother’s oldest sister Jennie, whom I called Nanny, couldn’t have children of her own, and my mother already had two older children, my sister and brother (my sister 15, my brother 10). We all lived in the same three-family house, in different apartments. My mother handed me over to her sister Jennie, “on loan, that is, to care for me.” For the first fourteen years of my life I had two mothers.

HL: What does your writing process look like?

PF: I grab time at the computer every day, perhaps not at the same hour of the day, but shortly after I awake I open up the computer and write something. It could be a continuation of what I left off the day before, or it can be an idea I have for entering a short story contest, or it could be a travel piece.

I write for www.stripedpot.com and I like to travel; living on the Jersey Shore gives me access for picture-taking, trying out new restaurants along the shore, and writing about those places for my articles. I read a lot. Sometimes I can have one audio book going in the car. Right now it’s Dr. Sleep by Stephen King; another book by J. Michael Lennon, A Double Life, Norman Mailer’s biography; and even something different to read before bed, like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Wishes Fulfilled. And I take notes, lots of notes, when I’m listening or reading books. It’s an occupational hazard from being a court reporter for seventeen years. I write everything down. It gives me fodder, new words, a bit of wisdom from authors who are up there in the industry.

HL: Is there are particular mindset, or a frame of mind, you need to be in to write?

PF: I have to have the house to myself. So when my husband is off to work and the house is quiet, I love that time most of all to write. It’s not that I’m glued to the screen, because I do find myself going down to the laundry room in the middle of a chapter to put in a load of wash. It’s just the way my brain works. There’s no daytime television for me. I can’t do it. I take after my birth mother on that score. She never watched daytime television until she was 90, and I don’t either. It gives me the ability to get into what I’m writing without distraction. There are literally days that I forget to go down and eat breakfast or lunch. Oh, I make up for it later on in the day, but I’m so into what I’m writing. I’m there with these people in my book that I don’t want to leave the feelings, the joy, the occasional tears, so I stay in the moment and let it happen.

HL: What was it like growing up in Brooklyn? How has that affected your writing?

PF: A lot of who I was as a child growing up in Brooklyn comes out in this book. The ethnicity of growing up in an Italian ghetto absolutely has affected my writing. At some point, I’d love Brooklyn to be the main character of a book I write, and maybe it is a bit in My Two Mothers: A Memoir With Recipes. The food is definitely Italian-Brooklyn, the smell of meatballs frying on a Sunday morning, not only from my mother’s window, but from the entire neighborhood of Italian women’s windows. And yet, I was tremendously influenced by my Irish neighbors, nuns, priests, my sister’s husband’s family who are Irish and very much a part of my life. Brooklyn is neighborhood living. You’re outside in fresh air amongst people, sitting on the stoop in spring, summer and fall. You’re not in a backyard. The kids played softball, baseball in the school yard across the street from our house, stickball in the street. You talked to people, interacted, shared stories. I think it was a freer time. You knew who your neighbors were. The peddler who sold groceries, his wife comes in as a named person in my book when I was lost. She knew me even though I was out of my neighborhood at a faraway movie theater. She came to my rescue. It was a different world in Brooklyn.

I was also influenced by osmosis by all of the other well-known writers who came from Brooklyn. I think about working as a court reporter in a courthouse on Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, surrounded by the energy of Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Burroughs, Walt Whitman, and so many others. I’ll always have Brooklyn!

HL: I saw that you studied creative nonfiction at Wilkes University as part of the MA. How has that experience influenced you?

PF: Wilkes was a very important step for me. I came back to school late in life. My father never believed in college education for women. Obviously, he was from the World War II generation: women get married, so why waste the money on higher education? I took myself out of court reporting in the year 2000, just upped and quit because I had been taking courses in the community college—creative writing, and the whole gamut of journalism. Then I went to Rutgers, which took seven years piecemeal to graduate. And then my friend Carol found the Wilkes MA and MFA programs. We went together and completed both the MA and MFA. During that time, I wrote for local and major newspapers as a freelancer. Not a stringer, just a freelancer, until I landed the Scene Page for the Two River Times, making $75 an article. At Wilkes, although I felt I made a big mistake in taking screenwriting, my nonfiction classes were the best. First working with John Bowers, then selecting Rashidah Ismaili as my MA mentor (who made weekend house calls), and then Phil Brady for my academic paper on Survivors in Memoir, I had a ball. I loved it, the good, the bad and the ugly; it had to be one of the best times in my life. Of course, the 501 Cohort with Nancy and Mike is some of the best care an aspiring writer can get. I am still in touch and visit with students, some of whom I know will be friends for life.

HL: I also heard that you have a reading series and a writing group in New Jersey?

PF: Back in the year 2000, Carol MacAllister, also a Wilkes alumna, and Gayle Aanensen and I formed what we called Tri-Muse. We three encourage one another and eventually sparked an interest because we turned into approximately 18 writers who are now called The Jersey Shore Writers at The Jersey Shore Art Center. We have found our voices collectively and individually. We are quite a group, critiquing, listening, supporting one another, as well as our arts center, where every form of art takes place.

Irene Maran, another Jersey Shore writer and newspaper columnist of A Slice of Life, and I put together what we named Literary Adventure at the Belmar Arts Center where we selected several Wilkes students and paired them up with our Jersey writers for a great Sunday afternoon of authors’ readings. After a year or so, our Arts Center in Ocean Grove got jealous and said, “Hey, how about sharing those writers in our venue.” And this year we have been exclusively bringing authors and writers in from the Noir series of Akashic Books, Johnny Temple’s company. Monique Lewis, another Wilkes alumna, runs At the Inkwell Series in Manhattan. Monique has introduced some of her NYC writers of noir, and it gave The Jersey Shore Writers a challenge to write noir stories—crime, mystery, and so on. Two weeks ago we put on an event for ourselves and a very interested audience, Taste of Noir—along with some tasty noir treats—we gave our audience a taste of our noir stories. Hopefully, this series will be published as an anthology by the Jersey Shore Writers.

HL: How important are reading groups and gatherings like that of the Jersey Shore Writers to the idea of “community literacy?”

PF: In our particular area of the Jersey Shore, I see lots of senior citizens coming to these readings, like this is something from the story-telling era of their past. For them it’s a social event, and an informative event where individuals can, and do, chat with authors, featured readers and other participants to discuss books and their own attempt at writing. Many times, they share a poem or a story at open mic that they’ve written, becoming part of the fabric of writers in the community. It makes me feel good that they are interested and want to become part of the Jersey Shore Writers in their own capacity. We, as a group, have been invited to take part with a group of artists to put words to pictures. We’ve become an extension in the community. And while we can’t attend everything, or have a literary adventure series everywhere, we are a stronghold in the community at the Jersey Shore Arts Center.

This past September I had reached out to teens who were interested in writing and have held two workshops thus far. My hope is to add younger writers into the mix, with their own workshops and their own separate meeting date. As the writer-in-residence for the Jersey Shore Arts Center, I’m hopeful that this teen program will come to fruition in the future. I will be approaching the Cape Meeting Association, the body that governs our town, this spring to present this idea to the Youth Movement at the Youth Temple in Ocean Grove.

My hope was always to help emerging writers and authors to have a place to share their work, whether you’ve been published or not. I just love being with other writers. And I know the Jersey Shore Writers are happy to meet writers from other states and cities. We network together to learn about agents, publishers, about who’s looking for what genre. We’ve broadened our horizons and we’ve now captured the attention of our beach community neighbors to see who we’re bringing in next to read.

We’ve had so many Wilkes writers and authors to the Shore: Bev Donofrio, Charles Salzberg, Kenneth Wishnia, Anne Henry, Brian Fanelli, Monique Lewis, Jackie Fowler, Amye Archer, Joe Wade, Gale Martin, Dawn Leas, and Jackie Nash, among others. I’m probably forgetting some names, and I’m sorry about that. But coming up on December 8th [will be] J. Michael Lennon, Ross Klavan, Brian Fanelli, all three with new books. This is not work for me. It’s a joyful occasion when I get a ‘yes’ from an author to come to Ocean Grove, to the Arts Center or to Belmar Arts Council to read from their latest books.

How important community literacy is to me and others? I see it as a colorful mixture of talent from the veteran writer to the writer just getting their feet wet, starting their process for the first time; they are on my color chart of writers.

HL: What are you working on now? What is next for you?

PF: I’ve been working on another memoir I’ve called Searching for the Man in the Gray Fedora. I’m giving my father his due in the next memoir. Sometimes I think I’ve given the impression that I was actually raised by two mothers, totally independent of a man. Well, that’s not true. Although, it’s taking me time to figure out this book, several years now, and I did send it out to an agent with a proposal, the prologue, and three chapters. I received a response from the agent that they admired my voice and the premise of the book, but it felt jumpy to them. They suggested I work harder on a narrative arc. So it’s back to the drawing board.

And the other idea I have is for a narrative poetry book called Confessions of a Court Reporter. I seem to be picking this up more often than not. The whole idea of being able to tell a detailed story in poetry has captivated me. Trust me, I’m not a poet, but I’m learning. And that’s another thing about me, I enjoy learning. My husband would laugh at that comment, and say, “Give it a break!”   

HL: Where can interested readers get a copy of My Two Mothers: A Memoir with Recipes?

Cucina D'AmeliaPF: Right now the ebook can be purchased on Amazon, either as My Two Mothers, My Two Mothers: A Memoir With Recipes, or just the cookbook, Cucina d’ Amelia. We are hopeful the print version will be out before the holidays.    

HL: Anything else you would like to add?

PF: Thanks for asking me these questions. It’s given me an opportunity to look at myself as a writer, honestly and completely. And to take a candid look at how much writers mean to me. I admire a human being who can sit in a chair in front of a computer, solo, endless amount of hours and bring a humorous, heartfelt, fiction or nonfiction piece of work to fruition. In the Italian sense of who I am, I say Brava to that woman and Bravo to that man.

NaNoWriMo Inspired Book Offers Motivation

November 13, 2013

Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First Draft Novel in Thirty Days 

by Denise Jaden

Available February 11, 2014

From the promo copy:

Fast Fiction“Writers flock to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November because it provides a procrastination-busting deadline. But only a fraction of the participants meet their goal. Denise Jaden was part of that fraction, writing first drafts of two subsequently published novels in that tight time frame. In Fast Fiction, she shows other writers how to do what she did, step-by-step, writer-to-writer. To insure success, her program begins a month before the month of drafting. This prep period is when plot, theme, characters, setting, etc. are thought through. Then Jaden provides day-by-day coaching for the 30-day drafting period. After reader / writers “race to the finish,” they are not left high and dry. Jaden’s “After the Draft” revision tips allow readers to determine if a draft is not just workable but compelling, so that they don’t waste months or years in development. Her camaraderie and skill allow Jaden to both instruct and inspire.”

Learn more at Amazon

James Jones First Novel Fellowship

November 6, 2013

The 22nd Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship awarded first place and $10,000 to Margot Singer of Granville, OH for her manuscript titled The Art of Fugue. Runners-up in the competition were Jennifer S. Davis of Baton Rouge, LA for her manuscript Reckonings; and Timothy Brandoff of New York, NY for his manuscript Connie Sky. They were each awarded $750. Tamara B. Titus, of Charlotte, NC received honorable mention for her manuscript Lovely in the Eye.

The James Jones First Novel Fellowship was established in 1992 to “honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture as exemplified by (the writings of) James Jones.” It is awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress. The competition is co-sponsored by the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing Program and the James Jones Literary Society.

Brian Fanelli: All That Remains

October 30, 2013

All That Remains Front CoverAlum Brian Fanelli has just released a new poetry book, All That Remains (Unbound Content). Here, in this Q&A, we catch up with Brian about the new collection, as well as some of his current events.

Tell us about your new book, All That Remains.
The process of All That Remains started while I was completing my M.F.A. at Wilkes. I had poems that ended up becoming my chapbook Front Man, but then I had poems that didn’t fit that manuscript and its very specific theme. So, after I graduated from Wilkes, I continued writing and revising poems and, eventually, I had enough commonality between the poems to build a full-length collection. It was a process that took five or so years. When the book was done, I researched different publishers and presses and discovered Unbound Content through Poets & Writers. Not only do I like what they publish, but also the way they interact with writers. It’s been a great process leading up to this point.

Were some of the poems in the book previously published in journals? Where might readers find a few samples of your work?
About 3/4 of the poems first appeared in other publications. Some of the poems appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Portland Review, Third Wednesday, Harpur Palate, vox poetica, and a lot of other print and online journals. Some of the links can be found on my blog, All the Right Notes, or through a simple Google search.

Will there be a launch event anywhere? Any other events and readings planned?
[I had] a launch party on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Vintage Theater in downtown Scranton. I am reading at the Seeley Memorial Library at Lackawanna College on Friday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. and at the Hoyt Library in Kingston, PA Nov. 18 at 6:30 with Amye Archer and Rick Priebe. Then I have several readings out of the area, including in New Jersey, New York City, and other parts of PA. I’m reading at the KGB Bar on January 8 as part of the At the Inkwell reading series, which was launched by Monique Lewis, a Wilkes alum. On Dec. 8, I’m reading with Dr. Lennon and Ross Klavan, two Wilkes faculty members, at the Belmar Arts Council in New Jersey. This reading series was started by Pat Florio, another Wilkes alum. I’m grateful to have made these connections while at Wilkes and thrilled that so many of the program’s current students and alumni are hosting reading series in their communities. All of my other reading dates and events can be found under the events section of my website, www.brianfanelli.com.

Congrats, too, on the NEPA BlogCon nomination for your blog. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Where else can readers find you online?
My blog started as a way to have a conversation about poetry and post various tidbits and news about what’s going on in the poetry world. I also use it as a space to post information about my own writing process and events happening in the local poetry community. There is a link to the blog on my website, or through the direct website: http://brianfanelli.wordpress.com/.

Online shoppers will find All That Remains available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Michael Mailer film: HBO in Oct

October 23, 2013

Mailer filmFaculty member Michael Mailer, producer of more than twenty feature films, recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival where his film Seduced and Abandoned premiered. “It was an exciting time walking the red carpet,” Mailer said. The film stars Alec Baldwin and James Toback.

Seduced and Abandoned is a nonfiction film, part mediation on film and the filmmaking process consisting of interviews of film legends such as Polanski, Bertolucci, Scorcese, Copola, and part adventure tale following the ups and downs of Alec Baldwin and James Toback as they attempt to set up a remake of Last Tango in Paris (but this one is set in Iraq called Last Tango in Tikrit) at the Cannes Film Festival,” Mailer said.

HBO bought the film for US distribution and will be airing it this fall, on Oct 25. Mailer is currently working on a new picture in Louisiana.

faculty member Nancy McKinley: laughs in print

October 16, 2013

Nancy McKinley promises ‘Halloween Party laughs’ in her short story, “Love, Masque & Folly.” The story is included in the short fiction anthology VOICES FROM THE PORCH, available for advance sale from Main Street Rag.

BookPorchesAnth

poetry manuscript evaluation

October 9, 2013

accents publishing

Accents Publishing is currently offering manuscript evaluation services.

For a limited amount of time, for a limited number of manuscripts, they are providing interested poets with feedback on their work-in-progress.

After the author submits a manuscript for evaluation, the senior editor of Accents Publishing (Katerina Stoykova-Klemer) and another reader affiliated with the press will read the manuscript and provide an evaluation, covering the following points:

  • How well does the manuscript work as a whole?
  • Are the poems ordered in the best possible way?
  • Does it have a good title? How does the title work/interact with the manuscript?
  • Does it read well as a book? If not, what is missing?
  • Are there any poems that do not serve the manuscript or are not as effective as the rest?
  • What else should the poet do before he/she starts sending the manuscript out for publication?
  • Comments on competitiveness of the manuscript in the current market.
  • Anything else that may helpful to the author.

Cost is $100 for a chapbook-length manuscript and $150 for a full-length manuscript. A limited number of manuscripts will be evaluated on a first-come first-served basis.

etceteras_mistress_frontcover_medIf interested, write to accents.publishing@gmail.com. Please note that you are not submitting a manuscript for consideration for publication by Accents. Rather, this service is an opportunity to receive a professional opinion on the quality and marketability of the manuscript.

The Wilkes writing community will recognize Accents Publishing, as they recently published advisory board member Thom Ward’s full-length collection, Etcetera’s Mistress.

playful news from alum Lori M. Myers

October 2, 2013

Image

 

MA alum Lori M. Myers has good news to share! 

Her one-act play, “A 21st Century Christmas Carol,” has been published by Contemporary Drama Service. The play is a modern twist on Dickens’ classic with a female lead role, greedy old spinster Eleanor Scrooge. 

As a playwright, Lori’s work has been performed on six regional stages and has included drama, children’s musicals/plays, and comedic sketches. Her short fiction has appeared in various print and online literary journals both in the United States and abroad. She teaches writing workshops, is a part-time professor of writing at York College of Pennsylvania, and is interviews editor for Hippocampus Magazine where she has interviewed many noted authors. Lori holds a MA in creative writing from Wilkes University. 

For more info, visit Lori’s website: www.lorimmyers.com.

Nicholson interviews Campion

September 19, 2013

Inside the Writers’ Dojo:

An Interview with Christopher Campion

by Travis Nicholson

 

Chris Campion began training in the martial arts at eleven, when an Okinawan karate studio opened near his home. With the encouragement of mentors both “on the mats” and behind the typewriter, he has recently completed his debut novel The Jiu-Jitsu Bum (Northampton House, August 2013). He’s also published short fiction through Fiction365.com and East Meets West: American Writers Journal. I recently had a chance to catch up with Chris and get his thoughts on martial arts, life after publication, and Alec Baldwin.

Chris Campion

Chris Campion

Travis Nicholson: So, the big topic first. Tell us about your book.

Christopher Campion: It’s about redemption and second chances set amidst the seedier side of Scranton PA and its characters. I guess you could say it’s slightly noir. The protagonist has to fight not only himself but the world, which always seems to be against him. Practicing Jiu-Jitsu helps him come to accept his lot in life, which changes him mentally, physically, and even spiritually. Like anything in life, nothing is gained without losing something in the process. There are no clean new beginnings.

TN: How has your own experience with the martial arts helped shape your work?  Any experiences in a tournament or training you’d like to share?

CC: I practically grew up in a dojo, so martial arts and budo tenets were chiseled into my little brain. I’d like to credit my karate sensei of many years for that. He was not only my sensei but a real mentor whose advice kept me on the straight and narrow. Later in life, when I’d slip from time to time, I’d hear his voice in my head, and it’d get the wheels back on track. I guess that lasting effect is something I wanted to incorporate with my main character and the novel’s plot. I also wanted to inject some real life situations and people I’ve met through years of sweating on the mats. I did a couple Jiu-Jitsu/grappling tournaments, mostly in New Jersey. I didn’t do particularly well, but it was great experience. I remember this one guy caught me in a neck crank, and I literally heard my neck slowly pop a few times like popcorn. Another Brazilian guy cut my face open with his gi as he went for a choke. Things like that I put in the book. Other than the possibility of nasty injuries, it’s a real rush. You feel so alive after you compete that you never really want to come down from it. It’s certainly one of the best ways to see what you’re made of. Because of that, I knew I had to have a tournament scene in the novel.

 Campion2

TN: What’s next for Chris Campion? Working on anything new these days? Publicizing The Jiu-Jitsu Bum, maybe? What’s your strategy with Northampton House to get it in readers’ hands?

CC: Well, I’m always reading to build my vocab and overall familiarity with literature and the craft. I’ve been working on a couple short stories that I’d like to submit to competitions and journals. I’ve also been plotting a new novel, but I’m really taking my time on that. In fact, there might even be two or more novels in the making. I’ve got to sort everything out and see what I’ve got to work with. I want my next one to be a hundred times better than the last. I want it to have more of my own thoughts, experiences, and personal philosophies on the world. And of course, I want it to be well-written and have a page-turning plot. As for my marketing strategy, I watch Alec Baldwin’s Glengarry Glen Ross “art of selling” speech then cold call random names from the phone book. Just kidding. I’ve been trying to  get the word out about The Jiu-Jitsu Bum anyway I can through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, interviews, guest blogging, and hitting up anyone who’d be potentially interested in the book. It’s draining, but it must be done. It’s kind of nice stepping away from the seriousness of writing and learning a little bit about promoting something. I’m also in the process of trying to get in on more local readings. They’re always fun to do. But as I told another writer, I think the best way (so far) to get the word out is by simply telling people face to face about it, especially avid readers. Nothing seems to beat word of mouth. I’ve honestly gotten the most sales that way. But that’s just me. I don’t think ANYONE truly knows the best way to sell. You just have to get it out there and see what works.

TN: About six months ago you had an article about confidence published by The Write Life. Anything you want to add now that your novel is out there in the hands of strangers?

CC: I think at this point, I won’t have too many moments of doubt when it comes to writing. I think I hit a point where I was doubting myself and overanalyzing way too much. Looking back, that was kind of pointless because I’d already published five short stories and I had a bestselling author encouraging me. It’s kind of like that scene in The Last Samurai where the one samurai tells Tom Cruise’s character that he’s not winning because he has “too many mind.” Then he tells him to have “no mind” (to stop thinking about everything and everyone around him and just go with it) and that changed everything. Lately, I’ve just been writing from my gut. I know I’m not perfect and I know I still have so much to learn. But I’ve recently been writing with a lot confidence and not looking back. And I make sure I’m still having fun doing it. I think that’s how it should be. But it’s always some kind of a struggle. Writing has never really been “easy.”

TN: Here’s a fun one: Who would you cast in the movie version of your novel?

CC: George Clooney as Evan. Elisabeth Shue as Cindy (Evan’s wife). Jack, the oldest son, would be John Cena and the youngest son, Tim, would be played by Russell Brand. Victor, the sensei, would have to be Bas Rutten* – no doubt. Samuel L. Jacksonas Tyrone. Ginger, the street vixen, would have to be Charlize Theron. And I’d cast Anne Ramseyfrom Throw Momma From The Train as Sherry (Evan’s mother) but she died a few years back, unfortunately.

*Bas Rutten is a world-renowned mixed martial artist who has recently made the transition into acting

TN: How did the Wilkes Low-Residency Creative Writing Program help you accomplish your goal of publication?

CC: Wilkes and everyone involved taught me (both directly and indirectly) everything. Coming into the program, I had so many holes in my writing ability; I was so naïve about the publishing industry; and I was especially naïve on how hard I’d have to work to create something worth publishing. But Wilkes changed all that. It exposed me to so many authors and perspectives on literature that I was simply oblivious to. It taught me to trust my visceral instinct when it came to feeling a story coming on. Plus, my cohort, The Mobies, was just awesome because we were all serious but could laugh at one another too. I wouldn’t change meeting them for the world. And I have to give mad props to my mentor David Poyer who took me under his dragon-like wing and made me think like a serious novelist. I could have never imagined learning so much from him and accomplishing the things I did from his constant encouragement and corrections. So when it came time to publish with him (at Northampton House Press), I was already in a serious mindset and had no problem meeting deadlines and getting things as flawless as possible. Plus, David always gave me the confidence to write like myself. From day one, David treated me very seriously and the time with him was intense (to say the least) but he taught me how to fearlessly stand on my own two feet and to become a dedicated and professional writer. In all, I don’t think I could have learned everything I did, immersed myself in the writing life, and had that kind of personal attention anywhere else than Wilkes. It’s just an awesome program.

Bum Check out the novel at Amazon.com

TN: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with your potential readers?

If you’re looking for a book that has some literary elements but some heavy/noir moments along with nasty fight scenes, then I think The Jiu-Jitsu Bum will be right up your alley. I’m toying with a sequel and I’m also outlining (slowly) two other novels. I’m always plotting a short story or two. There are so many sides to me besides the martial arts in terms of views on the world and personal philosophy and I’m really looking forward to incorporating that sort of thing in my future works, whether they are martial-arts themed or not. I think every writer secretly wants to achieve that. In closing, I’d like to thank The Write Life for this enjoyable interview. Wilkes has always been there for me and the teachers, staff, and students are extremely exceptional people. I could never have achieved the things I have without them.

Kaylie Jones Books joins Tumblr

August 30, 2013

KJB

Kaylie Jones Books, an imprint of Akashic Books, has added Tumblr to their social media efforts. On this blog, writers from all walks of life and experience levels may enjoy “Get Your Words Out” – a series of tips for writers – as well as other updates.

Visit the KJB Tumblr site: http://kayliejonesbooks.tumblr.com
Visit the KJB website: http://kayliejonesbooks.com