Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Post and Excerpt by Steven Manchester

Today I will be featuring a guest post about the writing process by Steven Manchester, author of Twelve Months and Goodnight, Brian along with an excerpt of Goodnight, Brian.

My Writing Process
by Steven Manchester

I suppose I discovered the writing world by accident – or perhaps it discovered me.
I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d finally done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?”
Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.

I’d written a lot at my job (report writing), but it all started with my college professor’s challenge. Perhaps because of my age and experience, I understood right away that writing is a craft that takes time to evolve; to mature, so I spent the next several years PRACTICING my chosen craft. Under the pen name, Steven Herberts, I wrote in every venue of print I could get my name in: newspaper, magazine, etc. I also penned two collections of poetry, and wrote drafts for two more books. After five solid years of writing, I finally believed that I’d found my voice; MY STYLE – and was ready to contact an agent.

The greatest challenge for me has been time. First and foremost, I am a dad and my children come first. After that, there are other responsibilities that need my attention. Yet, my passion to write has constantly gnawed at my soul. To overcome the obstacle of time, I made writing a priority over watching TV and sometimes even sleeping. Once my family is taken care of and the world closes its eyes, I’m up for a few more hours each day – chasing my dreams on paper.

It has taken thousands of words, hundreds of pages, before I finally identified with a particular genre. I decided that my voice was a more sensitive one: a male perspective to a female audience. My novels, Twelve Months and Goodnight, Brian are evidence of that.

Goodnight, Brian synopsis:
Fate was working against little Brian Mauretti. The food that was meant to nourish him was poisoning him instead, and the doctors said the damage was devastating and absolute. Fate had written off Brian. But fate didn’t count on a woman as determined as Brian’s grandmother, Angela DiMartino – who everyone knew as Mama. Loving her grandson with everything she had, Mama endeavored to battle fate. Fate had no idea what it was in for.

An emotional tale about the strength of family bonds, unconditional love, and the perseverance to do our best with the challenging gifts we receive, Goodnight, Brian is an uplifting tribute to what happens when giving up is not an option.

Early Reviews include:
“Steven Manchester has a gift for expressing through his writing the complicated and transcendent beauty of the human experience with poignant clarity.” – Yolanda King, eldest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King

“Steven Manchester’s Goodnight, Brian is a poignant, inspiring story about resilience and faith and one family’s enduring love that should be a model for us all.” – James S. Hirsch, bestselling author, Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

“Steven has once again proven his deep insight into human emotions and relations and his ability to craft a well written and entertaining story that also has the power to inspire courage and hope. Goodnight, Brian is a fine read.” – Bob Price, WPZZ Radio Personality

Now that I have nearly two decades of writing and getting published under my belt, I enjoy trying to help new writers break in. My advice is always the same:
  • Be true to yourself, always.
  • Write constantly.
  • Keep the faith!!!
  • And NEVER, EVER, EVER quit. Most people in this industry would agree that more than talent or skill or even luck, perseverance is the one trait that will always get the job done.
  • Knock on every door you can, and keep knocking. I promise that eventually someone will open and the warmth you feel on your face will more than validate every hour spent alone in the darkness.

Goodnight, Brian
(brief excerpt)

Enough time had passed for the shock of Brian’s condition to wear off. Joan had stumbled beyond the grieving process and had given up negotiating with God. She was now at a place called rage. Mama sat with her daughter at the kitchen table, trying to help her make sense of it all. “Maybe Brian’s a test from God?” Mama suggested.
“Why would God test a little baby who’s never done a thing wrong? Why would He test an innocent child?” Joan snapped back.
Mama shook her head. “I didn’t say God was testing Brian,” she said evenly. There was a thoughtful pause. “Maybe He’s testing everyone around Brian?”
“I don’t want to hear that!” Joan roared. “My son will never be able to enjoy the life of other people who don’t…”
Mama slapped her hand on the Formica table, stopping Joan in mid-sentence and turning her face into that of a seven-year-old girl’s. “Not another negative word, do you hear me?” she yelled back, quickly grabbing her daughter’s hands and holding them tightly. “Positive, Joan—everything must be positive! Negative calls for negative and positive brings forth positive. Brian’s already facing some unfair challenges. We have to be positive, Joan. We just have to be!”
Joan wiped her eyes. “But what if the doctor’s right, Ma?” she muttered in a tortured voice. “What if…”
Without letting Joan’s hands go, Mama took a deep breath and started in on her own tirade. “The doctors don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! I had a grandmother who lived her whole life as a brittle diabetic, but she ate anything she wanted. She died three days before her eighty-fifth birthday. Your grandfather supposedly had cirrhosis of the liver, but lived with his bottle for forty more years until old age took him. They don’t know beans! Besides, we need to have faith in a higher source.” She pulled her crucifix away from her neck and kissed it. “You have to believe, Joan. Before any of the healing can take place, you have to believe that it will.” She nodded and lowered her tone. “Only God knows how…and that’s enough.”
Joan placed her face in her hands and began to cry. She was now completely removed from her rage and safely returned to the stage of grief. “I’m…just…so… scared,” she stuttered, sobbing.
Mama stroked her hair. “Don’t you worry, love. They say that children are raised by a village.” She nodded her gray, curly head. “I think it’s about time we had a village meeting.”


  1. Natasha- thank you for sharing Goodnight Brian with your readers. I hope they enjoy the book!

    1. You are very welcome Steve. I hope they enjoy it too. :)