Friday, October 25, 2013

Thinking about Critiquing

" better pull on your big girl panties because if you want to be a successful writer, you better learn how to take criticism.  You not only have to take it, but you have to turn it around and be grateful that someone cares deeply enough about your words and work to tell you the truth about them." 

I belong to a wonderful writers' group, The Girlfriends' Book Club, an eclectic group of female writers,
whose work ranges from genre to literary fiction.  It's nearly my turn to blog on our group site, and after considering the suggested topic for this cycle: Who reads your work?  Talk about your experiences
during critique, etc., I decided to share this blog here.

Honesty vs. Brutality

As much as I try to be constructive and helpful when critiquing another writer’s work, it does NOT come across as either, for the following reasons: they (the writers) are in love with their work (as they should be); they want to hear praise (I make sure to do that); just the same, no amount of praise is going to ameliorate hard truths, like “This scene does not forward the storyline.  It seems unnecessary to the book’s arc.”  Or “You’ve already said this.”  Or “This dialogue has no subtext.  It’s not believable.”  I could go on and on.  I don’t read for anyone anymore.  For me, it tends to end with hurt feelings.

On the flip side of the coin, I have received editorial feedback like, “I think you should rewrite this from a different point of view.”  “Cut these four pages.”  “Write something better, more beautiful here.”  “You don’t need this.” 

And, truth be told, you better pull on your big boy or big girl panties because if you want to be a successful writer, you better learn how to take criticism.  You not only have to take it, but you have to turn it around and be grateful that someone cares deeply enough about your words and work to tell you the truth about them. 

Like in comedy, delivery is everything.  Start by saying something positive, like, “I like the paper you used.”  “I bet this pen was expensive.”  “Great font you’ve chosen.”

I try VERY hard not to read the work of aspiring authors.  Feelings get hurt. 

Flip the coin: I know who I can trust to read for me, and I am oh so appreciative!

Look for WHERE I AM BORN, Simon & Schuster, 2014/2015.  Buy your copy of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors NOW.  Sold Everywhere!

*Where I Am Born is the epic tale of two women separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings.

Friday, October 18, 2013

SNEAK PEAK: What is the next novel about??? Where I Am Born...

Above Us Only Sky is the epic tale of two women separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings.  In 1973, Prudence Eleanor is born with wings in Nashville, Tennessee.  Considered a birth defect, her wings are excised shortly after her birth, leaving the ghost of them behind. 
Living on the eastern coast of the Atlantic, the unexpected and unimaginable bubble up from the depths to confront Prudence: She meets her Lithuanian grandfather and discovers a miraculous lineage beating and pulsing with past Lithuanian birds: storytellers with wings dragging the dirt, survivors perched on radio towers, lovers lit up like fireworks and heroes disguised as everyday men and women.
Sometimes where we think we are born is not even close.  It is in finding our birthplace that we have a chance at becoming whole.  

Monday, October 7, 2013


Virginia Pye, author, River of Dust

This week, news came out that a group of scientists have proven, once and for all, that reading literary fiction increases one’s ability to empathize with others. For some of us in the writing biz, that’s a no brainer. Still, it’s nice to have our sense of things confirmed.
The scientists explained that literary fiction, which shows the interior life of characters, teaches us how people think. Commercial fiction, which they contend focuses more on action, doesn’t achieve this. Over the years, I’ve heard writers and publishing professionals define these types of writing, but never with such authority. Perhaps it helps to be outside the world of books to see it more clearly.
These days, I’m so in the midst of a "literary life" --writing or reading, attending conferences and festivals, meeting fellow writers and publishing professional--that I can forget why I do this in the first place. It makes me wonder, what does a literary life really mean?
Last night, the car radio helped me remember the answer. I sat in my driveway in the dark and listened to the BBC World Service report on literary happenings around the globe. Not a reading by Salman Rushdie in some hallowed, ivy-covered hall. Not interviews with Jhumpa Lahiri or Dave Eggers on their latest books. But instead, reports from distant outposts—villages and hamlets way off the beaten path. And each brief story illustrated the power of literature in a deeply powerful way.
In Somaliland, children crowd around and elbow each other to get their hands on books. This remote region of a war-torn country has set down their guns. Adults and kids alike sit with their heads bent over books. For obvious reasons, their favorite is War and Peace.  
In Afghanistan, women write their stories -- tales that are uniformly horrific and yet they’re eager to share them. Near the end of the interview, though, a teenage girl says she is tired of women writing stories of rape, incest and murder. It is time, she declares, for them to instead write a new history of their country.
A different reporter visits Shakespeare & Company on the Left Bank in Paris, a bookshop crowded, floor to ceiling, with books. Joyce and Stein, Hemingway and Camus, all hung out here. The warren of rooms feels more like a library than a store, a sacred setting of literary history. (I remember my first visit there at age eighteen and have been thankful each time I’ve returned to find it unchanged.)
Mules laden with books make their way across rough terrain to Argentine villages, offering a popular mobile lending library. In Kenya, schools are mobile as well, so that nomadic sheepherding tribes can learn to read and write. In the sandy soil, sheep droppings are used to spell out the alphabet.
In the South Pacific, an elderly British trader is forced to finally toss away his books: Captain Cooke’s travel diaries, Robert Louis Stephenson’s volumes, Robinson Crusoe, James Michener, and dozens of others, have all been ravaged by humidity and bugs. The old trader says, You have to know what you’re up against here. His ruined books seem to illustrate what he means.
And in a city square in Morocco, one of the last dozen storytellers in the country shares a scene from A Thousand and One Nights. For over 1,000 years, stories have been passed down in this way. In a country with a 40% illiteracy rate, the tales are now being digitally recorded and saved for posterity.
These are the stories of literary life that I want to try to remember the next time I check my Goodreads account or Amazon author page. Books, as the scientists have now proven, help us understand the human heart. In settings where life is harsh, that understanding is crucial. Here in the comfort of home, it offers a vital life line to what matters as well. *****
 Virginia Pye’s debut novel, River of Dust, was chosen as an Indie Next Pick by the Independent Booksellers Association. Carolyn See in The Washington Post called it “intricate and fascinating;” Annie Dillard said it’s “a strong, beautiful, deep book;" and Robert Olen Butler named it “a major work by a splendid writer.” Virginia has published award-winning short stories in literary magazines. Her essays can be found in The Rumpus and The New York Times Opinionator blog. Interviews with her are on line at The Nervous Breakdown and Huffington Post. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and has taught writing at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. Please visit her at

Monday, September 23, 2013

What Is A Worker Sentence?

Dear Writer, 
By my own definition learned from an earnest writer and professor of writing, a worker sentence is a
sentence that gets you from point A to point B in a story or novel.  It is regrettably not often a "pretty" or "glamorous" or "novel" sentence, it is a worker sentence, much like a worker bee.

When you write, do you try and make every sentence golden like William Faulkner or Toni Morrison?  Or do you employ the worker sentence as a means to a bigger end?  Or do you think that both are necessary in measure? 

Hot damn!  Tell me what you think!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to be a Successful Unsuccessful Humor Writer by guest blogger, Perry Block

A few years ago, Perry Block read my debut novel, and he liked it (so I really like him)!  He's very witty and cute (despite being "nouveau old").  Remember, folks: this age thing is going to happen to all of us.

Check Perry out @  

The Internet has indeed afforded a tremendous amount of opportunity to a great many people that never existed in the past, and in no area of human endeavor is this truer than that of the literary arts.  Today there are more ways than ever before to successfully become a failed writer.  
And I should know.

I am a successful unsuccessful humor writer.   You may find it difficult to believe, but it was only four short years ago I began writing a humor blog entitled "Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute."  Back in those days I was a callow inexperienced unsuccessful humor writer. Fast forward four years and all that has changed dramatically; today I stand before you as a veteran experienced successful unsuccessful humor writer. 

And you can be too.  Here's how:

Why become a humor writer?  Everybody secretly desires to become a writer.  You don't have to get up early, you can wear a turtleneck any time you want, and in some circles you may be considered an intellectual even if you think health care reform is a branch of Judaism exclusively for hypochondriacs. And being a humor writer is the easiest kind of writer to be because you just make up everything.   No research, no fact-checking, it's like being a Republican. 

How did you begin humor 
blogging? Several years ago I came to the realization that I had many unexpressed thoughts, ideas, hopes, dreams, desires, and aspirations. They are none of your damn business!  So I thought I'd write me a schlock comedy blog instead.  

How long have you been humor blogging? Oh, about an hour or so. Actually I'm due for a bathroom break.  

Where do you get your ideas?   Mostly from China.  I also import a smattering of ideas from several other Asian countries and a few from a real funny fat guy in Bolivia. Don't get me wrong, I’d love to source ideas from the United States, but frankly the concept-ship is shoddy and I've gotten zero customer service attempting to call the Help Desk for an idea that isn't working! 

Are there any tricks to humor writing?   There sure are!  Uhh, know any?

Isn't it important to have a quirky mind or vivid imagination?
 Nah, my imagination's about as fertile as the concrete on I-95. To be a successful unsuccessful humor writer the stuff only has to be as funny as the small print on a whole life insurance contract.

How successfully unsuccessful are you?  
I don't wanna brag, but I am totally unknown outside of Michele Young-Stone, and even she won't return my calls.  

Do you have a writing schedule or regimen?   
Yes, I do.  

What is it, jerk?   Oh yeah, sorry!  I awaken at 6:00 A.M., brush my teeth if it's Thursday, then I head down to the kitchen to resuscitate yesterday's coffee. I check my e-mail, put on Good Morning America and check my brain, then go back to bed. Whenever I get up, I write a bunch of stuff if I'm not too nauseous.

Do you ever struggle with Writers' Block?  Gee, I can’t think of a thing to write about that.  Yeah, coming up dry here.  Sorry.

Can you guarantee I too will be a successful unsuccessful humor writer? Absolutely!  To be a success in the humor writing business you have to have talent, drive, desire, and determination.  If you had any of these things, you'd be doing something constructive. 

 Thus, your successful unsuccess is assured!

Thank you so much to Perry for guest blogging.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Susan Gregg Gilmore, Author of The Funeral Dress (available now), talks family and inspiration!

Susan talks inspiration, family, and story!  Sometimes a single-wide trailer is the most idyllic place in the world.     Just ask Susan.  
Susan Gregg Gilmore

"A 1970s Kodak photograph got me to thinking.  And then it got me to writing.  It was a photo I had snapped of my great aunt and uncle sitting in their single-wide trailer (the same trailer they had shared for fifty years) back in the late 1970s. 

As a small child, I loved visiting my relatives, and I loved their house.  It felt like a doll's house.  It was cozy and warm and always smelled like chocolate.  My aunt and uncle never had children of their own so when my brother and sisters and I went to visit, we were spoiled rotten.  Baba would buy those cheap plastic floats from the convenience market down the road and we'd all play in the lake for hours, including my aunt who acted more childlike than adult.  I only recently found out that Baba didn't know how to swim! 

So as a grown woman, finding this photograph, I began to wonder what life had really been like for my Aunt Baba and Uncle Ed.  Both had worked hard, went to church every Sunday, and doted on their family.  But they never left the trailer.  In fact it was only at the end of her life did Baba admit to my mother that she'd like to live in a real house, one made of bricks. 

From all of this Leona and Curtis came to life on the page, and writing the chapters about Leona and Curtis and their life in their trailer were some of the most wonderful, fluid times of this entire three-year process.  The words spilled onto the page.  And every time I entered their world, I felt very at home."

Thank you to Susan Gregg Gilmore for guest blogging and sharing this wonderful story and inspiration.  Please visit her at

Above Us Only Sky is the epic tale of the Vilkas women, separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

What does "THE END" actually mean?

I like to flip the ms. page over when I'm revising.
Yesterday, I typed The End for my most recent work in progress, Where I am Born.  

What does THE END mean?

First, I am not finished.  It is not the end for me.  I will need to edit and revise and proofread a few more rounds.  

Second, I know that no matter how many times I revisit a sentence or paragraph, it will never be as perfect as I want it to be, and third, as happy as I am with the ending of the novel, I know that not everyone will approve.  

We all want different outcomes in endings.  Some readers want less and others want more.  It's always a close call,
Just a few of the drafts; most were recycled.
deciding how much to share.  This is the part of the novel where I have to trust myself the most.  I always feel like it's "pick an ending."  Do you want sappy sweet?  No, of course not.  Do you want tragic?  Not really?  But, then I dig and wait and think and see what emerges from the swamp into the light.  This week, I found my ending.  I'm quite in love with it.  I hope that you will be too.  

I hope hope hope that Where I Am Born will be available some time next year.  We'll see.  I'll be sure to let you know!  Thanks for your continued love and support on this journey.  XO  

*And thank you to David Pandolfe for guest blogging on Independent Publishing.  If you missed his post yesterday, it's just below this post.  ...And if you are interested in guest blogging on a Wednesday, shoot me an email:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Guest Post: David Pandolfe, author of Jump When Ready

From MFA, to agents, to indie publishing (and why I think it’s great)

Thanks, Michele, for inviting me to guest-post on your blog. The idea is to talk a little about writing so I thought I’d say a few words about “indie” publishing and how much I’ve been enjoying this experience I wasn’t particularly open to not long ago.

A few years back, I completed an MFA program (hey, Michele, didn’t I see you there?) and, within the same year, was offered agent representation for my first novel. The stuff of writer dreams and I felt sure I was on my way to securing a traditional publishing deal. A brilliant, hopeful, exciting time in my life while emails flew back and forth and revisions were made to the manuscript, preparing for the big day. Eventually, it was time to submit the novel to editors. I waited, fingers crossed. Then, radio silence. When I finally inquired, I learned that a few editors saw the manuscript (five or six). Some said nice things but they passed. I never heard from that agent again. Yep, really. So, I dusted myself off and decided to push on and keep writing. Before too long (a few years but, hey, we’re talking the writing world, after all), I was offered representation again, this time for a YA novel I’d been working on. A really nice agent, very well-known agency! So, the first round was a dud. No biggie, right? My moment had definitely arrived. A writer couldn’t possibly snag two agents for two novels and still have nothing happen. No way. Well, guess what. You got it. The process wasn’t quite as absurd as the first time around (in other words, the agent didn’t suddenly vanish into thin air) but the result was the same. A few editors saw my book and that was basically it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am simplifying here to a degree. My second agent was a nice person who I enjoyed working with. However, when she suggested that I put the novel on the back burner for a while and move on, I decided otherwise (but we did part ways amicably). So, I was back to square one.

The fact is, I wasn’t sure I had the heart to start the process all over again. And, while I did start sending queries, in the meantime I kept hearing about writers gaining a readership through indie publishing. Yeah, I know it’s self-publishing but I like the “indie” designation since (at least, to me), the term signifies a writer who’s taking every step possible to professionally publish his or her work. So, I started looking at independently published writers in a totally new light. As a result, I read some fantastic (and, in some cases, very successful) books (for example, Annelie Wendeberg’s The Devil’s Grin and Hugh Howey’s Wool, the holy grail of indie publishing success). Soon, any remaining doubts about self-publishing were history. In fact, the more I looked at it, this looked like the new model. If not the definitive future of publishing, certainly a part of future publishing that wasn’t going to recede into the background again.

Fast-forward to the day I published my YA novel, Jump When Ready, on Amazon. No, it wasn’t the lifelong dream coming true. All the same, it was still a very exciting moment. People, actual readers out there in the world, were experiencing one of my novels! I had made that happen, without anyone’s permission, without waiting several more years. Amazon allows for free promotions, and on my first promo Jump When Ready hit the top 100 free list. Thousands of people downloaded the ebook version of the novel, which just amazed me. To keep this reasonably short, I’ll just add that I love setting my own deadlines, choosing my own cover art, the fact that I can add new reviews to my back cover or interior whenever I’d like, or change front or back matter as new ideas occur to me (for example, adding a link to a new mailing list or blog). And, when my next novel is ready (I’m working on another YA to follow the first one), I can send it out into the world too. I’m excited about that, although I’m editing just like I would if I was about to send it back to my agent for an editor to consider. So, it might be a few more months. Then, maybe I’ll publish that other novel I finished during the MFA program. Who knows, but the future remains wide open.

So, that’ how it went for me. From MFA to agents to indie publishing. To be honest, I was almost thinking of bailing, starting to wonder if my books might not, in fact, have what it takes. Evidently, not the case (knock wood), at least based on the reviews Jump When Ready has received so far from readers, bloggers and book reviewers (all of whom, I thank very much for their kind words).

In fact, here are a few of those review quotes below. How’s that for a segue? Thanks again, Michele! And to my fellow writers, whether published traditionally or independently, good luck!

"Whether you're 14 or 24, this is a fun read with endearing characters and a quick-moving plot. Jump When Ready is not a book to miss."
- Portland Book Review 

"An engaging, poignant book that stayed with me long after I read the last word." 
- Tracy E. Banghart, author of By Blood.

"I loved this book and am looking forward to seeing what the author will come up with next!"
- A Little Shelf of Heaven 

"The combination of  coming-of-age, philosophical and thriller story comes together to make a fascinating and engaging book."
- The Real Bookshelves of Room 918

"It impacted my thoughts in a serious way, and I will most likely spend the next few days going over it, and over it, in my head."
- Bound by Words

"There are few books out there that have characters that make you wish you had friends like them."
- Book Nerds

"This was a great story. I personally have never read anything like it."
-  Reading is Better than Real Life

To buy a copy of Jump When Ready on Amazon
Jump When Ready blog
Jump When Ready on Facebook

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Excerpt from Where I Am Born

Regarding the Old Man, b. Vilnius, Lithuania, 1921

The Old Man counted the days like beats.  He tried to put the image of his father and the other men out of his mind, but no amount of steps or days would accomplish that feat.  Nothing would ever be one note, one chord, or one pitch again.  Not forgetting, not believing, and definitely not living.  With the greatest clarity, he pictured his mother rubbing her throat, opening her mouth to sing, the songbirds perched around their summer home on the coast of Palanga.  The Old Man kept this sweet blue memory lodged in his parched throat, like a robin’s egg, making it difficult to swallow. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wednesday Writers Wanted: Blog here!

Hi Writers, Readers, Critics and Teachers,

I would love to host a guest blog on Wednesdays.  If you are interested in guest blogging, simply email me at

The general topic is writing but you can promote your latest project and most definitely deviate from topic.

I hope to hear from you!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I have just finished writing the richest, most delicious, calorie-laden new chapter.  It is guilt-free, and I am happy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When I remember my dreams...

When I remember my dreams, let me remember them in color, haloed and winged with fine small stitches holding scenes together.  

When I remember my dreams, let me remember peace and comfort.  I will carry these with me. 

Art by Heather Galler.
Mexican Folk Art Angel.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

weird day

WHEN you are working on a novel that is under contract, you don't anticipate gobs of misery, but I think that's only the case if the novel is complete when the contract is signed.  My book was not finished.  I had an idea and fifty pages.  That's it.

So, I am working very hard.  I am seriously on my fiftieth rewrite.  The funny thing is that when I go back and look at versions from 2010, the book doesn't seem to have changed.  It's completely different, the words and the order in which things happen, but everything else is the same: the characters and the plot.  Writers always say the soul of a book is in the first draft, and that's definitely the case with my novel.

I am currently trying not to write, trying to only think about one character and take some time away from the book at large, but it's difficult.  Starting August 26th, I will begin reading from page 1 and I hope that I LOVE it.  I hope that things fall into place effortlessly.

I had to take this break from the book to see the forest for the trees, but also: when I am away from my characters, I really miss them, and it makes spending time together even more rewarding.

That's a lot of kisses!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old School VCU Gossip or When I Met My First Novelist

My first year of MFA school at VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University, there were only four poets admitted and four fiction writers.  I was the only female fiction writer.  I tip my hat and curtsy my skirt to Bill Tester and Gregory Donovan because they helped me get in.  I'd been rejected before.  I had actually taken classes through the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in order to refresh and find a reference to apply, but my instructor informed me that she didn't write letters of recommendation because it was "an academic conflict..."  Whatever the fuck that meant!  She also wouldn't accept or read more than three pages of text per class.  Go figure.  Lazy much?

So, I enrolled in night classes while teaching 8th grade English at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School.  My instructor, Bill Tester, did write a reference letter for me after our class together. I am still to this day over-the-moon grateful, and Gregory Donovan, who is now the chair of the department, was my first creative writing teacher at VCU, circa 1990.  I have just aged the poor man.  He's a gem.  (I had such a crush on him.)    

Digressing more, but you will like this:  On the first day of class, Bill Tester said, "Write about something you'd never write about."  I went home at 11 pm, having to teach the next day, and did just that.  I wrote about something pretty vile.  So much so that the following week when I shared what I had written, a girl in the class said, "I felt like I needed to take a shower."  Bill was so cool.  He said, "Michele did the assignment.  She put it out there."  When we had to share our work aloud, I would break into a mad sweat and have trouble reading.  No more.    

So, Fast Forward A LOT!  I'm all grown up and married and getting my MFA after many years teaching ghetto kids English.  Ghetto was their term, not mine.  Great kids.  Anyway, I digress again.  

So, here we are at a party the summer before MFA classes started, the same year I got married:  1999.  One of the poets from Canada, Dani, hosts a meet-and-greet.  At the party, I met a wonderful girl named Becky who had written a novel.  Mind you, it wasn't a published novel, but she had written a novel!  She was in her second year of the program.  I can't even put into words the admiration I felt toward her.  I could not get over it.  I had started fifty novels, but I hadn't "finished" one of them.  It's sort of funny to me now because I've written a lot of novels, novels that will never see the light of day--because they are more foreplay.  Not the real thing.  It's a building-up process, a getting-to-know your characters kind of thing, but at the time it was surreal, the most incredible thing to me, to complete a story, a vision.  

I would later take classes with Becky and a score of good writers, and they were wonderful.  In so many ways.  My professor Tom De Haven used make fun of me because I talked about writing so much.  He spoke at my final thesis reading and said (and I paraphrase) that writers who talk about writing all the time usually can't write for shit.  Except in my case.  

I owe so much to Becky and Greg and Bill and Tom.  They have influenced me more than they'll ever know.   Thanks for letting me share a hodgepodge of VCU memories.  Next year, we're having a big reunion.  I hope to see all of them.  And Margaret and Marcel and Ginny and Jamie and Boz and Brigitte and Jim and Dave and Thomas and Allison and Jenny and Larry and Mindy and everybody else--cuz I just be throwing it out.   

I think I'm on my fiftieth draft of Where I Am Born.  I "finished" the book a long time ago, but needless to say, "It was not finished."  Getting closer and closer.  Inching and creeping.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

You Can't Take My Joy from Me

Lately, this song lyric has been playing through my head.  I go to sleep and wake up with these words on my lips:  You can't take my joy from me, Jesus set my spirit free...

Here is a great version by Johnny Bertram on YouTube:

"All right, real church now..."

...Ride this boat until it runs aground.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cards on the table

Here is my truth today.

I am exhausted.  Writing is physically and mentally taxing.  My ass is probably growing fatter by 30-minute increments from keeping it in the chair to do the work that's needed to make my latest creation the book I envision.

I am writing and rewriting, and unless you live in an imaginary Jack Kerouac fantasy Beatnik, personal journal la la land, you know what I'm talking about.

Writing is WORK.  Once you get past the initial beauty of creation, you are in that big scary forest, what Bukowski called the hairy scary vagina region (I'd just as easily call it anyone's pubic area), and I'm also paraphrasing.

But I'm spent.

I'm at that juncture where I am rearranging paragraphs and words, cutting whole chapters because they just aren't singing.  I'm being excruciatingly picky about word choice and not using adverbs like excruciatingly.

I carry my laptop and physical pages everywhere I go, even to the grocery store.  Just in case.  I take them to lunch, to the beach and to my various other jobs.  I eat and sleep this book.

I love the word FUCK and I hate the word fart.  I think that bottom line, that's my problem.  I've written a fucking awesome book.  Now, I gotta stop from pouring gas all over the whole thing and blowing it up.

Does anyone else feel mentally and physically exhausted after editing?    

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A picture IS worth a thousand words.

Someone who's been privy to some of my latest as-yet unpublished novel, Where I Am Born, just shared this image with me.  Where I Am Born is the story of two women separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater--the gift of wings.”

Here is an excerpt:

The girl from the holding cell came to Lukas in sharp and rounded lines and in bursts of color.  In the early morning, while the town slept, Lukas collected scrap metal in the form of tin cans and wire.  He melted the metal down, cutting out and soldering wings.  With a circa 1955 camera, he took moving pictures of the wings fluttering in the light of Vilnius square, outside the Museum of Atheism.  He hung them, each pair unique, from the ceiling of his shop.  Some of them were left metallic, while others he painted every color of the morning and night sky.  Inside, he’d built a bubble machine that vented onto the street and passageway running perpendicular to his storefront with iridescent bubbles of all shapes and sizes.  Children and adults passing by pointed at his three-story home.  “An inventor lives there.”
“No, he’s a magician.”
“He makes movies.”
“He paints.”
“He takes photographs.”
“I think he is mad.”
Lukas Blasczkiewicz spent his life making and creating.  Ceaseless and devoted, he thought singularly of the girl with the wings who’d saved him from selfishness, depression and self-loathing.  Because of Her, he saw the miracle of life everywhere.  In butterflies, beetles and cockroaches.  In the sky and underfoot.  The antithesis of his Bolshevist enthusiast father, Lukas believed in more than men and their egoistic ventures.  Solitary, he never felt alone.