FOLLOW THE BATON: A WRITERS’ BLOG HOP!
The Follow the Baton blog hop is well underway!
I caught the baton from author friend Mariam Kobras, author of The Stone Trilogy and other books. I agreed to take the baton from Mariam because this “blog hop” is designed to help writers get to know each other, introduce more readers to a variety of writers’ work, and encourage both writers and readers to have some fun.
First, let me introduce you to Mariam:
Mariam Kobras is the author of a growing number of contemporary novels published by the wonderful Independent Press (and my own publisher) Buddhapuss Ink, including two books that have won IPPY awards. Born in Frankfurt Germany, Mariam currently lives in Hamburg with her husband and two sons. After studying American Literature and Archeology at Giessen University, Mariam spent several months in Toronto, Canada. She has worked as an English tutor, served as a lay Judge in Juvenile Court, and managed the rookie Hamburg Blue Devils American football team. Most recently she founded the Theater Project at a local Hamburg High School, where she wrote and staged plays. The huge success of this venture gave her the courage to try her hand at her first novel. Within a year she had written the first draft of her debut book, The Distant Shore, inspired by her fascination with the limitations fame can impose on people. The book explores the value of love in a world where money and a front-page photo are sometimes more important than a person’s soul.
Click here to read Mariam’s blog.
Below is my contribution to the “Follow the Baton” Blog Hop, in which each participating author is asked to post responses to the following questions:
1. What am I working on? Last year, 2013, was a big year in my writing life. After publishing a variety of personal essays and short fiction pieces in literary journals during the previous two years, I completed my first full-length book manuscript, a memoir-in-essays titled Message from a Blue Jay. The book will be published May 14 — just a month from now! — by Buddhapuss Ink, a growing, savvy independent publisher located in Edison, New Jersey. So, part of what I’m working on now is the launch of the book, which includes preparing for a “virtual book tour” on a variety of authors’ blogs and planning the launch party at Back Pages Books in Waltham, Mass. on May 16.
After I finished Message from a Blue Jay and found my publisher, I decided to switch gears and have a little fun. I finished a second book manuscript over the next six months in a very different genre, and the manuscript is currently being reviewed. I won’t say more unless it is accepted for publication! Now I’m back at work on individual personal essays, and I’m also beginning to formulate ideas for a sequel to my second book, if one is requested.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Message from a Blue Jay skirts the line between a personal essay collection and a memoir. The chapters in the book are taken from individual essays that were, for the most part, written as standalone pieces. Many of them were published on their own. When I began to combine them into a collection, I tried to maintain the integrity of each individual piece while at the same time discover some over-arching themes that tied the work together as a whole. I developed more of a narrative arc so the reader can stay with the story and get a sense of revelation at the end. This required some editing out of repetitive information and the addition of new essays. It’s not your usual narrative structure.
3. Why do I write what I do? I started writing personal essays because the form seemed natural to me. I was a journalist who was used to telling true stories, and I have also been writing a personal journal since childhood. When I discovered the personal essay form during my creative writing studies (at the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College, a really wonderful low-residency MFA program in Newton, Mass.) it felt right for me. I needed to learn craft techniques by working on shorter pieces before attempting the more complicated structure of a full-length book. I enjoy reflecting on, and finding meaning in, both the large and small events of life. Personal essays feel like a natural extension of the way my mind works.
I wrote a lot of poetry years ago and I still love poetry. Personal essays offer a lot of opportunities to write lyrically and to use poetic tools. As for my second book manuscript, I write a certain type of fiction purely because it is escapist-make-you-smile fun. It’s a very different ball game, as they say.
4. How does your writing process work? My process changes depending on what’s going on in my life. When I was pursuing the MFA, I did my paid freelance writing work in the mornings and devoted several hours every afternoon to reading and writing my own creative work. When I was working on Message from a Blue Jay and my second book, I woke up every morning at 5 a.m. and wrote for two hours before starting the rest of my day. Lately, my life has been complicated by having to hold down two jobs and visit my ill father in upstate New York every other weekend. So I try to write in the mornings when I can, and I just fit it in whenever it’s possible. But one thing about my process never changes — I always revise. My first drafts are rarely even close to what a final draft will look like.
So there are my answers — that’s it! Now I’m passing the baton to two wonderful author friends who will post their answers to the questions above on their blogs next Monday, April 21, so please stop by and check them out! Links to their blogs appear at the end of their bios.
KERRY’S BIOGRAPHY IN HER OWN WORDS
“I have been writing most of my life. Let me back up. I have been carrying a purse most of my life and inside those hundreds of purses has always been something with which to write. According to my mother, I was carrying said purse and pencil before I could form a sentence. Not sure what I planned to do with that pencil but I like to think that God was showing his plans for me early on.
So yes, I am a writer and a college instructor and a crafter and someone who wastes way too much time searching for the key to baking the best chocolate cake. My sweet tooth aside, I hope to share with you some of my best writing and, probably, some that needs work. I’m sure you’ll tell me what you think.”
You can read Kerry’s blog here.
Angela Barton is an award-winning writer and member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio in the U.K. I met her through a group of writers who congregate on Twitter at the #WritersCoffeeBar. Angela is currently writing her third novel titled The Midday Moon. Her lovely blog, Fonts and Fiction, can be found here.
I love it! And I’m happy and proud to be part of your author journey, Faye. Exciting times, indeed! 🙂
Hi Mariam, Thanks so much for getting me involved in this exchange — exciting times indeed.
Wonderful blog post Faye and many congratulations for your soon-to-be published book. I’m looking forward to reading it next month. Thank you for passing the baton on to me – I only hope I can do it justice!
Thank you, Ange! I look forward to learning more about you and your writing next week!
Thanks for passing the baton to me, Faye. We must do what we can to connect to writers and readers. Wishing you the best on your “fun” manuscript!
Thank you, Kerry! I look forward to reading your blog next week.