Marjorie Price

I would like to welcome author and artist, Marjorie Price. Although born in Illinois, she has spent a great deal of time in Europe.

Shelagh: Hello Marjorie, please tell everyone a little more about yourself.

Marjorie: I grew up in Evanston, Illinois and graduated from Stanford University in 1951. After graduation, I worked in television in San Francisco, studied painting and acted in local and regional theater. In 1953, I made my first trip to Europe and stayed six months. In 1960, I left for Europe a second time and remained for nearly twenty years.

After my marriage to a French artist and the birth of my daughter, Danielle, my  husband and I purchased half of an ancient hamlet in Brittany to spend summers in the countryside. The village was called La Salle. When the marriage broke up, I moved to live at La Salle year round. There, I forged a friendship with Jeanne Montrelay, a remarkable, elderly peasant woman who lived in the nearest farmhouse across the road and who was the inspiration for my recent memoir, A Gift from Brittany.

In 1970, I  moved to Rome, Italy, with my daughter, where I devoted myself to painting, exhibited my work in galleries and where my graphics are represented in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Copper Etching.

My work is represented in many private and public collections in Europe and the United States. In 1978, I returned to the United States and settled in New York, where I continue to work as a writer and painter.

Shelagh: When did you first start writing and in what genre(s)?

Marjorie: Looking back, Shelagh, I have always written short stories, essays, and poetry. For years, I was particularly interested in children’s books. In 1980, my art book for children, AlphaDabbles, was published, and a second book for children, 123 What Do You See? was published in 1995.  My memoir, A Gift from Brittany, was my first full-length book, and in writing it, I grew to love the process of writing as much as I love to paint.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Marjorie: When I started writing my book, I don’t think I had a goal or a message in mind. I had just had serious back surgery. I couldn’t walk or paint! I started writing about an unforgettable time in my life, in the 1960’s, when I went to France, married an exciting French artist, and lived in a remote village in Brittany. I got to know and grow close to an elderly peasant woman who meant so much to me that I had often thought of writing about her — but until then, never had time. Beginning the book, I had no idea where it was going to lead me. All I knew was that my pain stopped as long as I kept writing. It was well along the way that I began to understand why I was writing the book, what I had to say, and how the experience of knowing Jeanne and living in the village had changed forever how I saw the world.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?

Marjorie: A Gift from Brittany is not a part of a series, although I have begun a sequel about the years when I lived in Rome during the seventies. Both are stories about a young, adventurous and aspiring artist — the girl I once was — who finds herself, and along the way, finds love in unexpected places.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Marjorie: There have been many books about Americans living in Europe where the protagonist remains an observer or outsider. In A Gift from Brittany, I was not a tourist. I had the unique opportunity of living in a remote village in Brittany where the way of life had changed little since the Middle Ages. Far from remaining an observer, I found myself a part of a world of centuries past and was enriched and transformed by an ancient culture that no longer exists. The experience changed my life.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters? Setting?

Marjorie: Since A Gift from Brittany is a memoir, I tried to remain as true to the characters as possible. I developed character and place by remembering as faithfully as I could the village, the events and the people — even the memory of conversations and facial expressions came back to me. The pull was so strong to remember that I felt I was reliving that time of my life.

Shelagh: Who’s the most unusual character?

Marjorie: Without a doubt, it was Jeanne Montrelay, who is the reason for writing the book.  Knowing her was pivotal in my life. Yet, even now, when I look back, coming from the suburbs of Chicago, it’s a mystery how we became so close. She was 68 when I met her; I was in my late twenties. She had three cows to her name. She was illiterate, dressed in black, called herself a peasant, and had never left the village. Outwardly, we had nothing in common; yet from the beginning, we had a kind of rapport, a deep understanding of each other and eventually became inseparable in spite of barriers of age, language, culture and life experience.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Marjorie: I think it was trying to remember the sequence of what happened during those years, and balancing my memory with trying to tell a good story.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Marjorie: As a painter, I’m very visual and I love the capacity of words to create a picture. In my memoir, I tried to paint a portrait of the village, the villagers, and especially of Jeanne Montrelay with words, much as I would paint a painting. I wanted each character and each scene to come alive, visually, for the reader.

Preferred POV? I enjoy writing fiction, but I seem more comfortable writing in first person. At one point, when I began writing my book, memoirs were looked upon as poison by literary agents. Friends suggested I write the book in third person. I revised a few chapters, changing my point of view to third person. But it didn’t work. It was my story.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Marjorie: Having grown up in a homogenous and privileged society where everyone took modern comforts for granted, it came as a shock to me at first to be among people who lived on only the barest necessities of life. Where I grew up, people were often judged on how much education they had and their material achievements.  But living among people who had never been to school, who didn’t know how to read or write, who had never seen a movie or watched TV, and who lived off the land taught me that when people have no degrees attached to their names and no bank accounts, what’s left is simply who we are. What matters are basic human qualities.

Perhaps because I grew up in a place so different from La Salle and met people who were so different than anyone I had ever known or imagined, the experience was all the more powerful, unforgettable and life-changing. I’m sure it influenced what I had to say and the way I portrayed the village and their way of life.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve even had.

Marjorie: The comment by Malachy McCourt is the one that pleases me the most, because in his unique voice, it seems to me to capture the flavor of the book.

“This book is indeed a gift…A child, a house, a dog, a new country, another language, a snake, a man:  all tumble about in glorious chaos in this soulfelt memoir so beautifully written.  It’s lively and lovely and funny, too.”

– Malachy McCourt, author of Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Marjorie: I’m currently preparing an exhibition of my Bathers Series paintings, which will open on April 3, 2010, at the Delaplaine Visual Art and Education Center in Frederick, MD.  While it sounds like a long way off, I still have to produce a lot of big paintings between now and then. I love to be painting full time again, but I long to have time to get back to work on my book about living in Rome in the Seventies.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Marjorie: An introduction to A Gift from Brittany, photos of the village and excerpts from the book, as well as an overview of my career as a painter, are on my website, www.marjorieprice.com.

Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Marjorie.

Marjorie: My thanks to you  for inviting me to be interviewed on the Literature & Fiction blog.

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Maryanne Raphael

I would like to welcome the prolific writer and award-winning author, Maryanne Raphael.

Shelagh: Hi Maryanne, please tell us a little about yourself.

Maryanne: I was born in Waverly, Ohio, the oldest of ten children. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio University, then went to the Sorbonne in Paris. I was an editor at Prentice Hall and an editorial assistant at Woman’s Day Magazine. I taught at the New School in New York, at Ohio University, at Parker School and the University of Hawaii. I met Mother Teresa and became a co-worker and with her permission wrote two books about her work. Now have ten books for sale on Amazon.com: Runways, The Man Who Loved Funerals, Anais Nin: The Voyage Within, Along Came A Spider: A Personal look at Madness, Alexandria, Mother Teresa: Called to Love, What Mother Teresa Taught Me, Garden of Hope, Dancing On Water, Saints of Molokai.

Shelagh: When did you begin writing and in what genre?

Maryanne: I got my first rejection slip from St. Anthony Messenger when I was five years old. My grandfather typed up a story I dictated to him and we sent it out. I wrote short stories for several years and collected rejection slips. Grandfather says a rejection slip shows you are a professional writer. We write and send it out.

Shelagh: What goals do you want to accomplish? Is there a message in your books?

Maryanne: My goal is to write about things I feel passionately about and share that passion with my readers.  My message is “life is precious” and I hold up various parts of life to myself and my readers.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Maryanne: Saints of Molokai is a nonfiction narrative about the people with Hansen’s disease who were arrested, sent into exile with no prepared shelter, food, water or medicine. It tells of the Kokuas, healthy men and women who accompanied their diseased loved one into a life of isolation. It described Father Damien who cared for the exiles until he caught the disease and Mother Marianne and the Franciscan Sisters who lived in the colony until they died.

Shelagh: What is the hook for the book?

Maryanne: Father Damien was canonized on October 11, 2009.and President Obama praised him and the Congress made a resolution to celebrate him as an American Saint. Also there is an interest in National Parks and the Congress declared Kalaupapa, Molokai A National Memorial Park.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters?

Maryanne: I made a mixture of all the interesting people I know who remind me of the character in my head. It may be a movie star, a friend, a character from a book or play. As I write the characters take on their own personality and characteristics.

Who is your favorite character?

Maryanne: My favorite fiction character from my own books is Charlie: the man who loved funerals.

Shelagh: How do you keep the plot moving?

Maryanne: Almost all of the action comes from the nature of the characters: the conflicts, the relationships, the happiness and sorrows.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred point of view?

Maryanne: My style is to use the shortest strongest words. I want my work to be easily read by young adults and be interesting enough that everyone will want to read it. I like to write third person limited.

Shelagh: How does your upbringing influence your work?

Maryanne: I was raised Roman Catholic and growing up with 9 brothers and sisters I learned early to love and forgive, to have compassion and passion; that helps me understand all kinds of people.

Shelagh: Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had.

Maryanne: Runaways Reviewed by Anais Nin:

“This is an important book. No where else have I seen the theme of the runaways treated as thoroughly, honestly, unflinchingly. It is important because it not only describes the various stories fully, but because it offers suggestions for improving a tragic situation.”

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Maryanne: My web site is:

www.authorsden.com/maryanneraphael
All my books are for sale on Amazon.com.

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Tony Peters

Today, we have a new, young, children’s author, Tony Peters, visiting Literature & Fiction.

Shelagh: Hi Tony, please tell us a little about yourself.

Tony: I guess I can start at the beginning. I was born in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, and I was raised in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I have my Youth Care Worker Certificate, and my General Biblical Studies Certificate. I love working with kids, so having written a young reader book kind of suits as it gives me a chance to interact with kids. I have been married for two years as of May 12 (I know I am only 21, but I am proud to be happily married to my high school sweetheart). I love reading, and have been reading novels since as far back as I can remember. Being a published writer is a dream come true and I hope to make a full time career out of it.

Shelagh: When did you begin writing and in what genre?

Tony: I think I started writing when I was eight or nine, I am not sure which. When I learned how to write stories I was hooked, I couldn’t stop writing. Looking back they seem really lame, almost funny, but hey we all have to start somewhere right? I started taking writing as a serious career path when I took Creative Writing in high school, and I haven’t stopped pushing onward since. I love to encourage kids to write if that’s what they are passionate about. Pursue the dream, and don’t let any failures get in the way. Persevere through the trials and you can’t go wrong, the only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes/experiences and carry on. When I first started writing it was in a whole bunch of genres. My first two books though are kid’s mystery, one is published and the other I am in the process of seeking out a publisher.

Shelagh: What was your inspiration for Kids on a Case?

Tony: My inspiration… good question, I guess that I remembered reading a lot of mystery books growing up that dealt with really childish mysteries and I always wanted to find a mystery writer who wrote more adult situation mysteries for kids. When I couldn’t find any (with exception to the Hardy Boy Series) I decided to create one myself, and so began the creation of characters, setting, and plot (all before I thought of writing as a career choice). The characters in my book come from a combination of my school friends. None of the characters are created from one person. They are all little pieces of people’s characters.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Tony: When Kimberly Mockton is kidnapped by a gang of hardened criminals, it shakes her school down to its foundations. Her family is terribly distraught and their cry for help goes out to the community. Tyler Bowen, Kimberly’s good friend, fellow classmate and local trouble maker, gets caught up in the fray when he overhears a conversation at an abandoned house that leads him to believe he has discovered Kimberly’s kidnappers. Knowing no one would believe such a story coming from a child, he pleads to his classmates for help. The few who believe him form their own group of private investigators.

It’s Tyler Bowen and the “Kids on a Case” to the rescue! The group of friends find themselves searching for the kidnappers and with the help of Police Chief Goodall they are hot on their trail. They must use quick and strategic thinking in order to keep up with the moves of the criminals. It will lead them to use methods someone of their young age shouldn’t have to result to. With their lives at risk, they will use both determination and perseverance to follow the investigation where it leads them.

Their investigation will challenge them to search within themselves for the strength to go beyond their age. It will stretch their minds and physical strength to limits they never imagined they had. Their young lives will never be the same again…

This is a short series (there may only be two; I have not decided yet).

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Tony: The hook for Kids on a Case is that it is adult style mysteries taken on by children. This draws in the attention of children as they really are miniature adults who want very much to be like us in every way. Also my characters are all very different bringing many aspects to the table making it easy for the readers to find someone they can connect with.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting in your books?

Tony: I will deal with setting first. Since my books all take place on a planet very similar and yet very different than ours, I have created detailed maps of the planet. When I bring up a city I must create a map for it so that it will match up in every book. These maps help me develop settings and keep them congruent with the previous work.

Characters are a lot of fun for me to create, I especially like coming up with fun names. I will have to keep in mind the characters role in the book and try to come up with characteristics/personality traits that will suit their role. I come up with as many little details as I possibly can, although many of these details never come onto the paper, they are still kept in mind when molding them. It’s kind of fun to picture the character in your mind, the hard part is getting that picture into the minds of your readers.

Shelagh: Who is your favorite character?

Tony: My favorite character so far is Tyler Bowen, my main character. Maybe it is because he reminds so much of myself when I was younger (with a few major changes of course). I have molded him into a brilliant young boy with a heart of gold, who cannot keep himself out of trouble. He goes where his curiosity leads him with no regard of the consequences.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Tony: When I write I make sure that I have a clear picture of the plot before hand, writing down as many details as I can. Of course things do change as I write, but then I still have my outline to fall back on. I am a compulsive organizer so everything must be done just so. Keeping an outline and detailed plot in mind focuses my attention when writing so that I will always be able to keep the end goal in sight.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Tony: I actually do not have any particular Point-of-View that I stick to. I like to write a variety. I guess first person makes it easier to relate with your characters, but it does limit what you can do with secondary and tertiary characters.

I think that my style also changes with each book, it kind of depends on what I hope to accomplish with each book. I do prefer fun and easy going, but I can be serious. I enjoy reading sarcasm in books, so that may have affected the style of Hunting Black Dragon. As Tyler ages he is becoming more bright and sarcastic. He does not like stupidity and the reader sees it in his thoughts, which I hope will bring some chuckles from my young readers. Sarcasm also slips into my next YA drama through Liam Kerrigan and his dealings with two inconsiderate detectives.

Shelagh: Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had.

Tony: This review was done by Ariel at bookatopia.blogspot.com/:

Tyler is well known for having a knack for getting in trouble, and when his friend Kim goes missing he gets together a group of friends to try and find her. The police are on the case, however they always seem to be one step behind the kidnappers and the kids’ help proves to be indispensable to track them down.

When I was reading this book I couldn’t put it down until I reached the end, the plot is well thought out and the author is great at using imagery in his descriptions. I would have liked to get to know the characters better and for Donuro to be explored more, it sounds like it has the potential of being an interesting place but it isn’t mentioned much, it left me curious about it. This is the main reason I have given this book a rating of 3.5 and not 4 as I personally like some level of detail where relevant. I only wish that this book was longer and I am looking forward to the release of the sequel.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in young adult mystery novels. Visit the author’s website for more information http://tonypeters.webs.com.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Tony: My current projects are my sequel, Hunting Black Dragon, where Tyler and his friends are hunting down a gang of ruthless criminals. He must free a friend’s father, while working with the police and government agents. It ends up being much more difficult and dangerous than he could have ever imagined.

I am also working on an adult war novel called The Swenoran Rebellion. This one is about Admiral Juan Alvarez. He must free his country from the hands of a ruthless tyrant. All because of a promise he made to the previous Emperor. Although it may very well cost the lives of everyone he holds dear, he will honor his oath.

Another project is a young adult drama about a pair of young boys. Six year old Jordan Connor, whose parents are divorcing, while he suffers from leukemia; and Liam Kerrigan who has been abused by his drunk father for many years, whose parents are also divorcing. The pair develops an odd friendship and must help each other through these hard times that no child should have to deal with. The question is who is helping who?

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Tony: To find out about my books and events they can go to my website, http://tonypeters.webs.com

I am also on www.facebook.com www.shelfari.com www.gather.com www.myspace.com and www.goodreads.com

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Gail Koger

Romance author Gail Koger, has a quirky sense of humor, which she uses in her fast-paced novels that are full of adventure.

Shelagh: Gail, please tell us a little more 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 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.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Gail: What would you do to save the Earth from annihilation?

Shelagh: 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 kinda take over and off we go.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 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.

Shelagh: 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 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.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Gail: I have an author’s page on www.goodreads.com or my website www.gailkoger.com

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Pat Bertram

Pat Bertram, author of Daughter Am I, A Spark of Heavenly Fire and More Deaths Than One, says 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.

Shelagh: 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 backdrop of my life, they figure prominently in all of my books.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Pam: 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.

Shelagh: 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!

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.”

Shelagh 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. 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.

Shelagh What are your current projects?

Pat: My WIP, 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.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Pat: I have a website – http://patbertram.com — 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. http://ptbertram.wordpress.com

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.

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Donald James Parker

Donald James Parker is author of Reforming the Potter’s Clay, Love Waits, Homeless Like Me, Angels of Interstate 29, and the Masterson Family Series including The Bulldog Compact, More Than Dust in the Wind, All the Voices of the Wind, All the Stillness of the Wind, and All the Fury of the Wind.

Shelagh: Hi Don, please tell us a little about yourself.

Don: There is nothing exciting in my life to spice up a bio. I went straight from high school to college. I obtained my degree in four years and then my life became less predictable. I taught school for a few years before giving up the classroom to program computers. I discovered the computers listened to directions much better than teenagers. My heart is still with the young adults though. It was hard finding my way when I was a kid. Our world has become much darker and more dangerous since then, making the coming of age process a very precarious one. My goal is to help teens find their way to lead a productive, healthy, and joyful life.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite and in what genre?

Don: I dabbled with writing back in 1980. The real journey to publish began in 2006. I’m not sure the bug has bitten yet, because I’m not compelled to write out of love for the publishing jungle. I hate having to classify something as a certain genre. I think I cross genre lines with my work. My books are about life and man’s relationship with God. Life doesn’t stay within genre lines. If you have to pigeonhole my work, Christian fiction will perhaps be the most meaningful classification.

Shelagh: When you began writing, what did you write?

Don: I started out wanting to write about sports, coping with life, and love in order to challenge people to live life to its fullest. Demonstrating morality and good life choices was a big-time goal for my first novel. Now after maturing, I find my message is similar but incorporates God into the equation as a main ingredient rather than just a catalyst.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Don: My latest book, a stand alone titled Homeless Like Me, came out in September of 2009. Members of the writing community should enjoy it because the protagonist is a wannabe novelist. He decides to write a story about the homeless and disguises himself as a transient. His disguise doesn’t fool one of the regulars, a three hundred pound, angry, black man.

The two become an odd couple and work together to produce the book. A twist of fate occurs when the hero falls in love with one of the volunteers at the rescue shelter. Due to her influence, the hero has to entertain the notion that God might really exist, bringing about agony of the soul in deciding what to do about his book.

Shelagh: Who is the most unusual character?

Don: Zeke is a huge black man who hangs out at the shelter. He is unemployed as a result of a former drinking and anger problem (mostly directed at his father) that earned him some jail time. He takes the wannabe novelist under his protective wing to help him with his project. His journey to learn to forgive his father is one of the main themes in the book, even though he is only a sidekick and not the hero.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting in your books?

Don: To be perfectly honest, I don’t develop anything. I just sit at the computer and type. When I get done, people ask me how I did that. I can only say it is a God thing. I don’t analyze what I’ve written and contrive to add a dash more romance or make a character a tad meaner or more loveable. I sometimes wonder what kind of monster I could create by applying my computer analysis skills to my writing. I don’t plan on finding out anytime soon.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Don: See the answer to question above. Mark Twain said that anyone attempting to find a plot in Huckleberry Finn would be shot. I might suggest that trying to find a plot in my work is a daunting challenge. I like to duck out of this one and say that my novels are character driven instead of plot driven. I usually don’t know what’s going to happen myself until I write it. Some people call that writing by the seat of your pants. Others might call it creative genius.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Don: I have a distinct (I think) writing style. I don’t follow rules very much. I’m trying to tell an engaging but edifying tale, not conform to someone’s arbitrary regulations for writing a good novel. I couldn’t care less about setting and description. The interaction of my characters, their conversations, and their thoughts are the things I focus on. My characters carry on intense and humorous (I hope) conversations that I refuse to interrupt with meaningless literary fluff. My POV is usually third person omniscient. I like to get into my POV’s head and reveal his or her thoughts.

Shelagh: How does your environment and upbringing color your writing?

Don: I was raised in a rural area. My hometown, in which I am living again, had fifty-four hundred residents when I grew up. I spent a lot of time on my uncle’s farm where I learned the facts of life and death. The importance of character and reliability were hammered home in that crucible (or maybe it was only an incubator). My heroes are usually people grounded in such character with emphasis on honesty, hard work, and the golden rule. They might have their moments of wavering, but they always find their way back to the straight and narrow.

Shelagh:Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had.

Don: Hard to choose. I’ll use this one from Apex Reviews:

All the Voices of the Wind offers a deeper, more probing look into the inner workings of a family in constant flux. The bond between Jeremy and his father remains strong, but as its strength is tested by Jeremy’s budding relationship with Maria, the reader is presented with a realistic portrayal of just how difficult it can be for family members, no matter how close, to preserve the integrity of their respective unions. In addition, Donald James Parker – in his typical intrepid style tackles the topic of evolution head-on, offering insightful, well-thought-out analysis of the issue from all sides. His attention to detail ensures that the reader comes away with a comprehensive, in-depth perspective on the matter, and he does ultimate justice to a spirited debate that only continues to grow in intensity. Moving, engaging, and entertaining, All the Voices of the Wind is a heart-rending literary treat.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Don: I am working on perhaps my most ambitious novel yet – a story of an American Indian reservation and a clash of traditional native religious practices and Christianity. In addition I’m just putting the finishing touches on an anti-vampire novel and have started a novel dealing with demons, which will be somewhat similar to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Don: My website is www.DonaldJamesParker.com Details about all of my books are found there, and my ebooks can be downloaded for free.

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Malcolm R. Campbell

Malcolm R. Campbell, is author of The Sun Singer and two satirical novels in the Jock Stewart series.

Please tell us a little more 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.

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 an 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.

What’s the hook for the book?

Malcolm: 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.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Malcom: 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 http://www.malcolmrcampbell.com and my author’s weblog at http://sunsinger.blogspot.com/.

Thank you for joining us today, Malcolm.

Malcolm: I enjoyed chatting with you here today, Shelagh.

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