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Entries in #blogtour (1)

Monday
Aug182014

A Stop on the Virtual Blog Tour

It's been awhile! But I've been busy working on a new manuscript (a bit more below) and keeping my head above water. Some months are simply like that. And so I'm very grateful for the invitation that came my way from my former grad school colleague and wonderful writer Rashaan Alexis Meneses to join a blog tour in progress. 

Via Rashaan's site, and with a nod to the writer who tagged her, Barbara Jane Reyes, here's what a blog tour entails:

The “virtual blog tour” is an excellent, friendly way for writers, artists, and other creative folks to bring attention to their own work as well as that of others. It begins with an invitation from another artist or writer. Then in your blog you acknowledge the person who invited you, answer four given questions about your work and your process, and then invite three other people to participate. These people then do the same thing, referring their blog readers to the blogs of three more people, and so on. It’s a wonderful sort of “pyramid scheme” that’s beneficial for everyone: the artists and writers as well as the readers of their blogs. We can follow links from blog to blog and then we can all learn about different kinds of creative process and also find new writers and artists we may not have known about before.

So! First to introduce Rashaan. Rashaan is my blogging inspiration and the founder of Ruelle Electrique, an online literary salon. Her imagination is vast--global, in fact, and she's got all sorts of projects in the works, from analyzing Elizabethan transculturation to a manuscript about Filipino cruise ship workers, the latter one that I've been lucky enough to catch glimpses of in progres. And one of the best parts of our literary friendship has been watching her work find its place in the world. Most recently, her short story "The Others Are Strangers," appeared in the winter 2014 issue of the journal New Letters. Inspired by her recent residency in Scotland, this piece continues her project of exploring her truly global imagination. It's well worth a read.

From "The Others Are Strangers":

Despite all these dates that floated in his head, a constellation of facts with no clear order, Ewan could remember but a faint memory long, long ago, of himself, Callum, Mum, and Dad there at that rickety kitchen table, the same humming refrigerator knocking noise into their Friday dinner, as Dad kept shadow-boxing, showing Ewan how to throw a punch. Was it what Callum said or his father’s reaction that made all four practically spit out their food in hysteria? It was a belly-holding kind of laugh, a giggle fever going round and round the table in fits. Ewan didn’t know the kitchen light could get so bright. He hadn’t seen cheeks so red from humor. Now he wanted that ache more than anything. A feel-good, stomach-stitched ache that pinched his cheeks and made him almost tear up. 

And as for the questions for me...

1. What are you currently working on?

Mainly, a currently-untitled novel about a girl who spends the entirity of World War I deep in the Canadian woods with her parents, and what happens when she comes back out again. I've been obsessed with the interwar period for a long time, and this character, and how she handles her dislocation from the major event of her generation, is proving to be a fascinating way into this world. Plus, there are Russian fairy tales and long, dark winters and possibly somewhat supernatural books. As there often are.

I do have some short pieces in the works, which is unusual for me, but I'm going with it. I'm also continuing my quest, though it can feel a touch Quixotic, to find a home for my first novel, A Ghost at the Edge of the Sea, in this climate-changing ecosystem of publishing.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I find that my work skews global, that I'm inspired by dislocation of all kinds, and that the reality we know tends to bleed into the supernatural, often without my conscious intent. If there's a ghost in my work, she's likely an actual ghost. Mainstream literary fiction so often tends towards realism, though that's changing a bit, but I've never been one for the quiet moment of revelation on a benign suburban evening type of story, as a writer or as a reader. It feels hubristic for me to say that I'm the only one doing this, or even that it sets my work apart--A Tale for the Time Being is, after all, one of my favorite books I've read this year, in which Ozeki delivers a gorgeous supernatural and persistently global tale of coming to terms with dislocation.  I hope to add to the growing body of work in this spirit.

3. Why do you write/create what you do?

One could say that the dislocation fascination comes from near-constant moves, especially as a child. One could also point to various English degrees, etc. But really, I've been telling stories, and writing them down, since I could hold a pencil. It's simply innate to my own being. It feels as necessary as exercise when it comes to clearing my head and finding some sort of internal peace. So I try to do it as well, and as often, as possible.

4. How does your writing/creative process work?

During the year I lived in Stockholm and didn't work full time, I could have probably given a better, or more detailed, answer. But now that the day job has returned and my life continues to fill with various additional mammals who need to be exercised and fed, it's a bit more catch-as-catch-can. However, for the first time in a long time, my day job is not academic. While I miss teaching a great deal, I've found that the current routine does allow for more persistent progress. My current goal is five hundred words five days a week. It's not something I've tried before, but it's working for me. Five hundred words, for me, is easy enough that I'll sit down, even if time is short, even if the time and place is less than ideal, and bang them out. And usually, I end up with more than five hundred.

Right now, that very pragmatic answer is the most honest, and since I'm focusing on producing a new manuscript, it's also proven effective. But if we step away from numbers, this project is always in the back of my mind, percolating, and I'm very aware of that, often tossing ideas or images into my subconscious to see what comes back out. As a college writing professor once told me, don't make the mistake as a writer of forgetting to live, or you'll run out of material. And when the stars align, I absolutely love to sit down at my desk, which is covered with bits and pieces of inspiration, light a candle, and get to work.

And now, for more writers! I've chosen these four not only because they inspire me as writers, but because they inspire me with their blog presence, for one reason or another. I won't tell all the reasons--you should check out their work yourself--so without further ado, the introductions:

Mary Volmer is the author of the novel Crown of Dust. She was the recipient of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to the University of Wales, and a Chester Aaron and an Agnes Butler Scholarship in creative writing at Saint Mary’s College, California. Mary has also been awarded fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook. Her essays and non-fiction have appeared in various places, including Mutha Magazine, Women's Basketball Magazine, and NPR's "this i believe series." Her most recent short fiction will appear in The Farallon Review in the fall (2014). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is happily at work on her second book.

Allison Landa is a Berkeley, CA-based writer of fiction and memoir. She earned an MFA in creative writing at St. Mary's College of California and has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Playa Summer Lake, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and The Julia and David White Artist's Colony. Her memoir, BEARDED LADY, is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary Agency. Visit her at www.allisonlanda.com.

Kim Golden is an expat American writer based in Stockholm, Sweden. Her latest novel, Maybe Baby, is a finalist for the 2014 Readers' Favorite Book Awards. Find out more about Kim and her writing at http://kim-golden.com.

Ron Pavellas has written essays, poetry, memoirs, and short stories since 1993, and is currently focused on a novel set in the future. Since 2007, Ron has published several blogs, the main one,The Pavellas Perspective, containing articles on geopolitics, government, history, and world affairs. A Few Words is devoted to creative writing. In all, his blogs have received over 250,000 views. He has self-published three books of short writings, available for view at this site. Several of Ron’s poems have been published by local poetry groups in California, and one on the website of Contemporary Haibun OnlineRon has given readings of his poetry in the Southern San Francisco Bay Area and in Stockholm. His other interests include appreciation of symphonic and chamber music. He writes articles on music in Making Musical Memories. He has been a member of the Stockholm writers Group since 2007.

Check them out!