Smashwords Interview with Nancy Reil Riojas ©
What is your writing process?
Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
I have discovered that unless you live inside of your ongoing narrative, it never comes to life. Living inside means harmonizing your words to move the readers. Imagine your narrative as a painting, hanging on a wall. Is the painting so intriguing that you wish you were there? Or is the painting so life-like that you clearly see the story it tells? So it is with writing stories. I have started many stories with compiled scenes that remain unfinished― temporary files inside a box under my desk. Then a day comes along when I reach for that box because I finally create lightning nouns and verbs that breathe life into a lifeless story. That's exciting!
Print out the narrative, lay the pages out on a table, or across the counters, or the floor. View the story as a whole - do all the scenes move the story forward? Scissor cut the scenes and rearrange if need be. But if a certain scene still does not fit, throw it out. Continue expanding scenes with lightning nouns and verbs that move the story to its end. Finally, it's off to the editor who will revise your revisions ―which will alter what you thought was a well written work.
What are you presently writing?
“Night Invaders” ― Sequel to Monster at My Window
Synopsis: A quiet community in Texas undergoes a shocking revelation when creatures infiltrate 100 feet beneath a local’s land. Selected lawmen and retired military paid $1,000,000.00 each attempt to rescue innocent men, women, and children who serve as slaves for “Project O.D.” where the U.S. military train superhuman beings to kill and to win wars in lieu of sickly humans whose population notably declines.
EXCERPT: Garcia shoves the M4 as far back on his right shoulder as possible, turns rough palms up to take their delicate hands and guides each child between cell bars, out into the labyrinth pathway.
He instructs, "This is how we'll do it. Sofia and Sydney, sit on my left arm and hug my neck. Up you go. Now, Savanah, you sit on my right arm and wrap your arms around my upper arm, right here, see? That's right. Listen carefully, hold on real tight. I promise, you can't hurt me. Are we ready?"
"Yes!" they loudly declare.
"We are outta here baby girls!"
The farmer’s unwavering determination continues ahead. He shines his flood light with one arm and grips a child on the other while Garcia hastens in the background on a rock-embedded incline―he estimates only a mile to go. However, in the concluding minutes of this final liberation, the farmer gains ground while Garcia drops back.
No one knows that fiends can approach from behind: like bats out of hell, a horde trample one another at a narrow curve just before reaching their children's food, in cells. They lurch into the triples' cell where their insect heads tilt back and detect repugnant man who trespassed in prized chambers. All their children's food, human children, have been stolen which ratchets up the livid factor! The relentless killers that drop to all fours are hot on the rescuers' trail, the only trail with nowhere to veer, nowhere to hide. Garcia, the last rescuer, now runs in the dark. Besides his own steps, he hears theirs, first pattering then thumping that grows louder behind him. Garcia picks up the pace. The girls' bouncing heads tire and naturally draw closer in to his for support. All he can think of is "show me that beautiful gate!"
When reaching the last bend in the path, the four bump the wall and nearly topple over. The girls scream, "Garcia, Garcia!" and cling and breathe his tired breath. Then a miracle happens: Garcia regains balance and sprints faster, for he sees light from the gate, the gate that grows massive as he approaches. Rescuers on the opposite side yell and wildly wave their arms. It sounds garbled but Garcia knows they're telling him, telling him to turn around and fire! He thinks, "First I hand over the girls, then turn."
But there is little time.
Behind Garcia, the fiends' terrifying shrieks that close-in and bellow off stone walls pain innocent ears. The sisters bury their heads deeper into his sweaty chest. He draws nearer to the gate where rescuers position M4s to their cheeks. The anxious shout orders at the top of their lungs while awaiting evil to reach the light. They adjust aim: left, right, and above Garcia's head. He slows, squats, and breathing heavy yells to the girls, "Jump off! Run through the bars! Don't stop, don't look back, run, run!"
Tension builds even higher during the nerve-racking plight. Ortiz jabs Ramirez’ arm with the barrel of his M4 and points to the top of the gate. The friends swing rifle straps over their heads and like an inferno chases up beneath them, they clamber up the forty feet. Once there, an uncanny number of rounds blast into the dark, behind their friend, where accurate aim proves an accident, where a hopeful attempt to hit the enemy they cannot see is all they can do to help him.
Garcia quickly shoves Savanah between thick bars while Sydney and Sofia gently hop to the ground. He abruptly reaches out and pushes Sofia and Sydney through. Many troubled eyes watch for the last small foot to pass over, where a Texas Ranger scoops up all three Anderson triplets. The group fires. Shoulders repeatedly recoil yet annihilate fiends within view. However, they underestimate the scheming, strategic creatures. No one but Garcia hears the triplets scream, "Garcia! Get out, get out! Through the bars!"
Fearless and with steady hands, Garcia swiftly stands and turns toward a swarm of lightning fast fiends directly in front of him, even though from an aerial view his friends obliterate tier after tier. He whips the M4 up and back into his right arm but needs a split second to place his finger on the trigger, just a split second not granted. In any other situation, these fiends would retreat, but rage controls them, layering from underneath, sacrificing themselves until the protected, premeditated two breakthrough the continual barrage of bullets. Heavy bodies swoop onto Garcia. Having planned it while in vexed pursuit, the relentless sever his arms, his legs. When he drops still upright . . . .
Who inspired you to write?
My sixth grade teacher Mrs. Stein read E. B. White's "Charlotte's Web" to the class over a period of a few days. She said, "Now, write the story in your words. The winner will receive a prize." With no confidence whatsoever, I looked around at the class of students and thought, "That won't be me." The following day when she called my name, I was jarred. For the first time in my short life, I nearly fainted! I thought, "Why me?" The prize was a neatly tied bundle of writing tablets, pens, pencils, and a brand new dictionary that she placed on my desk. She said, "All the supplies you'll need to write more stories." My story was posted on the hall bulletin board ―like today's ebooks in a way, exposed, where readers can choose to read.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the suspenseful television series, excelled in popularity when I was very young, never missed a program. In order to draw his fans in, he portrayed average people doing the mundane but for only the first few minutes until the action diverted to bizarre, supernatural, or unbelievable horror.
My older brother was an avid collector and reader of books and comic books. Those I read inspired me to write later in life, especially Sci-fi.
The author, journalist, playwright, and teacher Roger Rosenblatt convinced me I could write after I read "Unless It Moves the Human Heart." My sincere thanks to these four people.
What is the greatest joy of writing?
Inspiring people to read and knowing that readers throughout the world read my ebooks.
Which of your narratives is your favorite and why?
Much research was conducted for emotionally charged Moonshiner The Wolf, my magnum opus, which happened to be my first written work. At the time I was writing the short novel, I drove my trailer to the area of the story in West Texas and spent four days there walking where my main character Angela lived, worked, and suffered in the 1900s. I visited the cemetery where she experienced a terrifying ordeal that many persons disbelieve. In rough country, her friend, a brave alpha wolf named Moonshiner saved her life several times, avenged the slaughter of his family, and saved Angela's granddaughter to whom Angela left her great legacy. Even after Moonshiner'a death Angela loved him dearly and said many times, "My Moonshiner comes to visit me" until the day she died at the age of 112.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. With exception of Night Invaders, nearly every narrative I have written stems from experiences when growing up, or experiences of a family member from yesteryear, that indelibly live in the heart of my mind. Crystal clear details from decades ago can surface in a blink of my eye: faces, attitudes, emotions, and actions of family, friends, and neighbors; catastrophic events; homes, rooms, windows, floors; cold, heat, and humidity; parks, schools, vehicles, streets, and fallen leaves I sped through all come to life. Strong emotional experiences never leave us. They were invisible yet broadcasted references when I authored Moonshiner The Wolf, Monster at My Window, Flood of 1965, Hannibal, Visiting Mary, The Rabbi's Books, and Steven.
Who are your favorite authors?
Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin) / Joyce Carol Oates / Junot Diaz / Roger Rosenblatt / Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Don Quixote) The Greatest Novel Ever Written / Mark Twain / Rudy Ch. Garcia (Closet of Discarded Dreams and his blog La Bloga) / Stephen King / Edgar Allan Poe / Barack OBama / Jose Rodriguez, from Venezuela (Going Home, Pedro Orozco, plus 26 more) / Harper Lee / Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago) / Sandra Cisneros (Caramello) / Ann Rule (Every Breath You Take) / E. B. White (Elements of Style) / Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read. I restore antique (1800s) writing boxes, antique typewriters and antique sewing machines then sell them. I save and feed baby birds that fall from their nests in our seventeen trees. I garden, camp, and I'm an archer.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Choosing and arranging words to make my stories better.
If you had one wish what would it be?
To travel back in time to attend all of Mark Twain's lectures.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The distributor Smashwords has enabled indie authors to place their narratives into the hands of hundreds of thousands of human readers, via ereaders, and iphones, worldwide, far beyond any publisher (traditional or non-traditional) could accomplish.