Literature & Fiction Interviews Volume I


Published on

This volume of interviews provides an insight into a group of authors from the United States, Canada and Europe, and gives a glimpse of their past and present books. The unique collection of interviews will entertain and inspire readers to find out more about the authors and their books.

Published in: Education, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Literature & Fiction Interviews Volume I

  1. 1. Literature & Fiction Interviews By Shelagh Watkins MP Mandinam Press
  2. 2. All rights reserved; no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. First printing Copyright © Mandinam Press 2009 Literature & Fiction Volume I Published by Mandinam Press
  3. 3. CONTENTS Editorial Foreword 5 Pat Bertram 7 Malcolm R. Campbell 11 Jim Cherry 15 D. K. Christi 21 Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald 27 Jim Hinckley 33 Jean Holloway 39 Rayni Joan 43 Gail Koger 47 Abe F. March 53 Gregory Mose 59 Erma Odrach 63 Donald James Parker 69 Tony Peters 75 D. T. Pollard 81 Marjorie Price 87 Maryanne Raphael 93 Dianne G. Sagan 97 Shelagh Watkins 101
  4. 4. FIRST PARAGRAPHS Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram 19 Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire by Malcolm R. Campbell 19 The Last Stage by Jim Cherry 25 Ghost Orchid by D. K. Christi 25 Tulips in the Sand - A Riley Matthews Mystery by Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald 31 Ghosts of Northwest Arizona by Jim Hinckley 41 Black Jack by Jean Holloway 41 The Skinny by Rayni Joan 51 Just My Luck by Gail Koger 51 Journey into the Past by Abe F. March 67 Stunt Road by Gregory Mose 67 Wave of Terror by Erma Odrach 73 Homeless Like Me by Donald James Parker 73 Kids on a Case by Tony Peters 85 Obama Guilty of Being President while Black by D. T. Pollard 85 A Gift from Brittany by Marjorie Price 91 Saints of Molokai by Maryanne Raphael 108 Shelter from the Storm by Dianne G. Sagan 108
  5. 5. EDITORIAL FOREWORD Throughout 2009, I interviewed an eclectic mix of authors who had recently released a new book. The variety of genres includes mystery, romance, satire, crime thriller, humour, autobiography and children’s fiction. The varied backgrounds of the authors show a tremendous wealth of experience. All the featured authors have drawn on this knowledge to write novels and works of non-fiction to entertain, help and inform readers. This volume of interviews provides an insight into a group of authors from the United States, Canada and Europe, and gives a glimpse of their past and present books. The unique collection of interviews will entertain and inspire readers to find out more about the authors and their books. 11.30.2009 Shelagh Watkins 5
  6. 6. Hi Pat, where are you from and how does your background influence your writing? Pat: I was born in Colorado, and I’ve always lived there except for a very brief stay in Wisconsin. Because the Rocky Mountains form the back- drop of my life, they figure prominently in all of my books.
  7. 7. Pat Bertram Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins I would like to introduce my guest, Pat Bertram, author of Daughter Am I, A Spark of Heavenly Fire and More Deaths than One. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book – character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre – she decided to write her own. When did you begin writing and in what genre? Pat: I used to write many years ago. I always had words in my head, and then one day they just disappeared. I have no idea why, really. Perhaps the shock of discovering I had no innate talent zapped them out of my head. I started writing again about eight years ago – by then I was used to the idea that I had no particular talent for writing, and since I wanted to write anyway, I decided to learn the craft. I wrote almost everyday, and I read hundreds of books about writing, editing, publishing, and promotion. I don’t write in any set genre – I write the books they way they need to be written, and then I struggle to find a genre afterward. They all have a mystery and a romance at the core, though none of them are mysteries as such, and none are romances since there is no real romantic conflict. When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Pat: I had no goals when I started writing. Well, that’s not strictly true. I wanted to make a fortune, but I discovered early on that very few writers were ever able to quit their day jobs. Still, I enjoyed writing, mostly because it took me away from the worries of my every day life. You know the old joke about everywhere I went, there I was? Writing is the one thing you can do that gives you a vacation from yourself. Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone? 7
  8. 8. Literature & Fiction Interviews Pat: Daughter Am I is a stand-alone book, though I like the characters so much that if the novel were ever to sell well enough to merit a sequel, I might write one. What’s the hook for Daughter Am I? Pat: When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents – grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born – she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Poor Mary – she starts out so young and innocent and ends up driving through the Midwest with a carload of aged gangsters and conmen. Add in a secret room, buried treasure and a boyfriend who is anything but romantic, and you’ve got plenty of hooks! Who is the most unusual/likeable character? Pat: That is a hard question! All the octogenarian gangsters in Daughter Am I are unusual and likeable in their own way. There’s Teach, who sells bullets he claims came from the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. There’s Kid Rags, who still works as a forger. There’s Happy, a trigger-happy ex- wheelman for the mob, whose hands shake so much he can barely aim let alone shoot. That’s only three of the octogenarians – there are seven feisty old gangsters all together. Well, six gangsters and one ex-showgirl. Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had. Pat: I’ve had great reviews for all of my books, but since this interview is mostly about Daughter Am I, I’ll share the best portion of a review I got from Publisher’s Weekly. They said Daughter Am I is “a delightful treasure- hunting tale of finding one’s self in a most unlikely way.” Have you written any other books besides Daughter Am I? Pat: Two others are published. A Spark of Heavenly Fire is my favorite, perhaps because it’s the book where I first learned I could write. 8
  9. 9. PAT BERTRAM The story takes place during an epidemic when people are dying in vast numbers from an unstoppable disease. Some characters try to escape quarantined Colorado, others try to figure out who created the bio-engineered disease, but my hero Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live, to love, and to help those in need of food and shelter. She is truly a spark of heavenly fire during the state’s dark hour of adversity. In More Deaths than One, Bob Stark returns home to Denver after living for eighteen years in Southeast Asia. While reading the current newspaper one sleepless night, he discovers an obituary for his mother. This comes as rather a shock, because she died and he buried her before he left the country. My favorite line that I’ve ever written is from that book: And Lydia Loretta Stark was dead. Again. What are your current projects? Pat: My work-in-progress, which I call my work-in-pause because I haven’t worked on it much at all this year, is a tongue-in-cheek apocalyptic allegory. Talk about a book with no genre! Mostly what I’ve been doing is learning how to promote. I’d like to introduce my novels to readers, but that is hard to do if no one has ever heard of the books. Where can folks learn more about your books and events? Pat: I have a website – www. – where I post important information, including the first chapters of each of my books, but the best way to keep up with me, my books, and my events on a daily basis is by way of Bertram’s Blog. All my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, and Smashwords. Smashwords is great – the books are available in all ebook formats, including Kindle, and you can download the first 30% free. See excerpt of Daughter Am I on page 19. 9
  10. 10. Please tell us a little about yourself, Malcolm. Malcolm: Shelagh, I’ve spent the bulk of my career as a technical writer for computer companies, most of which fell on hard times, though I don’t think it was my fault. I’ve also worked as a college journalism instructor, grant writer, and corporate communications director. Currently, I’m a contributing writer for a north Georgia magazine called Living Jackson. My first novel, The Sun Singer, was published in 2004, followed by a book of satire in 2006 called Worst of Jock Stewart.
  11. 11. Malcolm R. Campbell Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Today’s guest, Malcolm Campbell, is the author of Worst of Jock Stewart, a book of satirical news stories, and two novels The Sun Singer and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. When did you first begin writing and what did you write? Malcolm: When I was in high school, I was quite certain I’d end up traveling the world writing exciting articles about exotic places for National Geographic. While I have written a few articles about exotic places, they were published in the shipboard magazine of the aircraft carrier I served aboard while in the Navy. My Indiana Jones career didn’t quite pan out. So now, I visualize exotic places in my fiction. Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand alone? Malcolm: My latest novel is a mystery/thriller, published by Vanilla Heart in August, with a large dash of comedy in it called Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Stewart lives in the exotic states of inebriation and Texas where he works as a gruff, old-style investigative reporter for a small-town newspaper. He’s hot on the trail of the thieves who appear to have stolen the mayor’s race horse Sea of Fire and who might just be the same people who killed his publisher’s girl friend Bambi Hill. The police chief has warned Stewart that he (Stewart) has a target on his back. Stewart believes that as long as your number’s not up, you’re going to be okay. 11
  12. 12. Literature & Fiction Interviews What is the hook for the book? Jock Stewart goes out of his way to mock those in authority by pretending to kowtow to them. He admits he does his best work by “being an asshole” and a mix of Don Rickles and Don Quixote. He’s the man for the job when the skirts are up and the chips are down. How do you develop characters and setting in your books? Malcolm: Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire arose out of the characters and settings I created several years ago for a blog called Morning Satirical News. I used the blog to satirize everything via fake news stories for a newspaper called the Star-Gazer at the fictional everyman’s town of Junction City. When I decided to put Stewart into a novel, he dragged the whole crazy mess of people and places right along with him. I had no choice but to just let it happen. I typed the first draft straight through to the end without planning or worrying about anything. Needless to say, I faced a fair amount of editing after that! Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot? Malcolm: I put myself in the shoes of every character in the book and “see” the world through their eyes when they are in a scene. It’s almost a free association technique while within each character’s mindset. Words and actions for each character simply pop into my mind when I’m thinking about them. Sometimes I wonder who’s actually writing the novel. Is it me or am I channeling a bunch of people who are competing for the best lines and the best scenes? Some day this is my muse, while others claim it’s my subconscious mind. Whatever it is, I’m not going to mess with it. Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV? Malcolm: I write in third person restricted, staying within the protagonist’s point of view throughout a book or story. In The Sun Singer, my style was magical realism with a fair amount of interior monologue and description. In Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, the scenes and dialogue were much shorter and faster with the voice-over flavor of an old noir film out of the 1940s or 1950s. 12
  13. 13. MALCOLM R. CAMPBELL How does your environment/upbringing color your writing? Malcolm: My father was a journalist and journalism educator. The house was filled with books, magazines, and writing professors. It would have been difficult to escape this kind of influence even if I’d wanted to. The Jock Stewart character has a lot in common with many of the older journalists who were on my father’s staff, men who came out to the house and told stories about moonshiner raids, tough editors and weird reporters hanging out in the newsroom, and afterhours trips to a favorite watering hole. I was a journalist for the Navy, but the low salaries wouldn’t put Scotch and/or food on the table, so I ended up in corporate America rather than the newsroom. I probably would have had fewer ulcers in the newsroom. Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had. Malcolm: Author Nancy Whitney-Reiter wrote that the novel features “small town hi-jinks delivered with healthy doses of sarcasm and wit. Jock Stewart is like Guy Noir freed from the confines of public radio. A must- read for anyone who likes their sleuths hard-boiled, their women salty, and their plots with as many twists and turns as a plate of the Purple Platter Diner’s spaghetti.” Where can folks learn more about your books and events? Malcolm: My books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Vanilla Heart. Readers can learn more about my books on my website at and blog at See excerpt of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire on page 19. 13
  14. 14. Hi Jim, please tell everyone about yourself. Jim: I grew up in Chicago in the sixties; I remember and absorbed it all. I remember being born and the kaleidoscope images of childhood. My mother read to me, acting out the characters and put the pictures in my head. I danced on a corner and made it rain, I discovered magic or power, it was child’s play. Art was another early discovery when I saw a bunch of girls crowded around a fellow classmate I looked over to see what was going on, he was drawing Peanuts characters. I read just about everything that came my way; a writer has to live both in his imagination and the world of experience and I think I’ve done both. I lived the first twenty-three years of my life in my imagination. From the earliest years reading about pirates, baseball players, racecar drivers, mythology and after I put the books down the adventures continued in my head and backyard. If you want to know more about me you can find me in the pages of my books, in between the lines.
  15. 15. Jim Cherry Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Jim Cherry has written three books: the semi-autobiographical novel Becoming Angel, a collection of short stories, Stranger Souls and the Doors inspired novel, The Last Stage. When did you first begin writing and what did you write? Jim: I started writing when I was thirteen. I read about Ernest Hemingway and how a writer can be an artist and I wanted to be an artist but can’t draw. The first thing I ever wrote was a Mad Magazine style satire, complete with traced out drawings from Mad. My mother laughed and I took it wrong; I had intended it to be serious fiction. When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp? Jim: The goals I started with in writing don’t seem to be the ones I’m accomplishing. The writing process seems to have taken on a life of its own and the books seem to create themselves as I go along. Yes, there is a message I want readers to grasp but I don’t want to say what that is because I don’t want to impose my bias on the reader. I want readers to be free to find whatever message they do find. I’ve written things where I thought the message was pretty clear but other readers saw other things in the piece and I couldn’t discount it, because I saw that they could be right. I don’t want to bias the reader with my interpretation which may or may not be right. Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it the first in a series or stand- alone? Jim: The Last Stage. I think too many writers take on too much with 15
  16. 16. Literature & Fiction Interviews writing a series of books. In the past I’ve read some series by some to the best writers and they don’t always stand up. While I admire the imagination and dedication writers take in creating a series, I like all my novels to stand on their own; I don’t want to commit my readers to too much. Or maybe I don’t want to commit myself to too much! How do you develop characters and setting? Jim: The characters develop organically. When I start a story I have an idea of who the people are and what motivates them. But during the writing I usually discover something about the characters I hadn’t known. Most of the stories I write are set in the environment I’m familiar with, suburbs Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot? Jim: No. When I start writing I know the beginning and the end of the story, but as I write the middle tends to write itself and I’m usually surprised at how things work out. Do you have a specific writing style and preferred POV? Jim: I usually write in the first person. I really don’t set out with the POV in mind, I just find that first person is the best for giving the reader the sense of immediacy and participation in the story that I’m looking for. How does your environment/upbringing color your writing? Jim: I was raised in middle to upper class suburbs and still live in them, so that’s where most of my settings occur, it really isn’t anything conscious it’s just as the characters develop that’s their background. And my characters aren’t the type that the more status conscious residents of the suburbs want to see. My characters usually are struggling with the world they find themselves in, they either don’t fit in or are having trouble trying to attain the goals associated with those suburbs and its residents. Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had. Jim: I always find the latest review of my books is the best! I try my best 16
  17. 17. JIM CHERRY to write the best I can and I think I’ve been lucky the books are what I’ve envisioned and get good reviews. True to form here’s the latest: This book has long intrigued me as a Doors fan, and now that I have read it, I am completely wowed by it. What would it be like to be Jim Morrison performing up on stage? Read this book and find out. It’s very well written, and includes details about all the little things that Doors fans appreciate. That gives the book a very real, almost non-fiction feeling. I kept saying “yes! yes!” as I read it, because the book totally nails a lot of the emotion that Doors fans have for the band. The characters are vivid, and their dialog snappy. But most of all, the descriptions of the various locations made the book come alive. Like the various bars where the band plays their gigs. And the road trip they go on throughout the midwest. From Chicago to New Orleans, I felt like I was right there as I read it. I got a kick reading about the various girlfriends and “Doors groupies” that they met on the road trip. Some of them were laugh out loud funny, others were sad. But all were fascinating to read about. The main character has a very complex character, and I was immediately drawn in to trying to figure out what made him tick. Was he just a devoted Morrison fan? Or did he have a self identity problem? Every scene that unfolded had me even more engrossed in trying to figure out what he was trying to accomplish. By the end of the story, this guy was in Los Angeles, getting ready to perform at Whisky a Go Go, carousing with aging rock stars and actors, interviewing agents and screenplay writers, reliving Jim Morrison’s lifestyle, and exploring all his old haunts. I won’t give away the ending, but it is very, very poignant and real. By Katherine Reinhart What are your current projects? Jim: I actually have quite a few projects in mind. I currently write articles as The Doors Examiner which are about the rock group The Doors. As far as creative writing, I’m working on a novel, Ghosts, which is about the death of a friend of mine, and the ghosts we carry around with us throughout our lives. I also have another Rock ‘n’ Roll novel up my sleeve 17
  18. 18. Literature & Fiction Interviews titled Ghost Dance (yes, I may be in a ghost period, like Picasso’s blue period!) it’s about an American Indian rock band that hits the big time. It’s a bit of a thriller. Where can folks learn more about your books and events? Jim: My website: Facebook, Myspace: Writing Under the Influence of Rock ‘n’ Roll! See excerpt of The Last Stage on page 25. 18
  19. 19. FIRST PARAGRAPHS Snippets from Daughter Am I and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire: “Who were James Angus Stuart and Regina DeBrizzi Stuart?” Mary asked, trying to ignore the mounted heads of murdered animals staring down at her from the lawyer’s wood-paneled walls. Conrad Browning took off the silver-framed eyeglasses that matched his full head of hair and peered at her. “You don’t know who they were?” “No. Until I got your letter, I’d never heard of them. Since they’re Stuarts and so am I, I thought they might be distant relatives, but why would they leave me everything they own?” Mr. Browning cleared his throat. “It’s simple. They were your grand- parents.” Mary shook her head. “I don’t have any grandparents. My father’s parents died before my birth, and my mother’s parents died shortly after.” “Be that as it may, James Angus Stuart and Regina DeBrizzi Stuart were your grandparents. They had one son, Peter Thackery Stuart, who married Gwendolyn Jane Smith. They, in turn, had one daughter. Mary Louise Stuart. You.” “I don’t understand. My father told me they were dead.” Copyright © 2008-2009. Pat Bertram. County Road 3724 closely followed the lay of the land like the arm of a lover or a python crushing its next meal. While his ancient Kaiser Jeep CJ-5 followed the road well enough through the scrub forests and pastureland, it lacked the feline grace of the midnight blue Porsche that sped by on a blind curve with the top down and a woman’s hair free of restraint. Ten minutes later, he reached a place with a black mail box marked “G. Starnes” perched on top of a leaning 4x4 post next to a mixed pea gravel and mud farm road. About 100 feet off the right of way, Grayson had built a small white-washed ranch style house with no landscaping or other embellishments flanked by three-horse gabled barn. Two of the house’s front windows were covered by sheets of cardboard and the barn’s Dutch paddock doors had been left open to the elements. Two things in the resulting pastoral were as out of place as bullshit on a Minton Bone plate, the lady and the car. Both were parked next to the paddock at a rakish angle. He pulled up close enough to the Porsche to see the world reflected in more than one of its mirrors, but Lucinda didn’t flinch. Copyright © 2009 Malcolm R. Campbell. 19
  20. 20. Please tell everyone a little about yourself, D. K. D. K.: My roots are in Michigan where my family lives and I visit each year, preferring to drive so I can stop in the Georgia Mountains and hike a little. I also spent significant youthful years in California, the dream land for a mid-western girl trying to get out of the snow and become a “surfer girl.” Once I started traveling, I didn’t stop, living an average of 3 years wherever I landed, job or home. These travels included international work in Europe and Asia and blue water sailing in the Caribbean. Experiences in foreign cultures and living “on the economy” provide insights that I try to share with readers. I have had a profession as an editor and writer for state departments of education and even a stint as a political intern in Washington, D. C. Right now, I live in Florida where I enjoy the Gulf and the Everglades for contrast, but miss hills.
  21. 21. D. K. Christi Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Today’s guest is D. K. Christi, author of her latest work of fiction, Ghost Orchid. When did you first start writing? D. K.: I started writing in my youth, keeping under lock and key meticulous diaries that were as much fantasy thought as reality. I basically write essays, commenting on life. Recently, I have turned those comments into fiction. How does your upbringing affect your writing? D. K.: I have a very eclectic personal history with many twists and turns, traumas and joyful events. Therefore, I give my characters a strong dose of emotional appeal; readers have expressed great dislike for a character or been stunned by a stupid decision. One reader said she actually shouted out loud while reading Arirang: The Bamboo Connection, “no, don’t be so stupid!”– Another reader complained that a short story could not possibly be a romance because, “He walked away at the end. How could he do that to her? How could he just walk away?” As though I was supposed to give her some release for her pain at his behavior. What goals did you set yourself? Is there a message you want readers to grasp? D. K.: “Life is what happens when you plan for something else.” actually said it best when their editor described my stories as characters rising above adversity, overcoming life’s traumas and eking out a new beginning. That’s the thought I wish to convey. Every challenge has a gift; we just need the capacity to recognize when it comes. I want readers 21
  22. 22. Literature & Fiction Interviews to recognize their own selves in the characters, their agonies and their ecstasies, and perhaps find comfort in the resolution of their challenges. Is your latest book part of a series or stand alone? D. K.: At the moment, Ghost Orchid seems to stand alone; however, the ending begs for a sequel. Neev is the main character whose life is examined and changed through the magic of the ghost orchid; yet, the ending leaves the reader with the desire to know more about the characters who shaped her destiny, one in particular. She begins that story as hers ends. One family’s loves, lies and redemption are woven through the fabric of the Everglades as photographers search for the perfect subject in the perfect light and find themselves. Neev’s search unfolds as a mystery, one coincidence at a time, under the mystical magic of the ethereal ghost orchid. Recently, I also have short stories published in several anthologies: “Rose’s Question” in The World Outside My Window; “The Ice Storm” in Romance of My Dreams, and “The View From the Balcony” in Romance of My Dreams II. What’s the hook for the book? D. K.: Death is the end. Or is it? A tragic accident opens Ghost Orchid and sets the stage to search for an answer to that age old question: Is love eternal? A mystical and exotic ghost orchid watches from its perch high in the cypress canopy as a mystery unfolds, one coincidence at a time. How do you develop characters and create the settings? D. K.: Their traits fit the circumstances in which they dwell. They are borrowed and reworked from all the people I have know, about whom I have read, and those I’ve imagined. Neev is the daughter I never had, molded from the clay of men and women whose personalities left an impression. Settings come from the places where I have lived and traveled. They 22
  23. 23. D. K. CHRISTI are real to me in every respect though they sometimes require adjusting with research to make up for imperfect memories or documentation. Who is the most unusual or most likeable character? D. K.: Since I have already given away my secret that I always wanted a daughter, I vote for Neev. However, Roger has his charm and Mel has depth worth examining and loving. Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot? D. K.: I’ll use the word processing outline features to give me skeletons of the manuscript and check for anomalies. Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV? D. K.: My preferred POV is first person and in the present tense. Publishers do not like either, especially in new authors. Therefore, I have switched to third person, past tense. When I am famous, I will return to first person, present tense. Please share the best review that you’ve ever had. D. K.: I think I hold onto the review because it says so much in such a few words: “D. K. Christi’s debut novel Arirang, a romantic adventure that spans seven continents, conveys an underlying theme that “life happens when you are planning something else.” In Christi’s shorter works such as Chalk, The Magic Box, and The Valentine , exclusive to Amazon Shorts, themes of friendship surviving tragedy, love conquering adversity, and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire. Discover a new voice in fiction and through her stories, perhaps discover something new about yourself.” What are your current projects? D. K.: I am working on a short story anthology, a major work, The Virgin 23
  24. 24. Literature & Fiction Interviews Odyssey, about blue water sailors with stories in each craft that are shared in ports along their journey, a sequel to Ghost Orchid, and a special story about the Civil War inspired by my great grandfather’s escape from a prison camp. Where can folks learn more about your books and events? D. K.: website: twitter: Publisher: I blog at and includes events and there’s always Google. ebook versions of Ghost Orchid are found at Mobipocket, Fictionwise and Kindle; print coming soon. Arirang: The Bamboo Connection is in print and Kindle at where several short stories are also found in Amazon Shorts. The anthologies are also at in print and Kindle. All online bookstores carry my books, and anthologies containing my short stories. See excerpt of Ghost Orchid on page 25. 24
  25. 25. FIRST PARAGRAPHS Snippets from The Last Stage and Ghost Orchid: Is Everybody In? I’m dead. Not the cold corporeal type of death, but a warm, living death, a ghost trying to regain what he has lost. A death where everything is a faded, pale facsimile of the life I had. I went into my study and sat at the desk, it’s an old theatrical make-up table with a gilded mirror surrounded by those old fashioned bulbous lights, naked, astringent, that push light into every crevice and nook, no where to hide. Every night I sit surrounded in this room, a shrine to my “career.” The desk is stuffed with my newspaper reviews, photographs, journals, scrapbooks and notes. The mirror was cleaned up and glimmered, a relic of an age gone by, salvage from my past. I lit a candle and popped a tape into the player on the desk, I watched the candle flicker and dance, casting shadows against the wall, hoping it would set the mood. A voice from the speakers said, “ladies and gentle- men, from Madison, Wisconsin, The Unknown Soldiers!” I cleared my mind and let the music transport me back, opening the flood of memories. It was a ceremony I’ve been practicing, a little ritual to help induce self- hypnosis. I closed my eyes, and I could see the audience cheering, an impressionistic flash of colorful clothes, and faces looking up at me. Copyright © 2009 Jim Cherry. The high-pitched, grating sound of twisting metal chased screaming birds into the sky. A sickening rumble erupted as the car dove into the earth, upside down, crushing the roof. The screeching tires etched black marks on the highway for several yards, carving trenches in the shoulder as the vehicles left the road. The bright, red sports car glanced off the white sedan, but slid safely along the edge of the blacktop and stopped just short of the ditch. A plume of smoke and dust almost concealed the careening vehicles. The shocked dump truck driver, pulling a heavy load of gravel, lost control and the truck slammed into the ditch on the other side of the narrow two-lane highway, the impact jamming the doors shut. For a moment in time, a deafening silence filled the air as though the crash sucked the life out of the universe in exchange for the life of the driver who attempted the left turn from the sanctuary road. Her car was upside down across the ditch, her bleeding torso visible half out the window, suspended by the hanging seat belt and the deflating airbags. Copyright © 2009 D. K. Christi. 25
  26. 26. Please tell us about yourself, Caryn,. Caryn: I reside in a small town south of Fort Worth, Texas with my family. I enjoy spending time outdoors and I’m actively involved with my daughter’s school and in the local community. I hold a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a certificate in Women’s Studies from Florida Atlantic University in addition to a Masters degree in Professional Studies in Human Relations from NY Institute of Technology. I am a former LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and I’ve worked within the criminal justice system with medium security inmates as well as in the community sector and with survivors of domestic violence. Today, as a life coach and motivational speaker, I share my story of surviving and thriving after living with eating disorders, abusive relationships and being trapped within the corporate world.
  27. 27. Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald has a passion for writing and sharing her heart with others. After watching the manuscript from her first fiction novel, Tulips in the Sand - A Riley Matthews Mystery sit on a shelf at home for sixteen years, she set the goal of seeing her book published and on store shelves, reaching people around the world. Her intention became reality when Tulips in the Sand - A Riley Matthews Mystery was published in July 2008 and has been intriguing fiction and mystery lovers ever since its release. When did you first begin writing, and in what genre? Caryn: I have been writing since childhood and have always been primarily drawn to writing mysteries, thrillers and fiction. My writing style varies; I am comfortable in writing both fiction and non-fiction genres. I’ve been published in several arenas, including psychological journals, newspapers, blogs, compilations, fiction and self-help books. Over the past few years, I have been focusing on writing my memoir and sharing my personal story of triumph over tragedy, which is allowing me to step out of the fiction genre When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp? Caryn: I started writing as an outlet for expressing my creative side. My goal was to be published. I first achieved that goal in 1995 and have received the honor again several times since then. I’d like my readers to grasp the message that life is something that we create for ourselves. Enjoying what we surround ourselves with is key. I use writing as a method of expression, consider myself a writer and an artist and surround myself with others who feel the same about their creations. 27
  28. 28. Literature & Fiction Interviews Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series? Caryn: My latest release is entitled Tulips in the Sand: A Riley Matthews Mystery and it is the first in a series centering about a young woman named Riley Matthews who, as a result of life’s challenges finds herself wrapped up in the center of crime and mystery and of course romance and passion. This particular novel was written in the early 90s and having it published was a dream come true. How do you develop characters and setting? Caryn: My writing style has changed over the years, but mainly I enjoy creating characters that are easy to relate to and that I can sink myself into, becoming the character for the time period required to advance development. My writing is usual set in places I have personally spent time in and enjoy reliving within my writings. Who is the most unusual or likeable character? Caryn: I hope each reader will have a different feeling about this. I personally had a lot of fun creating the character of Taylor as he was modeled after a friend who, upon reading the book said “hey, I know this guy!” Riley was also a lot of fun to develop for the first book. Currently, I am working on another book in the series in which Riley has matured a bit and is going through some things that more adults will relate to and her changes are fun for me to develop as well. Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot? Caryn: I have several techniques and am always open to trying new things. For example, my habit is to write each scene longhand and then type it up afterwards which leaves me with hundreds of these little seventy page count notebooks full of highlight marks and corner folds marking important information such as character descriptions. I do create an outline before I start a book and will talk it out as I go along. I have found over the years that my initial story is never what the end result is, 28
  29. 29. CARYN GOTTLIEB FITZGERALD because as I fall into the story I see things that the characters would be doing that I may have missed in the original outline. Being open to change and the creative process is key. I also make sure to write something every day as that keeps me in the thick of things as the work progresses. Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV? Caryn: My favorite writing style is to write whatever comes to mind as I create the scene. I like to pretend I am in the scene and imagine what the characters are feeling and seeing as they interact. As for POV, I am grateful to have an editor who keeps me in line because if I had my way, my readers would be able to enter the minds of all of the characters simultaneously and experience the scene from all vantage points. Mainly I focus on the POV of the main character, in this case Riley, and will usually add a second POV from another key character. How does your environment and upbringing color your writing? Caryn: I don’t know that my childhood upbringing colors my writing, but my personal experiences as an adult certainly have. I was a therapist for many years working within a men’s prison and from working with inmates who have committed all types of unspeakable crimes, I have learned that the human mind is capable of anything and if written well, the reader can be lead to believe they are part of the experience, evoking all types of emotions, including new ones they may have never experienced before. Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had. Caryn: This is my favorite as it is part of the feedback I received from my real-life friend who I modeled the character of Taylor: “Cool book … cool ending! That Taylor WAS a madman!!!” What are your current projects? Caryn: I am always writing. Currently I am working on another book in the Riley Matthews Mystery series, my memoir (2010) and two self-help/ non-fiction compilations. 29
  30. 30. Literature & Fiction Interviews I blog almost daily at: and also contribute to The Washington Times Communities - Life Online Section, where my column, “Changing Your Life, Living Your Passion” can be read daily. Where can folks learn more about your books and events? Caryn: The best place to start is at: as that will provide folks with information on my current projects and events. I love connecting with my readers and encourage people to drop me a note and introduce themselves. See excerpt of Tulips in the Sand: A Riley Matthews Mystery on page 31. 30
  31. 31. FIRST PARAGRAPHS Snippet of Tulips in the Sand: A Riley Matthews Mystery: “Ok, here you go, Mrs. Murphy, just sign on the bottom and you’ll be all set.” She smiled without thinking. A big grin that must have taken the sales girl by surprise because she asked, “Mrs. Murphy, is everything okay?” “Oh, yes,” realizing her actions seemed odd, she added, “everything is just perfect.” With that, she signed the charge receipt, took her package, mumbled a thank you and left the store. Once outside, the sun warmed her face, and her smile returned. She remembered the simple comment the sales girl had made which caused her to smile so happily. The simple action of calling her “Mrs. Murphy”, that was it, just hearing those words referring to her, was enough to cause her to be overcome with happiness and smile beyond control. As she continued down the tree lined street, she thought back to a time many years ago when becoming “Mrs. Murphy” seemed like a dream that would never come true. Copyright © 2009 Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald 31
  32. 32. Hi Jim, please tell us about yourself and your background. Jim: When I first moved to the deserts of Arizona in the summer of 1966 my initial impression was a deeper understanding for the place warned about in Sunday school. To say the very least, it was a far cry from the meadows and forests of Michigan or the hills of Tennessee with which I was familiar. As the years passed, a deep love for the empty places, the raw landscapes, the history, and the people that called the desert southwest home grew. Fueled by the writings of Zane Grey and other western writers this passion soon developed into a near complete immersion in the romanticism of the west that I now jokingly refer to as my “John Wayne” period. I found employment on ranches in Arizona and New Mexico and became enamored with the rodeo life though I never mastered the craft of either. Then I discovered mining which in turn led to adventures among the ghost towns of the southwest. Books about history have been an integral part of my life since childhood. However, histories relevance to the present and future never really manifested until I walked the streets of Tombstone, rode the rutted tracks of the Butterfield Stage Line across the desert plains of New Mexico, or experienced Route 66 behind the wheel of a 1950 De Soto. Tying all of these things together were the tangible links to the past with which I began to fill my life. The most notable of these were the vehicles I chose, and still choose, for daily transportation – 1942 Chevrolet pick up, 1926 Ford, 1946 GMC, 1955 Ford, 1968 Dodge – to name but a few.
  33. 33. Jim Hinckley Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Today’s guest, Jim Hinckley, has shared his love of old trucks and lost highways through the publication of five books and as a contributor to Old Cars Weekly, Classic Auto Restorer, Hemmings Classic Car, The Kingman Daily Miner and American Road. When did you first begin writing, and how did it hook you, Jim? Jim: From my earliest memory writing was something I wanted do, but oddly enough did nothing to develop that interest and passion. Then, in 1990, with gentle encouragement from my loving wife, I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. As I know now my first success was truly a fluke. I felt the discovery of an extremely interesting wrecking yard in southern Arizona near the Mexican border would serve as an excellent introductory tool. So, I picked up my favorite automotive magazine, obtained the name of the editor from the title page, and called their office. After a brief discussion the story was approved. No query letter! No formal introduction! No name dropping! The photos were taken with a $25.00 Kmart camera. The story was written on a 1948 model Underwood typewriter. Eight weeks later I had a check for $250.00 and publication in a major publication. I was hooked! What goals did you want to accomplish after that, and is there a message you want readers to grasp? Jim: Well, with receipt of that first check my childhood dreams were instantly renewed. Visions of acclaim and riches danced in my head. However, most of all was the unshakeable conviction that soon I would be quitting the day job. 33
  34. 34. Literature & Fiction Interviews Since that time I have written five books, have had more than one thousand feature articles published, and have penned two weekly columns for newspapers. I also still have a day job that pays the lion’s share of the bills. For aspiring writers the lessons in all of this are rather simple concepts. Rejection and disappointment are merely dues to be paid. Thinking outside of the box will generate reward as well as set back. Don’t give up; if writing is something you have a passion for then do it. Let the writing be its own reward. If you happen to make a million in the process, great! Briefly tell us about your latest book, Jim. Jim: Ghost Towns of the Southwest is a book that was more than twenty years in the making. Between the covers are more than snapshots and time capsules from the western frontier, this book is a tapestry of my adventures hung against a backdrop of Technicolor western landscapes and centuries of history. The towns, communities, and mining camps profiled in this book include famous locales such as Tombstone and Chloride. However, to add depth and context to their story I also included lesser known places such as Columbus and Ruby as well as Spanish colonial outposts like Cabezon and Native American cities like Gran Quivira. This book is the third in a loose series that profiles the overlooked and forgotten destinations. My first travel related title was Backroads of Arizona. Next came Route 66 Backroads, a travel guide to that iconic highway with a twist. The current project in the works, Ghost Towns of Route 66, continues these themes. What is the hook for this book? Jim: There are really several. First, there is the twist of presenting the ghost towns as the vehicle for providing continuity to the history of the southwest that spans centuries as well as cultures. 34
  35. 35. JIM HINCKLEY Next would be the unique and colorful characters introduced to readers. As an example consider Jefferson Davis Milton, a lawman whose career included a stint with the Texas Rangers, being the only law in lawless frontier towns and even escorting arrested Russian anarchists back to Russia during the teens. The latter job was done after a shootout left him with the use of only one arm! However, the primary hook has to be the stunning western landscapes framed by the imposing and forlorn ruins of these bygone communities as captured by award winning photographer Kerrick James. How do you decide what locations to include in your travel guides? Jim: I draw from experience and my travels as well as conversations with a wide array of individuals from Native Americans to European tourists. If you were limited to one region or location for recommendation where would it be and why? Jim: That would be the area around Silver City in New Mexico. The diversity of the landscapes in this area is enhanced by vast tracts of wilderness that make it possible to experience the west as it was before the advent of the modern era. Adding flavor to this would be the truly amazing depth of history found here as represented by sites as diverse as Billy the Kid’s mother’s gravesite, ghost towns, cliff dwellings and the longest continuously operated mine in the United States. Then you have the people. There is something very invigorating in having breakfast in a quaint café, family owned for more than a half century, where representatives of four generations of a ranching family, outfitted with worn jeans, equally worn boots, and spurs, share the counter with liberal college students and professors while grandma teaches her granddaughter how to make tortillas in the open kitchen. How does your environment and upbringing color your writing? Jim: My mother often quipped that it seemed I was born ninety and never aged. Perhaps that is why I have always felt most comfortable in the company of those who are my peers by a half century or more. These relationships allow me the unique opportunity to add a first person feel to events that took place long before I was born. In a similar manner 35
  36. 36. Literature & Fiction Interviews my transportation choices and wide array of adventures enhance the ability to flavor my automotive and travel writings with a hand on authority. Please share one of your favorite reviews of your work. Jim: “I have a copy of Jim Hinckley’s new book and want to share with all of you some facts and my thoughts on the book. Route 66 BACKROADS has over 200 photos, some new and a few old, all are worth the price of the book alone. Then add in some maps to show folks how easy it is to get to and from these sites from Route 66. Now the instructions, information and data that Jim has added in the text shows the reader just how thoroughly he has done his research. I plan on taking this book with me when traveling the road, just in case I find time to take some detours. For you retailers, like Rich, that offer this book for sale, I feel it is going to make a GREAT addition to your inventory. For you fellow roadies this is just the kind of book you need to make you want to get back out on the road. I will be recommending this book to everyone that travels the road or just wants to add a wonderful book to their collection. I have one question for Jim Hinckley, who by the way I know and he is a good friend. WHEN IS YOUR NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?” What are your current projects? Jim: I am under contract for another book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, and am deep into research. Then there is the monthly column, The Independent Thinker that I write for Cars & Parts magazine. On a number of levels my monthly column for Cars & Parts is one of my most satisfying jobs. Through it I am able to share my fascination with automotive history, give some obscure individuals that made large contributions to the industry some overdue kudos, and delve deeper into mysteries pertaining to the conflicted origins of inventions as well as manufacturers. 36
  37. 37. JIM HINCKLEY Where can folks learn more about your books and forthcoming projects? Jim: I have a public profile on Google and also maintain a daily blog, Route 66 Chronicles : In addition, I maintain a website, Route 66 Info Center, where travel tips are shared with commentary and links, and enticing photographs from our collection are presented: I also have an author’s blog on See excerpt of Ghosts of Northwest Arizona on page 41. 37
  38. 38. Jean Holloway Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins I would like to welcome Jean Holloway, who has stopped in on her blog tour, Banned from Vegas. Jean’s books from her Deck of Cardz series are fictional detective stories following the career of a female lead homicide detective, Shevaughn Robinson. Ace of Hearts and Black Jack are currently available online and by request at your local bookstores. Please tell us about Black Jack, Jean. Jean: Black Jack is the sequel to my debut novel, Ace of Hearts. Black Jack picks up four years after Shevaughn Robinson, lead homicide detective in Portsborough, NY, solves her first major case. She is anxiously living in the shadow of her high rate of arrests and closed cases. But it has all come at a price? In Black Jack, Shevaughn tries to regain balance in her personal life just as the past comes back to haunt her. She will quickly find herself the center of yet another unique murder that feels a little too close for comfort. What genre is Black Jack ? Jean: I like to make sure I’m juggling a few genres. I’d say Black Jack is an adult romantic, psychological crime thriller. That’s an interesting combination, Jean. I think you’ll have to explain how you married these genres in your book. Jean: First, I classify it as adult, because my books are for the grown and sexy. It’s erotic, not erotica, yet definitely not for the kids. The romantic elements involve you as you watch the growth of a loving relationship between the couples in this book, one being and 39
  39. 39. Literature & Fiction Interviews Shevaughn Marcus, a local bookstore owner in Portsborough. The psychological segments were a push for me. Out of nowhere, a past character, Terri Becker, emerged and I hate to say it but she’s a few a cans short of a six pack (if you know what I mean). The crime is murder with the plot revolving around Shevaughn’s career and life depending on her solving this case. She has to get him or her before her life is tragically affected. Lastly, it’s a thriller because you, the reader, have an opportunity to take in the story for the viewpoint of the lead detective attempting to balance her family obligations and her career and that of a depressed and confused psychopath looking for love in all the wrong places. The two very different women are brought together by an opportunist that preys on weakness in others. What should readers expect from Black Jack? Jean: Expect the unexpected. Things are not what they appear to be, even I was surprise by the direction this story took. Readers should turn the first page with an open mind and end the last page knowing that there is much more in store for Shevaughn Robinson. About Black Jack Black Jack is the sequel to Jean Holloway’s acclaimed debut novel, Ace of Hearts. Buckle up and follow Shevaughn as she moves closer to solving the murder of a lonely widow, unknowingly rekindling old grudges and awakening a sinister spirit. Get ready, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Visit Deck of Cardz to learn more about Jean Holloway and her work. There you can download Black Jack ebook; watch the book video: Black Jack … Wanna Play, read the book synopsis; and more. How can readers contact you? Visit Jean Holloway online at See excerpt of Black Jack on page 41. 40
  40. 40. FIRST PARAGRAPHS Snippet from Ghosts of Northwest Arizona Your base camp for the exploration of ghost towns in northwest Arizona is Kingman, a historic community with a long and colorful history. Access to all towns and town sites in this portion of the state are easy day trips from Kingman, although a few trips will require the use of a high-profile or four wheel-drive vehicle. These towns include a frontier-era mining community preserved in a circa 1930 state of arrested decay, a mining town saved from abandon- ment with the resurgent interest in Route 66, and another mining community almost erased from the map with the modern bane of many old towns – open pit mining. Other gems include two former county seats and a railroad town that also has ties to legendary Route 66. Copyright © 2009 Jim Hinckley. Snippet from Black Jack: Helene put the menu down, took off her glasses and pinched the top of her nose, massaging the corners of her eyes. Concentrating on the menu’s small print made them so tired. She looked up, blinked hard and, in doing so, brought his handsome face back into focus. Maybe I should have left that second glass of champagne alone. However, it’s not every day a lady got to share a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée’77 in Napier’s, the most exclusive French restaurant in the Portsborough area. Tonight’s definitely a cause for celebration. She still couldn’t believe she’d been dating this young man for the past three months. Young man, humph, never thought I’d be referring to a man in his fifties as young, although it’s all quite relative, isn’t it? Although proud of her sixty-eight years on earth, right now she wished she could turn back the hands of time. The last few months were like a romantic dream. What about the money? The thought flickered like the restaurant sconces’ candlelight against the wall. Damn, why did her mind always go back to that? It spoiled one of life’s best moments by nagging at her. About a month ago, he’d asked her for a considerable loan, one hundred and ten thousand dollars to be exact. Although it took over half of the remainder of her fortune and her mind told her it really wasn’t the smart thing to do, her body quickly overruled the objection. She knew, in time, it would be well worth it. Copyright © 2009 Jean Holloway 41
  41. 41. Tell us about yourself, Rayni, and your “confession.” Rayni: I grew up as Roberta Joan Weintraub in Newburgh, New York, during the 1940s and 50s. During a critical period in the early 1970s, I was part of the Liberation News Service collective, where, for $35 and ten free meals per week, I researched and wrote news and feature articles. It was during this period that my feature article, Women, Fat of the Land, appeared widely throughout the U.S. It was June, 1970, and I became the first public confessor to the then unheard of habit of binging and purging, later diagnosed in the 1980s as bulimia. Although the word and the fact of “bulimia” were largely unknown at the time, my story containing my confession was published on the front pages of dozens of alternative weekly newspapers, where it struck a chord with more than a million women readers – a chord that resonates to this day.
  42. 42. Rayni Joan Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins I would like to welcome Rayni Joan, author of The Skinny: Adventures of America’s First Bulimic. For twenty-five years – from pre-adolescence way into her mid-to-late thirties – Rayni walked around hiding what she thought was a shameful secret: she made herself throw up. For almost the whole time, she thought she was the only one in the whole world! When did you begin writing? Rayni: I wrote my first story, about a lonely elephant baby, when I was five. Not a slender gazelle. Not a purring kitten or a dog with a wagging tail. A lonely elephant baby! A smart prognosticator probably could have predicted my whole life based on that! Please describe some of your journey that ended with the writing of The Skinny. Rayni: As someone who “tumbled up” with little real guidance, and consequently struggled with low self-esteem and an eating disorder, when I had kids, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes my parents made. (I didn’t. I made different mistakes!) At the age of sixteen, one of my sons handed me several thousand dollars and informed me he’d been playing blackjack at a casino. (He lied about his age.) Despite my pleading, he continued to play. I joined Gam-Anon, a 12-Step Program for family members of gamblers and had no luck getting him to attend Gamblers Anonymous. I spoke openly to my group about my history of bulimia, and when someone asked me whether I’d be willing to tell my own story to a large group assembly, I agreed – and my son agreed to attend. In my presentation, I talked about my childhood, about the way no- one in my family had paid attention to my throwing up, and how I wished they had stopped me. I talked about the way my therapist, whom 43
  43. 43. Literature & Fiction Interviews I had trusted, had abused me. I told the group of about two hundred that the saddest thing in my life was my inability to communicate to my son the long-term harm and pain an addiction can cause. By the time I finished, after long applause, and after acknowledging those crowding around me to express their gratitude, finally, I returned to my seat. My then seventeen-year-old was in tears. He hugged me and thanked me. He said he’d had no idea what I’d been trying to tell him. The following week he wrote an article for his high school paper about his gambling addiction and his intention to end it immediately. By then, he was the school bookie, and he formally quit. He was already in therapy and continued for many years – and is now a wonderful, loving, thoughtful and supportive young husband and father. Because sharing my truth helped a few people I touched, including my son, I had the incentive to write my slightly fictionalized story in the hope of reaching and inspiring large numbers of people to have the courage to heal. Why did you fictionalize your story instead of just writing a memoir? Rayni: Two reasons: First, I’m not a celebrity so I didn’t think anyone would care about Rayni Joan’s story. Second, James Frey’s hoax memoir made me super sensitive to inaccuracies in my story caused by my own imagination. So I decided to write a story parallel to mine but with some changes I wouldn’t have to explain to anyone. Have the reactions from readers of The Skinny been what you anticipated? If not, how are they different? Rayni: There seems to be no middle ground to the reactions to The Skinny, and that surprises me. People seem either to hate it or adore it. A (former) close friend of mine told me she would never read a book that had child abuse in it, and that surprised and also hurt me even though I have to respect her truth. Wouldn’t most people want to read their friend’s secret story? I would! Some readers think it’s weird the way Rowie talks to angels and “guides.” Others tell me the same thing is cool. I thought more people would object to the liberal use of cursing, particularly the f- 44
  44. 44. RAYNI JOAN word. I haven’t heard that criticism. But I’m pleased that just about all readers agree that the book is well-written. I hadn’t anticipated that. Also, I’m surprised that some men like the book a lot. I thought it would be only a “woman’s book.” It seems to contain some universal truth that strikes a chord with anyone who struggled to figure out what the hell their life was all about because they sure didn’t learn it from their parents. What’s your favorite moment in The Skinny? Rayni: I enjoy the special connection between Rowie and her piano teacher, the first real teacher in her life. Jimmy Wilson teaches Rowie far more about life than anyone else ever did. Insecure and fearful of failure, Rowie learns from Jimmy to welcome mistakes as guides that help us to learn. He truly inspires her. It’s a warm, healthy relationship. Are you now finished with Rowena, or do you have plans for writing another story about her? What can you tell us about her next story? Rayni: I’m definitely not through with her. There’s a whole new trajectory I see for her – some of my personal “paths not taken” which she’s eager to embark on. Also, like me – and characteristic of people who were abused kids – she has the tough job of dissolving the false self she created as a childhood defense and reinventing herself from scratch – without the eating disorder. That will include her development as an artist and spiritual being – and, of course, falling in love. What do you say when people call The Skinny another example of chick lit? Rayni: I say: “If, by chick-lit, you mean a story with no designer clothing, shoes, or accessories, but with a strong, smart woman protagonist both women and men can relate to, then, OK, enjoy!” Where can people find out more about you, Rayni? Rayni: Follow me on Twitter: @Raynwoman See excerpt of The Skinny on page 51. 45
  45. 45. Gail, please tell us a little about yourself. Gail: I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for thirty- one years and to keep insanity at bay, I took up writing. Not to worry. The insanity isn’t catching – much. Other than the addiction to chocolate and the twitch in my left eye, I’m good. I’ve had my weird but true stories published in newspapers and magazines. My first book was The Ghost Wore Polyester, a murder mystery/comedy set in Sedona, Arizona. Just My Luck, my second book is #1 on the Goodreads’ list for best rated new Sci-Fi Futuristic Romance novels. I’m currently working on The Warlord’s Comeuppance a prequel to Just My Luck. I’m also working with producer, Bonnie Forbes of Fortress Features on several TV series. I recently did an hour long unscripted radio interview with Cat Johnson on What’s Hot in Romance.
  46. 46. Gail Koger Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Today’s guest, romance author Gail Koger, has a quirky sense of humor, which she uses in her fast-paced novels that are full of adventure. When did the writing bug bite and in what genre? Gail: It bit in 1985. I was recuperating from surgery and started jotting down story ideas from several bizarre dreams I kept having. Weird creatures, hunky alien beings that came to life in my head, and ta-da my first science fiction novel was born. Unfortunately, it will never see the light of day. Yeah, it was that bad. But I discovered I love to write and have a talent for writing humor, hot sex scenes and balls-to-the-wall action. Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone? Gail: Kaylee Jones is a trouble magnet. Chaos and disaster are her faithful companions. A powerful psychic, it’s her job to protect Earth from alien predators who consider our world an all-you-can-eat banquet. Unfortunately, her success at killing these alien freaks puts her on their most wanted list and lands her in a prison cell. Her roommate? A very hungry vampire. Okay, he’s really a Coletti Warlord who decides to make her his mate. Doesn’t matter that she’s not willing and this mate thing means he owns her mind, body and soul. She’ll admit the sex is hot and the bossy jerk has agreed to save our world from annihilation. But, the bad news is, Warlords aren’t benevolent do-gooder types and there is a price for his help. Our women. And the 47
  47. 47. Literature & Fiction Interviews really bad news is, her Warlord’s low-down conniving brother has joined forces with our alien freaks and now we have to stop them from destroying both our worlds! Just My Luck is the first book in the series about the Coletti Warlords. The Warlord’s Comeuppance is the prequel. What’s the hook for the book? Gail: What would you do to save the Earth from annihilation? How do you develop characters and setting in your books? Gail: People ask me this all the time. Okay, here’s the thing. I’m slightly nuts and have a really bizarre imagination. Try working 9-1-1 for thirty- one years and see how sane you are. The stories and critters come to me in dreams. Yeah, you heard me. Dreams. Once I start writing my characters kind of take over and off we go. Who is your favorite character? Gail: Tihar is one of my favorites. He’s an Askole warrior and Rambo has nothing on this guy. Tihar’s a cross between Lord Voldemort and a Gorgon with black armored plated skin and rather awesome fangs and claws. In combat mode he resembles the Tasmanian Devil, a twirling tornado of death. Once you win his loyalty, you have a friend for life and an extremely deadly one at that. Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV? Gail: I write my stories in first person. I think it brings my characters to life and puts you in the driver’s seat. Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had. Gail: Chris from Night Owl Romance gave Just My Luck four out of five stars. Here’s his review: Kaylee is a walking shit magnet; her words, not mine. If there is trouble or danger, she’s usually sitting in the front row. But Kaylee is a warrior, a powerful psychic, and a “siren” for her world. Call her an advance warning 48
  48. 48. GAIL KOGER system if you will. And her alarms are going off like crazy. Earth has come to the attention of off-planet predators who think we are mighty tasty, and they are ringing the dinner bell. Earth is fighting with all its’ might and it’s about to have company in that fight, whether they want it or not. Trapped and chained by his enemy, Talree is a Coletti Warlord who is on the verge of going feral. Think vampire on steroids with an insatiable appetite for whatever is in front of him. His race is also bent on destroying the predators currently chowing down on Earth. When his mind connects with Kaylee’s and he sees his salvation, he vows he will connect with her and she will be his mate in all ways. Whether she wants to or not. And his kind will join in the fight with earth, but for a price. This was a freaky fantastic read. Tons of detail about what threatens Earth, in gory detail, and how seeing things can alter a persons perceptions. Kaylee and Talree got along like a chalkboard and fingernails at first, but with a lot of sex, arguing and humor, managed to find their way to one another. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire story and sincerely hope there is more to come since all things weren’t resolved. What are your current projects? Gail: I’m working on The Warlord’s Comeuppance. A fast, fun science/fiction romance of how the ultimate big, bad scary Warlord pursues Detja, the best thief in the galaxy. Here’s a little preview: Stealing from a warlord and giving him the one finger salute as I made my getaway was not the brightest thing I’d ever done. Okay, it was an incredibly stupid stunt. Did I mention that this particular Coletti warlord is the most feared in the entire galaxy? That Zarek’s the ultimate predator and even the other warlords are scared spit less of him? That he never ever stops until he either captures or kills his quarry? Yeah, I have the big, bad after me and all because of one little finger. Okay and a Ditrim crystal the size of my fist. Am I worried? Of course, only an idiot doesn’t fear a really angry Coletti warlord. But, I am very good at what I do. Bad news is, so is Zarek. My name is Detja. The Enforcers call me the Ghost. As a master thief I must be a combination of magician and chameleon. The illusion of magic deflects attention away from the act and when things go to hell, like they sometimes do; the ability to blend into any situation or culture is a must. My looks are my biggest illusion. I’m a Farin, the fragile flowers of the universe. No one in a million years would ever expect me to be an 49
  49. 49. Literature & Fiction Interviews extraordinary thief or powerful psychic. Everyone takes one look at my delicate frame and exotic features and dismisses me as harmless. Really big mistake on their part. I’ll admit that most Farin females are timid creatures devoted to domestic duties and incapable of doing harm to anyone. Me? I’m an anomaly, a genetic throwback to a time long, long ago when Farin females were warriors. Where can folks learn more about your books and events? Gail: I have an author’s page on or my website See excerpt of Just My Luck on page 51. 50
  50. 50. FIRST PARAGRAPHS Snippet from The Skinny: Grandma and Grandpa had been married for fifty years and they still hugged regularly like sweethearts. We’d had a big party at a restaurant in the Bronx, and I didn’t dare complain about the uncomfortable green taffeta dress that rustled weirdly when I moved and made me look like I weighed about a thousand pounds. Daddy asked me to dance and pulled and pushed me around as he crushed me to his body. I knew my face was bright red. My body stiffened like stale bread. I didn’t mean to but kept stepping on his toes, and I even slipped a small fart out and pretended it wasn’t mine. He told me to relax and poked me a little in the small of my back but that only made me stiffer. Relief flooded me when the music ended. I raced to find Ralphie, whose white shirt was half hanging out of his navy blue pants. We danced a box step, counting as we trod, leaving proper space between us, not like Daddy. Afterwards, we ran around the restaurant threatening other cousins with ice cubes. Our cousin Mitchell wanted us to try bootleg cigarettes and Scotch in the alley but we turned him down. I didn’t want Daddy to murder me. Copyright © 2009 Rayni Joan. Snippet from Just My Luck: I’m what you’d call a trouble magnet. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing in my line of work. I opted for being a cop. So, finding bad guys is good, but they never want to go to jail, which is bad. Since I’m kinda pint-sized, the only thing keeping me from being shot, stabbed or otherwise mangled on a daily basis is my spidey sense. It’s like an internal radar that warns me of approaching danger. I’m also telepathic. Relax. I can’t read your thoughts. The only minds I can read are other psychics. Basically my family. And believe me, with my family, that can be a real pain-in-the-butt. They’re always ragging on me about something. When I was a teenager, it made dating hell. Dad would pop in with a “Kaylee Lynn Jones what the hell is that punk’s hand doing on your breast?” Or Mom would break into a make out session with, “Kaylee, sweetie, a lady doesn’t allow a guy to stick his tongue down her throat on the first date.” You get the picture. Add my brothers into the mix and I had 24/7 surveillance. And they wonder why I’m twenty-five and still a virgin. Go figure. Copyright © 2009 Gail Koger 51
  51. 51. Welcome, Abe, please tell everyone about yourself. Abe: I’m a retired international business consultant, entrepreneur and author living near Landau, Germany with my wife Gisela. For relaxation, I enjoy hiking in the nearby mountains exploring ancient castle ruins, walking through the local vineyards and singing in regional choirs. My career has taken me from my birthplace in the USA to Canada, Europe and the Middle East. I grew up in York County, Pennsylvania and served in the USAF from 1957-61. My business career got underway with the computing sciences division of IBM’s service bureau. I later joined an international cosmetic company, which took me throughout the USA and into Canada, Greece and Germany. With international experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, I started my own importing business headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, for the distribution of cosmetics and toiletries to the Middle East markets. I also functioned as a locator of goods and services sought by Mid-Eastern clients before the civil war in Lebanon destroyed my successful business enterprise. I returned to the United States to start over, and was soon working on an international level again. My subsequent work involved Swan Technologies, Inc., a personal computer manufacturer. I established a subsidiary for Swan in West Germany serving as Managing Director. I returned to the US to work in procurement with Stork NV, a Dutch company, supporting a fleet of 1200 Fokker Aircraft, until my retirement.
  52. 52. Abe F. March Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Today’s guest, Abe March, has an interesting and varied background that led to the writing of his first book, To Beirut and Back. When did you first begin to write, and in what genre? Abe: It started after I left Beirut in 1976 and began to type up my experiences (yes, we used typewriters back then) from notes into a manu- script, which would become To Beirut and Back about 30 years later. Although an autobiography, I’ve been told it reads like a novel. Is there a message in your writing? Abe: Yes, there was a message, especially with my first novel. I wanted to share my personal experience in dealing with various cultures and sensitive political issues. The events that caused my change in attitude toward the participants in the Middle East struggle was not unique; however, intimidation and threats of retaliation cause many to remain quiet. Telling the truth is not always easy or popular, but often necessary to effect change. The same is true with my second novel. As we have learned, for every action there is a reaction. Events that one may justify as necessary will have a reaction. That reaction can be in some form of retaliation – acts of revenge – and when it happens, oddly enough, many are surprised. 53
  53. 53. Literature & Fiction Interviews Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is this also based on real life? Abe: My latest book, Journey Into the Past, with contributing author, Lynn Jett, is in part a time-travel romance story with the setting among the ancient castles in the Pfalz (Palatinate) region of Germany. Synopsis: Heather Wilson, a successful architect, needed time off from work and a chance to recover from a relationship gone sour. The poster of a twelfth century castle helped her decide to make a trip to Germany and visit this castle. On the drawbridge to the castle, she meets Hans Hess, a retired American businessman who lives nearby. As they discuss the castle, their hands touch an ancient stone and they are briefly catapulted back in time. As Heather explores the castle, she finds a note but can’t translate it and asks Hans for assistance. The translation provides a clue that leads them to other nearby castles in search of additional clues to solve a mystery. Heather is not aware that Hans is married and that his wife is in a comatose state and therefore cannot understand his resistance to falling in love. As they discover more about the characters in the twelfth century romance, they learn more about their own feelings and they succumb to its passion. When Hans’s wife recovers from her illness, it creates a heart- rending dilemma. Heather returns to her world without informing Hans that she is pregnant. Years later, an aged Hans learns about his daughter when she leads a group of students to explore the castle and Hans is requested to act as tour guide. What’s the hook for the book? Abe: There’s nothing that would constitute a clever hook, but simply: “When the paths of a vacationing American architect and a retired German businessman cross, the soul-mates embark on a journey through time; a journey triggered by a series of mysterious, hidden love notes written centuries before.” 54
  54. 54. ABE F. MARCH How do you develop characters and setting? Abe: The setting is always based on places I’ve been. In the case of non- fiction, the characters are real; however, in some instances, names are altered. For fiction, I try to use a facsimile and/or current events with a scenario of probability. With romance, it is a combination of true life and fantasy. Who is the most unusual character? Abe: In the book, They Plotted Revenge Against America, the most unusual character would be David Levy. David is an American-born Jew who emigrates to Israel and becomes a member of the Mossad (secret service). For personal reasons, he turns into a double agent and works against his adopted country in training a team of young men and women who desire revenge against America. Do you adopt any techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot? Abe: The course of the plot is natural progression. Trying to keep the reader wondering what happens next often requires some change in sequence, as with flashbacks. Do you have your own way of writing or has anyone influenced your style of writing? Abe: I do not try to copy anyone’s style. I write the way I talk. In dialogue, I use colloquial expressions and the manner of speaking that fits each character. Reading books of various genres has an influence. I don’t think it is something conscious; however, the manner of writing that catches my attention and keeps me reading is something that comes through naturally in my own writing. How does your environment or upbringing affect your writing? Abe: My upbringing and environment has an enormous influence on my writing. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. The perpetual struggle to succeed, dealing with people of varied cultures, provided me with a broad range of experience. Understanding the needs and feeling of the poor, furnished me with useful insights. By contrast, the lifestyle and outlook of 55
  55. 55. Literature & Fiction Interviews the rich, or people of nobility, enables me to understand a mentality that is often in conflict with the poorer class. To win and then lose everything is another experience that affects how one deals with problems. It certainly can alter one’s outlook on life. Please share with us the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had. Abe: The best review was from Malcolm Campbell, author of The Sun Singer and reviewer for PODRAM. The review was unsolicited. He bought my book and wrote the following review: “Terrorism, by definition, operates outside the traditional rules of war. It’s hard to combat because attacks are no longer limited to people wearing military uniforms at well-formed battle lines: they can happen anywhere, at any time, and they may well target people who don’t have any direct knowledge of the peoples and issues involved. This is the arena of Abe F. March’s chilling novel They Plotted Revenge Against America. The novel is chilling, not because it’s filled with larger than life James Bond daring-do in faraway trouble spots. Quite the contrary: this novel takes place on American soil as survivors of the American attack on Baghdad blend in to mainstream America to personally extract revenge against everyday citizens. They Plotted Revenge Against America is a plausible, sobering, intricate and effectively plotted story about a group of well-trained, well-coordinated teams who slip into the U.S. with forged papers and then painstakingly work through a plan that will infect food and water supplies with a deadly virus. These team members are not the gun-wielding, grenade-throwing stereo-typical terrorists we see in most TV shows and movies. They are everyday people who have suffered personal loss and who want to fight back. Once their mission is complete, they plan--if possible--to go back to their normal lives. As the mission unfolds, they alternate between excitement and doubt while trying to avoid detection, and in the process, 56
  56. 56. ABE F. MARCH they discover while blending into community life, that Americans are not the monsters they expected. Since the overall mission leader is a double agent working for Israel’s Mossad, group members must not only avoid Homeland Security and other U.S. law enforcement agencies, but the highly effective Israel intelligence agency as well. This subplot is a nice touch in a book that suggests we’re more vulnerable than we suspect.” What are your current projects? Abe: I have two projects: (1) the first one is to revise and expand my first novel, To Beirut and Back, since there was no editing by the publisher. I also want to add some pictures and maps of the region described in the book. (2) The second project is writing about my childhood. I may decide to fictionalize it so as to avoid potential problems with some of the characters or their relatives. As we age, much of our early life is now history to the younger generation. The advances in technology within the past 50 years are dramatic. Riding in a horse-drawn carriage, walking long distances to a one-room school, writing with a typewriter, strict and often harsh discipline, etc., much that seems antiquated today. Life was simpler but not without problems. Where can folks learn more about your books and events? Abe: The best source to learn about my books are on my website: and on Amazon. See excerpt of Journey into the Past on page 67. 57
  57. 57. Please tell us a little about yourself, Gregory. Gregory: I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles wanting two things from life: to write books, and to explore. For a while the latter seemed to preclude the former. I went off to Harvard to study literature – to study it, mind you, not to actually produce any. Upon graduation I was offered the chance to work as a teacher’s assistant at a high school in Athens, so I spent a year of my life learning Modern Greek, appreciating ouzo and of course starting and abandoning a novel. I returned to the US to study law and then moved on to work for the United Nations in Guinea, a beautiful country in West Africa that, like most African countries, only makes the news when something bad happens there. From there I joined my then fiancée in London, where I found work as a corporate lawyer. In London I managed to finish my first novel, which promptly went into a drawer, and to produce a draft of Stunt Road. In 2005 we left London for very rural France with our three-year-old son, determined to escape the rat race. We’re still here, and with a little life experience behind me I have come to see writing and exploring as pretty much the same thing.
  58. 58. Gregory Mose Interviewed by Shelagh Watkins Today’s guest, Gregory Mose, is a much traveled author. His first novel, Stunt Road, is a satire on corporate greed; a book that will make you think and ponder life’s deeper issues. When did you begin writing and in what genre? Gregory: My first completed work was a gripping yet emotionally satisfying tale of Flipper the Flying Squirrel, when I was seven. Shunned by big corporate publishing, I moved on as an adult to strive to produce literary fiction, although I still don’t quite know what that means. When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp? Gregory: I aim for writing that is thought-provoking, morally and emotionally challenging, and funny. I like to explore ideas, but to do so in an entertaining way. If I can provoke people to question the world around them without being pedantic, then I feel I’ve done my job. Message? If there’s a message in my writing, it’s simple to question your own motivations, to stop being complacent. Do you have a specific writing style and preferred POV? Gregory: My signature style, if I have one, is the use of humor to highlight moral ambiguity. And generally to avoid trying to puff out my writing with arcane vocabulary that sends even my most educated readers scrambling for their dictionaries. If we need literature to “save” words like “noetic” or “crescive,” Mr. Roth, then quite frankly they are already lost. And good riddance. As for point of view, I’m drawn to first person narratives, but 59