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Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Please say Hello to DEBUT Author Phillip Twining!

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2012 at 9:31 am

Please say Hello to DEBUT Author Phillip Twining! “The Story of Eva Burns” in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables, is his first paid-published story. We hope to see many more stories that feature his unusual, mind-bending twists that Eva Burns introduces us to.

Let’s get right to it. How did you find Open Heart Publishing?

I don’t remember! I might have done an internet search for writing contests.

 

There you go, folks, a true writer is born. You can usually find us in Duotrope and many networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs. Just look for Open Heart Publishing!

Since this is your first publication, can you hint what else you may have in store for us?

I’m currently writing a series of essays on public education. I’m absolutely appalled with the way Texas is treating its children and turning schools into drill camps. I advocate for stronger community control of public schools, more equitable distribution of funds, and an easing of standards so students can aim for enlightenment instead of commodification and docility.

 

Sounds like you may have a bit of an agenda-bone in you. Do you discuss politics, or religion, or other important issues in your works?

The story I have published in An Honest Lie [“The Story of Eva Burns”] is not consciously political and, as far as I can tell, not religious at all. It may be one of the last stories I’ve written that hasn’t had politics in mind. For although it’s not necessary for a story to take a political stance to be good, today I feel morally obligated to address and discuss social inequities in my writing.

Of course I have certain principles that I adhere to, but I think it’s important to acknowledge prevailing viewpoints—even if they’re not my own—and to make writing a collective effort. That is, I think the public has to be kept in mind if the author has any intention of moving them. And I do. Therefore, I want to reach the viewpoint readers most likely already have—say, on some moral issue—but to make it kinetic and alive.

 

This is an outstanding and heartfelt viewpoint. I think most writers would agree that we have a responsibility to the public and to our readers. What about to our publishers? Which is more important: Writing without constraint, or within the confines of a publisher’s guidelines? Why?

Reasonable deadlines are healthy, but, yeah, the writer needs all the freedom he or she can get. So much of what we write is trapped in ideological bubbles and to codify that type of writing is oppressive. Of course publishers are trying to cover their own end and it’s a constant struggle for creative freedom and the bottom line. Small publishers seem to be better about managing the two.

 

Wow, there’s a thought we can hook into. Why do you think small publishers are better at managing artistic freedoms? Does this make you less likely to seek publication with a larger house? And how does this influence what you read?

I work at a radical/progressive bookstore called MonkeyWrench Books. We’re volunteer owned and operated and any decisions effecting the store are made collectively. Our goal is not only to provide books you wouldn’t normally find in large bookstore chains, but also to provide a safe space for community events, organizing, and education. We’ve been around for ten years and even in the sour book economy we’re still thriving and championing social justice.

Since book sales have fallen, we [MonkeyWrench Books] have lost credit with the large publishers and distros, but our friends in the small publishing firms, with whom we have actual interpersonal relations, have been patient with debt collection and continue to help us out during a particularly rough financial time. We do a lot of business with small publishers whose duty is to forward a message of social justice and radical critique of our current political situation.

Personally, by delving into the independent and radical publications, I’ve not only improved my critique of many facets of US foreign and domestic policy, corporate capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, but I’ve been roused to act on a local level to organize and mobilize my community. Currently, I’m working with a friend to begin a free language school that brings together Spanish and English speakers who don’t normally interact. The aim is to have them teach each other not only their language, but share their culture as well. Without books on radical, popular education that we receive from small, independent publishers, we’d be at a loss on how to effectively organize our school.

 

Wow. That is an impressive and aggressive agenda to pursue. I know for me that writing is very therapeutic, as well as self-educating. Why do you think that is?

Lots of reasons, I’m sure. It’s good to get the chaos out of your mind and logically piece it together on paper. It’s also nice to know that you are producing something and that you have something to say that matters enough to be planned out and executed.

 

Outstanding. You are a deep-thinking individual, but let’s change gears and ask a fun question. If you lost your dominant arm, how would you continue writing?

I’d move to Montparnasse, hang out in cafes, and smoke lots of cigarettes. Worked for Cendrars.

 

There you go! Another sign of a true writer. Let’s finish with a blurb about your childhood family.

My father was a pediatrician and my mother drove my brother and me around to our respective soccer and football practices. There was always plenty to eat and we all had our own rooms. Like many kids in my situation, I never thought that anyone lived any differently.

 

Perhaps this helps explain your generous nature. I’d like to thank Phillip Twining for taking the time to answer my questions, and can’t wait to read his story, “The Story of Eva Burns” in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables, coming soon!

Thanks again, Phillip!

Phillip Twining BIO:

Phillip Twining is a new and aspiring writer and poet. As an undergrad, he won the University of Texas at Austin Fall 2009 Writing Contest for best personal essay. He has since been developing his political ideas at MonkeyWrench Books, a radical bookstore, collectively owned and operated in Austin, TX. Thoroughly deserving of invectives like “pinko,” “commie-anarchist,” and “rabble-rouser,” he hopes to soon publish a collection of short stories and poems that deal critically with issues of race and power strucures. Fascinated by the resilience and resistance of youth culture, he has recently become a high school educator in hopes of teaching and learning better ways to confront the problems we face as a society.

 


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications

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Please say Hello to Author DL Hammons!

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2012 at 10:12 am
Please say Hello to first-time Author DL Hammons! His debut short story, “Itinerary”, will be published in Open Heart Publishing’s An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables. He comes to us through, well, let me let him tell you how he found Open Heart Publishing.

Donna Hole [a blogging friend], who is one of the authors included in this anthology, had one of her stories included in a previous volume of An Honest Lie and when she was spreading the news about that book she suggested that [writers] who were looking for ways to get their writing out there, submit to Open Heart. I took her up on the suggestion and here I am.

Well, I for one am very happy you found us. Donna came through us the same way, via me, so there is definitely something to be said for networking as an upcoming author. Can you tell us about your blogs?

I’ve maintained a writers blog since 2009 and its addrress is:
http://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com/

My Twitter account is: DL_H

I’ve held off establishing a Facebook Author page until I was actually published, so that is on the horizon shortly.

Outstanding. You have over a thousand followers on your blog, which is a lot of support from your online community. How about at home? Do your friends and family support your writing?

Everyone in my family, including my extended family, is totally behind all of my writing pursuits. I bounce plot idea’s off my wife before I write word one, then she’s my number one critique partner while I’m writing. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law, both avid readers, are next in line for critiques. The entire family has devoted long car rides taking turns reading my novel out loud to catch needed edits. I’ve developed and practiced my elevator pitch for hours with my daughter. My family is behind me 110%!

Wow. You’re a lucky man to have so many devoted family members. Two questions: 1) Can you give us your elevator pitch for said novel? 2) What have you learned most about hearing someone else read your story aloud?

1) Elevator pitch: I like to compare my novel – FALLEN KNIGHT – to a hybrid between David Baldacci’s The Camel Club and a adult version of The Goonies. It revolves around small group of tight-knit friend’s quest to find the person responsible for beating one of their own into a coma. Teaming up with a female private investigator they are soon drawn into a murderous plan involving a copy-cat Columbine attack and a bio-terrorist threat targeting our nation’s capital. In over their heads they come to doubt themselves, their purpose, and most importantly, their safety, but there is one thing they will never doubt…each other.

2) Having someone else read your writing aloud to you really helps spot those area’s that are clunky, needing more work to smooth out the flow. Even though you’ve gone over your manuscript a hundred times, they stick out like a sore thumb when read aloud. It’s also great way to pick up on plot details that need more context.

Love the pitch for Fallen Knight! How about you personally? Tell us about how you grew up.

I was raised a military brat. Sandwiched between an older and younger brother with one other younger sister, both of our parents were in the Navy. Mom became stay-at-home when us kids started coming along, and we all found our own ways to deal with the constant moves and
adapting to new environments that life in the military demands. Space was always an issue with military housing, but whenever the possibility arose I always had my own room because I kept my space the neatest. My wife now wonders whatever happened to that trait!

Sounds like you traveled quite a bit as a child. Where was your favorite place to live (as a child), and why?

This was a tough choice. We lived in Sheboygan Wisconsin to be near my Mom’s family when my dad was in Vietnam, and I have very special memories from our time there. But I’m going to choose Havelock, North Carolina, for a couple reasons. First, we were stationed there for my entire four years of high school, so it has a special place in my heart. The second reason is that I just really loved the diversity of North Carolina. In thirty minutes and I could be laying on the beach catching rays, or a couple of hours in the other direction I could be hiking in the mountains.

Sounds like quite an adventurous and noble childhood. Let’s talk about your writing style, now. Which is more important: That you make the reader see your viewpoint, or that you make the reader see theirs?

A combination of both. I hope that my writing elicits feelings within the reader that mirror the ones in me when I wrote it, but I’m constantly amazed at the depths some readers can see. The sub-conscious evels at play I wasn’t even aware of when I write that their unique life experiences allow them access to.

That’s an acute observation. I find that readers often see things in my writing that I never consciously intended. Part of being a writer is self-discovery. Which is more important: Writing without constraint, or within the confines of a publisher’s guidelines?

They are equally important. We cannot grow as writers and improve our craft if we’re constrained by whatever borders that exists. However, a publisher knows their market, their targeted readers, and what bodies of work will serve them best. Not staying within a publisher’s guidelines is detrimental to them both, and ultimately the writer.

Well, I’ll conclude on that remark — which every writer should make note of — and say THANK YOU to DL Hammons for taking the time to answer my questions. I have known him for quites some time in the blogosphere, and now through OHP. I know readers are as anxious as I am to read his debut story “Itinerary”, in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables.


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications

Please say Hello to Author Dan Seiters!

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

Please say Hello to Dan Seiters, author of “Aesop Exposed” in An Honest Lie 4: Petulant Parables.


Dan brings us experience as a writer, editor, and publicist, and has multiple publications to his credit. Especially for new and aspiring authors, this is a man worth listening to!

Can you tell us a little about your background?

When I was born in Gary, Indiana, everyone in my neighborhood worked for the steel mills or for the railroad. My father worked for the railroad and donated part of his paycheck to Amanda’s Salty Dog, a bar about a block away.  My mother was happy that he found work but sorely distressed about the wonderful Salty Dog. As I grew older my father would take me to the Salty Dog on Saturday afternoon. I saw it as heaven.  My mother saw it as the other end of the spectrum. An eternal insomniac, I lay in bed, listening to the arguments and waiting for the divorce. It came.

You are not the only author who is the son of a railroad man. Bob Clark’s father also worked the railways. Do the railways find their way into your writing?

I always liked the railroad people who came around our apartment and thought that they lived fascinating lives and told good, funny stories. I haven’t seen my father since I was about six years old, so all fantasies I may have had about becoming a railroad man have slipped away. Although I still like trains and like to use them for transportation, I have never had one of my characters so much as take a train. I don’t know what that says about me.

It’s funny how different aspects of your life and childhood either find their way into your writing, or avoid it altogether. Can you tell us about some of your published works?

Along with a novel entitled The Dastardly Dashing of Wee Expectations, I’ve published a book entitled Image Patterns in the Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a 10,000-word history of Southern Illinois University Press in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook. My stories include “The Killer, Trained and Devastating” in The Viet Nam Generation Anthology and “The Untimely Demise of the Other Frank Sinatra” in the anthology, When Last on the Mountain. Two recent publications are “Bones and Blue Ribbons” in Front Range: A Review of Literature and Art and “Standing Watch” in the Feathered Flounder.

That’s quite a publication list. Have you ever held a book signing?

A friend arranged a book signing at a bookstore for The Dastardly Dashing of Wee Expectations.  The signing was fine but I had more fun when a bunch of us went to the bar later.

It sounds like you are a beer-man. I am as well. Do you find dark or light beer helps you write better?

Ah ha. Good question. Guinness for hard part of writing, Bud Light for light revision.

I am partial to Black-n-Tans for inspiration. Do you have a dedicated writing area that inspires your creativity?

I can only hope that my head is less of a mess than my writing area. Papers and books are stacked everywhere, and if there’s an order, I have yet to discern it. I write in a room on the lower level of a split-level house, and whatever noise there is, I cause. I often listen to jazz (Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bird, Art Blakey) while I write, but I never listen to vocalists because their words often end up in my copy.

Does your family support your habit?

My wife and son both support my writing habit, intuiting that it would not do much good for them to do otherwise.

My family is the same way. As a fun question, I asked you to construct a Haiku about yourself. To our readers, I say, this is brilliant:

Dan sees himself as
a court jester still seeking
to find the right court.

That’s both a fun and deep way of viewing yourself. Do you find deeper themes penetrating your writing, such as religion, politics, and so forth?

I never discuss religion because religion is not very important to me. I write some left-leaning political satire, but by this year’s acrimonious standards, it’s pretty gentle stuff.

I don’t expect to change anyone or convince anyone of anything through my writing, but I’d like to show readers that my view is sane and that I have a reason for it. And of course if one of my characters is absolutely evil or nuts, I’d be pleased if those who saw themselves in that character would re-evaluate their lives. But the short answer is that I’m more interested in letting readers see my point of view.

I think most writers will agree that they have a quiet, personal agenda, and a need to be heard. There are boundaries, however, in publication, to what an author may write and publish. Which is more important: Writing without constraint, or within the confines of a publisher’s guidelines? Why?

I have written a lot of words, both for hire and for myself. While I’d rather write without constraints, it seems to me arrogant to think that you’re so good that you don’t have to listen to someone who is providing you a forum.

I’d like to expound on the above statement. You have experience in the publishing industry, both as author, and inside the publishing house. Please share that knowledge! Can you tell us why an author might want to avoid being too prideful? How does pride affect an author’s chance of success?

Both in my experience as a copy editor and as a publicity manager, I always tried to do the best I could for an author because that was what I was getting paid to do. But to be honest, I know that I worked harder for reasonable people who could accept or reject my suggestions in a civil manner. It was sort of like what you would do for a friend as opposed to for someone you could barely tolerate. Even when people have talent, I have little patience with the “artistic” temperament, and for those with little talent—alas. Also, I think the notion that any work is perfect is perfectly absurd. I feel that any story or poem can be improved and that arrogance gets in the way of that improvement.

Dan, it’s been a wonderful interview! I’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. You bring experience and wise words to our readers, and I know they look forward to reading your story Aesop Exposed, in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables. It is a wonderful, memorable, witty story.

For more than two decades, Dan Seiters was the publicity manager for Southern Illinois University Press, publisher of between fifty and seventy books annually. Dan probably wrote the jacket copy for about 1,500 of these books as well as enough news releases to paper the walls of a huge castle. Although he earned his living writing about scholarly books, his fiction is markedly unscholarly.

Along with a novel entitled The Dastardly Dashing of Wee Expectations, Dan published a book entitled Image Patterns in the Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a 10,000-word history of Southern Illinois University Press in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook. His stories include “The Killer, Trained and Devastating” in The Viet Nam Generation Anthology and “The Untimely Demise of the Other Frank Sinatra” in the anthology, When Last on the Mountain. Four recent publications include “Bones and Blue Ribbons” in Front Range: A Review of Literature and Art, “Standing Watch,” in Feathered Flounder, “Slug Love” in Jersey Devil Press, and “Standing Watch” in An Honest Lie.


 – Eric W. Trant
Author/Editor,
Open Heart Publishing

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications