Featured Author

Every month we honor an author.  It could be a current best selling author or one that just published last night.   One of their books will be featured on our front page and we will write up something here about that author.  We may do pictures, discount or free books, interviews or just jotting down info.  

January, 2012
Going to start off the year with something a little different.  I recently joined a writer's group that has turned out to be so much more.  Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA) centered in Portland, Oregon brings together members from all over the Pacific Northwest and it is quickly blossoming into an above-average writer's support group.  They have a busy year planned with book signings, conferences and many, many more things that will get your book noticed and selling.   They are a great group of over-achievers that love helping fellow writers.  If you are lucky enough to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and write, I strongly advice you to check out this group.  Benefits far, far, far outweigh the joining fee of FREE!!  Here's the web site but skip that and go straight to the discussions!  The following authors are all members of NIWA.  Featuring them this month is the least I can do to promote their cause.

NIWA Authors

NIWA presents stories to chill the heart and warm the soul.

An old school sci-fi murder mystery in the vein of Clarke and Asimov; A mousy cubical drone with desperate hidden desires; A servant of evil hell-bent on a bargain to make himself immortal; The wasted land of the future holds more than a girl thought to find; Unannounced visitors push a wounded vet to the edge of sanity; A lonely man and a shopkeeper find faith in the smallest of articles; In war and peace, some scars never fully heal, and sometimes the monster in the woods may be your only chance not to become prey.

From the coffee stained, microbrew soaked Pacific Northwest comes a collection of speculative fiction from the Northwest Independent Writers Association. NIWA has assembled eight short pieces from up-and-coming local authors, ranging from stories to keep you awake at night, to tales of swords, sorcery, and humanity’s far-flung future.

My name is Lucy Satin, and I’m seventeen years old. I grew up in a prison for crazy people because I can see things, phantoms that nobody believes are there. But I know they’re real. I’ve always been able to see them, as long as I can remember.
That’s why my parents abandoned me.
The people here do horrible things to me, and seems like all my friends die before me. But no, not all of them. I have my true friends, who understand me. People call them the Unseen.

What would it be like to be a twelve-inch-tall girl among normal humans? To make things worse, what if you couldn’t remember who you are or where you’re from?
That’s Tierza Velvet’s problem. She woke up locked in a mailbox, and a young boy found her and took her home. Is she a faerie? She has no wings though. A freak created by science? With her new friends, Tierza has to find her past, and quickly, because an unknown poison is weakening her.
This book contains twenty fantastic illustrations by Stephen Lauser, who also did the cover art.

Warning: The recommended dose of these stories is four or five in one sitting. Overdosing may cause side effects such as dizziness, chest and abdominal pains, shortness of breath, watery eyes, and uncontrollable laughter. Reactions will vary depending on your sense of humor and possibly your body weight, though I can’t see how that would affect anything significantly.
From the humorist who unofficially dubbed himself an ‘emulator of the inimitable style of Patrick McManus’ comes a premier collection of short comical stories. Forty delightful and insightful anecdotes about life in general fill these pages, told through the eyes of a cynical, witty, and outdoors-loving country hick writer named Matt Lauser. His friends liven things up, a colorful bunch of characters ranging from the smart-alecky young Stretch Wheenie to the obtuse older Stretch Wheenie he becomes. You won’t forget Jesse Sawyer, an odorous mountain man who introduces the loveable hero to hunting, fishing, and camping. Matt’s rough country ways clash with the finer customs of city-dwellers in amusing conflicts, and his time in school is anything but boring, despite what he might tell you.
The contents of this book should be taken like aspirin…a few at a time to relieve the occasional stress-induced headache. Comic Relief should be instant.

We all have things in our past we would like to change.
A genius is near to unlocking the secrets of time travel…in his garage. If he succeeds, he will be able to undo a terrible tragedy. But he is not the only one who has a use for time travel. Soon he is embroiled in a lethal game of cat and mouse. He’s the mouse…there’s more than one cat…and everyone knows the game won’t end until somebody’s dead.
But who knows what awaits him in the past?

Luke Alistar is a freelance author, humorist, novelist, composer, pianist, guitarist, mandolin player, blogger, amateur actor, carpenter, and much more. He currently has five books available for sale, and just put together a band with their debut album in the plans for 2012. He's been published in the Writer's Digest magazine, and his novella Offset placed as a finalist in the 2010 One Year Adventure Novel Contest (www.oneyearnovel.com) His thriller Snapshots then took first place in the 2011 contest, winning him a college scholarship and
other goodies. Luke writes regularly for Kingdom Pen (www.kingdompen.org), a newsletter by Christian young people for other Christian writers.

Luke's blog, running since February 2010, has gathered a strong readership; he updates it regularly and posts a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction, poems, songs, essays, book reviews, and articles on many different subjects. Go to www.lukealistar.com and take a look.
On her return from Yetzirah, the magical world she and her twin sister Elena first visited as children, Elise discovers that a butterfly has come back with her. But this is no ordinary butterfly. Crafted of silver wire and sapphires by one of the pocket wizards it should not have been able to cross the barrier, and it should not have been able to fly without magic, yet it has done both of these things. This event, and others which follow, lead Elise and her friends to believe that the barrier between our world and Yetzirah is weakening. If the barrier falls it would mean the end of both worlds. To reach the only one who can help Elise needs her sister's help, but will Elena help save a world in which she no longer believes? 

Austin Ward believes she's coping well with her overwhelming fear of the dark, until she finds herself locked in a windowless room...right before the lights go out. To overcome her phobia Austin seeks the help of a therapist. But her search for healing is sidetracked when those around her begin to die in brutal ways. 
~ Cover Art by D Sharon Pruitt, Pink Sherbet Photography

Pam Bainbridge-Cowan is the author of the epic fantasy novel The Butterfly, book one in the Yetzirah: The Pocket Worlds series and, as P.J. Cowan, the author of the thrillers, Something in the Dark and Cold Kill. Her short stories have appeared in Alien Skin, Argus, Space and Time, Visions, and have been read on OPB supported Golden Hours Radio. She has worked as an audio producer, a magazine editor, and in criminal justice and human services. She is a member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and a guest lecturer on novel writing at the community college. She lives in Oregon with her husband where she can most frequently be found in the company of a book, a computer, and a dog or three.
Five hundred years ago, a Dark Lord bent on spreading evil and corruption gains the ability to live by drawing power from those he kills. Rancor is a true cannibal. An inquisition by the suspicious Mundane Movement wipes out all magic wielders, causing Rancor to vanish, and heralding a dark age of religious repression. Five centuries later, the benefits of magic have long been forgotten and the legend of Rancor lives on only in stories … that is, until Rancor returns. Just two things stand between the Dark Lord and the destruction of all life— Princes Ambria of Kardoma and Greymar of the Doom Swamp. Only time will tell if two great nations and their leaders will collapse into civil war before they realize exactly who is pulling their strings.
In the footsteps of Hemingway, Conan Doyle and London, Andy Bunch is an adventure writer. He has traveled extensively along the West Coast, built a church in Mexico, sung for his supper in Canada, and taught Archery in Alaska. He’s trained in CPR/First Aid, Shao Lin Kung Fu, Kajakenbo, and Vin Tsun martial arts. He’s sky dived, rafted class 4 rapids, drank moonshine with felons, dined with royalty, spent a week in the woods with only a knife, flint, black-plastic and some TP, and studied British history in Great Britain.

Andy has College coursework in technical, essay, short story, & novel writing leading to a Penguin Award for student leadership, and later a degree in business management. He has worked as a technical writer and a document control specialist, been a contributing editor on the “Salmon Creek Journal,” and the fiction editor of “The Phoenix” Magazine. Both his fiction and nonfiction appear all over the web.
In the late 80's Heavy Metal ruled the airwaves and crowned MTV King of  Video. From L.A. to London this musical melee couldn't be stopped. Rising to the top of the scene, the Hollywood Cowboys lived like gods of thunder and rock n' roll. Behind the music, they saved their fans, and the world, from the forces of darkness lurking beneath the neon glitter of everyday reality. Addiction, sleaze, fast cars, and demonology... Welcome to the jungle and hang onto the saddle. The Hollywood Cowboys are about to take you for a ride.

Other stories by Mike:

A self-proclaimed Metal Maniac and lover of Horror, Mike is hard at work on the next Hollywood Cowboys novel. A proud father of two, he lives in the beautiful Pacific NW.

Patrick is a knight returning from the Crusade. He has lost faith in all things, but a stranger offers him a new beginning as a protector on legendary Avalon. It is there, among ghosts and goblins he is tempted to believe in people again. That is, until the ultimate villain arrives bent on destruction. Patrick soon learns before he can battle monsters, he must first defeat his personal demons.

Adam Copeland was born and raised in Silverton, Oregon. He attended Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) in Ashland, Oregon. There he studied business, chemistry and French. He spent a year study abroad in France and has ever since been passionate about traveling internationally, going to places as diverse as Asia, Africa and Mexico. He is an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain trekking and scuba diving. He is a co-founder of Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). Adam currently resides in Vancouver, Washington State where he is an active member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

David Ryan is the designer of ELOPe, an email language optimization program, that if successful, will make his career. But when the project is suddenly in danger of being canceled, David embeds a hidden directive in the software accidentally creating a runaway artificial intelligence. David and his team are initially thrilled when the project is allocated extra servers and programmers. But excitement turns to fear as the team realizes that they are being manipulated by an A.I. who is redirecting corporate funds, reassigning personnel and arming itself in pursuit of its own agenda. "Hertling builds a picture of how an AI could emerge, piece by piece, from technology available today. A fascinating, logical, and utterly believable scenario - I just hope nobody tries this at home." —Nathaniel Rutman, Senior Systems Architect "An alarming and jaw-dropping tale about how something as innocuous as email can subvert an entire organization. I found myself reading with a sense of awe, and read it way too late into the night." —Gene Kim, author of Visible Ops

I am a science fiction writer. My first novel, Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears, is a techno-thriller based in Portland, Oregon. My second novel, AIpocalypse, will be available in 2012.

When I'm not writing prose, I'm writing code or developing web strategy. I work in a variety of web development, strategy and program management positions at HP. Among other activities, I pioneered a Long Tail approach to customer support. 

I'm also interested in sustainability and graduated from Bainbridge Graduate Institute's Sustainable Business MBA program.

Lucy Hayes instinctively knows there has to be more to life then the monotonous daily grind. When Lucy meets Eli, she dives into a whirlwind of revelations that an alien invasion took place. But thousands of years ago that has haunted Earth since. Sacrifices are to be made. Lucy not only must battle the Dark Brotherhood—she must battle the war inside her heart.

Cynthia Robbins was born in Salem, Oregon and raised on a local farm. She attended Silverton High School and moved onto college earning her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Western Oregon University. Cynthia professionally works with youth offenders, teaching life skills and critical thinking for more then twelve years.

Cynthia loves to express herself artistically and recently found that writing a book is an art form by placing the right words together to form sentences, paragraphs, and chapters to paint a picture for others to view her mystical visions. The Light Warrior is her first novel, opening a new medium as she continues to write both books and screenplays.

Cynthia is passionate about metaphysical concepts and trying to unbend her mind. The last fourteen years involved devout study in such subjects as quantum physics, sacred geometry, cosmology, the 2012 phenomenon and human origins. Cynthia strives to inspire others to find inner greatness to light their own candle in the world.

ATLAS: the largest interplanetary ship ever built. It's an asteroid mining vessel, a refinery, a manufacturing plant, and a public relations statement all rolled into one massive vehicle. With it, the future of Belt Group's influence in an increasingly exploited Solar System is nearly assured. -- Until it disappears.--  The last people to see it: a group of innocent miners whose livelihood it threatens. Tasked with tracking them down: a monomaniacal corporate troubleshooter. Her boss: a ruthless climber of the executive ladder. Caught up in the chaos: a corrupt bureaucrat with his own agenda, a smuggler king of the inner system, and a anti-government demagogue inciting rebellion throughout the system.  --These people, caught up in events outside their control, must struggle to survive in a Solar System torn asunder by the forces of political and economic change. 

I am a writer aspiring to join the ranks of the semi-professionals. I have decided that, in order to prove that I have what it takes, I will write a novel in six months. This blog is an account of that experiment, success or failure. It’s as much for me as it is for you, so I may go off topic. In fact, depending on badly the writing is going, I may go way off topic. So bear with me, and if you enjoy what you read, drop me a line.
As for the story itself, here’s my one-sentence “pitch”: “An interplanetary conspiracy grips the Solar System; innocents must uncover the truth to recover their lives.”

Interested yet?

Interview and Review by Sue Owen
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December, 2011
Jake Bannerman
I feel it necessary to warn readers that Jake is very much a tell it like it is kind of person.  I did not edit the thoughts in this interview because they are very much Jake Bannerman.  The language may be offensive to some people but I wanted a writer that told things from the other side of the coin.  Too often Christmas is about giving and taking of gifts and we forget there's a battle going on between good and evil.  If we don't want evil to win, we have to expose it for what it is.  Jake does that nicely and that is why he's the Featured Author this month. /sn

Recent news from Jake: 
The demise of The Goat Franchise? Not exactly more like one of my favorite sayings "As fire swept clean the earth" we've just been burnt down to grow new again!
Harvest is out on Smashwords and Amazon.com and will be out in print as promised on Christmas Eve at midnight!!!
Right now I am in the middle of planning stages for Pitchfork 2 and working on the first draft for K-13 as well as working on Family of Dog : Return to Sender the second install of the FOD series!!
Interview and Insight
Where are you from?
I am from Seaside Heights, New Jersey and let me state now I hope the people on the show New Jersey Shore all die miserable deaths. I fucking hate what they have made my hometown look like to the world!

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I never really knew until I was a teenager then I wanted to be Nikki Sixx!

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I don't know how to unwind and relax.  Ask the girls who used to work for me.  I am constantly in a stressed out mode.

What is your favorite food?

Seafood, Mexican food, Italian food.  Then p***y!
Tell us your latest news?
Just released The Harvest and I'm starting my tour for interviews, blog posts, etc. basically pissing people off. Lol. I cannot win.  If I stick my tongue in someone's ass; it's offensive. If I play it safe; people are not interested.  So I say fuck
It and I tell it like it is; damn the consequence!

What are your current projects?

Right now my
main goal is to get Harvest out in print (the print version has a bonus the ebook does not have, it contains an unedited raw version of a story from Pitchfork 2 called "Room Full Of Hangers")
After that, I am working on the book that will come out between Pitchfork 2 and Family of Dog: Return to Sender which is the second installment of the Family of Dog Trilogy.  But before that I am releasing a book called K-13 which is completely different than the family books it is horror but more traditional nothing theological.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Oh people think I'm kidding when I say this but Silverstein is my favorite! Where The Sidewalk Ends is pure fucking genius! And Neitzche is a huge influence!

When and why did you begin writing?

This is an important question for the reason that I want to claim publicly I do not claim to be a real author.  I started this crazy ride in March of 2010. I am a complete novice so you pointing that out to me in reviews pisses me off. I started because I have a story that has never been told and I believe I am the person to tell it!

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

My father Ric Bannerman taught me to question everything.  He influenced every decision I make and he is the reason I am writing with my middle finger in the air!

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

Well as mentioned my father is a huge influence. Also being brought up in a home with a Catholic and a Baptist made my religious upbringing very interesting. I did not know who the fuck to pray to Mary or Jesus?!?!

Do you have a specific writing style?

I want to push people to the extreme when I write.  I want people to just have their jaws on the floor eyed wide open saying "I cannot believe he just said that shit!!"
  I want to force people to look at things in a different way.  There are millions of sides to the coin not just 2. I've said it before; I'm not a kid in front of a church in a Marilyn Manson shirt looking for attention.  I have something to say.  Rebellion without direction is pointless.

How much of your work is realistic?

Depends on how and who you ask!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Yes; it all came from a dream about the devil!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes; topping myself! I mean have you read Pitchfork ? How do you top that? Pitchfork 2 is going to give over the top a new definition!
   It's also hard to keep the work understandable to people because my thoughts are so spastic.  It has to be heavily edited.

Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?

I want to write for a living.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I wish!!

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Set a schedule and keep to it.  You have to live your writing or you are just spinning your wheels. Kiss your significant other and tell them they just became # 2.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Never. I have 11 books going on.  My well is deep.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
  How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Everything always starts with a title for me and many times the story itself does not even follow the title.  For instance I just finished a story for Pitchfork 2 called "Masturbating the Afterbirth" and it is a horrific twist on the tooth fairy. Nothing like the title and that makes some people uncomfortable.  They say it causes an issue with the flow but that's just how I write.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Coffee, Laptop, iPod, Cigarettes

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Nothing yet.

If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?

I want the readers and the industry to say Jake Bannerman was fearless and made it his way, I'm nothing special but I am not following rules or trends or I would be writing about homosexual vampires or zombies.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I wrote Harvest, Pitchfork and 30 chapters of Sender and pieces of K-13 so far in under a year.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Hectic as fuck! I write 3 nights a week 6 hours at a time.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Just dive into it! Believe in your writing!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes! That there is a very, very dark place inside of me and that I am completely insane.  I should be locked in a padded room.

Do you see writing as a career? 
I hope so!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I think it's important to tell people I am an extreme narcissist.  If you are not around to help me I have no
need for you. And I can be extreme and destructive even to myself! However the trick is I use that extremity in my relationships and dedication to those who support me!  If you are on my side I will KILL for you! If you are not I could care less if you fucking die. It's harsh and extreme but it's true! If you are on my side you are my main interest forever because supporters make writers! And if not seriously I have no emotions for you!  I am a lighthearted witty guy. I love to laugh. I am all about good vibes but this shit is my future.  Grab on spread the word help me succeed and I will share it with you but if not please go away. I answer all emails.  Hell I even talk on the phone to people who buy my books and support me.  I am extremely loyal to those who support me.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

The book I just released is called The Harvest and it is about a group of people who sold their souls to the devil and they sue him for their souls back! Let's just say raising hell is not what they expected but the devil shows up for court and it is insane!

Who designed the covers?

The cover for Harvest was designed by a friend in San Fransisco who chooses to remain unnamed. The cover for Pitchfork was a collaborative effort between Julliane Snow and myself. 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Some of them yes! And they are all positive, like I said earlier I usually get their phone numbers and call to thank them.  They are my friends; I do not beleive in the word fan.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

A great question! Family of Dog relates to the fact Dog is God backwards and is a lyric from a song called "Chapel of Ghouls" by a band called Morbid Angel.  The sub titles all have to do with the subject of each of the books.  Harvest is based on the crop.  You will understand when you read it. Pitchfork Diaries is actually based on a chapter from Harvest called "Forked Tongue Diaries"

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes very much so! But that message is for you to find!  
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes I would have made it a bit longer because I did not reach novel size with Harvest.  It's only like 37,000 words and 210 pages. But Sender is going to be huge!

What books have most influenced your life?

The bible it is the most terrifying book ever!

What are you reading now?

I do NOT read when I write.

Do you think Americans are reading less than they have before?  Why or why not?

Yes because as a society we grow more lazy all the time. Why read when I can see the movie? It sucks!

Jake Bannerman Toronto/Okc/Heartford @jakebannerman
Facebook J.S.Bannerman
Find my books at Amazon.com

Interview and Review by Sue Owen
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November, 2011 

Question: What makes you write? Do you have a specific motivator or something you do to get yourself to sit down and write?

Answer: I think I write because I’m an introvert who is intensely verbal. Writing gives me the ability to explore reality more vividly and perfectly than simply living the average day. I write every day and have found that the world does not want anyone to write--it always interrupts--so I do it first thing in the morning, 8 to 11 or 12. Then I’m tired and free to take on lesser tasks, one of which, of course, is reading. I try not to read more than one book at a time so I can concentrate on it, but I’m always reading books--fiction, history, philosophy, politics, poetry, and psychology. Anyway, I’ve been doing all this for so long that it’s ingrained. Writing is who I am. Reading is who I am. It’s been that way since early adolescence. I wouldn’t even call it discipline. It’s desire.

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Robert Earle was asked to rejoin the Foreign Service and go to Iraq to help the U.S. ambassador and commanding general think through how to quell the insurgency and stage Iraq's first democratic election.  He tells his tale through novelistic accounts of the players involved (Americans, Brits, Iraqis, and others). At the midpoint in his assignment, he develops a life-threatening deep vein thrombosis and is medevaced with wounded soldiers. These are some of the most dramatic scenes in the book. He assumes he'll never return to Iraq, but the ambassador insists he's needed, so he returns over the State Department Medical Office's objection (the fear is that he's on blood thinners and could die if injured).  He can see the insurgency will get worse but the risky election is essential if there is to be any hope for non-violent reconciliation. So he advises the ambassador and commanding general to push ahead on both fronts--fight the insurgents and support the electoral process (which leading Iraqis fear because it might end in violent chaos.) The ambassador has another assignment for him, however. He is to write a message to the president saying that the insurgency is growing and the United States must plan for at least five more years of war to stabilize the newly elected government, and its successors.  This message is not what President George W. Bush wants to hear in late 2004.  He ignores the message, and as a result, the situation in Iraq worsens until the famous "surge" is ordered two years later…at the very last moment and at very great cost in life and destruction.
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Question: We are coming up on the holiday season. Do you do anything different with your writing than normal?
Answer: No, I do everything the same. By the time family and friends have gotten out of bed, I’m finished with my writing. I may curtail it by an hour or so, but there’s always something I want to write, or revise, or plan. Planning what I write--taking notes, developing chronologies, playing with “mind maps,” which some people call “webbing,” is fun and productive.

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“This rich and accessible book argues that ongoing changes within North America will stimulate an examination of each nation’s sense of identity and provide fresh opportunities. . . . This fascinating book shows the outlines of those forces that are inexorably making the 21st century.”—Foreign Affairs
Edited by Robert Earle and John D. Wirth

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Question: As it gets darker, does that bring darker thoughts to your writing?
Answer: I think you’re referring to seasonal affective disorder. Yes, it can affect me, especially since I’ve suffered from depression since my late teens. Now I do three things: I take medications; I use a special light first thing in the morning (I’m using it right now as I’m answering this question--it’s not expensive); and I exercise intensely. I don’t mind the cold and snow, I mind being cooped up, and I do mind the shorter, darker days. But does this bring darker thoughts to my writing? I’ve never noticed that. When I’m writing, I’m in another world altogether.

Question: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Answer: I like Thanksgiving best because I’ve always celebrated it with friends and sometimes strangers. One memorable Thanksgiving I was invited to a dinner hosted by a family with a very large house; their tradition was that after the main meal, you had to run around the house three times before you could be served dessert. I really liked that.

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The Way Home is a novel about a family in trouble that breaks apart when the grandfather dies. Husband, wife, and son go their separate ways.  Each has to mature and confront him or herself. They are a family from the west (Los Alamos, New Mexico) but for different reasons, each goes east on a personal quest of self-discovery.  The son, Max, 17, faces the toughest challenges and probably comes through them the best.  But the end is a new beginning for all three of them because his parents have grown up, too.

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Question: For me, I get in the holiday spirit as soon as the first snow falls. One year that was before Thanksgiving!  What starts the holiday season for you?
Answer: Thanksgiving starts the holidays for me. But the truth is that it feels like a holiday any time I get together with my two grown sons.

Question: Turkey or Ham for Thanksgiving dinner?
Answer: Years ago my mother-in-law suggested that she might serve ham for Thanksgiving dinner. I sent her a newspaper clipping of turkey on sale. She got the idea. We had turkey.
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The Man Clothed in Linen begins with a virgin named Mary brought to Herod’s sickbed to warm him as Abishag the Shunammite warmed King David. It follows Herod’s recovery and perverse decision to name his less worthy son, Archelaus, as his successor so that Archelaus will bear the brunt of the people’s discontent, clearing the way for the younger Antipas to gain the throne. When Herod hears that the virgin who comforted him is pregnant, he orders the child killed. Joanna the steward’s wife thwarts Herod without his knowledge.

On Herod’s death, Palestine goes up in flames. Rome asserts itself. Nicolas of Damascus, Herod’s former counselor, beseeches Augustus to allow Antipas to at least rule Galilee and Peraea, but there a charmed boy who escaped Herod’s wrath appears, a boy who ultimately follows and succeeds John the Baptist.

The battle thereafter is set: Pilate wants control of all of Palestine, Herod Antipas wants to reclaim the entirety of his father’s kingdom, and Jesus thinks Palestine is no more than a prelude to the ultimate conquest of the human heart.

The Man Clothed in Linen presents the grandeur and vanity of imperial power before focusing on kings and queens in dusty sandals. Caught in Antipas’s scheme to counter Pilate and recover Herod’s throne, Jesus is a figure both uniquely real and vivid yet also true to the mysteries of the New Testament. His vision, faith, and miracles emerge naturally from a powerful narrative surging toward its tragic end.

Ultimately, Nicolas of Damascus uses his connection to Pilate to ensure that Antipas is given a final chance to save his half-brother Jesus. When Antipas turns his back on Jesus, Pilate takes Jesus’ life...exactly as Jesus had foretold.

NOTE:  Look for a review of this book in future Paper Mustang blogs.
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Question: What are you going to be thankful for this year?
Answer: I’ll be thankful for the same thing as always: I’ve been married almost forty years and we have two great sons, and I’m living the life I want to live as a writer.
Question: Are you cooking and what time is dinner!?

Answer: In recent years our custom is to go to a friend’s house for dinner. She spends two weeks preparing it. There’s turkey (and ham!) and gourmet preparations of string beans, sweet potatoes, stuffing, other garnishes (onions, olives, deviled eggs) and three or four elaborate desserts from peach cobbler to what I call ten pound chocolate cake. Other folks come, too. We help keep her family at bay while she focuses on getting the food out. This is ridiculously generous of her. All I do is eat and talk and listen. One of her brothers is America’s leading collectors of old Saabs. He also holds some world records on the pogo stick, several of which he has invented. I’m not making this up!

Robert Earle can be found at Red Room

Interview and Review by Sue Owen
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October, 2011

Pam is one of those unique souls that can write in two completely different genres and be successful in both.  Her renowned success in writing "Yetzirah" which was reviewed by PM earlier this year is followed by an equally promising success with her new thriller "Something in the Dark."  
A recent newspaper article about this month's Featured Author was titled, "Split Personality." This is because science fiction/fantasy author, Pam Bainbridge-Cowan, is also suspense thriller author, P.J. Cowan.  For this month, out of respect for the season of witches and things that go bump in the night, we will take note of the darker work of P.J. Cowan.

Here's a few words from Pam:


Where are you from?
I was born in Germany and as an army brat traveled a lot. I lived in 17 different places and attended 13 different schools by the time I was 13. I now live in Oregon and have no plans to move out of the state…ever.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a scientist, either a chemist or biologist. I also considered being a librarian and even glued card holders in all my parents' books so I could check them out to the neighborhood kids. I also published my own newsletter when I was twelve and thought about being a journalist.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I don't. The closest I've come to really relaxing is a hot tub at the beach at night, listening to the waves, while a light rain fell and I sipped white wine.
Tell us a bit about your family.
My husband is a robot mechanic who's more of a gear head than a geek. He's brilliant and can fix anything if you hand him the manual. He's very supportive of my writing. My two kids are in their thirties and are really good people. I'm proud of both of them and am really thrilled to be a grandmother of a two year old. That's a new role for me and one I didn't realize I'd like so much. 
What is your favorite food?
I want to honor my Atkins lifestyle and say something healthy but I love chocolate cake. I'm pretty sure just writing that added a pound. Sigh. 
Tell us your latest news?
Well, I just found out I'm being honored as October's Featured Author by Sue Owen at the Paper Mustang. Oh, you already knew that!
What are your current projects?
I'm working on Cold Kill, the story of Keyla Conner, a probation officer in Ilaloona County (my fictional county in Oregon). A serial killer is seeking revenge against three police officers, but instead of attacking the officers directly he stalks their girlfriends, and wives. My main character is one of those girlfriends.
I'm also working on marketing my new eBook Cards, a way for bookstores to profit by the sell of eBooks. It's an idea friends have urged me to keep a secret but I am going to offer the idea to all my indie friends, up to and including offering my time to help create their own cards. I'm test marketing in two stores this month but plan to offer them to every independent bookstore I can find. It's quite an undertaking. 
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA) is a fledgling group of independent authors that are committed to helping other independents develop their skills as writers and as marketers. We want to help remove the stigma of the indie as unprofessional or not publishable by conventional means.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
John Sandford, whom I've never met. I remember picking up one of his Prey novels. I read the first few paragraphs and a sense of the mood of the place, the time, it was all very clear. I knew that was the "feeling" I wanted my book to convey. The characters and some of the plot had been in my mind for awhile, but once I had the mood, thanks to Mr. Sandford, I was able to sit down and write Something In The Dark, my first novel.
When and why did you begin writing?
I always loved to read and did so from an early age. I thought the people who could do this were magical. Then, when I was thirteen, a friend of mine showed me a story she'd written. I read the entire thing and was captivated. The story was good, but more than that, the story was written by someone I knew. I realized at that moment that I could be a writer. I've been one ever since. 
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first writing group read one of my short stories out loud and afterwards there was a dead silence. Later, the group leader explained the silence was the result of having taken them so far out of this reality that it took a moment to return. She said that if someone asked what I did I should never tell them what it was I did for money. I should always say I was a writer, since that was so clearly what I was. Basically she gave me permission to consider myself a writer. Thanks Dotte!
Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think reading has taught me how to write. I read a lot, partly because I read really fast, thanks to a speed reading course when I was young. I like to try to read outside of my genre and my usual preferences. I've joined book groups as a way of forcing myself to do that. I've also learned that purposeful analysis of the books I read, looking for what works and what doesn't, has been tremendously useful. And last, but not least, the influence of my reviewers and beta readers is just irreplaceable. Especially when they find a fault that I keep repeating, because that makes me aware and I'm able to find and fix those errors.   
**note by PM:  Any chance we can convince you to do a guest review for us??**
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
The Pacific Northwest plays a big part in my writing. The flora and fauna, the weather, the dress and culture are all very important to my books. As for my upbringing, the travel exposed me to a lot of things that now color my stories. I certainly know what being torn from friends feels like, or how it feels to be the new person. I'm sure some of that sense of being the outsider shows up as a theme.
Do you have a specific writing style? 
People say I write great dialogue, that it sounds "real." I think that's because I write very much in a stream of consciousness, not worrying too much about rules of grammar or punctuation. My writing is about the story, and is therefore not literary writing, which is more concerned, I think, with the words. My writing is informal, very genreesque, if you don't mind me inventing a word. Each day, when I reread the prior day's work and clean up the mechanics, I try very hard to keep the natural rhythm and flow of my characters thoughts and words. It's very easy to overcorrect and turn natural prose stilted, dry and lifeless.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I like writing thrillers. I like the bad guys and trying to figure out why they're bad. I also enjoy writing science fiction/fantasy because I love to manipulate science to create my own worlds.
How much of your work is realistic?
In the sense that my characters are composites of people I've known or read about, very real. The plot for Something In The Dark was based on an actual event. The main character in Cold Kill is a probation officer, which I was for a time. The rest is all just my imagination trying to take those realistic elements and characters and throwing in a big, imaginary, what if, stirring the pot, and seeing what happens next.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Time. Or I should say, the lack of time. I have so many ideas for both writing and marketing but so little free time.
Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
My hopes are simple. I want to write several good books. I want people to find them, read them, and return for more.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I hate to be redundant but again, lack of time. I write at night and if I'm in the zone I'll stay up until 2 AM, which means when I have to get up at 6 AM I am going to a very tired, very caffeine dependent person.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Join a writing group that motivates you. Take classes, not only to help you improve, but to get you into a life long habit of learning. Read in your genre so you know what the rules are. If you're writing a western you shouldn't have to ask someone how many pages the average western has, you should be able to pull one, or five, off a shelf and look. And finally, plant yourself in a comfortable chair and write.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don't believe it exists. I believe in being tired, or bored with a particular storyline. In that case I'll take a shower, go for a walk, read a little, take a nap, or write something else. I always have more than one project so if one is stuck I'll just work on another.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I read once that good guys should have goals and bad guys should have reasons. I think that's critically important if you don't want cardboard characters. Pay attention to time lines. Not forgetting that Christmas is a big deal if your story takes place in December, for instance. Mechanics, such as grammar and punctuation keep you from looking too lazy to learn your craft, and will lose your reader's respect. But most of all tell me a story I want to hear. Make the characters worthy of my time, and the resolution worthy of the character. 
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Usually I'll have the germ of in idea for a story. The ending will come to me and I'll get excited because now I know I've got a real story. I'll start developing characters. All of this will take place in my head. Finally I'll decide where and when the action takes place. At that point I start writing an outline. I usually plot scene to scene, writing bridges between, which often will spin into sub-plots. I'll also begin developing characters. I'll ask myself what they look like, where they work, even what astrological sign they are, and most importantly, what they want. From those character sketches other sub-plots will naturally develop and I'll put those into the outline, or on a sticky note. 
I'm working on an eBook, The Visual Learner's Guide to Completing Your Novel. It's the basis of the lecture I give at the community college. It’s a bit too detailed to go into here but once it's complete I'll be happy to share a link.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A way to put words on paper and an imagination. To be a published writer? Thick skin, persistence, and a passion for writing that drives you past all obstacles.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
I wanted to be published and I've sold several short stories and hundred of articles. When tax time comes around I love seeing those 1099s with Royalties written on them, the taxes, not such a thrill. I also got my first box of my own book delivered this year. When they arrived my whole family was excited. My son even wrapped the plain, brown UPS box in wrapping paper so I'd have the fun of unwrapping it. That was a great moment.
Any recent appearances that you would like to share with us about/any upcoming ones?
I'll be at Orycon33 in November, sharing a table with NIWA members. Anyone else attending please come say hello.
If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?
I would like someone to read one of my books and feel hope that the world can be better for them tomorrow than it was today.
How long does it take you to write a book?
My first book took three years. My second book took one year. My third book took six months. The book I'm working on now may well take three years if I can't break away from the time spent marketing books one, two and three!
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I want to say I work X number of hours or write X number of words per day, but that would be a lie. I tend to write in cycles. I get my outline and character sketches prepped and then I wait for an opportunity to start. I like to have a nice six hour block of time, so often I'll start on a Sunday after breakfast since that's a working day for my husband. I'll then write every possible moment for the next few days. While I'm in the zone my husband will bring me tea and insist I stop for meals. I'll drive to work in something of a daze, scribbling plot points on any scrap of paper. I've even pulled over in order to set my phone to record so I can capture some dialogue that's occurred to me. After work I'll do the same thing. I won't sleep much. I'll obsess. But finally the first draft is complete. After that I'll schedule blocks of time for rewriting and the pace will slow considerably. 
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Probably that whole zone thing. Getting so obsessed that I forget to eat, drink or sleep.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
When you write about the darkness of a person's soul, when you put on paper the ugly things you've read, or seen, or heard it dissipates the power of that thing. I think the reason so many of the horror writers seem like such nice people is because they've taken all those dark, night terrors and brought them to the light, where they fall apart.
Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Something In The Dark is my first book and therefore the most autobiographical. They say you shouldn't publish your first book, but I think it's a good read, and nicely, brutal. Yetzirah: The Pocket Worlds is  about how we need others in order to heal. The message it contains is very hopeful. Cold Kill is about courage. I'm just not sure I can choose. It's like asking which of my kids I like the most.
What do you think makes a good story?
A character that I like struggling and becoming a better person because of that struggle.
Do you see writing as a career?
I do. I'd love to be able to quit the day job. I'd also like to help other independent authors with formatting, cover design, and other services. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to be able to make a living in writing either directly as a writer, or through some involvement with writers.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers.
Thank you. I appreciate that you're taking a risk spending your money on a new author. Though I've been traditionally published as far as short-stories and articles, my novels are all self published. Also, thank you for asking what happens next? That means you want more, and that gives me the energy to keep going.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Both of my thrillers take place in Ilaloona County, a fictional place in Southern Oregon. Something in the Dark was a mystery. Cold Kill, the new novel, is suspense. The book shares the killer's point of view so there is no mystery, only a growing sense of suspense as the reader watches him get closer to fulfilling his goal, to kill the loved ones of the men he's angry with.
What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Writing group friends who said I was trying to pack too much inside a short story.
Who designed the covers?
I design my own covers. I do a lot of design work in my day job so it seems natural to do so.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I've only just begun getting feedback for my novels, since they've only been out for a couple of months. I'm hearing really good things. The only negative was that the prologue to Something In The Dark was a bit slow. Other than that I've been pleasantly surprised at how many people say they'd like to read more about the characters, and when will the next book be out? That's a fantastic thing to tell a writer.
How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
Something In The Dark deals with achluophobia, or fear of darkness, so that was a natural. If I had it to do over I'd probably have named it simply, In The Dark. Cold Kill is about a man looking for vengeance and cold is going to be a big part of that.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Most of my stories and books end up dealing with the themes of revenge and justice. Will readers see that? I hope so.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It's too soon to say. I hope I'll read it a year from now and find places to improve because I'll have improved as a writer.
What books have most influenced your life?
I started out reading westerns. Every Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour I could find. Then I moved to Science Fiction and Fantasy, Tanith Lee, Phillip K. Dick, Greg Bear, James Tiptree Jr., I could list them all day. I also began reading thrillers, Lisa Gardner, John Sandford. All books have influenced me; made me think.
What are you reading now?
Echoes of Avalon by Adam Copeland, and Suffering Rancor by Andy Bunch. I just finished The Millionth Year by Jamie McCracken.
What new author has grasped your interest?
I'm getting ready to read Hollywood Cowboys by Mike Chinakos. I've been told we share a similar leaning toward darkness so I can't wait to see what that means. I'm also waiting for Brad Wheeler's first novel to come out. I've had the good luck to be able to read some sections and am already a fan. I suspect that Wheeler will be one of the new hot Science Fiction writers. 
Do you think Americans are reading less than they have before?  Why or why not?
I think eBooks are replacing dead tree books and that the portability will make books popular again, especially short story anthologies, serials and novellas. Of course I hope we always have books in print. Nothing will ever be the same as the smell and feel of a new book, or the anticipation you feel as you open that cover for the first time
Book Excerpts
Yetzirah (see PM review)
On her return from Yetzirah, the magical world she and her twin sister Elena first visited as children, Elise discovers that a butterfly has come back with her. But this is no ordinary butterfly. Crafted of silver wire and sapphires by one of the pocket wizards it should not have been able to cross the barrier, and it should not have been able to fly without magic, yet it has done both of these things.

This event, and others which follow, lead Elise and her friends to believe that the barrier between our world and Yetzirah is weakening. If the barrier falls it would mean the end of both worlds. To reach the only one who can help Elise needs her sister's help, but will Elena help save a world in which she no longer believes? 
Something in the Dark
Based in fictional Ilaloona County, Oregon, "Something in the Dark" tells the story of Austin Ward, a woman dealing with achluophobia, a paralyzing fear of darkness.  Austin believes she's coping well with her phobia, the result of a traumatic childhood incident, until she finds herself locked in a windowless room, and someone turns out the lights. 

Austin finds a therapist to help her overcome her fears and the debilitating anxiety attacks they produce. But her search for healing is sidetracked when those around her begin to die in shockingly brutal ways. With her once safe world crumbling around her, Austin is driven to discover the killer. But who is it? Is someone seeking revenge? Has a serial killer come to her small Pacific Northwest town? Or, has something sinister followed her from childhood, something she met once before...in the dark? 
Cold Kill
Keyla Conner is a probation officer, volunteer with search and rescue, and girlfriend of a deputy sheriff. A man has arrived in her small town, nestled in the shadows of the Cascade Mountains, an angry man willing to go to great lengths to get revenge against those he feels ruined his life. Keyla will need to call on every bit of skill she has to survive, because it's not the deputies of the Ilaloona County Sheriff's Department that are his targets, it's their wives...and girlfriends.
(as yet unreleased.)
Oh wait.... there's more
Short Stories
Pam has, in her spare time, created some memorable short stories.  A few are linked here for your enjoyment.  
  • TheOther WomanNocturnal Ooze and the NIWA Anthology of Speculative Fiction-Horror
  • The Teacher, Space and Time-Science Fiction
  • The Corvoshay Effect, OPB supported Radio-Science Fiction
  • Slipstream, OPB supported Radio-Literary Fiction/Fantasy
  • More than Seashells, Rogue River Echoes-Literary Fiction
And still more
CD - Stories of Oregon from Blue Dawg Audio
A collection of short stories about Oregonians complete with voice talents of Pam’s friends and music by Milen Slavov an internationally renowned musician from Bulgaria.  As Pam puts it “we wanted to capture that rather indefinable something that's uniquely Oregon. Sort of a 1 part frontiersman, 1 part environmentalist, a little urban culture all tossed together and stirred with a lot of rural landscape.”
Association Memberships

Please contact Pam in either of her two personalities.
By Day:  Pam, the YA Writer              By Night:  Pam, the Thriller Writer

Interview and Review by Sue Owen

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September, 2011

It is my personal pleasure to introduce Carolyn McCray September's Featured Author.  There's so much to be said about and for Carolyn that I couldn't fit it all in one blog.

Please check out her blog Carolyn McCray which is loaded with information for Indie authors. 

She's the founder of Indie Book Collective which is full of helpful hints, ideas and must knows for Indie writers.   They also feature contests such as Book of the Month, Bestseller for a Day and Blog Tour de Force that have proved extremely helpful in getting Indie books noticed and sold.

Let's get started with her latest work, then some questions, and finally the rest of her books and contact information. 

 30 Pieces of Silver

A book as controversial as it is thrilling.  
Overview of 30 PIECES OF SILVER...
***Warning*** This books is an extremely controversial religious/historical thriller. Too controversial to be published in hardback. Please do NOT purchase this book if you were at all disturbed by DaVinci's revelations. However if you like your fiction to challenge historical events, read on...
A Christian suicide bomber.
John the Baptist's bones inscribed in ancient Greek.
A dark secret carried from the foot of the crucifixion.
Can science solve the world's greatest mystery?

Where are you from?
I was lucky enough to be raised in the absolutely beautiful Napa Valley. Of course equally lucky I also had a haunted barn out back. I think both of those facts explain a great deal about me. 
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
There is a theory that whatever you were excited about as an 11 year old, that is what you are supposed to do as a grown up. At 11 you have separated from your parents tastes and have yet to be influenced by peer pressure.
Well, I was dragging the kids around the neighbor making Nancy Drew mystery tapes and had a bunny rescue. Hence I became a veterinarian and a writer. No great surprise there.
What is your favorite food?
Lasagna. Need I say more?
How much of your work is realistic?
When I write historical or scientific anything (thriller, paranormal romance, etc), I try to keep the facts as best I can. I only alter reality as much as I have to in order to make it fit the story line. My favorite thing is to really blur that line between fact and fiction and make you wonder (and even hit up Wikipedia) what is real and what isn’t.
Without that level of research and detail readers will shrug you off and spend more time mired in “that can’t be true,” then they are in the art of the story.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the right balance between writing and marketing. You want your books out there, but then you would also like to see them sell ;-)
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Shut up and write. Yes, I just told every new writer out there to put aside their fears, doubts and excuses for not writing and just write. Whatever problem you have or skill set you need to learn can be done so by WRITING ;-)
Learning, taking courses, and honing your craft is all great, but at the end of the day you must WRITE.
I talk about this a lot on my writing advice twitter stream, @writingnodrama
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
Writer’s block is a myth. Sure, you can stall out. You can be stymied by a plot turn, but blocked? Nope. This “block” you speak of is nothing more than your fear standing between you and your muse. Take fear out of the equation and voila, no more “block.” 
So, no I am never “blocked.” Usually a nice brisk walk or bath with clear my head and I will get past my stall. It is usually a matter of hours before I am writing again. I simply don’t let fear into the equation any more. J
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Being an international bestseller is pretty awesome. Seeing my royalties grow past my doctor’s salary is also pretty nifty.
Of course I have also formed the Indie Book Collective which is all about indie authors coming together to help each other. It is so amazing to have over 7,000 members and over 20 volunteer staff all dedicated to really making authors lives richer and more connected.
If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?
I rocked their world. #enoughsaid
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Study your craft (especially story arc and the hero’s journey) then APPLY it. You will never improve until you get in there and write, then rewrite. You actually learn far more and improve your craft in the re-writing stage, so don’t be resistant to it or afraid of re-writes. They are what make your next book so much better J
Do you see writing as a career?
Is this a trick question? Obviously, yes I do. And seldom will it be a career until you, yourself, consider it one. If you take yourself  seriously, so will others.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My latest book is “All Hallow’s Eve – The One Night It Is Bad… To Be Good.” A horror novel to keep you up late at night during this “scary” season. A twisted serial killer is murdering people in the style of the Catholic martyrs.
I wrote this under my pen name Cristyn West since it is kind of my “Carolyn – After Dark” persona. As always when I write under Cristyn, this is an intense read that “goes” there. 
Also under Cristyn West I have an anthology coming out “The Evil Within,” a great collection of horror shorts that will be available October 1st for Halloween.  My contribution is “So Young. So Dark,” and features Special Agent Kent Harbinger, my hero from “Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware.”  It is also full of grit and tension.
Who designed the covers?
For the most part I fully design my covers, however for certain novels such as my YA fantasy “7 Folds of Winter” I commissioned a book cover and for “The Evil Within,” we also commissioned an amazing cover. Basically if I feel that I can really capture the essence of the book with my skill set, I take it on. If however I am just not inspired or what I want exceeds my skill set, then I hire professionals.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from readers ALL the time. For the most part they want to know how I came up with my ideas and how I had the guts to “go there,” in most of my novels. It really is a great feeling to get an email from a fan who just loves my work.
Of course there are others who are poking needles in a voo doo doll with my face on, but hey, that comes with the territory.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think I would change anything about my current book, but I would probably have decided on a genre and went with one genre to get established before branching out into the fifteen I currently write it.  But then I might never have gotten around to writing my YA fantasy “7 Folds of Winter” or my contemporary romance, “Indian Moon,” and I can’t imagine not having those books not in my library.
What books have most influenced your life?
Anything by Tolkien, Asimov, George R.R. Martin, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These are what I read as I grew up and they shaped me into the author I am today. I was/am a voracious reader and reading all of those stories just baked storytelling into my bones.
Do you think Americans are reading less than they have before?  Why or why not?
They are definitely reading more. With the advent of eReaders and the lower price points of eBooks it seems that reading again is flourishing.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Of course I can’t go a single interview without mentioning my good friend and mentor, James Rollins. His books kick some serious booty and I have been lucky enough to be writing “buddies” for nearly two decades with him. If you haven’t read anything by him, you should check out “Devil Colony.” It truly is an amazing read!
In her own words ….
Everyone tells you that “Writing is a Journey.” What they fail to mention is that it is like one of those road trips you take with your family when you were young.
At first your journey sounds so exciting, everyone is enthusiast, and they swear they have gone the bathroom before getting in the car. Then, not a half an hour into the trip there is whining, yelling, and somebody is puking all the Starbursts they ate that you told them not to.
As the long road to publication stretches out in front of you, it seems that you will never arrive at your destination and everyone keeps asking you “is your book done yet?” NO. WE ARE NOT THERE YET. NOW BE QUIET AND STOP HITTING YOUR SISTER OR I WILL PULL THIS CAR OVER.
Yes, writing is a lot like those long ago unending car rides. But what amazing journey is seamless or easy, right?
What I can tell you after my 10th “journey,” down the publication road, is that it does get easier. You know the great rest stops. You have support and a sense of confidence that can only be gained through doing. It is no longer “will I get there,” but “I hope the room service is great when I get there.”
So if are on your first “journey” and the kids are slapping each other in the backseat, take a deep breath. You can do this.
Just like any road trip is clocked mile by mile, a book is simply written page by page.
Like I said.
You can do this.

Other Books by Carolyn McCray

Books by Cristyn West


Interview and Review by Sue Owen

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William caught the eye of the Paper Mustang team because of his marketing philosophy.  Although none of the phases (as he calls them) are new, they are uniquely personified and seem to be moving his debut book, The Dark Province, up the Amazon scales.    In William's words:

My primary means of marketing in this phase is through social media and online PR. There is a facebook fan page, I am very active on twitter (approaching 2400 followers), I have a public facebook page and a private facebook page.  I have organized appearances in four different cities (including Washington D.C. and Los Angeles) and am working on another at an indie bookstore in Long Beach, California. I also have an e-mail list that I use to stay in touch with my readers and keep them updated on my current projects. I have done a number of interviews via, radio, podcast, and in column form with book bloggers and ave guest moderated #litchat on twitter on many occassions. I blog on writing regularly as well. For a list of press features visit www.authorwilliam.com/press. There are currently 26 reviews of THE DARK PROVINCE that have been written by readers or reviewers. There are currently 8 reviews pending from book blog reviewers from Scotland to Toronto and from Brazil to here in California.

William was further generous with is time and stopped by to answer a few questions for us.  Here are his responses.

Tell us a bit about your family.
I was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia not far from Washington D.C. My family was very strict and religion was sort of the dominant centerpiece of family life. My father was a lifetime educator, teacher, counselor, principal, and deputy superintendent with a doctorate in education. My mother held a master’s degree in public administration and worked for the department of defense when I was born. They instilled in me the value of relentless hard work and the critical importance of getting a good education. As I grew older I developed into somewhat of a moderate thinker, which came off like a raving liberal to some of members of my family. My wife was raised in a more liberal family and shares many of my moderate viewpoints. We often joke that to her parents she was this staunch conservative and we managed to meet somewhere in the middle.
What are your current projects?
Currently I am continuing to promote and get the word out about my debut novel THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN, which I published independently last year. THE DARK PROVINCE is an adult fiction fantasy adventure novel about a man who struggles with his own faith, religious loyalties, and personal demons on a quest to save his dying sister. It has been an amazing journey and continues to be. I am also working on my next releases. One, titled THE TRUBAKER ORPHANAGE, is a far cry from the genre of my first novel. It is a coming-of-age love story about two childhood friends set in a secluded desert down in California. The other project I am writing is the sequel to THE DARK PROVINCE.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I had enormous support on the launch off my first novel from friends dating all the way back to high school. They really showed a lot of love and interest in this new journey of mine. I also received great support from fellow artists and players from the Empty Stage Comedy Theatre and Magic Meathands Improv Comedy Ensemble. These are improvisational theatre communities in which I teach and perform. I am so very grateful to all of them.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
The influence of my upbringing and the environment during my youth has been profound. It is more than evident in my debut novel. As I grew older I found myself in conflict. I had love for the traditional roots and what they had taught me about faith and the divinity of love, while at the same time I had become disillusioned by the often toxic prejudices of the church. I grew weary of transgressions that ranged from subtle belittling of entire cultures to blatant hate speech shouted from the pulpit. Those elements and their bitter conflict are part of what defines Calvin Gooding, THE DARK PROVINCE’s main character. My current project, THE TRUBAKER ORPHANAGE, is set in an isolated desert town and has a strong theme of “what makes a family?” I think my own feeling of isolation as a youth both religiously and racially helped paint the background canvas of this new piece.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I do. I heard about creative writing classes in high school and thought it sounded very interesting. I began writing in a journal in the 11th grade and found it to be an amazing release. To put complicated emotions to paper and use language to express oneself precisely…I was hooked. I took one of those creative writing classes and began writing poetry, then short stories, then plays, then screenplays in college, then began developing novel ideas in my 20’s. I haven’t looked back.
If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?
I would like to be remembered as a courageous artist that created works of great feeling; that I didn’t shy from touchy subject matter but wrote right at them with unique and captivating characters.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write the first draft of my novels longhand, in pencil, and in a spiral notebook. I get a lot of comments from writers that see that as a little nutso. I love it, though. It helps me feel more kinetically in touch with the work and helps create effective pacing. No racing by moments emotionally. Writing longhand roots me in these moments and encourages me to explore them and share what I see and feel with readers. It has to be a pencil too. No pens. I like the sound of a pencil’s lead on paper when I’m writing.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Indeed I did. I learned how much I still love many of the teachings that I learned growing up and even in my profound disappointment at times I am still connected to the revolutionary ideas of divine love and true forgiveness.
What inspired you to pen your first novel?
The two main themes of my debut novel are the relationship between faith and religion and sexual culture vs. sexual morality. I was inspired by the duplicity of American views on sexuality. On the one hand it is something the makes people very uncomfortable to talk about or be around. On the other hand it is used to sell every product under the sun and it a constant fixture in almost every thing we mass mediate. Sex is in the news, in our movies, on our TV shows, in our magazines, which puts it in our grocery stores, on the freeway through billboards, on posters at bus stops and on the buses themselves. That contradiction fascinated me so I created a world where open sexuality was the norm but instead of making the culture one with this sort of taboo illicit sense about them, I made them noble and ancient. To complete the work I needed a character that could be thrust into this world that would only go if desperate. It was then that Calvin Gooding was born and his quest to save a dying twin sister was realized.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from readers. It’s some of the most fun an author gets to have. Mostly now I hear readers calling for the sequel to be done promptly. It’s certainly gratifying to hear readers want more from this originally created universe. At times I do hear readers thoughts having been shocked by some of the more provocative moments, some which are erotic, some rather troubling. I got to meet over sykpe with a book club in Virginia Beach shortly after the book was released. That was one of the more cherished moments from this journey. They were an engaging and energetic group of smart readers with great questions and thoughtful reflections.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have found that readers are taking a variety of messages away from THE DARK PROVINCE. If I had to say there was one, I would say it was that the existence of God is not bound or captive by anyone’s religious ideology and that “He” exists outside the constraints of modern religious belief. We’ve become too self-righteous and made God a part of the self-celebratory party that is our human ego. It may be time to take a beginner’s mind and courageously reevaluate our religious traditions—not to do away with them but to re-authenticate them with the help of our honest observations and experiences.
What new author has grasped your interest?
Randy Susan Meyer is a new author that has grasped my interest. She courageously wrote a novel about two girls whose family was broken by domestic violence. She is a smart, thoughtful artist who is a candid contributor when she plays guest to writer forums or panel discussions on the craft.
Do you think Americans are reading less than they have before?  Why or why not?
That’s hard to say. I think that Americans are reading quite a bit just not all of it is fiction and with the explosion of reading material on the internet (blogs, online news reports, etc.) American’s reading choices have diversified. Many see reading as an escape or form of entertainment. In this, fiction is competing with movies and television as it has for decades. The explosion of entertainment via online media—webseries and video streaming for example—has added another formidable competitor. Perhaps its more fair to say that their reading time is limited and the author/publisher of fiction may be competing more than ever for their precious reading time.
What books have most influenced your life?
When I was in elementary school I loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madaleine L’Engle. I found it so imaginative and because of that I found it a refreshing place to disappear into. When I was in high school I read a number of the classics but there was something about the feel of A Separate Peace by John Knowles that stayed with me for a long time, and is still with me today. It had a sort of nostalgic atmosphere that I think has influenced the way I deal with worlds in my own writing. As an adult I gravitate toward books that confront very personal social issues. Caucasia by Danzy Senna was probably my favorite book from my twenties. I loved how it dealt with racial identity in such a unique and private way. Last year I read The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyer which dealt with children whose lives had been uprooted due to domestic violence. Socially relevant, personal—I really liked it.

Finally, William has agreed to share and excerpt from his debut novel, The Dark Province.

My anxiety inflated each time I attempted to close my eyes and cure my vision, only to reopen them to a ghostly cloud thicker than was there just a moment before. My panic was so profound that my attempted call to the masons emerged as merely a half-gasped sputter that sounded, I’m sure, more like a vigorous yawn than a distress call—if it was even heard at all.
With speeds greater than lightning, my mind rotated through scenario after vainly assumed scenario of what might be occurring. They were as far-reaching in diversity as the most remote provinces of our world. A fire, a demon, the specter of death himself, smoke seeping from a kitchen, or a candle in the room I’d yet to notice. Or perhaps I had injured my eyes without knowing and was beginning to lose my sight as a result. Perhaps a disease connected to Mari’s illness was beginning to take effect, and I would soon be lying comatose awaiting holy condemnation similar to the one that had been freshly pronounced over Mari’s life.
And then I heard it—her voice. Its texture was smooth, and its tone confident. Her words resonated as though rich in color, while at the same time they embraced and warmed me like the rarest handmade blanket in the wintertime.
“Hello, Mr. Gooding,” she said. I could not see her nor determine exactly where the voice was coming from, though at times I felt like I could almost make out a figure within the mist. The voice itself seemed to come from all around me. “Don’t be afraid,” she continued. “No harm is meant you; quite the contrary. Your prayers have been heard. The intercession you have sought stands ready to be fulfilled.”

Thank you so much William for taking time to visit and share with Paper Mustang.  We enjoy very much getting to know you and your work and look forward to reading the rest of your work.  Here's contact information for William.  Be sure to subscribe to his Newsletter.

Author Site

Order from Amazon
Or Signed versions from William's web site

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Sharon currently has two books published and one almost ready for release.  I had a chance to sit down with her and visit.  Following is her interview and information about her books.  She's also let me sneak in a peek at her about to be release book.  Check it out below.  Promises to be a page turner for sure!

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?  The answer to this question is difficult because my dream career would fluctuate as often as the Oregon weather. Weather woman, marine biologist, dolphin trainer, writer, animator, zookeeper; the list goes on and on.
What do you do to unwind and relax?  Read. I am always reading. Romance, paranormal, scifi, basically anything with adventure and fantasy elements are good to me.
Tell us your latest news?  I am in the process of editing the second book in the Midnight series, titled Taken by Midnight. I also have in the works the first book in a paranormal series and the first in a paranormal novella series. I am super excited about both and you can check out my blog BySharonNelson.blogspot.com for details.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?  I still have a hard time calling myself a writer. I love to write and am so excited about publishing my books but it is still more of a hobby. I suppose if I ever write enough to do it full time then I may start calling myself a writer.
Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?  Everything I see, read, watch, or touch can bring me inspiration. I find a ton of inspiration in the places I visit. I am working on a book that is located in Portland Oregon and I have been on several trips where I go out with my family exploring the city. My son has taken to calling these trips "location scouting" because I will take pictures of places that inspire me and use them for settings in my books. He gets very excited to read those parts in the books because it is somewhere that he has actually been.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?  I write in several different genres, romance, historical romance, paranormal, young adult and middle grade. I am happy to work in all of them and normally have a project in each going at all times but I have to say I love paranormal the best. I am fascinated with the paranormal world and there are so many creative options in world building when working in this kind of environment. That and I have always wanted to be a witch. 
What inspired you to pen your first novel?  I have always loved writing stories. When I was little I would take lined paper and tie it together with string and create books. As I grew older my writing turned more personal and I began to keep journals. A few years ago I joined a writing group with a friend and found that I really enjoyed writing and the process. Before I knew it I had finished a few books and was publishing my first book Pursuit of Midnight. I am now fully hooked and addicted to writing.
Who designed the covers?  I designed the covers for both of my books. I have to say that cover design is a far more stressful process than writing for me. So much rests on the cover of your book. It is said that you should not judge a book by its cover but that is exactly what happens, especially in the e reader market. The cover is so important and I went through tons and tons of covers before finally settling on the ones I have.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?   I have heard from several of my readers. Mostly their comments are positive and they are looking forward to the next book in the series. I am always overjoyed to hear from readers whether their comments are good or bad, its just nice to know that someone is reading my book.
Do you think Americans are reading less than they have before?  Why or why not?  I think that overall Americans are reading more. With the internet and e reading devices being so common now people are able to take their reading with them like they never could before.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  I have two favorites. The first is Janet Evanovich with the Stephanie Plum series. Her books are laugh out loud funny. I adore her characters and could read her books over and over. The second is Charlaine Harris. She has several different series and I highly recommend all of them. They are fantastically written and each one has a different feel but they all draw you in and make it so that you don't want to leave. If you haven't read them, do. 

Here are Sharon's current works and their synopsis:

Pursuit of Midnight

Society believes that her twin brother is dead, but the recently widowed Lady Cadence Cooper was given reason to believe otherwise. A message delivered by a mysterious veiled woman has led her to suspect the involvement of the Midnight Club in his abduction. In order to keep her sisters out of danger, Cadence has no choice but to enlist the aid of a perfect stranger to help her. 

The Duke of Remington owed her father his life and she is hoping it will be enough to convince him to aid her. Little does she know that the current Duke of Remington is not the same gentleman her father once called friend and getting this dark stranger to help her may cost Cadence more than she is willing to offer. 

Blake Morris, Duke of Remington has his own reasons for investigating the Club and when a very audacious Lady with surprising information about the club demands his assistance, he has no choice but to succumb to her demands. Before long he is caught up in her crazy plans and swept away by her courage. When a plot is uncovered that could destroy London they will risk everything to save the city, their families and each other. 

Will they be able to unravel the secrets of the Midnight Club? Or will they lose more than just their hearts in The Pursuit of Midnight. 

Where to Buy Amazon      Barnes and Noble      Smashwords

Medallion of Protection

For Alexandra Raeanne Maeheart life could not be more perfect; or more boring. Growing up in a small town has left Lexi yearning for some sort of excitement. On the day of her fifteenth birthday she walks home from school contemplating her dull existence and discovers a medallion at the edge of her yard. 

Before she knows what is happening she finds herself stranded in a forest that is unlike anything she has ever seen. As she searches for help and answers she discovers that she is no longer on Earth but has been transported to Kalara; A world of magic controlled by a dark sorcerer, Lord Braxton, who intends to conquer all of Kalara and destroy Earth. 

The only power great enough to stop Lord Braxton is the Light of Kalara, which has been broken into four medallions and hidden by a magical Druid named Morana. Without even a chance to catch her breath Lexi is informed that she is the Chosen One and must find the medallions. As she tries to understand why she was chosen for this seemingly impossible task she discovers that her life on Earth isn’t exactly what she thought it was.

Along with her friends Jaxa and Kelton and her tiny dragon Toto, she is sent back to Earth to find the second medallion; the Medallion of Life. The Druids warned her that Earth would be different but when she arrives on her home planet she cannot believe her eyes. Earth is no longer the boring normal planet she grew up on. It is a world full of magic, mythical creatures and danger. As she struggles to find a balance she must outrun Braxton’s dark assassin, outwit a fairy queen and navigate a strange but familiar world.

Will Lexi find the medallions before Braxton’s evil forces find her? Will she be able to escape the fairy realm with the information she needs? Will she have a place to call home if she survives her adventure? Find out in Lexi Maeheart: Medallion of Protection.

Where to Buy Amazon     B&N      Smashwords

Sharon has consented to give us a few words from her newest book, Taken by Midnight.  She's hoping to release it mid-July and hasn't even completed the cover yet.  

Taken by Midnight
Althea gasped, pulling her cloak tightly around her.  Here she was carrying on an argument with this infuriating man and all along he was oogling her in her night clothes.  She knew she should expect no better of such a cad but he was still supposed to be a gentleman.  “I think it is time I went home.”
She moved toward the window preparing to leave the way she had come.  Before she got two steps he moved into her path. 
“I can’t possibly allow a lady to wander home unescorted in the middle of the night.” Henry needed someone to get information about Lady Tyme, and Miss Ashcroft would make the perfect someone. 
“What are you up to?” She put her hands on her hips, forgetting to hold her cloak closed.  Henry got a very nice view of the thin fabric pressed to taught breasts.  “You have an evil scheming glint in your eye.”
“Me? My lady, I would never presume to try and manipulate you.”
“Out with it.” Henry enjoyed the irritation pouring off her, he decided she was rather fetching when she was angry. 
“Very well.  I have a proposition of sorts for you.”
“You wouldn’t dare.  Do you have any idea who I am?  My brother-“ She threw her arms up in outrage obviously assuming the worst. 
“Miss Ashcroft.” He grabbed her upper arms trying to stop her flying fists before they did any damage.  “I assure you, I would never take any such liberties.  No matter what you think of me I am not that kind of man.”
She seemed to deflate then took a hasty step away from him, as if she couldn’t wait to get away from his touch.  Her minor rejection stung a little but he had no idea why. 
“What do you want then?”
“I would like you to become a spy” Henry stated.  
You can find Sharon listed on her publishing site, Pink Phoenix Publishing or her author site By Sharon Nelson

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Interview between Sue Owen and Maureen Gill

SO: Hi Maureen, thanks for this interview opportunity.

MG: Hey, Sue; my pleasure. I like your blog; I’m glad to be a part of the work you’re doing to promote indies. What’s on your mind? What do you want to discuss?

SO: Primarily, I’m looking for insight into you as a writer.

MG: You mean like what makes me tick; who am I?

SO: Well, let’s start with how you’d describe yourself as a person, and then we can discuss your writing.

MG: The foremost thing I know about myself is I’m a survivor. I’ve crawled out of some major train wrecks; some of my own making, some not. I’ve survived mental illness, a suicide attempt, a short stint in a federal prison camp (like Martha Stewart), and above all, absolute despair. I’ve fallen from being a respected and admired person to a person who was a pariah among family and so-called friends. I’ve had to rebuild my life from the ground up; I’m still working on it. It’s a process.

Most people credit God with their survival and I suppose I do too but in a more oblique way; I credit my passion for – and training in – history for helping me survive (and God gave me that now, didn’t She?). As a historian I’ve studied great human tragedy, as well as the indomitable survivors of those tragedies. I’ve studied the lives of great people who have overcome their own flawed characters and gone on to live remarkable lives. I’ve actually met Holocaust survivors who lost all of their loved ones and wore Nazi tattoos and lived with the memories of unspeakable horrors and yet chose to start over and gamble with life again. Who could do that? I can’t imagine that sort of courage but I take my inspiration from it; many a time I’ve said to myself “for God’s sakes, this is chicken shit compared to Dachau; you can do this thing, you can push through it....” I’ve also met people who have done dreadful things and paid the price but now give back through lives of service. Those are the models I keep in my heart.

Above all, I suppose, I also know the greater part of my life has been very successful. The unhappier times are actually a small part of the total; I’ve done many good things, some even extraordinary things. I’ve even saved lives; in once instance because I wasn’t successful in my own suicide I lived to prevent another one. In another, my quick thinking saved a man in a medical crisis. I know I’ve shaped more than a few lives for the better at work or in teaching in the classroom and now at this stage in my life there’s not a week that goes by since I published “January Moon” and started blogging that I don’t receive emails from people all over the world pouring their hearts out to me, telling me how I’ve touched them, or inspired them, or shown them how to see things differently.

So, all of this – knowing that people have survived the unthinkable and understanding that my life has a purpose – is what composes my core being and defines me in my mind. I think that’s how I’ve arrived at truly understanding the full meaning of Maya Angelou’s famous saying, “I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.”

I saw a sign outside a church the other day that said, “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” I believe that.

SO: How would you define yourself as a writer?

MG: That’s a much tougher question than how I define myself as a person! Honestly, I’m not sure. I probably don’t even give it much thought. Writing comes to me as naturally as breathing and I’ve never suffered the typical writer’s angst but I’ll tell you what some other people think, OK?  My style has been compared to Michael Connolly and Sue Kidd Monk, as well as Lee Child, John LeCarre and Raymond Chandler. I rarely read contemporary fiction and of these five authors I’ve only read Sue Kidd Monk’s “The Life of Bees” (which I adore) and John LeCarre (but I haven’t read him in years). I do love John Grisham.

The truth is I’m fairly well steeped in the literature of Steinbeck and Hemingway but really love the Southern writers like Tennessee Williams, James Agee, Erskine Caldwell, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Twain, Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I like Grisham; he’s a southerner.

I, however, am very much a Midwestern Yankee. Someone said my writing is like a “gale force wind off Lake Michigan” which thrills me no end even though I don’t know for sure what the hell it means. I grew up on Chicago’s far north lakefront and love the lake and the city. The most curious thing I’ve been told about my style is that I write like a man. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that; again, not sure what it means. I’m definitely not a man.

My friend, Denny Banahan, a retired Chicago homicide cop, suggested I publish “January Moon” either using only my initials or under a pseudonym. His reasoning was that men don’t read detective stories written by women. I’ve heard it since from other men; some have told me they liked my book because I sounded like “a guy.” Yet there are very strong feminist themes in “January Moon,” themes about family, motherhood etc. Another female writer I know told me “yeah, they’re there -- but so well hidden a man will miss them!” I think that’s pretty funny.

SO: I read your reviews and they’re excellent. Do you read your reviews? Are they important to you?

MG: They’re only important insofar as they encourage people to read “January Moon.” I believe in this book; it has a lot to say that I’d like more openly discussed and understood and so at that level reviews are very important because they can push sales. I’m very grateful so many readers have taken time to write in-depth reviews; some are quite detailed and thoughtful. Readers have been very generous in their praise.

But if you’re asking if the reviews are important to me as a person and writer -- meaning whether I need praise to validate me as an author – the answer is no.

SO: Are you really that confident? Most writers wallow in a lot self doubt.

MG:  I understand the angst, the doubt. Been there, done that. Oh my God: yes! But I’ve been able to move beyond that and shake off the fear and insecurity. I know I can write and in that regard I have been validated; I may have won every award for writing that’s possible to win at the university I attended.
Obviously, writing fiction is quite different from the style of writing I’ve been trained to do and I understand that just because someone writes non-fiction well doesn’t that person can write fiction.  I always wanted to write fiction and when I tried in the past I was unhappy with the results.  For whatever reason when I sat down to write this time it finally felt right for me and I knew I could write fiction reasonably well.

People who have known me the longest, and even some of my students, have said that they can “hear” me talking in the book. One of my oldest friends said, “Oh Mick, I sometimes could hear your voice, your comments; even see you telling a joke.” I’ve always been a fairly entertaining story teller; I could turn a history lecture into either high drama or slapstick, depending on the subject.

I wrote “January Moon” as if I was just telling any other story, any interesting event in society or history but I also laid it out as a historian would if a historian was trying to get a handle on a major event and write about it. I had the raid on the Branch Davidians in mind, in Waco, Texas, when I wrote about the cult in the book and a federal raid on the compound. As a professional historian, if I were going to write about Waco, I’d go down there and interview everyone, top to bottom, and get their stories. In January Moon I incorporate a lot of related stories throughout the main story. I transitioned point-of-view much like a historian might.  I was in conversation with three agents last summer; one of them was with a really important agency but they didn’t get it. They wanted a formulaic book. One agent actually told me the story was “too sophisticated” for the average American reader; another asked me to dumb it down.

Dumb it down? That really offended me. I told her that maybe some of the reason this country is “dumbing down” is because the gatekeepers have been offering up a lot of fiction that plays to the lowest common denominator among us. I told her I write books that I would want to read and no one needs to dumb anything down for me. She also told me that John Steinbeck couldn’t get published today; she said “no one would read Steinbeck.” Well, I would. I’m not on his league and never will be but he is a model in my mind for superior American fiction.

I’ve gone too far and chewed too much dirt to whore out my work at this point in my life. My fiction might fail on a lot of levels but it won’t be because it’s been dumbed down to please people with 8th grade educations. I can’t write at that level anyway so it’s probably a moot point.

I guess at this point I need to pause and say “thank God for independently publishing.” I think it shifts power and changes the gatekeepers.

I’d never say I’m a great fiction writer but I would like to become one. I’m still learning and exploring my own style and voice. I hope each book is better than the last. But all I had to do to convince myself to publish “January Moon” was convince myself that it’s a reasonably good effort for an inexperienced fiction writer’s debut novel. It represents my best effort at the time and although it’s not perfect I think it still works and I’m not embarrassed to claim it as mine. Could it be better? Sure. Could it have been worse? Of course.

Once I satisfied myself “January Moon” is a respectable first effort I moved into a place of reasonable contentment. Once I decided, after extensive research, that independent publishing was a viable and respectable option, then I moved in that direction too.  

SO: You write with a lot of conviction and “January Moon” touched on a number of controversial topics. Are you going to do the same thing with “March Storm” and any other books in the “Del Carter Calendar Series”?

As you know, “January Moon,” is the first novel to situate female genital mutilation within the context or genre of an American detective story and this is creating a lot of buzz but it’s also about so much more and yes I guess I have a lot of convictions and passions. I hate racism, religious fanaticism, political absurdities but I also love strong people, good stories, and optimism and hope. I write about all of that in “January Moon.” I’m writing about animal abuse, puppy mills, dog fighting, and human trafficking in “March Storm,” as well as a mad Mother Earth and climate change.

I’m also writing a history book titled “Daylight & Déjà vu” that’s an outgrowth of my blogging about history and politics. I’d like to write some historical fiction too but right now I really want to prioritize my writing to finish “March Storm” and then begin the third book in the Del Carter Calendar Series. I’m not sure I’ll write 12 books but I’m fairly certain I can generate four or five in a series.

**I want to thank Maureen for all her efforts in getting this interview done.  I hope that we can work together in the future.  She is an amazing author and person and I wish her luck in all her future endeavors.  Here's a few links to purchase her books or get more information on her current projects.  /sn

“January Moon” can be purchased online in both print and as an ebook at Amazon.com and B&N.com, as well as an ebook at Smashwords.

You can read more about Maureen and “January Moon,” as well as listen to radio interviews at her website http://www.maureengill.net

And please follow her writing at:
The Windy City Author: www.windycityauthor.blogspot.com

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Tess is a novelist, playwright, drama major, actor, director, mother and wife.  She’s also a small town girl with an appetite for life and is inspired daily by her view of the Cascade Mountains from her office window.  She loves to read, watch movies, theater or just kick back with friends, family wine and food. 
Seattle based publisher, Booktrope, released Tess’ first novel, Riversong in April of 2011.  Before that, her first full-length play, My Lady’s Hand won the 2001 first place for new work at the Burien Theatre.  

Books or other published works 
Riversong.  Synopsis:  When Lee Tucker’s husband commits suicide, he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother’s dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh start.  Lee’s resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband’s debt as her business blooms.
Author Tess Hardwick assembles a colorful cast of endearing small-town characters and takes you on a journey that will make you believe in the possibilities of life – even in the face of overwhelming adversity and unimaginable grief. Lee Tucker is the kind of woman you find yourself rooting for long after the last page is read. 
A surprising mix of romance, humor, friendship, intrigue and gourmet food – Riversong entertains while reminding you of life’s greatest gifts. 

My Lady’s Hand is a 2001 theatre production presented at the Burien Little Theatre.

What’s Next

Duet For Three Hands is an historical fiction, set in 1930’s Alabama and Georgia in the early 1930’s.  It is based on a short story written by her great-great grandmother. 
The Good Girl is a contemporary romantic suspense set in Seattle and the Oregon coast. 


Website and blog are:  www.tesshardwick.com
Permalink on Amazon is: http://amzn.com/1935961144

Reviews, Interviews, etc.

Featured under Suggested Reads on The Secret Writer Blog
Living Snoqualmie Blog April 19, 2011 Review by JD3McCall
Book Reviews on Kindle Author

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I am a historic and paranormal romance author. My historic romance, Pursuit of Midnight is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords for just .99 cents. It is the first in my Midnight Series with the second to follow later this year. I have a paranormal romance coming out in late March that I am super excited about and hope everyone will like. Check back often, I'll be sure and keep posting on how my new books are coming and where they can be purchased.

Author site:  Sharon Nelson