Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pheaturing Patricia Cox

Hello, welcome to the Phile, how are you? Congratulations to China. They now have the world’s fastest computer. Just imagine what they could do if their people were allowed on the Internet. America still leads the way in the important areas. Paper goods giant Kimberly-Clark will soon start selling tubeless toilet paper. The new Brazilian president is planning to visit the United States soon. A word of advice: Skip Arizona. They premiered Justin Bieber’s new music video before a baseball game. If there’s anything that says “America’s national pastime,” it’s a Canadian teenage mop-head. Although many of her Republican colleagues were elected to the House, Christine O’Donnell ended up underneath it, with her feet curled up. The Democrats lost the House. Big deal, a lot of Americans lost their houses. Why shouldn’t they? Did you watch the World Series? After the Giants won the World Series, they had a riot in San Francisco, overturning Priuses and lighting clean-burning bonfires. Charlie Sheen filed for divorce from his wife. I guess he finally had enough of her shenanigans. Martin Sheen, the father of Charlie Sheen, is reportedly having a family intervention in Ireland. I’m sorry? They’re sending an alcoholic to Ireland? That’s like sending Lindsay Lohan to Bogota, Colombia. Well, tomorrow my son is gonna be 11 years old, and as he is growing up we are getting rid of some of his baby stuff. I looked through his books and couldn't believe he had this Dr. Seuss one.

And it was eleven years ago when I found my first inspirational poster. Check it out.

And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Ten Signs You're At A Bad Halloween Party
10. You have to bring your own boos.
9. You burned your face bobbing for French Fries.
8. Everyone came as Bob Dole.
7. Clown is wearing sensible shoes.
6. Jack O'Lantern looks an awful lot like Ted Williams.
5. The guy delivering pizza wins scariest costume.
4. Instead of candy corn, bowls of creamed corn.
3. The wolfman is just some guy with a 5 o'clock shadow.
2. Invite arrives via text message from Brett Favre.
And the number one sign you are at a bad Halloween party...
1. 2,041 feet below ground level and lasts 69 days.

Maurice Lucas
February 8, 1952 - October 31, 2010
They called him "The Greatest Portland Trailblazer of all time", which is kinda like being called "The greatest taco chef of all time".

Today's guest is the author of the 10th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club. "Ramblings" is a collection of short stories, most of which were originally written for competition in The Amazing Instant Novelist on many years ago. Please welcome to the Phile... Patricia Cox.

Me: Hello, Patricia, welcome to the Phile. And congrats, your book is the 10th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club. How are you?

Patricia: Thank you, Jason. I’m just phine – a little amazed that I’m being interviewed as an author, but I am liking the idea.

Me: You live in Arizona, right? You are not originally from there though, right? What made you move out West?

Patricia: I'm originally from Rhode Island, but my heart was always out west. Hey, I love sunshine, hot weather, tequila and siestas - where else should I be? I grew up watching westerns on television, reading novels of the west, and wishing for a horse! As soon as my son was grown up, I decided it was time to make my move. I had investigated Colorado and New Mexico, but in 1988 I went to Arizona for a vacation, and an hour away from the airport I announced, “This is my home.” Two years later I was back. My first home here was on a horse ranch, and outside my living room window the view was cactus and mountains and a beautiful rocky butte that turned a luminous rose color at sunset. Heaven.

Me: You have been writing for a long time, Patricia, am I right? But "Ramblings" is your first published book, right?

Patricia: I have been writing pretty much all my life, from a diary as a child to beginning a novel in the 7th grade. I’ve had a few personal essays published and worked for a short time for a weekly newspaper here in Cave Creek, writing mostly feature stories. Since I am in public affairs with the federal government, I spend my days writing speeches, PowerPoint presentations, brochures, newsletters, and press releases. For a few years, I had a side business interviewing people and writing their life stories for them. It was called "I Remember When, Personal Biography Service. I eventually wrote five "autobiographies" that way. So you could say they were my first published books. But “Ramblings” is the first book I’ve published that I’ve put out there for public consumption and with my own name on it. It’s a little scary!

Me: Are you working on any other books? Or a novel?

Patricia: I am working on several novels. I still have that first one I started 20 years ago and plan to someday finish. I put it aside when I realized I didn't know what I was doing, and started learning how to write fiction. Since then, I’ve just about finished one titled “Chasm Creek” that I’ve been working on for 15 years. I’m going through it right now for a final polish, and then hope to get an agent. It’s set in the 1880’s Arizona Territory (of course). During breaks from working on “Chasm Creek,” I’ve worked on other ideas. I’ve completed a first draft of a novel, also 1880, set in Prescott, Arizona Territory. And I’ve started one that is based on the pioneer life of Sarah Ashurst, who was the mother of one of the first Senators from Arizona I wish I could write all the time, but I also have to pay the mortgage so I have that full-time job.

Me: By the way, Peverett Ramblings was one of the names the Phile was going to be called. Explain to the Phile readers what your book is about.

Patricia: "Ramblings" is a good title for stuff that has no rhyme or reason, right? What else could I call it, when it really is just me, rambling. It's a little book (98 pages) of short stories, some of them super-short (a page and a half). When I was first learning how to write fiction, I got into the Writers' Club on AOL. They had a contest called The Amazing Instant Novelist. Each week, they announced a topic and then you could submit your short stories, either 250 words or 1,000 words. I found it to be a wonderful exercise in self-editing and being succinct. Who would think you could tell a complete story in 250 words? But you can! So "Ramblings" is mostly a compilation of some of those entries, plus a few other things thrown in.

Me: It's cool how you stated to write those stories for an AOL competition. I was going to take part to, but never did. You won a few times, right?

Patricia: Surprisingly, yes, I did win a few times. The 250-word stories that are in "Ramblings" were all winners, and I think that's what gave me the confidence to actually let people read them! It was encouraging, and I've spent 20 years now learning how to write fiction: critique groups, workshops, classes, writers' conferences, and writing and writing and writing. When I looked at those stories again recently, they still seemed pretty good.

Me: Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Patricia: Well, some of the stories in "Ramblings" were suggested by the AIN contest, but others come into my head different ways. Sometimes I hear a piece of a conversation, or I see people behaving a certain way, or I read a headline in the newspaper, and there's a story there. The best thing is when it just falls into your head. I know that sounds crazy, and I think it only happens when people are actively writing, so they are receptive and they've been thinking about the writing. For instance, a new last chapter for "Chasm Creek" literally just fell into my head one day as I was driving up to Prescott. I got to my friend's house and had to run inside and beg for a pen and paper so I could get it down! And most of the plot for the novel set in 1880s Prescott, AZ came the same way. I guess I should go on long drives more often...

Me: You must really like writing fiction, Patricia.

Patricia: It's like a drug. You start out feeling like a god: you create these people, you create their world, you put them in it and then you decide what happens to them. What power! But after a while, you find out you're not in charge at all, and they start telling you what will happen. The carefully crafted plot goes out the window, two characters morph into one, someone dies who wasn't supposed to. It's out of control! I used to hear authors talk about that and think they were nuts. I guess it is nuts, but now I know what it feels like. And it's really, really hard.

Me: Do you have any authors that you are fans of, or influenced by?

Patricia: You could say I was most influenced by James Michener, only because I read an article about him many years ago in which he explained that it took him a minimum of three years to write a novel: one year to draft it, another year researching, another year polishing. Up until then, I thought authors sat down to write and out came something like "Hawaii," a finished product! Seeing that it wasn't magic, that hard work could do it, made me think I might be able to. My favorite book for a long time was "Gone With the Wind," but now I have too many favorites, too many authors that I'm a fan of. But I will say that Larry McMurtry is a god. Oh, but so is Charles Frasier ("Cold Mountain"), oh and so is Cormac McCarthy and so is... !!!

Me: I am guessing you are a fan of Douglas Addams, am I right?

Patricia: Ha ha ha! Why do you say that? (Where's my towel, I'm outta here...) I would like to write that kind of humor. Humor is the hardest thing! It's easier to make people cry than laugh. I admire anybody who can write something that makes me laugh. I'm a great fan of Mr. Beeblebrox - I like his attitude. He IS the most important person in the Universe! And wasn't Sam Rockwell just perfect in the movie?

Me: I have to ask you about the cover of the book, a horses backside. Where did that picture come from and what made you choose that as a cover.

Patricia: Oh dear. Okay, I designed that cover myself from a picture I took in Monument Valley, a Navajo Tribal park on the Arizona/Utah line. I wanted to use the horse, but he was grazing, and that didn't look "rambly" to me, so I cut off his head and thought it would look like he was "rambling" off the cover. Since then several people have asked why I put a horse's ass on my book cover.

Me: Patricia, tell the Phile readers where they can check out the book and purchase it.

Patricia: I'd be happy to, thanks! It's available via, you can go there and click on "bookstore" and then search for "Patricia Cox" and it will come right up. Or just go here:

Me: So, when is your next book coming out?

Patricia: If I decide to self-publish again, "Chasm Creek" should be ready before the end of the year. My plan (my hope, my prayer...), though, is to find an agent and go with a traditional publisher. In the meantime, though, I'll probably put it on blurb so my friends and relatives won't have to wait that long. There are a lot of people who have listened to me talk about this for years and years, and they would probably like to see some results.

Me: Patricia, thanks for being on the Phile. I wish you lots of luck and when your novel comes out, you are welcomed back to the Phile. Take care.

Patricia: No, thank YOU, Jason! I'll look forward to coming back! You take care, too.

Well, that about does it for another entry. Thanks to Patricia for a great interview and for letting her book be pheatured in the PPBC and Terry Scholle for hooking the interview up. Next week I will have the announcement of the 11th book to be pheatured. And next week's guest is Inara George from The Bird And The Bee. Thanks for reading, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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