We continue I Citizen's interview series with an Indie Writer. As it becomes easier and faster to just put books up and out there it is still pretty hard to get any press for indie books without budgets for big PR. I Citizen likes to shine a little on the writers and their stories that might otherwise not get noticed quite as much.
What is your favorite genre to read?
I don't pick books by genre. What I look for in a book is more than just an exciting plot. I need a book to say something interesting, to make me think. I find all too often that books which fall into a specific genre are written to that genre's expectations, and as such can be quite formulaic. That's not to say, however, that I don't enjoy the odd thriller.
Did you write as a child?
Not really, but I did read voraciously, much to the detriment of my social skills!
What do you feel are your earliest influences on your writing?
Growing up I remember reading a lot of fantasy-type books, like the Redwall series by Brian Jaques. Also Arthur Ransome, Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys. I once faked a week off school sick to read the Hobbit, but got bored when I started into the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In my early teens I started reading a lot of Jack Higgins thrillers, then Alastair Maclean, Frederick Forsyth, Dick Francis, Tom Clancy. I made my way through most of my parents library, which was quite varied, but which had a lot of thrillers. Another book I loved was the Commitments by Roddy Doyle, and a book called Divorcing Jack by a fellow Northern Irishman, Colin Bateman.
I suppose before all that, it was bedtime stories and frequent trips to the library with my mum which instilled in me a great love of books. There used to be a bookshop in Belfast, run by a wonderful old lady named Mrs Crane, which was my favorite place for many years.
What do you think are your most recent influences on your writing?
In the last year I've been reading a lot of Hemingway, as well as some fantastic books by Jeffrey Eugenides. I've also been reading books by John Green, Jonathan Saffran-Foer, David Mitchell, Hunter S. Thompson. At the minute I'm reading Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon, who is another author I'm a big fan of. I think that I've been influenced a lot by the 'classics' and 'modern classics' which I read at university and at school, writers like George Elliott, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, Albert Camus, Sartre, Muriel Spark, Ginsberg, Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, Joseph Conrad, Ken Kesey.
Tell me about your recent writing? Do you prefer short stories, novels, novellas?
I'm a great lover of short stories. I like the process of grabbing hold of an idea, then working it into something which is succinct, but which, if done well, can tell a story and say something deeper too. I'm always writing short stories, so expect another collection soon, but I'm also working on a novella, and (slowly) researching a novel.
Do you find the writing community online to be helpful?
I've found some great writer's groups on Goodreads, and I browse some of the writing and publishing threads on Reddit. I find myself reading blogs and posts, often to do with marketing, and then suddenly realizing that I would be better off just writing! I think you have to take everything you read with a pinch of salt - I've been given what appears to be great advice by very helpful and well-meaning people online, but when you read their work you realize that sometimes it is better to go with your own instincts.
What would you most like to do, which you haven't already, that would help with your writing?
Take a year off work, create a dedicated workspace and just go for it! At the minute my writing has to fit around work and family, so I don't write as much as I would like, but family comes first, which is how it should be!
Any great lines you would love to have written?
"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms.
Do you have any blogs or websites that you think are great and want to share?
I blog on my goodreads page sometimes, but generally if I have the time to blog I feel I'm better off doing some 'proper' writing. I like using goodreads to discuss books I've read, however, and reading in general. Readers can also find out about me on my amazon author page.
Matthew W. McFarland at amazon.com
Matthew W. McFarland at goodreads.com
my twitter is @mcfarlandwriter
Summer Sun Safety
By: Sally Farchild
The summer sun is one of those constant concerns for a lot of people. Whether it's the long, sunny days or just general heat this is the time of year to get all the stops out for sun safety, like hats, sunblock and shade. Here are a selection of my best sun tips.
Don't let overcast, cooler summer days fool you. The UV index can still be quite high so use caution and keep an eye out for the beginning of a burn.
Both UVB and UVA are dangerous and you need a sunblock that keeps you safe from both. Finding Shade, either from a large tree or from a patio umbrella is quite important and one of the easiest ways to keep from getting a bad burn this summer.
Sunblock: Reapply after five hours if you're out all day. Don't think one coat at 7:30 in the morning will hold you over till sunset. Here's suggestions from I Citizen.
Elta MD Sunscreens "I really like to use Elta MD UV Shield with a SPF of 45. I put it on every 6-7 hours if I will be outside in a sunny environment. This Daily Sunblock comes in a very useful 8oz pump bottle and a 3ox travel size, which truth be told I find a little big for the zip locks for the TSA travel requirements."
Long Sleeves: If you're going out for a morning of farmer's marketing or an afternoon in the woods make sure you bring along a lightweight but fully covering shirt to keep arms and the back of your hands sun safe. Spending a little time on finding the right tunic or sun shirt makes it much easier to just head out and enjoy the great weather.
Once in a while you discover some lovely place, hidden from normal perspective. As you drive around New York State make sure to keep an eye out for stops on the side of the road that don't even have proper parking. Just pull off and go hike, to hidden gems like this one.
Economic efficiency in your life: Saving money and gaining time
Savings: Americans don't save by nature, it is not a trait we're taught to value. The good thing is the recession has begun to help people recognize that saving a regular, dependable part of their income each month will help them have the resources to invest when times are good and the economy is strong and also give them the ability to get through the rough times when our global economy looks like a match house on fire.
Take a third of your income each month and save it. Decide whether you want to invest it in a portfolio of market options or invest it towards education or training in your field. Either way reducing your monthly expenditures by a third each month will be tough, sometimes something just can't be cut but having such a nice nest of savings is vital to helping keep you afloat during rough economic weather and getting you to soar during good weather.
Things to cut out to Save that 1/3-
Meals outside the home; no more grabbing lunch or dinners on the weekends. Home cooked meals with quality, healthy ingredients.
Coffees and smoothies.
New clothes. Put a moratorium on any new clothes for the next 12 months.
Cheaper gas, if your car really doesn't need the extra grade switch to lower grade every other time you fill up.
Get a weekend job and save all the money you make towards a future goal, whether that is retirement funds, an amazing trip or home repairs.
Don't charge anything, absolutely anything to any credit cards that you cannot pay back within the next 30 days in full and still save that 1/3.
Cut your cell phone service back to the absolute minimum.
Cancel all your entertainment subscriptions but one that you'll use throughout the week. Be it magazines, iTunes, netflix or cable cut it down to below what you think you can live with.
Here's a secret the marketing firms won't be sharing with you anytime soon: You can live and get by on less and even be happy.
All right now, you have read through this article go out there and get saving. I believe in you and you can dig, claw and bite your way to finical freedom from debt, money stress and a future that never looks like retiring is possible.
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