Do you have a special place to write?

As I was typing away on my new project yesterday, it occurred to me that I need certain requirements to enable me to think, create and write. Not much to be honest, but I do have  my special place to help me channel my inspiration. I have a comfy chair with cushions, gentle lighting from the beautiful leaded light windows my husband, Martin made and my shelf of reference books ready to hand. When all that is in place I can happily delve into my fantasy world for hours.

Here is a photo of my ‘workstation’.

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Do any other authors out there have their special writing places? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a picture, that would be even better.

I am currently working on a series of stories to complement my Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure books The Song of Forgetfulness.

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The idea came from several readers who contacted me after reading the books wanting to know more about the history of the world I have created. So, I thought, okay, why not?

Can of worms!

I needed to do a lot of research to make my history credible. So it has taken longer than I anticipated to write this prequel of sorts. In fact, I’m nowhere near done, but I have finished the first part, so that’s something.

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Here is a snippet from part two of The Chronicles of Mayer – out soon!

One weatherless night when quietness surrounded us and I lay snuggled against Paul, a sound awoke me. I thought at first it was just more thunder. But the thumping, rumbling noise was not coming from the sky. It was not the air echoing off a lightning bolt, but the thudding of many feet in unison. I rolled away from Paul’s sleep-twitching body and sat up. Glancing at the wet earth I noticed a puddle ripple. The cows called out. Paul stirred and Arjuna knelt beside me.

‘I was foraging for mushrooms and saw tiny lights. I climbed the branches of a tree and as the dark sky brightened to herald a new day, I saw them. Soldiers.’

‘How many.’ Fully awake, Paul stood. ‘Do they carry weapons?’

‘Guns. Some drag carts. They are coming this way.’

I rubbed my sleep-encrusted eyes. ‘That does not make sense. To travel towards the flooding? Why?

A single gunshot ricocheted through the forest. All that were in slumber jumped to their feet. Cries of puzzlement were met with a loud honking as if a nest of geese had been disturbed. Then a voice, deep and full of authority boomed out. ‘Stay perfectly still and you will not be harmed.’

If you would like more information about my books please do visit my website – Oddly Books.

www.oddlybooks.com

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Would you buy this book?

I have been working on my second short story collection for over a year now. I was going to publish it last Christmas, but like I said in my previous post, I got cold feet.

I have now finished it and will be publishing it on November 5th – Bonfire Night in the UK. May as well start with a bang!

Anyway, here is the blurb and cover. Would you buy this book?

Crow Bones:

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, incest, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint mist from a spray can.

 If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then Crow Bones is the anthology for you.

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I will also be launching my new venture – Oddly Books  where I will be publishing my own weird novels and stories as well as getting together other like-minded authors to produce quality fiction that strays beyond the edge of reality.

So, if you are an author who writes quality, speculative, strange stories, please do get in touch.

Here is a short extract form one of the stories in the new anthology

 Soft Boiled.

“The hiss and babble of a pot brewing up bones and gristle gave the kitchen a sense of bustle despite the stillness of the sole occupant.

Alice, fixed to her seat, did not waft her flushed cheeks, scratch the itch that made her thigh twitch or wipe off the sticky fluid on her fingers. She just sat, stared at the pan and let the blood drip.”

My first short story anthology – Glimmer and other stories – the ebook is on offer at the moment for only $0.99 £0.99. You can purchase it on Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

Or from a variety of sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:
Any author interested in the Oddly Book anthology, please do get in touch. My email is: nikki@nicolamcdonagh.com. Or leave a comment with a contact for me to get in touch with you.
Thanks for reading!!

Author Spotlight – Peter Scott

I have decided to do a series of blogs promoting new authors that live in East Anglia, in particular, Suffolk. Why? Because I live and work in this beautiful part of the country and have come to know a lot of new and established authors that also live here.

I have recently been hosting a series of workshops designed specifically for authors who are either new to publishing or new to marketing and promoting their author profile online. I have had the pleasure to meet several fabulous people who have self-published their books and are in need of some support.

So, to celebrate the varied talent from Suffolk and East Anglia I am proud to present debut Indie author Peter Scott and his novel Pimple.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself Peter:

I have lived through a period of considerable change, particularly social and demographic change. Joining RAF probably saved me from the local borstal, and set me up for a career in aircraft maintenance. This would have been about the time that ‘Bill Hailey and ‘The Comets’ came over to stir up our youth – including me. A first posting to Kenya jump started me into an awareness of a wider world and fascination for wild places which I was able to satisfy via various overseas contracts.  Later, following a period of self study and in a completely different role as a careers advisor it was rewarding to help young people come to rational decisions in a complex educational and working environment.

I suppose my de-fault position is that of a lucky so and so enjoying happy personal circumstances, but with a deep underlying foreboding about the massively growing numbers of our own species, many of which are programmed to inflict horror on each other and the natural world.

ABOUT PIMPLE – THE BOOK

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Pimple is about a very ordinary lad with limited self expression but great sensitivity. Quite unknowingly he is recruited into a hopelessly optimistic scheme to make the world a happier place. The scheme was devised years before his birth, and an extraordinary tune was created to act as a ‘recruiting agent’ tailored to select just the right band capable of creating music so inspirational it would create a global climate of love and co-operation.

As the story unravels Pimple encounters some bizarre situations and characters who are not quite as they first seem. It is of course a ‘tall story’ but during a trip to the USA they make an astounding discovery which could indeed change the world.

WHAT WAS THE BACKGROUND AND INSPIRATION BEHIND THE BOOK?

I used to play traditional jazz in a Lincolnshire pub and on one occasion a lad came up with a trumpet during the first interval and asked if he could ‘sit in’ with the band. Young ‘sitters in’ usually come with loud warning signs, noisy coteries or doting mums, but this one was different. For a start he was alone and wanted to play ‘Poor Mans Blues’ – a slow tune which should really be sung, but he just liked the tune and asked for it to be in Bb because it was his ‘easy key’ and he didn’t want to make too many mistakes. There was something genuine about his approach and something very genuine about his playing. He exactly captured the feel and sadness of the tune without any attempt to show off and I sensed it had been a consoling experience for him. Thanking us for letting him sit in he wandered off some time later and we never saw him again.

He made quite an impression, but no-one asked his name so we remembered him only as ‘Pimple’ because of a prominent pimple on one of his cheeks.

Some time later a particularly nasty incident in war – torn South Sudan started me wondering if a melody could be sufficiently powerful in its emotional impact to modify general nastiness and unkindness. I doubt it, but it developed it a ‘what if?’ fictional possibility, with Pimple as a central character. His limited verbal self-expression coupled with his sensitivity made him an ideal ’sounding board’ for the various characters and happenings around him.

WHAT WERE YOUR LIKES AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WRITING YOUR BOOK?

Perhaps the most satisfying part of writing was creating believable characters. It was also satisfying to succeed in making commonplace events seem interesting or enhancing a character by describing a simple action.  The most difficult part was producing the manuscript and cover suitable for an ‘e’ book .  Right now it’s marketing it on the web, however, Nikki McDonagh: http://wwwnicolamcdonagh.com  has been really helpful in her training sessions, so hopefully I’ll get there soon.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?

Much of Pimple was written during overseas contracts, and only recently did I think it  ‘had legs’. I didn’t change it much except to make it more succinct and more ‘grown up’. So perhaps writing a book is a maturing process – or I’m just old.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE WRITING PLANS?

I have a few short pieces and rants which I hope to compile.  I also have a monster of a concept which I cannot yet resolve, but which also refuses to go away – hopefully something will go ‘click’ and I’ll move forward soon.

Thank you, Peter for a very interesting insight into your life and your writing process.

Pimple is on offer right now for only $0.99 £0.99.

So grab your copy NOW!

Available on:

Amazon.US: https://www.amazon.com/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

Amazon.UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

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Want Something Different To Read For Mother’s Day?

Firstly, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there.

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I am all for celebrating the joy  and hard work of motherhood. I think it is a wonderful idea to have a special day to say thanks, but I do get a bit fed up with all the over-the-top sugary sentimentality that the event conjures up.

So, as an antidote, let me share my Sestina – Echo– with you all. It may be a little dark, but it does celebrate the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Sestina – Echo

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In blackness, Mother reaches for the light

switch, but the bulb has blown. There’s a candle

under her pillow, ready for a time

like this – when the darkness grips. A cut

on her arm has festered and now the skin

appears red and taught; an angry mark.

She tries to rub it away, but the mark

won’t go. Mother cowers, whispers, ‘No light.’

Calls out, ‘Mary, quick.’ Then picks at the skin

around the wound. Mother lifts the candle

rubs it on the dirty scratch. Mary says, ‘Cut

again?’ Then sets the wick on fire. One time

she found Mother naked, another time

crouched in the corner making a mark,

a sign to her daughter. A broken nail cut

her arm, left a blood trail that soaked up light.

Mary saw it flow and seep into the candle

whose flame highlighted Mother’s aged skin

hanging in folds. Mary peers at her own skin.

But the dimness hides the truth; that at some time

gravity will win. Mary takes the candle.

Sees a rough carving of a heart-shaped mark.

Did Mother make this? A bird calls as light

shines through the window. It’s enough to cut

into the gloom they stand in, and to cut

away the chill. It shines upon the skin

they share, so similar in this half-light.

Mary shudders at the thought that in time

her fate will be to scratch out such a mark

and wear her body half melted like candle

wax. A strand of hair has stuck to the candle.

She pulls it off revealing a perfect scar, a cut

embedded. With her thumb she makes a mark

like Mother made, leaving some of her skin

behind. They smile at the symmetry; how time

has crept up behind them and how the light

transformed the candle wax into a fresh skin

to lay across the cut, giving it time

to heal the mark, slowly fading in the light.

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If you enjoyed this poem, you might like to read more unusual and darkly inspiration stories to be found in my anthology – Glimmer and other stories.

On the Eighth Day:

“He wriggled and pushed the bedclothes down. It was the first time I had seen him in the flesh.  His skin was white, and smooth as the skin on warm milk.

Never knew a man could feel so soft. More used to rough hands grabbing, not knowing what they touched.

He knew.

At least, I hoped so. Hard to tell. Been a while since I was in the company of a male.”

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‘The subjects range from humour to horror and supernatural romance to repressed creativity – they all have an underlying oddness about them which is quite refreshing. Recommended for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

On Offer at Amazon:

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu

 

The Secret to Translating Books

Can any book be translated?

 To answer the above question, I am going to say  – gulp – YES.

I am basing my declaration on personal experience.

Firstly, a brief history about my novel Echoes from the Lost Ones – part of The Song of Forgetfulness series:

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In the summer of 2013, the first of my YA dystopian/Sci-fi  novels was published by an independent publisher. I was thrilled. On two levels. You see, I had written a book that used somewhat experimental language. I knew I was taking a chance and that I would probably be turning off a lot of readers because of my choice of language. However, I knew in my gut and heart that the distinctive narrative style worked perfectly for my imagined futuristic world.

I wrote about the use of distinctive language in literature in an earlier blog post:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/creative-use-of-language-in-novels-2/

I sent Echoes off to a few agents and was turned down. I had a lot of positive feedback about the story and characters, but all said the same thing, ‘We aren’t sure about the language you use as we feel it may disengage potential readers.’ They also went on to suggest that it could never be translated because of the unusual language, therefore, the revenues from oversea sales would be lost.

Despite that reaction, I did not waver. So decided to approach independent publishers. I had quite a few acceptances and decided to go with the one I believed would do justice to my work. Long story short – they closed down.

So I self-published.

Can of worms!!

However, I’m glad I did. Now I have three books and a novella in the series.

Then I began to wonder if I should try to attract readers in foreign lands. How would a translator be able to turn my English/Scottish slang-based narrative into believable colloquialisms in a different language?

How the heck should I know!

I decided to not even think about it.

Until…

Enter Mattia D’Agostino – the translator!

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Out of the blue, I received an email from a B.A. student of Cultural Mediation  from the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy – wanting to use Echoes as the subject of his thesis on the difficulty of translating made-up languages. I readily agreed. At last, I could put an end to the critics and sceptics who said that my novels were untranslatable.

This is what he said when I asked him to translate all of the titles in The Song of Forgetfulness. “About the titles, I would suggest La Canzone della Dimenticanza as a translation for The Song of Forgetfulness. It’s very literal and it sounds non-standard enough: “dimenticanza” is not a word I would use in my everyday speech. A more standard alternative would be La Canzone dell’Oblio, with “oblio” as a direct translation of “oblivion”, which you did not put in your title.

A literal translation for Echoes from the Lost Ones would be Echi dai Perduti.

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A Silence Heard would be Un Silenzio Udito, where “udito” is a literary synonym for the normal translation of “hear”, which would sound ambiguous in this context.

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Whisper Gatherers has to be expanded with a preposition, since in Italian a noun cannot usually describe another noun. The most literal translation is Raccoglitori di Sussurri.

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Thanks to Mattia’s rather brilliant thesis I now believe that any book can be translated into almost any language. It all depends on the skill of the translator.

Below are answers to some questions I put to Mattia about the difficulties in translating books that use obscure/artificially created languages.

 Why did you choose Echoes for the subject of your thesis?

When my thesis was just a foggy concept, I wanted it to be about conlangs – that is languages that are artificially created from start to finish – for artistic purposes. Something like Elvish in The Lord of the Rings, or Dothraki and Valyrian in the show Game of Thrones.  But there’s only so much you can do translation-wise in such cases. Those languages are not created in order to be translated, they sort of exist precisely to stay untranslated, to convey a feeling of otherness.

So, if I wanted my thesis to be about translation, I had to look into something a bit different. Which led me to 1984 and A Clockwork Orange and the peculiar languages in which they are written. The problem with those novels is that they had already been translated into Italian. This is when I somewhat virtually stumbled upon your article “Creative use of language in novels”.

After reading it I decided I had to read Echoes from the Lost Ones (which I believe at the time was the only novel of the series to having been already released) if only for my own enjoyment. After reading it, I was completely sold. Echoes met all the requirements for my thesis. Besides, it was a novel that I really enjoyed and I wouldn’t mind reading multiple times from cover to cover (which I ended up doing).

What was the greatest difficulty in trying to translate Echoes?

The greatest difficulty was finding out that some things that I thought were made up were actually real words in the English language. Made up words are generally easy to translate, they have few constraints. While real words have a lot of constraints.
While translating, I had a specific aim: to make the reader of the translation feel as if they were reading the original. Which means that every shade that a word may have had in the original, had to be transposed into the translation.

When I thought I was pretty much done with the thesis, I found out that in some cases the suffix –like was a substitute for the suffix –ly. What I thought up to that point, to be an approximation was actually a grammatical feature with a clear archaic shade, reminiscing of traditional English ballads and folk songs. In the end, I managed to find a solution that brought both the adverbial meaning and the archaic connotation into Italian.

Do you think that any book can be translated?

Absolutely. I’ll go so far as to say that any text can be translated into any language or dialect.  Not everybody knows that the difference between a dialect and a language is merely political and/or historical. From a structural point of view, there is no difference between the two. Any language (or dialect) can describe anything.

For example, very remote mountain dialects usually only have words that describe everyday life, because that’s what people who live in remote locations are usually concerned with. However, it would not be impossible to speak of, say, medieval philology in those dialects. It would take longer than in standard English, because you would have to explain every concept with  periphrases, or you would have to make up some words as you go.

But it would not be impossible, as every language has embedded in itself the tools to create new words that quickly describe a fragment of reality. Suffixes are one of these tools. An extremely productive suffix in English is the suffix –er. So if you know what paint is, and you want to describe «someone who paints for a living», you only need to add the suffix –er. This is much more effective than using the periphrases someone who paints.

Basically, everything can be translated into any language. The problem with literature is that any given author has his or her peculiar style, so it takes a good translator to convey that particular style into the translation.

Do you think authors should approach translators in order to publish in other countries?

I think it would be beneficial for translators to have at least a bit of correspondence with the authors. However, if an author wanted someone in particular to translate their work, it should be the author’s right to approach that translator.

Correspondence between author and translator would leave less space for random guessing and, therefore, errors. For example, the translation of Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series is completely wrong in Italian. The Italian translation was based on the dumb part of the name, which gives Silente (silent). Dumbledore is actually an ancient name for bumblebee.

The character was called that because the author imagined him as constantly humming, which is quite different from being Silent(e).
I feel that such plain errors could be avoided with a bit of correspondence with the author.

Does genre matter when translating?

Absolutely. Genres have specific rules, which may be different from one language to another. For example, English cooking recipes instructions are given in the imperative mood, while Italian and German cooking recipes use the infinitive. As a translator, besides translating meaning and words, you also have to keep the rules of the genre in mind.

The same goes for literary genres, which usually follow specific formulae. This is true for every aspect of them, from their language to their covers. If you were to translate the Italian infarto into English, the translation would be different when dealing with medical fiction (infarction) as opposed to almost any other genre (heart attack).

I was so impressed by Mattia’s paper that I think it only right and proper to give him a separate blog post.

Stay tuned for Mattia D’Agostino – The art of the Translator. Plus –  cats!

You can learn more about The Song of Forgetfulness here:

www.thesongofoforgetfulness.com

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“A Queenly Visit in 2 Acts”.

Okay, get ready for this Author Spotlight.

I am delighted to introduce to you a gifted author of poems and prose.

 Fanfare and drum roll for Queen of Spades!!!

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I asked Queen some questions about her life and works,  and she will be sharing her answers with you here.

So, let’s get to know a little bit about Queen of Spades and her writing:

 “A Queenly Visit in 2 Acts”.

When did you start writing poetry, and why did you choose poetry as the medium to express yourself as a writer?

I started writing poetry at the age of eleven.  In a way, poetry chose me.  I was going through some trials in my life, and my coping mechanism became pen and paper.  Yet, even after I improved in that aspect, the ink still flowed.  Although I am branching out in other areas, I know that poetry will always be my primary form of expression.  It feels just as natural to me as breathing.

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Why do you write under a pseudonym?

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There are many reasons actually. 

One: There is a children’s author who’s already using my first name, plus my maiden. 

 Two: Using my full name would be pretty long to place on a cover. (chuckles)

 Three (but the most important reason): I started using Queen of Spades since I started writing, so it would feel weird for me not to use it.  Back then, the persona of Queen of Spades allowed a freedom of expression that I thought couldn’t be obtained.  Queen of Spades is an alternate aspect of my personality that I amplified and gave a voice to, yet she and I are now so in alignment that we have merged somewhat.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get inspiration from so many things.  Sometimes, I can pick up on the emotions of others and write about them as if they were my own.  Other times, it could be a story in the news that makes me feel some type of way.  I can be inspired by scenes in nature or something as tiny as plays on words or a melody to a song.  Every element, to me, has an inspirational component.

Which do you prefer writing, poetry or prose, and why?

I’m not sure if I have a preference, just the experiences are different. Poetry provides the quicker fix, in the sense that when I write my poetry; it’s like an overflow of ideas dying to get out in one setting.  I have to do the write at that particular moment. 

Where poetry is somewhat microwave in terms of creation, the proses are slow cooked.  I can do one part, then return to it a few hours, even days later, and still know the direction I was going in with the prose.

Adrenalin rush goes to poetry.  Slow and satisfying goes to proses.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest work.

Time to play “About Me” via short phrases and bullet points.  I’m going to throw in 5 standard things about me and 5 random things about me (and pray the random things I haven’t repeated in an other interview)

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  • Southern bred/Northern placed (originally from Mississippi-southern US; now residing in New Jersey-northeast US)
  • Raised by my grandparents
  • Presenter of one poetry anthology & author of four poetry collections
  • Administrator and Principal Reviewer of The Review Board (Ma Maow the cat assists from time to time.)—[insert Ma Maow the reviewer graphic]
  • Featured Columnist/Editor-in-Chief of All Authors Magazine

 Randoms

  • I have a difficult time sleeping in total darkness.  A small light has to radiate from somewhere.
  • I have no problem spending money on loved ones, but it’s like pulling teeth when it comes to stuff for myself

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I didn’t even like cats until I moved to NJ, and no matter what cat was around, I was chosen as “the human”.

 

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  • My husband serves as my alpha reader, but it was difficult for him to read certain parts of Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes due to some of the described events.
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  • I haven’t mastered the concept of being completely still.  I get bored if I’m not being productive in some way.  The only way I’m completely still is if I’m sick, and even then, my husband has threatened to tie me to the bed or sit on me when I attempt to do things.

Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes

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CreateSpace | Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Trailer

Blurb:  In Life, one is expected to put her best face forward, but what if the process of revealing her best face involves putting the demons on display? Would the journey continue? Or would one stop dead in her tracks. 

Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes is the response in its rawest form. It is an inside look at: in its simplest form, Life’s growing pains; in its most complex form, a person battling internal and external forces to find peace in her own existence. The lines are blurred between what’s real and what is embellishment in this second edition, a sleeker re-mastered collection that doesn’t miss a step in intensity.

I have read some of your work and found your writing to be very honest and heavily influenced by your life history. Is that fair to say? If so, would you say that all your writing is based on personal experiences in some way? 

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Yes, that is fair to say.  Reflections of Soul was entirely based on an experience I had gone through.    As far as my other poetic writes, I can’t take full credit.  The Eclectic collection went beyond my experiences: I wrote about others as well as certain issues that are occurring or have occurred over in the States.  Spaded Truths: Themes and Proclamations is more of an exercise with beliefs than actual experiences while Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes circles back to being more personal, using the universal connectivity of pain and endurance.

What are your future projects?

 Well, I do have some short stories in the works.  “Misfortune”, which was featured in Eclectic: Beyond the Skin, will be reappearing in Continuous Drips, set for the end of 2014.  However, not all of the short stories I’m writing will be included in the collection.  I am planning on having some for people to obtain for free: to give people a chance to know me beyond the poetry.  Poetry publication will be on the backburner for a moment to give this other aspect of my writing a bit of spotlight.

I am also working on an online store, called Eclectisms.  Originally, I was going to use it to simply promote my current works, yet I kept being inspired by other people as well as other things, so it blossomed beyond that.  The spirit of Eclectisms is advocacy of truest self, even if it’s not in alignment with the blueprint of everyone else.  It’s in the beginning stages, and more products are gradually being added.

Visit the website for more information:

http://www.zazzle.com/Eclectisms

From seeing some of your photographs and thinking them rather good I was wondering if you have an artistic streak in you?

Thanks!  I definitely appreciate that, since I’m such a fan of your photography.  My first talent was actually sketching.  That blossomed around age eight, but it has since taken a backseat to writing.  I still have my sketch pad and draw from time to time, but the works in my head take precedence.

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You are also a reviewer and article writer, which one of these disciplines would you say comes easily to you?

Article writing, most definitely!  Back in high school, my creative writing teacher approached me about writing for the newspaper.  I mainly did editorials and special features.  Then, a few years after I had moved to New Jersey, I was a volunteer newsletter editor for the Pride Center of New Jersey.  Now, with this opportunity at All Authors Magazine, it seems like it has come full circle.

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Do you have a special place where you write?

 Poetry: I have to strike while the iron’s hot, so with it, no particular place.

 All other writings:  Those occur in one of four places:

(a) The office—when it’s a very slow work day
(b) My little office at my apartment
(c) In the bedroom
(d) Local park—when it’s a nice, quiet day

Does any specific writer influence you?

Traditional or indie?

Well, traditional, my inspirations are: Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Stephen King, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Indie:

Poetically:  Chantay Legacy Leonard—her connectivity and style is wonderful.  I was extremely honoured when she did the foreword for Eclectic. 

Fiction/Short stories:  There are quite a few people who I’m observing their styles and learning from, simply because writing short stories and novels are an entirely different animal than poetry.

Beem Weeks is a phenomenal story teller.  I fell in love with his novel, Jazz Baby, and I’m a fan of his stories.  They are well put together, and I can hardly wait until his short story collection comes out.

I applaud the way MJ Holman weaves a story.  The Guinea Ghost  stands out to me.  I felt like I was in a trance (a welcomed one at that) from beginning to end.  I appreciate that effect in her writes, not just her stories, but in her poetry.

I love Y. Correa and Perri Forrest because they defy any type of classification when it comes to audience and genre. 

With Y. Correa, there is a write for any and everyone.  Even if you aren’t deep into paranormal or romance, she writes things in a way that makes you think and comes across as very original.  I know she was probably under pressure to modernize aspects of MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis, since it is set in medieval times, but I give her ultimate respect for keeping the authenticity of the narrative. 

Perri Forrest’s approach to her writings: from cover concept to narrative reminds me of a scientist—there is something beautifully methodical about every component she places in her writes.  With each write, she becomes even better.  Although some have tried to place her in the boxes of “urban”, “erotica”, or both, the richness of her writes and her characters burns those boxes to bits.  I want my short stories, as well as any future extended works, to have that same level of nonconformity and authenticity.

 

If you could stay the weekend in a particular book as one of the characters, which one would it be and why?

In A Lioness’ Tale (originally called “Revolving Doors”) by Perri Forrest, Gabriella, one of the main characters, gets her heart broken.  She is presented an opportunity to see one of her close friends who resides in Brazil.  The way that place was described was fantastic!  I was ready to pack up and just go.  It was a combination of Gabriella’s exposure to a brand new world and the climate that made me want to be in her shoes.

I believe poetry needs to be spoken, do you agree?

Queen of Spades on Soundcloud

Well, I don’t necessarily agree with “need”.  Yes, it is helpful to hear the work being spoken.  However, there are some people who excel better at visual presentation than spoken presentation and vice versa.

There is this one poet.  He is a phenomenal spoken word performer.  Yet if you look at his writings, you would think he was subpar because of how his works were visually executed.  On the same token, you can have someone who writes beautifully, but a person’s actual voice and/or stage fright may cause a poem’s audible delivery to be poor.

In my mind, the presentation of the poetry is like a scene in a movie.  I actually see the images as I write them out.  For me, I know where the pauses are supposed to go and where I would like to emphasize something.  I know where the scene separations are to take place.

Doing poetic vocals is a different animal.  If you are putting music to it, the music has to match the rhythm of the voice.  You have to make sure the music doesn’t drown out your voice.  This makes vocal composition quite a task at times, yet if this is composed in your house (or at a studio, if you can afford studio time); you aren’t dealing with multiple eyes on you, and there isn’t that level of performance anxiety.

I like writing, and I have what some would say my performance voice.  But I’m also a chameleon, and I also have an office receptionist voice and my voice when I’m hanging out with others.

I say all that to say this: I understand why there are poets who choose not to go full fledged into the spoken word arena.  I actually find it a bit more baffling the other way around—speaking wonderfully but not having it in written form so others may enjoy it in that way as well.

Finally, what is your favourite beverage when you are writing?

Mornings:   I’m trying to wean off of coffee, so I have to go with a very strong brewed English breakfast tea with cream and honey.

All other times:  Dr. Pepper

Thank you Queen of Spades for a really fun and in-depth look into your writings and your life.

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For more information about Queen of Spades, please see the links below:

http://about.me/authorqspades

https://www.facebook.com/authorqueenofspades

@authorspades

http://www.koobug.com/queenofspades

http://www.authorqos.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Queen-of-Spades/e/B00D5X3H9U

Using A Camera As A Canvas

I have been experimenting with light paintings for a few years now and I realised that the more I did, the more I wanted to really ‘paint’ with light. So I made a conscious decision to create images that looked as if they could have been painted rather than photographed. I have always loved the paintings of Marc Chagall and when my husband designed, made and fitted one of his own stained glass windows in our house, I used his beautiful coloured glass as inspiration for my homage to said artist. Here are a couple of my photos in the style of Chagall:

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Then I moved away from the static and used torches, ribbons and flowers. Some of the images turned out a bit like Francis Bacon:

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And some I like because they are a bit weird or colourful. I either position the camera on a tripod and move around with a torch or fairy lights, or I dance around moving the camera in front of a light source. Always with a slow shutter speed and high f-stop:

 

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