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Daily Archives: October 13, 2012

Author Spotlight no.127 – J Griffith Mitchell

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and twenty-seventh, is of multi-genre novelist J Griffith Mitchell.

After retiring from a twenty-five year career in designing award-winning custom lighting fixtures and light sculptures J. Griffith Mitchell moved to the Sonoma County wine country in Northern California, and turned to writing.  His first novel, a sci-fi endeavor titled THE GENES CONSPIRACY, will never be published, since in the intervening years most of what he had proposed in the book has become reality.

He is not a “genre” writer, but instead follows his feelings as to what needs to be said.  He formulates the beginning, middle, and end of a general theme and then lets his strong characters take over from there.

His currently published e-books are THE HOUSE OF INDISCRETIONS (a woman determined to keep her home, whatever the cost, through blackmail, prostitution, and converting it to a Prohibition-era speakeasy);

THE ROYLE BLUE BLOODS  (a four-generation dysfunctional family empire which eventually destroys itself through greed, blackmail, and murder);

JEREMIAH BASCOMB – A HEART DIVIDED (runaway orphan at fifteen, business mogul by forty, and a secret kept);

DEATH IN EDENVILLE (a heinous crime, its unforeseen ripple effect, and retribution through another unspeakable crime);

HOW WELL DID YOU KNOW STANLEY? (a zany romp through the adventures of an astute but introverted businessman seeking romance in strange places);

and POLA—A BIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL (based on the life of Pola Negri—from poverty to ballerina to stage actress to movie superstar and princess, with a backdrop of two world wars).

And now from the author himself:

Never having written before retirement, I decided to put on paper some thoughts I had for a science fiction novel.  When completed it was a short, not particularly well-written novel, and as stated in my biography, most of what it contained by now has actually transpired.

My next effort was THE HOUSE OF INDISCRETIONS, probably best described as a sort of family saga, with a very devious principal character who completely disregards convention and morality in her efforts to retain her mansion.  Next to be published was another dysfunctional family saga, THE ROYLE BLUE BLOODS, where greed, among other despicable things, brings down four generations of a very wealthy family.  This was followed by JEREMIAH BASCOMB—A HEART DIVIDED, again in the nature of a family saga, but concentrating most heavily on .the principal character, Jeremiah, and his adventures and accomplishments from runaway orphan at age fifteen to business mogul by age forty.

When I wrote DEATH IN EDENVILLE school violence was beginning to escalate, though there had as yet been no reported shootings, and, much as I didn’t want to write the book, I felt I had to–that the subject needed to be addressed and the book hopefully read.  It was copyrighted in January 1999, though not yet published.  The Columbine incident occurred the following April.

To take a break from more serious writing I did HOW WELL DID YOU KNOW STANLEY? with a lighthearted, rather zany, plot, and it was fun to write.  My most recent publication is POLA—A BIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL, based on the fascinating life of Pola Negri—from poverty to ballerina to stage actress to movie superstar and princess, with a backdrop of two world wars.  That also was a very enjoyable experience.

My next endeavor, now ready for publication, is THE HERITAGE TREE, an historical novel and extensive family saga.  The currently completed novel covers America’s evolution and history from 1671 to the very beginning of World War I as perceived through the eyes of the generations of the women of the family, always questioning why their men have to go off to war.

Generally speaking, I most enjoy writing “family sagas,” allowing the characters to develop themselves as I go along.  Usually I “write” chapters in my mind so that the concept for a chapter is nearly complete before I write the actual words.  Although I have a general visualization of my main characters when I begin a project, as the book progresses they often go off on tangents I hadn’t planned on.  Similarly, very often a presumed supporting or minor figure develops characteristics I hadn’t anticipated and assumes a much more important role in the novel.  A number of people who have read my books have commented that they would make excellent movies or mini-series, but I have yet to convince any filmmakers of this.

Like all writers I occasionally have writer’s block, but overall, writing for me is very fluid and actually the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done.

You can find more about Mr Griffith Mitchell and his writing via… http://jgriffithmitchellnovels.blogspot.co.uk, Facebook author page and Facebook novel page and his books can be found on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Kobo Books, Google editions and iBooks.

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The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with poet John Lavan – the five hundred and twentieth 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 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 and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in autobiography, ebooks, interview, novels, writing

 

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Short Story Saturday Review 014: Torn by Tracey Alley

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the fourteenth review in this series. This week’s review is of the 1,009-word short story ‘Torn’ by fantasy and thriller writer Tracey Alley, taken from her short story collection The Kaynos History Tales.

They say to start any writing with action, and although the first half of this story is slow, it is very intense with highly descriptive detail of our protagonist’s surroundings and situation. This gave it more of the feel of a chapter beginning which allows for an elaborate unwinding, but there’s no doubt that we have empathy with the character, who until the second half is nameless. Some months ago a beta reader critiqued one of my short stories (which went on to be Aprils’ Fool) and said that I hadn’t named April until half-way through the story, and therefore felt more engaged with the character once she knew her name. I agreed and brought her name in at the beginning (also to connect with the title quicker). Whether a writer should do that or not may be a matter of opinion but something I probably notice more now than I would have done and something for authors to think about.

I mentioned titles (and I’m a big fan of them), short snappy titles work well (anything short and snappy should attract the reader’s attention) and ‘Torn’ is very apt for this story.

Knowing nothing about this piece before I started reading it I admit to being a little disappointed (especially after such a long build up) when the true nature of her predicament was revealed but then I’m mainly a crime writer (and reader), and clearly have a dark side, and it felt to me like the beginning of a crime novel until I read on into the second half and realised it had a fantasy element. The character here did seem to recover very quickly, given how much pain she had been in during the first half of the story which left me wondering whether she had imagined it. We’re not given an indication of her age but she felt immature which would fit with her actions and thoughts.

The dialogue is convincing and although I’m not a fantasy expert (far from it), the writing felt realistic.

Stories should have dilemma and there’s plenty of it here. As I mentioned earlier, it felt like a chapter rather than short story and I wanted the story to continue, which is the sign of good writing. If the other stories in Tracey’s collection are of a similar vein, fantasy fans shouldn’t be disappointed.

Thank you Tracey for letting me read your story.

Tracey Alley was born and raised in QLD, Australia but caught the travel bug quite early and lived in Melbourne and Christchurch, New Zealand for a while. She considers herself a Christian, albeit a slightly esoteric, left of center one who also has a great amount of respect for Buddhist tradition and philosophy.

She’s infinitely curious about the world and her friends describe her as an intellectual butterfly as she flits from one topic to the next. She’s a pacifist, a little bit left of center and can, like most people, be very complex. She’s passionate about the things she believes in and believes firmly that you have to keep learning as you grow. So far she has two degrees and will likely do more study.

She believes she was born to be a writer and feels blessed that circumstances allow her to write full-time and still survive [although not on royalties yet :)]. She fell in love with words at a very young age and is a voracious reader, often with two or three books on the go at the same time.

One little-known but rather interesting fact about Tracey is that on the paternal side her great-grandfather owned a circus. He was a lion tamer and worked with all the big cats and her great-grandmother was a trapeze artist and of Romany Gypsy blood. On her mother’s side of the family she was born into Scottish aristocracy.

Her website is http://traceyalley.weebly.com and her novels and short story collection The Kaynos History Tales are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I review stories of up to 2,500 words on this ‘Short Story Saturdays’ feature. 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.

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.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in critique, ebooks, review, short stories, writing

 

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