As Mallie’s marriage crumbles, she searches for her identity through religion. She falls in love with an unscrupulous priest counseling her, but bounces back and continues her journey of self-discovery. Her friend Jenny introduces her to spiritual retreats and workshops. The story nearly becomes a Christian self-help book multiple times, as it spends much time expounding upon the wisdom of the retreats and workshops. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent portrayal of a woman set loose from what she considered a solid foundation as a wife and mother in the late 70s. Having come unmoored, she must find a way to anchor herself without a partner to lean on and no job skills. The ending is credible, hopeful, and maybe a bit feminist. Gorman does a great job of showing Mallie’s emotions ricocheting around in her head, and how hard she tries to connect with the world around her. Though a bit insular, based on the Christian themes, this book tells a story of women who buy into the Mrs. degree, and how one breaks free after a crash and burn, definitely a worthwhile read. I was fortunate to receive this e-book from She Writes Press through NetGalley.
Jake pulled on the line reeling out. “I got one!”
“I see that.” I placed my pole in the holder and moved over toward him. He gets so excited, no matter how old we get. The kids are all grown and having kids of their own, but Jake still acts like a kid at Christmas every time he hooks a fish. I love going fishing with this man.
He grabbed the fish, a decent size, not one I could name. It was a color and shape I couldn’t quite place.
“What is it, Jake?”
He held it up and looked closer, the fish inexplicably still in his hands.
And then it spoke, “I will give you three wishes if you throw me back.”
We froze, gawping at it.
Finally, I took a breath and whispered, “Did you hear that?”
We looked at each other and frowned.
Jake stated firmly, “I wish this fish to be gone.”
I swear the fish grinned before it replied, “You cannot wish me out of exi—Aaaaaaaah!”
Jake threw it as far as possible.
I hugged my man hard and whispered, “Thank you,” into his ear.
He sighed and retorted, “That shit never works out well.”
I met Bill on Facebook. He’s unique, pragmatic, wryly funny, and shares lots of mushroom pics amongst his politics. Oh yeah, he’s also a pretty talented writer. He’s always surprising me, in his books, online, and here in his interview. Read about his process and creativity; then read his books. You’re welcome.
Tell me about your writing process—schedule, environment, strategies / techniques, inspirations material and abstract—and if this process differs based on genre / format (I know you write fiction and non-fiction, novels and short stories, essays and memoirs). Also, I think you’re a pantser, yes?
My process shifts from project to project and even within projects. Right now I’m working on a new novel and just finding small blocks of time to operate in, sometimes five or six a day, at any time, like waiting for my daughter at ballet class, just out in the car with the laptop tapping away. I do have a studio and when things get serious I sit out there with the skunks. I do a lot of daydreaming and side reading and more and more social media, unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m not sure which. Politics has clouded my brain, as well, but we can’t sit idly by. I had to look up pantser. I am not a pantser, but draft multiply and give myself all the time in the world.
Walk me through your publishing process from final draft to final product, including who does what, how it differs for fiction and non-fiction, and what marketing you are expected to do as the author.
I hand in the draft, then start something new or return to something else in progress. Meanwhile, whatever editor reads it, usually too slowly for my taste, and comes back with notes. I attend to the notes fairly quickly when possible, send the pages back in and return to the new project. Usually at that point the old project is accepted. Next come copyedits, possibly a legal reading, then first-pass galleys, second-pass galleys, all while a cover is being designed at the publisher’s, and jacket copy being written, a publicity campaign designed, book tour scheduled, all that stuff, which I have little to do with except approval or disapproval. The book comes out, the tour starts, I go on TV and radio, all the while finding those little blocks of time to work on the new project.
Describe your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?
I don’t know if I have such a support system. I use social media to announce a new book. That helps. But the publicity department at publisher or magazine has the job of cheerleading, though I do wave my pom-poms.
I too have an interesting background of employment (including llama care) giving me insight for specific storylines. How has your background prepared you for your writing career, and how does your life influence your art and vice versa?
Experience is probably nine-tenths of the game when it comes to fiction. Nonfiction is the experience. I remember consciously living an interesting life back there in my twenties, and forgiving myself all sorts of wasted hours. I find I still want my life to be my art, and vice versa. But so much of life is sleeping, and so much more doing stuff you’d rather not.
What do you love most about your creativity?
It’s nice to be able to do things, from building my houses to collecting mushrooms to napping properly. I want to be able to do everything I do reasonably well. This had led to a lot of hobbies, and as I get older, less and less time to pursue them. But in the end I’m hoping it all adds up to one big art project, my life.
Connect with Bill:
Gilly has “visions” that she can’t control and often only frustrate her with their lack of useful details. Jake pushes her to help him find his daughter Zoe who’s been kidnapped, because he doesn’t understand how Gilly’s visions work. Both of their pasts come creeping in to haunt them, endangering Gilly as well. Sissell writes compelling characters with complex backgrounds, which are shared with beautiful and timely exposition, exploring how far-reaching the consequences of poor judgment and denial. The ending’s revelation is astonishing, and heartening, in its humanity. Fans of Diane Chamberlain and Kristin Hannah will appreciate Sissel’s work. It’s a definite must-read!
These stories of young women—a step-daughter with an evil step-brother, a disillusioned intellectual, a literary feminist teen, a misplaced mother, and even a queen—trying to retain their spiritual essence in a patriarchal world are gorgeously written and illustrated. They read as fairytales, with villains and heroines, a defined delineation of good vs. evil, fantastic realms, a bit of magic, and even actual fairies. Fans of the Brothers Grimm, and especially readers of Angela Slatter, will appreciate the unique flavor of Pavlikova. I was fortunate to win this beautiful ebook through a Goodreads giveaway.
I met Chuck through Brian Barr, another natural storyteller, on Facebook. Ya really gotta know how to use Facebook to meet wonderful artists. Chuck has given a beautiful interview, and I’ve interspersed his brilliant work throughout his responses. Enjoy!
Tell me about your work process, including schedule, environment, materials, and inspirations, and walk me through a collaborative project—timeline and contributions—who does what when.
My work process varies project to project. With my creator owned titles, the front end of the project has me very involved with outlining, plotting, world-building and scripting. Then I hand the script off to the artist who then submits layouts/roughs, and finally the penciled/inked pages. The next step brings the page to a flatter who gets the page ready to send to the colorist. The final step is where I letter the page. I’m one of those writers who likes to letter my own creator owned titles. Lettering my own writing gives me the chance to improve the flow based on the nuances the art team brings to the project. Scheduling for such a project always depends on my finances, since every one of my creator owned titles is funded out of pocket from my day job (or shared expense if collaboration). No kickstarters. No patreon. And the unfortunate truth of Indie Comics is that sales will not pay for but a fraction of the money spent paying the art/coloring teams.
My collaborations have followed a similar process. For the Empress collaboration with the prolific AF Brian Barr, we alternated 4 issue arcs that each ended setting up the other writer’s arc. It’s been a real rewarding collaboration and we’re always on the same page creatively, which helps our separate ideas blend and mesh together seamlessly. My other major collaboration was the Western Trilogy (Snake, Bang Bang Lucita and Xibalba) with colorist Nimesh Morarji. Again, another great collaboration that if it we had the funds to continue, would have seen the release of 15 + issues between the three titles and a crossover title called Viperous Vixens (which have all already been scripted).
In what ways do you acquire work, and how do you come to collaborate? Talk about how a finished product comes together and becomes available for purchase.
When I decided to make comics, I just started making comics. It’s like they say, if you want to do it, then start doing it. However, I had a slight advantage over some other upstarts, because I had a background in filmmaking/screenwriting. Nevertheless, there are so many resources out there that if you’re really serious about making comics you can learn how to, and only by making them will you learn and hone you skill. You’ll always be your own worst critic. I know my first few scripts are so clunky compared to how I would write them now. Luckily, being my own letterer has allowed me to fix any of the issues. As a letterer, I found the best way to get experience was to letter other creator friends’ books and do some freelance lettering gigs. For one thing, it made me appreciate the importance of pith in comic book dialogue. Saying more with less words is essential. Let the image tell the story too!
To get a title released as an Indie Creator, you first need to put the book together using the professional standards (resolution, page size, safe zones etc). If you want to submit digitally to ComiXology, it’s essential to make sure there aren’t any errors. They will reject a book for an error or an unprofessional finish. Best thing about being alive today in the Indie Creator world—you don’t need a publisher to make your book available digitally… and there are ways to have it available in print. My books are all on a Print On Demand (POD) site called Indy Planet. They will accept submissions via the ka-blam printing service.
Describe your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?
If there is anything I can say about the Indie Comic online community that I’ve associated with, it’s that they are amazing. I’ve never seen such a supportive community. And now with social media, there are ways to meet and collaborate with people all over the world.
My biggest cheerleaders seem to be fellow creators (shocking, I know). Some in particular have been very encouraging and supportive. There are places to meet other creators, like the ICC on Facebook. I have a nephew who is a HUGE fan. I mean really HUGE fan. He acts like I would if I met my favorite writer. He likes to have deep discussions about the characters and he notices the right things and even tries speculating where the story is going. Very cool to have that kind of engagement from a young reader.
How has your background prepared you for this career; how does your art influence your life and vice versa?
I’ve always been a storyteller at heart. Though the medium has varied (screenwriting, short stories, etc.), writing comics has been my favorite. With comics, you have the ability to bring anything you can imagine to life… unlike screenwriting, which limits you to budget and practicality.
What do you love most about your creativity?
I don’t really appreciate my own creativity on a project until I can see the finished product. And as I’m sure most comic creators will say, there’s nothing more satisfying than holding a print copy of your finished book. Then psychologically it becomes something real. I love working with my art teams. I’ve been lucky to have artists that can take the scripted elements and make them better on the page.
Connect with Chuck:
Life hasn’t gone as planned for Kim and Matthew—Matty—Savage, and their marriage comes to a screeching halt in their cabin in the woods, a world away from Kim’s vamp movie career and Matty’s screenwriting failures in LA. Matty shoving Kim into a glass cabinet with their daughter Rebecca—Bex—a witness demarcates the before and after. A decade later, Kim calls her ex-husband and estranged daughter to the cabin, where they are attacked by supernatural creatures they must fight metaphysically to survive.
The story opens with a sad, but realistic, portrayal of an unhealthy family dynamic. After the divorce, the couple and their daughter are ensconced in their own ugly realities. Enter speculative elements attacking dad and daughter at the family cabin, scary fairies from a book mom gave daughter, who relegated the horrifying Hungarian tome to the annual vacation cabin. All the characters are forced into their worst memories, opening up old wounds and creating opportunities to reconnect. This novel, despite its horror genre, is really about how family goes awry on a foundation of secrets and miscommunications. It turned out to be more substantial than expected, and the writing flows well.
I was fortunate to receive a copy of this delightful story through a Goodreads giveaway.
Rae’s a screwup—according to Rae. To her family and friends, she spreads herself too thin and holds unrealistic expectations for herself. When you don’t even fit into your own family, it’s hard to feel at home anywhere. Plus, peopling is hard; animals are easier. Then a woman jerks her bike in front of Rae’s car—the thump and bump of driving over a human drives Rae to feel responsible for her, though eyewitnesses say she couldn’t have avoided hitting her. The mysteriously damaged woman and a houseful of pre-weaned kittens overwhelms Rae. The romantic interest introduces her to his new-agey gran, who explains Rae to herself, guiding her onto a healthier path. This is a wonderful story of the complexities of life, the importance of connecting with others, and how everyone must find their own way, not to mention that communication is key. King’s writing draws you in and wraps you in a big, fluffy blanket of ambiguities, yet dear reader leaves her work somehow better equipped to traverse these gray areas. King’s talent makes the words disappear as the story flows through the reader, while letting us know that often others see us more clearly than we can see ourselves. Highly recommended!
My joy was in receiving this ebook in a giveaway. Check out King’s work on her website, where you can find links to purchase her books: https://www.kerryanneking.com/
They destroyed the cities first, which made sense. The noise, light, and material pollution invaded their dens. Hearing a dragon cough is bowel-freezing, heart-stopping. They snort freaking fire! This is how they razed the cities, breathed fire onto them until they were ashes. No more pollution. It was a purge the ruralites cheered.
Last week, the second purge took the small towns. Prevention? Nobody knows. But we’re staying on our farms and practicing total self-sufficiency.
I met Julie in Bloom, the readers group for Tall Poppy authors. She exudes positivity and encourages everyone to be their best selves, enlightening us with her expertise and wisdom. Listen to her TEDx talk: Know Thyself: Two Questions That Will Change Your Life. Julie is a ray of sunshine through the clouds. Her novels take on tough issues, focusing on relationships and communication, with unconditional compassion. If you’re Christian, you’ll appreciate that her faith is woven throughout her novels and her children’s books. I believe Julie lives her faith.
Elaborate upon your writing process.
My process has been different for each book. When my children were younger, I wrote while they were sleeping, never wanting to miss a moment of motherhood. I have had various stages of my writing life, usually squeezing the work into the wee hours of the morning before I would start my hectic day as mother, teacher, speech-language pathologist, organic farmer, etc. Now, I am grateful to be writing and editing full-time. My children are grown, and the entire process is much less intense. I tend to go with the flow and let the creative dance take me where it pleases.
Describe your publishing process, including your publishing team.
Oh, goodness. I could write an entire book explaining the countless people involved in getting a story from an author’s brain to a reader’s hands. It truly is an incredibly complex process, and I learn something new about it every day.
Tell me about your support system and how you came to be a Tall Poppy.
I’m incredibly honored to be a part of the Tall Poppy Writers. As female authors, we cheer one another through the many hurdles involved in publishing, always eager to elevate one another’s work and to lift our voices as a united tribe. Since daring to publish my first books, I have found most authors to be extremely supportive and encouraging at every turn. It’s been a wonderful career, and the best part about it has been the positive relationships I have been blessed to form with writers and readers alike. Fabulous people at every turn.
It’s wonderful how you use your author platform as a medium to serve others through education, disseminating information and raising awareness for social issues. Explain the intertwining of your life, advocacy, and writing.
Thank you, Lael. I do believe in the healing power of story, and I try to give voice to those whose truths have been silenced or shamed. I don’t shy away from difficult topics, but I also believe a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” and I try never to be voyeuristic or profane.
My work has tackled tricky issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, mental illness, suicide, human trafficking, etc. I have been inspired by the many positive reader responses I have received through the years, the conversations my stories have sparked in book club meetings, and the impact these fictional tales have had on the lives of many.
I am passionate about encouraging others to live the life they were born to live, to establish healthy relationships, and to know the difference between “love” and abuse. If my stories help people heal, find freedom, or love one another, then I am grateful to play a small part of that process.
What do you love most about your creativity?
As a very young girl, I learned to rely on writing as my way of processing the world around me. I can’t imagine my life without a creative outlet. I spend hours every day reading and writing. It’s just part of my very being. Aside from writing, I also enjoy painting, gardening, creating music, and taking part in other creative activities. While I’m not very good at doing any of them, I never allow my limited abilities stop me from enjoying the creative process.
Honestly, I believe we have each been given creative tools to help guide our emotional and spiritual development. These tools help us manage anxiety, establish greater levels of empathy for others, and develop a broader understanding of our place in this miraculous universe.
I encourage everyone to create something every single day. Whether it’s a meal, a photograph, a song, a piece of furniture , a quilt, or a story… offer something new to this world that no one else can offer. Explore your talents and see where your gifts will take you. I dare you!
Connect with Julie: