D.K. Christi

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.

Shelagh: Welcome D. K., please tell everyone a little about yourself:

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 midwestern 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.

Shelagh: When did you first start writing?

D.K.: I started writing in my youth, keeping meticulous diaries under lock and key that were as much fantasy thought as reality. I basically write essays, commenting on life. Recently, I have turned those comments into fiction.

Shelagh: 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.” Amazon.com actually said it best when their editor described my stories as characters rising above adversity, overcoming life’s traumas and ecking 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 to recognize their own selves in the characters, their agonies and their ecstasies, and perhaps find comfort in the resolution of their challenges.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 are real to me in every respect though they sometimes require adjusting with research to make up for imperfect memories or documentation.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 anomolies.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: Please share the best review  that you’ve ever had.

D.K.: I think I hold onto the Amazon.com 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.”

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

D.K.: I am working on a short story anthology, a major work, The Virgin 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.

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

D.K.: website: http://www.dkchristi.com

twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dkchristi

Publisher: http://www.lldreamspell.com

I blog at www.redroom.com and www.amazon.com

Booktour.com 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 Amazon.com where several short stories are also found in Amazon Shorts. The anthologies are also at Amazon.com in print and Kindle. All online bookstores carry my books, and anthologies containing my short stories.

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Abe F. March

Today’s guest, Abe March, has an interesting and varied background that led to the writing of his first book, To Beirut and Back.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: When did you first begin to write, and in what genre(s)?

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 manuscript, which would become To Beirut and Back about 30 years later. Although an autobiography, I’ve been told it reads like a novel.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 12th 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 12th 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.

Shelagh: 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.”

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: Who’s 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 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.

Shelagh 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 stereotypical 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, 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.”

Shelagh: 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.

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

Abe: The best source to learn about my books are on my website: http://www.abemarch.com and on Amazon.

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Jim Hinckley

Today’s guest, Jim Hinckley, has shared his love of old trucks and lost highways through the publication of three books and as a contributor to Old Cars Weekly, Classic Auto Restorer, Hemmings Classic Car, The Kingman Daily Miner and American Road.

Shelagh: Hi Jim, please tell us more 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.

Shelagh: When did you first begin writing, and how did it hook you?

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!

Shelagh: 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.

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!

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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 my transportation choices and wide array of adventures enhance the ability to flavor my automotive and travel writings with a hand on authority.

Shelagh: 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?”

Shelagh: 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.

Shelagh: 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: www.route66chronicles.blogspot.com

In addition, I maintain a website Route 66 Info Center: www.routeinfocenter.com 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 Amazon.com.

Shelagh: Thanks for stopping in on us today, Jim.

Jim: Thank you very much for this opportunity.

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