Thank You, and Goodnight


It isn’t something a writer seeks. Or, at least, it isn’t something a sane writer anticipates. Ours is, most often, a very solitary craft. Few of us will ever stand in front of a throbbing throng of rabid fans and accept, graciously I hope, their thunderous applause.

But, occasionally, some of us stand in a small room or a bookstore or, perhaps, a quarter-filled auditorium where we receive some feedback for our work.

Similarly, when I teach, I do not anticipate an ovation at the end of a class, even in a class where the students have chosen to be there and are happy to be so.

Today, though, I received a warm ovation from the students in my Reading as a Writer class. We had spent Fridays together for the last eight weeks, studying Graham Greene’s classic, The End of the Affair. As class ended today—ten or fifteen minutes late, as usual, because I have been unable to limit myself to the allotted class time—I wished the students well, told them I hoped they had enjoyed our time together, and reiterated just how much fun I had had leading the class.

And, they applauded.

It is a nice feeling. I understand, a little, of why actors and athletes and performing artists do what they do.

Applause is a different kind of feedback than the writer gets used to. There is always something wrong with a written work, so sending even a very strong story or novel to our trusted first-readers is a risk. We have to gird our loins, so to speak, and wait for the hammer blows. Sending stories to editors for consideration most-often ends with a form letter rejection. When we get a personal rejection, most of us do a happy little dance that we can’t explain to non-writers. (“Yes, I’m shaking my groove thing because someone said ‘no’ to me in a kinder, more considerate way than most people reject me!”) Even when my stories are published, I rarely hear any positive feedback, and certainly no one has ever made an audio recording of themselves applauding my work.

I appreciate the feedback I received today from those kind and gracious students.

After they had all left, I stayed in the classroom and erased the whiteboard and gathered my things and sat, for just a moment, in the now-empty room, almost as one does when leaving a long-time home for the final time. It is silly, I know.

Later today, a dear friend asked me, “Do you miss it already?” She knew I had really enjoyed teaching this particular class, and she already knew the answer before she asked it. As, good reader, do you.


S-E-X on the Big Blue Bus

When a man and woman make the decision to take a cross-country, multi-month trip with their family of six, a certain level of “coziness” is to be expected. When a majority of those months and miles are spent traveling and living in an old tour bus named Willie, certain sacrifices of comfort and privacy have to be made.

How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, by Shawn and Maile Smucker is a wonderful, modern family adventure that covers just as much emotional and spiritual ground as it does actual miles put on the old bus, Willie.

How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, by Shawn and Maile Smucker is a wonderful, modern family adventure that covers just as much emotional and spiritual ground as it does actual miles put on the old bus, Willie.

My friend Shawn Smucker and his wife, Maile, embarked on just such an adventure last spring, and their new book, How To Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, is a great story of embracing adventure, facing fears, conquering doubts, and defying expectations. Below is a brief excerpt from the book, dealing specifically with marital intimacy in tight quarters:

The woman who still feels like a girl sometimes tires of digging through the bottom of the bus for the kids’ shoes or wondering if the next Laundromat will have a change machine. The man who still feels like a boy is weary of emptying the waste tank and worrying about getting the bus stuck. The third month of a four-month trip is the 21st mile of a marathon.

The woman looks for a movie for the kids while the man makes popcorn. She bends over and sweeps Legos out of the way, then opens the small drawer under the couch. The man pinches her butt. She laughs and looks over her shoulder.

“What movie are you picking, Mom?” one of the four kids shouts.

They have been in very close quarters for over ninety days. Moments of intimacy for the parents are few and far between. The man gives the woman a signal.

Meet me in the back in two minutes.

They walk back the long bus hall, closing the two doors. They are giddy, like high schoolers trying to find a place to park late at night. Unfortunately, the bedroom door has a gaping hole in the bottom where a large vent used to be, so the man blocks it with an oversized plastic storage container. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

She moves the dirty clothes on to the floor, and he jumps into bed. More Legos greet him, like tiny sea urchins. They sigh and pull back the sheets and pick out the Legos and doll clothes and Matchbox cars.

When the bed is clear, they lay down. He smiles. She smiles. He kisses her.  Then, they hear the tiniest of voices from the other side of the storage bin blocking the door. He looks over his shoulder, and a small head peaks up through the narrow space.

“Guysh, what are you doing?” It is their four-year old. She has long blond hair and blue eyes, and her s’s come out like sh’s (think Sid from Ice Age). She wants a drink. The man shakes his head in disbelief.

“How do you even fit through there?” he asks, walking toward the door.

“Are you guysh naked in there?” she asks them.

He tries not to laugh. She keeps asking questions.

“Did you lock the door sho that no one would shee you when you’re naked?” she asks again.

“I wish,” he says, leaning down and pushing her head gently back through the vent. “Now, go ask your brother for a drink. And don’t come back in here until the door is open. Understand?”

“Of coursh.”

He goes back to the bed and lies down beside the woman. And suddenly the woman and man are boy and girl again. They look at each other – she giggles, and he laughs. They hold hands and stare at the ceiling. She suddenly remembers, in the time it takes a lightning bug to flash on and off, that this is the greatest adventure of their life together. He recalls the first time they held hands in that move theatre in Camp Hill, PA. He remembers how he hadn’t wanted to be anywhere but there.

They hear the voices of their children in the front of the bus: how’d it happen so fast? How could those two people holding hands fifteen years before be in any way connected to these very different but same people, holding hands in Yellowstone while their four children argue over popcorn rights in the front of the bus?

Outside, a few miles away, herds of bison and elk wander through Haydn Valley. A bear swims through icy Yellowstone River, her cub following desperately behind. Downstream, water crashes through the gorge, wearing away another layer of time.

But in the big blue bus, for just a moment, time has stopped.

(This piece first appeared at Tamara Out Loud)


Shawn Smucker is the author of How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp and Building a Life Out of Words. He lives in Lancaster County, PA with his wife Maile and their four children. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook, and he blogs (almost) daily at Maile blogs at
– For all of you tweeters, the Twitter hashtag for mentioning this book (or connecting with Shawn and Maile) is #RunawayTruckRamp
– You can buy the book at Shawn’s website:
– Or buy a PDF copy to read on your favorite eReader:

Letters to Me: Available Now

As I mentioned last week, today is the official launch day of a new book, Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self. About half-way through the book, you’ll stumble across my name, and my letter to a younger Eric in which I try to give him a little advice about the long transition into adulthood. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t listen.)

I’m very happy to have been asked by the book’s editor, Dan Schmidt, to be a part of this project. The other contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but in each of their stories I find some head-nodding moment, some brief recognition of, “Yes, I wish I’d known that back then.” Even more intriguing, are those moments of clarity that are not just things I wish my younger self had known, but inspire and motivate me, today. Yes. Even the OLDER me can find value in this book.

The target audience for this book is those who are making the transition from teenager or college student into the adult world and for those love and care for young adults. But, knowing my own life–my own path of nearly constant change and adaptation–I’ve found there are nuggets of wisdom for anyone who is facing an uncertain future, seeking their place in the world, and struggling to understand their role in the Big Picture of life.

The new book, Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self, is available today in both print and ebook editions. I’m very happy to have been asked to be a contributor to this book.

The e-book (Kindle) edition of Letters to Me is selling for $4.99 and the paperback (print) edition is $12.99.

From the back cover:

A broken heart, a new job, an unexpected pregnancy, a confrontation, a win, a setback—not uncommon experiences when you’re between 18 and 30. But what if you could talk to yourself just when that was happening, in the light of everything since: what would you say? With LETTERS TO ME, you can listen in as artists, teachers, poets, consultants, bloggers, pastors, and activists from a wide range of backgrounds recall a significant event—and then speak to a younger version of themselves with compassion and wisdom about what it means, and how it mattered.

What folks are saying:

I’ve often wished I could go back and have a strong talking to with my younger, more idiotic self. These stories are funny, heartfelt, and important. Reading them will make you think and imagine a better life — maybe even give you the courage to live one.—Jeff Goins, author, Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life

The talent of these storytellers is revealed in how universal their personal stories are. In their stories you will experience agony and joy, pain and healing, fall and redemption. -Adam S. McHugh, author Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

One of the most unnerving, unsettling things one can do in life is stare at themselves in the mirror – eye to eye. Letters To Me is the sacred chance to witness person after person pause their present as they stand naked in the mirror, facing everything they’ve been and everything they’ve done. To listen to what they hear in their souls, to see their past as they truly do. Oh, how I wish I’d been given this collection of stories earlier in my life. The entrance into adulthood would have been painted with so much more grace. -Lauren Lankford Dubinsky, founder of Good Women Project

Here’s the thing…Thoughts on Blogging

Those of you who have been regular, engaged readers of “Stories I Read, Stories I Tell” probably have felt a nagging absence over the last few weeks. I’m not self-centered enough to think you’ve been checking your email daily and–finding no new blog post from me–shaking a fist at the heavens and demanding new words of literary wisdom.

But, hopefully, you’ve thought, “Hmm. Maybe Eric’s up to something.”

And, while THAT is true (I’ve been working on several “writerly” things, along with several non-literary endeavors) it is also true that my creative energies as they relate to this space have been waning.

Now, I don’t think this is a permanent state: I do intend to be a bit more regular and purposeful with this blog. I’ve even been dreaming up some very exciting new ideas for connecting writers and readers to literature in new ways. But, blogging can be a difficult proposition. To do it well (i.e., attract readers and build the so-called “platform”) takes a lot of work. There are certain steps to take and mis-steps to avoid. Blogging and social media seem to become more complicated and confusing every day. Yadda-Yadda, cry me a river, right?

Today, though, I thought I’d share with you three recent blog posts that caught my attention. At first glance, the three posts may seem related in only the most tenuous way: they are all about blogging and social media, but each of these authors takes a very different perspective. In their own way, each of these friends has caused me to pause and consider my own social media presence, and I think many of you, dear readers, will find these posts interesting:

I hope you’ll check out some of these wonderful online friends of mine.

Have a great week, and, as always, Happy Writing!

The Goodbye Child: An Interview With Dominique Traverse Locke

I was privileged to hear today’s guest, Dominique Traverse Locke, read from her graduating thesis. I remember very clearly that I was inspired to laugh and moved to tears by her words.

Poet Dominique Traverse Locke is the author of the chapbook, The Goodbye Child, available now, and the forthcoming book, No More Hard Times.

When I found out her first chapbook of poems was available, I was eager to read it. I’m happy to say, The Goodbye Child did not disappoint. The poems contained in this thin volume explore themes of loss and grief in a way that is both moving, and, ultimately, uplifting. Dominique’s style is comfortable, without being kitschy and her poems are both easily accessible, and full of deeper complexity. They contain that feeling of effortlessness that comes only as the result of great effort.

I asked Dominique to share some insight into poetry in general, and the publication of The Goodbye Child.

Tell us a little about your first poetry chapbook, The Goodbye Child.

The Goodbye Child wasn’t originally a chapbook-length collection. Actually, it began as my MFA thesis at Queens University of Charlotte, and it was three times as long, broken into sections, and had a completely different title.

After graduation, I sat down with my laptop and read through my entire thesis again.

And again.

And again.

Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks, like a Mack truck, like a ten pound hammer, like a (insert YOUR favorite cliché here): Even though I had wanted my thesis to be parlayed into my first book, it just wasn’t ready yet. Nowhere near it.

By about the nine or tenth read through, I noticed a thematic pattern that I hadn’t noticed before. I pulled those poems, pasted them into another document, and sat back wondering what in the world to do next. I had just butchered nearly 70 poems down to ten.

Knowing that I didn’t want to come limping out of the gate into the literary world, I spent three months revising the ten old poems, writing new poems, weeding out the new poems, and slowly but surely, a new manuscript began to take shape. Twenty poems later, I realized that a full-length manuscript was not going to happen (at least not with the poems I was currently working with) and I reluctantly came to terms with the document saved as “MSS 2” being a chapbook.

What was the process like, once you came to grips with a shorter-length project?

I hate to admit it, but I used to be an anti-chapbook kind of girl. I thought that chapbooks were cop-outs, the fraidy-poet’s easy way out. Boy, was I wrong! I found this out the hard way when I was shopping mine. The same dog and pony show a writer has to put on to pitch their full-length manuscript applies to chapbooks as well: The same reading fees, the same query letter requirements, the same contest anxiety, the same submission process, the same rejection process.

The cover of The Goodbye Child, by Dominique Traverse Locke.

You eventually queried Aldrich Publishing, and they responded positively. 

I had several rejections from presses before Aldrich Publishing picked the new manuscript up.

Once the acceptance letter came, there was little time for celebrating. Editing and approving proofs, signing contracts, assisting in cover design, and lots of other things kept me occupied for weeks. Once the buzz died down, I was able to momentarily bask in the glory of publication, but soon the responsibilities of having a book came a’calling – book signings, readings, promotion, etc. And that’s where I currently am.

As a non-poet, I’m interested in how the writing process works for you. Can you talk a little about how you develop a poem from the earliest stages to a point where you feel it is ready to be shown to the world?

A poem for me will begin in one of two forms.

  1. One block of text in “paragraph” form with no line breaks. (Occasionally)
  2. Many short choppy lines brought together and set aside for later line integrity assessment. (Predominately)

I prefer the second method. Occasionally, I’ll start with a combination of both of these, but more often than not, I’ll start with many short lines.

What are you looking for as you begin to assess and revise that initial effort?

Line integrity, though I am always striving to get better, is something that I really, really put at the top of the poetry priority list. I try to maintain/create as much of it as I can. A line must be able to pop in content, context, syntax, etc. It has to work alone before, during, and after being placed among other lines.

In order to satisfy that standard, I may end up breaking and re-breaking a line and/or stanza many, many times before I’m satisfied. Sometimes one line is sacrificed at the expense of another, but sometimes it cannot be helped.

I’d love it if you could share an example.

Here’s an example of a poem I’ve written and the many different ways I “shaped” it before settling on the final draft.

Leaving the Nest (Originally appeared in Victorian Violet)

Leaving the Nest 1

We never sat down and passed the potatoes like those good families. We each grabbed on the run, mouths too full to talk of the day. And now, I sit in my own kitchen, scraping the jar’s bottom for peach preserves – your last taste of Earth. There, on top of the biscuit, I see the same deep brown of your eyes. At the head of the table, I set a place for you. Above the absence, the window reveals a crow perched beside a weathered nest, an empty cradle wafting in the tree.

Leaving the Nest 2

We never sat down
and passed the potatoes
like those good families.
We each grabbed
on the run, mouths too full
to talk of the day. And now,
I sit in my own kitchen,
scraping the jar’s bottom
for peach preserves –
your last taste of Earth.
There, on top of the biscuit,
I see the same deep brown
of your eyes.
At the head of the table,
I set a place for you.
Above the absence,
the window reveals
a crow perched
beside a weathered nest,
an empty cradle wafting
in the tree.

Leaving the Nest 3 (Published version) 

We never sat down and passed the potatoes
like those good families. We each grabbed on the run,
mouths too full to talk of the day. And now,
I sit in my own kitchen, scraping the jar’s bottom
for peach preserves – your last taste of Earth.
There, on top of the biscuit, I see the same deep brown
of your eyes. At the head of the table, I set a place for you.
Above the absence, the window reveals
a crow perched beside a weathered nest,
an empty cradle wafting in the tree.

Beyond the shifting and swaying of lines, what are you looking for in your work when you transition into editor mode?

After line integrity, I usually look to weed out boring nouns, adjectives, and verbs…especially verbs. It’s important to pack as much into poetry as possible without packing it full of words, all the while remembering that, “If it’s not on the page, it’s not in the poem.” Planting little seeds in the reader’s mind along the way is essential to resonance. A poet cannot wait to tie up the poem with a nice little bow at the end, nor can the poet rely on this. That being said, I rewrite to make sure the ending isn’t doing all the heavy lifting.

For most writers, having a few, respected, early readers is an essential step in refining a new piece, and I have to assume that’s true for you, as well.

There are a few trusted eyes I like to share my work with once I’ve revised. After they’ve looked at it, they usually find things that I could have done better, BUT the most important information they give me is whether or not they “got it.” If I’ve written something close to me emotionally (which is basically all The Goodbye Child consists of) I want to know if I’ve written something so close to me, that it excludes the reader. If I can successfully take a private personal experience and make it “universal” yet remain true to the poem itself, I’ve done my job. Once I get that stamp of approval, I’m content that the poem is “finished.”

In some ways, your poems seem so effortless, though I know you work diligently to get the words “just right.” What aspects of your work do you have to really fight for? 

Titles are what I struggle with most. If anyone has a fool-proof quick and easy fix or a copy of Titling Poems for Dummies, I’d pay big for either one.

Dominique Traverse Locke’s second book, the full-length collection, No More Hard Times, will be available later this year.

The Goodbye Child is available from Amazon, or you can order directly from Dominiquefor a signed edition, mailed directly to you for $14, shipping included. (You can also contact her through that link, which is her Author page on Facebook.)

Her first full-length collection, No More Hard Times, will be published by Alabaster Leaves later this year.

Fear of Big Topics: Guest Post by Shannon M. Howell

I’m glad to present a Friendly Friday guest post by my online writer pal, Shannon Howell….she is presenting part five of her series on fears in writing. 
Fear of writing BIG SCARY TOPICS is something we’ve talked about here on Stories I Read, Stories I Tell in several contexts. Most recently, the topic came up in the comments section as we discussed Marni Mann’s new book and her ability to sink into a dark, dangerous world that is very different from her real life. 
After you read part five, be sure to check out parts one through five on Shannon’s blog, and I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments section below.

Part 5: Fear of BIG SCARY TOPICS

First I’d like to thank Eric for hosting this post today.  This is such a big fear for me,  that I didn’t even want this post on my own blog… and I had to write it on prescription pain killers.  Thanks, Eric!  Also, if you’d like to read about my other writing fears, just follow the links at the end of this post.

Right now, I’m writing a story about how my bad guy became a bad guy, and I’m confronted with some things that make me very uncomfortable.

My antagonist wasn’t born bad.  However, some really bad stuff happened.  The problem I’m running into now is I’m not quite sure what bad stuff happened.  I’ve got a vague idea, but I’m really afraid of developing any detail at all.

Compared to some of my other fears, this one is rather concrete.  I am afraid of 1.) giving myself nightmares 2.) finding out that I am capable of thinking up truly horrifying things 3.) that I’ll write truly horrific things… and people will think that’s part of who I am.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider an example (skip the following 2 paragraphs if you don’t want to read the icky details).

In the Codex Alera, an epic fantasy series by Jim Butcher, there is a magical slave collar.  What’s so bad about it?  They make the slave do whatever the collar’s owner tells the slave to do – and enjoy it sexually.  That’s creepy, right?

Now, that we’ve got a concept that can impart the heebie-jeebies, what happens when it’s put into action?  One example is a tension-building scene in which a woman has been kidnapped by a man who really doesn’t like her.  He threatens to put one of these on her and order her to pleasure him.

That was the first time I’ve ever read something and thought, “This author can think up some sick stuff.”  It wasn’t gratuitous.  It wasn’t unnecessarily detailed or graphic.  If anything, it was a bit too-true, despite the elements of magic.  It was unhinged, in the same way that people who commit heinous crimes are unhinged.  I think that’s what made my skin crawl when I read it.

I’m finding that I don’t even want to think about this sort of thing.  Maybe my character was raped.  I don’t want to think about it.  I don’t want thoughts like that in my head.  Perhaps I’m afraid I’ll taint myself.  Maybe there’s a well of darkness inside me – a Pandora’s Box – that I’m afraid I’ll open.  At the same time, I realize that it often takes a mammoth event to change people or motivate a behavior.

Can I write about BIG SCARY topics?  Should I write them? Avoid them?  If I write something, be it explicit sex or a horrendous torture, will people think that’s how I think or – a part of who I am?  Would it be?

If you have read/written something dark, did you have any qualms with it?  If so, what?

This is the fifth and final installment of my series on fear in writing.  You can find the earlier parts by clicking the links below.

Part 1 – Fear of Being Unpolished

Part 2 – Fear of Hurting Your Friends

Part 3 – Fear of Failure… or Success

Part 4 – Fear of Writing From Real Life

As a trained statistician, Shannon M. Howell, was once told she was, “too good with words to be a statistician.”  So, it was no surprise when she started to write after becoming an at-home mom.  After starting an epic fantasy tale, she realized that all those spreadsheets had taken a toll.  Shannon continues to work on her fantasy tale, but also hones her craft on her website, where she blogs about writing and publishes flash fiction.  With some luck, she hopes to have her first book, Dragon in a Jar, finished before she finds all the lost puzzle pieces.  When she isn’t pretending the house will clean itself while she types, she can be found chasing her kids, pets, and husband around Northern Virginia.

Contact Info:


Twitter @ShannonHowell1


Interview With Marni Mann

Marni Mann, author of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and the newly released follow-up, Scars from a Memoir.

Marni Mann is a local friend and writer I met last year. I’ve been impressed with her ability to produce two novels while working full-time and maintaining an active social life. Even more impressive, Marni is a kind, generous, and encouraging fellow writer. Her first novel, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction has been well-received, especially by readers who have experienced addiction or watched a loved-one fall into the death spiral of catastrophic addiction. Marni’s new novel, Scars from a Memoir, is a follow-up to that book and it was released this week by Booktrope Editions.

Marni agreed to answer a few questions about the book, and about writing, and has also given me permission to give away an eBook copy of Scars to one lucky reader. Check out the “Book Give Away” section below for more details.


Scars from a Memoir is not only a second novel, but a sequel. Both second novels and sequels have their share of difficulties for the writer. What did you learn from writing Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales that helped you writing a second book in this same fictional world? What surprised you about writing a sequel?

The sequel was an easier process because my protagonist and I had spent years together. There was no learning curve; I already knew everything about Nicole. What surprised me the most was how attached I was to this character and how difficult it was to say good-bye because I don’t have a third book planned. When you dedicate years to a series and the characters live in your head it almost feels like a break-up when you move on to a new book.

Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales was the kind of book that seemed to have readers calling for a sequel almost immediately. Had you planned to write a continuation of this story all along, or was the response to the first book a deciding factor in diving back into Nicole’s dark world?

I started writing the sequel before Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales was even published. The response has been tremendous and I’m curious if my readers will demand a third book like they did with the sequel.

Paraphrasing Toni Morrison: There is the idea that we write the books we want to read but no one else has written yet. Or, in a similar vein, we write the book that has to be written, and which only we can write. How do your books, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and Scars From a Memoir, fit into this mold of a book that you wanted to read or that hadn’t yet been written? What do you have to say, that other writers either can’t say, or haven’t yet said?

Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales was born because someone really close to me overdosed. A few days after the overdose, my hand reached for a pen and I began writing on a notepad that just happened to be on the table in front of me. The book poured out of me. In a sense, I had to write it, and I couldn’t stop myself. Was Marni Mann the only person who could write this novel? I’m not sure I can say that.

In general, I write what I’m attracted to and that’s dark reality-based fiction. I enjoy stories that ride the line between uncomfortable and inappropriate, that yank out emotions I didn’t know existed. I believe Memoirs and Scars fit that description.

Flannery O’Connor is reported to have said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Was there anything that you wrote during this process that surprised you? Anything that was eye-opening and insightful about yourself?

I was surprised by how easily the darkness flowed out of me. In fact, the happier moments were really a challenge to write. Before Memoirs, I really thought I was supposed to write chick-lit or women’s fiction so having dark literary/mainstream basically choose me was definitely eye-opening.

Marni’s new novel, Scars from a Memoir, was released this week. I’m giving away an eBook copy of the book on Monday.

The writing life is an interesting contradiction: We need solitude and isolation to do our work, but we also require community for support, feedback, and stimulus. How do you maintain a balance between these contradictory needs? Or have you found it easy to be both a lone-wolf and social-butterfly simultaneously?

It took a while to find a balance and maintain it, but now it’s much easier to be a lone-wolf and social-butterfly and meet all my deadlines. I spend a lot of time at Starbucks so I’m not completely alone when I write. Even though I may not be talking to the people around me, their faces, gestures and voices give me inspiration. Friends and family have all my attention once writing time is over (yes, writing time has to have a start and end time or I won’t ever leave my computer) and I force myself to put my phone away and completely unplug. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

What books made you want to write? Or, did any specifically inspire your work? (You can substitute “writer” for “book” if you have someone inspirational to you.)

My writing has always been triggered by personal events, emotions and experiences⎯not a person or a book. I wrote flash fiction as a kid and as I got older my pieces grew in length. When I was seventeen, I spent a summer in Israel and that trip inspired my first novella. I continued to write novellas throughout college and when I graduated I started writing novel-length pieces.

What’s next for you?

This fall I’m going to be releasing YA versions of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and Scars from a Memoir. I think young adults could really benefit from Nicole’s story. I’m also working on my next novel, which is another dark literary piece that follows a young woman and how she copes after a horrific tragedy.

Book Give Away

If you would like a chance to win a FREE eBook copy of Scars from a Memoir all you have to do is leave a comment below. (It would be great if you could share this blog post to your Twitter or Facebook feed, as well. The more the merrier!)

Marni has given me a copy of the book that I will email to one winner, selected at random, probably by my beagle, Joy. (Yes. I’m serious. Beagles are good at picking winners.)

I will select a winner on MONDAY morning, and announce it here on the blog. While you wait for the results, be sure to check out the information about Marni, listed below, and pick up a copy (physical or digital) of the first book, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales, below.

More Info


A New Englander at heart, Marni Mann, now a Floridian is inspired by the sandy beaches and hot pink sunsets of Sarasota. A writer of literary fiction, she taps a mainstream appeal and shakes worldwide taboos, taking her readers on a dark, harrowing, and gritty journey. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop, she’s scouring for chocolate, traveling, reading, or walking her four-legged children. Scars from a Memoir is her second book, a sequel to the highly regarded Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction.


Twitter: @MarniMann



Links: Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales


Barnes & Noble:

Links: Scars from a Memoir


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Back Cover Copy: Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales

“I could feel my chin falling towards my chest, my back hunching forward. My body was acting on its own, and my mind was empty, like all my memories had been erased. There was scenery behind my lids. Aqua colored water and powdery sand that extended for miles. I was never going back to coke. I wanted more heroin. And I wanted it now.”

Leaving behind a nightmare from college, nineteen-year-old Nicole and her best friend Eric escape their home of Bangor, Maine. Starting a life in Boston, Nicole desperately seeks a new beginning to help erase her past. But there is something besides freedom waiting for her in the shadows—a drug that will take her independence away.


With one taste, the love that once flowed in Nicole’s veins turns into cravings. Tracks mark the passing of time, and heroin’s voice grows louder. It holds her hand through death and prostitution, but it’s her addiction that keeps her in the darkness. When her family tries to strike a match to help light her way, Nicole must choose between a life she can hardly remember, or a love for heroin she’ll never forget. 

Back Cover Copy: Scars from a Memoir

“I could make up a story to cover the last eight years, but the scars on my arms told the truth. So did my ankles, the skin between my toes, even the veins that had burst on my breasts. Did my battle wounds really prove I was a survivor? Or was I too damaged to be glued back together?”

Nicole had only one skyline to remind her of the freedom she’d lost—a tattoo of inked buildings dotting the skies of Boston, crisscrossed by scars. Heroin had owned her, replaced everyone and everything she’d once loved. The past was supposed to be behind her. It wasn’t, but that was the price of addiction.

Two men love her; one fills a void, and the other gives her hope of a future. Will love find a way to help her sing a lullaby to addiction, or will her scars be her final good-bye?