Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pre-AWP Blog Post


I attend the AWP conference every few years, depending on my workload, my financial situation, and my interest in traveling to other states. This year, it’s in Seattle, so it’s easy on all fronts. So, I’ll be there.

When I plan to go to a tradeshow/conference, whether it’s a writers’ conference, a sci-fi conference, or a technology conference, I perform a lot of preliminary actions. First of all, I check and double-check on when the conference starts. Some conferences start a few days before the exhibit floor opens, and may have some very important sessions to go see. Then I consider crowds. I like to get places early so that I miss the long lines.

Then comes the real work: going through the exhibitors list and the workshop/session list. There are always particular people I want to hear speak. For AWP, there are authors that I may never get to see again, or meet personally, so this is a big deal for me. I want to hear their viewpoints, know how they speak, act, behave. Sometimes I’ve read every book they’ve written, so seeing them at a conference like AWP is a thrill and a treat.

When I look through the exhibitors’ list, I’m looking for several things. I want to visit publication that have published my poems or short stories to say thank you, to shake hands with the publisher or editor who has often given up his or her weekends and evening to read other people’s works. I want them to know that I appreciate their commitment to great writing, and am proud to have been published by them.

Another reason to go through the list is to find magazines and publishers I’ve never heard of before. I want to see what’s new, who’s behind the presses, and talk with them about what they’re looking for, what they feel is missing in American letters, and how they plan to fill the gap. I like to hear how excited and committed they are to their project, their product.

And then there are the other writers you meet. Being around books and magazine and writers is the best thing for any writer. This is our tribe, our community, our family, and they all deserve respect and kindness. I want this industry to thrive, for my own pleasure in partaking in all the great writing, not just so that there are places for my work to get published. But it’s a balance. We must support the industry we’re in. We must keep our conversations open and honest. We must help one another along this path.

I try to remember that many small, independent publishers lives are similar to those of writers. They often either work along (for along hours after a day job) or in small groups. They love what they are involved with. They think about it, talk about it, and live it day in and day out. They are our publishers, and we must honor them as such.

For anyone going to AWP, if you see me wandering the halls, say hello. I may also be hanging around one of these booths: Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (booth 907), Booktrope Editions (my fiction publisher at booth CC23), MoonPath Press (my poetry publisher at booth CC7), or The Writers’ Workshoppe (my hometown bookstore/writers’ workshop and gathering place at booth 1307).

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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. Eleven novels, three poetry collections, and six poetry chapbooks have been published by small and independent publishers. His novels Wolf’s Rite and Cathedral of Dreams won ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Awards, his historical novel, Sweet Song won a Silver IPPY Award, and his fantasy novel Doublesight won a POW Best Unpublished Manuscript Award (it is now published). His latest science fiction space opera is Hear No Evil.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Listening to Music


When no one is home, I often listen to music instead of read or watch television or a movie…or taking a walk, a drive, or…. I miss listening to music more often. When I was a child, I had a transistor radio. It was small, operated from I think two double-A batteries, and got poor reception where we lived—in the country.

photo thanks to flkr commons
None of that stopped me. I would somehow wander around the house or outside and stop and rotate the dial until I picked something up that was fairly strong. I got to where I knew how to get to one or two stations and where I had to stand or lie down to hear best. I used to make up stories while the songs played. Ballads helped a lot, but I could see the whole back story in my mind, and I would carry the story of the ballad out into the future. I knew what everyone wore, what their school looked like, what the weather was like.

Music has always caused me to daydream more than anything else. I can listen to music for hours sometimes and create worlds that I’ll never have time to write about. So, while sitting at home listening to music, I’m creating, but no one may ever see the creation.

What happens to those stories we start and never finish—does someone else finish them? What happens to our characters after the book ends? Why doesn’t an author keep writing about a character until he or she dies and then write about one of the living characters after that and keep the book going as long as the Earth has been going? I want to know more about the characters anyway, more about what they think and feel.

Music brings up emotion in me just like it must for everyone else on the planet. I can cry, and write from that sadness, or I can laugh and write from that joy. With or without lyrics, music has me creating scenes in my head. I’ve written short stories based on a song, and poems based on the line from a song. I’ve even written an entire book based on a song. And there’s more where all that came from. Even without music, I come up with all kinds of ideas. The music then, must add flavor to the idea, or emotion. The combination of emotion and idea. Sure, I can see that.

I hear people talk about having a play list when they write, and I can understand that. Although, often while I’m actually doing the writing, I have to have silence. I can’t write with full focus and listen with full focus at the same time. Either way, the music is still there.

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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. Seven of his novels have been published. His science fiction novel Cathedral of Dreams won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Award, and his historical novel, Sweet Song won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is Hear No Evil.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Caring for Horses


While my wife is out of town, I’m responsible to care for our horses. She typically does most of the work with them, so I had to get directions on what to do and when to do it. I help out quite often, but I like to have directions so I don’t mess up. Typically, I read through them once or twice and then I’m fine. After the first day, it all becomes habit, and by the time she returns, it’s like I’ve been doing the work my whole life.

What’s great about this is that my routine changes. I have to be more aware of the clock for one thing. But, besides that, I’m out of my office and around animals, hay, trees. I love to hike and love the outdoors, always have. But with work and novel writing, I’m often trapped in my office for hours. I have to force myself to take walks. There’s always more to do than I’ll ever get finished.

Caring for horses is relaxing and fairly easy. It would become monotonous if I had to do it all the time, but when my wife is away, I actually look forward to it. My mind gets to wander as I’m dishing out grain, gathering batches of hay (pats of hay, we call them), and making sure their water is fresh and full. I think about my latest book, about a poem I’m working on, about a short story I want to write. Sometimes new ideas for books come to me, or a new way to market my books comes up.

But just as often, I simply meditate while working, not letting my mind go anywhere at all. Or I focus on the moment and smell the air, feel the breeze, listen to birds chirp, or the chickens cackle. Breaking the routine of my day is nice, and I think I should do it more often. Then I remember when I had no routine at all and got very little accomplished. Why I have to get anything done is beyond me, but it seems like it’s important to me in this life. So, I go back and forth between routine and out of routine, I let my mind wander one moment and focus the next. I live my life the way it comes, and am happy with it as it is.

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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. Seven of his novels have been published. His science fiction novel Cathedral of Dreams won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Award, and his historical novel, Sweet Song won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is Hear No Evil.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Making Phone Calls


For most of my books, I have to do some research. I can’t always fly somewhere, or read a few books, or look everything up online. Even if I could, I’d lose the important aspects of research, which are, for me, talking with other people. I don’t do this all the time, but I find if I want to learn something about a place, for instance, it’s best to call someone local. I’ve gone so far as to pull a name from the phone book (or several names).

When you ask someone from Boston about the quality of the air on a spring evening, you can get wonderful quotes that you can actually use in your novel. “On a spring evening the air smells like French fries cooking from the fast food restaurant down the street mixed with the scent of maple leaves from the tree out front.”

I was once told by a Captain in the Army stationed in Texas that “it gets so hot some days that your sweat starts sweating.” I’ve called doctors and lawyers, truck drivers and factory workers. I’m also lucky enough to get to talk with scientists from all the major universities, as well as experts from NASA, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, as well as Sony pictures, Disney, and Universal. Even if I didn’t know people from these places, I’d call if I needed some intimate wording for a specific thing.

I’m amazed at how many novelists set their novels in the east and almost never mention fireflies in the early evening. And when they do, the words they use are hardly as amazing as actually looking out over a field, or in a year, flashing as though a thousand stars were floating in the very air. It’s unbelievable and extraordinary, and sometimes I just sit and stare when I’m back there.

I know a lot of people who don’t like to make such calls and will do their research everywhere else that they can. Sometimes they make things up based on television shows they’ve watched (that’s where a lot of stereotypes can come from). But, I urge everyone to just pick up the phone. Most people have friends and/or family all across the country, so ask them who they know if you don’t want to cold-call a stranger.

All in all, people like to help, and when they find out that I’m a writer, they’re more than willing to talk with me. It’s refreshing, and reminds me how wonderful people are.

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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. Seven of his novels have been published. His science fiction novel Cathedral of Dreams won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Award, and his historical novel, Sweet Song won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is Hear No Evil.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

OBLIVION, the Movie


I don’t typically write movie reviews because I think there are plenty of them out there. The reason I chose to discus Oblivion is because I don’t think it got enough attention. It appeared to be short-lived in theaters across the country, and few people talk about it or suggest the video as a good bet for the evening.

I thought Oblivion was one of the best sci-fi love stories I’ve ever seen, and I highly recommend it. Not only was the plot interesting, mysterious, and original, the acting was superb. The tension between characters from the very beginning set the scene for what was to come. The dream sequences were a perfect overshadowing of the developing plot. And, there were several twists in the movie that I didn’t see coming.

I won’t give the plot away except for what I’ve already said. What I will mention is that the special effects were minimal, but convincing, and the plot ticked away at a nice pace. Since much of the movie was centered on only two characters at a time, there was a feeling of desolation that matched the desolation of the planet. I like those touches.

Much of the time, Tom Cruise’s character, Jack Harper, is alone on screen. At one point he’s at Earl’s Peak in Iceland and the expanse is unbelievable. You can feel it, he can feel it, and that’s what makes for a good movie. There is something about scenes that are “real” and not done on a sound stage that adds depth and value to a movie. This is what I felt while watching Oblivion, a sense that I was alone, that the world had been destroyed, and nothing but nature remained. I loved the cinematography in this movie.

Like a novel, Oblivion had great, believable characters, an interesting plot with unexpected twists, and a love story that is deep and meaningful. But, what’s just as important to me while watching a science fiction movie is that the science fiction elements felt real, and in Oblivion they felt true to the genre. I won’t tell you the ending, but it was perfect for a science fiction movie. It made you think about what happened, about the results of everyone’s actions. And it stuck with me. Watch the trailers here: http://www.oblivionmovie2013.com/trailer


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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. More than fourteen of his novels have been published. His science fiction novel “Cathedral of Dreams” won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Award, and his historical novel, “Sweet Song” won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is “Hear No Evil”.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Interest in Poetry


I’ve been writing poetry since I was in my teens. Bad poetry at first, but eventually after years of study
and reading other poets work, and more study, I eventually started to write publishable works. Every
year I publish five or ten poems in literary journals like Kansas Quarterly and Wisconsin Review, but also in fairly unknown small magazines (sometimes online these days) like Tattoo Highway and bluestem.

I’m just as interested in reading other poems in those magazines as getting published in them. Poetry cuts deeper to the bone than most fiction—and in a much smaller space. Poetry can also be elusive, sticking with you for hours or days (or longer) after you’ve read it. And, poetry is technical, its structure is something that can be played with, adjusted, reversed. I have to consider more than the sentence (as in fiction). I have to consider line endings, pauses, sound and flow. When I write poetry it comes from a totally different place than my fiction. I’m interested in that place, what’s in there.

I have favorite poets, but am finding new poets all the time through reading the poetry journals. Some of my favorite poets include my friend Gary Copeland Lilley, as well as more notable poets like James Wright, William Stafford, W.S. Merwin, Jeanne Murray Walker, Cornelius Eady, and Mary Oliver. Another friend who’s just starting to publish more often is Gerald Braude. You’ll be seeing his work more often, I’m sure.

Overall, my interest in poetry has as much to do with reading and writing it, with the sound of the language, the flow of the words lined up together (including the silences). Of all types of writing, in fact, the silences are controlled by the poet most, just like in music. And isn’t music and poetry similar even if they are not so tightly tied together like in a song.

Poetry has opened doors in my being, in my heart and soul as well as my head and body. Poetry has taken me places I couldn’t have gone otherwise, and am forever grateful that I got to go.


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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. Seven of his novels have been published. His science fiction novel “Cathedral of Dreams” won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Award, and his historical novel, “Sweet Song” won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is “Hear No Evil”.http://terrypersun.wix.com/terrypersun#!poetry/c1ktj

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Holidays Have Passed!


I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m just as happy to see the holidays in the past as I was eager to see them arrive. I like the excitement around the holidays, but after a while the excitement tends to turn to anxiety in many people, and they get testy. I think it’s the crowds or the family, too many days off in a row, cabin fever, who knows. I also think it has to do with obligations: to invite people over, make extra fattening baked goods to hand out, and maybe it even has something to do with all that insane and often boring television that penetrates the holidays with nothing but parades, sports, and old programming—if you’re not interested in parades or sports.

Whatever the issue, once the holidays have passed, I feel I can relax again. My world goes back to normal when it comes to having my weekends to myself, exercising to lose the extra weight I gained, and a return to some regular programming. The Christmas movies are gone by now, and the feelings of responsibility have waned. I can take down the Christmas tree and put the living room back in order. My days go back to a more regular fluidity of writing, reading, and marketing. I like that order of things.

Most of the time…

Order is great when I’m getting my work done, but every once in a while, I stir the pot myself. I take a day to hike through the woods. Head out of town for a conference. Break for a long lunch. The difference between the holidays and their shifting of my routine versus my regular days and my shifting my routine is the fact that I’m in control. I only have to change things when I want to, or when I feel the need. Plus, there is no obligation to do what I’m “supposed” to do.

Maybe control isn’t even the right word. Perhaps a more correct word to use is inspired. I like to be inspired to take a long lunch or a day off, rather than it being expected of me. The inspiration often goes with quiet and alone time, too, rather than the loud and together time expected of me during holidays. And so maybe it all comes down to the fact that I’m a bit of an introvert and like to be alone. Yeah, maybe that’s it, because I still think of the holidays as happy times.

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Terry Persun holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer, has been the Editor-in-Chief of several technology journals, and is now marketing consultant for technical and manufacturing companies. Seven of his novels have been published. His science fiction novel Cathedral of Dreams won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist Award, and his historical novel, Sweet Song won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is Hear No Evil.