Another Well Crafted Novel from Susan Henderson


A Book Review

Susan Henderson followed Up From the Blue with another awesome read, The Flicker of Old Dreams.

You took me inside a work of art on so many levels. I became your characters. I was Mary as I read. You broke my heart, made me desolate and strange. Then you put me back together and gave me confidence.

You showed me I don’t have to stay in a place of oppression and misplaced anger and stupid blame. You showed me collective stones and hurt inside townspeople clinging to something and someone to blame for their fate.

The characters will follow me, just as they did after reading Up From the Blue. The hounded me as I closed my Kindle and settled in for the night.

I live in Montana and I can see my breath when I send my dog out to hurry, even in April. I suspect the people of Petroleum will cross my mind each time I pass through our smallest townships.

This book will grab the reader and make them ‘feel’ and ‘become’ Mary. This grabbing is an art and craft I may never master in my own writing. I have so many questions about how Susan Henderson managed such a complicated subject. What inspired her and kept her going all the way to the end.

Thank you for writing. When I work on my watercolor this afternoon I’ll think of Doris.

To all of you involved in crafting this novel from writing to editing to cover art and formatting, you crafted a work of art.


Susan Henderson is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award. She is the author of the novels Up from the Blue (HarperCollins, 2010) and The Flicker of Old Dreams (HarperCollins, 2018).

Shorter work has been published in The Future Dictionary of America (McSweeney’s Books, 2004), The Best American Non-Required Reading (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure (HarperPerennial, 2008), Drinking Diaries (Seal Press, 2012), Create a Writer Platform (Writer’s Digest, 2012), as well as a number of magazines and newspapers.

In 2009, Susan attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers workshop on a full scholarship. She lives in New York and blogs at the writer support group,

Find Susan on:  Twitter |  Facebook |  LitPark Blog

Rejection, Success and Mediocrity

Rejection Red StampI’ve said rejections are proof a writer is writing.

Unless you are content with journaling and leaving manuscripts and essays in a secret drawer to be found after you have met with an unfortunate event, you are going to have to take a risk.
Don’t let my run-on sentence stop you from reading about the second fear in writing.


Many people in all walks and rolls of life are afraid of success. For a writer, well, you may have to show up, hair brushed, fully dressed and touch people who want to buy your book. You could end up in a Chat Room with faceless strangers with the letter G after their names asking questions you aren’t prepared to answer.

And what comes next? Can you possibly turn out another book, novel or short story anywhere near as successful as the one before? How do you one-up yourself time after time?

The final fear may be the fear of mediocrity. What if you simply aren’t as good at the art and craft as you think you are? What if it is true and you are an incredibly average writer? What if the rejections are actually earned and success is a set up for humiliation?

All of the things we fear, not just as writers, but as people, may be true. Then again, if you don’t face those demons and own their bad-ass-ary you will never know.

Don’t leave your writing in a secret drawer for your family or land-lord to discover. Walk or roll right up to that fear, grab it by the naughty bits and see what happens.

Do not be a Fearful Writer. Be bold. Take a chance. Flaunt those rejections and at your first book signing bring your laptop so you honestly say you are working on your next book, novel or short story.

Those rejections… frame them.. you can use them in interviews as a back story about your path to publication.

Rejection, Success and Mediocrity

Fiction Friday Second Person

This Fiction Friday I want to talk about Second-Person Point of View. I will include an author bio and a good explanation of Second-Person.

Today, I read a short story written in the second-person point of view.

It is from the 2018 Pushcart assortment of stories. When I see a story in second-person, my first thought is about the bravery and skill of the writer. Then I worry about the writer’s ability to carry it off.

If you are wondering about second-person, in real life, it happens during high emotion. During a news interview of something horrid or at least terribly unexpected. The speaker slips into it during the telling. She begins to tell the story as though it happened to me, the viewer, all viewers. It is a sort of projecting it onto someone else to make the telling easier.

An example might be –

I didn’t know what happened. First there was a bang and then stuff was flying all around and then you see a person in front of you and he is bleeding. I really need to sit down somewhere.

The switch to second-person in a re-telling generally happens mid-sentence and by the end of the conversation we are taken out of the situation because she slips back into First Person. Local and National News as well as crime stories provide living examples of Second Person as it slips into re-telling.

In fiction, the author selects second-person voluntarily. To me it is a brave choice because sustaining a story in second has a higher difficulty level. It is part of the art and craft of writing.

The story is Mentor by Mark Jude Poirier and it first appeared in Crazyhorse.

This writer took a huge chance on me, the reader, by taking me far far outside my experience.  Mark Jude Poirier made me participate in in the story as a gay teacher and for the length of the story I felt his lust for a student at his school. I will think about his motivation and the repercussions of his actions. More than that, I will think about what it was like to be this character.

Photo of Mark Jude PMark Jude Poirier is the author of two collections of short stories, Unsung Heroes of American Industry, and Naked Pueblo: Stories, as well as two novels, Goats, and Modern Ranch Living. His books have been New York Times Notable Books of the year, as well as Barnes and Noble Discover and Waterstone’s UK picks. In 2015, Scribner published Intro to Alien Invasion, a graphic novel he wrote with Owen King. He has published nearly thirty short stories that have appeared in Tin House, The Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Crazyhorse, BOMB, The Southern Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, and many other journals and anthologies. In addition, films he has written have played at Sundance, The Toronto International Film Festival, MoMA, and the American Film Festival in Deauville. Mark is a graduate of Georgetown, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and currently holds a Briggs-Copeland Lectureship at Harvard.

I looked online for a good definition of Second-Person Point of View. Most of them missed the ‘point’ but I did find this one.

Second-person point of view is a form of writing in which the point of view of a narrative work is told in the voice of the “onlooker,” which is you, the reader. For instance, the text would read, “You went to school that morning.”

The second-person point of view is rarely used in fiction because of its difficulty level. It is hard to develop a set of characters and a story in which the second person is appropriate.

Thank you for visiting with me this Fiction Friday. Don’t touch anything sharp.


Writerly Wednesday Welcomes Stephanie Grey

Photo of Stephanie Grey

This Writerly Wednesday presents Stephanie Grey.

I like to put the interview up front to put a person with their book.


  •      What is your favorite marketing task that has resulted in a sale?
    I had a book trailer made and pinned it to my Twitter page, Facebook author page, and website. That seems to have produced more book sales than anything else that I’ve done.


  •      What do you like about your publisher or why did you decide to Self Publish?

Wild Dreams Publishing is based out of Australia and was founded by fellow authors who took it upon themselves to create a company that they thought was best suited for an author’s needs today. The people behind the scenes are great! They’re knowledgeable, kind, and they really care about your work as much as you do so that the best version of your book is presented to the world. They make it available on multiple platforms and are currently working very hard to have book stores pick up their titles as well.

  •      What do you have under your bed?

My husband’s 100-year-old hunting rifle that his grandfather gave him is currently underneath the bed. Sometimes Tabitha, one of my cats, is there as well, but that’s only when she’s playing Hide and Seek.

  •      Are you a plotter or a pantser when you are writing?

Oh, I’m definitely a pantser! I finished my third book three months ago and thought I’d try my hand at actually writing an outline for the fourth one. After a month of trying to get it done, I gave up because it just didn’t flow for me or feel organic. I have a lot of respect for the people who have the patience for that, but it’s much easier for me to begin writing and let my imagination guide me along the way.

  •      Do you write in a bubble or do you prefer critique groups, writing buddies or other companionship during the process?

I’m part of a few writing groups on Facebook, but I prefer to write alone. I wrote one children’s book for my nieces and nephews and my dad did the illustrations, so I wouldn’t mind doing more projects like that. The kids loved the story and his drawings!

  •      When do ideas come to you and how do you capture them?

Ideas can come at any time, honestly. Sometimes I’ll see something and one will just pop into my head. For example, I saw a photo accompanying a news article and it spawned an entire book based on that one little picture.

  •      What is your favorite word processing program and what other tools do you use, pen, notebooks, white board, index cards, finger on fogged bathroom mirrors?

I use Microsoft Word to write, but I always have a spiral notebook where I keep handwritten notes of my characters and scribble ideas.

Writerly Wednesday Welcomes Stephanie Grey

Photo of Stephanie GreyBio

Stephanie Grey can often be found writing at her desk, one of her cats curled up by her feet. She isn’t necessarily a crazy cat lady yet, but that’s only because of the limitations her husband has put on the amount of pets that they have.

She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a degree in journalism. Writing has always been present in Stephanie’s life. From a young age, she has been writing short stories for her family to enjoy. When she entered high school, she decided that she would one day write a full-length novel. She finally achieved her goal and completed her first novel, A Witchly Influence, that was released in the summer of 2017 by Wild Dreams Publishing. Her second novel, Division Tennessee, will be available in the spring of 2018. She continues to write and hopes to be able to share her stories with the world for many years to come.

Email, FB, Twitter links or addresses here.


Cover Art A Witchly Influence A Witchly Influence

As a freshly-minted divorcee, witch Carmen Devereaux returns to her home town in North Carolina. With this decision comes another change in her life: Fate has decided that she is to become an Influencer, someone who guides others to the paths that they were meant to take. She is assigned to Abby Windsor, a young school teacher, as well as her own stepbrother, Finn Cleary. Along the way, she encounters several obstacles, including getting stuck in her own past. With the help of Lenny the Snowman, Egbert the Lobbyist Pencil, and a Muse, she is able to Influence Abby and her stepbrother, helping them find their way as well as her own.

Cover art The GatekeeperThe Gatekeeper (short story available exclusively for Kindle)
Eleven years have passed since Lucy found out that she is a Gatekeeper for spirits with the ability to send them to Heaven or Hell. A visit from her cousin, Mary, along with Mary’s infant son, Jack, rattles her world when she realizes that it’s more than just an evil spirit after the boy: it’s a demon. Lucy must battle the demon to protect her family, but will she be strong enough to stop her worst enemy?


Buy Link(s)

A Witchly Influence

A Witchly Influence Buy Link

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper  by Link Exclusively at Kindle

Stephanie, thank you for volunteering on such short notice to be featured on my Writerly Wednesday Blog Spot.


What is Your Shoe?

Welcome to a Fiction Friday Post.

an air jordan 360 shoeWhat is Your Shoe?

On Wednesday during chat at The Writer’s Chatroom I mentioned a short story I  read is following me around.

It is the mark of an excellent writer when long after reading a character, plot line or theme stays in the forward reaches of our minds. That place we access in idle moments, letting the dog out to hurry, mixing paint on a butcher’s tray or simply watching the shower curtain as we sit down to pee.

I love a poem or a short story. Both, when well done are art forms. I feel privileged to receive such gifts from writers. The story I want to share with you came up in The Writers Chat Room. I said it had to do with a shoe and it was following me around. But I did not have the title and I couldn’t reach the book without some physical gymnastics. But before I went to bed I climbed up on the edge of the trunk and fetched the book out of my canvas and watercolor bag.

I told the people in the chat room it was about a shoe. Saying it is about a shoe does not do it justice.

The reason Float follows me is because every family has a shoe. Something plain to see. Something that bothers everyone on some deep and hidden, yet, obvious level. If after reading Float you claim your family does not have a shoe.. then I suggest you look a little closer.

My families, foster and biological all had them. We might look at them askance as if they were a distant blur in a telescope eyepiece. A galaxy that disappears if you look at it directly.

Reginald McKnight is the author of He Sleeps(Picador, 2002), The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas (1996), and I Get on the Bus (1990), among others. He is a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Georgia.

In 2016 his short story Float was published in The Georgia Review.  Float was awarded The Pushcart Prize and appeared in the 2018 Pushcart Prize publication from The Best of the Small Presses. This is where I found it.

The complete story is online for your reading pleasure. It is a short story, it won’t take much of your time but I am warning you, this shoe will follow you in days to come. How long? I’ll let you know. For now, I can picture it vividly.



by Reginald McKnight

Walk into my room and come to find one of my Jordan Air Max 360s floating about five foot off the ground.

Read More Here

Welcome to this Fiction Friday Post.

Please feel free to read the entire story and come back. Hit the reply to post and leave a comment. You do not have to share anything about your own personal shoe.

If you have a short story or novel for that matter following you around, please share the Title and Author who made it so.

The Time Walk-Back

Novelist, Jack Remick, does an exercise with his characters, he calls “The Time Walk-Back.”

He picks up a character five minutes before the story opens. Then one hour before, one week before, one year before and five years before the start of the story.

I think I’ll try this with my WIP for a few characters and see what happens.

Image of Jack Rimick's Titles Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer, and novelist.

His work: Coffeetown Press is bringing out The California Quartet The Book of Changes , The Deification and Valley Boy,  Trio of Lost Souls.  Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press in 2011. Coffeetown also released Gabriela and the Widow in 2013. Click here for the press release. Coffeetown published Jack’s book of poetry, Satori, poems in May, 2014.

On Reading Deeply and Honoring the Writer

wild rabbit in snowI’ve been working on a new novel and changing content and navigation on another website.

While I was busy with index cards, representing pages on the chat room site, I came here to sit with my personal blog. I needed to see how I managed my static home page. Deadly dull, right?

Well, I’m not getting paid for the work and that freedom makes me happy.

I have been researching, building main characters and settings for my novel.  I am finally past the busy work and settling in to write some scenes.

A novel is a huge, drawn out thing. By the time I revise three times and start earnest editing, my contemporary story becomes historical.

Because of this I am planning on writing some short stories and essays in the coming year. Things I can send out to publishers and wait for contracts to weigh down my mail carrier.

They say, I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but they say a writer needs to read broadly and deeply. She needs to see what others are doing and try to divine the secrets of the best of the best.

I have been reading two books.

The Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses XLII, a book of Short Stories. The first story in the book is haunting me. It is Catacombs by Jason Zencka. Well, all of the stories I have read in this book are far beyond my personal writing ability. I could spend weeks dissecting them to see why they haunt me after I close the book.

I’m also reading The Best American Essays, 2017. Today, every emotion was stirred by Eliese Collette Goldbach as she showed me rape and how deeply such a thing scars our souls. The essay is called White Horse and it appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review.

By reading deeply we honor the writer.  I am disappointed that I may never have the Art and Craft of Zencka and Goldbach. I do intend to learn what I can from their gift to me, a faithful reader.

I will try not to let so much time pass between posts and until next time, don’t touch anything sharp.

Writerly Wednesday Welcomes Kimberly Jones

Welcome to this week’s  Writerly Wednesday.

My Guest, today, is Kimberly Jones.

BioPhoto of two happy people

Kimberly Jones is a professional early childhood educator. Jones was born in the small town of Saint George, South Carolina, on September 12, 1982. She graduated from Woodland High School in 2000, Benedict College in 2004 with a bachelors of science in child and family development, and from Ashford University in 2013 with a master’s in early childhood education.



  1. What is your favorite marketing task that has resulted in a sale?

My favorite marketing task is attending book festivals around. It is amazing who would be interest in your books. You can also network with other authors, publishers, and illustrators.

2.   What do you like about your publisher or why did you decide to Self-Publish?

I decided to self-publish because, I have the authority of being myself of my creations. If and Agent/Publisher would like to work me, I’m open as well.

3.   What do you have under your bed?


4.   Are you a plotter or a pantser when you are writing?

I’m a plotter when I’m writing.

5.   Do you write in a bubble or do you prefer critique groups, writing buddies or other companionship during the process?

I write in a bubble then I usually ask for family and friends to critique my work. I ask children what do they think about my books. I am always open to selective criticism. They are the readers.

6.   When do ideas come to you and how do you capture them?

Ideas come to me when I’m cooking, watching tv, or just around the neighborhood. I completely stop everything I’m doing and write it down. If I don’t have access to a pen or paper, I usually put it my cell phone notes.

7.      What is your favorite word processing program and what other tools do you use, pen, notebooks, white board, index cards, finger on
fogged bathroom mirrors?

My favorite word processing program is Word 2016. I carry index cards in my pursed when we go on vacations. When I’m home I use my sons easel to help me brainstorm ideas.


Book Cover Art for A Mother's LoveA Mothers Love: The E.R.B. to my soul

This book is about mothers and the length they will go for their children. My mother leaving us was the most difficult thing we ever had to deal with. A mother is something that stays with us forever and will never be forgotten. My mother was our rock and we are a piece of her. We will always cherish her and remember all the good things she did for her family and community.

This book was created for parents explaining loss of a love one to their children. It’s always good to explain death and cry for someone you love. When a loved one dies, children feel and show their grief in different ways. How kids cope with the loss depends on things like their age, how close they felt to the person who died, and the support they receive.

Momma….Momma…. MOMMA!! The void will never be filled , and our hearts will forever remain lonely. Empty of your presence (talking about Edna’s excellence) and your motherly touch. We’re your product in which you loved so much. As every day goes by and the hours pass you’re finally in your Heavenly Home with Esau, Elijah and Mama Cora at last. We feel your strength even though you may not be around. In fact, we all know you’re in Heaven looking down.

Amazon Buy Link

See the other three titles by Kimberly Jones 

Thank you Kimberly Jones for being my guest.  I am wishing you best of sales.

Cleveland Chronicles – Dog Days of Summer?

Welcome to a delayed post of Cleveland Chronicles.

We are hanging out.

cleveland making a faceAccording to The Old Farmer’s Almanac we are past the Dog Days of Summer. Cleveland is stretched out on the hardwood floor casting me a doubtful eye.

So, here is the scoop..

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, while you can find online and also on your oldest relative’s oak bookshelf, the “dog days of summer” refer to the period between July 3 and August 11 when the “Dog Star,” Sirius, rises just before the sun. This is called heliacal rising.

We haven’t been doing much. Cleveland can retrieve my shirt from a drawer and close it when he is done.. this is a behavior I wish I could teach to my DH. Cleveland can also turn off a light and close the door.

We have Public Re-certification coming up in mid September. We will be brushing up on our manners and keeping our teeth and hair brushed as well.

Till next time, don’t touch anything sharp.

Writerly Wednesday Presents Safdar Muttaqi

Welcome Back to Writerly Wednesday.

My Guest this week is Safdar Muttaqi

Safdar Muttaqi photo
Safdar Muttaqi

Safdar Muttaqi’s 


Part Myth

Part Legend

All Reality

Loved By Few

Hated By Many

Understood By None

The Dark Romantic Of The Night and the only guy on the planet who writes Unsophisticated Fiction For Those Who Don’t Belong.

Check out Safdar’s Website

Dark Musings | Ahh I Am Dead

Official Site of evil thoughts and badly written fiction by a guy who should be a best selling freaky author & radical poet


1.   What is your favorite marketing task that has resulted in a sale?

Advertising my website with a sinister visual on the back of one of my leather jackets. When it comes to writing – marketing – or whatever else I’m involved in – I like to think of myself as the walking definition of unconventional.

2.   What do you like about your publisher or why did you decide to
Self Publish?

Traditional publishers weren’t interested in my style of fiction. Self Publishing  was the next best thing.

3.   What do you have under your bed?

Spiders – dust – a box of comics – and plenty of broken dreams that can’t be fixed with glue or a needle and thread.

4.   Are you a plotter or a pantser when you are writing?

My brand of fiction is more about character and dialogue than plot. It’s a style of storytelling that only certain types of people will find entertaining. As a matter of fact – most critics would write my fiction off as – ‘All Style – No Substance.’

But that’s okay – my stories are designed to be read by those few individuals who are looking for something different and are sick to death of reading the same old crud the mainstream guys keep publishing.

5.   Do you write in a bubble or do you prefer critique groups,
writing buddies or other companionship during the process?

I work with only music and a cup of coffee for company. When you’re the God or Goddess of your own fictional universe – you don’t need anything else.

6.   When do ideas come to you and how do you capture them?

My ideas often come from comic books – late night B grade horror movies – music – and sometimes dreams. My most recent book – Safdar Muttaqi’s Forever Drifting Through The Great River Of The Sky was inspired by a woman I’ve never met but only seen on TV.

7.      What is your favorite word processing program and what other
tools do you use, pen, notebooks, white board, index cards, finger on
fogged bathroom mirrors?

Microsoft Word on my laptop when I’m in the house. When I travel I usually stick with a pad and pen.

The Secret To Unsophisticated Thinking: The Love Misery Cycle – Book One

cover art Blurb: 

A love sick fool.

A writer with problems.

A young mum looking for answers.

A little girl dancing with death.

A dark force from the past.

Buy Link 

THE SECRET TO UNSOPHISTICATED THINKING: LOVE MISERY CYCLE (Saf’s Unsophisticated Fiction For Those Who Don’t Belong Book 1) – Kindle edition by Safdar Muttaqi. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading SAFDAR MUTTAQI’S THE SECRET TO UNSOPHISTICATED THINKING: LOVE MISERY CYCLE (Saf’s Unsophisticated Fiction For Those Who Don’t Belong Book 1)

Second Title by Safdar Muttaqi

FOREVER DRIFTING THROUGH THE GREAT RIVER OF THE SKY: LOVE MISERY CYCLE BOOK TWO (Saf’s Unsophisticated Fiction For Those Who Don’t Belong 2) – Kindle edition by Safdar Muttaqi. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading SAFDAR MUTTAQI’S FOREVER DRIFTING THROUGH THE GREAT RIVER OF THE SKY: LOVE MISERY CYCLE BOOK TWO (Saf’s Unsophisticated Fiction For Those Who Don’t Belong 2).

Buy Link

Thank you for being my guest this week.  Your’s was a great interview to celebrate the return of Writerly Wednesday.

Come Back Soon for Another Writerly Wednesday Spotlight and Don’t Touch Anything Sharp!