January 2008


The wonderful February authors hosted are Yasmine Galenorn and Sandra Worth!

February 8 — Review of DARKLING by Yasmine Galenorn
February 9 — Interview with Yasmine Galenorn

February 24 — Review of LADY OF THE ROSES by Sandra Worth
February 25 — interview with Sandra Worth.

Please come by and check them out!

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For the daily ups and downs of the freelance writing life, visit Ink in My Coffee.

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You read about some of his work yesterday; now get to meet HIM!

Interview with Colin Galbraith

DE: How do you decide in which format to explore an idea? Do you decide “I want to write a poem” and then try to figure out what to write; do you get an idea and play with it in several formats until it fits; how do you find it most often works for you?

CG: Devon – thanks for inviting me onto Biblio Paradise.

For poetry I need a concept first. That’s the most important thing. I need a perimeter with which to work inside so that I can push and pull all the sides into various shapes and images and produce a body of work as opposed to a single poem. Very rarely do I get the inspiration for a poem from an emotion or memory – I tend to source a concept first, let it mature in my head and then run with it.

The first draft of all my chapbooks have all been written within four weeks, and I find myself writing like a mad man at times. After that the craft takes over and they undergo major surgery, which is where I’ll select the poems to include and then edit them satisfactorily, all of which adds on up to another few months just to get them right.

Sometimes I get a concept that I can’t fit anywhere. One day it’s a novel, the next a short story, the next a poem. I had one idea, a story called The Hill that began life as a short story but never worked out. Then I thought it was because it should be a novel, but then that failed too. So I tried it as a poem and as a stage play – all failed.

I’ve still to write that story, but it’s one of my most inspired ideas so I’ve never let go. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll know how to write it when I reach a certain level of skill or have an epiphany or something. I had that idea nine years ago and I’m still living with it.

DE: How do you feel that fiction, poetry, play-writing and non-fiction feed off each other? Are they ever in conflict with each other?

CG: I answered this question last because it’s so tough. I wish you’d asked me what my interests were outside of writing, Devon, then I could have said: “Hi, I’m Colin and my interests are pop music and going to the pictures.”

DE: That wouldn’t be any fun – giving you easy questions! 😉 Seriously, it gives me a chance to ask questions rolling around my head, inspired by your work, but that I’ve never gotten around to asking.

CG: Non-fiction requires a different hat altogether for me, and is totally separate from anything else I write. I have to be in an objective and logical frame of mind in order to produce, and I have to have my mind firmly in the real-world and in business. So there are no conflicts there other than time management.

Very often though, while reviewing something or writing about particular subjects in an article, I am fed ideas that I often use in my fiction, so there is a natural cross over. I’ve written one play, and that was developed on the basis of a short story so there’s another link, albeit a tenuous one, but as for poetry, that’s on the other side of the spectrum altogether.

In the same way I have to be in dedicated non-fiction mode to write it, I have to be in dedicated poet mode in order to write poetry – it just won’t work for me otherwise. The key for me is switching those hats around instantly, in order to cover as much ground during the writing day as possible.

I’m still not sure I’ve answered this question the way I was meant to!

DE: What is the biggest lesson that Colin The Writer has learned from his experience as Colin The Editor?

CG: I’ve learnt why editors appear strict and rigid – because they have to be. You have to detach from the creative side entirely and try to put aside the fact that someone has ploughed so much of their time, effort and love into a piece of writing, only for you to have to write to them to say you never liked it. And that’s the hardest thing of all; knowing what goes into a story or a poem, knowing what rejection feels like, and knowing you are doing it to a fellow writer.

I set up an editorial process which I’ve adapted over time, to ensure I give each submission I receive the time and care it deserves. But this also means I now understand those editors who complain when people don’t do the simple things that are set out in the requirements. There’s nothing worse than opening a submission only to find the writer has only looked for the email address on your web site to submit to, and hasn’t even bothered reading the requirements or anything to do with the publication. I throw those ones in the bin almost immediately because if they don’t put in the effort, why should I?

Also, if a piece is really good either in concept or whatever, but it has obvious mistakes in it, I talk to the author to see if they are willing to make changes and improve the piece. I really appreciate it when editors take the time with me to develop an idea – which doesn’t often happen – but the ones who have I’ve never forgotten them or their advice.

On the flip side, I take much more care when making submissions of my own. I triple check everything to make sure that I’ve adhered to all the requirements, and I try harder to make myself get noticed by the editor. I’ve stopped using standard templates for my submissions, and I try to make them personal to the publication and the person reading them. I’m not ashamed to say that some of the more outstanding cover letters I’ve received have found their way into my own submissions.

I’ve also discovered just how hard it is to find good short fiction out there. I get poetry by the bucket load, more than I know what to do with, and it presents a problem when compiling the issues. I get lots of flash too, but short fiction – good short fiction – is extremely thin on the ground. This is good news if you’re a serious short story writer, as there seems to be a hole in the market for it.

DE: Would you ever consider writing again in a serial format? Or a shared world anthology? What kind of parameters would you want in that kind of project?

CG: I wrote Hunting Jack as a serial back in 2004 and I loved doing it. It was a great way of developing a story in a challenging and fun format, and in an interesting marketplace. I would do it again if I had a story that was good enough, and I think I would write half of it first before pitching the idea. Nothing I’ve come up with since then has fitted the serial format though, apart from the idea of a sequel to Hunting Jack maybe.

I love the idea of doing a shared world anthology, purely because it’s an exciting thought moving into someone else’s story and seeing what comes out of it. I think the more open and the less parameters that were place on that idea, the better. The charge of ideas would be what makes it, and I’d jump at the chance to do a project like that.

DE: How do you feel your writing has expanded your reading?

CG: This is a tough question because I’ve only ever thought about this in the reverse i.e. how my reading has expanded my writing.

My writing has grown (or shrunk depending how you see it) into bi-polarised sources: crime fiction and poetry. So from that point of view, I am reading more and more crime fiction, discovering new authors and styles, and getting lots of ideas for my own stories.

Also, I’m reading more poetry both from well known poets and independent ones who publish through small presses or by themselves. You’d be amazed at the talent there is, and by doing this, not only am I enjoying more poetry and benefiting my own writing skills, but I’m also meeting a lot of fascinating people from all walks of life by doing so. It’s a very fulfilling cycle.

DE: What new direction do you want to explore, writing-wise, in this New Year, and what attracts you to it?

CG: I’m delving back into children’s poetry and stories. I got such a buzz from doing Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 a couple of years ago, that I’m planning a second volume for this year.

What attracts me to writing for children? Well, I’m a big kid and have never fully matured (just ask my wife), so when I write something that makes me laugh I know it will make a kid laugh. When I wrote “River Monkeys”, I couldn’t stop laughing, and it went on to be published in a national children’s anthology.

I’m also a Dad, and one of the best things to come from having a kid is learning to tap back into your own childhood through their experiences, remembering how the world looked and felt back then, and then putting it all down on paper.

And it’s such fun to do. Writing for kids is such a departure from the serious business of fiction writing – and the occasional grim hardness of crime fiction – that it acts as cathartic release. It helps me move far enough away from the world of novel writing, that when I look back it allows me to see everything with a clear head again.

Thanks, Colin!

Bio:

Colin Galbraith is the Chief Editor and Publisher of The Ranfurly Review, and an Associate Editor at The Scruffy Dog Review. He has published short stories, poems, non-fiction articles and reviews, in both print and online publications.

His novel, Hunting Jack, was serialised in 2004 by a US-based publisher, and his first chapbook, Fringe Fantastic: The Poet’s Experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was published in paperback in December 2005 to critical acclaim. Poolside Poetry was his second paperback, published in March 2007.

He has published three e-books of poetry; Brick by Brick (2005), Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 (2006), and Selektion (2007). He edited his first anthology, Full Circle – An ARS Concordia Anthology in 2007.

He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and daughter, and his website can be found by logging on to www.colingalbraith.co.uk

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Visiting Authors:
February 8 & 9: TBA
February 24 & 25: Sandra Worth

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Want to learn more about the ups and downs of the freelance writing life? Visit Ink in My Coffee.

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If you want to experience a truly versatile writer, spend some time with Colin Galbraith. He does it all: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, web design, business writing. AND he’s the creator/editor/publisher of the new literary ezine THE RANFURLY REVIEW.

He’s one of those writers who can combine talent and skill with humor and professionalism. On top of that, he’s a loyal friend — which means he also tells you when you’re wrong!

His blog on the writing life, Freedom From the Mundane is a must-read, whether you’re an aspiring writer or a published one. In addition to commenting on the ups and downs of the writing life, he also opens windows onto moments of life in Edinburgh and beyond. Both Fringe Fantastic and Poolside Poetry portray everything from the ordinary to the absurd with stylish wordsmithery and wicked humor. His regular contributions to both The Scruffy Dog Review literary magazine and the SDR blog are delightful for both their range and their insight.

I liked his serialized novel Hunting Jack so much that I have a character in one of my novels read it on a flight!

If you haven’t made the literary acquaintance of this author yet, I encourage you to hop on over to one of the many links in this post and start reading. You won’t be sorry!

And come back tomorrow, when we chat with him!

Bio:

Colin Galbraith is the Chief Editor and Publisher of The Ranfurly Review, and an Associate Editor at The Scruffy Dog Review. He has published short stories, poems, non-fiction articles and reviews, in both print and online publications.

His novel, Hunting Jack, was serialised in 2004 by a US-based publisher, and his first chapbook, Fringe Fantastic: The Poet’s Experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was published in paperback in December 2005 to critical acclaim. Poolside Poetry was his second paperback, published in March 2007.

He has published three e-books of poetry; Brick by Brick (2005), Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 (2006), and Selektion (2007). He edited his first anthology, Full Circle – An ARS Concordia Anthology in 2007.

He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and daughter, and his website can be found by logging on to www.colingalbraith.co.uk

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Yesterday, you read my review of Hazel’s new novel, My Dearest Friend (scroll down to the post below if you haven’t yet read it). Today, you have a chance to sit in on a chat with the author.

DE: What is it about this time period that intrigues you?

HS: I love the romance and elegance of the Regency and Georgian periods and it is this that inspires me to attempt to recreate it in my work. History has always fascinated me but it is these two eras that I find the most inspiring.

DE: What sort of research do you do for your books?

HS: I have several reference books and have been an avid reader of Historical Fiction since in my teens. Also, the internet is an invaluable tool and I can spend hours perusing the various historical reference sites.

DE: Have you ever come across a piece of information while you researched one book (such as an anecdote or the contents of a letter) that inspired something completely different, and how did you follow through with it?

HS: Very often I find just snippets of things that start the creative process going. The theme for ‘The Portrait’ came from just one line from a song in the film Hawks : ‘I want to be the man that you think I am’. This inspired all kinds of ideas. The beginning of My Dearest Friend came from a dream, which I expanded on. One element of the story came on me quite by surprise as I just found the words coming out of the sergeant’s mouth and then went with the flow. It just added extra depth to the story.

DE: Do you find anything particularly liberating in this time period? If so, what?

HS: It takes me away from the harshness of the present century and allows me, if only briefly, to escape into the world of my characters and live within the mores of the age. I hope this is what my readers experience too.

DE: One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the book was how the friendship developed into love, instead of love following irritation. What inspired you to make this choice, and did you get a hard time for re-inventing the formula in such a positive way from anyone?

HS: I’m pleased you enjoyed the book. I don’t write to a formula. I write what I would like to read and develop the plot accordingly. In fact, when I was writing Robert and Jane’s story, I wasn’t aware that I had strayed from the norm. I know now that I diverted from the usual guidelines for the genre, but was unaware of it at the time of writing, I don’t think I’ve followed it with any of my works. Each one has its own story to tell and none are similar. I guess I wasn’t aware that I was taking a risk in their composition. As yet, no one has commented on it

DE: What are you working on now (if you’re at the stage where you can talk about it)?

HS: My current work-in-progress is going slowly at the moment as I have a lot of research to do. It’s still a Regency but that is its only similarity to anything else I have written. I can’t really divulge its theme, only that it is the story of a young bride who absconds from her husband after just one month of marriage. Her reasons are what drives the story. However, you can be assured of a happy ending.

Thank you, Hazel!

Bio: Hazel Statham lives in Staffordshire, England. She started writing at fifteen and has written on and off ever since. She has always been fascinated by history and writes mainly in the Regency and Georgian eras, although she has been known to occasionally stray into Medieval times. Writing is a compulsion she just can’t ignore and her work has been mainly influenced by Heyer, Bronte and Austen, although over the years, she has read many authors who have inspired her. When she was a child, she often told herself stories and this just progressed to committing them to paper to entertain family and friends. However, there have been gaps in her writing years where marriage and employment have intervened, but now that she no longer works, she is able to return to her first love and devote her time to writing. She had her first two novels published in 2005.

She has been married to her husband, Terry, since 1969 and have a grown daughter and beautiful grandson. Apart from reading and writing historical novels, her other ruling passion is animals and until recently, she was treasurer for an organisation that raised money for animal charities. She currently shares her home with a lovely yellow Labrador named Lucy, who is her constant companion. Lucy is a real sweetie, but it’s not always easy working at the computer with a large Labrador trying to get on your knee!

Her website is www.hazel-statham.co.uk

Her books is available at the Wings Press website.

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To read more about the ups and downs of the freelance writing liffe, visit Ink in My Coffee.

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My Dearest Friend
By Hazel Statham. KY: Wings e-Press Inc. 2008. $6 Download; $11.95 Paperback.

My Dearest Friend traces the growth of the love between Jane Chandler and Robert Blake, the Duke of Lear. Jane requests the Duke’s assistance in returning her wounded brother back from Portugal to England. The Duke, riddled with guilt because he could not save his own brother from the conflict, is more than eager to help. Along the way, they encounter adventure, treachery, illness, and find out that the Duke’s brother has a now-orphaned child. What starts as friendship blossoms into love between Jane and the Duke as they support each other through this difficult time. It’s when they are home and married that trouble brews, most of it caused by the tenant now renting Jane’s former home. How they are torn apart and fight to find a way back together over rocky emotional terrain makes a lively, warm, and intriguing read.

Regency historicals are tricky; Statham takes us beyond the confines of the genre in the best possible way with her depiction of the genuine friendship and caring that forms the basis for their love, instead of one party simply being determined to “tame” the other. The mutual respect and regard for each other makes this a cut above most books in the genre.

Bio: Hazel Statham lives in Staffordshire, England. She started writing at fifteen and has written on and off ever since. She has always been fascinated by history and writes mainly in the Regency and Georgian eras, although she has been known to occasionally stray into Medieval times. Writing is a compulsion she just can’t ignore and her work has been mainly influenced by Heyer, Bronte and Austen, although over the years, she has read many authors who have inspired her. When she was a child, she often told herself stories and this just progressed to committing them to paper to entertain family and friends. However, there have been gaps in her writing years where marriage and employment have intervened, but now that she no longer works, she is able to return to her first love and devote her time to writing. She had her first two novels published in 2005.

She has been married to her husband, Terry, since 1969 and have a grown daughter and beautiful grandson. Apart from reading and writing historical novels, her other ruling passion is animals and until recently, she was treasurer for an organisation that raised money for animal charities. She currently shares her home with a lovely yellow Labrador named Lucy, who is her constant companion. Lucy is a real sweetie, but it’s not always easy working at the computer with a large Labrador trying to get on your knee!

Her website is www.hazel-statham.co.uk

Her books is available at the Wings Press website.

How exciting to open the door yesterday afternoon, as I was trying to meet deadlines, and find a pile of books waiting for me!

Betsy Ross: Quaker Rebel by Edwin Satterthwaite Parry was published in 1930, and is the only biography of Ross for adults I’ve ever found. I remembered reading it while I was in high school and have tried to track it down ever since. I finally did, through Alibris.

A theatre friend of mine sent me some books she thought I would enjoy, and boy is she right:

The Wrong Horse by William Murray. I’ve read this book several times, but didn’t have a copy of my own. I love it. It’s about the horses he shouldn’t have bet on at the race track, but fell in love with anyway. I’ve got a copy of his companion book, The Right Horse, and he’s written some racing-based mysteries that are great fun.

Saratoga Hot, little novels by Hortense Calisher. She is a new-to-me author, and the title alone sounds delicious. I look forward to reading it!

Agincourt by Christopher Hibbert, about Henry V’s famous victory. I’m fascinated by the period, and can’t wait to read it.

Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee. I have Froud’s Faeries’ Oracle, which is a very powerful deck, and I’m interested in the book.

So, these go into the stack, to be alternated with the books I HAVE to read for various assignments.

Woo-hoo! Getting books is always the best!