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29th of June

2017 Writerly Happenings


Hi, folks!

Here are 3 more exciting “writerly” events happening this summer:

 

“If everybody read Wendell Berry, I believe we’d have a shot at being more decent.”

 

 

Hope to see you at one, or all of these times!

 

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6th of June

Q&A: Brian L. Tucker


Questions

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

  • In 3 years I’ve seen 3 distinct stories. I’m never sure where the next one will go. Young adult tone has remained from Wheelman (2016) to Swimming the Echo  (2017).

 

What is the first book that made you cry?

  • Honestly. A Walk to Remember. Please don’t tell anyone. I read it one evening and woke up sick as a dog. I mean, how sad is that.

 

What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

  • I wouldn’t say practice. I don’t want to get into that. But, nepotism probably.

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

  • New ideas energize me. But, the editing makes me want to stay away from new projects altogether.

 

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

  • Thinking the MFA (like any degree) is instant success. It prepares you. But, that is the starting point.

 

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

  • Unless you’re John Cheever, a big ego should be left alone.

 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

  • Seinfeld re-runs

 

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

  • Sometimes. Reading a string of 3 or 4 great (or awful) works will make me hit the pause button on reading.

 

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

  • With a common name like mine, I thought about Jumping Jack Flash a few times.

 

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

  • Melville said originality was everything (my paraphrase). I think a mighty theme is the way we should all try to write.

 

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

  • Not a satisfied one. Writers who try to sell are never digging as deep as the blood pouring from a poet’s arm.

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

  • The Bluegrass Writers Studio at EKU was where I learned to share the load. It’s a community. It works best that way.

 

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

  • I’d like for them to. Seton, Kentucky is a nice slice of home for me, but I like travel stories and taking that adventure with each set of characters each time.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

  • Write outside with a cold drink while overlooking the water. Forget that coffeehouse business.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

  • Story collections hardly ever sell. I learned to publish first. Ask questions second.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

  • Buying a Macbook to do more writing for the next next and next works.

 

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

  • I really don’t have any that come to mind.

 

What did you do with your first advance?

  • If I wrote non-fiction and this happened (an advance), I’d buy a bunch of obscure candy bars and share them with people. Cracker Barrel has a bunch of stuff like Zero bars, Zagnut bars, and Goo Goo Clusters. It’d be fun to do that and watch peoples’ expressions.

 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

  • My third grade teacher, Mrs. Carolyn Harris let us type stories. She sent mine to me just last year. I remember that experience favorably.

 

What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?

  • Poets & Writers and Newpages.com are good ones

 

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

  • The Dollmaker. How that one isn’t required reading is beyond me.

 

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

  • Show don’t tell. Everyone benefits from stories like that.

 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

  • Huh?

 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

  • 3 currently.

 

What does literary success look like to you?

  • Thanking God for the chance to do it again tomorrow. Not being a weirdo.

 

What’s the best way to market your books?

  • Be yourself.

 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

  • Research isn’t my thing, but I learn a lot when I give topics the attention they deserve. For example, I learned that the Dark Star cave beneath Uzbekistan might be the world’s deepest cave (after doing research for Swimming the Echo).

 

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

  • It can be. Especially if the topic is one of passion and love.

 

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

  • Getting inside their head and staying put for months on end.

 

How many hours a day do you write?

  • <1. I’m a slow writer. I often don’t write unless the premise is there. Then, I just go with it.

 

What did you edit out of this book?

  • Swimming the Echo saw some large cuts. Getting the story focused on the cave systems in Mammoth. And it still took almost half the novel to get the characters all settled there.

 

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

  • Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magical surrealistic fiction is astounding.

 

What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

  • Don’t slander them. Don’t let them take over. They work best for me as tertiary influences like Lincoln in Doctorow’s Ragtime.

 

How do you select the names of your characters?

  • Not sure. I like names that roll off the tongue. Monk McHorning in The Natural Man is one of my favorites.

 

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

  • Haha

 

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

  • As long as their honest, what can I say.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

  • Sure. Hometown references. Childhood nostalgia is there. Friends have called me on it and said Thanks.

 

What was your hardest scene to write?

  • In Swimming the Echo, it was one of betrayal. That is always one of the hardest.

 

Do you Google yourself?

  • Do people do that?

 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

  • Nothing. I think each person is on a journey (life-long) when they write.

 

What is your favorite childhood book?

  • Holes is special.

 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

  • Sitting down in isolation. I’m a space cadet. Being alone in a room, or even outside by myself can be torture.

 

Does your family support your career as a writer?

  • Definitely. And read mushy first, second, and third drafts.

 

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

  • Not listen to so much metal.

 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

  • If the creative juices are flowing, one month to two.

 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

  • For me – no. I’d call it writer’s laziness. Not wanting to sit in the chair and delve into new ideas is where I reside mostly. Writing makes me feel like a misfit.
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9th of May

NEW Book, New Cover Design


As promised earlier on social media, my new book cover for Swimming the Echo is available for viewing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and right here. The actual book will go live on Amazon, eLectio Publishing, and in brick and mortar stores on May 30th. I’m thrilled to share this update.

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8th of May

New Book COVER Reveal, today at 4pm


In March, it was announced that Wheelman would get a facelift.

Today, I shared the NEW Wheelman cover on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But, I also wanted to share a brand new image I received from my publisher for my newest work, Swimming the Echo, which launches this month (5.30.17) with eLectio Publishing!

The image for Swimming the Echo will be shared online at 4pm today. I hope you are as excited as I am. These works of fiction are something I look forward to sharing with you.

Currently, Wheelman and Baptisms & Dogs: Stories are both available as Kindle ebooks for $5 total!

Share the love. Take a book on vacation.

Brian

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10th of April

(re)build us


Reform our minds

And we can

Improve

 

In a day where

The word

change

Sounds made up

Made to cover

Engulf

Swallow

Just as the fires

are used

in a controlled burn

So, too, can we

Refine

Ameliorate

And improve this cycle

time

season of life

Where the winds of change

Seem capable of

bringing anything

but good

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20th of February

In 3 Months: My New Novel, Swimming the Echo


Hey all!

In a little over 3 months (5.30.17), my newest novel, Swimming the Echo, will be hitting bookshelves, and I wanted to give you as much notice as possible.

This novel will delve into more backstory of the fictional town of Seton, Kentucky (first featured in my story collection, Baptisms & Dogs (2014)), and the adventures of one youth who takes it upon himself to explore the terrains of love and loyalty.

Here’s an early synopsis:

IT’S AN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME.

When a summer job to explore Mammoth Cave lands in Cade Rainy’s lap, he doesn’t think twice.

THE TEEN FROM SOUTHERN KENTUCKY MAKES A BREAK FOR IT.

But when he finds his dad is connected to a man working at Mammoth, Cade discovers there’s more to this trip than meets the eye.

THE CAVE IS JUST THE START.

Cade sets out to map the real route of twisted lies through fissures and stalactites, battling claustrophobia and bats.

EXPLORE. ADVENTURE. DON’T DIE.

EXPLORE. Don’t die.

don’t die

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23rd of January

Language is Universal.


It’s easy to lose our love for words & conversation.

Language can become nothing more than consonants, vowels strung together and overlooked on social media.

I take them for granted every day. I misuse them, too. Saying things I don’t mean.

Writer friends of mine can do beautiful things with grammatical units, prepositional phrases.

Phonemes and morphemes constructed to make magic to listeners in any native person’s land.

I love the impact of language. How it can transport us in fiction like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to 1930s Maycomb County, Alabama, or relay world news pertinent to us in 2017. It can unite (and often divide). It can be succinct and to the point. It can also be long-winded and meandering. (Much like me…)

But, at it’s core, language serves a purpose: to communicate.

Fun Facts

  • With 6,500 languages in the world about 2k of these have less than 1k speakers.
  • Mandarin features almost 1 billion speakers (well over double those of us speaking English).

“Ni hao,” “Hello,” & “Hola” all greet peoples of the world. And can mean different things in the way they’re said.

I love the unity of language.

You might ask, “But doesn’t language divide & confuse us daily?”

To an extent, but linguistics unifies as well.

Studying languages as obscure as the Pirahã language of Brazil (comprised almost entirely of phonemes) merits importance to those still speaking it. Likewise, just because those natives of North Sentinel don’t want to be invaded by outsiders doesn’t cheapen the Sentinelese language spoken on their restricted coasts.

I like not knowing some things about the French language. It’s mysterious. There’s a hidden code in every language. It allows people groups to learn from one another, share, and also hide in the comfort of their uniqueness as well.

Did you know inhabitants of the island of La Gomera use a whistled language? Or, that the Pawnee tribes’ (Native American) language involved a love affair with syllables (some words possessing over 30 syllables)? Or, that the Taa language in Botswana literally translates to “the language of human beings”?

I found the English language WordClock online and it states there’s a new word added every 98 minutes. As I type this post, the clock shows: 1,005,366 words in the English language. That’s 14.7 new words per day. See it here.

Do you think language unifies or divides? Should it be kept in a lockbox only for natives to speak to natives? Should North Sentinel Island be invaded for the sake of conversation? (Ok, that one is a bit pointed.)

Are you a wordsmith secretly planning to now learn Pawnee, because you read this blog? Buy Rosetta Stone for Pirahã if it exists?

I love the discussion of language. No matter where you are on this blue planet you can take this blog, copy & paste it into a word app on your phone, and in a minute (maybe less), you know exactly what I’m saying. You process it in an exquisite, God-given brain, and you respond.

Magic. Voilà!

 

 

 

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12th of January

If your resolution was to read more…


WHEELMAN & BAPTISMS & DOGS on sale NOW!

Get a copy for your e-reader or for someone else’s. Get both for just $5.

 

And stay tuned for more updates about my newest novel, SWIMMING THE ECHO, out 5.30.2017.

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13th of December

Kentucky Above & Below Ground


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I recently came across Kristen Radtke’s work titled, The Safest Place in Kentucky in an issue of Oxford American. The title caught my eye, and the graphic storytelling blew me away. I’ve copied the work below. Please enjoy this beautiful summary of the Bluegrass State from above and below ground:

 

 

oa94_graphic-story-1

oa94_graphic-story-2

oa94_graphic-story-3oa94_graphic-story-4

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Categories:  writing tips
30th of September

Why Our Work Matters


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“Utterly alone, at the bottom of a fourteen-foot trench filled with water so thick with silt he literally couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, William Walker laid twenty-five thousand bags of concrete, slitting each bag open so the concrete could spread out as it set. He then used 115,000 concrete blocks and 900,000 bricks to shore up the national treasure we know as Winchester Cathedral.

Every morning, five mornings a week, fifty weeks a year, for six years and one month, from 1905 to 1911, Walker would climb into his diver’s suit and wait while his tenders loaded forty-pound stones over his shoulders and placed a fifty-pound metal helmet over his head. Then he would step into eighteen-pound metal shoes and descend into the depths of the trench around Winchester Cathedral to work for three-and-a-half hours.

After an hour for lunch, he would go through the ritual again in order to work another three-and-a-half hours in the pitch dark completely alone.

Incredibly, the majestic structure that thrills people even today with its remarkable architecture had been built on a bog, floating on what Sir Francis Fox called a “raft” of massive beech timbers. As the timbers rotted, the mighty building started to sag.

It isn’t stretching things at all to say William Walker single-handedly saved Winchester Cathedral.

Since the water swirled in and out of sites where bubonic plague victims had been buried centuries earlier, Walker also had to worry about exposure to life-threatening infectious materials and the possibility of encountering floating skeletal remains. His response: “I try not to think too much about that.”

So day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out, Walker fought to save a structure built by long-dead humans to honor a still-living God.

In a perfect world where happy endings always happen, William Walker would have lived a long life bathed in the adoration of the English people for his unseen labors. In a perfect world, a famous sculptor would craft a statue to sit in the halls of the Cathedral to honor Walker’s name. In a perfect world, visitors to the tombs of William the Conqueror and Jane Austen would see and remember the face of the man who saved an irreplaceable part of England’s history.

Alas, to use the king’s own English, ’tis not a perfect world we rest in.

William Walker would be one of the millions and millions of people felled by the flu pandemic that swept the world in 1918. When the sculptor sat down to craft the monument to Walker, he used a photo of the wrong man, and the Church of England, embarrassed by its error, refused to correct it for almost 90 years.

But William Walker knew something most of us need to learn or, having once learned it, need to be reminded of again and again and again.

It isn’t adoration or statues or even the satisfaction of a job well done that is God’s gift to His children.

It’s the work itself!

Hard as it is to imagine, even those things we do in the places nobody can see, even when we’re weighed down by heavy trials, even when we don’t have the joy of the company of coworkers, the labor we’re engaged in is God’s gift to us.

Let the coal miner rejoice. Let the bond trader exult. Let firefighters and architects and school teachers glory in their labor, for God in His infinite wisdom has given them the chance to play a role in shoring up the foundations of a creation built to last forever.

One day, when every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed that Jesus is Lord, every dark hour, every tedious task, every ounce of effort given by God’s children to the tending of His cathedral will see the light of day, and we will know and count it as great treasure that God let us be a small part of His big work.”

– from Randy Kilgore’s Made to Matter

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