Jennifer Neri's Blog

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur. Henry Miller


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A Book Give-Away!!!!!

Linda Cassidy Lewis is having a five-day e-book give-away, with a winner each day! Winners can choose from either of her two published books in a series. There’s still two days left for you to win one these fantastic books–you may be the lucky one!!!

Reposted from her blog:

All right, we’re now on Day 4 of my end-of-May giveaway extravaganza! I’m giving away ONE eBOOK EACH DAY for five days. Winners get a choice between The Brevity of Roses or its sequel An Illusion of Trust.

brevwidget2Don’t despair if you entered yesterday, or the last three days, but didn’t win. You have two more chances because it’s a new giveaway each day. If you don’t win today, you can enter again tomorrow! And if you win today, you can enter tomorrow to try for the other book.

IMPORTANT: Since these are five separate contests, you must follow the entry instructions each day you want to be entered in the drawing. Entries DO NOT carry over to the next contest.

All eBooks are in the Kindle format, but you don’t have to own a Kindle to read them. The FREE Kindle app is available for every major smartphone, tablet, and computer.

AIT_widgetSo, how do you enter? You enter by clicking one of those social media icons below to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. And then leave a comment here to let me know where you shared.

Each day’s entry period runs from midnight to midnight (PST) and Random.org will chose the winners.

READY … SET … GO and good luck!

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E-book giveaway on Kindle Select

Get the thriller Dead Bishops Don’t Lie, by André K. Baby FREE on Amazon Kindle Select Giveaway TODAY October 9th, tomorrow Oct 10th, and October 23 & 24.

Based on historical events, “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie” draws the reader to the dark side of Vatican politics, where unbridled ambition leads to treachery, revenge and murder.
In early May 2005, the gruesome murders of two archbishops , one in Switzerland, the other in Italy, trigger a worldwide shockwave of indignation and outrage .
Baffled by these ostensibly related crimes and fearing more assassinations, the Swiss and Italian police call Interpol for help. Thierry Dulac, a caustic investigator with an enviable track record, gets the nod.
Dulac’s search for the killers takes him from the hushed corridors of the Vatican and the quiet luxury of a British Marchioness’s château, to the dank prison cells of Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. Struggling through personal trauma and finally piercing the Vatican Curia’s notorious Code of Silence, Dulac uncovers an astounding, unlikely conspiracy of dirty money, blackmail and state-backed terrorism. He’s just realized the enormity of what he’s discovered when a hit-man strafes the windshield of his Renault…
The reviews: “… A lightning-paced thriller. I can’t wait to read the sequel…” Norbert Spehner.
“. The book’s pages will burn your fingers…” Richard Migneault.

Lawyer and author André K. Baby has mined the wealth of his rich legal experience as a Crown prosecutor and international business lawyer, to forge the plot and characters of his religious thriller, “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie”.
Its stand-alone sequel, “The Jewish Pope”, will be launched in early 2013.

 

 


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a release

When I was a little girl into to my early teens I used to write poetry, but only when the moment called for it. I sat in the dark and wrote unseen words; I’d let my pen or pencil drag crookedly across the page, or I’d write in neat lines, depending on what emotions needed to Get Out. It was always fun for me to wake up and see what I’d produced during the night. Not so much the words, but the pattern and shape that they made strung together as cord or as disconnected pieces.

I haven’t done this in years, I actually forgot that I used to write like this. Somehow, during the growing up process, I let go of this ritual.

These past days have felt like a moment for writing poetry (or what I called poetry but was only a word dump). I’ve been holding it in, not writing, not seeing the words. And then I remembered: I don’t need to see the words. I just need to open up and a shape will take form.

So here goes:

A cliché. They say it in books, in movies, on tv.

A broken heart.

A pain that lashes, that rips, that tears, and binds.

A memory.

Almond eyes.

A myriad of smells that belong solely to one person.

A voice. Loud. Always yelling. Always caring.

A touch. Fleeting, rare. Hands kept tight, working, not soft, not gentle, not idle.

Reserved.

A memory.

Of love. Always, of love.

Of life.

A life.

A whole. A unit.

A goodbye.

And the bindings begin to unwind. Letting in breath and wind and light.

And then a smile. Of what’s remembered. Of what’s to come.

Blah. So there, it’s out. For now. Not sure why I wanted to do this on the blogosphere, maybe it’s about moving forward, moving on. Maybe it’s about release and connection. I wonder if my words would have been the same if I was writing them for no other eyes, instead of here, when I knew others would read them. Maybe later when I come back and read these words, I’ll see a pattern, a shape, of what I produced, in the light this time. Not in the dark.

This was written in loving memory of grandma, who passed August 16th, at the age of 88.


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Dead Bishops Don’t Lie

Did the title get your attention?

It certainly did mine!

The e-book, written by André K. Baby, is available at Amazon.

Directly from the blurb:

Based in part on real events, André K. Baby’s well-researched “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie” draws the reader to the dark side of Vatican politics, where jealousy and unbridled ambition can lead to treachery, and murder.
Within the space of a week, two Archbishops are found crucified, one in Switzerland, the other in Italy. Baffled by these ostensibly related crimes and fearing more assassinations, the Swiss and Italian police call Interpol for help. Thierry Dulac, a caustic investigator with an enviable track record, gets the nod.
Follow inspector Thierry Dulac’s search for the killers, from the hushed corridors of the Vatican and the quiet luxury of a British Marchioness’s château, to the dank prison cells of Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. Struggling through personal trauma, Dulac uncovers an astounding, unlikely conspiracy of dirty money, blackmail and state-backed terrorism. He’s just realized the enormity of what he’s discovered when a hit-man strafes the windshield of his Renault…
The reviews: “… A lightning-paced thriller. I can’t wait to read the sequel…” Norbert Spehner.
“Mind-blowing. The book’s pages will burn your fingers…” Richard Migneault.

André K. Baby is a Montreal-born lawyer and author. He’s mined the wealth of his rich legal experience first as a Crown prosecutor and later as an international business lawyer, to help forge the plot and characters of his first thriller, “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie”.
Its stand-alone sequel, “The Jewish Pope”, will be launched this summer.

André is a member of my critique group and he was a guest here last year when his first novel was published in french. He’ll be back soon to talk about this novel, so stay tuned!


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keeping up with myself.

Have you ever read something that made you re-consider all you thought you knew about writing?

Ok, maybe that’s a little too dramatic, a little too overwhelming to even consider, but what about reading a book that seems to break all the rules, and yet reads beautifully?

The book that got all this churning is Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht.

I’ve read the reviews, and it seems some people don’t agree with me that Obreht’s book is great, but enough do that she’s won some awards and been nominated for others, and she’s certainly generated a buzz.

In reality, I think she mainly only broke one rule: her novel reads like short stories that were squeezed into one entity. The book consists of stories and various characters, and we move ominously (and often omnisciently)  in and out of them. I can see that it can be confusing and odd, but I left myself go with it and it grabbed me.

At one point reading Tiger’s Wife I thought to myself, this is how I would have written when I was in my early twenties if I had been writing then. This thought stopped me in my tracks. I realized that I was impressed with Obreht’s freedom of movement within her novel, and that in my twenties this freedom was innate in me. I scared by this thought: Was I being true to myself as a writer, or was I holding back, unknowingly following someone else’s standards?

Now, in my thirties, I’m more stuck in some sense, more fixed. And when I write, I follow rules. And I do think we all need to follow rules. It’s just that for each of us those rules need to be different, and evolving, and most likely different for each piece we work with.

I can’t write with the same movement I would have ten years ago. My movements now are big and vast, but they are taken with precision and aim. It doesn’t mean it’s better or worse, just different.

Part of writing is about writing who we are. Today. And this is the best freedom of all.


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A memory

When I began writing I had no idea how to find other writers. None of my friends or family wrote, and I had studied science in school. I went on-line and I looked up writing groups in my area. I found one that met once a month in a library close to my home.

I was the youngest person there, by far. They were retired men and women who gathered to write and read to each other. I remember feeling so awkward, so out-of-place. I was young, in my twenties, what had I lived through to tell to these people? But, I returned again and again for almost a good year.

There was one older lady in her late seventies or early eighties that I remember in particular who always patted the seat next to hers if there was one, or gestured me into the room with a big wave of the arm. I think of her periodically, her effort to make me feel welcome. And how the little interaction I had with her inspired me not only in writing but in life.

Her name was Susan Romvary. The first time I entered the large conference room in the library, she sat near the doorway in a large cushioned chair separated from the group. She didn’t look up when I came in the room, in fact for a time I thought maybe she slept, or was incoherent; her head dangled forward and I was never able to see her face. People were reading, and I thought didn’t she heard them.

“Susan, will you read?” the organizer said.

She looked up, and I was shocked. She was stunning, her eyes dancing, her expression one that inhaled and released energy in a profound way. I could tell in an instant that she loved life and she lived it fully.

Some time after I met her a short story came to me, a sort of vignette that brought three people into one person’s life. It is fiction, but it is inspired by her and the words she spoke that night. She passed away in late December, and when I received the news I immediately thought that our little planet lost one terrific person, even though I hadn’t seen her in years, and only knew her through a few meetings. I remembered this story I wrote, and found it on a stick drive. Here is a portion of it, just the way it was written, because to edit it now would change it to who I am now, and not what I saw then. Perhaps you’ll see a little of her in it.

Vera sat across from me. Her name was scrawled in nearly illegible handwriting on a name tag stuck just above her left breast. Her vest was red, vivid in the dim room. Her head was bowed; she had not raised it, not even when I entered. Her hair was thinning, and dyed auburn. I wondered at her presence. Had she heard the others speak? Was she coherent? Suddenly, she lifted her head, and I realized it was her turn to read. Her eyes dazzled, and met each of ours in turn.

“I love humour,” Vera said. Her voice was inflected with life, and thickly accented. “I grew up in Hungary, escaped to France when I was a girl, and now, I live in a nursing home. Humour has saved me. I have had one published novel. It is, of course, humoresque. It was featured on CBC radio. Nothing more. I’m writing my second. It’s about my new residence.”

 I realized I was part of something. Would I be accepted, or would I be judged for my youth, as I had judged them for their age?

“I write in English,” Vera said. “But, it is not my first language. Nor is it my second. French is. I came to Canada as an adult, so naturally, I chose Quebec. I write in English because it is a simple language. If I can teach myself to speak it, I can teach myself to write it.”

 I listened to Vera, as I had not to the others. I had been too self-absorbed, worried about how my own work would be received. It was my first time in a writing circle.

“I had a husband, two children. My husband is gone. My children are gone. I tell you this not so that you will feel sad, or pity me, but so that you will know humour is healing. I have survived the holocaust, I have survived famine. I have lived alone in foreign countries, not understanding a word of the people around me. I struggle to retain the images of my family. Yet, I am glad to have gone through it. Otherwise, I would not be alive. I will read you an excerpt. I hope you will laugh. I expect you will laugh.”

And we did laugh.



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Miserere: An Autumn Tale & published bloggers

Back in February Teresa Frohock did a guest post here, and stated her reasons for choosing the traditional route of publishing as opposed to self-publishing her fantasy novel. Her book, Miserere: An Autumn Tale, was released this summer. I just finished it. I have to say that this is the second time I go to bookstore to buy a book for a blogger friend (the first being Bitter, Sweet, by Laura Best) and it’s really fun!!!

I loved Miserere. One my favorite aspects of this novel is the compelling atmosphere Teresa created. From the very first paragraph, I lived in the world, tasted it, experienced it fully.

Most fantasy books are set in a made up land. Teresa has used our typical standard of good versus evil. The devil versus god. Heaven versus Hell. She added to this, by creating Woerld, the space between Heaven and Hell, and where the major part of the novel is set. I think it’s great how she took something so ordinary and twisted it to become so unique.

In Woerld, there is a reflection of the major religious section that we have here on Earth, in real life, but over there they are all unified. This division on earth is what makes us weak, in the novel. It is the thing standing between us the true potential those on Woerld attain. I love this!

It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it. If I had to say something negative about it, it’s that I felt it was over too quickly, everything resolved too quickly. It did leave room for a sequel, and I wonder if she will write one. Hope so.

I love reading a published novel by blogging friends, it makes it more exciting. I’ve read Linda Cassidy Lewis‘ novel, Brevity of Roses; Cathryn Grant‘s novel, Demise of the Soccer Mom, and her second novel will be released quite soon (she also a novella)! Bloggers who have released novels that I’ve still to read: Lawrence, Stephanie, and tikiman.

Do you have any blogger friends with published novels to recommend?


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an Aha moment!

Sometimes I think I’m indulging myself by writing. There’s so many other things that need tending to, and I don’t mean in my life, but in life in general. There is so much on this globe that needs fixing, sometimes I think, well, gee, here I am, writing – shouldn’t I be, dedicating my time to something beneficial instead?

I had a moment of this kind of pain a few days back when I caught the end of a documentary entitle No woman, No cry. From the filmmaker to the MD, I was taken with the amount of action these woman are taking to preventing global maternal death.

At the very end of the film, we’re brought into the director’s home, where she spoke about how her young children miss her, but she hopes she is teaching them about the connection they have with all beings.

This was my moment of, ok so, I’m writing. Huh. Maybe I need to reconsider.

Then my Aha Moment came. We are all interconnected. And that’s what storytelling, and all forms of art, is about. Adding to that connection. By dedicating myself to writing, I am strengthening the bond that binds everything and everyone. Without this, I believe there would be no desire to preserve.

I googled this film that had such an impact on me, and on the website there was a ‘share your story’ tab. Woman from around the world are posting their photos, telling their stories. These stories are unifying woman everywhere.

So, Yes! I’m writing. And you know, I think it is for the good of the whole.

I sound so cheesy to myself, so dippy, but a burden’s been eased now that I’ve realized I am contributing. All of us writers are.


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Teresa Frohock talks about traditional publishing

Today Teresa Frohock is here talking about the path to publication of her debut fantasy novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Last week, Cathryn Grant spoke about how Indie publishing has led to wonderful things for her. Two weeks ago Andre K. Baby spoke about his debut thriller, a story which shows that there are possibilites we never even imagined.

Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel and is scheduled for publication by Night Shade Books on July 1, 2011.

Welcome, Teresa!

I would like to thank Jennifer for her gracious invitation to me to write this post. I think Jennifer and I began blogging at approximately the same time, and it’s wonderful to see how both of our blogs have grown over the years.

Of course, after the invitation comes the hard part of deciding what to write about. Jennifer shot some ideas my way, and in a brainstorming e-mail session, we touched on why some writers choose to self-publish and why others seek a more traditional route to publication.

I thought since Cathryn talked about why she chose to self-publish, I would tell you why I chose to go the traditional route.

I’m a masochist.

Well, there is more to it than that; otherwise, this would be the world’s shortest blog post.

Going the traditional route to publication was very comfortable for me. One thing not many people know about me is that Miserere: An Autumn Tale is not my first novel nor is this my first time through the traditional route to publication. When I was in my early twenties I wrote a novel that interested James Allen of the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. (There is a cool blog post about the agency here and yes, Jim really did smoke that much.) Jim knew I was unpolished as a writ-at.htmler, but he believed in my writing enough that he offered me representation. Unfortunately, I was too smart to listen to his advice, so my first novel never sold.

We eventually parted ways and I stopped writing fiction for many years. A few years ago, I saw an online class for writing fiction, and I wanted to see if I had what it took to become published. I signed up for the class and learned a lot about constructing a story. It was all the same things Jim had tried to tell me, but this time I was older and more teachable. I used what I learned in those writing classes to construct Miserere.

Once Miserere was polished and ready to submit, I examined my options. I thought about self-publishing, and although some people might not like what I’m about to say, anything less would be a lie. When I looked at self-publishing, I examined several self-published novels. In other words, I wanted to see the company I would be keeping. I wasn’t impressed.

The self-published books I found were riddled with spelling and grammatical issues, dialogue and setting were poorly executed, and each book would have greatly benefited from editorial oversight. The cover art was downright atrocious, which made the whole product look cheap and unprofessional.

That was two years ago. I’ve recently noticed that the cover art is getting better for self-published novels, and more and more self-published authors are turning to editors to get their books in shape prior to publication. I think that speaks well for all indie authors.

However, based on the works I was seeing a year or so ago, I decided I wanted to attempt to acquire an agent. I figured that if I could not interest an agent or a publisher in my writing, then it was possible that I didn’t have what it took to be a professional writer. If that was the case, I was perfectly willing to work on helluo librorum as a fan blog and let those who were more qualified tell the stories.

I submitted four queries and two agents asked for my manuscript. Of the two agents, I went with Weronika Janczuk of the D4EO Literary Agency, and I’m delighted with her as my agent. Weronika immediately saw the concepts I was trying to get across with Miserere, and she showed me ways to strengthen Miserere to make the story more marketable.

Within five weeks of Weronika sending Miserere out on submission, Jeremy Lassen of Night Shade Books made an offer. I was ecstatic, because I’ve loved Night Shade Books for some time. Jeremy picks the dark, edgy kind of fiction that I love to read, and the award-winning quality of Night Shade’s fiction speaks for itself. I am really honored to be associated with all of Night Shade’s authors.

Two things are going to rock a novel off the shelf, and those are the cover art and the story. Cover art is the most vital part of selling a novel. The art draws the reader’s eye and the story holds them there.

Night Shade is known for producing excellent cover art for their novels, but I was astounded by Michael C. Hayes’ interpretation of Miserere. He took the time to read the novel and he captured the entire story in their faces. He totally got the themes in Miserere.

So now we are moving into the final phases of constructing the finished work. I love being part of a team effort, which is exactly what traditional publication is all about—several talented people pulling together to create and produce a piece of art.

Have there been long waits? Yes.

Doesn’t it make you feel powerless while other people judge your work? Absolutely, but even if you self-publish, there will be readers judging the viability of your work.

Should everyone try and acquire an agent, then a publisher? Hey, everybody’s journey is different. Mine worked out great for me. My only advice is for you is this: examine the pros and cons of both options then roll with the option that best fits your lifestyle.

Thanks again to Jennifer for giving me this time! If you want to hang out with me, I’m in quite a few places. You can visit my blog and website follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook and I have an author page at Goodreads where I post reviews of books that I read and enjoy. I run mostly guest posts at helluo librorum, but I do pop in to give my two cents worth from time to time. Join us there where we talk about dark fiction and writing.

I hope to catch you all somewhere online or at a convention soon!


Thank you, Teresa, for the great post!!

We all look forward to this summer’s launch for you – a most exciting time, and can’t wait to hear all about it on your blog! And, I’m very excited to read Miserere: An Autumn Tale. From the bits I’ve read on your blog I’m certain it’s amazing!

Much success to you!!


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Cathryn Grant talks about going Indie

Today, Cathryn Grant will be talking to us about how going Indie with her debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, has “changed her life.” Last week, Andre K. Baby spoke about his debut thriller, and next week Teresa Frohock will speak about her upcoming debut novel.

Cathryn Grant’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Her short story, “I Was Young Once” received an honorable mention from Joyce Carol Oates in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest.

In her first Suburban Noir novel, THE DEMISE OF THE SOCCER MOMS, a provocative single mother permanently alters the lives of four Silicon Valley soccer moms. It’s available now as an eBook and in paperback at Amazon.com and Smashwords. Her second novel, BURIED BY DEBT, will be released in November 2011.

Welcome Cathryn!

49 Days as an Indie Author – how my life has changed.

The title of this post is probably a bit melodramatic and if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a fiction writer, it’s to avoid melodrama. Well, there’s also show-don’t-tell, move the story forward, give your characters back story, interview your characters, read your manuscript aloud, use meaningful dialog, don’t open with the weather unless you’re brilliant, have a firm grasp of POV, ensure you have internal and external conflict, use telling details, linger in the scene. And there are three hundred things missing from that list.

Fiction is a mystical blend of craft elements from which emerges a story that resonates with readers. It feels like magic. It takes a lot of practice, as every writer knows.

Last week I was interviewed on a few blogs, and in my interview with Christi Craig, she asked me how long it took me to write The Demise of the Soccer Moms. I was too embarrassed to tell her, and just said it took a “very long time”. In retrospect, I think I was too coy because as was pointed out in the comments, everyone defines a “very long time” differently.

So how long did it take? I worked on that novel for six years.

In fairness to my part slacker, part stressed-out, part angst-ridden, perfectionist self, I wrote the first draft of two other novels during that time and quite a few short stories. But still, SIX years?

The reason it took so long is simple. I’d written several novels before this one that weren’t ready for prime time. As I started The Demise of the Soccer Moms, I still had a lot to learn (I still do, but the learning curve was steeper). I participated in a writers’ workshop, took classes, read books on craft, did exercises, and as I received feedback, I had to keep rewriting. Then, my ability improved, so of course I wasn’t satisfied and had to go back again. Some would have abandoned the project as yet another “practice” novel, but I loved that story and couldn’t let it go. So yes, six years.

At this point, I’ve learned enough about the craft and found my rhythm and a work style that I think will allow me to publish a novel every 11-12 months. So that six years of effort was worth every minute.

During those six years, the publishing industry went through enormous changes, leading me to decide indie was the best route for me. (I won’t talk about that since I’ve covered it in detail here and here.)

In the comments section of Christi’s blog, one writer said she wanted to focus just on writing rather than publishing and I responded that something strange had happened since I self published – I have more time to write. Another commenter wanted to know how that worked! It’s not that I have more hours in the day, and self-publishing does take a lot of hours, but I think what’s changed is my energy level and my focus.

I’ve always been an early morning writer and a slug in the evenings, but now I have a new-found energy after dinner. I think it comes from having my work out there, and from knowing I’m the only one responsible for my writing career. This energy lasts through the evening, allowing me to be productive during that time.

Even better, I know that I have to keep to a schedule in writing future novels and that’s helped me overcome most (not all) self-sabotage. Although I had a morning schedule for years, I can’t begin to describe how many ways I found to fritter away that time. Yes, step by step I did write stories and novels, but part of that six years was spent wasting precious weekend hours ranting to my husband about my novel, surfing the web during my writing time, doing projects for my day job that did not have to be done at 4:30 in the morning, moaning in my journal, more web surfing, staring at the wall, and checking email.

In addition to the energy that comes from taking control of my writing, there’s a freedom I haven’t felt for years. I never saw this before I self-published, although I should have. There was a subtle, undetected tendency to write for publishers, agents, critics, and the market. Now, I’m writing for readers. If you’d asked me before, I would have said emphatically that I was writing for readers, but there was that underlying awareness of working toward publication that I think restrained my voice.

Now, the words pour out of me with more freedom. I tell my stories with less concern for what others think. Of course it still matters whether readers will enjoy them. And I don’t mean to imply that I’m taking less care with all those details of craft and style. I’m just not trying so hard and that gives incredible energy and feels, strangely, like more time.

My life has changed in a very significant way. In another interview last week, Linda Cassidy Lewis asked when I started calling myself a writer. I said, when I started committing time every day to my writing. But now, I don’t just call myself a writer, I feel like a writer.

Thank you, Cathryn for your wonderful post!

We wish you continued success!! We look forward to future novels!

You can learn more about Cathryn, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, and her fiction at her website, Suburban Noir.

Cathryn loves talking about writing and her experiences, so please leave a comment for her!

Cathryn’s flash fiction has been published at EveryDayFiction.com and at her website under Flash Fiction for your cocktail hour.

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