Sunday Interview – Steve Wiegenstein

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Happy Sunday, Everyone! Today, I have another interview with Steve Wiegenstein. You may remember the last time we spoke, but if you are a recent follower or would like to read it again to refresh your memory, you can find it here (July 22, 2012). Before we begin, if you’d like to read an excerpt from his first book, Slant of Light, to familiarize yourself with the story,  you can find it here.

Hi, Steve! Thanks for joining me again! Before we talk about your sequel, please tell us how Slant of Light has been received. Of all the reviews you’ve received, which one is your favorite?

The reviews have been so gratifying! Not a negative one in the bunch, and only a couple that I would even describe as lukewarm. I have two favorites. One was from Sarah Johnson, whose work with the Historical Novel Society is something I admire greatly. She’s the book review editor for Historical Novels Review and maintains her own blog, Reading the Past. She wrote, “A thoroughly American story with more than regional appeal, Slant of Light is intellectually involving from the outset, and its flawed characters have a way of latching onto readers’ emotions.” I loved that description. My other favorite was from a historian, Stephen Rockenbach, who reviewed it in Nola Diaspora. He praised the book’s “flawless research and relentless attention to detail.” And coming from a historian, that’s high praise! Here are links to those reviews: http://readingthepast.blogspot.com/2012/05/book-review-slant-of-light-by-steve.html

That’s high praise indeed! Congratulations! 🙂

Slant of Light

How has life changed for you since Slant of Light was published?

Well, I’ve been going to a lot more fairs and festivals! I believe in this book so much that I spend lots of weekends doing speaking appearances and promotional gigs of one sort or another. Thank goodness, my wife has been a trouper and accompanied me on most of them. 

What was your most thrilling moment since having Slant of Light published?

Two moments come to mind. First is the launch event, when we completely packed Subterranean Books in St. Louis and sold the place out. The clerks had to take names and promise to send people books as soon as they got in a new shipment! The second was when I came home one day and found a letter telling me that the book had come in second for the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction.

Fantastic! 🙂

I noticed a new section on your website –For Teachers’. Please tell us about it.

Some university instructors have started using the book in their English classes and I’ve had comments from secondary school teachers that they’d like to add it as an option to their students’ reading lists. So I asked a friend to create a teachers’ guide to the novel, and she did a marvelous job! It’s freely available for teachers to use in their lesson planning.

I’m glad they are studying it in the schools. 🙂

Do you know, yet, when the sequel to Slant of Light will be coming out in print?

I’m hoping for a fall release. The manuscript is at the publisher’s, now, and I’m waiting to hear if there are any changes requested. I’m eager for people to get their hands on it.

Would you like to tell us a little about it?

The working title is This Old World, from a hymn of the same name. Slant of Light ended with the dispersal of the men of the community with the outbreak of the American Civil War. This Old World begins with the end of that war and the return of the surviving men. In the interim, the women have been running the community for four years, so some tension will be evident. And in actuality, all of American society changed during that period. Pre-war beliefs and attitudes vanished forever, and everyone had to face a new reality of life in a society that was more mechanized, more impersonal, and in many ways harsher. This Old World explores those themes. A lot of readers’ favorite characters are back, but there’s a whole new crew as well.

I love anything historical. This sounds wonderful! 🙂

Are there any links you’d like to share?

You bet! 
My publisher’s website: www.blankslatepress.com
My own website: www.stevewiegenstein.com
Links to some reviews and a radio interview: http://www.stevewiegenstein.com/press_kit
I really enjoyed hearing your radio interview, Steve. I hope my readers pop over to give it a listen, too!
Thanks for joining us, today, and best of luck with This Old World. I hope we’ll hear from you again when it comes out in the fall. 🙂
* * * * *
Book blurb for A Slant of Light:
Set during the brink of the Civil War, this beautifully written novel traces James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer; Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride; and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist as they are drawn together in a social experiment deep in the Missouri Ozarks. Inspired by utopian dreams of building a new society, Turner is given a tract of land to found the community of Daybreak: but not everyone involved in the project is a willing partner, and being the leader of a remote farming community isn’t the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature quickly to deal with the challenges of building the community while facing her husband’s betrayals and her growing attraction to Cabot. In turn, Cabot struggles to reconcile his need to leave Daybreak and join the fight against slavery with his desire to stay near the woman he loves. As the war draws ever closer, the utopians try to remain neutral and friendly to all but soon find neutrality is not an option. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand—both in their political and personal lives.
Steve Wiegenstein holds a PhD in English from the University of Missouri and has taught at Centenary College of Louisiana, Culver-Stockton College, Drury University, and Western Kentucky University. He is currently the associate dean for graduate students at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri, and is a board member of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Sunday Interview – Kellie Elmore

Kellie Elmore is a poet and author, living in the state of Tennessee. She loves to transform the simplest words into ‘something you can feel’. She finds inspiration in photography, nature and her ‘humble surroundings’. Please welcome her to my blog!

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Hi, Kellie!

Hi Susan. Thanks so much for having me.

After dropping by to read your blog, I was quite impressed with your bio, especially reading the part where you made it onto the ‘Famous Tennesseans’ list! Was that because of your book, Magic In The Backyard?

Making the Famous Tennesseans list was definitely a treat. To see my name in between two of my favorite people, Justin Timberlake and Kenny Chesney, was exciting. Because Magic in the Backyard had so much of a southern theme and me being from Tennessee of course, I assume that is what allowed me to be a part of the list. No matter the reason, I am truly ecstatic about it.

Product DetailsYou’ve also had some fabulous reviews for Magic In The Backyard. Which review is your favorite?

Every review I have ever received for any of my work, published or shared on my blog, is always a delight. I favor all of them in fact. Just hearing that people enjoy what I do makes me happy.

In addition to that, you’ve published a book of poetry entitled Jagged Little Pieces. What were some of the inspirations for writing the poems in it?

Product Details

The primary inspiration for Jagged was pain and inner turmoil. I lost two very important people in my life, my grandmother and my uncle, both who raised me. Then of course losing love, or what I thought to be love at the time. The pieces in Jagged were written during those times of heartbreak. But I also decided to include some more personal pieces of myself that I had originally decided would never see the light of day. Pieces written from inside places of depression and anxiety and kept tucked away in a journal. After being online and seeing that so many people out there struggle daily with personal demons, I felt it almost an obligation to them to share my own. Just to say “Hey, you are not alone.” “We have all felt this way at some point”. Or “No you are not weird… you are human.” I had a bad case of the nerves before the release, afraid of what people might think of this ‘darker’ side because everyone who follows my work knows only the pretty, flowery stuff. In order to claim the title ‘writer’ and be completely true to the art…and to my fans, I had to allow myself to open up and be completely honest. In the end, people were very accepting and I have received a multitude of emails where people have opened up and shared their story with me, thanking me for sharing mine. That is all I could ever ask for. To know that my words touched someone on a personal level.

As writers, I think that’s what we all want – to know our words “touched someone on a personal level.” 🙂

What was the publishing process like for you, getting these two books into print?

First was many years of spilling every single thing I have been through onto paper. Learning and finding my own voice. When I decided to take my work public, I was still very intimidated, but I found a great group of poets (at AllPoetry.com) who were so encouraging and supportive. Ultimately, I stepped out and created my blog (originally Magic in the Backyard) and gathered a following which led me to make the acquaintance of some talented published authors (such as Heather Grace Stewart, author of Where the Butterflies Go and Leap) and doors began to open for me. Winter Goose Publishing was a fairly new small press looking to take on and grow a family of poets when the larger presses were not willing to take that chance. They welcomed me with open arms and made the publishing and editing process a breeze, giving me a lot more freedom than one might receive elsewhere. I have published two collections with them and a third coming out in November. My first full length novel is also in the works and I look to publish next year.

That sounds great! Good luck! 🙂

Please tell us a little bit about the book, If The World Were My Classroom, in which your poem, ‘Keys’ is published and the organization for which it raises money.

If the World Were My Classroom is an anthology of poems and narratives collected by She’s the First (dot org) to raise money for girls’ education in developing nations. Tammy Tibbets(Founder) partnered with Studio Alchemy, Zinch.com and the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and launched ‘Voice Your Verse’ which resulted in submissions from over 8,000 poets and writers worldwide. One hundred pieces were selected for inclusion, including my poem ‘Keys’. I am honored to have been a part of such an amazing project. All proceeds go to fund girls’ education globally.

That is such a wonderful cause!

There is a segment on your blog where you talk about writing. For all the aspiring, emerging and established writers who may read this, what is the best piece of advice you can give them?

The very best advice I ever read on writing was written by Charles Bukowski who said, “If it doesn’t burst out of you, don’t do it.” In my years of learning and searching my own voice, this statement has rang the most true. So my advice is always, when you feel it, write it. Don’t force your pen. Don’t try to mimic another writer. Write what is pressing on your heart and soul the very best way you know how with your own honest to goodness words no matter how simple they are and your readers will feel it. Writing is like weeping; it’s a beautiful emotional release of something inside that needs set free. You cannot do it wrong. (Find answers to similar questions on my FAQ page on my blog.)

Where can we find your books?

You can purchase both Magic in the Backyard and Jagged Little Pieces in print or ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, the Winter Goose Publishing bookstore or at any other book retailer online.

Would you like to tell us a little about your current writing project(s)?

I’d love to! I am really excited about my first novel. It began as a 200 word piece of prose, developed into a 2,000 word short story and now is a 25,000 word novella in which I am pushing to lengthen into a full length novel. It is definitely an experience and much different than poetry, but I have high hopes that it will be filled with emotion just the same. I am documenting my journey on my blog (in my Author Notes series) for my readers. I have found that since I decided to pull them in to the process and allow them to give feedback throughout my ups and downs the milestones and struggles, I am able to stay focused and motivated as well as engage and allow my readers to walk with me on the road to completion. Once I near the end, I plan to give them the opportunity to name characters along with other contests that will make them feel more a part of the book. If it were not for them, and my writing coach Rebecca T. Dickson, it would not have come this far. I want to give back to them in some way.

Of your ten most shared quotes, which is your favorite?

“I don’t want someone to believe my lies, I need someone to accept my truths.” Because ultimately, we all long for love and acceptance.

When you’re not writing or blogging, what might someone find you doing?

Fishing.

Are there any social media links you would like to share with us? 

Yes. And I would love to have you join me!
Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorkellieelmore 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kellie_elmore 
Website:http://kellieelmore.com

I appreciate the time you’ve donated to answer my questions, Kellie. I wish you well with all your writing endeavors. 🙂

It was my pleasure. Thank you again for the opportunity. So nice chatting with you, Susan. My best to you as well.

For those who want to learn a little more about Kellie’s books, here are the blurbs:

Magic In The Backyard: Growing up in a small town, Kellie Elmore learned of love and loss within her humble “backyard” surroundings. Weaving stories inspired by these emotions and the vast nature of the East Tennessee foothills has become her passion. You will feel the enchantment at the center of this collection of prose and poetry as you are completely taken in by the allure of Magic in the Backyard. [View trailer here]

 Jagged Little PiecesPoet Kellie Elmore delivers a sharp look inside the human condition with Jagged Little Pieces. Articulately divided into the emotional fragments concerning death, love, depression, and hope, this collection leads the reader through a metamorphosis from a shattered past of heartbreak and loss to a hopeful and inspired present. [View trailer here]

If The World Were Your Classroom: One out of five girls in countries She’s the First operates in don’t get the chance to go to secondary school. This book will help to change that. One hundred percent of proceeds sponsor girls’ education in Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
**Anthology features the poem titled “Keys” by Kellie Elmore
(It can be purchased here)