Open Mic Blog
|Posted on November 27, 2020 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Brave Sir Grace battles the big blizzard! This cool illustration by Kjersten L. Niskanen is one of my very favorites from our picture book. I'm just a little prejudice, but if you need a special stocking stuffer this Christmas, Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard will make the perfect gift. Feel free to share this post with your friends!
|Posted on September 9, 2020 at 9:20 AM||comments (0)|
I actually put on make-up, ironed my clothes, fixed my hair (sort of), and wore a surgical mask up until my five minute TV interview on Studio 3. Quite a switch from my go-to-the-grocery-store wrinkled shorts and T-shirts, sandals, pony tail, grape chapstick, sunglasses, and folded bandana with a coffee filter inside. Still, seeing my weary self on TV was a shock after months of staying at home! Plus, launching my debut picture book during a pandemic was a huge challenge, but I was determined to be ultra safe, celebrate, and never give up. Life is good!
To purchase: https://amzn.to/3b3iE4h
Click on the link below to view the interview:
|Posted on August 30, 2020 at 8:20 PM||comments (2)|
Carl Hamlin from the West Huntington Branch Library in Huntington, West Virginia, asked if he could use a couple of my poems for an upcoming project. I agreed, and here are the creative results! Click on the link below and take a look!
|Posted on August 20, 2020 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
Social distance book launch Saturday
Lee Ward | The Daily Independent Aug 12, 2020 Updated Aug 12, 2020
HUNTINGTON Author Laura Bentley’s book launch, set for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the gazebo on 14th Street West, is taking a social distancing approach.
The book, “Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard,” will be available via curbside pickup and will arrive in buyers’ hands signed and encased in a sealed bag for those who alert her at LauraTreacyBentley.com.
For those who wish to walk up, hand sanitizer will be available, and masks are required. Attendees should enter by the “Entrance” ramp that will be marked 6 feet apart to maintain physical distance.
Q: Did you realize early this year that “the COVID” would interfere with the release of the book? What was your feeling about it?
A: Actually, no. I didn’t know when the illustrations, etc. would be finished and how long it all would take to pull it together.
I didn’t realize how serious the virus had gotten until the West Virginia public schools were closed in March. Then, soon after, I had to cancel my much anticipated St. Patrick’s Day reading/signing at Taylor Books in Charleston. The audience was bringing their favorite Irish poem to read in the Open Mic after my program. I hope to reschedule if the virus is under control or there’s a vaccine by next St. Patrick’s Day 2021.
Q: How did you think of this socially distanced book launch?
A: I spent a great deal of time brainstorming about how I could make this launch work. First, I knew it had to be an outside location, and the 14th St. W. gazebo in Huntington is perfect. I wore gloves when I pre-signed a box of new books, and my husband sealed each in its own zip-lock bag. I kept brainstorming and realized that it could all be safely done — even with curbside pick-up!
Q: I’m unaware of you having written a children’s book. Where did the idea come from?
A: I’m primarily a poet and a novelist, so not too many know that I received a Fellowship Award for Children’s Literature in 1994 from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. My picture book stories have also won a couple of awards at the annual West Virginia Writers competition. Although I have written a many stories, Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard is my first published picture book.
I was influenced by the famed picture book writer Cynthia Rylant, and I own many of her books. I knew her when she lived in Huntington and worked in the Junior Department of the old Cabell County Public Library. I used to teach Lamaze childbirth classes, and she was my assistant and student!
The book was inspired by something that my daughter, Treacy, said when she was just five years old. A blizzard was predicted for West Virginia, and all the schools were dismissed. People were sent home early from work, and everybody raided the groceries, hunkered down, and prepared for the worst. But, that blizzard never showed up! Treacy confused the word blizzard with something else and said (spoiler alert), “I never did see that big lizard.” So, the seed of my story was planted.
Q: What was writing a children’s book like, as opposed to writing a novel for adults?
A: Both genres take a great deal of time, dedication and craftsmanship. Picture books are an art form unto themselves, just like novels. In my case, I have spent years writing and rewriting my novels as well as my picture book stories. Sometimes my poetry takes years to polish, too.
Q: I know you’re still enjoying having finished this book and putting it out there, but do you have any future plans?
A: I’m currently revising (again!) a character-driven suspense novel set in the mountains of Western Maryland. I must say that working on it and finishing up Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard has kept me sane during this unending pandemic. That, and lots of carbs!
(606) 326-2661 |
“Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard” by Laura Treacy Bentley may be ordered on Amazon.com, Bookshop.org, or from your favorite bookstore. Cost is $15.
|Posted on July 17, 2020 at 1:45 PM||comments (2)|
Happy, happy, joy, joy! Today’s the day!!! My first picture book, illustrated by the amazing Kjersten L. Niskanen, is now available for purchase! Here’s what award-winning picture book author and poet Anna Smucker had to say about Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard:
"When Grace puts on her silver coat and wields her magic sword she becomes 'Sir Grace,' but when a blizzard that 'roars like a dragon' swirls around her house, she is just plain 'Grace' . . . until she needs to be brave once again. Author and poet Laura Treacy Bentley conjures the storm that 'smokes the air with blowing snow' in this wonderful children's picture book, while Kjersten Niskanen's illustrations vividly convey a child's view of this wintry experience that is both exciting and scary." ~Anna Smucker, author of Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story
This book, plus my husband, endless carbohydrates, and my writing group have kept me sane for the last few months. Instead of a traditional bookstore launch, Kjersten and I will have a virtual launch and Q&A on Instagram tomorrow, July 18th, at 11am EST and 10am CT. Then, on Saturday August 15th, I will have safe outdoor launch in the beautiful gazebo at 14th St. W. In Huntington, West Virginia, from noon until 4pm. More later!
Sir Grace can be ordered from Amazon and any bookstore. Have a virtual glass of champagne or two and a dozen donuts while you take a look! https://amzn.to/3jdnvTX" target="_blank">http://https://amzn.to/3jdnvTX
|Posted on July 8, 2020 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on July 6, 2020 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
The cover reveal for my first picture book is tomorrow July 7, 2020.
It's called SIR GRACE AND THE BIG BLIZZARD, and it was illustrated by the amazing Kjersten Niskanen! Stay tuned!!!
|Posted on March 15, 2020 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
To read or not to read, that is the question. After a lot of soul searching, I've decided to cancel my St. Patrick's Day reading at Taylor Books this Tuesday because of the coronavirus. Only a pandemic could keep me away!!! In the meantime, please order my books and any others you crave from http://www.taylorbooks.com/ and support this very cool independent bookstore. Maybe we can reschedule and have a St. Patrick's Day in July this year.
☘️ ☘️ ☘️ ☘️ ☘️ ☘️ ☘️
|Posted on December 30, 2019 at 11:30 PM||comments (0)|
Flashback to 2013
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The Silver Tattoo: an Interview with Laura Treacy Bentley by Zoe Ferraris
Between 2000 and 2004, I belonged to a writer's group, the Rogues, that had a dramatically positive influence on my writing. So it delights me to announce that this year, three of the writers from this group have books coming out. I am so proud of my fellow writers, knowing the work that has gone into their novels and the struggles everyone has faced to get their work published. Congratulations all!!
The first of these novels, Laura Bentley's The Silver Tattoo, has just been released. It's a literary thriller. Dark and brooding, its poetry forms vast, gorgeous and harrowing themes. It tells the story of Leah Howland, who is visiting Ireland to escape being caregiver to a comatose husband. She's been doing the martyred wife thing for too long, and she wants to start fresh. But the fog-bound, homey comforts of Dublin soon turn nasty when a stalker starts leaving his calling cards, and Leah finds she can't separate her own guilt and fears from the increasingly dangerous reality around her. With a magic realist edge, psychological suspense, and a true poet's eye for detail, this book delivers its frightening world in toto.
This is Laura's first novel. She is also a poet with an impressive list of accomplishments, including some serious recognition from Oprah, and a published book of poetry, Lake Effect. She's accomplished enough for Ray Bradbury to exclaim: "Laura Bentley, I dub thee poet supreme."
I think that poetry and thrillers are secretly kissing cousins, and this is deeply true about Laura's work. For this post, I asked her to answer some questions about the book, the writing, and what it was like making the leap from poetry to novels.
Tell us about the inspirations for this book. Was it a single moment of experience or a build-up of ideas?
A poem or a story often begins with a particular image for me. In the case of The Silver Tattoo, I had taken a magical photo of a busker on Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland, back in 2000, and it lingered in my mind, kept pulling me back to that enchantment. It eventually became the genesis for the opening chapter. The scene had some foreboding to it, so I started thinking in terms of a mystery or thriller and discovered what the “rules” were for those genres.
I always take many photos when I go to Ireland and keep detailed journals, so I was doing research without really realizing that one day I would create a novel. Another image that was powerful and breathtaking was The Cliffs of Moher. I was writer in residence for a month on the West Coast and stayed near The Cliffs, often walking there every day. The majestic cliffs, the surging ocean below, and the stunning beauty and intensity of this Eighth Wonder of the World got into my blood. So some key scenes from my novel take place at The Cliffs.
This is a dark literary thriller, and I can see how the thriller genre might appeal to a poet. There are a lot of short, focused scenes. Plot-wise, you could almost write a thriller as a series of poems. But I'd like to know why you were drawn to this genre?
It’s back to the idea of image again, and I think a literary thriller suits me. It values character-driven stories and plot-driven ones---a literary page-turner. Since poetry is literary and I’m a poet by nature, this genre combines my love of vivid scenes and compelling plots. I want to enter the landscape of a book, mine or others, and feel like I’m there. I also like to include “short focused scenes” in my work to change the pace or slow down a scene into a tableau of image before moving back into the stream of action.
I’ve recently come to the realization that many of my favorite books are written by triple-threat authors. That is, they write poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Margaret Atwood, Truman Capote, Jill Bialosky, William Golding, Stephen Dobyns, and Sylvia Plath, among many others, are all remarkable triple threats. And, of course, Ray Bradbury was a quadruple threat: poetry, short stories, novels, plays, and more!
Do you approach your writing in the same way as your poetry? (i.e. Do you follow the same writing habits?) And what are those habits?
My poetry is often created from a journal entry where I have rapidly sketched a moment or a feeling. I can spend days, weeks, months, or years on one poem and the same holds true for fiction. My writing habits are different when I write fiction, though, because it becomes much more expansive.
I discovered that I could write the draft of a novel in a month last November during NanoWrimo (thanks, Chris Baty!). It’s a mess right now and waiting to be revised, but the story came pouring out of me. It was gratifying and scary to set that challenge for myself.
How long did it take you to finish The Silver Tattoo?
I had a very rough draft after a year or so in 2003 or 2004, and then I was lucky to have some early interest from agents. I’d revised for one and then another. Each time the story got stronger, and I was hungry for feedback and acted on the insightful comments and critique. It was a long rugged journey of hope, despair, joy, and depression. I’d stay up late at night sometimes for weeks revising and polishing. Finally in 2008 I had two agents interested in representing my novel, and I decided to sign with Foundry Literary & Media. I revised once more for a little over a year before it went out on submission. My wonderful former agent Kendra Jenkins worked intensely with me and championed my novel.
Can you describe your relationship with Ray Bradbury, who has been such an amazing supporter and mentor?
My friendship with Ray began in 1993 when I sent him a heartfelt fan letter, and he wrote back. That began our long correspondence, sharing books we liked, poems, cartoons, good times and bad. The first time I sent him one of my poems, he wrote "Send it somewhere (The New Yorker? The American Scholar?) to be printed!" His enthusiasm was contagious. He used exclamation marks more than me, and I loved that about him. His letters were always signed with an exclamation mark: "Love! Ray," and I've kept all of our correspondence, emails, and Christmas poems that he wrote each year and shared with his friends.
He introduced me to Eureka Literary Magazine and its editor, Loren Logsdon, who published a number of my poems. And, to Redbud Magazine, which published my longest poem on record which is a wild tribute to Ray. It’s called “Rendezvous with Ray Bradbury.” I got the idea after reading Margaret Atwood’s great tribute poem to Raymond Chandler.
In 2003, we did a wondrous poetry reading in Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. He suggested that the four readers, including Ray and I, read their poetry Round Robin. Ray Bradbury’s support and encouragement affected every aspect of my life as a writer. He was a mentor. An inspiration. A life force. He made me feel that what I wrote was important. His zest for life was contagious, and he always let me know that he believed in me. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Thank you, Laura! For more information on the author and her books, check her out on Goodreads, Facebook or Twitter.
Zoe Ferraris at 8:58 PM
Laura Treacy BentleyJune 5, 2013 at 7:56 AM
Thank you so much, Zoe!!!
Cat PleskaJune 5, 2013 at 8:53 AM
Phil St. ClairNovember 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM
Great interview! Ray Bradbury was such an influence on me back in the day . . .
Laura Treacy BentleyDecember 21, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Thanks, Phil. Zoe asks such great questions! I know that Ray Bradbury influenced millions of us around the world, and his words and ideas will live on. I miss him every day.
My debut novel, Finding Nouf, (published as Night of the Mi'raj in the UK) and a follow-up novel, City of Veils, have been published in over thirty countries. My third novel, Kingdom of Strangers, came out in June 2012.
|Posted on April 6, 2019 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on December 8, 2018 at 10:20 AM||comments (0)|
I've been meaning to post this interview on my blog for months. So, here it is. Cat Pleska, noted writer, is interviewing me at the Culture Center in Charleston, West Virginia, for her first episode of "WV Author" with Cat as the new host: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8yilGg23R-4
|Posted on February 4, 2018 at 1:30 PM||comments (1)|
|Posted on August 15, 2017 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on July 20, 2017 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
Enter to win a free signed copy from Goodreads of Looking For Ireland: An Irish-Appalachian Pilgrimage by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/2tPMu51
|Posted on June 9, 2017 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
I am delighted to be a featured writer at "More Than Words" in Hurricane, West Virginia, at 6pm on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at Hidden Creek Mercantile. Come join us!
|Posted on March 9, 2017 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
Mountain State Press, Inc., announces their latest publication: Looking For Ireland: An Irish-Appalachian Pilgrimage by Laura Treacy Bentley. http://www.mountainstatepress.org/
Both a chapbook and a work of art, her book creates a seamless alchemy of elegant poems and stunning photographs. The 48-page collection “... reveal[s] fresh landscapes of thought and feeling. In our rushed and muddled world, Bentley's meditative poems are like breathing spaces—elegant, clarifying, assured.” --- Julia Keller, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sorrow Road.
"You are holding in your hand a thing of beauty. Here, indeed, Laura Treacy Bentley makes 'words flicker like flame.' The imagery of the poems is married to stunning photographs forming a perfect balance. You will be taken seamlessly on a visual and poetic journey from Appalachia to Ireland, 'to the fuchsia that bleeds on Inish Mor' and 'Blackbirds seed the summer clouds' and back again. This is a work of art that achieves what the poet/photographer strives for, 'to capture wild beauty before it takes flight.'" ---Tony O'Dwyer, co-editor of Crannog magazine (Galway, Ireland)
The official release of Looking For Ireland: An Irish-Appalachian Pilgrimage is March 11, at River & Rail Bakery in Huntington, WV, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Looking For Ireland is now available on Amazon!
|Posted on February 4, 2017 at 7:45 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on September 23, 2016 at 10:55 AM||comments (0)|
I was recently interviewed on Geosi Reads. Take a look!
|Posted on June 10, 2016 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|