Mirror Interview with Tim Therien

“Mirror, Mirror on the ceiling…”

Now that I have your attention, I don’t actually have a mirror on the ceiling. In fact, the only mirror in my apartment is the one in the bathroom. I take a quick look at myself once a day to make sure I’m presentable to the world, other than that I avoid mirrors with the fervor of a vampire. After reading the clever, witty and intelligent “mirror interviews” featured her at “Readful Things” I have to admit to being a little intimidated. For starters I am not a big fan of tooting my own horn. If I took tooting my own horn I might just have to get that mirror for the ceiling. That said; let’s get on to the crux of it, shall we?

On Poetry

Poetry is very near and dear to me and perhaps I will always be a Poet first and a Writer second. I do make a distinction between the two. Both may be mediums of the written word, but I believe Poetry is more akin to Music than to Prose, especially in its connection to the soul. While Prose may be poetic, it does not make it Poetry.

I am a big proponent of writing in Form, or at least having the ability to do so. I don’t think someone should be able to call themselves a Poet without first being able to express themselves in at least one of the Fixed Forms of Poetry. I am not anti-Free Verse, in fact most of what I have written was without thought of form, but I do believe most Free Versed Poems would have been better served being put into Prose.

On Writing

I take writing very seriously, probably more seriously than I should. I was almost illiterate when I left school at age 15 and taught myself to read and write. I take great pride in that accomplishment. People have called me a “Natural Talent,” but they did not witness the long hard years I’ve dedicated to this craft. It has taken more than thirty years to get from barely being able to fill out a job application to penning these words you now read. This in my mind is not talent, but perseverance. Writing has been my Life’s Labour and my Life’s Love.

Writing is so much more than sitting in a room and putting pen to paper. That is only a small part of it. The bulk of writing is living life, experiencing things, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It is these things that allow the Writer to relate to the reader. If someone cloistered themselves off from the world and wrote, none but the humble hermit would identify to the words.

The best advice I’ve ever received concerning writing would have to be “write like you speak.” It was in applying this advice to my writing that I discovered my literary voice. If I were to impart this advice myself, I would expand upon it and say “write what you think, but write like you speak.” In my opinion, just as important as literary voice is to a writer so too is the ability to express the things that are oft not expressed. Also I would tell the would-be writer to challenge themselves in all things writing. Lastly, write with the Reader in mind, but write the story you want to read.

On Editing

I am not a big fan of editing and not too long ago I refused to edit anything I had written outside of spelling errors and typos. I wanted to remain as true to the essence of what I had written as I humanly could. I do believe a lot of the soul of a piece of writing can be lost in the editing process. I write from the heart and rely on my gut and editing in my mind puts both into doubt. Editing is a game of second guessing ourselves and our instincts.

I have since moved on that position, at least as far as prose is concerned, but I still try to keep as much of that original draft intact as I can. I would call what I do now “Shading” and not editing. It is more akin to the artist who works in charcoal, first outlining his form and then filling it in to give it depth and three dimensions. The original lines remain, even if they have been shaded over.

On Marketing

I think it’s ridiculous to think that a writer must personally interact with every reader and potential reader out there. Really, it is unrealistic for an author with even a modest bit of success to be at the beckon call of their target market. It puts too much pressure on a writer. It also takes up too much time, time which could be better used to relate to the reader the way a writer should relate to a reader, through the written word, through Storytelling and through Poetry.

Writing, for me, has never been about commercial success. Truth is I am resigned that my success, if I am to have it, will most likely come after I have departed from this world. Many great and beloved writers have been misunderstood, even loathed in their own lifetimes. For me, my success will be measured by the ability of my words to stand the test of time.

I am not a big fan of self-promotion. It is, I’m afraid, a necessary evil for the self-published author, but it still feels like I’m pimping myself out and prostituting myself when I engage in the practice. So how then to gain exposure without selling my soul? This is something I haven’t found an answer for. I have contented myself with the belief that if I write something and if I put it out there and if it is truly worthy it will find its way into the hands and hearts of the Reader. That is a lot of ifs, but Life is full of ifs.

On Future Works

Since my move back to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after over a decade in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, things have been very hectic. I have spent most of the summer working on a book of Poetry (“Crossing Main”) and a Romance (“Forever: The First Epoch”) simultaneously and haven’t been getting very far with either. My life has settled down a little now and I have turned my focus to the Romance until November 1st when I will turn my attention to and again take part in NaNoWriMo to write the second installment of “The Scrolls of Sion.” I have also couple of other projects on the back burner that will see light at the first opportunity.

In 2015, at least two books can be expected from me. “The Scrolls of Sion: Broken Bloodlines” and “Forever: The First Epoch.” If at all possible I will also publish “Crossing Main.” Beyond that, I cannot say.

The opinions expressed here reflect the man in the mirror, me and no one else. In no way is what I say a reflection, or judgement of anyone else. In closing, I would like to thank Ionia for having me here on her wonderful blog.

Links to Books

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/434284

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-scrolls-of-sion-t-j-therien/1119459677

Links to Blogs

http://insidethepoetsmind.wordpress.com/

http://thescrollsofsion.wordpress.com/

The Bellingham Bloodbath by Gregory Harris

The Bellingham Bloodbath (Colin Pendragon Mysteries, #2)The Bellingham Bloodbath by Gregory Harris

After a captain in Her Majesty’s Guard and his young wife are brutally murdered in their flat, master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his partner Ethan Pruitt are summoned to Buckingham Palace. Major Hampstead demands discretion at all costs to preserve the repuration of the Guard and insists Pendragon participate in the cover-up by misleading the press. In response, Pendragon makes the bold claim that he will solve the case in no more than three days’ time or he will oblige the major and compromise himself.

Racing against the clock – and thwarted at every turn by their Scotland Yard nemesis Inspector Emmett Varcoe – Pendragon and Pruitt begin to assemble the clues around the grisly homicide, probing into private lives and uncovering closely guarded secrets. As the minutes tick away, the pressure – and the danger – mounts as Pendragon’s integrity is on the line and a cold-blooded killer remains on the streets…

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gregory Harris quickly became one of my favourite authors when I read the first book in this series. This book reinforced why I love his work, although I did find the lack of his dealings with the apparition of Sherlock in this book mildly disappointing. I thought the connections he made to the famous sleuth in the first one gave it a special quality that this one did not possess. Also, I missed Oscar.

Still, that being said, this was another witty, engaging romp through a dual mystery that kept me smiling and curious as I read. I love that he used pugs as the central stars of one mystery–my favourite dog breed.

The murder mystery (and the crime itself) was more detailed this time than the first go and I felt like the author was more comfortable in his skin. The homosexual angle of the book is still mild, although more prominent in this book and I think his two main characters work really well together and have the type of dynamic you want in a long term partnership–both professional and personal.

The thing that makes me love these books so much is the wit and charm of the characters. Ethan is full of wry observations and often makes me laugh out loud. Colin, seen mostly through Ethan’s eyes, is daring and crass, and often seems to pull clues out of thin air and make them work, and together they are an unstoppable force.

The mysteries are always intriguing and have lots of possible culprits at the heart of them, so it take a while to draw a conclusion. Overall, I just really like these books.

If you like mysteries that follow the Victorian England rules of proper gentleman and high society mischief, you can’t go wrong with these novels.

Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Mirror Interview: Jacob Airey

So Ionia had a brain fart. What? What you may say? How can this be? To tell the truth it happens all the time. I went on holiday and forgot the notebook that had all the scheduled interviews in it. So the 20th of August rolled around–also my birthday, coincidentally–and I didn’t seem to have an interview for that day. Since I forgot the book I couldn’t check to see who it was that was supposed to be the guest. Apparently the email was eaten in one folder or another. 3,000 plus emails a week that aren’t spam and another few thousand that are will do that, but no excuses. I goofed up. So thankfully, Mr. Airey is a kind soul and has offered me another chance to post his interview. I’m going to actually do it this time. Promise. I apologise for keeping you all from a great interview and to him for not posting as scheduled. :)

 

 Where are you from?

I was born in Beaumont, Texas, but I was raised in Dallas.

 

When did you first have an interest in writing?

I read an kid’s abridged version of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I was 8. About a year later, I read the full version and I loved it. I soon read all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and then I got into JRR Tolkien, Frank Peretti, Brandilyn Collins, HG Wells, CS Lewis, and on and on and on. These writers inspired me to tell my own stories.

Have you ever written a full novel?

Not like an eight-hundred page epic. I’ve written three novellas. One is a mystery, one is a supernatural thriller, and the last is a fantasy story. Plus, several short stories and poems.

Of the three novellas you’ve written so far, which is your favorite?

I would have to say the newest one. It’s about a prince and his fellow crown royals who are in a magical world filled with dragons and unicorns. The prince, however, is immune to magic of all kinds. To make matters worse, his kingdom gets taken over by an evil emperor and a sorcerer. That’s all you get.

Are they standalone?

The first two are, but the newest one is meant to be the first in a trilogy.

You do book reviews on your blog Lone Star Inspirations. Why is that?

Often times, critics are not writers, so they review from a consumer perspective which is great, but it often gives way to bias. I review fellow authors from a creative perspective without seeing them as competition, so it eliminates some of my bias. No bias can be totally erased, but I try to give everything I review a fair outlook.

What kind of headway are you making to get yourself noticed as an author?

I started another blog called Jacob Airey’s Librarium which is where I’m going to self-publish poems and short stories. I also have art gallery on there for my paintings.

Do you have a favorite genre?

I would say it’s a tie between science fiction and mystery, but I’ll read anything. I love period fiction, dramas, medical, thriller, fantasy, etc. I want to write in several genres as well.

Did you ever try to get one of your books published?

I tried to get the first one published and even got an agent. We were negotiating a deal with a publisher. Unfortunately, my agent abandoned my manuscript and the publisher wouldn’t talk to me without representation. After that, it fell to pieces. It was very discouraging.

Wow! Did it affect your writing?

In the worst way. I had already finished the second manuscript and done four drafts of it, but I was so discouraged, I stopped writing all together except for poems. I would start a project, but ultimately abandon it. I did this for about five years.

Five years? Whoa. What made you get out there again?

One of my teachers found out I was a writer and forced me out there. I did a creative project where I did my fifth draft of the second book and renamed. After that, I got the fire back and I started my third project which is completed, but I’m still drafting it.

What would you say to authors who have had that encounter or worried they could be next?

I would say, do not repeat my mistake. I stopped writing and that was terrible. I mean, my poems were great, but it felt like something was missing. Writing is something I did to make me feel alive and for other writers out there, don’t let discouragement haunt you and keep you from writing like it did me. That is the worst thing you can do! Sit up straight, fix your eyes, shake it off, and then grab a pen or laptop! Let it flow from you!

That’s all the time we have for today! Thank you for joining us.

There’s only one person here.

Say what? Hey, no one’s laughing.
Yeah, that was a bomb.

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

Five Days LeftFive Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

“A beautifully drawn study of what is at risk when you lose control of your own life.  Unique, gripping, and viscerally moving — this impressive debut novel heralds the arrival of an extremely talented writer.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller and Lone Wolf

Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.
Mara Nichols, a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and adoptive mother, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most. Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance, the power of relationships, and that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not one of those books that I want to run around yelling to everyone that they should read. It isn’t a bad book, but rather an emotional one where the characters spend a lot of time reflecting on their own lives, the choices they have and will make and ultimately, it is kind of sad.

Still, the author put a lot of effort into creating characters that anyone could identify with and feel something for, and I was glad I read this book. I learned a lot about a disease that I formerly knew little if anything about. I came away with a sense of being better informed, even though this novel is fictional.

I had mixed emotions about this book. For the most part it was clean writing, other than some repeat phrases, and the story made perfect sense. Watching the world of the characters crumble was difficult to handle, wishing the entire time that life was not so cruel. The author achieved her goal of making the reader feel something, and yet I wasn’t sure I “enjoyed” reading this book. At times it made me feel rather hopeless.

This is a book that I think some people will love and others (those who enjoy more lighthearted fiction) will not like as much. I’d recommend it if you enjoy stories that come from the heart, but are not all sunshine and daisies.

I think Julie Lawson Timmer has a lot to offer the writing world and look forward to seeing what else she comes up with.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley.

Guest post and review: Maggie Anton’s Enchantress, A Novel of Rav Hisda’s Daughter

Today, I am so pleased to welcome Maggie Anton to Readful Things for a guest post. The topic is an interesting one for authors and audiences alike. The border between fiction and non-fiction–how real is too real? The check below the guest post for a review of Enchantress. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the guest post topic, so feel free to drop a line with your opinion.

How real is too real?

Because the heroines in my Rashi’s Daughters trilogy [11th-century France] and Rav Hisda’s Daughter duo [4th-century Babylonia] are historical figures, I tried to write so they behave like real women in their times. This entailed months of research to ensure that I described them and their world as accurately as possible. And because I am a stickler about not closing the doors on my characters, it meant that they use the privy, menstruate, suffer in childbirth, and see children die young.

 

I admit that I seem to be a rarity among historical novelists in this regard, as only rarely does one even mention when a girl starts her period. Yet this is a significant point in any woman’s life, and if she is a Jewish woman, it will be a central part of her marital relationship for years to come. I’ve also read plenty of historical romances that take place centuries before modern medicine, when average life expectancy was less than forty years and 40% of children didn’t reach their tenth birthday, yet none of the characters, even minor ones, catch so much as a cold, let alone suffer a serious illness or injury.

 

Still I drew the line at too much reality. Rashi, the great Jewish scholar from whose commentaries I learned a great deal, describes six kinds of fleas and lice, but I decided to leave that out. Apparently nearly everyone lost teeth as they aged, so a large portion of adults had none or only a few. I left that out too.

 

On a positive note, real married women have sex, mostly with their husbands. Since I only write kosher sex scenes, my heroines only sleep with their husbands, and that is after they get married. To keep things real, not all my heroes are good in bed, at least not at the beginning, and sometimes my heroines are sexually frustrated. As may be surmised, I don’t like to close the door on my characters, and that included the bedroom door. In other words, I left little to the reader’s imagination.

 

I make an effort to describe my characters’ meals, clothes, and dwellings in detail. This not only makes my historical novels come to life, but readers are usually more fascinated than bored by this glimpse into the past.

 

But sometimes the author shouldn’t make things too real. If characters in a novel spoke like people really do, with all the “uh’s,” pauses, and “you know’s,” readers would close the book in a minute, if not sooner. Real everyday speech often includes blather about neighbors, relatives, and coworkers. But dialogue in a novel must set the scene, elucidate character, or advance the plot – and if it does more than one of these at a time, even better. Which means no inconsequential conversations like real people have.

 

Another difference between a fiction and reality is that in real life we meet all sorts of people who pass though our lives without making an impact. Indeed these are the majority of individuals we interact with each day. But every character in a book, even minor nameless ones, should serve a purpose. In early drafts of my first novel I created a horde of secondary characters for my hero and heroine to encounter in the course of their daily activities. My editor made me either delete them or at least leave them nameless, for otherwise my readers would expect them to turn up again or have some important role, and be sorely annoyed when they didn’t.

 

Thomas Hobbes penned a well-known saying, “Life is poor, nasty, brutish and short.” True as that may be, if historical novelists focused on characters whose lives fit that description, we would have few readers. Readers want a happy, or at least satisfying ending. When characters die, other than of old age or in their lover’s arms, it should be a redeeming sacrifice or to show the antagonist’s malevolence. In the third volume of Rashi’s Daughters, I created a scene detailing the massacre of Rhineland Jews during the First Crusade. I used a description from a primary source, an “eye witness” account, but the carnage was too strong for my editors, who had me tone it down. Reality was indeed too real to put in my novel.

 

The well-written historical novel includes just enough reality to take readers on a mental vacation to a time and place they could never experience otherwise, all from the comfort of their climate-controlled homes equipped with indoor plumbing and well-stocked medicine chests.

 

Enchantress: A Novel of Rav Hisda's Daughter

Enchantress: A Novel of Rav Hisda’s Daughter by Maggie Anton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initially I was afraid that taking this book under my review wing would be a little scary. The amount of knowledge I had prior to reading this novel when it came to Jewish history could have been held in a shot glass. Even so, through Maggie Anton’s magical abilities as a storyteller, I found myself immediately immersed in a world of long ago with characters so rich and vibrant that they dance off the pages.

The way this author interweaves her story with historical threads and uses such beautiful imagery and wonderful word choices kept me up late at night turning pages. She not only has a gift for making you see the world of her characters through words, but also has a real talent for making her characters vulnerable and human at the core level. Reading her writing is a journey, and one that you will want to repeat again.

I loved that the story took unexpected turns and that there was no way to know what was coming next. What I thought at first, would be a rather difficult book to read, instead turned out to be exciting, compelling and a fine example of literary genius.

My only stumbling block along the way was the difficulty of keeping certain characters straight. There is a guide in the beginning to help with that, so the troubles were really more my fault than that of the author (difficult to keep checking back on a Kindle ereader.)

Overall this is a beautifully crafted novel with plenty of reasons to make me recommend it. A great book from a very talented author.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and distributed through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton

The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery (Agatha Raisin, #25)The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you have not read any of the Agatha Raisin Mysteries yet, up to and including this one, you need to get caught up!

I loved this book. There is a healthy dose of humour all the way through it and the characters are not only memorable, but a lot of fun. I love unique mysteries where you feel as though you haven’t read it all before in one form or another. M.C. Beaton has a way of making everything that happens feel like it is original.

If you are a fan of the cozy mystery, this will satisfy you without being overly ‘precious’ or silly. I enjoyed watching the events unfold as the story was told and going through the process with the main character. The story takes plenty of unexpected turns and will leave you wanting the next book right now!

This is a fun book that will keep you guessing. I like characters with big personalities and Agatha Raisin is certainly one to fit in that category.

**Having an actual Englishman read this book aloud to you may also increase your chances of loving it, but is not necessary for enjoyment:)

Highly recommended, five stars well deserved.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Salt & Storm by Kendal Kulper

Salt & StormSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever find the perfect book at the perfect time? This was that book for me. I began reading this book during a holiday to the Western US Coast and it was absolutely perfect for the trip. The scenery described in it was so wonderfully written that I looked around at some points and felt like I was walking through the pages of the book.

The main character is very well written. It was easy for me to identify with her feelings and for me to like her. This story is written full of magic and surprises. If you are into magic realism and enjoy tales that feature family heritage and passed down secrets, this will surely keep enticing you until the very last page.

I loved this book. The love story was sweet and important to the decisions the main character made, but never felt contrived or overly forced. I enjoyed the secondary characters and thought the author did an excellent job of making them memorable.

The setting was great and the time period seemed appropriate to the feel of the story. I am very happy to recommend this book to other readers. If you are looking for something that will make you feel as if you have left the world you see every day and experience something new, this would be a great book to choose.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.