Guest Post: Brian Holers

Time to host another guest on the blog! Brian Holers, the author of Doxology, which focuses on bonding, family, and faith, stopped by for a quick chat.

1. What was the key influence in writing your book?
I’ve been away from Louisiana for half my life now, but wanted to write a story set in the
place I still think of as home. My primary goal was to write a book about relationships
between men who live with loss, who search for meaning, and who continue to believe in
a power greater than themselves, in spite of their losses. I wanted to write a story about
regular, unsanitized people whose faiths bring value to their lives, and genuine answers.

2. Your website speaks strongly of your faith. Did your faith figure into the plotlines of your
book, and how if so?
I grew up in rural Louisiana in the 1970s, in a world filled with stories. Everyone I knew was
Christian. As much as I admire those who study and study, I have never been a theological
person; faith for me has always been a feeling. I married into a Jewish family, and we chose
to embrace Judaism and raise our child in that faith; so I, in a sense, am a person in between.

3. What is the most interesting place you traveled, and how did that affect your writing?
Writing is just like any other job. It’s ninety nine percent perspiration, and one percent
inspiration. I started writing Doxology several years ago when my family and I were
traveling for a year. I found that, even if you don’t have a job to go to every day, writing is
still hard. You still have to sit down and do it. No time or place is ever perfect. Probably the
most exotic place I have traveled is Zanzibar. For a month we stayed in a dive shop hotel
there, and every day I would drag in a wooden outdoor table into my room and sit on the
edge of the bed—there was no chair in this place—and write. So traveling has affected my
writing in its logistics. No matter where I go, my mind still goes back to Louisiana.

4. You’ve written a very psychology-involved story. There’s a lot of self-analysis for Vernon
and Jody, considering their situations, and they both have a lot of self-discovery to go
through. Have you done any research in the field of psychology?
I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, which has qualified me to work in a
homeless shelter, a coffee shop and qualified me to further train to become an arborist. But
it does speak to my lifelong search for human motivation.

5. Have you had any personal experience that is similar to that of your characters?
Our experiences in life affect us, certainly, but the story in Doxology is entirely fabricated.
The central theme of boys fighting for entertainment comes from a story an old man in my
youth used to tell me, but other than that, it’s all made up. As hard as it is to create a story, it
frees the writer, in a sense, in that there are no facts to be considered and given their due.

6. What do you hope that the reader takes away from your story?
I hope the reader takes away a renewed sense that the real meaning of religion is to give
context to and add value to human life. We live life on this earth, with all the rules and
shortcomings of earthly life. But in the end, there is something greater.

7. What would you recommend to new authors? 

I recommend that new authors be patient. Writing may well be the hardest thing you will ever do, and if your writing is any good at all, there is a desire at the center of it that will do its best to eat you alive. For many of us. we have to write. It’s something we need to do, But writing will do its best to turn you inside out. It will do its best to make you crazy. It will do its best to make you believe you have never done anything in your life worth the soil you walk on top of every day. You have to put everything you have inside you down on the page, and, for awhile at least, this leaves a person hollowed out. We want to get our work out there, and show the world we’re more than just the lifelond weirdos our friends and families have told us we were. Be patient. Publishing is a bit like writing. It can’t be rushed.

8. What do you think of your publishing process (self/trad, details, impressions)

Like many, I tried to find a traditional publisher. I found an agent, and she struck out trying to get my book published. By the time I decided to publish myself, I felt I had waited long enough, and enough time had passed since I thought the book was through, and enough tinkering had been done, that I simply had to figure out how to do it. The book market, like many businesses, is in a bit of disarray; not only are we competing with more and more and more writers, we are competing with more and more and easier and easier forms of entertainment. And  whether you have a publisher or self-publish, you have to do ALL the work to sell it as a new writer. You create a quality product (your book) with quality packaging (cover, synopsis, media kit) and after that, it’s all a numbers game. You get out it there, far and wide. Thank goodness for the internet.

Finally!!!

I can’t even tell you how ecstatic I am to be aboard a plane again.

I came to the conclusion that I’m not flying enough. I need to explore more cities, more destinations… Hopefully, with the real estate thing, I would be able to get myself enough money to actually do all the exploring I want.

This will be a productive flight, of that rest assured. If I don’t finish the screenplay on my way to California, then I am pretty confident that I will finish it on my way back. Same goes for the minor touch-ups to Book 4. Yes, maybe 3-4 typos… This is what happens when you do the editing at two in the morning in tax season.

Really, I ought to learn by now: if your brains are Swiss cheese, then you really, really, really should refrain from doing tasks that require your full attention. Else it will not be good.

But it is okay. As I said before, it’s a human endeavor, and a human labor. It will happen. Such is the nature of this work.

So. I’m somewhere over Illinois right now, going through the Great Lakes region. I’ve written a guest post for Kathleen Doyle, which I will link as soon as it goes up. I’ve also started putting together some author interviews for people who had contacted me about guesting here. So you guys will have a whole different mix of things coming up.

As to where I’m going? I’m once again chasing music in Newport Beach, CA! It’s time for the annual jazz festival, and I’m personally looking forward to a great reunion with friends, sweet CA sunshine, and some stellar music/photos.

I just need to actually force myself to stay awake  through the entire flight. This is only the first leg. I got so into my writing that my body started to remind me that it’s on a plane and every plane, without fail, has a soporific effect on yours truly. I am honestly fighting to stay awake!

Until next time…

K.G.

Guest Post: Anthony T. Caplan

I am happy to host a blogger once again! Please read on for some words from Anthony T. Caplan on balancing a writing life.

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The Balancing Act of the Writing Life

Anthony Caplan

 

One of my earliest memories is my mother calling me over to the sofa where she was reading a Time magazine. She showed me a picture of a fishing boat on the sea and explained that it belonged to a man named Ernest who fished and then wrote stories and was famous for living all over the world and writing about it. “Wouldn’t that be great?” she asked. “No.” I answered. “It would be boring being in that boat all day.”

 

I couldn’t see it then, but as I got older, the life of a famous writer beckoned wiih greater appeal. I started writing after dropping out of film school in the late 1980s. I was 27 years old and I figured I might not get published right away, but, as opposed to making movies, all you needed was a word processor to find your chops. Boatloads of rejections later, I’m still writing. We’re in the midst of a revolution in the world of books with the decline of mainstream publishers and the rise of e-books and the Internet revolution of self-publishing.  The opportunities to find an audience for your work as a writer are greater than ever. I might still be writing, and I might yet make some money at it, but leisure is a concept that is as foreign to me as fishing in a boat off the coast of Cuba.

 

The roller coaster of life only gets wilder with time. I went to my first funeral this morning for a fellow teacher, murdered in her home by her husband when she asked him for a divorce. We celebrated her life of service and self-less giving, and I felt guilty because I am not as good a teacher as she was. When you’re a writer you live a double life. Your service is your words on the page, and everything else is the nut you pay in order to feed “the compulsion to open your heart” as Edvard Munch put it. During the day I am a competent classroom manager, but nobody sees the midnight oil I burn trying to get the words down and tell a story that makes sense, not only to me, but to some mythical reader whom I don’t even know exists. Nobody can measure the amount of faith, some might call it delusion, that it takes to keep up that level of effort through the years. And it does take years to develop the craft of writing, make no mistake about that.

 

Nowadays, writers, both traditionally published and independent, must also master the world of publicity and promotion, because it’s one thing to write the work, it’s another thing to convince people to support you with their hard-earned cash.

Self-promotion comes easy to some, not to me. I suspect that’s one of the main reasons I’m a writer, because I am not naturally a vocal, outspoken sort of person. But I was able to overcome that natural introspection in order to become a decent teacher, so I should be able to get the hang of book marketing, right? Maybe. The ins and outs of convincing people to buy books have eluded the pros on Madison Avenue, so it’s not a given that anybody can get it right. I remember an editor at Faber and Faber in London showing me his office with piles of unsold books stacked against the wall. “That’s V.S. Naipaul over there. That’s Edna O’Brien in that corner. We can’t even sell their books. Why should we take a chance on you?” I had no answer for him. But if I’m crazy enough to write, it must mean I believe someone will like my book. The trick is finding those people. It’s an all-consuming task. It might even take a lifetime. Over the years I have learnt to balance my life with my writing. Now, in the interest of connecting with readers, I am learning to balance my writing life and my Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and blogging habits. Someone mentioned Pinterest. I haven’t gone on there, but I’m thinking I should. In the meantime I better check the rice hasn’t burnt.

 

Anthony Caplan is a writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England. He is the author of Birdman and French Pond Road, road novels tracing the life of Billy Kagan, and the forthcoming Latitudes – A Story of Coming Home,  published June 30, 2012 by Hope Mountain Press.

 

http://thenewremembrance.blogspot.com

 

http://anthonycaplanwrites.com

 

http://twitter.com/anthonycaplan1