Thursday, January 17, 2013

A dysfunctional childhood is God’s greatest gift to the writer

the thing with feathers
By Anne Sweazy Kulju

About Anne:

ANNE SWEAZY KULJU has won awards for editorials and honors for short stories, but now she writes historical fiction adventures, exclusively. Her debut novel, “the thing with feathers,” was released by Tate Publishing in September 2012. Her book, “Bodie,” a total thrill ride, is expected to release in early 2013, and she is currently busy on her next book, “Grog Wars,” set in 1850’s Portland, Oregon, the Shanghai capital of the world. Anne lives near Pacific City, Oregon, and divides her free time between the beach and Mount Bachelor. Readers may learn more about Anne and correspond with her on her website at .

the thing with feathers by Anne Sweazy-Kulju

Genre - Historical Fiction/Saga
Publisher - Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC
Release Date - 9-11-2012
Buy: Amazon


Betch’yer Fanny

I was recently interviewed by the wonderfully delightful, super engaging Stone Payton, at BusinessRadioX. It was for his “Dust Jacket Interview” show. I thought the interview was going alright, if I could stop giggling like my IQ just dropped ten points, before I answered every question. Then, out of left field he asked me something that I almost--almost answered honestly, but I stopped myself just in time. I couldn’t do it, plain and simple. (Look, it’s hard enough to put such things on paper--or screen.) In so many words, Mr. Payton asked me if writing a novel is personal…and if so, how personal? Oh, I answered with something like, “your manuscript is something you gave life to, so in many ways it’s as personal to you as your children,” and blah, blah, blah. But, is that really as personal as it gets? First, allow me to answer my question with a question: Do you want to get published? Then the short answer is, God, no.

I don’t know about you, but when someone is toys-in-the-attic enough to inquire if I have children, I’m out with the photo sleeve fast enough to make an illusionist proud. It’s a pretty long sleeve of my one-and-only work of art, my stunningly beautiful and bright daughter (she’s a model; she just did a nine-page spread in a national magazine). Well, of course I’m bragging! Wouldn’t you? Okay, I won’t spend any more time here--but Lord knows I could!

Do you see what I mean?

Sure, my child is personal. But if I’m writing a sad scene, I want to make my readers tearful, not envious. I know I have to dig deeper than brags about my kid. I’m going to give you an example of how my work gets personal, because I believe published authors should share with our future competition (I mean that in the nicest way), real and valuable writing tips on how we do it. We are a writing community. So in that spirit, I am sharing a personal sadness which I channeled after forty years, in order to write a chapter in my current WIP (work-in-progress). My hero is a young man who suffers from depression; he is certain his father blames him for his mother’s death and can’t even stand the sight of him, which is true. That’s sad, right? If I want my readers to believe it, and I most certainly do, then I need to infuse this fictional character with genuine sadness--my own. Here goes: I took a lot of naps as a kid--in beds, sure, but also whenever and wherever the fancy struck me; in a gulley on my way home walking from school, or in the middle of a sidewalk hopscotch game…places like that. I would just lay myself down and go to sleep. Now let’s skip ahead to my twelfth birthday…

Old adage:
A dysfunctional childhood
is God’s greatest gift to the writer.

It was a gorgeous summer day in California, and my mother called me in from playing outdoors--we did that back then. She was (I’ll treat this mildly) three-sheets-to-the-wind. She’d asked me to sit, and I thought for certain I was going to hear some excuse for why they’d forgotten my birthday again (translation: I wasn’t going to be getting those roller skates I’d been shamelessly hinting about for weeks). But instead, to my surprise, she was celebrating because I was going to live, she’d told me. I can’t tell you what a relief that news was to me--I can’t tell you because I never knew I was dying, in the first place. Then mom explained that a heart condition was the reason she’d never allowed herself to love me; a child who was ear-marked for an early death. Fear not, though, because a doctor had just given me a clean Bill of Health for the insurance company. Now she could love me! (She slurred.) I was just so tickled pink with the news. I use sarcasm as a defense. And what about my bucket-list? Here I’d been slated for death, and I hadn’t done one thing on my list! I hadn’t even eaten a coconut! (Long story; my best friend was Tahitian). Anyhoo, the point I’m trying to make is that, some forty years later, when I needed to write something incredibly sad, I conjured up that summer afternoon when my mother, albeit unintentionally, told me to my face that she’d never loved me. Tears immediately filled my eyes, rocks filled my throat, and I started writing.

You betch’yer fanny the writing in my novels is personal--and genuine! When “Grog Wars,” is released, you can let me know if I made you cry…


It was the ugliest photo he had ever seen.
And nothing would be the same again.

As the inhabitants of Cloverdale, Oregon, welcomed in the twentieth century, they were not unaccustomed to hard times and thorny situations. Small communities banded together for protection and hope. Heroes and villains were often difficult to decipher.

When an itinerate Baptist preacher arrived with his baby daughter and a wife lost on the trail, there was no one prepared to suspect what lurid secrets and heartbreak he might be concealing. As the preacher sets his sights against those who might oppose him, the names and the lives of the good people of Cloverdale may not be spared.

Yet in the midst of the machinations of a mad man, virtue and valor can persist. The Thing with Feathers is known to fly through wars, depressions, and natural disasters. Will the Marshall clan and the good people of Cloverdale find it in time?


Seems she don’t much care for song leaders neither.” The musician reached for another piece of the pie.

On the contrary.” Preacher Bowman gave the man a knowing look.

Serious? Naw. Pull my other leg, it has bells on!” he’d told him.

I never knew a young girl who didn’t attempt to lure a man she’s interested in away from the prying eyes of her father.” The preacher pushed his platter away from himself and smiled. “You’ll probably be wanting your payment now. I believe I promised you better pay than you’ve ever had before. Well, my man, it waits for you in the canning shed out back.” Bowman nodded his head toward the kitchen window. He encouraged the music man to get up and take a look.
The musician followed Bowman’s gaze out the window that hung over the kitchen sink. He spotted the side of the small shed and his eyes caught barely a glimpse of Blair’s floral skirt moving within. He tossed a confused look to the preacher, who gave the man a surreptitious wink and then resumed his seat at the table.

A lecherous look registered in the music man’s deep-set eyes about the same instant the preacher’s intentions reached his cramped mind. The musician reached for the back door handle and opened it, looking back at the preacher once more to be sure that that was what the preacher intended. He was rewarded with a silent nod.

Preacher Bowman reached for another slice of pie.


Nook Book Glowlight
Character Name chosen by one lucky winner

Also - grab bags will be randomly given away during the tour!

December 18 - Meet & Greet at VBT Cafe' Blog
December 20 - Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
December 22 - Interviewed at Oh Chrys!
December 27 - Guest Blogging at Reviews by Dee
January 2 - Interviewed at Unnecessary Musings
January 4 - Guest Blogging at Wise Words
January 7 - Review & Interview at Impressions of a Princess
January 9 - Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover's Library
January 11 - Guest Blogging at Lori's Reading Corner
January 14 - Book Feature & Excerpt at The Official Blog-Zine of Terra Little
January 14 - Review & Interview at The Book TownJanuary 16 - Review & Interview at Central Bargains and Giveaways
January 18 - Guest Blogging at AZ Publishing Services
January 21 - Interviewed at House-Of-Books
January 23 - Interviewed at Books & Tales
January 25 - Interviewed at BK Walker Books Etc.
January 28 - Review & Character Interview at Where Fantasy Meets Reality
January 30 - Review & Guest Blogging at Books, Books, and More Books
February 1 - Reviewed at Turning The Pages
February 5 - Review & Guest Blogging at MK McClintock's Blog
February 6 - Guest Blogging with Monique Morgan
February 8 - Reviewed at The Self Taught Cook


Patti Hultstrand said...

When I talk to want-to-be fiction writers about the writing process I ask them, Do your characters talk through you or do you force the writing, thinking this is the right way to tell the story?

Sometimes I wonder where the heck did that dark character come from? The answer is always, from REALLY deep down inside myself - where the scary stuff lies.

Thank you for sharing, Anne.

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Michelle Cornwell-Jordan said...

I find your writing interesting and entertaining in your Guest post! I look forward to reading your book:) Thanks for sharing!

Good luck on tour:)


Pit Crew

BK Walker said...

I agree! One's misery is another man's entertainment :) Thank you for hosting Anne.