I’d like to welcome my guest, Alan Toback, on my blog today. Alan has written over 120 poems and 9 stories, many of which are published in anthologies, the latest being a non-fiction self-help writing book. In that book, he has devoted an entire chapter on poetry and included some of his poems in the book as well.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about your background?
Alan: Well, I’m 70 years young, married and disabled since 1977 (a stroke). I had a bad upbringing, quitting high school at the age of 16. My years in the work force included 44 years in retail, customer service and five of those years as a Stockbroker. I now regret that never finished school…
Katie: You have written quite a bit of poetry and a few short stories. How and where do you find publishers for your poetry?
Alan: I usually do a search on Google, looking for contests places to publish and just interesting sites. There are so many sites to view, each having its own requirements. If you’re serious about wanting your work in print, submit, the submit some more!
Katie: Can you tell us how you entered the realm of writing for anthologies?
Alan: Again, this was a chance to get published. I am on a fixed budget so to pay ‘reading fees’ is not available to me. But I love writing even if it is not published.
Katie: I see that your latest contributions to an anthology are included in “The Muse on Writing” published in 2007. Tell us more about how you got connected with the persons creating the anthology.
Alan: I came across an invitation to join a new writing critique club online, the “Museitup Club.” I had never belonged to a writing group before, so it intrigued me. Lea Schizas from Canada started the club, and has since been a wonderful mentor to others and me. The first major project we did was to put together a book of non-fiction, “How To Write.” It comprised of seventeen published authors and myself, each with their own expertise. I also was asked to place some of my poetry in the book, as my chapter was devoted to Poetry. The book is called, “The Muse On Writing” ISBN# 1-55404-317-4
Katie: Do you plan on writing poetry for more anthologies? Short stories for anthologies?
Alan: I write when the muse comes to me. If an opportunity arises, it surely will be thought over completely.
Katie: You have mentioned that you are presently working on a full-length novel. What as led you to the idea of writing a full novel and away from poetry?
Alan: Well, the story that I am presently working on started out as a short piece. But then the characters became too involved and wanted to go off on a tangent, which would require a lot more work. I fought them, begged them, but, alas, they were too persuasive. Now I’ve decided to end this suspense/murder story, but I am thinking of a sequel to it. It really needs one. The characters are happy now!
Katie: What kind of challenges are you facing in writing a novel as opposed to writing poetry?
Alan: My expertise has never put its muse into that large an endeavor. My health issues come into play, as well. But I guess the story must go on. It is a driving force that is hard to stop.
Katie: Do you have a critique group that you work with regarding your poetry? Your novel? Why or why not?
Alan: Not at present. I’m very open for any help that is given. I certainly don’t/won’t yell at anyone for their thoughts/comments, but use what I can from them, and it is all greatly appreciated.
Katie: For those authors who are looking to break into writing for anthologies, what three pieces of advice would you give them?
Alan: First, take your time in deciding if that is the road you want to go. Second, make sure it’s a bonafide publisher with lots of readership, and third, get exposure wherever/whenever you can.
Katie: Here's a copy of his poem, "Hungering Soul."
Oh, Lord, save me from the evils of stress
You raised your arms
So heavy from the earthly trials of duress
I humbly bow to your will and kindness of heart
Never again to go through life
Without your love is a place to start
God, I need you to hear
My spoken words are not always clear
I am trusting that you understand me
That all I am is because of thee
My life I humbly leave in your hands
The hungering soul within graciously stands
But, my Lord, I do have questions of thee
I have never known how to ask you
“Why has my life been as such?”
Those words are thoughts deep within me
I do not ask the age old “why”
It’s just my very soul that sometimes cries
This hunger of my soul foreshadows dreams of old
Wanting and searching this earthly presence of Thee
For a sign or a word not spoken by voice
I go forward in this life you gave me
My purpose is your choice
Katie: Thanks, Alan for being a guest on my blog today! You can learn more about Alan’s poetry at allpoetry.com.