Sbr Martin's Blog - Posts Tagged "thriller"

Wondering what genre my writing falls into? Me too!

Read this post to see some of the classification issues a writer faces when listing her work.

http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com...

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Repost:

What the Hell Did I Just Write?

Juggling Genres in the Modern Market

I had a little extra cash in my pocket the other day, so I stopped at a used bookstore to search for a few titles I’ve been meaning to read for some time. First on my list was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig.

Tiny wire basket in hand, I waltzed over to the Psychology section, where I found everything but Zen. So I moved on to Metaphysics, where my crisis was not resolved. I turned to the Self-Help section. No help there! The plot continued to thicken in the Fiction/Literature aisles.As a last resort, I decided to look in the Eastern Studies section. Lo and Behold, there sat a tattered copy of Pirsig’s acclaimed work! I’d found it at last. The hunt was over, and I was relieved.

Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and shake my head in a gesture caught somewhere between disbelief and defeat. I’ve never read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but even I knew that it was no more about “Zen” than it was about “Motorcycle Maintenance.”

Obviously, a quick-handed agent of the bibliopole had improperly shelved the book based on a cursory glimpse of the title alone.

Next on my list was “Son of a Witch,” Gregory Maguire’s follow-up to his novel-made-musical, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” I scanned the Fiction/Literature section of the store, since, without question, Maguire’s work has already risen to more than pulp status.

Not surprised to not find it there, I eyed the Paperback Fiction section, in case someone didn’t hold Maguire in as high esteem as did I. Greggy-boy wasn’t there; nor was he in the Witchcraft section, where I thought the same quick-handed agent might have mistakenly filed him away.I eventually found “Son of a Witch” in the Mythology/Folklore section, along with the other books in Maguire’s “Wicked” series. Mythology/Folklore? Really?!?

I’d had enough. I was mentally exhausted by the entire ordeal. I ended my search in the physical world, deciding to purchase what books I had in hand and search for the others online. Driving home from the bookstore, I was fuming mad. Was there something wrong with that God-forsaken, over-glorified bookrack? Worse yet, was there something wrong with me? Had they put certain books in the wrong sections, or had I looked in the wrong sections for certain books? Was this laziness or miseducation on what categorizes what?

And this wasn’t the first time I’d contemplated the complexities of classification. I’d thought over them only a couple months earlier—not as a reader of books, but as the writer of my most recent release, “pig.”

"Pig" is the story of Lily, a woman holding on to too much pain and too many secrets, including a big secret she's keeping from herself. The entire novel takes place at her husband's funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal.

The narrative comes from Lily's memories, as stirred by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons. Domestic abuse, graphic sex, and devastating loss are but a few of the past events reawakened by Lily's reflections—as are love, mothering, and redemption.

“Pig” taunts its reader with psychological suspense, leaving him turning e-page after e-page to find out how Lily’s husband got in that box, what she’s holding in her hand, and, ultimately, what it takes for a troubled woman to finally let go. Stepping into Lily's past to answer the present questions, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster ride of plot twists and narrative turns where he is shaken, unsettled, and reminded that some stories just aren't meant to have happy endings.

So… what kind of book does this sound like to you? Of course, I hope you’ll say it sounds like a good book, but we both know that’s not what I mean. What I’m asking is: How would you classify this book into an existing genre?

Our friends at the used bookseller would, I assume, have an easy time with this one. Unless they tossed it into the Agriculture section because the title is “pig,” they’d likely place it in the Fiction New Releases portion of the store when it first came out, maybe amidst the Paperback Fiction collection if it had a soft spine.

I’d love for it to be shelved in the Fiction/Literature stacks, as it definitely is Fiction and I can only hope that it is one day regarded as true Literature.

But the mere placement of my book on a physical shelf was not the issue I faced some months ago, and not just because my book is currently available exclusively in digital format. The issue I faced was tossing it alongside other reads on a digital shelf. I wondered: Into which of the dozens of existing genres should I classify my work?

My question was only further confounded by certain facts: (1) any business-minded person knows that cross-categorizing a product increases its exposure, in turn, optimizing sales; and, (2) Amazon gives you the option of listing your book in as many as three different categories.

Three! One would think it would be easier to place a work into three categories than to place it into one. But it’s not.

Amazon’s Literature & Fiction tab seemed to be an obvious choice for my novel, though that one choice burdened me to make other choices. On the site, there are 20 subgenres listed under the Literature & Fiction genre, some of which continue to splinter off into sub-subgenres and the suchlike.

The Mystery, Thriller & Suspense tab may seem unintimidating at first, as it has only four second-tier subgenres. But don’t be fooled—those four spider-web out, out, and out some more.

Between these two top-level genres, there were quite a few subcategories into which I could have placed “pig,” and a couple more above them that would’ve worked too. But there was, and is, no one, two, or three that fit my title to a T.

Psychological Thriller. Suspense. Tales of Intrigue. These are subgenres that also describe the thoughts that raced through my head when listing my book.

There’s a little Romance in “pig,” some Gay & Lesbian themes, perhaps a little Erotica in the right light. The protagonist is a female who suffers and finds salvation in her own way—this is the stuff of Women’s Fiction, no?

The boozing, violence, and crime could cast it as an Urban Life yarn, while the matters of marriage and motherhood could make it a Family Saga. It ain’t what the Greeks would consider a Tragedy, though it’s pretty damn tragic at times—maybe Drama would be a good match?

It’s set in Pittsburgh, PA, and there are references to Las Vegas. I could label it United States, right? I can’t call it British, since the English accent of a main character is faked, which is kinda funny if you think about it. Is this enough to make it a Humor tome?

I’m sure you get my point by now. Even for we who create what is read, the task of genre selection is an arduous one, made even more daunting by the fact that where we place our books determines who sees, reads, and embraces them.

I understand that Amazon’s genre breakdown is designed to make the shopping experience easier for consumers, but the leveling structure is somewhat complex and makes it easiest only for the reader who already has a very clear picture of what she wants to find.

To make matters worse, we must remember that Amazon, albeit the biggest commercial vendor in the universe, is not the only site or system out there that categorizes writers’ works. Shifts and changes in the literary world are creating new genres and subgenres at an alarming pace, resulting in a mass market with no uniform system of classifying the written word.

Not that a uniform system would help all that much anyway, considering the quick hands of the bookstore employee mentioned above, and, considering the fact that I may think my book is an apple while my reader very much considers it an orange.

Ah yes, the readers! How could I market my book to catch the most readers and/or get the most reviews? I don’t want anyone inadvertently being repelled by, or even attracted to, my writing because it was mislabeled along an already blurred line.

If I list this book as Erotica, would conservatives give it a cold shoulder? Would I lose male readers if I tag it Women’s Fiction? Are folks blistering on the Bible Belt gonna run for the hills if I brand it Gay & Lesbian?

This reviewer reads only Romance, and that fellow won’t look at anything but Genre Fiction. Ms. So-and-So likes Dystopia, whatever that is. A famous Harvard professor has a one-palate taste for “Contemporary Fiction,” but isn’t anything that’s written today “contemporary” by definition? Whom, if any, of these reviewers should I query? And what should I put in, or leave out of, my pitch?

Should I even care about any of this jazz?

Well, if I want my book to sell, I’m gonna have to. There’s no other way, really. I have to call it something, even if there was never any something I intended it to be called.

When I sit down to write, I have only one goal: to write a good book. My style of writing is marked by the fusion of traditional, as well as new, genres. Without following any recipe(s), I take a little of this and a little of that to create an unforgettable read. I don’t avoid things like adult content for fear of rejection. I don’t add a character or plot element just to make my work qualify as A, B, or C.

So, as I write with no particular genre in mind, it’s not too big a shock that a particular genre is hard for me to find. Nonetheless, juggling genres has become a personal pet peeve. For very practical reasons, I still find myself second-guessing the genres I eventually selected and asking my self, “What the Hell Did I Just Write?”

Think you can answer that one? Take a gander at “pig” and let me know what you think.

“Pig” is available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0....

For a daily slice of “pig,” visit http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig.

Video Teaser-Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWkHow....

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater.

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin.

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Keep an eye on Donna's blog - she'll be reviewing "pig" at a later date.
It's Friday the 13th! Of what are you scared? Check out my guest post on Cynthia Shepp's wordpress, where I compare supernatural villains to more natural ones. It's also part tribute to one of my favorite authors, Anne Rice.

http://cynthiashepp.wordpress.com/201...

There's a giveaway attached to the post - so read the whole thing and follow the rules for your chance to win!

Please take the time to explore Cynthia's site. Book reviews, author interviews, and editing services to boot - she's a busy gal who knows how to get the job done with tons of style and grace.

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Repost:

A Friday the 13th Tribute to Mother Rice

How Vampire Fiction Influenced My Writing on Human Nature

I was first ensnared by vampires in 1994 when, like nearly every other lovelorn teenage girl in the world, I ran to the theater to see blonde beauty Brad Pitt star alongside top gun Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. The film was moving—deep and disturbing, yet inviting. It made me want to be a vampire a little bit, and not just so that I could keep company with two of Hollywood’s hottest hunks.

Since I was about 12 years old, I’ve been one of those people who is deathly afraid of death. To this day, I still have severe panic attacks when I attempt to contemplate the unknown. It’s always been an immobilizing fear that’s more than taken my breath away. So the idea of immortality seemed like a good thing to me. To live forever, to never die or face the unknown, if, that is, one actually faces anything after death—this seemed like a ticket I wanted to buy.

I overlooked a vital component of Interview though. I wasn’t able to see the suffering in Pitt’s pale eyes. All I could see was the promise of something more that his character’s eternal life offered. It wasn’t until two years later, when I decided to read the book on which the movie was based, that I caught a glimpse of the immortal’s inner struggle and turmoil.

A friend gave me a copy of Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” which I read in less than two days. In no time, I was off to the store to pick up the second installment in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, followed by the third, the fourth, and the fifth.

Fortunately for me, I caught word of Rice’s work around the same time that she was coming out with additional books in the Vampire Chronicles and developing another bloodsucker saga, the New Tales of the Vampires. For the next few years, I spent a lot of time with my nose buried deep in any one of Rice’s books, reading, rereading, referencing, and reviewing. I’d say I was hooked, but that’s definitely an understatement.

In Rice’s volumes, I discovered something I’d never known before. The Vampire Chronicles were the first books I ever read for leisure’s sake, rather than as an academic assignment. Rice’s prose was more vivid, more alive, than anything I’d ever read in the classroom. The storylines were rich with flashbacks and side-stories so elaborate, so fascinating, that my jaw dropped several dozen times (per book).

What stood out to me most were Rice’s characters, the depth with which she explored them and the lengths to which she developed them. By far, they were the most intensely real and unquestionably human characters I’d ever encountered.

Keep in mind, however, that they weren’t actually human characters for the vast majority of pages. They were vampires.

But before they were vampires, yes, they were humans. And that humanness, that abstract idea of humanity, did not, for the most part, die when certain characters crossed over; if anything it was merely chilled to an icy cross between distraction and desperation.

The crux of my own mortal crisis was put before me via these beguiling beings. I saw in them a personification of my own greatest fears, and learned that perhaps I’d feared the wrong things.

By the time I was done with “The Vampire Lestat,” I’d already seen more than enough evidence that immortality wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The promise was not a promise, but a curse. The remaining novels in the series went on to prove just that.

The sadness that some of Rice’s characters bled—oh, the sadness! There is no beauty in an immortal life, nor even any life as life implies an end. Sinking but never reaching bottom, falling but never landing, the vampire is burdened to linger in an unceasing decline as all the world around him changes and decays. The deaths of human allies, the troubles of mankind, and disassociation from nature—war, disease, disaster—to these things the vampire bears eternal witness.

So it was that I learned not so much to fear death as to fear life, to fear all the things that one is tasked to tackle during her time on this planet, whether in a finite or infinite frame. This is not to say that Rice’s work made me afraid to live. Not at all. Indeed, it made me want to live as much as I can before my time comes.

Her references to art and music, to history and culture, to sensation and perception, remind me that this life is a mixed bag. For all the darkness one must face, so too there is light.

And I needed to be reminded of that light, and recall familiar characters to whom I could relate, when my own life’s story began to unfold. Losing my mom, my only sibling, my father, and my grandmother within seven very short years, I felt like Louis, Lestat, and a handful of my other favorite characters. I was alone, neglected, forgotten. Forsaken, perhaps. The immortality I once craved would not remedy this. It’d only make it much, much worse.

Rice’s words helped me grow, from a teen to a woman, from a happy-go-lucky idealist to an open-minded realist, and from a reader to a writer. They allowed me to take a look at the human experience, as enlivened by nonhumans, and ground my perspective as an individual and a creator.

When I began writing novels, I couldn’t help but write according to how I read. It became my goal to see the complex plots, realistic characters, dramatic story-telling, and cross-genre style of Mother Rice’s work reflected in my own fiction.

Note that the stories I write are not Horror, at least not in any traditional sense. There are absolutely no paranormal, other-than-natural elements in my work. I write about people, human beings, some of whom are far more monstrous than any preternatural inhabitant of Rice’s literary world.

Through the Vampire Chronicles, I was able to hone my understanding of what does and does not constitute a real “monster.” Lore and legend, along with pop culture notions, would have us believe that vampires are dirty, rotten beasts of prey. Evil. No good. Mean-spirited, depraved, inclined to do only harm.

This is not the typical Rice vampire. Rice vampires border on being tragic heroes, for whom the reader cannot help but feel empathy and compassion. These characters are troubled creatures. They simply are not monsters.

But some of my human characters are. Dirty, rotten beasts of prey. Evil. No good. Mean-spirited, depraved, inclined to do only harm. Yeah. These words are better suited for my characters than for Rice’s.

Take, for example, Bender, the male antagonist in my most recent release, “pig.” He’s not a very nice guy. He beats his wife, calls her despicable names, and makes her live under his thumb. He drinks too much, shoves chewing tobacco in his mouth every chance he gets, and is generally pissed off because he never found fame.

Let’s look at Louis now—the vampire who was interviewed in the first title of Rice’s series. Louis didn’t too much like the idea of killing humans for blood, so he’d drink from rats when he had the chance. With limited exception, he never wanted to pass his Dark Gift on to others, because he didn’t want another to suffer as he’d done for centuries without end.

Louis could deliver a world of hurt if he wanted to. But he doesn’t want to. Now, Bender, on the other hand, he’s lookin’ to give far more pain than he’s willing to receive. Louis’ immortal existence brought suffering and torture mainly to Louis himself, while it was others who suffered and were tortured during Bender’s mortal stint. So who’s the loathsome swine here?

This post is live online as of Friday, July 13, 2012. That’s right—Friday the 13th. It’s a day we think of Jason Voorhees, the undead, and other things that go “Boo!” But these aren’t the scariest things in this world.

We are.

We, the humans, must endure a human condition not unlike the inescapable humanness and humanity embodied in the plights of the vampires in Rice’s series. Life, loss, death, upheaval, decline, and lots of other scary shit goes on around us, unstoppable forces eroding our very existence as if we stood as timeless pillars on a plane of perpetual fast motion.

We, the humans, have in our genetic code a primal disposition toward the gruesome, an uncanny ability to turn human circumstances into inhumane situations. Abuse, adultery, alcoholism, asshole-ism run rampant on this planet. We are the victims and the aggressors of the most heinous acts imaginable.

A scorned wife cuts off her cheating husband’s penis. A militant extremist storms into a youth camp and opens fire. Shoe bombs on airplanes and child molesters next door. You name it. The world of supernatural fiction suddenly seems so much more appealing. It’s easier to assign such base emotions and actions to something that is not human or living. We don’t want to confront the realities we are capable of, or have already committed, so we look for a scapegoat, something nonhuman to absorb our more prurient human inclinations.

Vlad Tepes had a penchant for impaling his captives on wooden stakes and is rumored to have feasted on their remains. Countess Elizabeth Bathory liked to take nice warm baths in the blood of young virgins. History has noted these blood-lusters, and they were human. But talking about Dracula as a fictitious supernatural character, rather than as none other than Vlad Tepes, heir to the Dracul reign, allows us to think that we humans are better than we really are.

Just as blind faith has been argued as an opiate for the masses, so too can be unyielding interest in the preternatural. We need something to dilute the truth and shade us from the inevitable, the unsavory, and the unknown. Immortality quashes the quandary of an afterlife. Nonhuman monsters allow us to sidestep human accountability, while simultaneously engorging the ever-present imp of our universal perverse.

But what of the fictitious bad guys like my Bender?

Writing him does the same thing that writing a vampire does, by putting real fears into fiction. But it does something else as well—or, rather, doesn’t do something else.

It doesn’t allow the reader to shift focus away from human instinct and incident. It tells the reader that shit happens, and that it happens because of people just like you and just like me. People. A man whose artistic ambitions failed, who is unhappy in his marriage, who looks at sex as a disgraceful and distasteful act is capable of cruel things. And his battered wife is capable of murder.

Have you ever cheated on a significant other? Ever slapped or hit a loved one? Ever wished somebody dead or called them a foul name? If you did these things, how’d you feel afterwards? I’m guessing you probably felt bad. Maybe you felt a little freakish, kinda like a monster.

And if you felt that way, if you did these things or merely contemplated them, guess what: You’re not alone. You’re one of millions upon millions of other likeminded people, though you’ll find only a small fraction willing to admit to these primitive impulses.

You can step into my fiction to confront those parts of yourself that are human, that you don’t necessarily like. Find a character to relate to—a victim or a perpetrator—and hunker down with human nature. See real life threads mimicked and woven into fictitious elaborations. Embrace what you are, what you were, and what you never want to be. Hide from yourself no longer.

In closing, I feel the need to issue a disclaimer. I love me a good vampire novel! The first half of this post should show just how much I’ve been influenced and affected by the work of the mother of all vampire yarns, the Queen of the Damned herself, Anne Rice. So don’t think for one second that I’m dismissing the subgenre. We need these types of stories to function as a society. Alls I’m sayin’ is that we need my brand too.

Wanna meet my monsters? Find “pig” on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0... and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig.

Video Teaser-Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWkHow....

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater.

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin.

Read it. Live it. Love it. sbr.

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Who said you can't be two places at one time? Thanks to the web, the impossible is possible! Today I made TWO virtual visits.

The first is to Loran's Heart, a website dedicated to spiritual practices and growth. Read my guest post at http...://www.loransheart.com/uncovering-this-c....

And please take the time to look around Loran's site. Loran is the author of three different "Journey" journals, which each prompt the reader-writer to explore parts of herself and motivate enriching change.

Loran and I will be penpals when I am "away," and together we will exchange letters where I work on the steps of her "Transformation Journey." So stay tuned for my follow-up post in a few months, after I have embarked on this journey.

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Repost:

Uncovering This Cloud’s Silver Lining: My Spiritual Practices as an Alcoholic by SBR Martin

This is a very special guest post by SBR Martin. Quite often spirituality plays an important role in recovery from alcoholism. Sometimes it’s a difficult path. (Intro from Loran Hill)

I woke up, drenched in sweat and disoriented. Where was I? Images filled my head, confronting me one after the other: a dozen discarded beer cans; an empty fifth of vodka and two bone-dry glasses; a naked man, a stranger, on top of me, making love to me on the floor of his stall-like shower.

My head started pounding, my heart racing. Was I hung-over? Still drunk? What had I just done? Did I slip… again?

I turned over where I lay and saw my 4-year-old daughter in bed next to me, nestled in the crook of my sleeping husband’s back. My 2-year-old was jumping up and down and giggling in her crib in the far corner. Calmness soon overcame me, for I was home, I was safe—and I was sober. It was just a dream.

Dreams like these are called “drunk dreams.” I, like many other alcoholics, have them every so often. They’re terrifying and uncomfortable, but they’re not so much a curse as a blessing. Five months into my newfound sobriety, I see them as a manifestation of my fears and a reminder of both my successes and my failures. They show me what would happen, and what has happened, if I pick up a drink.

The dreams started some time after the nightmare ended on Feb. 20, 2012. That’s the date of my last drink in a 10-month-long bender of compulsive binge drinking, during which time I forgot I was a wife, a mother, and a human being.

I’d been slightly more than 3.5 years sober when I relapsed. The gestation and birth of my daughters, combined with my creative endeavors, allowed me to stay sober for what was the longest period of sobriety in my adult life (so far). Having been clean for so long, I thought my disease was cured and that I could once more drink like a normal person.

I was wrong. Just one drink opened the floodgates, and soon enough I sunk to new depths of addiction.

I was arrested on Jan. 2, 2012, for driving under the influence and open lewdness. When the cops found me, I was parked and engaged in sexual activity with a 25-year-old rocker boy I’d met a half-hour earlier in the bar. Although it is physically impossible to do what I was doing and drive at the same time, my mere possession of the car keys was enough to constitute the backbone of a DUI arrest, which was fleshed out by my .217% blood alcohol content.

My arrest was a low point, but it didn’t stop me. I kept drinking, regressing at a rapid rate. Over the next few weeks, I fell down and broke the fifth metatarsal in my right foot; wrecked my car into a parked car; and, was sexually assaulted by a stranger with whom I’d hitched a ride.

Things weren’t getting out of control—they were already out of control. I didn’t know how to stop, and, despite the devastation I caused, I didn’t know if I even wanted to stop.

I’d isolated myself from friends and family, who nonetheless kept calling and begging me to seek help. However, it wasn’t until a call was placed to someone else that I finally got the message.

An unnamed person had called the county’s child welfare unit, a representative of which showed up at my door to investigate a claim that my children were being neglected by their alcoholic mother.

I was sober when the rep appeared, and even more so when she left. Upon finding no evidence to support the claim, the case was dropped. But the fact that suspicion had been raised, and that fact alone, was the last straw I needed to break my back. Things had to change.

The first thing I changed was my isolation. I picked up the phone and returned a call I had received from a dear friend. He was a drunk, just like me—only he hadn’t drank in well over a year, and was living a productive life that glimmered with a successful career and a happy family.

This dude used to be hardcore. Though he’d been lucky when it came to things like driving, he had been just as bad as me, if not worse. If he could quiet his demons, maybe I could too.

Because he was like me, I was able to listen to him and take his words to heart, something I couldn’t do when nonalcoholic folks tried to talk sense into me. He understood addiction, compulsion, and withdrawal. He knew what it was like to be in a place where you couldn’t live with, or without, booze.

He suggested that I go to in-patient rehab, to which I reluctantly agreed. My stay in rehab was short-lived, because I jumped on the chance to come home when my husband had difficulty finding adequate childcare in my absence.

Leaving the rehab center after only a few short days, I immediately set up an appointment for out-patient care and again called my dear friend, who suggested that I affiliate myself with other recovering alcoholics post haste.

And so began my path not only to sobriety but also to discovery, growth, and enlightenment. For the first time in my life, I admitted, and accepted, that I was an alcoholic. I finally embraced things I’d shied away from in the past, welcoming the likes of rehabilitation, therapy, and fellowship with likeminded alkies.

What I have now is different than what I had for those 3.5 years—those years were not lived in sobriety. They were nothing more than dry years, where I simply abstained from drinking but remained an alcoholic in my thinking; where I never had any type of program in place; where I didn’t use any outside tools for recovery and selfishly thought I alone held all the power.

So what does any of this have to do with spiritual practice? Simple answer: Everything!

It was through this process, through the ups and downs here described, that I was able to find a certain comfort in my existence and the ability to address life’s situations with level-headedness and gratitude.

In my recovery process, I have heard a prayer repeated constantly. I’m sure you’ve heard it, too. At first, it sounds like a lovely little poem—something that’d look nice on a prayer card or bumper sticker, something easy to recite and to remember.

The prayer goes:

God,
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.


Yep. The good ole’ Serenity Prayer. Told ya’ you’d know it! Do you really know it though?

Something so sweet and simple is very easy to gloss over and undervalue. But if you take the time to really think about the meaning of each and every word, it makes a world of difference, and makes the world a different place.

This one prayer is the basis of my spiritual practice, of my daily living. I say it to myself, aloud or in my head, at least three times a day, more when needed.

It is by this prayer that I am able to face my alcoholism. Each day, I remind myself that I am an alcoholic. I cannot change that fact. What I can change is how deal with my compulsion to drink. I can give in to it, or I can subdue it.

It is by this prayer that I am able to face arguments with my husband, guff from my children, or financial problems. When something comes up, I remind myself that I cannot change my husband’s personality, I cannot change the trials of raising toddlers, and I cannot change the economy. What I can change is how I respond to these stressors.

And it is by this prayer that I am able to face a difficult situation looming in my immediate future.

I did the crime. Now I must pay the time. I have been sentenced to serve 90 days in a correctional facility because of my DUI offense. I cannot change my sentence. What I can change is how I handle my time on lockdown and how I approach my incarceration.

I can enter the facility bitter and closed-minded, or humble and open-minded. I can view my time there as an interruption of my freedoms, or as an opportunity to polish my appreciation for them. I can consider myself damned, or I can find redemption.

The firsts of each of these options are the easy way, and are the way of the alcoholic who is still in denial. I choose the harder choices, taking on the challenge of uncovering this cloud’s silver lining. With serenity, courage, and wisdom, I shall dedicate my time to learning more about myself and God as I understand him. I’ll work to figure out God’s plan for me, and pray for the strength to put that plan into action.

SBR Martin is an author of contemporary psychological fiction. Her most recent release, Pig, was a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, where Publishers Weekly wrote of Martin’s work: “The ultimate resolution of the story makes for quite a surprise… (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, but also, in a strange way, enriched.”

Martin was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to live and work as a writer, journalist, and mother. She holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, as well as a journalism portfolio replete with contributions to media outlets such as AOL’s Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

Pig is her second book, published less than one year after the Oct. 2011 release of her debut novel, In Wake of Water.

Books by SBR Martin:

Pig:
available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater

SBR Martin’s other online presences:

SBR can be found online in myriad places, including multiple stops along her virtual tour. Guest posts, interviews, and other visits are chronicled on her Goodreads blog. If you’d like SBR to make a special appearance on your blog/site, contact her directly at sbrmartin@sbrmartin.com.

SBR on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin

SBR on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/sbrmartin

SBR on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin

SBR on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/sbrmartin

SBR on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sbrmartin

SBR on SBR: http://www.sbrmartin.com

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My second stop today was at Lindsay and Jane's Views and Reviews, where Jane interviewed me after reading and reviewing "pig" last week.

Jane came up with some really good questions, and I came up with some pretty decent answers. Read, read, read at http://lindsayandjaneviewsandreviews....

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Repost:

Interview with SBR Martin

Recently I read a book called 'Pig' so hopefully I can be forgiven for expecting a book about a farm animal!....It is not about a farm animal!

'Pig' is one of the most unique books I have read in a while and I was totally blown away by it. Today I would like to welcome to the page the author of that book sbr Martin.


Q:- Would you tell us a little bit about your first novel? 'In Wake of Water' as I haven't managed to read it yet.

sbr: Well, the jacket blurb reads: "Enter a world of sex, deception, ignorance, and guilt. Malformed metaphysical ideas and corrupt social mores intertwine against the backdrop of a small town where there are too many secrets and life is anything but ideal. When a girl gets lost in this world and decides to escape, what will happen in her wake?"

But you didn't really need me to tell you that, huh? I guess I would describe "In Wake of Water" as a contemporary psychological thriller where the two main characters explore different permutations of, and alternatives to, life and death. There are some pretty shocking plot twists, and the side stories of supporting characters are both disturbing and oddly amusing.

Comparing my two novels, I’d say that “In Wake of Water” was written somewhat differently than “pig.” “In Wake of Water” was written more like a throwback to classic literature, with some purple prose piercing through the pages. “Pig” is written more directly, with more storytelling and less writing for the sake of writing.

I largely attribute this difference in style to the fact that i was in law school when I wrote "In Wake of Water" and was working as a Journalist when I wrote "Pig" - the writing I was doing elsewhere in my life influenced my authorship of each book.

Q:- Your second book ‘Pig’ managed to get as far as second prize quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Can you describe how you felt when you found out how well your work had done?

sbr: I was honored, tosay the least. Along with a novel's placement in the competition, the author is given feedback from Amazon Top Reviewers and from Publishers Weekly. The feedback is designed to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the author's work. In many ways, it is this that is the author's greatest prize (at last for authors who don't make it all the way!).

The Amazon reviewers weren't too shy to say what thy didn't like_and I wasn't too humble to take it to heart. For instance, one reviewer said that he didn't like how I used a lot of numbers in the book description. All you need to do is take a gander at the Amazon product page to see that I appreciated his advice and incorporated it into the presentation of my book.

The review from Publishers Weekly was absolutely incredible. There were no critical words in it, though I've seen other novels in the contest reviewed in a harsh light. Given the glowing Publishers Weekly review, I must admit that I'm not certain why "Pig" didn't make it any further than it did in the contest. I've fingered its dark content as the likely culprit. But, nonetheless, for it to get as far as it did is a huge accomplishment. It's the type of recognition that every fresh author craves, but so very few get.

Quick Fire Questions

a) What colour shoes are you wearing?
sbr: Right now, I'm actually not wearing any shoes. Whenever possible, I like to go barefoot-and, seeing as how I'm just chilling at home right now, there is no need for me to wear shoes at the moment. But, typically my shoes are some shade of black.

b) Do you take sugar?
sbr:
I love sugar! I have a sweet tooth for cookies,candy,cake and the like. I especially love Sweedish Fish. As far as taking sugar in my coffee or tea, I take sugar substitutes with Splenda as my first choice. I eat enough sugar as it is, so I can't justify drinking it too.

c) Name of your first pet?
sbr:
The family pet I remember from my youngest days was a black poodle named Fifi. The first pet that was "mine" was a minnow named Minnie, who I brought ome from the Girl Scout camp in a Styrofaom cup.

Minnie lived for only one month in my house. I woke up on her one-month birthday and starting singing "Happy Birthday" as I made my way to her bowl in my bedroom. She was dead. We had a funeral and wake for her later that same day. To anyone who has read "Pig," the idea of having a funeral and a wake for a lost pet should sound vaguely familiar. Little bits of fact alwayd find their way into my fiction, though they're there spun out beyond recognition.

d) Night on the town or quiet night in?
sbr:
I must be getting old. Quiet night in. It's too costly to go out these days. Dinner and a movie, and gasoline for transport, are so expensive nowadays-and often not worth the investment of my time or money. I have to toddler daughters, so they occupy the majority of my resources.

Don't get me wrong. I do like to go out for a night on the town every now and then. It's just not my regular practice. That said, a quiet night is a rarity too-again, I remind you, I have two toddler daughters!

Jane: Believe me as they go from toddler to child, from child to teenager, and teenager to adult, a quiet night in is even more rare!!

e) McDonalds or Burger King?
sbr: McDonalds. I'm not into that flame-broiled taste and I much prefer nuggets with the preface of Mc attached.

Q:- The story of Lily’s life in ‘Pig’ was so realistic that I felt like I was reading a biography. Did you work closely with abused women to gather your information or was it written purely from your imagination?

sbr: Neither. I don't think anyone writes anything purely from imagination-not even the most complicated stories or the most nonhuman, or inhumane, characters. At least I don't.

Did you ever see a couple get into a fight in public-maybe on the trolly or at the market? Did you ever think to yourself that the man took the argument too far? Did he call her a bad name? did he grab her arm and lead her away?

And, if you ever saw these things, did you ever wonder: if he does that to her in public, what does he do to her behind closed doors?

Or, here's another line of thought. Did you ever have a fight with a loved one? Did yoe ever call someone a mean name? were you called a mean name? Did you and/or he/she ever get physical? And, if you ever experienced these things, did you ever wonder: what would have happened if I, or the other person, took things even further? What would have happened if I hadn't quieted my own rage?

Now, this is all to show that there are little scenarios we all face every now and then, questions we ask ourselves from time to time, that can really get the imagination going. There are things we witness, or execute, in our own very real lives that can be fictionalized to a haunting extreme.

Q:- In recent years we have seen an influx of new authors. How difficult/easy has it been to market your work, make it stand out amongst the rest and encourage readers to buy it?

sbr: I've tried to keep my language clean in my responses to your questions, which hasn't been too hard-until now. Let's just say this: It's really difficult!!!!

There has been a huge influx of new authors in recent years, and many of them are terrific writers. It’s hard to get noticed and stand out. It’s hard to compete with big names, and even with smaller names who have more spare cash in their hands. It’s hard. It’s just hard.

The best I can do is create an impressive piece of work and hope that people hear about it. I’ve been pounding the e-pavement with “pig,” pitching it to reviewers left and right, taking part in a virtual blog tour, promoting on Facebook, offering giveaways—the list goes on and on, and I’m always open to new ideas.

I decided to do a lot of my own PR this time around, even though that’s verboten in the traditional literary world. But the traditional literary world is changing quite rapidly. eBooks are all the rage, self-publishing and print-on-demand are just as common as the big publisher names, and everyday people are taking to reviewing books. Self-promotion isn’t shameless when you’ve got a good product to push. And “pig” is a good product. It’s a different kind of book. People just need to know it exists.

Q:- Do you write thrillers because this is the genre you most enjoy to read?

sbr: I typically like to say that I don’t have a favorite genre, because I really do enjoy all different types of books. Some of my favorites have paranormal/horror elements in common—like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, John Gardner’s “Grendel,” and Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked”—but I also love biographies and psychoanalytical works.

The theme that runs rampant through all of my desert island books is the element of surprise. Fiction or nonfiction, I like to be shocked. Perhaps the shock comes in a fictional plot twist, or after the suspense leading up to the reveal of a big secret; or, perhaps, it comes from learning about the childhood of Maya Angelou or the troubled life of rock icon Tommy Lee; perhaps it comes at learning how one scholar interprets the disturbing undercurrents of fairytales, if not at discovering the disturbing undercurrents themselves.

So it is that element of "the thrill" that is found in many different genres which I like to read, and to which I also like to write.

Q:- If ‘Pig’ was made into a film, who would you choose to play the characters Lilly and Bender? Personally I think Ray Liotta would make a great Ben and Barbra Alyn Woods would make the perfect Lily!


sbr: I haven't really thought about who'd play Lily and Bender, though I've thought about "Pig" being made into a film. Because the book spans nearly 30 years, it's hard for me to think of the ideal actors. Should I pick actors to portray young Lilly and Bender, or lder Lilly and Bender? Most of the story takes place when they are in their 30s/40s, but the backbone of the tale is set when they're older. Can one lady, and one fellow, portray both ages well?

While I haven't thought much about casting Lily and Bender,I have thought about casting Leo. I think Russell Brand would be perfect.

I do like your suggestions of Ray Liotta and Barbara Alyn Woods—both are great performers and could express the attributes, and flaws, of my characters quite well. So let’s you and I get a hold of these folks and pitch the flick to them!

Q:- If you could spend one week in any period of history, which period would you choose?

sbr: Oh my, I’ve been asked this question before, but not in an interview context. Every time someone asks me, I say a different period, not because I’m fickle but because, as I continue to learn and grow in life, my answer reflects what I’ve most recently learnt.
At 34 years old, I have only just come across “Classic Rock.” For years, I was all about bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, and The Eels. These are the types of bands with which I grew up, the soundtracks to college parties and long drives in my various cars over the years.

I used to dismiss Classic Rock, because I had Modern Rock. But I haven’t been pleased with what’s been calling itself “Rock” these days. I took to playing a classic rock radio station in my car and fell head over heels for Led Zeppelin. My appreciation for other bands of that era is also evolving. I’m giving Pink Floyd, Hendrix, CCR, and Cream a shot, as well as the Rolling Stones and Queen.

To answer your question… I’d like to spend a week in the era when Classic Rock was just rock. The late-1960s/early-1970s sound pretty fun. Plus, denim jeans from the era were skintight and wide-legged—fabulous!

Q:- Did you hire an editor and/or Cover designer for your book? If so how did you find people you trusted?

sbr: “Pig” features cover art by Jenn Wertz, a musician/artist best known as an original member of multi-platinum recording artists Rusted Root. I am fortunate enough to have her in my circle of friends, so acquiring her artwork was an easy and trustworthy transaction.

Another lady I’m pleased to have in my circle of friends is Lizzy Bittner, who did the author photography for both of my books, and the cover photography for “In Wake of Water.” I’ve known Lizzy since childhood, and she basically donated her services to my literary cause.

Q:- What question would you have liked me to ask in this interview but I didn’t?

sbr: Well, my dear, I'll take this as an opportunity to plug my work...

Below is my short bio and all of my favorite links, written in third person for effect.

SBR Martin is an author of contemporary psychological fiction. Her most recent release, Pig, was a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, where Publishers Weekly wrote of Martin’s work: “The ultimate resolution of the story makes for quite a surprise… (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, but also, in a strange way, enriched.”

Martin was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to live and work as a writer, journalist, and mother. She holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, as well as a journalism portfolio replete with contributions to media outlets such as AOL’s Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

Pig is her second book, published less than one year after the Oct. 2011 release of her debut novel, In Wake of Water.

Books by SBR Martin:

Pig:
available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater

SBR Martin’s other online presences:

SBR can be found online in myriad places, including multiple stops along her virtual tour. Guest posts, interviews, and other visits are chronicled on her Goodreads blog. If you’d like SBR to make a special appearance on your blog/site, contact her directly at sbrmartin@sbrmartin.com.

SBR on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin

SBR on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/sbrmartin

SBR on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin

SBR on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/sbrmartin

SBR on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sbrmartin

SBR on SBR: http://www.sbrmartin.com

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I was featured as a Rising Talent in the August 2012 issue of Suspense Magazine, where Mark Sadler interviewed me and reviewed my latest novel, "pig."

Suspense Magazine is a subscription-based online and print publication. To read the full article, subscribe to the mag at http://www.suspensemagazine.com/secur...

Even if you don't want to subscribe, check out the site. You can see my name on the cover of the August issue! And you can explore the other awesome aspects of the site, including the opportunity to get some free zines and have your writing read by entering the SM Writing contest or pitching to Suspense Publishing.

View some screenshots of the piece on my Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...,
Nanci had questions, and I had answers. Move your mouse to the link below, and click. The site is called Page Readers, and there you'll find a short interview with me.

http://pagereaders.com/sbr-martin-sha...

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Repost:

SBR Martin shares “PIG”

A troubled woman sits alone on a couch in a crowded funeral home, in wake of her husband’s “accident.” In her right hand, she holds a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal, and, in her heart, she holds a lot of secrets, including a big one she’s keeping from herself. As the familiar faces of funeral home patrons stir in her a lifetime of memories, her story and her secrets unravel in a narrative of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss.

What does it take for a troubled woman to finally let go? How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily’s past to answer the present questions. But don’t expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren’t meant to have happy endings.


What inspired you to write this story?

I can’t really say that anything in particular inspired me to write Pig. I feel as if the story already existed inside of my mind and was just waiting for me to let it out.

I was struck with the basic idea one day. I thought it’d be intriguing to write a novel about a woman reflecting on her life at her husband’s funeral, and thought it’d be even more intriguing if that woman and her husband shared a troubled life together.

So, I mulled the story over in my head for a while and then just sat down to write it, in what was more of an organic process than a mechanical one. It took me approximately three months to write Pig from start to finish. There was an unspoken urgency in getting this story out there.

How are you marketing your book/growing your audience?

I write my books for readers, so I try to market directly to them.

I handle most of my PR. While I follow the traditional routes of querying renowned reviewers, mainstream periodicals, and literary publications, I also target the lesser-known folks who enjoy a good book just as much, if not more, than the guys and gals who get the big bucks for writing about books.

I’m talking about the everyday bloggers and website owners out there—the stay-at-home moms, housewives, college students, and aspiring writers; the librarians who can’t get away from books even after work is done for the day; the people who can’t wait to crack into a new book and share their resulting opinions with anyone who’ll listen (or, read).

These people represent the bulk of an author’s readership. They are the lifeblood, the pulse, that allows our work to circulate. So it is to them that I’ve sent most of my review queries, and it is on their blogs that I make the majority of my virtual stops.

This may not be the quickest way to the top, but I’d rather have a slow and steady rise than a speedy one that swiftly fell flat.

SBR’s AH-HA! Moment

When it came to getting my work picked up by a publisher it really was all about being in the right place at the right time. I’d been sitting on a great novel for a couple of years, too intimidated and inexperienced to pitch it to anyone. From finding publishers open to submissions to writing inquiry letters, I had absolutely no idea how the industry worked and feared that I’d never find an “in.”

But then, as luck would have it, that “in” came to me in the form of a journalism assignment. Working as a reporter with AOL’s Patch Network, I was asked to cover a local author’s book signing. When I spoke to the author the night before her signing, she told me that her publisher would be at the event. So I set to proof and edit my entire novel that night, in order to print it and ever-so subtly place it into the publisher’s hands the next day.

Guess what? It worked! The head honcho of that publishing company, The Artists’ Orchard, LLC, contacted me within two weeks and signed me for my first novel, In Wake of Water (published Oct. 2011).

When it came to my second novel, Pig, The Artists’ Orchard picked it up instantly after it exited the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, where it was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist and received a stellar manuscript review from Publishers Weekly.

Okay, so maybe my ah-ha moment wasn’t all about being in the right place at the right time. It was also about having the hutzvah and gumption to walk up to a complete stranger in a crowded library and hand her an unsolicited manuscript. It was about breaking some of the conventions in the literary world and taking the risk to go after my goal. And it was about having those risks pay off in the end.

SBR’s Links:

Books by SBR Martin:

Pig: available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater

SBR Martin’s other online presences:

SBR can be found online in myriad places, including multiple stops along her virtual tour. Guest posts, interviews, and other visits are chronicled on her Goodreads blog. If you’d like SBR to make a special appearance on your blog/site, contact her directly at sbrmartin@sbrmartin.com.

SBR on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin

SBR on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/sbrmartin

SBR on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin

SBR on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/sbrmartin

SBR on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sbrmartin

SBR on SBR: http://www.sbrmartin.com

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