Thanks to my Southwest Writers membership, Anna Padilla connected with me for this interview. Click on this link to read an interview KL Wagoner did a while back. I’m so appreciative of these opportunities.
This is my way of procrastinating. I have every intention of starting a new novel that’s been churning around in my head for a while, and I started working on a book of inspirational prose and poetry entitled, Echoes. And then stopped.
But I digress. This is about filling one’s time in the age of COVID. Lower case or uppercase? Depends on how pissed off I am when I’m typing the word. The restrictions caused by this pandemic keep loved ones from being with the people they need most – family. It makes me crazy, and yet… I know people in medical care of any kind are more vulnerable and I do not want my dear one to be exposed to the virus, so not being with him is in his best interest… I guess. I feel as though I am in isolation as well, which is ridiculous. I can – and do – get out and about, but life isn’t the same without him by my side. Enough of that!
And back to the topic. I’ve been doing other things to occupy my time, instead of writing. Well, not really, if you follow this blog you know I write now and then, essays and poems, and about local folks and how they are coping with Covid-19. But some of what I’ve been up to has nothing to do with writing at all: keeping my potted plants alive in this dry, dry weather; trimming the indoor plants so my patio doesn’t turn into a jungle; cleaning closets; working with Patti Romero and Susie Tsyitee (and now Mary Rose Henssler) in the development of the Las Vegas Literary Salon series of events for writers and readers; church committees and projects… and a real departure for me, painting furniture. I was inspired by Juli Salman and Angela Meron who are WAY better at this than I am, but it was something to do and I wanted to try it out. I’m also dabbling in watercolor, but we won’t go there. I’m a little heavy-handed with the brush.
Anyway, the table belonged to Bob’s mom. It has been painted and repainted a number of times. I suspect there is decent wood under all the layers, but I decided to give it a bit of flair, with what I consider to be a fairly decent result. It is perfectly imperfect in every possible way. Close inspection will reveal some quirks and mishaps, but I consider these to be marks of unintended panache.
The table has gone from being functional as a plant stand to being… I don’t know what the heck! Anyway, the table has been transformed and my writing is waiting in the wings. My book, Echoes is taking shape; I just need to get back to it. I’m writing a review of Ray John de Aragon’s latest publication, Eerie New Mexico, and will have an interview with him on my blog sometime next week. This is in advance of his spot as a guest on the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Zoom A Visit With the Author, Sept. 27 from 4-5 p.m. And yes, this is an invitation to register and be in the virtual audience. Go to firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Type September Salon in the subject line.
Back to the table. I really enjoyed working on this piece. It took me about a week, not counting the drying time between coats of shellac. And it fired up my brain with writing ideas, so in terms of writing, it was not a complete loss. (Smiley Face Here!) Mostly it energized my flagging spirit. When you have a family member (in my case members) dealing with illness and you can’t be there physically, it does drain you and whittles away at your resolve to be upright and bright. You know what I’m talking about; having a positive attitude goes only so far when the control you thought you had is taken away. Covid-19 did that to many of us. Ask any business person, health care practitioner, those who have lost a jobs… You get it. You know what it means.
What the perfectly imperfect table did for me is help me remember that I’m not the sum of current circumstances; I am someone who knows that defeat is the end game only if I let it be. I have a choice every day to use what God gave me and make the most of it. So, back to writing and back to being creative in the best way I know how. I’m not the bubble gum pink table, I’m the bright new-looking one with something to say. I hope. Anyway, I will be doing it in my perfectly imperfect way.
Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated. I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.
Poet Kathleen Lujan has carried her passion for the written word with her from childhood. It was where she focused her education and career trajectory.
Lujan has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and History, a Master’s Degree in American Studies (Southwest History and Literature) from NMHU, where she taught for four years. She also taught for 10 years at West Texas A&M University, where she received a Teaching Excellence Award in 1998-1990.
Lujan developed a writing and reading process called the ARQ (Active Reading Quest), which she presented at a seminar at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and presented to teachers during two-day seminars in New Mexico. She taught Language Arts at Coronado High School for two years and then five years at Lybrook School as the project coordinator for literacy for Alaskan and Native American children.
She is an awarding-winning educator who has conducted studies and seminars in India, England, Scotland and Italy, and served as adjunct faculty for Navajo Technical University to teach AP composition class at Alamo Community. She has always made time for writing with a focus on poetry. Her recently release chap book of poetry, Puddles of Years, is available from the author. Email her at email@example.com for details.
Lujan will be the featured writer at a Zoom Las Vegas Literary Salon event on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 4 p.m. The Zoom link for the event is here.
Q: What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Lujan: My father taught me to read at the age of five and I developed a passion for reading. I loved Greek and Roman Mythology. I had two red, cloth-bound books of mythology, which were at least five pounds apiece, and read them from front to back. I loved Homer, Hawthorne, Austen, Bronte, du Maurier, Dickinson, Keene… among so many others. I was a voracious reader. Even today, I usually have three novels going at the same time.
Q: Did you write as a child?
Lujan: I started writing poetry when I was about 12. I loved the rhythm and sounds of words and saying so much with so little.
Q: How did you get started as a poet?
Lujan: At age 12, because of Emily Dickinson and her lyric poem: Success.
Q: Do you find writing easy?
Lujan: The only time writing is easy is to be totally in the present moment and letting the words come; not forcing the words to appear. And that’s not easy!
Q: How did you manage to fit writing in with other demands on your time? Are you good at managing your time?
Lujan: Teaching, consulting, and traveling consumed large portions of my time, but I would always carry paper and a pen or find a napkin if a line or idea hit me in a restaurant, at a seminar, or during a class. I had pieces of candy bar wrappers and cocktail napkins that would have my scratches on them. I would empty out my purse on a Sunday, usually, and write poems from the lines I had scribbled down.
Q: Who are your favorite living poets?
Lujan: My absolute favorite poem is on my refrigerator door held up by a portrait magnet of Frida Kahlo. The Everlasting Self, by Tracy K. Smith. You can find it on poets.org.
Q: How do you prepare yourself for writing?
Lujan: P.P.P. (Prior Proper Planning). I never know when an emotion or a tanager or a kiss will inspire a poem, so trying to always have pen, paper, or now, a phone, to jot down the initial true thought or feeling is essential.
Q: What do well-written poems have in common?
Lujan: I can only speak for myself and what calls me to read and reread what I believe is a well written poem. The “show me don’t tell me” aspect, a rhythm, which matches the image, idea, or emotion being expressed, and a required quiet to read and reread slowly to savor the words.
Q: Talk about your recently published chap book of poetry, Puddles of Years.
Lujan:Puddles of Years is a compilation of poems which have been previously published and written over a twenty-year period. My sister kept after me to publish, and after my sister died last September, I was encouraged to retire and do what she asked me to do: finish the chapbook. I also received, from my brother, a folder kept by my father of all the poems I had written since I was twelve. No one in the family knew about the folder, myself included, until Dad died. When my brother went through his desk, he found it. He sent it to me and encouraged me to keep writing and complete the chapbook. Thus, the dedication to my Dad. I suggest the reader read the poems, enjoy, and take with you the sublime experience of poetry!
Yea! It is this close to publication! Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light, is the sequel to The Ballad of Bawdy McClure(now under the title Thunder Prime, Fog Island),published more years ago than I care to admit. Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light, has been a long time in the birthing.
Some readers will receive a print copy in the next week or so. Thank you to those who signed up to receive the episodes one-by-one over time as they posted on my website, www.vandermeerbooks.com. I hope you will all read the final version as some things have changed.
I can’t express how happy I am to get this into print. It’s a good read with strong characters and a story that could be told in any era, this just happens to occur in the distant future. I read somewhere that space novels are really nothing more than westerns with rockets in the cowboys’ pockets.
I don’t know about that, but in most westerns the good guy wins and rides off into the sunset with the girl. In this case, the cowboy is a girl and you’ll have to read the book to find out if she wins the day, and the guy.
Expected publication date: March 29, 2019. If you would like a review copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will appreciate you posting your review in all the obvious places, and providing me with a link to the review.
The book will be available in paperback and ebook formats.
My problem with writing has nothing to do with writing; it has to do with selling. Every book I have written is worth reading, the last one perhaps more so than the first three. Not because it is a better book, but because I learned a lot between book one and book four.
What I should have had for all my books is a good editor. Reality check here. As an indie author, I can’t afford an editor. A good editor is worth what he or she charges, no doubt about it, but given that I’m so horrible at selling my work, I’d never recover my costs. The argument in favor of an editor is that grammar and punctuation improve copy so it will sell better.
I have not read the books because erotica isn’t my cup of tea, so my statements here are based on reviews and commentary, written by people who write for a living. Many of them are baffled by the success of these books, which by some accounts are poorly constructed, have questionable content, and basic plot problems – as in there isn’t one. And yet, “50” and its sequels have netted author EL James A LOT OF MONEY! She has sold MILLIONS of copies and landed a lucrative deal for movie rights. I don’t know if she had an editor, but if she did, she paid her too much. What James does have is an identified audience looking for cheap thrills. Erotica sells.
So, what does it take to sell books? That is a very complex question. It helps that –
a) You have absolute confidence your book is the best thing that’s ever been written.
b) That you are willing to wring out of every one you know a promise to do a review (POSITIVE ONLY) and post it on Amazon and Good Reads and wherever else they can find to post it on your behalf.
c) Know your audience, or at the very least, have one.
First off, I hesitate to use friends to promote my work. Number one, I’m afraid they will feel obligated to say yes while thinking, “Is she kidding me? This thing is the worst thing I’ve ever read!?”
And second… forget it, I can’t get past number one. It’s the fear of “not being good enough” that plagues even accomplished writers.
The thing is, I believe my books are quite good. Good enough, in fact, to fly magically off the shelves without much help from me. Won’t happen. Like all authors, I must work at promoting my books every single chance I get, something I am totally not good at.
A second and equally important factor is that, “knowing your audience,” thing.
I may not be there yet when it comes to confidence, but identifying my audience is at a whole other level. People who like to read books? Hmmm, yes, but there is so much more to it. The whole genre thing drives me nuts. Plus I haven’t written just one kind of book. I’ve written the books I like to write. One is a book of inspirational reading, two are sci-fi, and the fourth is a contemporary novel about a women of a certain age.
In “Finding Family,” it is clear early on that Lilly Irish has never understood her worth to others. Following the death of her husband she becomes accustomed to living alone. She is stubbornly independent. And then her dead sister’s daughter and her three children arrive with their dog. Calm turns to chaos and along the way Lilly… well, if I said any more I’d be giving the story away.
This story is funny and sad, just like life. You will recognize the characters because they’re like all of us, trying to find their way in life, day-by-day. “Finding Family,” characters aren’t based on any one in particular, or any family in particular; it is grounded in the reality that no one is perfect. How these imperfect people come together makes for an entertaining and satisfying read.
And yes, this is a sales pitch for “Finding Family,” and a request that you buy it, read it, and post a review – brief or long – on Amazon and Good Reads and wherever else you can. I would like for it to be positive, but I would rather it be honest.
NOTE: I have Finding Family available for purchase. If you would like to order a book directly from me e-mail me at email@example.com. Book price is $19.99.