Sunday, May 29, 2011

Author Insides - Tammy Salyer


Tammy Salyer's humorous short story, "A Brigand's Lament," appears in the Spring 2011 issue of The Battered Suitcase. Tammy is an ex-paratrooper who replaced the thrill of jumping with the thrill of writing about things that are even crazier than she is. She has a lot less bruises now and gets to have fun now, no matter what the weather is.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  

Somehow, I’ve always known I wanted to write. It’s in my blood. I remember creating a life goals list when I was about eleven. It contained several goals I’ve already achieved, i.e., buy a motorcycle and get a tattoo. It also included meeting Stephen King (haven’t done that one yet), and of course, write. I left that one open-ended — I didn’t yet know that there was a vast territory of different types and styles of writing. So far, I’ve done quite a few of them, and just never get tired of seeing the magic of written words and how they create new realities.

Why do you write?
Writing feeds my soul in a way that nothing short of a near-death experience has. Is there anything more theory-based and creative than the inventions of the mind? Anything you wish for, you can make be if you put the time and energy into writing about it. Writing is truly more nourishing and satisfying to that metaphysical part of me than anything else could ever be.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?
Being a writer seems to mean so many different things to different people, and even to myself on a given day. For me, some days being a writer means beating my head against my desk until the words shake out. Other days, it’s more glamorous; it’s more about the zen of creativity. But ultimately, when people call me a “writer”, that’s when I start to feel like I’ve achieved what I imagined writing would be. More of an identity than an occupation. Just like the phrase “being a writer” means many different things to people, the word “success” means different things. To me, in a more public sense, they are about the same thing. I know I will have achieved what I imagined being a writer would be when I achieve success.

What do you think makes a good story?
A good story is a combination of so many factors; it’s a perfect storm of a cadre of juicy characters, exciting plot, interesting setting, and the well-woven layers of all of the above. For me to really enjoy a book, there has to be both interesting (though not necessarily likable) characters and a story that intrigues me. Stories like Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” or Neal Stephenson’s “Snowcrash.”

What's your favorite genre to read?
None, all. I haven’t read in a genre that doesn’t contain gold. It’s not the genre that makes a good book, it’s the skill of the author.

Who is your favorite author or poet?
The list could go on forever. I find that most authors have something in their style that resonates with me, even if it’s just a turn of phrase or an amazing character. There is a nugget of brilliance in every book written. A couple of authors that I return to over and over are Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman. Also Jonathan Safran Foer and Stephen King. I’m eclectic in my tastes.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
Ooh, what a magical question. It just makes me want to pull out all of my inspirations and reread them. I’ll start with Stephen King’s “The Stand” and “It.” Those two stories were masterful in the way they wove together so many marvelous characters as well as how they could jump around in time and place. I also loved his book “On Writing” which validated every hope I have in me to expose my writing out to the world. Then there is the Lord of the Rings trilogy which is the best example I’ve found of pure creation, both the physical and metaphysical. Tolkien’s brilliance was having had the imagination to create an entire world and its history and the talent to make them accessible in all their elegance to readers.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
Inspiration for new stories strikes out of the blue. I can be mixing cream in my coffee or having a conversation with friends and some random thought or comment will trigger the idea for a new story. Most of the time, they’re really out there and I just get excited to explore the idea further with no idea where it will take me. In that way, writing is very much like being the word nerd equivalent of Indiana Jones. You’re always chasing some new imaginative artifact that could change the world (or at least, the imaginary world) and there are often obstacles in the way (like your real job). Writing is inspiring in and of itself just because it’s such an adventure.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
To get into writing zen mode, or the flow, I often seek out interviews with some of my favorite writers and read them first. This seems to placate my internal editor who thinks it’s all just a big waste of time. To hear / read about people I admire struggling and feeling doubt at times helps me realize I don’t have to be perfect and loosens the mental cogs enough to let me start just writing without self-judgment. That will come back in when I allow the internal editor back on the scene.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I often write science fiction and find the need to do research a challenge. I’d rather make up what I don’t know than hunt down the facts, but I’ve come to terms with the reality that readers expect certain rules to be followed. I think it helps people to know they can rely on a stable foundation of physical truth in order to suspend disbelief and accept some of the greater imaginative elements of a good scifi story.

What are your current projects?
I’m currently writing my first paranormal fiction novel. It’s set in Canada and Greenland and is based on an ancient blood feud between Inuits and Vikings. And I’m editing the second book in an action adventure series I started a few years ago.

What are you planning for future projects?
I’ll write the third and final installment of the action adventure series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Believe in yourself. Join a critique group with like-minded souls. And don’t do it if you don’t love doing it.

Where can we find your work?
I have two other shorts published in Ghostlight Magazine and The Living Dead Press’s anthology “Emails of the Dead.” I also have a blog where I offer personal ramblings on everything from movie reviews to publishing at

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Author Insides - Bruce Bromley


Author Bruce Bromley's short story "Saying It' appears in the Sprint 2011 issue of The Battered Suitcase. Bruce has performed his poetry and music at the John Drew Theatre (East Hampton), the Berklee Performance Center (Boston), Shakespeare and Company (Paris), The Village Voice (Paris), and at the 1986 Edinburgh Theatre Festival, where the Oxford Theatre Troupe performed his play, Sound for Three Voices. His work has appeared in Word Riot Magazine, Fogged Clarity, Pif Magazine, Gargoyle Magazine, Fringe Magazine, the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, and Women and Performance, among other journals. He is senior lecturer in expository writing at NYU, where he won the 2006 Golden Dozen Award for teaching excellence.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Even as a child of five or six, I always wrote—about long walks to the sea, to the river when we lived near New York City, and about my sense of the shape of each day. The words seemed to underscore that shaping experience was possible.

Why do you write?
I write stories, academic-exploratory essays, plays, poems, all for akin reasons: to manifest thinking on the page, thinking about human matters pertinent, I hope, to all of us, since we are each striving to be a part of the world, which will always exceed what we say of it (indeed, that is one of the world’s virtues, I think).

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?
It is both harder and more wonderful than, as a child, I’d ever hoped.

What do you think makes a good story?
A powerful, singing voice or voices, building up a verbal shape worthy of being shared.

What's your favorite genre to read?
I’d have to identify two: the novel and poetry.

Who is your favorite author or poet?
Virginia Woolf, for the novel, and Rainer Maria Rilke for poetry.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
Woolf’s The Waves and, recently, Deborah Eisenberg’s collected stories.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?
For this, I’d have to say: the poetry of Rilke’s Duino Elegies.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
In music, always: in a world where the shutting down of feeling is so often all around us, music wakes me up, attuning what requires attunement. I play, for example, John Adams’s El Niño; anything by Arvo Pärt; the viol music of Jordi Savall; the songs of Joni Mitchell, on a daily basis, in order to remember what emotion, proportioned, can make.

What does your family think of your writing?
They tell me they are happy that it exists in the world.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
 I write, usually, three hours a day, always looking out at the old, many-branched tree outside my window.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
Yes: I begin by playing a piece of music which affords me the courage to believe in words and their expressive powers.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The interconnections among different strands of time in lived experience: I find it challenging and exciting to work at this sort of interweaving.

What are your current projects?
Writing more stories; teaching an advanced course at NYU on the essay and some of our culture’s foundational texts, working with students who attempt to rethink the human issues at stake in those texts.

What are you planning for future projects?
I’d like to try to organize my work into book form, though I know that book publication is its own fraught process.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Believe that our commitment to what words can do is worth all that it requires of us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Releases from Vagabondage Press

An Animal's Guide to Earthly Salvation by Jack R. Johnson

"Where do animal souls go when they die? Do animals even have souls? Kierkegaard suggests not," Jeffrey Rawlings notes. "Something to bear in mind while kissing your hound."

An assistant at an urban veterinary clinic, Jeffrey Rawlings has decided to take a break from graduate studies and instead pulls nightshift at the animal hospital while studying the modern philosophers - "from Kierkegaard to Marx" - to no avail: wounded animals hound his existence. Jeffrey’s hypochondriac mother may be dying of ovarian cancer, his money-hungry sister needs bucks for her 40-year-old husband’s braces, and a heroin-hooked runaway is set on his seduction. Meanwhile, the neighborhood transvestite swears he is Billie Holiday raised from the dead. But the worst comes when his perpetually indiscrete Uncle Raymond winds up getting shot. Soon enough, Jeffrey learns, it’s not just the animals that need a cure.

Available in Digital and Print HERE
Also on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Omnilit


The Tradesman’s Entrance by Cameron Vale

Virginal Stephen Patterson is suffering from writers block on his latest money-spinning bodice-ripper, and his mood can only get worse when Dave the plumber shows up two hours late, mocks him, and plunders his pantry.

But first impressions can be deceptive; Dave is a highly unusual tradesman with an odd line in biscuit-based philosophy, an open-minded approach to sex, and a cast-iron certificate in unblocking all sorts of pipes.

When Dave decides that it’s long past time for Stephen to unclog years of fear and insecurity, Stephen may finally discover who he really is.

Download Digital for Kindle, Nook, Stanza
Soon on Amazon, B&N and AllRomance

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Release! Children by Maggie Clark

New Digital Short Release

New technology, old grievances, ageless crimes: Chris’s world as a news editor runs the gamut when a missing person’s case collides with a mysterious website in her old haunt, the arts beat. Chris should be thrilled, but a thick slice of office politicking stifles her quest for understanding at every turn. Chris can’t shake the feeling of futility dogging her every move. In a world of increasing uncertainty, what passes now for inner strength?
CHILDREN is a deftly woven tapestry of beautiful language, haunting imagery and tension, a moving and thought-provoking work.
Maggie Clark was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and attended the University of Waterloo, where she completed a joint honours in Political Science and English Literature, spending two years as full-time Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper. Maggie has since seen her first play read at the 2010 Magnetic North Theatre Festival, as well as having on-going writing opportunities emerge in film.
On Sale at Amazon, B&N and Vagabondage Press