Áine Greaney

Irish Author

Leading Creative Writing Workshops and Writing Stuff for 20+ years.

North Shore of Boston via Ireland

Filtering by Category: Author Interviews ( Q & As)

Writers, Join this book giveaway by sharing your tips

This week I was lucky enough to be featured at The Writer's Place, a spiffy blog by writer Nancy Christie. Then, today, the interview gets included in Help for Writers.

I enjoyed the entire Writers Place interview, but I was especially charmed by Nancy's last question in which she asks for my "top three takeaways" (or tips) for balancing creativity with work (based on my book, Writer with a Day Job).

Here are my top 3 tips for balancing writing and life:

1.  Define your own path to writing and writing success. Comparing ourselves with other writers is counterproductive—even deadly.

2.  If you’re a beginner writer, create an overview of your month’s typical schedule and commitments. Circle the items that can either be outsourced or dropped altogether. Only keep those commitments that are truly, honestly as or more important in your life than writing. Even if you don’t use your freed-up time for actual writing, use it for writing-conducive activities such as reading, yoga or just sitting and staring into space.

3.  Learn how to say, “no.” When we do, people are not as miffed or disappointed as we assume that they will be. We fall into these “I should” and “I must” habits because —duh!— we’re not clear with others about what we need in order to nurture our talents as writers.

So you've got my three tips. Now, what are yours? Insert below in the Comments section and join my book giveaway. 

If we get 15 responses (each with your hot tips), I will enter all names in a random drawing for a signed copy of my book, WRITER with a DAY JOB. I will mail the book to the winner, so make sure to include a website or blog where I can reach you. Sorry, U.S. addresses only, please.

We need a minimum of 15 responses ... so ... pick and post your best tips... and spread the word  ... 

The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop on Writers' Work in Progress

Week 8: The Next Big Thing: Work in Progress Thank you to Donna at Girl Who Reads who invited me to join this blog hop, in which writers dish a little on our current work in progress. Thanks, too, to the other scribes (see list at end of post) who have decided to post next week. Check out their works in progress  on August 22.

What is the working title of your book?

It's a novel set in greater Boston--with small parts of it in Ireland. I had called an earlier version, “Waverly Farms,” but the plot has changed considerably since then, so I don’t really have a working title yet. But I'm intrigued by my own unfolding story--and that's always a good sign.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The  creative itch  for this book can be traced back to my 10-year bug to write about wealth and its effects on people, and just how much will someone sacrifice or compromise themselves to hold onto wealth and what money can buy.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a YA crossover novel. This is my first time really dabbling in this genre. But in my 2nd novel, I enjoyed creating the teenage character very much, and found that I really got inside of her head. I've also completed a very layered, sassy short story with a 14-year-old character. So ... I'm building on these and trying a full-length novel with a 16-year-old character.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Gee, I’m not good with actors at all. But my teenage character, Drey, would have to be played by someone fairly complex, with the ability to master or balance a  cheeky worldliness with an inner sense of injury. For the male main character, Nathaniel, I think Jeremy Irons would be perfect.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A 16-year-old girl is forced to give up everything when her family declares bankruptcy, files for divorce and her mother emigrates to, and disappears in, America.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Either an agency or an independent literary press.   I don’t self-publish fiction.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I haven’t completed the first draft yet.  But between the day job and my other shorter projects, I’m working on it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Not sure.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As an expatriate who left Ireland 25 years ago, I have watched from afar as the country underwent a huge economic boom and crash.   Recent financial articles have highlighted the prodigal greed and unfettered borrowing and development that contributed to or fueled Ireland's current economic crisis.  So I imagined this spoiled teenage character whose family suddenly loses all of its wealth, and the mother and daughter are forced to emigrate.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Despite the context above, the novel is not a sociological study. Instead, it's part mystery, part psychological thriller and an unusual blend of two main characters: A teenage girl and a 60-something Brahmin New England man. The man is really quite crazy.

Next up: August 29: Check these 5 writers' blogs or websites to hear and see what they're working on:

Carolyn Roy Bornstein

Daniela Ginta

Lori Grace

Jennifer Karin

Ted Mitchell

Advice for New Writers and .. Much More

This week, I was delighted to be interviewed by Joe Petchonka at his vibrant writers' site, Petchonka.com.  I love writer-interviews--and from both sides of the table. As the interviewee, we can surprise ourselves with what we think and know. Of course it helps when the blogger or radio host or journalist knows to ask the most provocative questions. 

As the interviewer, it's a legitimate opportunity to be nosey about other writers' creative processes. 

Either way, from either side of the table, it's always a learning opportunity.

Check out the interview here

Anything you disagree with? Feel free to comment.

An Interview with Erika Dreifus, Author, Editor and Reviewer

Today I'm delighted to welcome Erika Dreifus, a New York City author whose recent short story collection, Quiet Americans  (Last Light Studio),  is a 2012 Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding Jewish literature. 


Erika lives in New York City, where she holds a full-time, writing-intensive administrative job at The City University of New York.  A contributing editor for The Writer magazine and for Fiction Writers Review, Erika publishes The Practicing Writer, a free monthly newsletter for poets, fictionists, and writers of creative nonfiction. Her website is a rich and inviting resource for writers.

1. Erika, you switched from the freelancing/adjuncting route (as did I) to a Monday - Friday, 9-5 gig. For many writers, adjuncting and/or freelancing seem to be the default day jobs. Why the switch?

1A.  First, Aine, I just want to thank you for inviting me to your blog and for asking such wonderful questions.

After completing my MFA, I’d hoped to obtain a tenure-track college or university position teaching creative writing. I didn’t appreciate at the time how difficult it would be to get hired for that kind of job without having at least one published book to my credit. Freelancing and adjuncting helped support me while I pursued that elusive publishing goal.

But after a few years without a book deal, the instability of life as a freelancer and adjunct began to be too much. Plus, I was contemplating a move from the Boston area to New York, and I knew that if it had been hard to manage as a freelancer/adjunct in Boston, it would likely be even more difficult to do so in New York. It just seemed to be time to try something else—something with the stability (and health insurance!) of a Monday-Friday, 9-5 office job.

2.  In terms of your writing life, do you find one type of work setting (adjuncting) better or worse than the other (9-5).

2A.  I’m not sure I have a clear perspective on this right now. I have definitely grown as a writer since returning to a 9-5 job in ways I didn’t anticipate back when I was contemplating the move. For instance, I wasn’t writing poetry at all in my freelancing/adjuncting days. But that’s related to something else I’ve noticed: I seem to find it more difficult now to become immersed in longer-form projects. Because so much of my writing occurs in short bursts of time, I seem to be writing in shorter forms much more than I did in the past. The thoughts and images I want to write about are somehow more intense and urgent, and they seem to find expression best in compressed forms.

3.  I am excited to read that you write fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Are there times when you are more drawn to one genre than the other? Do certain topics lend themselves to certain genres for you?

3A.  Well, in a sense, this is tied to what I mentioned just above. But it’s interesting to me how certain topics seem to recur regardless of the genre. For instance, the experiences of my paternal grandparents—German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s—and my perceptions of this family legacy have made their way into my short stories, poems, and essays.

4.  Tell us some more about your short fiction collection, Quiet Americans. I’d love to hear about the joys and challenges of making single stories into a complete collection.  We can assume that it’s not just a random placement of stories within the ms.? And how do you and the publisher decide which stories get to make the final cut for the collection?

4A.  The stories are grounded in the theme that I’ve just mentioned—the experiences of German-Jewish refugees in the United States and their descendants. As for the processes of selecting and sequencing the stories: All of that unfolded over time.

My case may be a little different, because my publisher initially expressed interest in my work as a collection. That is to say, he was aware that I had published a number of stories in literary journals and magazines, and he knew from his own experience how difficult it can be to get a collection published. He wondered if I had a collection already prepared that he might consider taking on. And since I had already spent so many years shaping (and re-shaping) the collection, and benefited from the advice of a couple of agents who’d been interested in it, the collection already had a structure and logic that my publisher appreciated. He was (and remains!) wonderfully supportive.

5. I think my readers would also love to hear about your publishing process. In this changing publishing environment, can you speak to the advantages (or not) of the independent, literary press?

5A. Quiet Americans owns its existence as a published collection to this new environment and to the possibilities now afforded to independent, literary presses. No question. So that is one significant advantage!

Obviously, it would be nice if every independent publisher had the resources and contacts of the larger houses. It would simply be easier to reach readers that way. But again, independent presses are now an increasingly viable option and ensuring that additional works of quality have a fighting chance in the literary marketplace. I see so much benefit in that, for authors and for readers.

6. What are your top 3 tips for transitioning or balancing between your day job and your writing life?

6A. Well, I’m frankly more interested in other people’s tips! But, for what they’re worth, here are mine:

  • Get up early! Seriously, there are only so many hours in the day. I always feel better if I've managed to get some writing done before I leave for the day job.
  • Get some exercise. After spending 40 hours each week at one desk, it isn’t always easy to settle in to start working at another one. Even a quick walk around the neighborhood will help. I also find that exercise helps “jog” my mind; it’s not uncommon for me to solve a writing problem or come up with a new idea while I’m walking or running.
  • Keep reading. Reading helps us stay inspired and keeps us learning. Even if you can squeeze in only a few pages before bed, make sure you get a daily dose of reading.

Thank you, Erika, for your thoughtful answers.

What about you, gentle reader (and writer)? Have you switched between adjunct teaching, freelancing or office-based positions? What blends or blended best with your creative writing life?

Copyright 2011-2014 Aine Greaney