Tag Archives: Rapid Reads

“A lot of black people are living in circumstances that middle-class and upper-class whites can’t imagine. So, I wrote this book partly to help illuminate that fact.” | Q&A with author William Kowalski about his new book JUMPED IN

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Image linked from the publisher’s website

For many of us readers, we understand the power of the gaining enlightenment through the written word. But for those of us who deal with individuals who are just becoming aware of the power that engaging in the act has, the thrill of sharing the joy of reading can be equally thrilling. Novelist William Kowalski is gifted in documenting the human condition through his books, but his love of his craft and his understanding of the power of his final product shines through his work with Orca Books’ Rapid Reads series. As his latest item for Rapid Reads is about to come out, he answers a few questions for me about his book, JUMPED IN, and he explains the power of the written word has for all of us. JUMPED IN will be released April 18, 2017.

*****

1) First off, could you give an outline of JUMPED IN?

JUMPED IN is part of my Rapid Reads series, which is written for adults who are new to reading.
>p<
It’s the story of a 16-year-old named Rasheed, who lives in a bad neighborhood in a large city. His school is so dangerous that he’s dropped out. His sister was the victim of a drive-by shooting when she was a little girl and is now paralyzed. His mother has become addicted to her daughter’s painkillers. His father’s whereabouts are unknown. His neighborhood is ruled by a gang called the E Street Locals, who are constantly trying to get him to join. Rasheed seeks to escape all this by hanging out on a nearby university campus. Here he meets a campus cop who eventually takes him under his wing and helps him realize that his strong desire to make his world safe for his family again can be translated into a career in law enforcement, rather than always rebelling against authority. The Locals jump him in, but he’s able to escape from them, and we get the sense that he has a real chance to start over.
 

2) Was there anything specifically that caused you to write this book? Is there anything you hope readers will gain from JUMPED IN?

I was motivated partly by the Black Lives Matter movement this past summer. It sprang up in the U.S. as a response to several police shooting of unarmed black men. I was really disgusted by some of the responses of my white friends to the whole thing. They didn’t seem to understand or care that being black in the U.S. is a whole different experience, and that people do not have the same opportunities just because they are Americans. A lot of black people are living in circumstances that middle-class and upper-class whites can’t imagine. So, I wrote this book partly to help illuminate that fact. 
>P<
Like all Rapid Reads book, I also wrote it to address a specific audience. I wanted to create a character that my readers could identify with. These books are written for teens and adults who are interested in becoming better readers. A lot of them are locked up. We know that a disproportionate number of people of color go to jail in our society. This book is for them, too. Not only does it show them that someone out there understands them, but it helps them see there’s a way out, too.
 

3) The Rapid Reads website has this listed as your seventh book with them. Has your writing changed at all since your first book with this series? 

I think it’s become clearer and simpler, a little more so with every book. Writing this way is good for me. I have to practice my basic techniques over and over. I think it keeps me fresh.
 

4) Have you had any contact with any readers of your books from the Rapid Reads series? If yes, what was their reaction to your books?

I get lots of letters from people who read these books. Often, their adult education instructors will forward them to me. They seem to really like them. For many of them, it’s the first book they’ve ever read. That’s a big deal. You never forget your first book. They’re proud of themselves for having finished. They let me know what they liked and didn’t like about the story, and they are always curious to know if I will write more. I always write back.
 

5) Do you think you will be doing any future books for Rapid Reads?

I hope to continue to write a book a year for the Orca people! We have a great relationship, and it’s working well for both of us.
*****

Exploring Elements of the Human Condition in a ‘Rapid Read’ | Review of “The Middle Ground” by Zoe Whittall (2010) Orca Books

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Since the release of Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People a few months ago (link to my review), people in my circles have not only been talking about her book but also their own actions and desires in comparison to that story. So it seems fitting that some of her other writings need to be explored, especially her work for Orca Book’s Rapid Reads series entitled The Middle Ground.

Pages 1-2

When he put the gun to my neck, I closed my eyes. A simple reflex. I imagined the cold metal tip was really just a magic marker, a wet cat’s nose, or the small superball my son was always losing behind the couch cushions.

What happens when you feel the graze of a gun against your skin? Either you die or your whole life is changed.

I’d been doing this thing while drinking black coffee. I would close my eyes so I could pretend it still had cream in it. Apparently, you can lose five pounds in a month just by giving up the half-and-half. I’d been trying to psych myself out. Eyes shut, I’d imagine it all differently.

It didn’t work with the gun either.

Whittall knows what great literature is suppose to do, give readers pause to consider the ‘human condition.’ And she manages to do it with this small story about Missy Turner.  Readers are vaulted into Missy’s ordinary life – a good job, a great husband and a teenage son who is a great kid – but all that is ruined in one bad day, and as we follow the narrative, we share Missy’s emotions and heartache through the story. Then the man with the gun appears and a rush of chaos and confusion envelops us all.

Page 29-30

Instead of quietly backing toward the door or trying to dial 9-1-1 on my cell phone – I kept it turned off and buried under all my purse crap -I walked around the counter and stood beside Christina. Maybe it was the look of complete terror on her face. Or the fact that I had held her as a squirming pink newborn. Or the whimper she made as she dropped the book and fumbled with the cash register.

He let go of her necklace and placed both hands on the small pistol.

“Don’t hurt her,” I heard myself saying. “She’s just a girl. Whole life ahead of her.”

“Shut up, lady, and get back around to this side of the counter, all right? Don’t push any buttons. Just vie me the money, and I’ll be on my way.” He tapped his foot, like he was impatiently waiting at the bank on any non-felony errand.

The scene was nothing like on TV, where the music starts, cueing your heart to speed up. It felt slow, like molasses pouring from a cup. Christina handed him a handful of bills. He stuffed them into a yellow bag advertising the new superstore on the outskirts of town. It couldn’t have been more than a hundred bucks.

The plot moves fast here but it is filled with detail and emotion. And no flowery prose or psychological definitions. Missy Turner could be easy one of us or our neighbours. Whittall has documented an element of the human condition in detail for us here while keeping the guidelines of the Rapid Reads series in check.

Page 54-55

I tried to pretend everything was normal. But one moment I’d see the scene in the kitchen that I’d stumbled into that morning, the next I’d feel the gun on my neck. The house didn’t feel my own anymore. The walls made me anxious. The sound of the clock ticking loomed. Outside, a car backfired, and my skin was instantly covered in sweat.

I’d rarely felt the house so empty without Mike and Dale. I normally relished the rare opportunity to be alone, but the quiet was unnerving. I kept seeing Christina yelp and the drop her book. I felt the pressure of the robber’s arm against my neck.

I heated up some leftover pasta but couldn’t eat it. I didn’t want to be alone but couldn’t bear the thought of calling anyone either. The phone rang and rang, and the answering machine filled with messages from nosy neighbors and Mr. Harlowe and Jackie and my mom. Everyone who had heard about what happened. I turned on the TV but only paced in front of it, until the coverage of the robbery came on. It was a very short clip, mostly Christina, with me standing beside her like a goofy, useless tree. Is that what I really look like now? So old. I used to be stylish and young. How did I start dressing like a mother who had given up?

Zoe Whittall is an excellent novelist whose works clearly document the human condition we can all relate to. And her contribution to the Rapid Reads series entitled The Middle Ground, clearly and simply does that. A unique read and a good one to ponder over.

*****

Link to Orca Books website for The Middle Ground

Link to Zoe Whittall’s website

Link to my Q&A with Ruth Linka –“Rapid Reads . . . aims to have excellent writing, great stories, well-known authors, all the things we value in longer fiction, but in a shorter, more accessible form.” | Q&A with Ruth Linka of the Rapid Reads program at Orca Books

“Anything that isn’t writing is hindering my writing, although many life experiences, such as being a husband and father, are really a great help to my craft in the long run” | Q&A with writer William Kowalski

William Kowalski has a direct yet simple outlook on the human condition. (In fact his bio on his website refers to the fact that he wears socks with sandals, and doesn’t care what anybody else thinks about that.) That is what makes his writing so unique. He answered a few questions for me here which allowed insight into him and a glimpse into his future works.
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1) What inspired you to become a writer? Was it an easy job for you to get published?
A:  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very young, probably about six years old.  I wrote short stories as a child and as a high school student, and when I was in my early 20s I decided to try writing a novel.  Eddie’s Bastard was the result.  It was very difficult for me–the hardest thing I’d ever done, up to that point in my life. It took about three years. Getting it published also felt very hard, but I was told that I’d had it a lot easier than some.  I landed an agent within about six months, in January of 1998, and she had sold it to HarperCollins by that July.  It can take much longer than that to get a book published.
2) Your writing seems very personal. Is there much research/personal experience you use for your writing or is it pure imagination?
A:   I don’t really do any research for my books.  I believe in writing what I know, and I’ve never felt that I could do a convincing job of writing about something just because I’d read about it.  Of course, that doesn’t really explain how I can write about things I’ve never experienced, like war, for example.  I do sometimes spend a very long time trying to put myself in the necessary head space for a book, and that might involve some general reading about it.  But it’s more like me just asking myself a very hard question, and spending months or years coming up with the answer.  For example, while I was writing The Hundred Hearts, one of the questions I was asking myself was, “How could the My Lai massacre have happened?  How could American soldiers just mow down innocent people like that?”  I had to go to some pretty dark places to find the answer.  It took me eight years to write that book.  But eventually i did arrive an AN answer.  I don’t say it’s THE answer.  But it’s an answer that worked for me.
3) What are you reading right now? Who are your favorite writers?
A:  I just finished a book of short stories called Knife Party at the Hotel Europa, by Mark Anthony Jarman.  It’s one of the best things I’ve read in years.  But I don’t have much time to read these days, and when I do, it’s usually non-fiction.  I’m also reading Atlantic, by Simon Winchester.  He’s such a great writer.
4) Do you do much in the way of speaking engagements and public readings? If yes, is it something you enjoy doing? Have there been any memorable events that occurred during any of your readings?
A:  Between 1999-2005 I did about five US speaking tours, and one in Europe. These were both exciting and torturous for me.  I’m an introvert, so speaking in public requires a lot of work.  Once I’m up there, I’m fine, but I’m a nervous wreck for days beforehand, and afterward I’m exhausted.  I do a lot less public speaking these days, which is partly a relief, but I also miss it.  The attention can be very uncomfortable for me, but I need it to succeed as a writer, and if I’m to be honest there’s a part of me that likes it, too.  The most memorable thing that occurred was when one gentleman showed up at a reading to chastise me for using the word “bastard” in the title of my first book.  It turned out he didn’t really have a larger point than that, and he hadn’t even read it.  He just wanted to give me a hard time, because he believed it was an evil word.  You really never know what kinds of people you’re going to meet on the road.
5) You seemed somewhat surprised that I had reviewed “Eddie’s Bastard” recently. Has your writing changed much since you first started being published?
A:  I feel that I am a very different writer now.  I wrote that book between the ages of 25-28, and I’m turning 46 this year.  I don’t even feel like the same person.  I know my writing has changed drastically.  David Adams Richards put it beautifully when I saw him read last summer in Port Medway.  He talked about how young men are often prone to very lyrical writing, and as they age, they become more analytical.  This was a really valuable insight for me, because I didn’t understand why I had changed–I just knew that I had.  I actually wrote a blog post about this:  https://williamkowalski.com/wise-words-from-an-older-writer/
6) You have written several books for the Rapid Reads series for Reluctant Readers. Is there much difference writing a book with that audience in mind as opposed to a regular novel?
A:  The Rapid Reads books are shorter, so they’re easier in that sense.  But they’re harder in that I have to keep my voice very simple, which requires a great deal of restraint.  I regard this as excellent practice for my craft.  Showing off all the time is self-indulgent.  Keeping it deliberately simple is very hard.  If anyone doesn’t believe me, try doing ten pushups very, very slowly and see how you feel afterwards.
7) You seem to have an active presence on social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. How do you feel about using those apps? Does help or hinder your writing?
A:.  Anything that isn’t writing is hindering my writing, although many life experiences, such as being a husband and father, are really a great help to my craft in the long run.  My real problem with social media is that I absolutely love computers.  I am obsessed with them.  They’re a huge distraction. About ten years ago I started building websites for myself, and it’s gotten to the point now where I actually have several clients for my web design services.  It’s a nice bit of extra money, but mostly I do it because I love it.  Twitter and Facebook are fun for me.  They’re a great way to tell people about what I’m up to, and I get a little thrill when I see something I’ve written or tweeted take off, even in a small way. This is why everyone likes those things, I think.  It’s like being micro-published.
8) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you care to share?
A:  I’m currently writing a novel about the Polish immigrant experience in Buffalo, NY around the turn of the last century.  It’s told from the point of view of a young woman who is based on my great-grandmother, Aniela.  She came from Poland when she was a teenager, in 1908, and lived until 1990, so she saw a lot of changes in her life.  I was privileged to know her and have always found her story fascinating.  It’s really a very common story for a lot of immigrants in that time and place, but I think that’s what makes it valuable.
I’m also working on a web project: My Writing Network.  My goal with this is to provide anyone with an interest in writing with a free website and membership to our online forums, so they can connect with other writers and promote their own work online in any way they see fit. This is all done with open-source software, and it’s free for everyone.  It’s up and running now at https://mywriting.network.  I hope some of your readers will check it out.
9) No doubt you have seen the debates over what we consider Canadian literature. I have seen some of your books tagged in libraries with little maple leaves denoting that it is Canlit, and sometimes not. You are born in the U.S. but now live in Canada. Do you consider your writing as Canadian or is it in a more broader scope of literature.
A:  I am a Canadian citizen now, but I don’t try to label myself as a Canadian writer or an American writer.  I moved to Canada when I was 30 years old, so I was pretty much formed by then.  I love Canada, and especially Nova Scotia.  Moving here was one of the best things I ever did.  I came because of my then-girlfriend, who is now my wife of 14 years.  But if I were to try and write a book that was set in Canada, or that set out to be a deliberately Canadian book, I think I would probably fail.  I didn’t grow up here and I don’t have the same frames of reference Canadians have.  It goes back to “write what you know”.  I would probably fail just as much if I tried to write a book set in Texas or Tajikistan.  I do understand why Canadians are so bent on distinguishing their literary culture from that of the US.  American media is so dominant everywhere that it threatens to stamp out anything unique in other parts of the world.  I think if I had been born Canadian, I would probably have a strong dislike for anything American.  So, people who stick up for CanLit have my full sympathy.  I will leave it up to others to determine whether I belong among the ranks of Canadian writers or not, the same as I leave it up to others to interpret my work and discuss what it’s about.  It’s not for me to tell people what to think.  It’s just my job to write, and I hope to keep doing that until the day I drop dead.
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Learning to put some Heart into the Game | Review of “Epic Game” by William Kowalski (To be Released in March 2016) Raven Books/Orca Publishers

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book via librarything.com and Orca Publishing

We all have habits and attitudes that makes us act on instinct instead of doing something rational to improve our lives. These may be traits that we learned from our parents or habits we picked up on during our childhood or just something in our internal wiring that makes us do things that in many cases keep us alone or unhappy. So sometimes external events cause us to force us into breaking those patterns we are stuck in doing and lead us down a different path of life. That is the type of story William Kowalski has brilliantly written in Epic Game.

The story deals with Kat, an independent woman who makes a living as a professional poker player. She learned her trade from her father, whom she had an uneasy childhood with. She has tried hard to distance herself from her past, yet when her best friend commits suicide and becomes guardian of her son, she finds that not only does she have to deal with her past emotions but also begins to question her present lifestyle choices.

Part of the Rapid Reads series from Orca Books, the style of this book is simple making it a quick and easy read. But there are complexities still in the plot that make the story interesting to readers; elements of Kat’s life and memories that we all have that make us ponder our own existence.

Epic Game by William Kowalski may be a quick read but it is an enlightening one. He has crafted quite a story into this book that reflects  important elements of the human condition.

Link to William Kowalski’s website

Link to Orca Books website for Epic Game

Suspenseful and Light Reading | Review of “The Night Thief” by Barbara Fradkin (2015) Raven Books

Thief

There is a certain beauty in brevity when one writes a narrative. To keep things simple and yet to keep the attention of a reader is a difficult challenge. Barbara Fradkin manages to do that with a certain grace with her novel The Night Thief which makes this book not only a quick read but also an interesting one.

Page 1-2

It was supposed to be a perfect October night. The moon was huge and the sky was so clear. I could see all the way across the field to the woods.

But after less than an hour, I was freezing to death. My toes had gone numb. My back ached and I couldn’t feel the tip of my nose. Good move, O’Toole, I grumbled to myself as I eased my stiff fingers from the shotgun. You couldn’t wear a warmer jacket?

I was lying in wait for the night thief. for more than three weeks now, I’d been trying to stop him from raiding my vegetable patch. My usual scarecrows and whirligigs had been useless. So first I’d welded together a tall fence using every piece of metal I could spare. Bits of car hoods and chicken wire. it wasn’t pretty, but I thought it would do the trick.

I have read several of theses “Rapid Reads” series and have always found them entertaining in some way. This book is no different. They service a need for a certain type of reader who may have limited reading skills or just wants a quick book to read over a short time. The writing here is light and breezy without being condescending or childish. The story deals with Cedric O’Toole. Something appears raiding his farm and he is determined to find out what it is. Oddly enough it is a boy who appears to be homeless. Cedric’s own past doesn’t trust outside authorities to take care of the boy, but as the story goes on, he must decide to get help for the boy or trust his own instincts.

Page 13-14

By the time we got back to the farmhouse, sunset had stolen all the heat out of the air. I was shivering. Robin trailed about twenty feet behind me, but when he saw the house, he stopped to stare, like he’d never seen it in the daytime. Now, I admit my house is a funny sight. Two walls are painted turquoise and the other two orange, because that’s what was handy. Both paints were rejects from someone else’s bad mix jobs – kind of like me.

At first Robin wouldn’t even come up the front steps. Instead he headed for the barn, sending the hens squawking in all directions. So I told him I was going inside to feed Chevy, and soup would be ready in a few minutes. When I peeked outside again, he was down by the barn, feeding the hens. I could see him smiling at them, but when I called to him, the smile disappeared.

Even when my mother had remembered to feed me, she was never much of a cook. So early on I’d figured out how to use a stove and grow a few vegetables. My soup wasn’t fancy but the smell was enough to get Robin inside the house. He took the bowl off the table and curled up on the kitchen floor beside Chevy. He emptied his bowl even faster than the dog would have. I put a refill on the the table, be he took it down onto the floor too.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

There is also some deep feelings, thoughts and emotions here. Fradkin has obviously captured some scenarios from her work as a child and school psychologist into this story, making it a great piece of literature by giving insight to the human condition. The ending isn’t at all a ‘happily-ever-after’ one but one one that reflects reality. Bittersweet yet life continues.

Page 43-44

I studied the drawings carefully, hoping for a clue to his past. There was only one, a small, one-story, house that looked nothing like mine. It had a front porch with what looked like a rocking chair on it. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. Was it time to tell Jessica the truth? And get this kid back home with some real help?

Instead, I stalled. I admit, I kind of liked his company – and his help. I had a busy couple of days paneling the living room in a cottage near the village. so Robin was left to do the chores and keep himself busy. He spent hours in my junk sheds, fiddling with things. He played with Chevy and the goat, even enjoyed watching the hens. But he hardly talked. Every night I put him to bed in my mother’s bed, and every morning I found him asleep in the shed. He ate like a football player, but during the night food still disappeared. Not only food, but my mother’s sweaters, more towels and spare cushions from the couch.

So one night I woke up at 2:00 AM and went to peek in my mother’s room. Sure enough, the bed was empty. I peered out the window. The moon was on the wane but still cast enough pale light that I could see a shape running toward the woods. Toward the mystery cave I had found a few days earlier.

What the hell was this boy up to?

While it is a light and ‘rapid’ read, The Night Thief by Barbara Fradkin is an engaging one. Filled with emotion and suspense, it is a read that engages for whomever reads it.

 

Link to Barbara Fradkin’s website

Link to Orca Books’ page for The Night Thief

 

Fans of Rick Blechta know how he mixes his knowledge of music into his work. His thrillers give the sense of being well-researched and well-thought out. This year will be a very busy one for Blechta as he has just released The Boom Room (Link to my review)  for the Rapid Reads program at Orca Books and Roses for a Diva for Dundurn Press in November.
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1) So it has been about a month since the The Boom Room came out. Was it difficult to write for the Rapid Reads series? How has the reaction to it been so far?

A: Writing is writing, but that being said, every kind of writing needs a different “toolbox”. Marching orders from Orca for my Rapid Reads books are pretty specific, and most of it has to do with the fact they’re primarily written for those without great literacy skills. But the final one is always that “the book must be a good story, well told.” Okay… I’ve managed to write two of them now (with a third hopefully coming next year or so), and I’ve found that once you wrap your head around the “simplicity” aspect of Rapid Reads, they’re not that much different than other books. The same care has to be taken with the plot structure. Because they can’t be more than 20,000 words, you can’t have much in the way of characterization or subplots, but telling the story well is not that hard within the given framework.

 
As for the reaction to The Boom Room, it’s received two reviews (that I’m aware of) and both have been very positive. Since one was in Library Journal, we’re hoping that this will help with sales throughout North America. There are a lot of libraries out there!

2) Who are some other writers that you admire? What are you currently reading right now?

A: For current crime writing, I enjoy Michael Connelly, Denise Mina, Peter Robinson and Barbara Fradkin. If you want to go back to books from the past, I really enjoyed all the Nero Wolfe novels and Maigret novels, Further afield are authors like Tolkien, Robert Louis Stevenson, and I got my start reading crime fiction with the Hardy Boys. And then there is Sherlock Holmes. As a child, those were my favourites.

As for right now, I just finished Barbara Fradkin’s The Whisper of Legends (excellent) and I’m about to dive into Vicki Delany’s latest.

3) Like many other writers that I have followed, you have had a series of occupations and interests. Did being involved in those activities help you at all in your writing? A Case of You seemed to have a lot of background on the Toronto music scene for example.

A: Up to this point, all of my novels and novellas have involved some sort of musical background, whether it’s the main character being a musician or the backdrop being the music business. A Case of You is not that only one that is set in the Toronto music scene. The way I look at it, everything you learn and experience as you make your way through life can become grist for the writing mill. I’ve been a musician for more years than I care to acknowledge so why not use that? Readers find it interesting, I can write about it authoritatively, and it brings something a bit out of the ordinary to the plots of my novels. Plus, since I know all this stuff other people don’t, I can spend more time researching other things for my novels.

4) Your website says you have another book coming out in the fall called Roses for a Diva Could you provide a brief synopsis?

A: Roses for a Diva is a good case in point. It’s about an opera singer who picks up a rather over-the-top fan. At first she’s enchanted. At the premiere of every new production, she’s been receiving beautiful bouquets of roses. Then other things start happening in her life, things that are decidedly not nice. Is she imagining it or is it her fan who’s responsible — and does this person have other intentions? So, here I’m again using a musical background to give my story a bit of something out-of-the-ordinary.

5) How do you like living in Toronto? Does it cultural scene provide you inspiration for your writing?

A: I enjoy living in Toronto (as long as our infamous mayor is deep-sixed in the election this fall), but I don’t think its cultural scene has provided all that much inspiration for my writing. Actually, I like getting my stories out of Toronto as much as possible, if only because it means I’ll have to go someplace new in order to research my novel. Roses for a Diva has sections set in Rome and Venice, so naturally I was forced(!) to visit both cities (for several days each) so that I could do research and also get a feel for what I would be writing about. It’s those small details gleaned from actually having been to a place that make it seem real to readers. There are several things I included which I wouldn’t have known about had I not actually walked the streets in these two iconic cities. I do the same thing for my Toronto settings, of course, but it’s a little different to hop on a subway and scout some location in Toronto, compared to spending a week in Rome.

6) You seem active on the social media fronts (ie Facebook) Does it help with your writing or does it distract you?

A: I try to pay attention to Facebook, but not let it rule my life. I have friends who spend hours a day looking at Facebook posts. For me it is simply a tool to let people know what I’m up to, both in writing and in music. Yes, it also does help me keep in touch with friends, but to me it’s more of a promotional tool than anything.

7) Has your writing changed since your first book? If yes, in what ways?

A: I would hope that my writing has gotten at least marginally better. Like anything else, writing needs to be practised, and practised consistently. A writer needs to leave no stone unturned in an effort to improve. This usually comes from reading (and talking to) other writers, seeing how they’re doing things, and then trying to bring those good ideas you’ve gleaned to your own work. Writing will also improve by listening to what people are saying about your work. A lot of criticism is disposable, but when I hear the same thing from a few sources (especially reliable ones), I know I have a problem that needs to be looked at seriously. The angle I’m always looking at improving is saying more with less. Words can have great impact when used properly. I still get really excited by making a sentence better by making it shorter.

8)There are a lot of people who seem to be writing fiction right now just for their own personal enjoyment. Do you have any advice for people who are doing that task right now?

A: I write because I enjoy writing. That’s the same reason I still make music after all these years. If you’re writing for personal enjoyment, that’s great. But the step from there to an actual career in writing is a very large one. I explain it this way. Having books published is actually an amalgamation of two jobs: writing and “authoring”. Being an author is the business part of being a writer. It requires a completely different outlook and skill set. It’s more of a job in sales than anything creative. Fortunately, it’s something that can be learned (and taught — although it’s generally not), but you have to be willing to take that part of the equation seriously. There are very few of us ink-stained wretches who have the world beating a path to our doorsteps. We have to get our wares into the public eye by pushing hard, promoting what we do at every opportunity. Writing a book is the easy part. Getting it published and promoted properly is a lot more difficult, and unless you like that sort of thing, it is certainly not as enjoyable. But if you’re going to experience any kind of success, you have to learn to be just as good at that aspect of your craft as you are with putting words and ideas together. For anyone aspiring to get their fiction published, I say this: learn your craft, both parts of it, the fun and the not-so-fun aspects, then decide if you actually want to make this your career.
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A Quick Read yet Dramatic | Review of “The Boom Room” by Rick Blechta (2014) Orca Books /Raven Books

I received an advance reading  copy of this book via Librarything.com

Fans of crime fiction should note that author Rick Blechta will be again mixing his passion for music and writing into another crime novel. The Boom Room is expected to be published in April 2014.

While this was a quick and light read, Blechta does include some elements from his experience in his music career that make this a interesting book. Detective Mervin Pratt is called in to help at a murder scene at a popular downtown nightclub. The manager of the club has been stabbed to death and the lead investigator thinks the case can be closed in no time. But Pratt isn’t so sure and starts to take the investigation on his own. But Pratt finds himself in ethical ‘hot-water’ when his partner informs him that the suspect is his estranged half brother.

Although a light read, many fans of the Toronto music scene will be somewhat familiar will the sets and actions that Blechta uses in this book. And the dilemmas that Pratt encounters are realistic enough for fans of the genre to enjoy.

Link to Rick Blechta’s website

Link to Orca Books/Rapid-reads.com page for “The Boom Room”