Monthly Archives: August 2015

Bernadette Geyer Part 3

BerlinerBuchertisch.berlin_liestBernadette Geyer: Writing life

VAH: More with Bernadette Geyer, this installment focusing on the writing life. Are you a full-time writer?

BG: I am a full-time freelance writer, editor, translator, and workshop instructor. All of the above are writing-related and from that I cobble together sustenance. My first love is writing poetry, but I do a lot of other things to pay the bills and buy groceries.

VAH: Would you say writing is a vocation, occupation, or profession?

BG: I consider poetry my “vocation” but for my “profession,” I write non-fiction, I provide editorial services, and I serve as a workshop instructor.

VAH: Writing for a living seems to always encompass so much beyond the creative journey. For you, when the page is blank, what gets you writing?

BG: I actually have a list of ideas for non-fiction articles I want to write and a journal full of jottings that can be developed into poems or essays. A blank page in front of me is never blank for very long. On the off chance I sit with a blank page in my journal, I sometimes just practice “observing” what’s around me. I will practice writing details, or description, or simile, or interpretation, or even just playing around with sound echoes, so that what I write builds on the sounds of the original word or observation. Sometimes, out of all that mess, will come a phrase that stands out as important and worth exploring further.

VAH: What you describe resonates with me as a means for practicing aspects of the craft. How would you describe your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?

BG: I am typically very slow in my process. When I get something onto a blank page and I think it’s promising, I will typically type it up and print it out for myself. I have a small desk in the house that I call my “editing” desk. No computer, just the desk and a chair and a lovely lamp. Most often, I will put the draft there for a while (a week or two, maybe a month, depending on what else is going on in my life at the moment) so that I can return to it with a fresh perspective. I walk past the desk very frequently because of its location and so I feel like the poem is always asserting its presence, even if subconsciously. I’ll look at it, and tweak a word. Or, I’ll scan it and have a sudden thought and then sit down and revise for an hour. Then I let it sit again. Type up a revision, print it out, let it sit some more. I usually have several poems in various stages of this process, so that it’s not usually more than a couple of months between finishing new poems. Sometimes I’ll finish a few in the course of one month! That always seems like a small miracle to me.

VAH: How about your typical writing day – what’s that like?

BG: This definitely depends on the kind of writing I am doing on a particular day. If it’s non-fiction, the day will involve a lot of research. I will sometimes forget to eat, but usually I try to tear myself away from my desk long enough to have a meal while not at the computer. I don’t typically devote a whole day to poetry, unless I am taking a workshop outside of my apartment. With my poetry, a 2-3 hour stretch is typically what I can do in a day. Sometimes the poem requires research, sometimes it requires that I get out of the apartment and wander while I think. Most poems are written in fits and starts over a long period and there is nothing “typical” about the process of writing them.

Bonus question –

VAH: Do you have a submission system or plan?

BG: My submissions are all tracked in a MSExcel file. I always note the date of the submission and how it was submitted (online, via email, post). On a separate page, I have a list of all the poems that I am actively submitting. Next to each poem I put a tic for each place to which I have submitted it. If a poem is currently under consideration at a place that does not accept sim subs, I make a special mark so that I know not to submit that poem elsewhere. I try to have poems submitted to 2-3 places at a time if those places accept sim subs. I am very methodical and persistent, albeit a little slower than many other poets I know. The Excel file is also where I track which litmags wrote encouraging personal notes on the rejection slips and specifically asked for me to submit again.

Bernadette Geyer Sampler:

Nonfiction:

Kunstquartier Bethanien,” Slow Travel Berlin, December 2014

The City behind the City of Berlin,” GoNOMAD, November 2014

Fellowship Opportunities for Writers in Berlin,” Funds for Writers, September 19, 2014

The Social Media Model,” The Los Angeles Review blog, September 4, 2010

Making Every Word Count,” Absolute Write, July 27, 2006

When Leaving Isn’t Easy,” Go World Travel Magazine, January 2006

BernadetteGeyerThomsky

 

 

Poetry:

32 Poems – Thumbelina’s Mother Speaks: To the Toad’s Mother

Heron Tree – Parable of the Great Outpouring

La Petite Zine — Contrary to Popular Belief

The Paris-American – Thanksgiving

Redux: A Literary Journal – Fire Ants Invade Hong Hock See Buddhist Temple; Remembering Is Short; Haunting

Verse Daily – Without Warning

WaccamawPit

 

 

Bernadette Geyer’s first full-length collection, The Scabbard of Her Throat, was selected by Cornelius Eady as the 2013 Hilary Tham Capital Collection title, published by The Word Works in early 2013. In 2010, she receivedBernadetteGeyerHeadshot a Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Geyer’s poems have appeared widely in journals including North American Review, Oxford American, The Paris-American, Poet Lore, and elsewhere.

In July 2013, Geyer relocated to Berlin, Germany, where she works as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Her non-fiction has been published most recently in Slow Travel Berlin and GoNOMAD. Geyer also leads online creative writing and social media marketing workshops for writers.

Connect online with Bernadette Geyer: WebsiteFacebook PageTwitterBlog.

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Bernadette Geyer Parts I and 2

Poet and Nonfiction writer Bernadette Geyer is the August Three by Five highlighted author.

BernadetteGeyerThomskyVAH: My favorite question and what Three by Five always begins with is – Why do you write?

BG: There are many reasons why I write. I write to get the words out of my head. Some days, I simply have to put down the phrases and narratives that appear in my head, and then other days, I return to those words to explore and fill in what feels necessary to it as a poem, or necessary to the completion of what I had begun. I also write as a way of thinking about and understanding (or trying to understand) the world around me, even if it is just understanding the importance of a pebble that a child is trying to put in her mouth.

VAH: Children explore by taste, we writers with finding the right word. Can you identify when you knew or felt like you were a writer and why?

BG: When I was in middle school, I loved Nancy Drew mysteries. I began to write my own little mystery stories during recess and some of my friends would pass around the pages as I finished them. I wrote poems in high school and then dreadful poems in college. It wasn’t until I was in my late-20s that I felt drawn back to poetry and took a community workshop. Since then, I haven’t stopped writing. Poetry is my focus, but I also write some non-fiction as well.

VAH: What would you say were your influences on your development as a writer?

BG: Reading. I read a lot. I know it sounds like a cliché but everything I read influences me. My newest “development” (if you can call it that) is a closer attention to sound in my poems. I moved to Germany in 2013 with a less-than-basic understanding of the language. My understanding of German has improved dramatically since being here, but the change made me much more attuned to sounds. Especially in the poems of a German poet I have gotten to know since moving here. She utilizes sound as a crucial part of her poem-crafting process and, though I don’t understand all of the words, I can appreciate the way the sounds echo and play off each other.

VAH: What do you remember about your first story or poem?

BG: The first poem I really remember writing was one about Dirty Windows (…stare back at you with your own eyes…). It was actually a very socially aware poem for me to write as a teen and it was published in a little local journal for high school students. I was very proud of that poem. I still remember much of it.

VAH: Is there a favorite piece you’ve written to date?

BG: That’s a very hard question to answer. There are poems that I love and that just seemed to come forth without much revision needed, and then there are poems that I love and that I invested a lot of energy in to get them where I wanted them. I think my favorite of the latter is my poem “Explaining Cremation to Our Daughter at the Dinner Table,” because it was one that I slaved over for many months and that brought in a lot of my thinking about when and how we teach our children difficult subjects that even we find hard to deal with ourselves.

VAH: That is a challenge, explaining difficult subjects that kids ask about in non-scary ways. A good well to draw from.

Let’s move on to part two of Three by Five – Writer reads.

Do you have a favorite author?

BG: I would say there is a four-way tie for my favorite author of fiction – Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Italo Calvino, and Kurt Vonnegut. Although there are four of them, there is one reason why I appreciate them so much – imagination. Each of those authors has a very mind-expanding approach to literature and I encourage every writer to read works by them.

VAH: What is the most memorable book, story or poem you’ve read?

BG: The most memorable poem I have ever read was “Discovery” by Wisława Szymborska. The poem has a drive and suspense to it and, ultimately, a desperate terror at the potential of science and humanity. Yet the poem also conveys a sense of hope and a faith in the face of this terrible potential.

VAH: Do you have a favorite book, poem, or story?

BG: I have a favorite poem that I am always recommending to people – “A Brief for the Defense” by Jack Gilbert, from his collection Refusing Heaven. It is about the importance of finding beauty and happiness in life even in the face of all the ugliness and sorrow. Every time I hear some terrible news, I think of this poem and how important it is for us to cherish even the little pleasantries of life, and to put forth the good for people to see so that it’s not always the awfulness that gets all the attention.

VAH: Which reader are you – always finish what you started or put it down and move on if you don’t like it?

BG: As much as I would like to be a different kind of reader, I am a serial monogamist. I can only focus on one book at a time and must read all the way to the end, even if I do not enjoy the book. I always think – “maybe there’s something that will resonate on the next page!”, and for that potential, I must keep reading.

VAH: Sometimes there is something buried deep.

More Bernadette Geyer will post on the 23rd of the month. Until then, enjoy this sampler of work available online:

Poetry:

32 Poems – Thumbelina’s Mother Speaks: To the Toad’s Mother

Heron Tree – Parable of the Great Outpouring

La Petite Zine — Contrary to Popular Belief

The Paris-American – Thanksgiving

Redux: A Literary Journal – Fire Ants Invade Hong Hock See Buddhist Temple; Remembering Is Short; Haunting

Verse Daily – Without Warning

WaccamawPit

 

 

Bernadette Geyer’s first full-length collection, The Scabbard of Her Throat, was selected by Cornelius Eady as the 2013 Hilary Tham Capital Collection title, published by The Word Works in early 2013. In 2010, she receivedBernadetteGeyerHeadshot a Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Geyer’s poems have appeared widely in journals including North American Review, Oxford American, The Paris-American, Poet Lore, and elsewhere.

In July 2013, Geyer relocated to Berlin, Germany, where she works as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Her non-fiction has been published most recently in Slow Travel Berlin and GoNOMAD. Geyer also leads online creative writing and social media marketing workshops for writers.

Connect online with Bernadette Geyer: WebsiteFacebook PageTwitterBlog.

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Introducing Bernadette Geyer

Bernadette Geyer’s first full-length collection, The Scabbard of Her Throat, was selected by Cornelius Eady as the 2013 Hilary Tham Capital Collection title, published by The Word Works in early 2013. In 2010, she receivedBernadetteGeyerHeadshot a Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Geyer’s poems have appeared widely in journals including North American Review, Oxford American, The Paris-American, Poet Lore, and elsewhere.

In July 2013, Geyer relocated to Berlin, Germany, where she works as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Her non-fiction has been published most recently in Slow Travel Berlin and GoNOMAD. Geyer also leads online creative writing and social media marketing workshops for writers.

Connect online with Bernadette Geyer: WebsiteFacebook PageTwitterBlog.

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July’s Three by Five – a chat with Matthew J. Pallamary

IMG_1590

And we’re back!

An extra-long Three by Five with Matthew J. Pallamary since due to technical breakdown, he lost out on part of July. Writing life, writing community, and random facts all rolled into one.

VAH: Are you a full-time writer?

MJP: I write, edit, and teach full-time to make ends meet. If not writing, I would probably have a high level technology job as that is where I used to make my money.

VAH: Would you say writing is a vocation, occupation, or profession?

MJP: Yes – probably more aptly defined as an obsession.

VAH: Young writers often ask about writers block. When the page is blank, what gets you writing?

MJP: Getting out of my intellectual and emotional bodies and into my moving body. I go into great detail about these dynamics in my upcoming book Phantastic Fiction – A Shamanic Approach to Story.

VAH: Sounds interesting, and a different approach to writing. What is your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?

MJP: Research, gestation, outline, and then a draft.

VAH: I always find the research phase challenging. I’m inpatient.

What does your typical writing day include?

MJP: Writing, editing, and promotion.

VAH: Promotion – such a big part of the author’s job in the current publishing climate.

What about the writing community? What words of wisdom do you have for the emerging writer?

MJP: Writing = Ass in chair.

Just because it is easy to publish does not mean that you are ready. Writing is far more of a complex art and craft than people realize. One well known quote says, “There is no such thing as writing, there is only rewriting.”

If you are not doing it because you love it and have fantasies of being rich and famous, then you are in for a world of disappointment.

VAH: That is a quite often repeated quote of Robert Graves. Matthew, what choices have you made regards to traditional or independent publishing?

MJP: I am Independent all the way. I have been writing for well over thirty years and have seen and experienced all manner of disappointment and thoughtlessness as well as three agents who never did anything for me. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than having complete creative control as well as all the rights to my works.

VAH: That creative control is both enticing and challenging. Everything is now your responsibility. Getting the writing out there – what part does social media play in your writing career?

MJP: I have been involved with it from the start as a means to promote my writing and see it as a kind of necessary evil. Having said that, unfortunately it is being flooded by volumes of “not ready for prime time” crap that muddies the waters with all the desperate “Buy my book!” posts.

VAH: I’m in agreement with that. If one is going to independently publish, the standard remails make a book as good as the big publishing house does.

Have you found a benefit to writing or author?

MJP: I have been teaching my Phantastic Fiction workshops at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference and the Southern California Writer’s Conferences for twenty five years now and have been a member of numerous other IMG_1704conferences, conventions, and workshops.  These conferences are my writing family. Everyone needs to get input from sources outside their immediate family and friends if they want to improve. They especially need it from those with more experience to share.

VAH: What was your writing education?

MJP: Other than a creative writing class and English classes in general, I have gotten the most from hands on writing read and critique groups led by qualified professionals and by attending writer’s conferences.

Your favorite writing conferences, retreats, seminars?

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference and The Southern California Writers’ Conference.

I have taught at both of them for twenty five years and they are my family.

VAH: I’ve had the same experience with the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. A core of people I see only once a year at the conference yet I consider close friends and my writing family.

Now, a little fantastical and random life –

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

MJP: Omniscience – so I could be everywhere at once and fully aware of everything.

VAH: Haven’t heard that one before! How about in a movie about your life and times, who would play you? What would the theme song be and why?

MJP: Mark Wahlberg – because he grew up in Dorchester where I did.

I’ve already written Spirit Matters, an award winning memoir. The song would be “Flying in A Blue Dream” by Joe Satriani because I love the energy of it.

VAH: What is a little known fact about you that will amaze and/or amuse?

MJP: I have been working extensively with visionary plants in the Amazon for fifteen years now.

VAH: What are three random, non-writing facts about you?

MJP: I am an accomplished drummer and vocalist. My mother was a famous child acrobat. I have an extensive background in technology.

VAH: And who is your biggest fan?

MJP: Margaux Dunbar Hession.

VAH: If you knew tomorrow at midnight was your last day – how would you spend it and what would your last meal be?

MJP: I would spend it in the rain forest under the influence of powerful visionary plants to get as much of a preview of “the other side” as I could, so I could have some kind of idea of where I am heading. My last meal would be Thai food.

VAH: Big, nasty bug in the kitchen – what do you do?

MJP: Help it out the door.

VAH: Favorite quote and why?

MJP: “Through the ages, countless spiritual disciplines have urged us to look within ourselves and seek the truth. Part of that truth resides in a small, dark room — one we are afraid to enter.”

It is mine from my first published book – a short story collection titled The Small Dark Room of the Soul and Other Stories.

VAH: Thank you Matthwe J. Pallamary for participating in Three by Five.

Matthew J. Pallamary’s historical novel Land Without Evil, received rave reviews along with a San Diego Book Award for mainstream fiction and was adapted into a stage and sky show by Agent Red, directed by Agent Red, and was the subject of an EMMY nominated episode of a PBS series, Arts in Context.

He has taught a Phantastic Fiction workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles, and at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference for twenty five years, and is presently Editor in Chief of Muse Harbor Publishing.

His memoir Spirit Matters took first place in the San Diego Book Awards Spiritual Book Category, and was an Award-Winning Finalist in the autobiography/memoir category of the National Best Book Awards.  He frequently visits the jungles, mountains, and deserts of North, Central, and South America pursuing his studies of shamanism and ancient cultures.

Connect with Matthew J. Pallamary:

Web site.  Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Smashwords author page.

Sampler:

The Small Dark Room of the Soul and other stories – Preview.

Land Without Evil.

Spirit Matters a Memoir

A Short Walk to the Other Side – A Collection of Short Stories

DreamLand

Eye of the Predator

CyberChrist

The Infinity Zone

CyberChrist launched in December 2014cyber christ book cover

Ashley Butler, a prize winning journalist at the San Diego Times receives an email from a man who claims to have discovered immortality by turning off the aging gene in a 15 year old boy with an aging disorder. The email has pictures showing a reversal of the aging process and the names of a scientist and a company to investigate. Thinking it a hoax, she forwards the email to friends.

Though skeptical, she calls to investigate and gets a no longer in service message. When she leaves her office she overhears a news story about the death of the scientist mentioned in the email.

Ashley checks out the company mentioned in the email and discovers a gutted building. At the deceased scientist’s address she has a confrontation with an unfriendly federal investigator. Returning to her office she finds him, subpoena in hand, confiscating her computer. He tells her that the scientist who sent the email is a killer that they need help catching. When her own investigators do more checking, none of them return.

The forwarded email becomes the basis for an online church built around the boy, calling him the CyberChrist. The church claims that the Internet is the physical manifestation of the group mind of humanity and the boy is the second coming of Christ online.

The federal government tries to shut down the church, but its website replicates faster than they can stop it. While church and state battle over religious freedom online, the media and the state battle over freedom of speech.

Ashley battles to stay alive.

book cover phantastic fiction

Due out in 2015 –

Matthew J. Pallamary’s popular Phantastic Fiction Workshop has been a staple of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and the Southern California Writer’s Conference for over twenty five years. He has also lectured at numerous other venues and led his own weekend intensive workshops.

Matt has spent extended time in the jungles, mountains, and deserts of North, Central, and South America pursuing his studies of shamanism and ancient cultures. Through his research into both the written word and the ancient beliefs of shamanism, he has uncovered the heart of what a story really is and integrated it into core dramatic concepts that also have their basis in shamanism.

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Patient Returns

Monday, I’ll finally get the desktop back and with it, all the files used for Three by Five. The interview series will start back up, finishing Matthew J. Pallamary and catching up with the August highlighted author,  Poet and Non-fiction author Bernadette Geyer.

After long and detailed testing, the pesky freezing issue was finally identified. Because it was an intermittent issue, the repair guy spent days and days, running and stressing the system to recreate the issue. Then after replacing the hardware, days of testing to make sure all was good.

I’ll be very happy to get my system back on Monday. I had not realized how much I rely on what is stored physically on the machine. I have a system wide offsite back up, but that didn’t include a means to access specific files. I might have to rethink that and create an alternative access point to avoid this work shutdown in the future.

Thanks for your patience as the patient recovers. sick computer

 

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