Writer's Journals Change the Way You Write

New Writing for the Hollihock Writer's Conference 
"Your writing journal is a record of your thought process through time. It will evolve as the months and years pass, and it will become a powerful tool. Not only can you think and process your ability on the page, you can also see the history and the arc of ideas as they develop. It can be very powerful to see where you’ve been and realize where you are all at once." - Read More Click Here 

https://www.hollihock.org/single-post/2019/07/19/What-is-a-Writers-Journal
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The Staff / Now Available at Barnes and Nobel and through the Ingram Catalog

The award winning novel The Staff is now available at Barnes & Nobel and other major retail outlets. By offering the title on Ingram, it is available for purchase in most major retail outlets, available for library orders and other locations. If you need more information, please feel free to contact me
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The Staff / Finalist in the 2019 International Book Awards


The Staff, a novel by author Ron Samul, is now an Award-Winning Finalist in the General Fiction Category of the 2019 International Book Awards. Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest, said this year's contest yielded over 2,000 entries from authors and publishers around the world, which were then narrowed to the final results. Awards were presented for titles published in 2017, 2018, 2019. 

Ron Samul is a writer and faculty member at Mitchell College in New London. He is also a Writing Mentor in the Western Connecticut State University Creative and Professional Masters in Fine Arts. A native New Londoner, Samul said this novel is based on living in a small community where everyone knows about each other. Some of those interactions are for the better and some for the worse. Samul enjoys talking about the book with writers and book clubs, and said, “Talking to people, I always find new ways to look at the novel. Books don’t work unless the writer and reader are working together to make it a shared experience. And to hear what people think of the novel, in their own terms, it is just as exciting as writing it.”
Samul’s work has appeared in Liturgical Credo, Outstide In Magazine, SNReview, Inquiring News, Library Journal, and other online media. He has presented his work at the Associated Writers Program Conference, The Northeast Popular Culture Association, and the Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In 2017, The Staff was short-listed for the Del Sol Press First Novel Prize. Don Snyder, author of Fallen Angel and Of Time and Memory explains, "Samul tells this story with such luminous prose and immense imagination that the reader is transported to a place beyond the borders of the known world where new meaning attends our longings and our fears, and where we discover a deeper understanding of ourselves. I believe this is the requirement of literary fiction." The book is currently on Amazon for purchase in print and e-book.



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Diving Essay Series Available on Channillo

Like most writers, writing comes in fits and starts. I've been inspired to collect and continue writing based on my interactions with the ocean. This series includes my time as a technical diver, visions of ecology, exploring life in and around the water. This series includes understanding fear, diving in an underwater storm, and celebrating the guy who swam in the suit as the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I've chosen Channillo to create this writing. It can be accessed via a free trial and subscription. It is an interesting model of reading and exploring. The goal is to develop this collection and eventually move to a collection worthy of formal publication.

I've been scuba diving for more than twenty-five years and I've spend most of that time in the waters of New England. While I've been on adventures in the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, and Florida. While a lot of my diving in the Northeast has been working on a dive boat and diving with technical divers on shipwrecks, it is time to shift my perspective and find a more meaningful interaction with the ocean. Part of the essay series is based on finding out why divers (particularly technical divers) are interested in extreme diving and what that means to them. Sometimes, that is part of who they are. For others it is a list to check off. But in the end, technical diving is based on desire, focus, and often money. Like hiking, we can all go for a walk in the woods, and aspire to climb Everest, but somewhere along the way, it changes who we are. We may not make it to the deepest dive or the highest mountain, but what drives back to the ocean for more.

If you are interested in reading more, check out the link below. If you have some ocean experience and want to contribute, reach out to the email below and we can connect.

Link to Series 

ronsamulwriter@gmail.com
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The Staff Now On Sale / Amazon / Paperback & E-book


PRINT BOOK AVAILABLE NOW  through Amazon.com
In a remote fishing village, a well-known member of the village is murdered, and the suspect is caught and beaten. When he wakes up he can’t recall who he is or what he has done. The village council decides to invoke an age-old ritual that condemns the killer and a villager together for life. Taska Valimar is selected to be the warden to the killer in this draconian social contract. Scorned by her life of servitude, Taska begins to unravel the secrets of her missing family. What she finds begins a spiral of deceit and revenge. In the midst of the darkest hours, Taska searches for friendship, hope, and a way out. The Staff is a timeless tale of lies, treachery, and hope.

“In the tradition of Orwell and Huxley and Dostoevsky, Ron Samul has imagined a world in stunning detail where justice and human dignity are casualties of the fears that inhabit us. It is a terrifying world that exists beyond our reference points and yet it feels oddly familiar because the people we come to meet there, though strangers to us, give us an unexpected glimpse of ourselves.” - Don J. Snyder author of Of Time and Memory and Fallen Angel.

"A novel with the rarefied atmosphere of ancestral myth, The Staff unfolds in a time and place that feels ancient and simultaneously apart from history: a northern seaside village where the air holds the electric charge of prophetic meaning. Samul has written a dark, tension-filled allegory of crime, punishment, and transcendence that will appeal to fans of Hawthorne, Kafka, and Shirley Jackson." - Tim Weed author of Will Poole’s Island and A Field Guide to Murder and Fly Fishing.

“An intriguing, skillfully constructed plot about the darker side of human nature.” The Book Life Prize.
Available through Amazon.com




Ron Samul is a writer and college educator at Mitchell College. He is a writing mentor in the Western Connecticut State University Masters in Creative and Professional Writing program. He has worked as a journalist, literary magazine editor and publisher, and book reviewer. His articles and stories have appeared in the SN ReviewLibrary Journal, Liturgical Credo, Inside Out Magazine, Inquiring News Hartford, and on other print/electronic media. He is the winner of the Connecticut AWP Fiction Award in 2005 for his short story Paper ThinThe Staff was shortlisted for the 2017 Del Sol Press Friest Novel Prize. Print and Kindle copies of the book release through Amazon.com on March 15, 2017. 
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And now you have to reconcile it, too.


What if The Staff isn’t what you expect? What if it fits the definition of historical fiction but doesn't do what historical fiction does? It isn’t what you think it is. That sounds like a strange riddle. But that is what The Staff feels like - a novel that takes places in unknown history. It isn’t a novel in time, but a novel untimely and unplaced. And that is the whole idea of creating a novel based on an idea.

There is a concept called “the novel of ideas” - stories based on visionary times and seeing more than just our own superficial visions of the world, but seeing an idea, a social value, and seeing it subverted. It is a concept that is apparent in speculative fiction, like Fahrenheit 451, where firemen start fires and don’t put them out. Even in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, we see cathartic and tragic things happening to a man who is alienated. He actually turns into a bug and is completely isolated from his family. The sleight of hand is watching his sister Gerta, draw out of the shadows and become a woman capable of feeling the sun on her face and destroying the evil that is killing her family. Ideas in a novel are imperative. It is more than a theme, but a vision of craft.

The Staff functions as a riddle without a punchline. And the very thing you think you will be reading is intentionally withheld. Not because I am a jerk or just couldn’t come up with a solution. It is because the solution, the answers you want is detached from a genre - this isn't a whodunit - that isn’t the idea at all. You may not like this book because it isn't the genre you prefer. Has genre killed your sense of wonder? Do you need to know how the murder happened? Do you need to be the detective? Do you need a red herring? I’ve given you all the things you desire if you were reading and murder mystery, at least at the start. But the novel is not about conforming to the expectations of a genre. It is about what happens when you are put off by it.

There is a portion in this novel that directly pays reverence to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. And the purpose of that is because it is the ultimate tale of what you think a lottery should be - and what it becomes (a stoning in the town square), is exactly what this novel is. I am not asking you to like it. I am not asking you to be happy or even satisfied with the ending. I am just asking you to live with the idea built in this novel and find your own moments as the scenes pass by. This is not a philosophical novel that stops to contemplate long-winded ideas. It is just an idea, set into motion. And every single character has to reconcile it. And now you have to reconcile it, too.


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The Hawkman - A Fairy Tale of the Great War


Jane Rosenberg LaForge
AmberJack Pub.
ISBN: 978-1944995676 (paperback)
280p
Released: June 5, 2018

The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a re-telling of several Grimm’s fairy tales against the backdrop of World War I.  As a fan of World War I literature, this captures the desperation of trench warfare, the aftermath of war, and what it means to live with those nightmares. But it is this reality, this darkness, this desperation that pushes up against how and why people tell stories. This is not merely a war novel, but the war is what triggers much of the action and ideas around this novel. Miss Eva Williams is an American school teacher that comes to a small English school to teach and hide from the world. Among the small and bucolic setting, everyone has been touched by the Great War. And among the edges is a man so damaged and lost that the villagers are afraid of who he is and what he may do. Miss Williams doesn’t commiserate with the villagers and the leaders, she takes him into her life. These two lost souls begin to rebuild a life together.

This novel weaves stories. It is the function of the book, the story, the plot… everything. It is worth mentioning that LaForge brings about a compelling and often beautiful style of storytelling to the page. Her stylistic voice here is what makes this novel so compelling and profound. The style reaches beyond the well-crafted characters, the woven stories, and the stunning pace of this novel. It makes sense that a poet is a better weaver for so many intangible parts and pieces. In Kate Berhnheimer’s introduction to Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales, she discusses how “fairy tales offer both wildly familiar and familiar wild terrain.” But more importantly, she considers the significance of how these fairy tales reflect back something of ourselves. “It is to look at the act of looking at ourselves inside stories, to regard the tradition and the stereotype of female reflection on self. In this, there is a power for all sorts of readers.” In many ways, LaForge is doing this within the nested stories and concepts of The Hawkman. She is restoring story, frame, morals, and piecing together the shattered ideas that are missing. That is where the innovative, creative, and visionary style does so much of the work. Miss Williams becomes the one who creates change, shifts perceptions of the world, and grounds all the fragments that seem to swirl around this novel. She isn’t the Scheherazade (the teller of the stories), but she is the force that makes all these stories possible. She is the curator of all things possible and impossible in this world.

A possible function of writing a novel is to explain how we might save ourselves with a story. In The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge, it is clear that these forces of reality, tales, and visionary things are not just important for the art of fiction, but crafted with haunting and beautiful effect. But it takes more than a fabulist, it takes more than a novelist. It takes a poet. The Hawkman is a stunning vision of the blurred lines between the darkest realities and the most beautiful stories, all spinning in a whirlwind of narrative, hope, and loss.

A brief retelling of this book doesn’t shed light on the beauty and the scope of this novel. It is something that you have to accumulate as a reader. The nested stories, the characters, the function of the novel itself, all serve to restore the belief that we are narrative, we need a beginning, a middle, and an end. LaForge does this through poetry, stories, and her lyrical style. Miss Williams in the novel says, “Stories should not have to be cruel.” They can be sad, they can be devastating, and they can be beautiful, but they don’t “have to be cruel.” This novel brings narrative together with a lyrical style to rebuild the lives of people who are separately and desperately fragmented. The result is this beautiful novel that is built on the tradition of fairy tales but refined in poetry and prose in a way that is vivid, inspiring, and human. Excellent, poetic, and literary in story, style, and vision. 


Cited in Review
Bernheimer, Kate, ed. Mirror, mirror on the wall: Women writers explore their favorite fairy tales. Anchor, 1998.


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