Interview with Alfred J. Garrotto |
by Carol Smallwood

Alfred J. Garrotto grew up in Santa Monica, CA. At the age of seven, he worked as a stand-in for Robert Blake in The Thin Man film series and appeared (briefly) in Universal Studios’ Butch Minds the Baby. At 10, he went into sales, hawking peanuts and soft drinks on the beach. With that theatrical and business background, he entered the Catholic priesthood. A mid-life career change triggered his professional writing life. He recently published his eleventh book, There’s More: A Novella of Life and Afterlife. He is now writing the screenplay.

1. Please describe your website and your duties as editor/writer.

I currently maintain three personal websites. My primary personal page is This site features and promotes my published writing (six novels and a novella, plus four nonfiction works). My favorite and most active site is The Wisdom of Les Miserables: In Search of Practical Wisdom for Everyday Living (see link below). This site is inspired by Victor Hugo’s classic 19th Century novel. I also maintain a dedicated site for my sixth novel, The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story.

2. Tell us about your career.

I did not write professionally (for pay and publication) during the 18 years of my ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. However, I had collected tons of material from workshops and seminars I conducted. I organized some of this material into a three-volume nonfiction series (Adult to Adult) and sold them immediately to Winston Press, Minneapolis, MN. Buoyed by my early success, I launched into long fiction with a romantic tale titled A Love Forbidden. A sobering eight years later, it was finally published in Canada as a mass market paperback novel. I followed that dim success with six more novels and a nonfiction work of personal reflections on life and everyday wisdom, inspired by my passion for Les Miserables and its main protagonist (The Wisdom of Les Miserables: Lessons From the Heart of Jean Valjean). My most recent book (2014), There’s More: A Novella of Life and Afterlife, has been well received (to date, all 5-star reviews on

3. Which recognitions/achievements have encouraged you the most?

I am not a New York Times bestselling author. Nor have my books won any awards. For encouragement, I rely on readers and reviewers who report that my stories are well told, my characters real enough to jump off the page, and my style of writing such that the pages keep turning. Less or more important (I’m not sure which) is my sense that I am getting better at my craft with each new book I publish.

4. What writers have influenced you the most?

Victor Hugo has had the greatest influence on my writing. Not that I can ever come close to his brilliance and spiritual insight. My “patron saints” are Jean Valjean and Bishop Charles Francois Myriel, Bishop of Digne. In many ways, they inhabit my writing, even to the point of taking over, as they did in both The Wisdom of Les Miserables (nonfiction) and There’s More (a novella). In this latter work, the bishop made it clear to me that he wanted to narrate the story about a big league pitcher who dies when struck by a batted ball during the World Series. -- I admire Ann Patchett (Bel Canto is a novel I wish I had written). I like Ken Follett’s ability to write in epic form and style, which I cannot. I recently  read all three volumes of his 20th Century Trilogy (3,000 pages). Other favorite novelists include Jussi Adler-Olson and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

5. How has the Internet benefited you?

Being primarily an Indie author for the last 10 years, I rely on the Internet as my chief marketing tool. Amazon is my most productive marketing site, with nearly worldwide distribution. My e-books are also on Smashwords (with expanded distribution). With my blog and two other personal websites to maintain, I feel maxed out, because I still have a full-time day/night job.

6. What classes have helped you the most?

I must confess that I have very little formal training in the literary arts. My most helpful instruction in the craft of writing over the last 18 years has come from workshop leaders and speakers sponsored by the historic California Writers Club. Added to this, I have soaked up the wisdom of fellow CWC members, who collectively possess an abundance of experience and expertise in every aspect of publication. After 11 books, I am still learning and looking for ways to become more proficient in my craft.

7. What advice would you give others?

Since writing book-length fiction is a daunting writing adventure, I’d like to address first-time novelists. Often, writers must make a choice—write what’s in your heart, chase what is currently hot, or try to divine what might be the “next hot thing,” by the time you finish writing your book. Make whatever choice you wish, then give it everything you’ve got. Set your imagination free and sit your bottom in a chair. Work as long as it takes to get the book written, edited, proofed, and published. Most of all, enjoy the process of story building. Have fun watching your characters blossom and grow. Sit back in awe when they take over and surprise you in ways that are nothing short of mystical.

8. What is your favorite quotation?

Bishop Charles Francois Myriel to Jean Valjean: “Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man . . . . Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!” – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Fantine, Book Second: The Fall, Chapter XII: The Bishop at Work


Connect with Alfred J. Garrotto:

The Interviewer: Carol Smallwood's most recent books include Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences (Lamar University Press, 2014); Divining the Prime Meridian (WordTech Communications, 2015); and Writing After Retirement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). Carol has founded, supports humane societies.

The swish of her hips in anger |
by Raymond Thomas

The swish of her hips in anger
Becomes a prelude to seduction
Her furtive stride across the alley
Pulls her clothes tighter around her body
Which then flows back into momentary relaxation
Playing hide and seek with her privacy
She is beautiful in that disreputable way
Urgently whispering as she tugs my hand
Don’t want the church ladies to know
We closed the bar on Sunday morn
She is the incarnation of the women
Love songs warn against
And in that moment, I love her  
Love her all that morning
Until she leaves me, for church
Lord, I do not believe
But I do thank you
for this morning in the alley
Where sin is beauty
And mixed with love and laughter

Raymond Thomas was born in Guyana. He received his PhD in Chemistry at Texas A&M and now works in industry. He resides in Lockport, NY where he enjoys the four seasons, writes short stories and poetry. 

Review of Christine Redman-Waldeyer's "Writing After Retirement" |
by Aline Soules

If there’s one thing this book proves, it’s that retired persons are as productive or more productive than they have ever been and retirement is a myth.  As Lynne Davis writes in her piece “What Shall I write Today?”—“In retirement, I write what I want to write.”  Every author in this book has chosen a writing life as all or part of the new life they have created after “retiring” from formal careers in as many different careers are there authors in the book.

The book is divided into four sections:  Starting In, Practical Aspects, Finding Your Niche, and Publication and Marketing.  Every section, however, is filled with down-to-earth, practical ideas and suggestions to help any reader find his or her writing life. 

The common denominators in this book, in addition to the practical, are that these writers have chosen a writing life to which they bring a lifetime of experiences, personal dedication and discipline, a desire to write (not necessarily a desire to “have written,” that is, to see their name in print), and a deep passion to do this work well.

In “Starting In,” the authors cover the solitary life of writing, the need for community and how to create one, and the value of college courses, workshops, conferences, and so on.  One author writes about “Following Dreams Put on Hold,” and his transition from technical writing (purposely emotionless) to creative and fictional writing (purposely filled with emotion).  Other writers in this section write about inspiration, and finding or creating a writing “place.”

The shortest section, “Practical Aspects,” focuses on the infrastructure a writer needs, along with the “nuts and bolts” of writing.  There is even a pieces on estate planning for authors.  Who knew that plans should be made over royalties, artistic control, unfinished manuscripts, and one’s online presence?  Other authors in this section provide practical suggestions on forming or joining writers’ groups, taking advantage of the public library, combining multiple passions such as writing and volunteerism, and the business of publishing.

“Finding Your Niche” explores the many directions writing can take and the many outlets available.  In today’s world, there are traditional genres and routes, but there are also other avenues, such as blogging, grant writing, compiling an anthology, memoir, submitting to magazines, and so on.  A key piece in this section is Lynn Goodwin’s “My Niche, My Way.” Goodwin retired to take care of her aging and dying mother, a process that could have been incredibly limiting.  Instead, Goodwin ended up writing Journaling for Caregivers and building a network through the Internet to other writers.  Through her own website, Writer Advice, she provides writers with community, offers online classes, edits, and promotes authors.  She writes of being “technically retired,” but she is clearly a going concern, fully engaged, fully busy, and clearly forging her own path in the writing life.

In “Publication and Marketing,” authors write about their individual experiences within their specific genres.  All of them are organized, manage time well, are flexible and able to work with editors, and run writing as a business, which it is.  This business is not for the faint-hearted.  As with other authors in this book, they engage with others writers through conferences and other means, ensuring that they have a community.  Further, they write about the importance of a “platform,” and online presence that past authors didn’t need to consider.  

There is something for everyone in this book, but above all, it’s practical, down-to-earth, and sensible.  It opens the mind to new paths from the traditional to online, to different genres, and to new approaches to the writing life.  Regardless of the variety of offerings in this book, however, two key points remain critical.  Writers have to write and writers must persist.  If you love it, as many of us do, it’s worth every character on the page.

Aline Soules

Let it go... |
by Broteen Biswas

The flow is perennial but the source is unknown
In its depth  memories lie alone
Mingling with us to bind us in its current
Enriching us all with the its ebb and flow

Finding its way through the barrier of habits
Littered with prejudices and sadness that inhabits
Insidious in nature carrying an ingenuous truth
Etching our lives and honing our souls
Snatching our identity to make us infinite.

Broteen Biswas pursued a bachelor's in Information Technology degree from NIT DURGAPUR and is now working as an associate software engineer. He is an avid reader and a big football fan.

Time |
by Nikita Parik

Blood Moons, winter romances, SongsOnAClothesline

W a S h E d A w A y

In a Monsoon Minute,
But then,
Time ALWAYS was

The incorrigible flirt, wasn't it?

May be that's just how it

n't :

For Can you not
Measure 'distance'
 In symphonies; 'Change'
In philosophical shifts;
And 'life'
In metaphors borrowed and spent?

For Time
will ALWAYS be

The incorrigible flirt. :-)

 Nikita Parik is a 22 year old poet from Calcutta, India. She holds a bachelors degree in English from the University of Calcutta, and is currently pursuing Masters in Linguistics from the same. Her works have appeared in The Commonline Journal, Blackmail Press, Contemporary Literary Review India (CLRI), eFiction India, A Billion Stories, among others, and she awaits publication in Ann Arbor
Review: An International Journal Of Poetry.

wound |
by Jake Tringali

her head in
her hands
her head in
a metal box
her head in
a faberge egg
delicate needles and spindles
whirring, warming
steam puffs past
clockwork brain overclocked
micron gears, levers
clicking, speeding
the perfectly lathed piston
balanced on air
    cracks hairline
subtle, minute, and utterly effective
her head
hangs low
her hands in
her lap


Jake Tringali was born in Boston.  He has lived up and down the East Coast, then up and down the West Coast, and is now back in his home city.  He runs rad restaurants.  He thrives in a habitat of bars, punk rock shows, and a sprinkling of burlesque performers. He has been published in The Manhattanville Review and Oddball Magazine.