Sbr Martin's Blog - Posts Tagged "in-wake-of-water"

As an author, it is a great compliment to be asked to write a guest post on another author's blog. Check out my recent post on author Wodke Hawkinson's blog. And be sure to explore the other guest posts - fresh talent awaits!

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Using the "F" Word in Fiction

Oh, behave! I’m not being nearly as scandalous as the title of this guest post would suggest. The “F” word to which I’m referring is “Fact,” and its use in fiction can be just as challenging, just as brow-raising, as the dirty word you likely thought I meant.

My fiction has been described as “psychological and thoughtful” by Midwest Book Review, my characters as “flawed and believable, yet familiar” by Publishers Weekly. One book review blogger recently wrote: “Martin has created characters so real, so rich in character that you know in your heart that these character(s) must be real.”

And these are just the comments of strangers, of persons who do not personally know me or who know nothing of my past, present, or future. The comments and questions that roll in from those in the know are even more loaded.

“Wow, I never knew you felt that way,” said one friend.

“I’m glad you finally got it all out,” said a distant family relation.

“I have to ask,” posed my publisher, “is this based on your own life?”

To date, I’ve published two titles of contemporary fiction—“in wake of water,” released Nov. 2011; and, “pig,” released June 2012. In addition to the rich character development noted by various sources, both books have in common the fact that they touch on touchy topics, very real and very disturbing possibilities in the human condition.

“In wake of water” centers on a female lead who contemplates suicide following the losses of her immediate family members. Her tendencies are counterbalanced by a male lead who greatly fears death, life, and living. As the story unfolds, small-town secrets are revealed in a thought-provoking tome of sex, deception, ignorance, and guilt.

Honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, my second novel, “pig” also discusses death and loss, among other ostensible themes. “Pig” is the story of Lily, a troubled woman seated at her husband’s funeral, whose life is recalled in a tensely tense-shifting narrative of domestic abuse, adultery, alcoholism, motherhood, and redemption.

As my fiction focuses on humans (rather than otherworldly creatures such as vampires, werewolves, or cyborgs) and explores very real human scenarios (as opposed to things such as time travel, mind control, and immortality), it instantly raises questions among readers. And, when those readers take a look at my extended bio, the questions keep coming.

My mother passed away in 1999. My sister, my only sibling, died in 2001. My father keeled over in 2003. All one has to do is read the first page of “in wake of water” to see these facts mirrored in my fiction. The question then becomes, “Does it stop there?”

Yes and No. Quite simply, these facts were brought into my fiction because they are compelling. They are the stuff that makes for a good read, the stuff that makes a work not only readable but also relatable.

Indeed, we write what we know, but we also write what we don’t know, what we want to know, and what we can never know. My true story, alone, without fabrication or exaggeration, is not exceptional. What makes it exceptional is the way that my fact is intertwined with the purely fictitious, or supplemented by fact found elsewhere in this world.

Carrying over into “pig,” one then wonders if the next chapter of my reality was laden with abuse, alcoholism, adultery, and other “A” words. Sure. A little here. A little there. But nothing in “pig” is fact in its entirety. Again, it’s the compelling stuff that makes for a good story. A curly hair of truth beneath a fake wig that’s tidy.

I am reminded of the disclaimer that accompanies most works of fiction these days—that little blurb on the copyright page that mentions how any resemblance of the forthcoming story to persons, places, or things, whether of fact or of fiction, is purely unintentional. And as I am reminded of this, I remind my reader of this, too.

Something may sound familiar, but that doesn’t mean it is. Something may sound factual, but that doesn’t mean it is. Something may sound unbelievable, but it may be that very thing which is most true.

Were I to write a work of fiction about an African American President of the United States of America, that would not mean that the novel was about President Obama. Were I to write about a disease that killed people indiscriminate of any identifiable factor or predisposition, that would not mean that the novel was about Cancer. So too when I write about a gal who lost her entire family, or a lady who liked to booze it up, that does not mean these works are about me, though they may seem to imitate my intimate.

My biggest goal in writing is to have my words invoke thoughts and feelings in my reader, and, for that reason, I often write of those things that invoke thought and feeling in my own mind. If it works on me, it’s my hope that it’ll work on my readers.

I don’t think, by the way, that this is something one could escape entirely just by writing in other subgenres of fiction, or by creating more ethereal characters. Who among us has not been ensnarled by the beautiful eyes of a vampire, or haunted by the isolationist tendencies of any other nonhuman? Who hasn’t been perplexed by the twin paradox? These things too invoke in us something that their authors surely intended to stir. They just aren’t subjected to the same level of “fact v. fiction” scrutiny because of their very premises.

The novel I’m currently writing has much to do with murder. I’m hoping that my friends, family, and followers don’t soon question whether I am, in fact, a murderer. But, then again, would this query be any more absurd than the ones asked following my first two novels? Are we not each of us, at one point or another, cast into a spot of murderous inclination, just as we are cast into moments of despair and desperation?

“Pig” and “in wake of water” are available for purchase and lending on Amazon, accessible through my author profile at

Follow my writing on Facebook at and

Rate/review me on goodreads at

Media inquiries and/or general queries can be sent directly to

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
I'm a proud Pittsburgher, and have been honored to work with other Pittsburgh talent.

Is Pittsburgh the center of the universe? Read this post and let me know what you think.


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Pig Blooms from Pittsburgh Orchard, Parented by Pittsburgh Artists

Question: What do you get when you combine a Pittsburgh author with a Pittsburgh visual artist, a Pittsburgh photographer, and a self-started Pittsburgh business?

Answer: “Pig.” -

Pittsburgh native and resident Sarah Beth (Rem) Martin, pen name sbr martin, is an author of contemporary psychological fiction. Her second novel, “pig,” was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.

Of Martin’s submission, Publishers Weekly wrote: “The ultimate resolution ofthe 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, butalso, in a strange way, enriched.”

Set in Pittsburgh, “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 noveltakes 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. Physical abuse, graphic sex, and devastating loss arebut a few of the past events reawakened by Lily’s reflections - as are love, mothering, and redemption.

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 toanswer the present questions. But don’t expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren’t meant to have happy endings.

When “pig” exited the 2012 ABNA, it was swiftly picked up by The Artists’ Orchard, LLC, a self-started Pittsburgh house in its toddler years. The Aritsts’ Orchard also published Martin’s first book, “in wake of water” (

Upon reward of pending publication, Martin sought tirelessly to acquire appropriate cover art to electronically cloak her writing. And, lo and behold, the perfect piece was right in her own backyard!

“Catwoman” was selected and acquired from the impressive portfolio of Jenn Wertz (,an accomplished Pittsburgh musician and visual artist best know for being an original member of multi-platinum recording artists Rusted Root, who are also based out of Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh partnership persists!

Author photography for both “pig” and “in wake of water” was generously contribued by PicChick Photography by Lizzy Bittner ( The talented Mrs. Bittner also provided cover photography for Martin’s first novel.

With all its Pittsburgh glory, “pig” was released as a Kindle edition eBook on 11 June 2012, and is available for purchase and lending on amazon at

More information can be found at

A digital review copy and/or press packet is available upon request sent to Interview/comment queries can be sent directly to Martin at

** So… Is Pittsburgh the center of the universe? Hell yeah! Just take a gander at all these stars shining in it. **

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Read on to see some of the ways Pittsburgh has influenced yours truly.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Pittsburgh Poise & Presence: A Peek at the Particulars of “pig”

One Yinzer’s Exploration of the Power of Pittsburgh—Beyond Alliteration

by sbr martin

There’s a song I remember learning in elementary school, the refrain of which went something like this: “Pittsburgh is a jolly old town. … Pittsburgh. … Three rivers meet at the Point downtown. … Pittsburgh.” This tune is still caught in my head some 20 years after I first heard it; and, while the lyrics have not changed, they’ve taken on an additional, very personal meaning.

I was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, where I continue to live and work. Every time I end up at the Point, or hear comment of the Three Rivers meeting, I am reminded of that little ditty from grade school.

But it seems to me that this song has a newfound importance in my life these days. I celebrate Pittsburgh not only as a place of the convergence of three distinct rivers, but also as the place of the convergence of three distinct talents, of which I am one.

My most recent novel, “pig,” features cover art by Jenn Wertz, a Pittsburgh musician/artist best known for being an original member of multi-platinum recording artists Rusted Root, also based out of Pittsburgh. Though Wertz’s cover piece, “Catwoman,” was in her portfolio long before we made any cover art arrangements, the work is so perfectly fitted to my novel. It seems as if the two were created for each other, though neither was predicated upon the existence of the other.

“Pig” was published by The Artists’ Orchard, LLC, a Pittsburgh-based indie microhouse in its toddler years. Behind The Artists’ Orchard is head honcho Sherry Linger Kaier, whose hard work and skill brought “pig” to its current commercial format.

Like the Three Rivers, Wertz, Kaier, and I are the Three Talents, who joined forces to generate something unique and memorable, something that flowed together in a natural, seamless manner.

And the Pittsburgh presence doesn’t stop there!

Author photography for “pig” was provided by PicChick Photography by Lizzy Bittner, a Pittsburgh gal who I’ve known for the majority of my life. Bittner also provided cover and author photography for my first book, “in wake of water.”

Without the talent of these Pittsburgh geniuses, “pig” would not be all that it is. True, the story would be the same, but the phenomenal final product would be fundamentally different. It wouldn’t have such cutting edge art, such meticulous publishing, and such vivid photography. It would not have the legacy of Pittsburgh talent permeating its full body; nor would it stand as a symbol of my integrity as a Pittsburgh artist supporting other Pittsburgh artists.

There’s also a little bit of Pittsburgh in the pages of “pig.” The story itself is set in Pittsburgh, though I so set it mostly out of convenience. I wanted the story to focus on the story—on the unnerving, yet inspiring, fictional account of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss that unravels—and not so much on the location that serves as the backdrop. I, therefore, did not want to exhaust effort and page space making up a fictitious city. Pittsburgh was familiar. I didn’t have to think about what the streets looked like, or with what they were paved. It came to me as a matter of instinct. Use of the city name was more easily typed, more fully embraced, than any other city name I could have ever come up with.

Since I selected Pittsburgh as the setting, I tossed the word “yinzer” in there for good measure. Also, I reference a jitney in my tome—which many locals may be shocked to learn is actually a regional term.

And, hey, while we’re at it, let’s not overlook another way Pittsburgh has influenced my work. Allow me to reiterate: I was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, where I continue to live and work. For me, one of the benefits of being raised in Pittsburgh was taking advantage of a few of the outstanding academic institutions the ‘burgh has to offer.

I was awarded the Marjorie A. Tilley Scholarship to The Ellis School, where I received an excellent high school education that would well prepare me for my college studies at the University of Pittsburgh and, later, for my juris doctorate studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. From each of these fabulous, globally-recognized schools, I gleaned countless skills, facts, opinions, experiences, and other gifts which indubitably shaped my writing style and contributed to my creativity basin. It should come as no surprise that my Pittsburgh job history could likewise be credited with nurturing my evolution as a wordsmith.

So how’s all that for the presence of Pittsburgh in my writing!

Now if only I could’ve found a way to incorporate the Steelers into my fiction… Oh well, there’s always next time, right?
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Are you down with brutal honesty? I am. I use it in my work - and also in recounts of my personal life. Check out my guest post on Awesome Your Life:

After you're done reading my words, browse Carolyn's site. It's a very loving virtual place, where you can find inspiring information. Also on her site, you can pick up a free chapter of her book, "Awesome Your Life: The Antidote to Suffering Genius," which is a must-read for those of us who dare to dream.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

At one time, my life was a never-ending hallway, where all I could see was a series of closed doors. There probably were some that were open, but I was so far down that I couldn’t see them—and I’d given up on trying.

I was tired of turning knobs that did not yield, tired of trying to find something, only to find out that that something wasn’t there. I’d had enough. I wanted no more. If there was an end to the hallway, it’d have to come to me, ‘cause I sure as hell wasn’t gonna go any farther. I just wanted to stay put, sprawled out on the floor, unmoving, ungrowing, a piece of living dead surrounded by tightly closed doors.

I was 14 years old the first time I heard the familiar cliché that when one door shuts another opens. I overheard my mother use this phrase when discussing with a friend how I had been awarded the coveted Marjorie A. Tilley Scholarship to The Ellis School, a prestigious all-girls academy in Pittsburgh, PA.

Apparently, my scholastic achievement was the opening of a door. The door that had been shut had been shut four years earlier when my father suffered a massive stroke and aneurysm that left him paralyzed along the entirety of his left side. He was unable to work or be a traditional father from that point on.

It was, I assume, to the former of these inabilities that my mother implicitly referred in her conversation. When my father became handicapped, the bacon that came home had no fat. My family’s financial situation changed for the worse. Going to a school like Ellis would have been out of the question considering our newly low income.

But what was pinched off by one thing was ushered in by another. I learned the meaning of that old chestnut and allowed it to give me a sense of optimism about all things, at least for a few years.

Though I heard the phrase many times over the following years, the next time I heard it that stands out in my mind was a week after my sister died, when I received word that I’d been accepted to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, among other law schools.

The loss of my sister was the closing of one door, and my acceptance to law school was the opening of another? Are you kidding me?

Yes, one door did close. Yes, one door did open. But the one and the other did not balance out. It wasn’t an even exchange, not by any means.

Use of that damn cliché did not make sense here—it was disturbingly incongruous and more than slightly absurd. Nonetheless, people kept throwing it at me. Oh, how I wanted to throw something back at them! But I didn’t. I held steady and smiled, just like I held steady and smiled at all the pleasantries given me two years prior when my mother died, and, two years later when my father died.

Here, what upset me the most, other than the death of my sister, of course, is that this was the second time in my life that I was deemed to have reaped the benefits of an open door while my loved ones met the misfortune of a door that slammed shut. My academic success popped up twice, when my kin were put in grave circumstances, and, in the instance of my sister, put in the grave.

I didn’t want to be the person who got something at someone else’s expense, like I had made a deal with the devil to get whatever I wanted if I lost something I wanted more. No. I did not like this ad hoc arrangement.

Could I, should I, make a new deal with God? Or maybe Allah? Maybe Re? Perhaps Buddha would give me a sweeter deal?

Feeling like I was losing on the winning end of a sordid transaction to which I’d never consented, my essence was being eaten, and it hurt. I didn’t want to feel the pain. And I didn’t have to, for, you see, I had ample distraction.

When my mother died in 1999, when my sister died in 2001, and when my father died in 2003, I was in the ivory tower, or the large-university equivalent thereof. I observed funeral conventions, cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion, and then hit the books hard.

I excelled in college and in law school. A cum laude graduate in both turns, with a BS in Psychology and a JD, I accumulated awards, accomplishments, and many other A’s during my stint on the Pitt campus. I was published and reprinted; invited to speak at a national conference; mistaken for the homecoming queen; accused of plagiarism because my writing so exceeded expected standards, and later vindicated because my portfolio confirmed my exceptional talent.

So I had a good ride. I had a lot to keep me busy. I buried my grief under a pile of books and paper. I didn’t have to think about the losses I had suffered. I didn’t have to feel. All I had to do was do well in school. And I did… until school ended.

When I graduated law school, I didn’t have a job lined up—which is something most graduates as achieved as I should have had. During my job search, I’d interviewed with approximately 36 different law firms and had not received a single offer. Not one.

Thirty-six law firms! That’s 36 rejections. That’s 36 more doors shut before me in my never-ending hallway.

Did 36 doors open as a result of the 36 that closed? I don’t know. But I know that one did. And, when that one swung open, it knocked me on my ass.

All of a sudden I had a job, but not one for which I had applied.

My job was to take care of my maternal grandmother, who had been diagnosed with metastatic small cell lung cancer. It was a terminal case. I felt it my duty to take care of her, and, though it caused me great sorrow to watch her die, I have never regretted tending to her in her final moments.

But, Lord, the pain! The heartache of seeing a vibrant woman decay each day, to see her body dwindle away to nothing but skin and cancer-ridden bones.

By the time the cancer had spread to every part of her body, including her brain, I was dying with her, though I didn’t know it at the time. She was the last member of my immediate family. I was losing her, losing what was left of my lineage, losing myself. I wanted to curl up beside her in bed and wrap myself around her withered body, to merge with her and give her some of my life, or take away some of her death.

Gramma died around 4:15 a.m. on a Friday morning in June. We had set up two beds in the basement, because of the convenient appliances and lavatory already situated there, and we slept toe to head in bed to bed. For no reason, or for a very certain reason, I suddenly awoke at 4:15, a tiresomely wee hour of the morn during which I was usually out cold. I went to check on Gramma. Her body was still warm—her chest artificially heaved one last time, bulging from the operation of the oxygen tank ticking nearby. She was dead, and my dynasty was gone.

What happened next is what I only later realized was my attempt at killing myself. I’d never contemplated suicide, not before this point in my life, not during, and not after. I was too afraid of death.

I am, after all, an academic at heart (and brain). Years of schooling have taught me to analyze everything and break it down. I am predisposed to figuring things out. For every question, there is an answer. And I am programmed to find that answer at all costs.

The greatest curse of the learned mind is the difficulty inherent in resolving faith with intellectual thought patterns. Faith is belief in something without proof, the very thing for which we scholars are always on the hunt. So how, pray tell, is the academically-inclined individual to believe in something she can’t prove when the need for proof is so deeply rooted in her nature?

For me, this dilemma comes acutely into play on matters of the hereafter—the concepts of an afterlife, life after death, heaven and hell, whatever you choose to call it.

Question: What happens after one dies?

Answer: [Unknown]

I need to know that answer. I am programmed to find it. But I can’t. I’ve tried countless times, and the results were nil. So the question remains unanswered, and I am rendered hopeless, crippled by my fear of the unknown.

And, for that reason, I’ve flushed out any thoughts of suicide. I’m immune to them. Suicide would make me confront a question I can’t answer, and it might give me an answer I don’t like, or give me nothing at all.

But just because I’ve never been suicidal, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to kill myself.

The method of annihilation I chose was one to obliterate all thought and feeling while preserving life. I was killing myself slowly and cruelly, taking my time.

I became a raging alcoholic through and through. Sure, I’d been an occasional drunk for years. College keggers, weekend benders, and 20-something birthdays saw to that. But after the loss of my grandmother, when I was for the first time ever completely alone in a home that once housed five, I became a full-blown alcoholic.

The alcohol was destroying my brain and my body, as well as my social ties and reputation. So too it was destroying my thinking and reason. I put myself in incredibly dangerous situations time after time, and, to this day, I am amazed that I survived.

I drove drunk, and sometimes drank as I drove. I picked up dozens of men in the bars, and had love affairs that lasted less than one night. Casual sex made me feel alive. Men made me feel good. I needed that assurance, so much so that I didn’t even care that the sex was unprotected most of the time.

I wanted to die. I never said it back then, didn’t allow myself to think it either; but hindsight later saw this as the case. I missed my family and wanted to be with them. I refused to abruptly take my life for fear of the unknown. But the slow draining of my soul was bringing me closer and closer to my beclouded goal.

I was at conflict with myself. Part of me wanted to die, and part of me wanted to live. I wanted to believe in the concept of an afterlife, to see myself being one day reunited with my lost loved ones. But my logic could not bring me to this conclusion. My mentality would not permit me to fathom an other-world existence.

I saw life as a finite line, with a distinct starting point and a distinct end. Nothing thrived beyond either point. If I could not bring to mind thoughts that existed before I was born, then, it follows, there could be no thoughts for me to bring to mind after I died. There was no way there could be any thought after death, let alone life after death. Any other argument was moot.

The panic attacks that resulted from this train of thought were intense, overwhelming at times. They took my breath away, but left me with enough breath to still be alive, albeit in a state of not truly living.

Drunk, desperate, and degraded, I was on a downward spiral, a road to nowhere. I was either intoxicated or overcome with anxiety every second of every day. I needed help, but I was too proud to seek it.

I’d kept so much sadness, fear, and longing inside of me for so long. I needed to let it out. I needed to tell someone my story. And the person I chose to tell was myself.

Ever since I was a child, I’d always dreamed of someday being an author. I fantasized about writing a book, having it published, and having other people read my words.

I was constantly tossing different book ideas around in my head, but never followed through with any of them until I decided to stick with the one thing that always stuck with me—the tragic and compelling story of my own life.

Pride, one of my most pronounced character defects, prevented me from writing anything autobiographical. So I decided to fictionalize my experiences. I would use my personal facts as the skeleton for a tome to be fleshed out with exaggerated details, brow-raising side stories, and shocking plot twists.

That tome came to be called “in wake of water.” It was published in Nov. 2011, by The Artists’ Orchard, LLC.

Loosely mirroring the losses I endured, “in wake of water” is a work of fiction which centers on a suicidal female who is driven to die because she operates under the assumption that death will reunite her with her deceased family members.

Countering the female lead’s beliefs are the thoughts and actions of the main male character, Tad, who is apprehensive about all aspects of life and death and who greatly fears the unknown.

Sound familiar? These two characters represent two parts of one psyche: mine.

The female character is my Id, the impulsive me that wants only instant gratification. Tad is my demanding Super-ego, who scrutinizes everything and requires adherence to objective guidelines.

As author, I took on the third role in Sigmund Freud’s infamous model. I became my own Ego, writing to strike a balance between the dissimilar needs of my fictitious tragic heroes. I did this for literary effect, so that I could tell an interesting, well-rounded story. But by the end of writing “in wake of water,” I’d achieved something else as well.

What I worked out in order to create good fiction ended up also creating good non-fiction. My writing had inadvertently been cathartic. I faced thoughts and feelings I’d tried to bury under books, drown in vodka, or find in the bulge beneath some random man’s zipper. I became familiar with myself and slew some inner demons. I achieved a sense of closure and of peace.

Writing, pitching, and publishing also helped me become and stay sober, though my sobriety is largely attributable to the fact that I later had children. So in a very real, tangible way, my writing helped save my life, by front-lining the rescue of my brain cells and liver.

But the intangible ways in which it saved my life are far more profound and long-lasting.

Bringing my inside pain to the outside was like popping a pimple that would otherwise have festered to fatal infection. The ugly sickness seeped out of me and left me clear-complexioned—and clear-minded.

For the first time in years, I was able to open my heart and my eyes, and, when I opened the latter, what I saw was amazing. I saw an open door. Finally! So I stood up, put myself back together, and walked through it.

On the other side there was a field, a surreal expanse of splendor, prospect, and perspective. When I stepped out onto that field, I heard something thunderous sound behind me. The door I’d just used for exit crashed shut and spontaneously combusted. I didn’t have to look back to know that it wasn’t there anymore.

I had once and for all escaped my never-ending hallway and found a place in my own nature, a place where all those fabled doors simply did not exist.

No longer did I need to frame my life in terms of openings and closings, in terms of losing this and gaining that, or in terms of something arising when something else was crushed. I would embrace these things as separate occurrences, each independent of the other, such that I’d find no entitlement tethered to suffering, no panic tethered to joy. And so came my release from the most pronounced shackles of my human condition. I was set free to run about the field and enjoy it.

Now, mind you, the field I’ve found is like any other out there. There are rocks to stumble over and upon, thorns on wild roses, and bramble. I have been hurt and have fallen quite a few times, but I always get back up and move on. There’s so much more out there to explore, discover, and write about. I ain’t gonna let a few bumps and bruises get in my way.

Described as a “psychological and thoughtful novel of suspense” by Midwest Book Review, “in wake of water” is available for purchase in traditional and digital formats on Amazon. To buy, follow the link on my Amazon author profile,, where you will also find a link to my second novel, “pig,” which was released as a Kindle Edition eBook on June 11, 2012.

Follow “in wake of water” on Facebook at

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on July 12, 2012 09:49 • 122 views • Tags: alcoholic, awesome, carolyn-elliot, creation, ego, freud, grief, grief-and-loss, id, in-wake-of-water, pittsburgh, sbr-martin, suicide, writing
Today, my blog tour lands me at the cyber-home of author J. Dane Tyler, where I expounded on my own writing history and process.

Check it out at

Just like me, JDT has some mighty cool initials! But that's just gravy. Take a look at his blog and you'll quickly discover that he's more than just a cool name - he's a name to know.

His site features a "Short Stories" section that'll keep your jaw dropping for hours. And, once you're done exploring his free content, don't be surprised if you find yourself on Amazon purchasing his books, which are only $2.99 a pop (

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Writing as a Reader: My Novel Approach to the Novel

I have been fortunate enough to study under the greats when it comes to literature and the art of writing fiction. Chuck Palahniuk schooled me on plot twists and the intentional consequences of inserting highly technical medical jargon into otherwise smooth text. Anne Rice educated me on the finer points of character depth and development.

The idea that one character can be both a protagonist and an antagonist at the same time was taught to me by John C. Gardner, as well as by Gregory Maguire. From Mr. William Faulkner, I learned how to further broaden a narrative’s “God” perspective. William Shakespeare, Jean Racine, and Nathaniel Hawthorne were but a few of my other instructors, joined by nonfiction scholars such as Sigmund Freud, Bruno Bettelheim, and Howard Zinn.

Needless to say, though I’ll say it anyway, it was not directly under these greats that I studied. Practical considerations such as time and geography aside, I can’t even begin to fathom the tuition cost of a fabled institution that had all these famed artists on staff!

Every writer is first and foremost a reader, and I am no exception. It was through my academic and personal studies that I discovered and dissected my own writing curriculum. By reading the works of others—from the backs of cereal boxes to the most brilliant works of fiction—I learned invaluable lessons that have influenced the ways I live, learn, and write.

That said, I have had no formal, official, or university-approved training in my art. In college, I took only those writing courses required for graduation and the completion of my psychology major.

I am what some would call a self-taught writer/author. But what beauty I now create came from once-upon-a-time rocky soil. Writing was not always my strong point.

When I started high school at The Ellis School in 1992, my first English assignment was to write a critical analysis of Beowulf. After working at my typewriter for hours, I submitted a paper I thought was pretty damn good. My teacher, however, did not agree.

When the paper was handed back a week later, it was returned without a grade. The words “See me” appeared in the front page margin. What I had considered damn good was, in fact, a crude and poorly-written book report that lacked analysis and sentence variety.

Rather than conceding to my inadequacy, I confronted it, determined to equip myself with stronger skills. Though I embraced help from my high school teachers and a faculty tutor, I placed the brunt of the burden on myself. The scholastic guidance I received was but the first step in a long process that lead to my proactive adventure with the English language and my own understanding of the elements of artful and effective writing.

I honed these self-taught skills and put them to use in my undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving stellar marks in courses requiring essay work.

It was in my junior year that I again met a familiar situation. After working at my laptop for hours, I submitted a psychology paper I thought was pretty damn good. When the paper was handed back a week later, it was returned without a grade. “See me” appeared in the front page margin.

What I considered damn good was, in fact, so damn good that my instructor questioned whether I had actually written it and dismissively accused me of plagiarism, requiring me to defend myself in front of the head of the Psychology Department before penal action was taken.

Armed with samples of my writing submitted to other professors, I met with the department head, who thoroughly reviewed my work before tabling the claim and calling the instructor into her office to begrudgingly apologize to me for her false accusation.

The next scrutiny my work received was of a far more honorable sort. I was given an English Composition Award for a piece I’d written in an undergraduate legal writing course, a remarkable feat as such awards are rarely doled out for professional writing coursework.

After college, I studied law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where my writing was recognized by publication in the school’s Journal of Law and Commerce and by an invitation to speak at the 54th annual Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Having tackled critical composition and legal analysis, I next moved on to wrestle other forms of writing. Since 2011, I have worked as a freelance reporter, accumulating journalism experience with media outlets such as CBS Local Media Pittsburgh and AOL’s Patch Network. At Patch alone, I wrote approximately 150 articles over the course of ten months.

My debut novel, In Wake of Water, marked my entry into another genre of writing—fiction. Less than four months after its publication, I finished my second novel, Pig, which was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Of my manuscript, Publishers Weekly wrote: “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.”

A review like that is evidence that I’ve been doing something right. But what?

I’ve been asked about my writing process countless times. My answer is always the same: I write with the intention of writing a good story. To some, this seems like an evasive answer, like I’m purposefully trying to conceal my trade secrets.

Dagnamit, I’m not trying to be cagey! I’m being perfectly candid.

I don’t sketch out a plot. I use no outlines or plans other than those in my head. I just think about what I want to write until I am ready to write it. And, as I write it, more thoughts come to me.

When penning (or, rather, typing) Pig, I started off with a general idea of the story I wanted to tell, the story of a woman reflecting on the loves and losses of her life. My main objective was to have her be a well-rounded person who endured both pits and peaks during her existence. She, as well as the cast of supporting characters, was to be both beautiful and flawed, just as we real people are.

I decided to have her life recounted in a setting where reflection is quite common: at a funeral home. I have experienced the deaths of many family members, and, therefore, understand and appreciate how the faces of funeral home patrons can stir memories, both good and bad.

Along that vein, I formulated the general structure of the imminent novel. I set out to alternate present tense happenings at the funeral home with past tense recollections of the main character’s life.

At the beginning of my writing process, that’s all I had in mind. I didn’t yet have the specifics of the story. I let those come to me, one chapter at a time. I’d sit down, write a chapter, and then think about what should come next.

What else would I want to know about this character or that event? What would shock me? How about a red herring, something that seems important but is nothing more than distraction? Where can I hide a clue to a secret I’ll reveal later? Can I make my characters any more believable? Any more compelling? Why did she do this, he do that, or they do the other thing?

Etc., etc., etc. until completion.

And, speaking of completion, I wrote the end of my novel when I got to the end. I didn’t have the ending in mind at the beginning. The conclusion flowed from me as the chapters before it had done, in a natural, coursing manner. In many ways, I think the resolution was there all along. It was just waiting for me to find it.

Perhaps my approach to the novel is novel, although I doubt I’m the first person to ever write this way. Given my background, or lack thereof, I write the only way I know how—as a reader. It is my greatest hope that my work will affect other readers as strongly as reading others has affected my work.

Read it. Live it. Love it. sbr.

Books by sbr martin:

available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Reblogged on The Writers' Nesst at on July 19.
1 like ·   •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Today I made a virtual stop at the blogspot of Madison Sevier to discuss a wide range of topics from my work-in-progress and the authors who've inspired me to John Stamos, zombies, and thrift stores -

Madison is a fun-spirited gal, to whom my work was referred by Night Owl Reviews reviewer Stacey Jo. Her blog is relatively new, but it's already jam-packed with interesting material. When you're done reading my interview, click on the links to her previous posts and keep reading!

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Shootin' The Breeze with Sarah Beth Rem-Martin (Sbr Martin) author of 'Pig' and 'In Wake of Water'

Hi Everyone! Today, I've baked up a batch of brownies and brewed a HUGE pot of coffee. We're having company! Yay!

Today, my dear friend and very talented author, Sarah Beth Rem-Martin a.k.a. Sbr Martin is stopping by to chat. Without further ado, let's get to it!

Hope she likes flowers...

WELCOME to my place, Sarah! Come on in and get comfy. Enjoy the brownies and coffee and we'll get down to business whenever you're ready :)

Sit right there, my beautiful friend while I tell folks a little about your book.

First, I'd like to tell everyone how absolutely amazing your book, 'Pig' is. My friend, Stacey Jo read and reviewed it. That girl was down right speechless! When she could speak again, she was tongue-tied. Now, if you ask me...any book that can do that to her is a book I HAD to read. Stacey Jo was right! I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't had the chance to read it, but 'Pig' is the most mind-boggling story I have ever read. I thought I had it all figured out and then WHAM! Yes, friends, it is so very damn good!

Here are a few promotional tidbits, purchase links and the review by my friend Stacey Jo. While y'all peruse those, I'm going to get our friend Sarah some more coffee.

Purchase links:

Pig is FREE for PRIME members right now:

In Wake Of Water is also FREE for PRIME members right now:

Sbr's website:

Stacey Jo's 5 STAR, making a 'Top Pick' Review of 'Pig' for the highly acclaimed Night Owl Reviews:

Now let's get back to my guest. Sarah, since this is your first time here I'll let you in on a little secret :)

Instead of doing the normal round of questions, I like to jazz things up. It's a 'get-to-know-you' session and readers love to know real things about their favorite authors. If any question is too personal or you'd rather not answer, just say so, okay?

Sounds good to me, Madison. Ask away—the sky’s the limit!

**Awesome! Since we are coming up on the 'dog-days' of Summer, what's your favorite season?

I like late-fall, when I’m neither sweating nor shivering. I’m a little picky about how I dress. I don’t like wearing shorts, and I hate wearing coats. So fall suits me perfectly, if you’ll excuse my pun.

I have to agree on the 'coats' thing. I want to hibernate every winter.

**Can you pick one thing you LOVE about every season?

My favorite thing about each season is that all seasons change. Each year, we get a little of this, a little of that, something else, and then the other thing. The changing of seasons is one of the only predictable, constant things we have going for us in this world. No matter what is, or isn’t, going on in our personal lives, the seasons continue to change. The Earth keeps on living a life of its own.

Beyond the deeper meaning of it all, I like to watch the seasons change. Seeing leaves turn colors, flowers bloom, tiny snowflakes fall and then melt—it’s all beautiful.

That's a beautiful answer. I have to agree, the magic of it all is wonderful. Sometimes, I just wish I could watch winter in a snowglobe. Ha ha!

**What's your favorite holiday?

Halloween. It’s when all the freaks come out and play. I always liked the holiday as a kid, because I have a sweet tooth and was all about getting tons of free candy. As a young adult, I liked it as a party holiday, where grown-ups got dressed up and drunk. Now that I have kids of my own, I like seeing it through their eyes, witnessing their awe and joy at all that goes down on that festive eve. Plus, I still have a sweet tooth… It’s my duty to ransack their loot.

Agreed! Ransacking is the best part.

**Do you have a favorite food (comfort or otherwise) recipe? If so, would you mind sharing it?

I’m overweight, so there a lot of foods in which I excessively take comfort. In college, when I’d bring a friend home for dinner with my family, I’d always preface their visit by saying, “Once you have dinner at my house, you’ll finally understand two things—why I’m fat, and, why I’m crazy.”

My mom and grandma were great cooks, and I learned a lot from them. But what I learned wasn’t so much recipes as it was techniques. People have asked me to share a recipe with them before, only to be disappointed when I tell them that I have no recipe to share. Sometimes my friends think I’m being elusive, but I’m not. I really do just go with the flow when I cook.

I don't think you're fat, I think you're perfect as you are. I love the fact that you 'wing it' when cooking. Sometimes, that's more fun anyways. Following your own path, right?

**Okay, Favorite drink (alcoholic and/or non)?

How boring is this? My favorite drink is water—very cold water, preferably with chipped ice that I can chew. As far as alcoholic beverages, I avoid them nowadays. I’m a recovering alcoholic. But when I did hit the sauce, I was a Long Island Iced Tea, Irish Car Bomb, and 22-ounce whatever-is-cheapest draft kinda gal.

Congrats on your sobriety! Kudos to you for sharing that with us :0) LOVE IT! I'm not a big drinkin' kind of gal either. Too much to do around here.And water isn't boring, it's the one thing we all need and I commend you for not being afraid to say you love it.

**How about your favorite place to shop?

I am addicted to shopping in thrift stores, absolutely addicted! Not only are the bargains great, but I approach each trip to the thrift store as a mission, a game of sorts, where I am tasked to find either something that is ridiculously more affordable than retail or something that is incredibly stunning because it is true antique, heirloom, or vintage quality.

I’ve found a lot of amazing pieces at thrift stores In Pittsburgh, PA, where I live. From authentic Coach handbags ($12) and Coldwater Creek knit denim jeans ($3.98) to eye-catching jewelry (typically under $10) and mint-condition DVDs ($1.99), I’ve acquired so much cool stuff that’d otherwise be beyond my means.

Again...LOVE IT! There are so many great finds out there and they are cheap! I need to go shopping with you. You've scored some pretty awesome stuff :0)

**Who would you say is your favorite author and what is your favorite book by that author?

My favorite author would have to be John Gardner, author of my favorite book, “Grendel.” I totally dig how Gardner approached that novel, writing as the antagonist in the 8th century epic poem “Beowulf.” But I dig his style of writing even more.

I first read the novel in high school, but still remember my favorite quote by heart:

"Pick an apocalypse, any apocalypse. A sea of black oil and dead things. No wind. No light. Nothing stirring, not even an ant, a spider. A silent universe. Such is the end of the flicker of time, the brief hot fuse of events and ideas set off, accidentally, and snuffed out, accidentally, by man. Not a real ending of course, nor even a beginning. Mere ripple in Time's stream."

Beautifully written. Deep. Disturbing.

I have to agree. I am now hooked and need to read that for myself. Thank you.

**Favorite book series?

Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I loved each and every book in the series, and learned a lot about my own writing goals from Rice’s work. Her characters are so deep and compelling, which is something I like to consider a hallmark of my own fiction.

AR is one of my favorites, also. As for your characters, they are definitely deep and compelling. I can attest to that.

**What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I’ve been profoundly affected by some of the books I’ve read so far in my life. Both my writing and my outlook on life have been honed through reading the works of others. It’s my greatest hope that my writing will reach out and touch someone the way that so many other authors’ books have grabbed a hold of me.

I am moved by the thought of someone miles away from me kicking back with one of my books, sipping coffee as she shakes her head in disbelief every now and then, pausing to consider what she’s just read, or racing to her favorite chair so that she can sit down and pick up where she left off. To think that my words can reach and touch others is a mind-boggling thing.

Beautifully said, Sarah. You definitely touched Stacey Jo and me. We still talk about your book. Constantly shaking our heads because it's phenomenal. I think she'd be a great side-kick for you (if she ever gets un-tongue-tied, LOL). She hasn't stopped telling everyone she meets and knows about 'Pig'.

** What are the top 5 things on your bucket list?

Other than enjoying a long life where I get to see my daughters grow to be healthy and happy, I’d have to say:

1. Write and publish 5 books in 5 years;
2. Have (at least) one of my books turned into a movie;
3. Go to SeaWorld and be the one who gets selected to kiss Shamu;
4. Acquire property along the Maryland-Delaware border, close enough to the beach for easy access but far enough away so as to limit the possibility of seasonal/water devastation; and,
5. Come up with better things to include on my bucket list.

Aww. I love your Bucket List!

**Okay, if someone were to write a book about your life, what would be the title?

“sbr.” It’s short. It’s simple. It’s me.


**What's the one place you've always wanted to go but haven't?

John Stamos’ house…

LOL! I'm sure some of our readers would agree with you.

**What is your all-time favorite vacation spot?

Ocean City, Maryland. Whenever I think of that location, I always smile. My family vacationed there often when I was a child, and my husband and I take our own kids there now. We typically like to go in the off-season, when it isn’t so crowded and is more affordable.

The ocean and the beach are so very stunning, a living portrait of Mother Nature at her best. The way that the boardwalk flushes to the sand and adds human traffic to the equation is intense. Walking on the boardwalk, one can be both a part of civilization and of nature at the exact same time, dispelling the myth that man can’t have the best of both worlds.

Ocean City sounds amazing. Some of my friends have gone and they love it too.

**Coffee or Tea? (yes, it matters (0: )

Coffee. I enjoy its flavor, but not nearly as much as I enjoy its effects. Oddly enough, I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 30. Before that, the caffeine had such pronounced effects on me that I simply couldn’t drink it. Just one cup had me so wired that I felt like a drug addict with ants under my skin. I couldn’t sleep and had to keep busy with whatever insurmountable tasks I could find.

Once I had kids, however, this all changed. I needed the caffeine boost to keep up with them, and to get things done. The effects have worn off over time. I’ve built up my tolerance, so to speak. But now, like a true addict, I need my daily fix. I’m unapproachable before that first cup of coffee in the morning. So don’t even *try* to talk to me before I’m about six ounces in!

LOL. There I have to disagree. I'm all about the flavor and before my first cup, I'm about as approachable as a mama bear in the Smokies. After that first, heavenly cup, I'm sweet as can be.

**When shopping, do you prefer paper or plastic?

Plastic, by default. I do most of my household shopping at Walmart these days, and they only use plastic. More and more stores, it seems, are doing away with paper. Growing up, my mom used to always say, “Paper and plastic, please.” It made the bags more durable and easier to carry, and we’d use the double-bags as a sturdy trash receptacle in our 13-gallon garbage cans.

Same here.

** Dog or cat?

Woof woof. I’m a dog person through and through, both in terms of pet preference and in terms of my own personality. Petting, kissing, snuggling in bed, going for long walks, being silly, and playing interactive games—I ain’t talkin’ about romance here. I’m talking about life’s essentials, what I need to survive comfortably. I like to get reassurance from others, and like attention, praise, and companionship. Dogs need these things, too—and they tend to dole them out as well.

Cats are too independent for me. Kittens are fun, but the typical cat is a little too adult-like for my tastes. She’s like a mature friend who doesn’t ask much of you, who comes and goes as she pleases and expects you to do things according to her schedule and her needs. Plus, I’m highly allergic to certain breeds of cats. We tried having a kitty for a while, but had to surrender her to the shelter because I couldn’t breathe around her.

As you can see, there's a mix of everything around here/. But, I knew you were stopping by, so I tucked away the kitties for our visit(0:

**Would you rather have Chinese, Italian, Mexican or none of the above?

Well, Madison, what are we talking about here—food or men? Not that it matters though, because my answer would be the same to either question: all of the above.

As far as food goes… I love Italian food, and can cook some pretty tasty Italian grub. For this reason, I don’t really like to eat at Italian restaurants. When dining out, I prefer to eat cuisine I can’t make at home. I haven’t mastered the art of Chinese cooking, so I like to hit fancy Chinese joints every now and then. I’m not really down with the fast-food Chinese spots or buffets though. Authentic Mexican fare is another favorite. I can make some mock Mexican dishes at home, but much prefer the real deal at a proper cantina.

OMGOSH! Too funny! LOVE IT! I guess I should have clarified that a bit **snickers**

**Okay, serious question time. ( LOL ) IF there was a zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice and why?

A huge silo filled with reefer. Smoking pot kills brain cells, right? If we had an ample supply of marijuana, we could all smoke it and kill off our brain cells until our brains became unappealing and unappetizing to the hungry zombies. Then they would starve to death and become extinct. And, hey, even if things didn’t work out as planned, at least we’d all go out with a bang!

PFFT! I am so sorry for blowing my coffee all over you. Let me just get that cleaned up. That is the funniest answer I have ever gotten! And it makes perfect sense LOL!

**What three things would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a mountain?

There are two ways to answer this question.

The most practical response would somehow involve things that could get me off of the mountain—like, (1) a fully-functional helicopter; (2) a well-trained, alert, and sane helicopter pilot; and, (3) enough fuel to safely carry the pilot and me to a non-isolated, civilized destination.

But that answer isn’t any fun! It doesn’t tell you anything about my personality, now does it? So, in the alternative, I’ll say: (1) a Nintendo GameBoy with immortal batteries and a Tetris cartridge; (2) a down-feather pillow in a water-repellant pillowcase; and, (3) black eye-liner. The necessity for these particular items need not be explained.

You are such a riot! I'm all about the eyeliner and I'd add mascara. Both can be used for keeping the harsh glare of the sun out of your eyes (0; LOL That was fun! I love random questions :0) Thank you so much for participating and for sharing a bit of yourself with us, Sarah.

But, we need to get back to your writing career. What do you have planned for the upcoming months? Any super-secret WIP's you can tease us with?

Yep, I’ve got a WIP… It’s called “No. 20,” and it begins: “My name is Salvatore Monticelli. I have killed 19 people, and am currently plotting the death of No. 20.”

I already have the whole story written in my head. All I have to do is tap it out on my keyboard. I started tapping away at it last month, but had to force myself to stop. I don’t start writing a book unless I intend to finish writing it within three to six months. I’m gonna be “going away” for 90 days shortly, so I didn’t want to get too deep into “No. 20” before I left. I’ll just keep developing the story in my head and churn it out when I get back.

Now, to where am I going? Hmm, Madison, I won’t answer, since you didn’t ask. Let’s just say this: It’s not John Stamos’ house…

Wow! I have goosebumps just imagining your next book! So excited! As for you leaving town for a bit...booo! I will definitely miss you and I hope you'll stay in touch :0) John Stamos doesn't know what he's missing.....

Thank you so much for shootin' the breeze with me, Sarah. I really enjoyed having you here.

Now, readers I cannot emphasize enough how badly you need to add Sarah's books to your TBR pile. Alot of you follow my friend Stacey Jo's reviews and you know she means business when it comes to books. So, please get your hot lil' hands on 'Pig' and be sure to let everyone know, by leaving a review on amazon or goodreads what you thought of it. Okay?

Until next time, everyone, I send you hugs and kisses!


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
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...://

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.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

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:

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:

available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

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

SBR on Goodreads:

SBR on Amazon:

SBR on Facebook:

SBR on YouTube:

SBR on Twitter:


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
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....

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

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?
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?
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?
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:

available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

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

SBR on Goodreads:

SBR on Amazon:

SBR on Facebook:

SBR on YouTube:

SBR on Twitter:


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
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

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,
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
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.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

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 and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

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

SBR on Goodreads:

SBR on Amazon:

SBR on Facebook:

SBR on YouTube:

SBR on Twitter:


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon