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Interview With An Author: Dale M. Kushner

In our Interview With An Author series, Writer’s Relief asks professional writers to share their tried-and-true secrets for publishing success.

Dale M. Kushner

Dale M. Kushner serves as Poetry Editor for The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. Her poetry collection, More Alive Than Lions Roaring, was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award. The Conditions of Love, her debut novel, was nominated for the ALA-TLA Lariat Award for Outstanding Adult Fiction in 2013. The paperback edition was released May 5, 2014.

CONTEST: Leave a comment or a question for Dale below by June 11, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her book, The Conditions of Love! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, M Quick! Thank you to all who participated!

What motivational techniques have best served you on your journey to success?

1. For inspiration when stuck: Have a set of books you love nearby—poetry, fiction, cartoons, spiritual writing—authors whose work you admire but who don’t intimidate you. Open the books randomly, sit in stillness, and read for 15–30 minutes. BE A READER.

2. Have a sangha, the Buddhist word for a place of refuge. Cultivate a group of friends who love and support you and who understand the challenges of your writing life. Make sure you can belly laugh with them too. A good minute of belly laughing does wonders for the creative spark.

3. If schedules and deadlines help but don’t feel like too much pressure, use them. Sometimes a more general deadline is helpful: I’ll finish X amount of writing by the end of summer. If deadlines make you nervous, simply consider how you can keep the project alive in your mind and move it forward each week, perhaps by doing research, or thinking about a character.

4. Go on a retreat—for a day, a week, or longer. Give yourself a chance to be with your writing—and your writing only. And don’t consider this a luxury but a necessity!

5. Investigate how you can sustain hope and faith in your work. Be open and curious about where your instincts lead you.

What was the biggest stumbling block or frustration for you so far, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest stumbling block was—and still is—figuring out how to balance my domestic and creative selves. In my experience, the work takes everything, demands every bit of attention you will give it; but so do relationships. I haven’t overcome this challenge because my writing and my relationships are crucial and integral aspects of my being. What I say to myself when I am not writing as much as I’d like is that, as a writer, nothing in my life is wasted. Every experience goes into the compost heap that nourishes a new bloom.

Fill in the blank. Rejection is _____

…a new opportunity in disguise.

How do you keep your muse in shape?

My muse loves to hang out with animals. I miss terribly my dog, Carmelita, who cracked me up at least twice a day with her comic antics. Animals bring out our soulfulness and are wisdom teachers in the arts of necessity and humility.

My muse also loves discovering new and exciting authors. I read poetry as much as possible. In assessing every human condition, poets have been there first.

What’s your best piece of advice for getting published?

Write about what truly interests you. Forget about audience, sales, all those external markers. Let your passion and a spirit of inquiry be your guides.

More About The Conditions of Loveconditionsoflove1

Can this wise, funny, quirky, poignant novel really be Dale Kushner’s debut? She got everything just right—characters who you will never forget and a palpable yearning for love that you will feel in your gut. Bravo!
Ann Hood, author of The Obituary Writer

In The Conditions of Love Dale Kushner portrays with wonderful empathy a young girl’s journey toward adulthood. Kushner has an amazing sense of character… An immaculately written, enthralling and passionate debut. Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

With her debut novel, The Conditions of Love, poet Dale M. Kushner has created a layered examination of love in all its forms and how it impacts and shapes one girl in the late 1950s and early 1960s from childhood to maturity…The Conditions of Love is…a stunningly self-assured novel for a debut, and it leaves the reader hoping that Kushner will write a second. Josh Mallory, Bookreporter (Read the full review here.)

Read more about Dale on her website and on her Facebook page.

CONTEST: Leave a comment or a question for Dale below by June 11, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her book, The Conditions of Love! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, M Quick! Thank you to all who participated!

6 Responses to Interview With An Author: Dale M. Kushner

  1. Mariecor! Thanks for your astute comment. Rejuvenation and love. Especially love of the work, which can get dicey when one pushes too hard for too long. I think of the white spaces in poems. A lot happens in the silence. So too, a lot happens in our writing when we are relaxed and looking the other way. But don’t I know, easier said than done!

  2. HI M Quick,
    You’ve asked such good questions, ones that make me think beyond quick answers. It’s interesting you use the word “passion” in your first question. For myself, I would say, I began to write fiction out of a desire to find words, sentences, paragraphs–a story!–for which I did not yet have words. Something was pressing from inside me to be expressed and my desire took the form of opening myself to finding out what that was. Characters arrived and in turn showed a very strong desire to tell me THEIR stories. I listened and let them speak. It wasn’t until I wrote and rewrote and rewrote again that I began to think about publishing. And I think this is a good way to keep from frightening oneself with all the “what ifs.” At a certain moment, we just know when it’s time to send something out and to become public with our work. But there’s no right or wrong about how or when do venture forth.
    I believe print books will be with us for some time. Amen!
    Hope I’ve answered your questions.

  3. Lovely tips — they all seem to center around rejuvenation (which, not surprisingly, enhances love, too!), which is wonderful! Thanks so much for the article! Would love a copy of the book, too!

  4. Hi Dale,
    Was writing your first passion? How do you push yourself from loving your work, to actually breaking barriers to publish? Do you think print production will someday be lost?
    I look forward to continued reading of your words! Thanks.

  5. Agreed, Chelle! I like what Ron Carlson says in his very helpful book, Ron Carlson Tells A Story. Writers are the ones who stay in the room. Excellent advice.
    Thanks for reinforcing that.

  6. I agree wholeheartedly that writers should forget all the external nonsense and they should just write. There is plenty of time to “worry” about everything else during the editing stages. Write and get those words on paper (or on your computer, lol) – just write.

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