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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Guest post: Florence Freakout by Lev Raphael

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of public readings is brought to you by multi-genre author and interviewee Lev Raphael.

Florence Freakout

I’ve done hundreds of invited public readings from my books over the last twenty years, but the thrill hasn’t worn off.  Every reading feels new and I’m always a little keyed up.  It’s just like going on-stage, something I still remember from the plays I performed in as a college student.  The excitement is tinged with apprehension: what if it doesn’t go over well?  

But something different happened to me recently in Florence where I was reading from my Gilded Age novel Rosedale in Love. I had a panic attack, my first ever.

I had been invited to an international Edith Wharton conference because my novel retells the story of The House of Mirth from the perspective of its despised Jewish suitor.  Where Wharton makes him a stereotype of the vulgar, money-grubbing Jew, I made him three-dimensional, giving him a life, a family, a history, dreams and inspirations.

The day before my reading, I was in a small bright classroom of the college which was hosting the event, listening to an academic paper, when suddenly the walls seemed to close in on me and I felt dizzy.  It wasn’t the heat; I knew that in my bones.  This was something different.  When the paper ended and the applause started, I slipped out and hurriedly got a cab back to my hotel across the Arno.  In the cab, even though I was headed towards the quieter, less crowded part of the city (the Oltrarno), I started hyperventilating. I managed to keep my head enough to speak my travel Italian and get my receipt at the end of the short ride (Ho bisogno di una ricevuto).

Upstairs in my room, I took a bath to calm myself down, and a Valium, which I’d brought because I’d had to leave a very sick dog behind me at home in Michigan, a dog just diagnosed with cancer.  He wasn’t in danger of imminent death, but his life expectancy had just been shortened by years, and our family was in a state of shock.

 When I calmed down, I tried to figure out what was going on, and the answers came quickly.  Though I’d done readings in London, Glasgow, Paris, Vienna, and in twenty German cities and towns, I’ve never been alone abroad doing a reading.  On my tours, I’d either been with my spouse or had a host, sometimes more than one.  I’d also never read from my work at an academic conference, which is odd since I’d read at universities and colleges–not to mention book fairs, museums, libraries, synagogues and churches. 

Luckily the panic didn’t hit right before the reading.  It happened twenty-four hours beforehand.  I had plenty of time to calm down, sight-see, eat a splendid bistro dinner, sleep well, wake up to the Florentine sunshine the next day and have breakfast on the hotel terrace where one wall was covered in jasmine.  The beauty of the city worked on me like a massage, and as I spent the day preparing, I understood my panic even better: the stakes were higher than usual in some ways.  I was in effect a second keynote speaker, which definitely made the situation different from a typical reading for me.

More importantly, as a reader, I didn’t have the advantage I’d recently had on tour of reading a passage from a book I’d read many times before. Touring Germany, Canada and the U.S. from 2009 through 2012 to talk about my memoir / travelogue My Germany, I consistently read the Prologue.  It was short enough; had a clear beginning, middle and end; and people found it dramatic.  Sticking with the same text meant that I knew it very well in English, and could maintain lots of eye contact with my audience (and even improvise a little).  Readings are performances, and that one was different every time because I did so many of them and the energy was always different in each venue.

But in Florence I had a brand new play, in effect, and this was my opening night.  Even the setting was unique: the tiny Gothic Church of San Jacobo, the oldest venue I’d ever spoken in over the course of twenty years of readings.  It was a bit overwhelming to be surrounded by so much history everywhere I turned.  I was even trying something new for me: reading the text from my iPad.

So how did it go?  About half of the conferees came, which was surprising to me on a lovely evening in Florence.  And I’m happy to say that when it was done, one of the conference organizers came up to me and said, “That was perfect.”  You can’t ask for more than that, except perhaps a great meal afterward, which is what the conference had arranged a few blocks away at a gorgeous trendy restaurant.  I still had another full day in Florence before heading to Rome, and that next day I kept things quiet: visits to two beautiful but nearly-empty churches not far from my hotel, a siesta after lunch, and a dinner two blocks away.  I was my own host, making sure that I was comfortable. It was another new role for me abroad.  I liked it.

I’d like it too, although having only done local mic nights I can fully understand your trepidation. Thank you, Lev!

Lev Raphael is the author of twenty-two books that have been translated into nearly a dozen languages.

He’s been a radio talk show host, a newspaper columnist, and an academic. Widely anthologized in the U.S. and England, he’s done hundreds of talks and readings from his work on three continents.

His writing is taught at colleges and universities across North America, which means he’s become homework.  He grew up in New York, but got over it and has made Michigan his home for more than half his life.

You can watch the trailer for his latest novel ‘Rosedale in Love’ here.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with novelist and short story author Guy Mankowski – the four hundred and forty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in ebooks, events, novels, writing

 

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Post-weekend Poetry 032: Olympic 4-liners

Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the thirty-second poem in this series. Actually this week sees a selection of four-line Olympic-themed poems by four guest authors, starting with the first to reach me and the one who gave me the idea (thanks, Keith)…

Keith Blowes:

To come first would be best
To take part would mean a lot
To finish at all is an achievement
To be a member of the team (GB) means everything.

***

Sharon E Cathcart

I’ve seen the big diving montage,
The opening ceremony, one giant collage.
There’s only one sport not before my visage:
Where the hell is the dressage?

***

Sharon told me that her favorite equestrian sport, dressage, is never covered in the US. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and always has at least one work in progress.  She lives in the Silicon Valley, California, with her husband and an assortment of pets.

***

Olympic by Dr. Arijit Bag

It’s not about the wining, but
It’s about the glory of taking part.
It’s not only the five colored rings
It’s for friendship and war-less springs.

***

Antique Dealer’s Olympic Lament by Barbara Barth

Gymnastics, swimming, tennis and more –
To visit London for the Olympics, oh such a bore!
Antiques, Portobello Road, is where you’ll find me
My pockets full of cash on a huge shopping spree!

***

Thank you everyone, that was fun… and poignant. 🙂

If you’d like to submit your poem (40 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with thriller and children’s fantasy author Philip Caveney – the four hundred and forty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in events, poetry, writing

 

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Author Spotlight no.106 – Barbara Barth

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and sixth, is of Barbara Barth.

Barbara Barth is an author, antique dealer, and dog whisperer. She lives with six rescue dogs from her local animal shelters.

Her business card reads “Writer With Dogs”. It is a title she wears proudly.  She launched a one-issue online dog magazine dedicated to animal rescue and vintage dog art Dec 2010. Her book launch was a fundraiser for Animal Action Rescue with all proceeds donated to the group.

Barbara credits dogs as part of her healing process after her husband died four years ago. Her memoir “The Unfaithful Widow” follows her first year as a widow in a series of essays that include a vintage Corvette, bad dates leading to good things, the best group of girlfriends, and a bevy of dogs. Her memoir placed as a finalist in the 2011 USA Best Book Awards.

Barth recently closed her small antique shop but still sells collectibles from an antique mall in a small southern town close to her home. She promotes other writers with a writing guild, critique group, and an online Book Talk site.

A member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and an online blogger for Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act, you will find Barbara writing most days at her computer surrounded by a group of lazy pups napping nearby.

And now from the author herself:

I’ve always been a storyteller. In fact, many of my friends thought I should be a stand up comic. The problem is, while I am funny in small groups, I lack the confidence to stand in front of a crowd and talk. Writing takes care of that problem for me!

After my husband died, I found myself sending horrible e-mails to friends at god-awful hours late at night. Then I’d turn on music and relax. Within an hour, I’d send a follow-up e-mail saying, “never mind”.

I decided to channel that sadness and energy into writing. What started out as a way to clear my mind became a way of life. I found I loved writing.

After the initial outpouring of emotion, I had to pull my story together to make it readable. I had much to learn.

“Does the period go inside or outside the quotation marks?” I didn’t have a clue. As a reader I never paid attention to structure. I was not an English major. I did my research and soon became armed and dangerous to continue.

A New York Times Best Seller Author critiqued the beginning of my book at a writer’s conference.

“Barbara, you’ve killed your husband off three times in twenty pages. No one will care. They want to know what you are doing now. Why did you start to date so soon?”

I was crushed and embarrassed. When I read her notes later, I realized she liked my writing. It clicked in my head what she meant. I knew how to pull my story together.

My memoir “The Unfaithful Widow” turned out to be a funny book full of all the things I never thought I’d do again. No subject is taboo. It is a series of essays pulled together under the single theme of finding joy again.

I am currently working on my widow sequel, but widow won’t be in the title. I do want to share all the goodness that has followed my first year and how I have found a creative niche for myself.

If I can do it, you can do it. That is my message. Except, do it your way. We each are different in how we deal with life.

I still buy and sell antiques. It is hard to find a white space on my wall for all the vintage art. I rarely go on second dates. I need to loose weight. I am a dog hoarder. I write about these simple things on many women’s sites.

“My life is an open book.” That quote applies to me.

At a recent book club meeting I was asked, “Aren’t you afraid someone will talk about you?” I do write under my own name.

I laughed. “No. I’ve already said it all myself!”

There is a great freedom in sharing your heart with others if you are true to what you believe. I write from the heart and am grateful my audience enjoys my tall tales on life.

You can find more about Barbara and her writing via…

Author web: http://www.barbarabarth.netDog MagazineAmazon on paperback, also available on KindleHelen Ross Writes review from AustraliaBook Talk Blog for authors and interesting writing sitesLifetime Television The Balancing Act blog site. Readers can contact me directly: bb-bjd@comcast.net and on Facebook.

***

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with erotica author Elizabeth Cage – the four hundred and forty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 

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