Monday, August 10, 2015

A Few Minutes with Kathy Steinemann

Today I want to introduce you to Kathy Steinemann, the author behind the anthology Suppose, and a good friend. I’ve got a soft spot for her for getting me involved with the Suppose project, and for her wealth of expertise in all things writing and publishing. Welcome Kathy!
Hi, Donna. Thanks for inviting me to your blog.
You are a master at drabbles and flash fiction. Please explain what those are, and how you came to write them.
A master? Aw, shucks. Thanks for the vote of confidence.
A drabble is exactly 100 words long, and flash is usually a piece of 1000 words or less, although some definitions will stretch that to 2000 words.
I started to create shorter pieces when I joined a writers’ critique and networking site, Scribophile.
When did you first start writing?
I can recall scribbling stories before grade one. I won’t tell you how many years ago that was, but I will say that I remember the debut of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. I won a few prose and public-speaking contests while I was still in school, I wrote for the high school newspaper, and submitted a school news column to the local weekly.
My love of writing continued through the years. One of my jobs was editor of a small-town weekly, but life presented other career choices until 2009, when I gravitated back toward my first love.
You are self-published. Have you always been so? How did you get your start?
I considered the traditional route, but after investigating the alternatives, opted for self-publishing.
The self-pub learning process required countless hours on the Internet as I researched resources and interacted with other authors. During my journey, I had several pieces accepted by literary journals and a few anthology publishers. I won four flash fiction contests, and placed in several others
Who are your literary heroes? Muses?
My literary heroes? Probably Ray Bradbury and Pearl S. Buck. And I’d have to call Rod Serling my muse. That’s an eclectic excursion from sci-fi to historical fiction to fantasy and horror.
Tell us about a book that had an impact on your life.
Besides the Bible, probably the Black Stallion series. I read several of Walter Farley’s novels when I was a child, choosing reading over chores. The books inspired me to become an avid reader.
Tell us about one that had an impact on your writing.
That’s a difficult question. An author who had an impact is Fredric Brown, a master of short stories with surprise endings. However, I like to experiment with a variety of voices and formats. I’ve often thought that I should invent different pen names for some of my projects.
Maybe I already have.
What is your favorite format to write? Do you prefer drabbles, flash fiction, short stories, or novels?
Drabbles are difficult, and are probably my least favorite. As Mark Twain said, "I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." When you only have a hundred words to tell a story, each one must count.
Novels, especially series, require attention to dates and details so you don’t make mistakes with your plot.
In the middle are flash fiction and short stories, my favorites. I like to tell a complete story, usually with a surprise ending, that only takes a few minutes to read.
What do you like to read?
Tales that engage me, that make me reluctant to put the book down. Novels like Aphrodite’s War, Thoeba, and the Dune series. [Kathy chuckles.] (Aw, shucks. I'm blushing. Way to plug my stuff in YOUR interview!)
Do you have any rituals to write with? Favorite drinks, snacks, or music? What gets you in the zone?
I like coffee nearby, but never snacks. It’s difficult to type with crumbs on your fingers. I find music distracting, preferring the company of a low-volume news channel on the TV. I don’t need anything to get me in the zone, but I break every twenty minutes or so. Sometimes if I’m bogged down, a three-minute walk will give me fresh ideas.
The house is littered with sticky notes; I have a notepad in my purse; my cell phone contains memos; and my hard drive holds dozens of in-progress pieces. Sometimes all it takes is a casual comment from my husband or a friend to inspire me.
What do you love about writing?
I enjoy sharing the ideas in my head. I can work in my pajamas if I want to. There’s no boss looking over my shoulder and cringing when s/he sees my weird Google searches. Those searches are a constant fount of new knowledge and frequent chuckles.
Self-publishing allows me to work without deadlines, and I can experiment with style.
What do you hate?
Rejections. And I say that again: rejections. Having an editor say no to something I’ve slaved over is always a disappointment.
I also hate trapping myself in a corner, but I’m a pantser who dislikes outlines. That corner trap usually develops into a plot twist, although the solution might occur to me days or weeks after I’ve put a piece away to ripen.
I miss coffee breaks and discussions with coworkers.
I could do without the business end: promoting, finding reviewers, accounting, and the myriad mundane but necessary tasks that tear me away from writing.
If you could offer any advice to new authors, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. Don’t give up.
Cultivate your unique voice, realizing that you can’t follow every bit of advice you hear or read.
WRITE. Every minute you spend writing will open new vistas. It’s a craft that demands practice and dedication.
Where can readers find you?
The best place to find me is at my website,
I’m also on Facebook: KathySteinemann.Author.
And Twitter: @KathySteinemann.
Can we have a list of your published works?
I have several available, ranging from travel tips to German-English dual-translation collections to IBS tips, as well as two novels in the Sapphire Brigade series, and Suppose. I keep an updated list on my website.
Are you able to share anything about what you’re working on now?
In September, I plan to release Nag Nag Nag, a humor anthology about a married couple who bicker and snipe, but love each other beyond words. They spar, spat, and love their way through pre- and post-retirement, with guest appearances by their daughter and granddaughters.
Late in 2015 or early 2016, I’ll be releasing Envision, a collection of science fiction stories by me and guest authors who are competing in a contest I’m sponsoring at Scribophile. I also have a children’s book, Galoomph, ready for the illustration phase.
Next year I plan to publish Zarminixia, another sci-fi anthology.
Any final comments?
Thanks for the interview opportunity, Donna, and good luck with Chasing Monsters and Elaina’s Fate!

Thank YOU, Kathy!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Cure for Insomnia

Image by:
So tired. So wired. Need a Deep Sleep.

My husband is snoring. My bed is too hot and too hard. I steal my favorite pillow and slip to the basement.

I lay down in the guest futon, and bury myself in the fluffy comforter. Bliss. It's dark, cool, and quiet. The old futon, the one I've had since I was single and just moved to Edmonton envelops me in it's old familiar, squishy way, bowed in the middle to cradle me.

Deep Sleep, I tell myself. Deep. Sleep. 

I feel my face relax. My mask, the one of worry and consternation I wear so much these days falls away. It isn't until then I realize how tense I am. Feet are still buzzing from the day, but their burden is finished for the night. Aching shoulders unwind. I still feel the twinges, but remind myself to let them settle. I have worked my body hard, and it deserves rest. I deserve rest. I deserve Deep Sleep.  I shift, just a little uncomfortable for a moment, and something in my spine pops like a tiny, satisfying firework only I can hear, and I sigh.

I am now in carefully cultivated, floating relaxation.

Thoughts of work drift through my mind. Tomorrow's prep cooking. Coleslaw, mashed potatos...We will have to make Beef and Mushroom Pot Pie, an all day affair. But I let it all slip away. I'm not at work. I'm sleeping. It will be okay. We will get through the day fine. I am able to dismiss my anxieties, let them fade.

My stories dance, and I let them. They will be fuller and richer when I wake. I have learned to trust my vivid, dreaming brain.

Deep Sleep, I gently chide myself. I'm wearing the mask again, and as odd as it sounds, I concentrate on letting go again. One does not notice how much one crinkles her face until she must work to ease it away.

Spartacus Jones comes to press his nose to my head and purr. My mouth drops open, but I don't care. I have successfully dropped the mask, and my comfort is complete.

I'm laying perfectly still, thinking of my father, and the best advice he ever gave me. Just be quiet. Don't get up for a cigarette. Don't get up to watch TV, or clean the house because you can't sleep. Your body needs to be quiet. Even if your mind can't stop, your body has to, and you'll feel better in the morning if you didn't leave your bed. 

Eventually I learned to let go, to be at peace with the silence. To suggest to myself the Deep Sleep. To believe myself . To believe in the Deep Sleep.

Deep Sleep. Deep Sleep. Deep Sleep. Say it to yourself until it comes true. Best of luck.