Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog Hop

I was asked by Matt Posner, a novelist and teacher and friend of mine, to participate in a blog hop by answering four questions about my writing. Though they seem simple, they're actually quite thought provoking. 
Hello! Is it me you're looking for?
Here are the questions:
1) What am I working on?
So much. Maybe too much? 

My main project right now is a non-fiction history book. It's about a mule train packer called Jean Caux, who was originally from France, and came to British Columbia in 1858 for the Fraser River gold rush. Jean Caux, whose nickname was Cataline, is a sort of folk hero in British Columbia history. Click this link to a bit more about the book and to a very cool photograph of him.

Cataline was just a regular, every day sort of guy. He worked hard in his new country, he was a kind man, he was a good friend, he was a reliable and honest person, and was true to himself. Eventually, because his career was so long--it spanned from the 1850s to the 1910s--he became known throughout the province as a unique and almost mythological character. Due to the nature of his occupation, and the length of time he spent at it, he was often at the forefront of major events in British Columbia, and met many famous historical figures. In the end, he became a rather historical figure himself. I found myself intrigued and charmed by the man, and hope readers will be too.

I've recently branched out into fiction writing.
I am working on a bunch of different short stories. Some of these are stories I've already written, and am now revisiting them and revising them. Others are new, just fresh off the branch. Yet others still are stories I'm writing for the two fiction-writing courses I'm taking. And still more are stories I'm writing to enter into contests. This is my year for learning how to write fiction. Or so I tell myself, anyway.

My fiction is usually dark, gloomy and death is usually featured in some way and probably it will be winter. Right now, I'm also a little bit obsessed with Mars, so that's been working its way into the writing as well.

I'll be the first to admit it's a little gloomy
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My non-fiction is always about every day people doing extraordinary things. I don't know if this is different from others in this genre, but it's what I like to read and therefore, what I like to write.

I am not sure if my fiction is different from others in its genre, mostly because I don't know what genre I'm writing in. I mean, yes, it's mostly about death, but they're not mystery stories, or gothic stories, or goth stories. You tell me! A sample of my fiction can be found here.
3) Why do I write what I do?

Non-fiction: I like to see how these folks fit into their society, and how they interacted with others. It also makes me understand history a lot more when I can read about one regular person and seeing their lives can be put into context by how they lived through major events in history. 

Fiction: I only recently that I discovered that pretty much everything I write has a death of some sort, whether it be a character that dies, or discusses someone who died in the past, or someone's experience is so devastating that their soul dies, or the environment dies. I'm not all that gloomy in real life, so I don't really know how to explain this, except that without death, there is no life. And that death is an integral part of life on earth. So I write about it in order to understand it, I guess.
I wrote it, and you can buy it!
4) How does my writing process work?

It alternates between agonizing, painful, and snail-like punctuated with wild ideas that couldn't possibly be workable. Somehow, the two poles come together in a glorious mess. 

My non-fiction ideas come from reading. When I read about some aspect or event that I want to know more about it, my first instinct is to see if there's a book I can read about it. If there isn't, I start researching, and sometimes, I write a book about the subject. 

That's what happened when I wrote my book about Lillian Alling. Lillian was a young Eastern-European immigrant who was living in New York. Like many immigrants, she missed her home in the old country and wanted to return home. But she chose a different method than most. She figured she could walk to Siberia and head home from there. Starting in 1926, Lillian walked across North America, and was in Nome Alaska by the late summer of 1929. She was extremely eccentric, and an extraordinary woman.

When I first heard of Lillian, I figured the story was just a folk tale. But a bit of research proved me wrong. By then I was so intrigued, I wanted to read a book about her, but couldn't find one that fit the bill. So I wrote one myself. Wanna read it? American readers, click here for the e-book. Click here for the paperback. Canadian? Click here for the ebook. And here for the paperback.

Well, that's enough from me. But, next week, March 17 , check out the following three authors who will continue the blog hop over on their own blogs:

Amalia Dillin is the author of the Fate of the Gods Trilogy.
Find her on these sites:

Jenna Willett is a native of Denver, Colorado. Currently, she's working as a Lead Copywriter for a Denver ad agency, while pursuing her ultimate dream as a traditionally published author. 
In 2011, she optioned one of her young adult manuscripts to Envision Media Arts, a film, television and commercial production company based at Paramount Studios. She also enjoys writing the occasional short story or flash fiction piece, including her most recent, "Chasing Monsters". 
Besides writing, Jenna is proud to call herself a book lover advocate. It's rare to find her without a novel in her bag, especially one from the ever expanding YA genre. Through her blog and her own words, she's determined to instill a great passion for reading in those around her. 

Find her here:
Twitter: @jenspenden

Robin Diana Ashe is the author of Empire State Vamps and dark faerie tales.
She can be found here:
Twitter: @VampWriterGRRL

And thank you to Matt Posner, novelist and teacher, for introducing me to this blog hop. Here's how you can find Matt:
Twitter:   @schooloftheages

And me? I can be found on Twitter @susmithjosephy and at the links on the top right side of this blog.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Someone Borrowed my Toilet Plunger and Did Not Return it So I Wrote this Poem

Tomorrow never comes
Only today exists
In our minds, and in our future
Let us realize this forever
Everyone is the same, but so different
Take the time to understand this, it's not so hard

Ponder the deepness of the universe
Lead the way with your thoughts
Understand you're not the only one who thinks this way
Never feel alone in the universe
God may exist, or not
Even the simplest of man realizes that

Remember, remember

The Mind of a Writer

Robert DeNiro - Academy Awards 2014