Guest post: Author Michael Williams

On Difficulty by Michael Williams

Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—people object to Vine because of its “difficulty”. They claim obscure or abstruse words, long sentences, fragmented episodes. These are things that get in the way of the story, they claim. Things that disrupt the pleasure of reading.

Let me make my case.

Suppose you were at a diving event. Which would you rather see: a lithe young Australian doing a back one-and-a-half off a high board, or a dumpy, fifty-something Irishman such as myself attempt a cannonball from poolside? Not for the comedy, mind you. For the sheer athletic and aesthetic pleasure of a dive.
It’s what they call degree of difficulty. We are impressed by things exceptional, things that ordinary folks don’t or can’t do.

It’s why literature is more than writing, though we tend to forget it because of the very nature of the literary medium. Neither you nor I would expect to be playing a trumpet well enough to record if we first picked it up a month ago. But writing is regarded as different, because we all use language. Everyone can communicate with sentences, but to really write is to delight in the ways of communication, to juggle and manipulate them.

The story itself is part, not all, of fiction, I think. If it were simply story, if it were the writer’s job to get out of the way, there would be very little difference between how fiction and journalism are done. But with fiction it seems there is more emphasis on the way the story is told—on language or rhetoric. In fact, fiction that employs transparent prose and linear, causal narrative is really basically a holdover from the mid to late 19th century—writers like George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Stephen Crane. Writing before and after that relatively brief window of time is often writing that calls attention to itself, that is ruffle and rhetoric, back-pedaling  and leaping perilously from one circumstance to the next. Look at Tristram Shandy or The Pickwick Papers or Frankenstein on one side of that window, Lovecraft or Joyce or Garcia Marquez on the other. These are fictions that delight as much in how the story is told as in what is told.

So I will play with ways of telling. I will offer my readers a chance to work with the story I tell, to help me make that story by their involved and intelligent work with the words I give them. I hope that doing some work has its rewards, that the reader emerges, deepened and exercised, from something of mine that they’ve read. If they don’t, they don’t. If they choose not to undertake my offer, I understand: I respect that they want something else from the reading experience, and the two of us wave and walk our separate literary paths.

But it itself, difficulty is not a bad thing, I maintain. It is a choice, a tactic to reveal and challenge, not a posture or design to intimidate. Indeed, I think that difficult fiction can respect the reader more; in asking you to shoulder more of the burden than to sit back and be entertained, it is asking you to undertake something that can be a different, and sometimes a better adventure.

About the author:

Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.

Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010). His new novel Vine will be released this summer.

He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.

Connect with the author:      Facebook     |     Author’s Blog  

About the book:

Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
ISBN: 9781613181256 (paperback)
ASIN: B008G5WHHA (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date:  March 28, 2012
Publisher: BlackWyrm

Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.

Michael Williams’ Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.

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Also available at:  Alibris  


Book Excerpt: DEATH BY BOURBON by Abigail Keam

Death By Bourbon by Abigail Keam
ISBN:  9780615651590 (Paperback)
ASIN:  B0098BMV54 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Worker Bee Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2012

Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah when she witnesses a death at an engagement party for guess who . . . Matt. Matt? Yes Matt.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon. That would be upsetting enough, but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer. The three of them conspire to bring the murderer to justice. It turns out that the suspect is always three steps ahead of them. 

To make matters worse, Josiah’s daughter, Asa, decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town and Jake starts singing a different tune. Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone. Maybe it’s time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.


Chapter 18

    I kept thinking about Doreen’s ring. It sort of rang a bell with me. No pun intended.

   On a hunch, I pulled out my books on Renaissance paintings and looked in the glossaries for mention of the notorious Borgia family.  Finally I found a reference to Dosso Dossi for his painting Portrait Of A Youth painted in 1514. Flipping to the correct page, there was the picture of a golden-haired youth dressed in dour clothing, almost like a Puritan’s of the seventeenth century instead of the flamboyant, rich clothing of Rome during the flowering of the Renaissance. It was also hard to tell if the youth was male or female even though the print stated that person was Lucrezia Borgia.

    I had seen several portraits of Lucrezia during my travels to Italy and this person did resemble that young girl.  

    Lucrezia Borgia was the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, also known as Pope Alexander VI. The corrupt political and sexual machinations of Pope Alexander VI, which included the famous Chestnut Ball at the Vatican, are said to have laid the groundwork for the Reformation in 1520. Among the many juicy accusations against the Borgia family was incest between father and daughter, orgies and most particularly – political assassinations by poison. Nice family, huh.

    It was rumored that Lucrezia did her fair share of poisoning by use of a special ring with a secret compartment filled with poison, which she used on selected guests during dinner.  

    And, looking at the portrait I saw a ring on her finger – a large gold bauble just like Doreen was wearing. Was Doreen’s copy of Lucrezia Borgia’s ring hollow too? Did it have a special compartment?

    That’s what I needed to find out. I drummed the desk. Now how could I get that ring off Doreen’s finger to see?   

    I would figure a way.

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BONUS:  Free through November 15, 2012 on Amazon – Death by Honeybee by Abigail Keam; get your copy today!

Guest Post: Author Abigail Keam


     Every author has to take that first step towards writing. Most do not realize that writing is only part of the journey towards a successful career. There are many other elements that you must conquer before you will be successful.

     What is meant by a successful career? Each writer must determine that for her/his self, but for me it is a good piece of writing that I am proud to put my John Hancock on and is subsequently followed by a paycheck.  

      How does one get ready? The tricks are the same as in any career path and being a writer is no different.

Get Rid Of Negativity In Your Life.

     Don’t worry about having doubts about your talent. Everyone does and it is a natural fear.  

     I am talking about people who are negative about your writing. Many of them are friends and family. Stop talking about your writing. Quit giving them ammo.  If they really get you down, just don’t hang around them anymore. Be around people who are positive and have a “can do” attitude about life.  

      I didn’t mention my first book to anyone until it was published. I did that to protect myself from any negative forces that might have distracted me from my goal.

Be Reasonable.

     You may be the greatest writer in the world, but that doesn’t mean readers are going to fall over when they read your material or that you even are published in the first place. There are many great writers, who are competing with each other for a publishing deal and shelf space in stores. Remember—writing is a business like any other business. It may be that your book is wonderful but not what is selling at the moment. That doesn’t mean it is not going to happen for you.  Keep your ego in check.

When A Door Closes, Go Around It.

      If you can’t find a publisher, then publish yourself. It is an investment in your future but you must work very hard to get a return on your dollar. Writing that book is only part of the adventure. Now you must build a devoted fan base by marketing your product, which is your book and yourself. Yes, you are part of the marketing package. Marketing your book can be a full time job in itself, but if you do it right, it will make selling your book easier.

I have given you the three most important steps towards a career in writing—positive thinking, keeping your ego in check and alternate solutions. Now go for it!         

About the author:

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.

Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. 
Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. Death by Bourbon is her newest book.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

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