BRUCE BERLS & JIM ROWSON – Friends Chat & Collaborate

Bruce Berls and Jim Rowson are the authors of UNCOMMON SCENTS, a cautionary frolic with more humor and 80% less dystopia than the average near-future thriller. The authors are reclusive introverts rarely seen in public, so having them with us is thrilling.

Bruce: Thank you for coming today.

Jim: What are you on about? I’m in my living room, the same as you.

Bruce: I’ve known you since we were wee lads in high school.

Jim: We were both six feet tall when we met, so “wee lads” isn’t quite the right image. I think we bonded in high school because everybody else thought we were weird.

Bruce: We became fast friends right away – in tune with each other’s senses of humor, sharing a love of science fiction during its glory days in the 70s, and being there for each other as decades went by – roommates, best man, bad influences, someone to laugh at each other’s jokes and provide comfort in hard times. In 2021, I had been writing snarky articles about Microsoft for Bruceb News for twenty years, but it was slowing down. You were finishing your career at YouTube and would soon have free time for the first time in your life. The drab landscape of retirement stretched before us until you said casually, “Have you ever thought about writing a novel?” Technically, everything that has happened since then has been your fault. What in the world was in your head?

Jim: I’m completely astonished that I’m writing novels now. My background is in programming, where fictional stories are not an asset. I actually can’t remember ever taking a creative writing course while at school, though I would be delighted to boor you with details of the 20,000 lines of BCPL code I wrote in 1976. As an avid sci-fi reader, I’ve loved world building. My favorite books are those that have a new idea on every page, exploring how new ideas and tech impact society. Our collaboration started with building a world around technology that enables everyone to experience augmented reality without special equipment.

Bruce: I’m convinced that augmented reality will have an even larger impact on the world than computers and the internet. Instead of doing research, we invented injectable nanobots over lunch at an Italian restaurant. Then, we came up with a plausible explanation of how a large company would convince everyone to adopt them. The word “plausible” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

Jim: Some near-future science fiction is heavily researched. It winds up being dystopian because whatever current trend you research – AI, climate change, bio-warfare, gene editing, drones – leads inevitably to the conclusion that we’re all doomed. We didn’t want to write that kind of story, so we just made stuff up.

Bruce: We’re plotters, not pantsers. UNCOMMON SCENTS has an Oceans 11-style plot involving corporate secrets and mixed-up MacGuffin envelopes moving from place to place. Collaboration was fun as we figured out how to get characters where they needed to be.

Jim: I’m pretty sure that the personalities of a few of your characters are drawn from me and our wives. Two questions: (1) How could you? Those things are private, and you’re well aware no one pressed charges. (2) Where did the characters come from? Is there any significance to the names?

Bruce: Obviously, you’re the inspiration for Spiro, our uber-nerd programmer who works at Arrgle and invents a way to augment people’s sense of smell. Congratulations! Cabalynne came out of thin air, a slightly pudgy young woman who spends her big scene in an ill-fitting ninja suit. As a leader of an online army of conspiracy believers, it’s appropriate that her name starts with “cabal.” She plays a minor role in UNCOMMON SCENTS, but she was a natural to become the protagonist in my second novel VEILPIERCER.

Jim: One of my favorite characters is Sanger Manjoo, a garrulous reporter whose voice was inspired by the Peter Falk character in the movie The In-Laws. I’d quote him, but we don’t have space, as Manjoo would want to buy you a cookie and learn in great detail how your day has gone.

Bruce: He pretends to be a New York Times reporter, so I drew his name from two real NYTimes reporters, David Sanger and Farhad Manjoo. The character’s name was originally intended to be an online pseudonym, but the two of us fell in love with him as we wrote the book, and now it’s impossible to imagine him with any other name. After finishing the book, we had to figure out how to publish it.

Jim: Yeah, we tried the traditional route. We sent off query letters to a bunch of agents that specialize in science fiction. Sadly, our impatience and their indifference got the best of us.

Bruce: I find it strangely thrilling to say that Uncommon Scents was rejected by some of the top agents in the business.

Jim: We ended up self-publishing through Amazon, partly because we couldn’t wait to get our hands on a printed copy. Now, we’re working on marketing, trying to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Bruce: Our website at https://arrgle.com provides hours of riveting entertainment – articles in plain English about augmented reality, ChatGPT, and modern tech, along with sample chapters from our novels. Sign up for the weekly newsletter, which is far more than the usual marketing fluff.

Jim: You can also follow us at @ArrgleBooks on both YouTube and TikTok, where we pique our followers’ interests with quotes from famous authors, sci-fi book reviews, snippets from our work, and even my Mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Bruce: We’re working on two more novels. Both are set in the same world as UNCOMMON SCENTS, but neither is a sequel. I’m revising the sixth draft of VEILPIERCER, the story of a young woman who assembles an unlikely team for an assault on the most powerful computer on earth, seeking to expose the secrets of the wealthy. It has the same snarky tone as UNCOMMON SCENTS because it is literally impossible for me to write any other way.

Jim: And I’m working on a serious noir detective story called THE AVATAR MURDERS, also in the Arrgle universe. My detective, Kurt Hardash, solves mysteries using his eyes that, due to a mishap when young, can see both augmented and actual reality. He sees more than others, allowing him to solve a serial murder case and track down who killed his wife—less snark, more violence, including altercations with forks and kitchen appliances.

Bruce: Thank you, Jim. You’re my favorite collaborator.

Jim: If I was going to say lovely things about you, I think you know this is where they would appear.

Website: https://arrgle.com
Newsletter: https://arrgle.com/newsletter/
YouTube: @arrglebooks
TikTok: @arrglebooks

Contact: info@arrgle.com

4 Comments

  1. Nathan Berris

    I’ve read Uncommon Scents, it’s fabulous! I recommend it.

    Reply
  2. Cynthia McIntyre

    Disclaimer: I went to high school with Bruce and Jim. It would be difficult to find two smarter, nicer guys. That said, my completely unbiased opinion is that Uncommon Scents was a really fun and imaginative book. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it. Have you ever considered a podcast? You’d be great!

    Reply
  3. Shelley Riley

    If the characters in your novel are as entertaining as you two, it should be a very exciting read. I will enjoy taking a look at your collaboration.

    Reply
  4. MIchael A. Black

    Congratulations on Uncommon Scents. You two should have your own talk show. Good luck with your new projects.
    Write on.

    Reply

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THE MONA LISA SISTERS – Now Available on Audible

the mona lisa sistersThe Audible release of The Mona Lisa Sisters on October 9, 2023, marked my first foray into putting my work on audiobooks.

After listening to author Alec Peche talk about the number of books she has released as audiobooks, I reached out to Lois Winston for help understanding audiobooks. Lois took the mystery and fear out of ACX in about a half hour. I was able to begin the process.

After completing all of ACX’s questions—extremely easy— I uploaded my manuscript. When these tasks were complete, I began the search for a narrator. There was a simple choice among a mere 200,000 or so. What!

I found the project tool and narrowed the search to over one hundred.

Listening to maybe twenty narrators, I narrowed the search to six or seven. The three at the top of my wish list were all royalty-sharing listed artists. I listened again to all three and dropped one. I sent an offer to my top choice. Her response was, “I belong to SAGA/AFTA. I can’t work for less than $250.00 an hour.” I didn’t care for her response when I pointed out she was listed as available for royalty sharing. I hope she corrects that before another new author wastes time listening to her.

On to my second choice, Connie Elsberry, she accepted my offer. Connie was a dream to work with, responsive and always timely—a consummate professional. Her voice was perfect for my female protagonist. Connie captured the protagonist and the story as if it were her own. I especially appreciated how she was able to communicate and deliver the emotions where I envisioned them. Listening to her recordings, I had to wipe my eyes once or twice.

Will I do it again? You bet.

I created a new project for Robbers and Cops and have asked several narrators to audition.

The Mona Lisa Sisters at Audible is waiting for you.

1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Black

    Your fortitude in venturing into the realm of audio books is inspiring. Good luck with the new project.

    Reply

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GEORGE CRAMER – Shares His Latest Work

The first book in the Hector Miguel Navarro Series, New Liberty,  is available from many sources. I’m taking this opportunity to share a teaser and Chapter 1.

 

 

 

Outside Phoenix, two gangs rule…

…and one police officer is caught in the middle.

How will he stop them?

Hector’s parents, wealthy east coast college professors, raised him to work towards making the world a better place. In New Liberty, Arizona, gangs have ravaged the city. As a young police officer who lost his mentor, he struggles with the question.

Why did his partner kill himself?

Across town, a small sickly-looking man approaching fifty is about to make a move. DeShawn “The Knife” Galloway has a reputation as a contract assassin who prefers to kill with the Japanese Tanto. And It’s time to take control.

The war will start on his terms.

In a world of human trafficking, drugs, and violence, two people’s lives are about to be intertwined in a way where only one can survive.

But this story isn’t all black and white.

This dark urban crime novel will grab you as it reveals far more than just greed and power. This one will keep you turning the pages.

NEW LIBERTY
A Hector Miguel Navarro Novel

And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and
Hades followed him. And they were given authority . . . to kill with sword
and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. Rev. 6:8

CHAPTER ONE

They were alive moments ago.

“I told you to use the GPS. Why’d you buy a Lexus if you aren’t going to use the gadgets?” The old woman chides her even older husband.

“The map program takes too long. Besides, the boy’s graduation isn’t until tomorrow.”

“I know, but we’re not even in Phoenix. We should have been there an hour ago. Admit it. We’re lost.”

“Okay. I’ll pull over and set the GPS. Will that make you happy?” The man was tired from the long drive. Even breaking the drive into two days from Oakland to the Arizona city was more than he should have undertaken at seventy. His wife had suggested they spend a few days in Los Angeles, maybe even visit Disneyland, but the old man had insisted. She had been right. I should have skipped poker with the boys this time.

“Now we’re lost, exhausted, and you finally agree with me. That doesn’t help much.” She was younger by a decade and had offered to help with the driving. The old man was always stubborn and refused to give up the wheel. “This neighborhood looks pretty sketchy. I don’t think we should stop here?”

“We’ll be fine. Besides, there’s no one around.”

A minute later, absorbed in entering the address in the GPS, it’s difficult for the old man with his arthritic hands and new trifocals. Hearing a banging on his side window, and without thinking, he hits the down switch.

“Hey, old brother, whatcha doing?” Standing next to the car door is a skinny kid, fifteen or sixteen. It’s hard to see his face. He’s wearing a dark hoodie with the front cinched down. His hands are jammed deep into the pockets.

“I’m checking my map. We’ll be going.”
“I don’t think so,” the kid says as his right hand appears. He’s holding a small pistol, barely visible in his large hand.

“He’s got a gun,” screams the woman.

“That’s right, Bro. You and the sister get out and walk away.”

The man may be in his seventies, but he’s not about to let a teenage punk rob him. Reaching to put the car in gear, he says, “No.”

The old man doesn’t hear the shot or feel the twenty-five-caliber bullet that passes through his skull and into his brain. The small lead slug comes to rest against the right side of his skull, ending his life. His wife screams as another teenager opens the passenger door and drags her out of the car. Drawing her head back exposes her neck. She sees the Ka-Bar. The blade, dull and heavy, is meant for work, not slicing throats. As the boy saws her neck open, cutting the carotid arteries, blood gurgles until she is dead.

“Don’t get blood on the seat,”

“That’s why I pulled her out. What about the old dude?”

“He didn’t bleed much.”
* * *
Now that they have killed the old couple, they aren’t sure whether to run or take the Lexus. Their problem worsens when three men emerge from Ernesto’s Pool Hall.

“What’re you doing?” demands Jerome. “Geronimo” Dixon. The easily recognized president of the 4-Aces. Even at fifty, he is an imposing figure towering over the men behind him. The man stands six feet five and carries three-hundred pounds—no fat—packed on a muscular frame.

The frightened shooter’s answer is a whisper, almost apologetic. “We jacked them for the Lexus. The old man gave us shit. We had to off him and the old lady.”

“Who the hell gave you permission to jack a car in 4-Aces territory?”

“No one, we didn’t. . .”

“Shut up and gimme the piece. What else you got?”

The boy hands over the small pistol and the other gives up the K-Bar, “All we got.”

Geronimo turns to one of the men standing behind him. “Get DeShawn.”
Within minutes, DeShawn “The Knife” Galloway is at his side—Geronimo motions for the young killers to stand behind the Lexus. Out of earshot, he hands their weapons to Galloway. “This’s going to bring a load of shit our way. Make the idiots disappear.”

“Forever?”

“Forever.” The tone of Geronimo’s voice leaves no doubt.

“The old couple?”

“I ought to. If they weren’t innocent civilians, I would.” Geronimo lets out a sigh. “Leave them.

“Don’t nobody touch da bodies, nothing. No DNA to tie the Aces to this shit.”

Galloway calls the other men over and tells the first, “You drive. We gotta clean this up.” To the second, “Put the fools in my Escalade. You ride with me.”

Showing false bravado, the shooter speaks up. “Why?” Stepping close to Galloway, he looks down at the much older and shorter man and repeats, “Why?” adding, “I ain’t no fool, old man.”

Galloway raises his head and gazes into the face of the shooter. His expression is as lifeless as his eyes. The shooter does his best to maintain a defiant pose and succeeds for perhaps three seconds. His body begins to shake. The shivers betray the boy’s fear; without another word, he walks to the Escalade and death.

Here’s the link to the trailer created by Lisa Towles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvrdESP4jTI

 

 

13 Comments

  1. MARIJO MOORE

    Draws the reader right in…arresting dialogue.

    Kudos to you, George!

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thank you Marijo. Glad we got your attention.

      Reply
  2. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    George, your dialogue is gripping! The trailer spooks the hell out of me and the bible quote under the picture of the tiny book in your hand spooks down into the bones. Truly, well done. Best of Luck with NEW LIBERTY.

    Reply
  3. Thonie Hevron

    This has my interest, George! I’ll be buying it so I can find out what happens.

    Reply
  4. Donnell

    Intriguing George! And of course fearless creating. Congratulations!!!

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Intriguing and fearless are not words I would use to describe my work. WOW!! Thanks

      Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    I was privileged to be able to read an ARC of this one and enjoyed it immensely. i’d certainly recommend it, and enjoyed it so much I bought a copy at the PSWA Conference last month in Las Vegas. It’s the first book in what will no doubt be a great new series.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Mike. This is indeed high praise coming from you. Take Care & Stay Strong.

      Reply
  6. Margaret Mizushima

    Plenty of action in the opening chapter, George! Great beginning! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Margaret. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply
  7. Shelley Lee Riley

    What a great idea, a look inside. This first chapter showcases the depth of evil that lies in waiting for the most innocent among us. I was gripped by the sheer horror depicted on these pages. Explosive and compelling. I’m hooked.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Shelley. I wish I could take credit for the idea. A great friend suggested I make the post. But, thanks again.

      Reply

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Beach Bum – Biker – Sailor – Cop – PI – Author

The heading is my life in a nutshell. It’s my birthday, so I’m taking a break from the usual routine to tell you a little bit about me and answer two questions posed by fellow authors—who tried to stump me—they failed.

If you don’t already know, I’m an enrolled descendant of the Karuk Tribe of California. Combining police, private investigator, and corporate experience, I have about forty years of investigative experience. Earning a BA – History from California State University – Hayward took me a dozen years of poor scholarship. Nearly four decades later, I returned to school at Las Positas College. I took a break to earn an MFA-Creative Writing Program from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, before finishing an AA in English from Las Positas.

I was fortunate to conduct and manage thousands of investigations throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. After forced retirement, I kept my investigative skills honed by volunteering as an investigator at the San Leandro, California, Police Department.

I want to begin with a shout-out to an incredible mentor, Ramona Ausubel. Ramona was one of my mentors at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a fantastic author, and her latest novel THE LAST ANIMAL is the People Magazine Book of the Week. PRE-ORDER NOW!

Besides writing, my passion was long-distance motorcycle riding on my 2001 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic—my first scooter was a 1959 or 60 Honda 50 (I got stopped for drag racing on it). My sixty-year biker life ended last year when an accident left me with several broken bones—it wasn’t the first time.

Shelley Riley asks: What inspired you first to start telling tall tales? I’m not one of those who has been writing all their life. I was about to turn sixty-seven when the most incredible place I ever worked, PALM, was bought out, and the layoffs began. I ran security and investigations and got advance notice of pending layoffs. Near the end, my name came through.

Feeling strong and unprepared to retire, I began an unsuccessful job search. I learned all about age discrimination. I had sworn never to enter a Senior Center until a writing class was offered. I falsely believed it would help my stellar resume, so I signed up.

To my surprise, it was a fiction writing class. Amazingly, I fell in love with writing and gave up looking for any other type of work. I have two stand-alone novels, and Book One in the New Liberty – A Hector Miguel Navarro series comes out in a few weeks.

Michael A. Black asks: Your writing of dialogue in your books is fresh and realistic, yet it also moves the story along. What tips would you give to other writers for writing convincing and authentic dialogue? I learned early on that I had to leave out the normal jibber-jabber that occurs in our everyday conversations. However, dialogue has to seem natural and to the point, adding to the plot and character development. When I began writing, I included a lot of unnecessary chit-chat. With rewriting and the help of Critters, I started writing more explicit dialogue—there has to be a reason. I ask myself: Why am I writing this? I cut, reevaluate, and rewrite if the conversation is unclear or without purpose. Occasionally, the dialogue seems to wander. When this happens, I’m laying the groundwork for a future event or character development of someone not in the conversation.

I try to add a touch of humor at least once in each chapter, helping humanize my characters.

May will be busy as New Liberty is released, and I will be doing readings and book signings. I hope you can join me at one or more events.

1. 5/9/2023 – New Liberty release – available for pre-order
2. 5/10/2023 – I will moderate the Upstate South Carolin Sisters-in-Crime Mystery Book Club. Michael A. Black with be discussing Chimes at Midnight.
3. 5/13/2023 – Las Positas College Literary Festival – Book signing with local and indigenous authors. Tommy Orange is the keynote speaker. It’s FREE!
4. 5/18/2023 – Barnes & Noble, El Cerrito, 6:00 – 7:330 – Book signing with Lisa Towles
5. 5/20/2023 – NorCal Spring Author Showcase, Orinda Books, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – I will read and sign
6. 5/272023 Barnes & Noble, Dublin – 1:00 – 3:00 Book signing.
7. 5/28/2023 – Barnes & Nobel, Walnut Creek – 2:00 – 4:00 p.m Book signing

You can find me at:
Email:gdcramer@outlook.com
Facebook
LinkedIn

Groups:
California Writers Club – Mt. Diablo
Crime Writers of Color
Sisters-in-Crime – NorCal
Sisters-in-Crime – Colorado
Sisters-in-Crime – Coastal Cruisers
Mystery Writers of America – NorCal

If you can, pop over to Lois Winston’s blog. Her guest today has the initials: GDC.

Links for my books:
The Mona Lisa Sisters
Robbers and Cops
New Liberty -Book 1 in the Hector Miguel Navarro Series

 

15 Comments

  1. Violet Moore

    George,
    Your schedule looks exciting and busy. Good to see you skipped the author persona for a special birthday as a beach bum.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      It is good to be visiting the beach. I watched surfers in their wet suits yesterday. We young and foolish ones wore bathing suits, nor did we have tethers. I never learned to swim, so I rode the waves back in or treaded water.

      Reply
  2. Steve Simpson

    Hi George !
    Happy Birthday !
    Thank you for being the person you are ! I have certainly enjoyed the times shared on the rides you organized and coordinated. Your kindness, warm personality and enthusiasm has always given me a sense of inclusion and friendship. I truly appreciate you, and all the joy and wisdom give freely to your friends !
    Thank you, have a Wonderful Birthday !

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Hi Steve,
      I always got more from our riders than I could ever give. Thanks for the kind words.
      Take Care & Stay Safe

      Reply
  3. John Bluck

    George,
    You helped me a lot with my writing. I’m very grateful. Your books are wonderful. Cheers!

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thank you John, especially for the support you have directed my way.

      Reply
  4. Glenda F Carroll

    It is a pleasure to read about you and your writing habits.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Glenda. You just might be much more interesting.

      Reply
      • McMahon Jim

        Congratulations on your success!

        Reply
        • George Cramer

          Thanks, Jim. It’s been a while. Stay Safe

          Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    Happy birthday, George and thanks for answering my question about your dialogue writing skills. Your biography reads like a novel in itself. Your indomitable spirit is inspiring, as is your writing talent. You remind me of a real life Travis McGee. I’m looking forward to the release of New Liberty. Thanks for all you do to help other writers. Stay strong,

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks to you, Big Mike, for all that you do to help your brother and sister writers. Take Care & Stay Safe.

      Reply
  6. Karen A Phillips

    Fun to learn more about you, George! Happy Birthday! And I have to ask, did you ride your motorcycle sans helmet?

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      What happened? I coulda sworn I responded to you with thanks.

      I didn’t own a helmet until I was about 30 and strapped ’em on the back when I was in states without helmet laws. I was glad that I had one on when I went down a few times. I was especially happy when I went down in Oregon and got a life flight to the hospital.

      Reply

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Constance Hanstedt – Author – Poet – Leader

Welcome – What book would you like to tell our readers about?

Don’t Leave Yet, How My Mother’s Alzheimer’s Opened My Heart (She Writes Press, 2015) recounts my journey toward understanding our complicated mother-daughter relationship as she struggles through the early stage of dementia-type Alzheimer’s, and my ultimate discovery of compassion and love that goes beyond familial duty.

Do you write in more than one genre? I enjoy the challenge of poetry, creating, and recreating experiences to connect with readers. Finding a precise image or metaphor and using concise and descriptive language engages my mind in sometimes unexpected ways. The discovery can be exhilarating.

What brought you to writing? I was an English major at the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee. I admired twentieth-century novelists and poets and wondered if I had it in me to create my own work. It wasn’t until after my father died that I began to explore poetry as a way to express grief. A decade later, when my mother was diagnosed with dementia-type Alzheimer’s, my teacher, the terrific poet Ellen Bass, suggested I might explore my experiences further if I went beyond the parameters of poetry. It was then that I turned to prose. It allowed an expansiveness I needed to convey all that I wanted to say. I started by writing vignettes, followed by full scenes with characters, dialogue, and description. Soon I had pages of material with a sense of connectedness.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in my home office, where morning light provides a calm atmosphere and from where I can observe a yellow rose tree and a bevy of finches on the thistle feeder. I don’t tolerate distractions. But I don’t mind my Shih Tsu, Cody, who snores ever so slightly on his bed directly behind me.

Tell us about your writing process: I usually begin writing with a black ballpoint and a Mead notebook. I wrote most of my memoir in notebooks. When I had enough material, I transcribed it into a document on my laptop. I labeled each draft so as not to lose anything interesting or significant. Now I use the same process when writing poetry. 1200

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Revision is the most challenging. Yet, it’s the part of writing that I enjoy most. I revisit each image and metaphor. When a metaphor doesn’t do its job, I make a list of ten others and then choose the one I think works the best. I also read a poem out loud to gauge the effectiveness of line endings and stanzas. I admit I’m a perfectionist.

What are you currently working on? I’ve recently discovered some old poems that go back several years. I’m trying to revise them but often find myself starting over. I hope to also return to blogging in the near future.

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? The poetry critique group of California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch, which I lead two times a month, has offered much-needed support as I labor with some of my poems. The members are careful listeners, and they offer critique with enthusiasm. I’ve found the structure and discipline necessary to keep on writing.

Who’s your favorite author? It’s hard to choose just one. I always look forward to reading Jack Kerouac, John Irving, and Jennifer Lauck. My favorite author of all time is John Steinbeck.

What is the best book you ever read? The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I’ve read it at least three times. I admire its structure, honesty, and intense feeling.

How long did it take you to write your first book? It took five years to write Don’t Leave Yet. I belonged to a writing class in 2004 with Ellen Bass, reading pages each week from my notebook for critique. My mother passed away in 2008, and I was uncertain as to whether or not I could continue to write our story. Ellen, and my fellow writers, were instrumental in my effort to bring the manuscript to its completion a year later.

How long to get it published? Don’t Leave Yet was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference writing competition in the memoir category in 2011. One agent from San Francisco who attended the Conference found the book interesting, but that was it. I pursued other agents with no luck. Then I heard about Brooke Warner, the publisher of She Writes Press. I worked with an editor she recommended. She Writes published my memoir in 2015.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? When I read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, I thought I might cross her off my list. But when I discovered Truth and Beauty, I was hooked.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I began writing Don’t Leave Yet without an outline. By the time I completed the third chapter, I had decided an outline was necessary since I wove together scenes of the present with those of the past. It was a way of keeping characters and events clear in my mind.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I plan to continue placing my poems in literary journals if I’m lucky. I will also enter my chapbook, Treading Water, in more literary competitions with the goal of publication. It was recently named a finalist in Blue Lights Press writing contest.

Do you have any advice for new writers? First and foremost, be true to yourself. Write what’s meaningful and what you love. Observe the world. Read widely. And don’t ever let others tell you that you can’t write.

How do our readers contact you?

chanstedt@aol.com
https://www.constancehanstedt.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Constance-Hanstedt/486020558210730

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Violet Moore

    Great interview, Connie. I wish you continued success with your writing.

    Reply
  2. Bruce Lewis

    A fascinating author. I can relate to so much of her experience. Great blog post.

    Reply
  3. Karen A Phillips

    Nice interview. I am sure journaling and writing about your experience with your mother during her dementia-type Alzheimers helped you through what must have been a difficult time.

    Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    Good interview. You gave some excellent advise on writing. Poetry is an excellent way to develop a keen ear for metaphor and succinctness. One of my college mentors was a big Steinbeck fan and did his master’s thesis on contrasting the series of newspaper articles Steinbeck wrote while traveling with the dust bowl families to his subsequent novelization of the experience in The Grapes of Wrath. Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
    • Connie Hanstedt

      Thank you, Michael. I appreciate your comments and recollection of one of your college mentors. John Steinbeck’s novels showed me how an author can connect with readers on so many levels.

      Reply

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