Blog Archives

2018 Releases for Authors Robert D. Kidera, Sarah Storme, and D. E. Williams

Robert Kidera, Sarah Storme (aka Sarah Baker), and D. E. Williams are three of the most active members of SouthWest Writers (SWW) who continue to provide stories their fans adore. Each of these authors represents a different genre, but all have new releases (or re-releases) for 2018 and all have one or more interviews posted on the SWW website.


Robert Kidera is the author of the award-winning Gabe McKenna Mystery series with four books released through Suspense Publishing since 2015. His newest novel is Midnight Blues. You’ll find Bob on his website RobertKideraBooks.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about him and his series in his 2015 and 2017 interviews.

Midnight Blues
What kind of person would harm a child? Neophyte P.I. Gabe McKenna and his buddy The Onion find out the hard way, when their plan to ransom a kidnapped boy goes terribly wrong. Finding themselves in a battle against international human traffickers, they rely on the help of unlikely friends in a race against time to rescue dozens of enslaved young victims. In a final, deadly showdown at a New Mexico ghost town, Gabe faces his ultimate challenge. How high a price is he willing to pay? Can he risk death and his own conscience to save the innocent without turning into his enemy?

Available on Amazon.


Sarah Baker writes mystery as S.H. Baker, romance as Sarah Storme, and erotica as Lydia Parks, and currently has 20 novels, numerous novellas and short stories, and three audiobooks available. Her publishers include Kensington, Harlequin, Five Star, Siren Audio and others. In 2018 she released four books from her backlist. You’ll find Sarah on Facebook and Twitter. Discover more about her writing in her 2015 interview.

The Long Way Home was originally published by Five Star and reviewed by Library Journal. Hardbacks are in libraries worldwide, but this is the first time in e-book.

Sam Calvert is the only veterinarian within a hundred miles of Rocky Butte, Colorado. He doesn’t have time to get involved with anyone, but when a stranger appears at the local bar, he can’t let her walk out into the night alone. Allie Tate has hit rock bottom. The only thing she really wants is a home, but life won’t cooperate. When she discovered her husband cheating, she ran. Her car, however, died in the mountains, so she’s on foot without money or a friend…

Available on Amazon.

Strength of a Promise was also published by Five Star. This is its first time in paperback or e-book.

Diana Duncan left New York to find a safe place to raise her daughter. She hopes Hillton, Texas will be that haven, but the house she inherited needs more work than she realized. Thad Crowley has returned to Hillton to care for his aging mother. Repairing a roof for Diana Duncan is the first decent job he’s had in a year. Diana thinks Thad is good-looking and hard-working, but the town hates him and no one will tell her why. Can she trust him around her daughter? Thad can’t tell Diana about his past. A twenty-year-old promise is still a promise. And if he breaks his promise, he won’t be worthy of Diana’s love.

Available on Amazon.

Just Kiss Me and Bayou Rhapsody are books one and two in the Hearts of Marshall’s Bayou historical romance series, originally published by Echelon Press. Book four, Angel in My Arms, is only available in audio, and book three, Moonlight on the Marsh, has not yet been released.

Just Kiss Me: In 1918 Marshall’s Bayou, Louisiana is being ravaged by a drought, but no matter how bad things get, Alberta Strickler will never leave her home and family. And she’ll never let a man rule her life the way her domineering father has. Isaac Broussard, an easy-going Frenchman, is eager to find a place to settle down. He isn’t impressed with Marshall’s Bayou until he meets the woman who steals his heart. Problem is, she’s determined to send him away. As Isaac works to win over Alberta, it isn’t just her stubbornness that gets in the way. Her father is certain Isaac is no good. Can Isaac win Alberta’s heart? And even if he can, will they be able to overcome the social prejudices of those around them in order to be together?

 

Bayou Rhapsody: Daniel Griffin is the new minister in Marshall’s Bayou, Louisiana. This post is not a prestigious one, but it offers the opportunity to examine his faith and maybe prove himself worthy of returning to Atlanta. Unfortunately, his faith seems to be on the verge of abandoning him altogether. Mae Strickler doesn’t intend to stay in Marshall’s Bayou for long. It’s 1920 and there’s a whole world waiting for her. The appearance of the handsome stranger on the boat home promises to make her visit more fun until she discovers he’s the new Methodist minister. Mae finds Daniel more than a little attractive. And Daniel is drawn to her strength, independence, and wild beauty. Mae soon realizes her reputation could ruin his career if they give in to the attraction…

Available Just Kiss Me and Bayou Rhapsody are available on Amazon. See Sarah Storme’s Amazon author page for more of her books.

A note from Sarah: The Cold Hand, the last of the Dassas Cormier Mystery Series (by S. H. Baker) will be released in 2019 or 2020. I have also outlined a new series, The Tru Mystery Series, set in the near future in Albuquerque. The first book, Dying of Thirst, may be published in 2019. My current passion is for writing short stories; I’ve submitted several to magazines and contests, and I’m working on my critique group’s self-published anthology.


D. E. Williams began writing at the age of 10 but didn’t pursue it as a career until later in life. Between working full-time as a software trainer and honing her writing craft on her off-hours, she managed to publish an award-winning speculative fiction novel, Child of Chaos, in 2015. Chaos Unleashed (2018) is the second book in The Chesan Legacy series. You’ll find Dollie on her website at DollieWilliams.com and on Facebook. Read more about her writing in her 2017 SWW interview.

Chaos Unleashed:
Tridia Odana faces a death sentence if her hidden memories reveal she committed the crimes she’s denied. Her forgotten past is not the only danger. The Chaos Vision foretold that she could destroy the galaxy through a brutal holocaust. Brenden Aren stands ready to execute her to save the galaxy from a nightmarish future. Only reaching an exiled prince to recreate the vision could prove Tridia’s innocence, but she’s forbidden to approach him. And a Hierarchy officer always obeys orders — doesn’t she? As Tridia and Brenden rush toward their inevitable confrontation, an ancient enemy prowls at the edge of the galaxy, preparing to launch an invasion to enslave Tridia’s people and conquer the known worlds. Encountering these foes plunges Tridia and her allies to the brink of a war that will bring the Chaos Vision to life. Her sacrifice could save them all—or guarantee a horrific outcome. Does she dare take the chance?

Available on Amazon.

Coming Up: An author update interview in January focusing on Chaos Unleashed.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




2018 Releases for Authors Steve Brewer, Joyce Hertzoff, and Larry Kilham

Steve Brewer, Joyce Hertzoff, and Larry Kilham are just a few examples of the prolific members of SouthWest Writers (SWW) who pound away at their keyboards to produce new work for their fans. Each of these authors represents a different genre, but all have new releases for 2018 and all have interviews posted on the SWW website.


Former journalist Steve Brewer teaches in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico and writes books about crooks. He’s published 31 books spread between several series including The Bubba Mabry Mysteries and Jackie Nolan thrillers, as well as a dozen-plus standalones. His newest crime novel is Cold Cuts (April 2018). You’ll find Steve at SteveBrewerBlogspot.com, on his Amazon author page, and at Organic Books, his family run used bookstore located in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill area. For more about Steve and his books, read his 2017 interview.

Cold Cuts
Some people in the Southwest love the Rojo brand of Mexican bologna, but it’s illegal to bring it into the United States. Smugglers sneak rolls of the bologna across the border, trying to get rich off the food fad.

Enter Lucky Flanagan, such an unlikely smuggler that he’s perfect for the job. But others in the smuggling ring are up to no good, and Lucky is unlucky enough to get caught in the middle of a deadly scheme.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Coming up: Though Organic Books is taking all his time and energy at the moment, he has short stories coming out in three different anthologies in 2019.


Joyce Hertzoff retired from a profession grounded in fact and science and now writes short and long fiction in a variety of genres including science fiction and fantasy. Her two new releases for 2018 are the YA novel Beyond The Sea (March 2018) and the middle-grade book So, You Want to be a Dragon (April 2018). You’ll find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as FantasyByJoyceHertzoff.com and HertzoffJo.blogspot.com. Discover more about Joyce and her writing in her SWW interviews for 2015 and 2017.

Beyond The Sea (The Crystal Odyssey Series, Book 3)
The artificial satellite retrieved from the bottom of Lake Dulno points to Fartek as the source of Madoc’s mysterious books. Nissa, her siblings Madoc and Carys, and a group from the Stronghold set out for the journey across the Great Sea to that unknown continent. After stops at Holm Manor and Fairhaven, they sail east on the royal ship and a freighter.

Besides the books, the expedition hopes to determine what technology still exists anywhere in Fartek. What people and machines will they find? How much have they preserved? And why haven’t they contacted the people of Leara or Solwintor?

Most important, will they be willing to share all that they know with the visitors or anyone else?

Available on Amazon.

So, You Want to be a Dragon
When the harbor of Lorando is torched by three dragons, Bekka, her little sister Cora and their neighbor Derry devise a plan to keep the dragons away. They will parlay with the dragons, plead with them. But to get close enough to do that, they must transform themselves into dragons. They ask a shapeshifter for help, and he reluctantly tells them the steps needed to take on the form of a dragon. Can the three children achieve their plan to convince the dragons to leave Lorando alone? If they do, how will they shift back into their human forms?

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Coming up: Joyce has four novels in the works, including the sequel to Beyond the Sea, which will be the fourth and final book in The Crystal Odyssey Series.


Larry Kilham is a retired engineer and entrepreneur who has authored four science fiction novels, two memoirs, and five other nonfiction books with topics ranging from creativity and invention to artificial intelligence and digital media. His most recent nonfiction work, The Perfectionist: Peter Kilham and the Birds (June 2018), sheds light on his father who was a designer, an inventor, and a visionary. You’ll find Larry on LarryKilham.netFacebook and Twitter, and his Amazon author page. For more about Larry and his work, read his 2017 SWW interview.

The Perfectionist: Peter Kilham and the Birds
His muse, Leonardo da Vinci, would have been proud. This is the story about Peter Kilham who constantly sought perfection to bring beauty and function to the public through his nature records and bird feeders. His son Larry reveals their many conversations about life and creativity. Peter’s ultimate revelation is that nature is the greatest creator and it is up to the dedicated artist and inventor to reveal nature’s beauty.

The story is told with humor and insight by Larry Kilham who is an accomplished inventor and business person. There are many insights and life lessons revealed for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs. The book includes many illustrations.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A Note from Larry: For about the last six months I have been writing poetry because I think it is a better medium for my current experiences and thoughts, and because many of my readers have requested it. You can read most of my current poems on my website’s poetry page. I also post on allpoetry.com.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




2018 Releases for Authors Joseph Badal, S.S. Bazinet, and Kit Crumpton

Joseph Badal, S.S. Bazinet, and Kit Crumpton are great examples of the diverse and prolific members of SouthWest Writers (SWW) who work hard to produce new books for their fans. Each of these authors represent different genres, but all have new releases for 2018 and all have interviews posted on the SWW website.


Joseph Badal, best-selling and award-winning thriller author, has published dozens of articles and short stories as well as 13 novels split between three series and three standalones. Obsessed is his newest release from Suspense Publishing (2018) promising his signature fast pacing and dynamic plot populated with engaging characters. Visit Joe’s website JosephBadalBooks.com and Amazon author page, and read his previous interviews for 2016 and 2018.

Obsessed (The Curtis Chronicles, Book 2)
Obsessed brings back Matt Curtis and Renee Drummond and their villainous nemesis, Lonnie Jackson. This second installment in Joseph Badal’s The Curtis Chronicles takes the reader from Rio de Janeiro to the mountains of New Mexico to the Mexico/United States border, following a crazed Jackson on his single-minded quest for revenge against the two people he blames for the deaths of his mother and brother and for the destruction of his criminal empire in Hawaii.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Coming up: Joe’s next novel, Natural Causes (third in the Lassiter/Martinez Case Files), is due to release in the first quarter of 2019. He is currently working on Justice, the third book in The Curtis Chronicles.


S.S. Bazinet has authored 10 novels across four series with a supernatural bent, two of which were published through Renata Press in 2018. Book five in The Vampire Reclamation Project, Tainted Blood, came out in March, and A Warlock Under The Mistletoe was released in October. (And for anyone with emotional vampires in their life, check out her self-help book Vampires Suck but You Don’t Have To). Read her 2015 and 2017 interviews to find out more about Sandy and her books. You’ll find her at SSBazinet.com, on Facebook and Twitter, and on her Amazon author page.

A Warlock Under the Mistletoe
Pippa has a wonderful fiancé named Chester, and she loves him dearly. However, when she decides to write a romance book and fantasizes about kissing a dashing warlock under the mistletoe, she realizes something is missing in their relationship.

In a teary confession, she blurts out her concerns to Chester. Her fiancé, a studious psychologist, understands what she wants. Not only that, but he promises to do everything he can to be the man that Pippa is dreaming about. Still, the question remains: Will Chester have what it takes to release his “inner warlock”?

Available on Amazon.

Tainted Blood (The Vampire Reclamation Project, Book 5)
Ex-vampire Arel is determined to find the perfect woman. He believes his search is over when he meets the gorgeous Claire. She’s not only beautiful, but she’s smart, dedicated and determined to make the world a better place. However, Arel soon learns that perfection comes with a staggering price tag.

Available on Amazon.


Kit Crumpton is a history lover, public speaker, and former engineer who writes historical fiction inspired by her family’s past, whether based on her father’s WWII experience (Raiding the Empire of the Sun: Tinian 1945) or the tragic life of her mentally challenged uncle in The Fading of Lloyd. Her third and most recent release is The Fading of Kimberly (2018) which “continues the story of the mentally and physically disadvantaged who were institutionalized during the early twentieth century.” To find out more about Kit and her writing, visit her website at KitCrumpton.com and read her 2016 and 2017 interviews. All of her books are listed on her Amazon author page.

The Fading of Kimberly
Kimberly, a beautiful narcissist, commits a murder of passion and ends up in an insane asylum. Her father agrees with the doctor’s recommendation for her cure. Riley Nacht is a criminal psychopath whose heinous crimes lands him in the same institution. When Kimberly was a child, she had watched one of Riley’s murders. Eddie Fisk, a hospital assistant working in the asylum, knows both patients and is drawn into their circumstances to his own demise. This historical novel is set in the early twentieth century at Elgin State Mental Hospital. The director and hospital doctors struggle in providing care for those they believe can be cured amongst those who are forever dependent upon the hospital’s care.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Author Update: Jeanne Shannon

Jeanne Shannon’s poetry, memoir pieces, and short fiction have appeared in numerous small-press and university publications as well as in full-length collections. She has called herself editor, technical writer, and publisher, and now adds novelist to her resume with the release of The Sourwood Tree (Mercury Heartlink, 2018). You’ll find Jeanne on her Amazon author page.


What is the story at the heart of The Sourwood Tree?
One woman’s life—its hard times and hard-won emancipation.

Tell us how the book came together.
The book is based on the life of a cousin, “Anna May,” who lived next door when I was growing up, though much of it is invented. One of the scenes that is not invented is the one in which she went out into the woods and lay down under a tree when she was about to give birth to her out-of-wedlock child. When my mother told me about that more than forty years ago, I knew I had to write about it. I had to tell Anna May’s story.

Anna May was in her teens when I was younger than ten, and I was fascinated by her clothes, her pompadour-style hairdo (think Betty Grable in one of her famous pin-up shots), her high-heeled shoes, her bright red nail polish. She lived on and on in my memory as the years went by—another reason I wanted to write about her.

I made a few not very successful attempts to write the story about five or six years ago, and it started coming together about three years ago. I worked on the beginning sporadically for a while, then the narrative just took off and steered its own course, almost without any help from me.

Who is your main character? Why will readers connect with her?
The main character is Anna May Osborne, who tells her life story from birth to death. Because she was the victim of sexual exploitation by her stepfather (and by another man who impregnated her and deserted her), women will connect with her, particularly those who have been the victims of male entitlement and sexual misconduct. But several men have bought the book and seem to empathize with the challenges of Anna May’s life.

What is the main setting, and how does it impact the story and the characters? Do you consider the setting a character in the book?
The setting is far southwestern Virginia, four miles from the Kentucky state line where Anna May and I grew up. Many of the scenes are set on or near the farm where I lived as a child and where Anna May had lived a few years earlier before her family moved a short distance away. Yes, the setting is definitely a character in the book. Even the sourwood tree of the title is a character in its own right. It’s an invented character, for though sourwood trees grow in southwestern Virginia, I don’t know that such a tree ever played a role in the real events of Anna May’s life.

I took care to include information about the social history of that place and time (1920s to 1990s)—that is, what it was like to live in that isolated area without the amenities of electricity, plumbing and telephones, and where mail delivery was on horseback. And where the catalog of Sears, Roebuck & Company was the Amazon.com of its day (I write this on a day when Sears is closing its last store in Albuquerque). And what it was like for Anna May to be a child in the country, playing in the fields and woods and happily exercising her imagination, unencumbered by technology.

I also wanted to show the importance of guns in that culture. Every householder owned a gun, if only for hunting rabbits and squirrels to put food on the table, or to eliminate foxes that were killing their poultry. But guns were also an accepted way of settling arguments, and those confrontations sometimes resulted in the death of one of the parties. In the book, one of Anna May’s brothers died in such a confrontation, and that was true, not my invention. Another aspect of the social history of that region is the importance of religion and spirituality, and Anna May’s religious beliefs (and doubts) are an important aspect of her journey.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book, and what was the most enjoyable?
It was a challenge to get the “voice” right. That is, to have Anna May speak in an authentic southwestern Virginia voice, making sure she did not use any words that would not have been in her vocabulary. Along with that was trying to make sure her voice, her dialect, would not become a distraction to the reader. That was a very fine line to walk. Also, it was a challenge to get the timeline exact. I chose to use some dates that were the actual dates of events I knew to be true, and I had to work forward (and backward) from those, and had to be careful to make sure the timeline made sense.

The most enjoyable aspect was going back in memory and revisiting the world where Anna May and I grew up, and presenting it to the reader. When I had Anna May go to a molasses stir-off and watch the horse pulling the cane-mill spools around and around, I was doing that once more myself. When I had her put her dolls in a dishpan and sail them on the pond (as I used to do), I was doing that myself. And with her I was once again watching “Esau Colley” riding by on horseback, carrying the mail.

Did you discover anything surprising while doing research for The Sourwood Tree?
I didn’t do much research for the book, since it is about a time and place I remember well, but I did want to make sure I understood about automobile production in Detroit during and after World War II. I found that it essentially stopped during the war, so the production lines could be used for building munitions and tanks and Jeeps for the war effort, and started up again soon after the war ended in 1945. That was not surprising; it was just something I wanted to confirm before I had a character say, “Now that the war’s over, they’re building a lot of cars.”

When did you know you had taken the manuscript as far as it could go and it was ready for publication?
After a certain point fairly early in the story, it just took over and “wrote itself.” I had no idea how the plot was going to unfold after I included the few things about Anna May’s life that I knew or believed to be true. Now that I look back on it, I ask myself, “How did I come up with that turn of events?” I can’t remember analyzing the story to see whether it was finished or not. I just knew when Anna May had said all she needed to say. Some readers have complained that they wanted the story to be longer, but Anna May was in control. If I had tried to force her to say more, the result would have been unsatisfactory.

In your writing career you’ve focused on poetry, short fiction, and memoir essays. What made you decide to give long fiction a try?
I had wanted to write a novel for years, but could never think up a plot that could be sustained throughout a long work of fiction. Anna May’s real story gave me the foundation of a plot and demanded to be told.

Reading Lee Smith’s novels and short stories over the years had shown me a path into “writing what I know” about life in southwestern Virginia. Lee grew up in the same area, and her characters are often women speaking in a first-person voice, like Anna May.

What are your hobbies or creative outlets?
Gardening, which these days consists mostly of growing flowers in pots. And studying the Tarot and doing readings for friends.

Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your writing?
Pay attention to the Earth, the natural world, especially vegetative nature. Shut out the clamor of the world and listen to nature. It’s what sustains us. It’s what will endure, despite some greedy people’s efforts to destroy it.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received on your writing journey?
When I was in Freshman English in college in the 1950s, the professor told me, in so many words, that I was a “born writer.” It made me determined to live up to that. In later years, rejection of my work by magazine editors served as encouragement—rejections made me more determined than ever to be published. Rejections of some of my poetry submissions were a stimulus for me to found my own poetry magazine, Blackberry, in the 1970s, which in turn led eventually to my starting The Wildflower Press.

What writing project are you working on now?
A long memoir of my early life disguised as a novel. Right now I don’t see it as something I will ever want to publish; it’s a way of revisiting details of my life that I want to reexamine and that may be of some interest to family and friends.

Read more about Jeanne, her views about poetry and quantum physics, and Summoning (her 2015 collection of poetry and hybrid works) in part one and part two of her previous interview for SouthWest Writers.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Ronn Perea

Ronn Perea might be best known for his ventures into comedy and theater productions in the United States and abroad, but he is also a history buff and a published author. His newest book is the historical novel Elsie and Elsa (2018) which sheds light on important events that occurred in the American Southwest from 1943 to 1975. You’ll find Ronn on his website at RonnPerea.com and on Facebook.


What is your elevator pitch for Elsie and Elsa?
During the mid-20th century, many historical events occurred in the American Southwest that shaped the lives of many families. This story brings to light those events and the people who changed the course of history including World War II secret prisoner of war camps, atomic bomb espionage, the embryonic birth of technology, the Pope, the President, movie stars, celebrities, and a future rock-n-roll sex god. As this story takes place, a life shaping relationship grows between two high school girls, Elsie and Elsa.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing the book?
Fleshing out the history while actually viewing, touching, and feeling it.

Tell us a little about your main characters.
Elsie and Elsa were my mom and her high school friend. Historical events occurred around them that they were unaware of as the events happened. Elsie and Elsa would later be a resource as witnesses to these actual occurrences.

Do you have a favorite quote from the book you’d like to share?
I’ll paraphrase from the New Mexican 200th and 515th Coast Guard Artillery groups who were the first to shoot down Japanese planes on December 7, 1941 (the same day as Pearl Harbor). This time our guys were not surprised when the Japanese started to attack them in the Philippines. During the next four months, as our cut-off troops were using up their last bullets and eating their last slices of bread, newspapers back home were calling them The Battling Bastards of Bataan. When 70,000 Americans finally surrendered and were forced to march the infamous Bataan Death March, our boys were resigned to their motto, “No Mama, No Pappa, No Uncle Sam.”

How did the book come together?
Elsie and Elsa took ten years to compile, write, rewrite and edit. When about to be published, I discovered new facts that I had to include. It took another year before the book was ready for publication.

What first inspired you to become a writer?
As soon as I was out of college, I wrote my first novel. It’s now collecting dust somewhere.

Looking back to the beginning of your writing career, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I have realized that it helps to write about what you know. The intimate details are easier to describe.

Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
Ernest Hemingway. Action with historical. Do I need to say more?

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received on your writing journey?
Never give up. Explore all options, some will always work for you.

What have you learned as a comedian that has helped you with your writing career?
As a show biz producer of stage presentations, it’s simple. Start with a strong opening that leads to a solid middle that leads to a killer ending.

What writing projects are you working on now?
My next novel is about baseball. Not about the star home run hitter or the star pitcher. But when was the last time you read a story about five generations of a family of umpires? It starts in the future and goes back to the beginning of townball and how it migrated west. And how in 1880 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad brought it to Albuquerque.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Gabrielle Dorian

Author and attorney Gabrielle Dorian marries courtroom experience with witty banter and memorable characters in her debut romantic comedy Waking Up in Vegas (2018). When she’s not writing or practicing her magic in the Land of Enchantment’s legal system, you’ll find her rollerblading or kickboxing. Connect with Gabrielle on her website at WritingWithTheSharks and on Twitter.


What is your elevator pitch for Waking Up in Vegas?
A stop-and-go divorce case spurs a stop-and-go romance between opposing counsel on the case.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Formatting. The characters communicate with each other via text occasionally throughout the book, and I wanted the text messages to appear in the book as they would look on a phone screen. Now that that’s been accomplished, it is proving to be a challenge adapting the text messages for the audiobook script. Fortunately, I am working with a creative audio team, and I think it’s going to be great.

What was your favorite part of this writing project?
I loved the moments when I made connections between something that had happened earlier in the story with a later part, where something cool could happen, just because I had fortuitously set it up. Maybe it was there on some subconscious level. I’m willing to give myself some credit. But it felt like I had a lot of serendipitous “aha” and “yay” moments where I was able to work something back into the story, which gave it a lot more depth.

How did your book come together?
I had been happily single for about seven years when I met someone (not opposing counsel on a case, but an attorney I met in court) who made me question my views on relationships. But that relationship ended just as quickly as it began, and I was left wondering: What just happened? I started working through my thoughts on relationships, using writing, and a story developed out of it.

The first draft was completed in about nine months, and then the book went through two major editing rounds (which included a few additional rounds targeting specific chapters). It took about two years and some change  from initial idea to the time I hit “publish” on Amazon KDP.

Why did you choose Las Vegas, Nevada as the setting for the book?
I chose Vegas as a backdrop for a few reasons. Although it is almost as easy to get married in many other states (no blood test required, no waiting period), there is still a common perception of Vegas as the destination for a spontaneous marriage or quickie divorce. One thing I discovered about Vegas in my research is that the County Clerk’s office is open sixteen hours a day, which, coupled with the legal public drinking and ongoing party atmosphere, probably does allow for (if not encourage) a higher rate of spontaneous weddings than in other states. I also enjoyed juxtaposing Mallory’s character (somewhat introverted, career-focused, risk averse) with the stereotypical outlandish Vegas setting.

Tell us about your main characters.
The two main characters are attorneys. Mallory, a talented estate planning attorney, is reluctant to leave her comfort zone. Tyler, a brazen divorce attorney from Chicago, starts off on the wrong foot, looking like a smug jerk to Mallory. He quickly wins over Mallory’s paralegal, Amanda, and Amanda convinces Mallory to give Tyler a chance.

I really enjoyed writing Amanda, because she has a lot of qualities I wish I had, plus a ton of confidence and minimally censored sassy responses. My favorite character to write was actually Tyler’s mother, Quinn. Completely uncensored and unapologetic, Quinn is the free spirit who enters into a spontaneous marriage that sets the whole story in motion. Those close to me have pointed out commonalities between me and several of my characters.

Did you discover anything interesting while doing research for Waking Up in Vegas?
I searched for “crazy things people do in Vegas” online, and read a lot of interesting stories. Only one anecdote ended up becoming the basis for a minor character in my story, but describing it would spoil one of my favorite surprise moments in the book.

What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write, and what do you do to get over this hurdle?
I find it difficult to write scenes involving dialog in a group of people because the reader has to be able to tell who is talking, and because there must be action (a lot of people just standing around talking gets dull quickly), and again, the reader has to be able to tell who is doing what. I hate using a lot of dialog tags, but when more than two people are talking in a scene, I have accepted the need to use more tags to identify the speakers. I try to make each character’s voice as distinguishable as possible and to pair a character’s action with the speech to minimize the necessity of tags.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I am currently working on the second book to follow Waking Up in Vegas, tentatively titled Chicago is So Two Years Ago. I am also working on a series of short stories about lawyers, more dramedy than romantic comedy, to be released close to the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” in 2019. I blog about lawyers, being a female attorney, and dating on my website. Finally, I am working on a screenplay about gym rats—a modern day bromance.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Thelma Giomi

Author Thelma Giomi is a novelist, award-winning poet, and a psychologist. She used her personal experience with chronic illness and as a caregiver, as well as her years in the medical arena, to fashion her newest release, Shatter My Heart (2018). You’ll find Thelma on her website ThelmaGiomi.com and her Amazon author page.


What is your elevator pitch for Shatter My Heart?
Shatter My Heart is a dynamic story that immediately immerses the reader in the lives of four friends. Individually and together they face and overcome some of life’s most devastating challenges—invisible illness, loss, infidelity, and the demands of commitment to each other. They emerge from these challenges with poise and compassion to become the heroes of their own lives.

Tell us a little about your main characters.
Lauren loves working as a psychologist in a medical setting but is haunted by persistent and undiagnosed symptoms of her own. She remains a steady force finding ways to live with her illness and its consequences while finding delight in life and never losing her compassion for others. Emotionally wounded surgeon Ian Blackburn is running from his own sense of compassion. He is tormented by his feelings of helplessness to cure his wife or care for his son. Ian and Lauren’s love story is a compelling drama filled with shifting moods and events as Ian spirals to near self-annihilation. Lauren’s best friends, Paul and Nikki Fiori, live their lives with passion, humor, and an acceptance of life’s challenges. The couple provide a sanctuary for Lauren in her darkest moments.

What themes do you explore in the book?
One of the major themes pervasive in Shatter My Heart is that taking care of each other is the only thing that really matters in life. Nikki, Paul, and Lauren all demonstrate this throughout the book in their care and commitment for each other. Another theme is that “reality cannot be fooled.” As Lauren’s symptoms (like many with “invisible illnesses”) are dismissed or trivialized by the medical profession and others, Paul reminds Lauren of the reality of what she is experiencing and urges her to not give up. Throughout this novel Lauren and others must find in themselves what Camus calls “an invincible summer.” As challenges and crises occur in their lives the characters in this book find ways to live not only constructively with the challenges, but with an ability to continue to find pleasure, shared happiness, caring and compassion. The novel also addresses who a healer is and the consequences of running from fears and vulnerabilities.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
One of my challenges was to incorporate into the story my own experiences and those of others living with invisible illnesses while letting Lauren find her own voice and speak her own truth. Another challenge was in researching Lauren’s different medical issues by interviewing professionals and patients to provide authenticity to the scenes and events. For me, as with anyone living with a chronic illness, writing this novel posed a constant need to balance writing times with the physical manifestations of Systemic Lupus.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Shatter My Heart?
The most rewarding aspect is the emotional feedback I have received from readers. It affirms my vision and hope for this book—that it offers the reader an engaging story with complex and compelling characters and that it reaches a wide and diverse audience. Hearing from a variety of readers with their different experiences and points of view has affirmed that this book offers compassion to those living with chronic illness as well as insight and understanding to those who have not experienced the life challenges and consequences of such illness. Many reviewers have said that the story is “well told.” That is a goal we storytellers strive to achieve and perhaps one of the best evaluations one can receive.

Tell us how the book came together.
The story emerged while I was listening to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. I envisioned a couple, the man casting a shadow over the woman, and realized that this could embody a story of how the couple faced some devastating challenges in their lives and survived. My next thought was that this could be the way to tell the story of invisible illness and its impact on individuals, their families and friends. I began to see how writing a good story with engaging and passionate characters would reach a wider audience than the limited one my nonfiction writing (and speaking) had reached before. Writing this book included the very essence of what it is like to live with chronic illness and remain creative while experiencing its random and unpredictable episodes. The book grew in spite of my physical limitations and never being able to write on a schedule.

Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for this book?
What surprised me most was the development of the Fioris’ friendship with Lauren and how it grew despite her mounting health challenges. They became intimately involved in helping Lauren find answers to her symptoms and life challenges, even including her as a beloved family member. Their compassion was very touching to me. I was also surprised by how little medical professionals know about Lupus and other invisible illnesses and how rarely they look for these diseases when presented with ambiguous symptoms. As I interviewed and met others with invisible illnesses, I was surprised by how ubiquitous my experience was. In researching this book, I came to have deeper respect for those medical professionals that never lose their compassionate connection with their patients. Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I can truly say as I wrote this novel, and as I read it over, there were still tears and surprises.

How has your work as a poet influenced your fiction writing?
Through my poetry I have always hoped to connect with the unearned challenges life brings us and embrace new perspectives and constructive alternatives to coping. Writing Shatter My Heart has allowed me to do this in fiction as well. In my poetry I use imagery and sensual experiences to bring the reader into an intimate connection with the words. I think I was able to carry this over to my novel. Writing poetry also has enhanced my fiction work with a sense of rhythm and pace that can be mesmerizing as it captures the reader’s attention and changes their breathing.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
While my mother was in hospice she asked me to read my poetry to her each day. One morning she said, “Your words fill the room with beauty. How beautiful life could be if your poems touched everyone. Please promise they will be published so that your words will find the ones who need them.”

What writing projects are you working on now?
I have many projects in the works including a sequel to Shatter My Heart which will answer many of the enthusiastic questions I have received from readers who want to know more about the characters and their lives. I have finished compiling a book of meditations written by my sister. Church of My Heart will be released next month. I am also in the process of preparing Beagle Blues about the adventures of a little beagle who gets into everything with an exuberant innocence. When completed I will offer this book to rescue groups, vets and others to mitigate some of the cost of caring for abused or abandoned dogs. And I am completing my new collection of poetry which I hope to have ready for publication later this year. Other projects include contributions to anthologies, my website and blog, and public speaking and workshops on the two topics prominent in my life—writing and coping constructively with chronic illness.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I love feedback from my readers and would appreciate their comments on my website at ThelmaGiomi.com.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Gail Hamlin

Gail Hamlin is a poet as well as a nonfiction author, associate publisher, and editor of over 30 reference books pertaining to Native Americans and United States history. A journey of love and faith produced her newest book, Prophetic Utterances: The Cry of His Heart (Volume 1, 2018). You’ll find Gail on her website at Gail-Hamlin.com and on Facebook and Instagram.


What is your elevator pitch for Prophetic Utterances?
My book Prophetic Utterances: The Cry of His Heart reveals the heart of God, and it shows His immense love for His children. He says, “My sheep hear My voice,” and through these prophetic utterances, He is speaking to His children. He speaks not only of His love, but He warns them to prepare themselves for what’s ahead. These prophetic utterances are a foretelling of events to come.

When readers turn the last page, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
I want them to know just how much they are loved, and that Jesus’ coming is nearer than they think.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing the book?
It was hearing the still, small voice of God and interacting with Him. I appreciate that He trusted me enough to share some of His heart, words, mysteries, and secrets with me. It was an experience that cannot be fully understood with the natural mind.

Tell us how the book came together.
The inspiration for it came about as a result of answered prayer. I wanted to write a book written by God, not by Gail. I asked Him to give me something new to write about, and He did that on two separate occasions. The first time was in 2002, when I was awakened from a sound sleep at midnight with all kinds of words running through my mind. I began to write what I heard, and this lasted for three days and three nights. The second time was in 2013, when the words started pouring through my mind again—only this time, it lasted for five weeks. There was a rhythm to the words, and pauses as well. I learned to stay in sync with God as He gave me these writings. The amazing part to me was how similar the writings were, even though these two experiences were many years apart. They came at all hours, with some sessions lasting three to four hours at a time. Some of the writings were preceded by visions and dreams. During this time I had a vision of the hand of God over my hand while I was writing; I saw the lower part of His arm covered in a white robe with His fingers outstretched over mine. I wrote the book over a period of five years before having it edited and published.

This is a nonfiction book, but do you believe it contains a character or characters?
Yes, I do. God is the main character and also the author (Omniscient Narrator). We (His children) are minor characters. There is another character who is written about, and that is Satan, and he is quite the character….

Do you have a favorite quote from Prophetic Utterances that you want to share?
That’s a tough question, because there are so many that I like! I think the one at the top of my list is from the writing titled “I AM THE AUTHOR” (page 66)—“I AM is coming to sign
HIS book. Will you come meet HIM?”

What advice do you have for discouraged writers?
Don’t give up! Push past all the obstacles, all the fear and doubt, and all your insecurities. And above all, pray!

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
The writings came to me like a scroll; some were so long that I had to figure out how to break them up into bite-size pieces for the reader to chew on. So, I used the first line of each new topic for the title. There were more writings than I could put into one volume, so a second volume will be published. I encourage the reader to allow God to speak to them through these writings. God is speaking all the time and in so many ways that people often don’t recognize it’s His voice. They might credit their own mind and ingenuity without realizing it’s God’s ingenuity that He is passing along to them.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Don Morgan

Don Morgan is a versatile author of 13 published novels written in different genres under the separate names of Donald T. Morgan, Don Travis, and Mark Wildyr. As Don Travis, he’s released four mysteries through Dreamspinner Press, with a fifth scheduled for publication in 2019. His newest book, The Lovely Pines (August 2018), is the fourth volume in his BJ Vinson Mystery series that follows a private investigator and his partner as they solve crimes across the Land of Enchantment. You’ll find Don on his website at DonTravis.com and on Facebook and Twitter.


What is your elevator pitch for The Lovely Pines?
When Ariel Gonda’s winery, The Lovely Pines, suffers a break-in, the police write the incident off as a prank since nothing was taken. But Ariel knows something is wrong—small clues are beginning to add up—and he turns to private investigator BJ Vinson for help. When a vineyard worker is killed, there are plenty of suspects to go around. But are the two crimes related? As BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, follow the trail from the central New Mexico wine country south to Las Cruces and Carlsbad, they discover a tangled web involving members of the US military, a mistaken identity, a family fortune in dispute, and even a secret baby. The body count is rising, and a child may be in danger. BJ will need all his skills to survive, because between a deadly sniper and sabotage, someone is determined to make sure this case goes unsolved.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
I know nothing about the wine industry. Heck, I don’t even drink it, except for an occasional glass of red with a good bleu cheese salad, but wine making needed to be at the center of the novel. Why? Because my books feature New Mexico as a continuing character. Each book showcases a different part of this beautiful state. And because I wanted a pivotal character to be Ariel Gonda, the book had to revolve around wine. Why Ariel Gonda? Simple, I liked his name when he showed up (by reference only) as the treasurer of the Alfano Vineyards in The Bisti Business, the second book in the series. Simple-minded, I know, but there you are. I also wanted to concentrate on the Albuquerque/Bernalillo/Placitas area of the state, and that’s wine country. Ergo… I’m trapped into writing about wine. Ariel and his wife and nephew are Swiss nationals, which lent a bit of uncertainty between the European concept of primogeniture and our own hereditary laws and customs.

How did the book come together?
As I said above, the novel came out of a desire to develop the character of the Swiss winemaker and to roam around the area north of Albuquerque east to the Sandia foothills. I began the book on April 13, 2016 and completed the first draft in March of 2017. I did two additional drafts, finishing the last on April 17, 2017. (Successive drafts tend to go fast). I am able to quote specific dates because I note successive drafts with a beginning and a completion date. I will often do as many as five or six drafts, but this book didn’t take that many.

My editing style is right out of the public school English Grammar classes of the last century, full of commas, too many exclamation points, and the like. By the time my publisher, Dreamspinner Press (DSP), completes their three edits (and I really appreciate the fact they go to this extreme), it’s more or less Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) mixed with DSP house style. Because my head editor knows how much I despise CMOS, they diplomatically claim the changes they want are to conform with house style. Not surprisingly, they win a few editing points, and I win a few. That’s the way it should be, right?

Tell us about your characters.
The protagonist of all the books in this series is Burleigh J. Vinson. (Do you blame him for going by BJ?) He is a former Marine, ex-Albuquerque Police detective turned confidential investigator (he doesn’t like the label private investigator) who is gay but moves comfortably through every strata of Albuquerque society. He neither flaunts his homosexuality nor conceals it. He would probably prefer to still be an Albuquerque cop, but a bullet wound put an end to that career. Paul Barton is a UNM grad student majoring in journalism. He intends to become an investigative journalist, which is likely one thing that draws him to the intrepid investigator BJ Vinson. They meet in the first book, The Zozobra Incident, where BJ has difficulty in determining if Paul is one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. Either way, they establish a powerful connection which grows into love.

Lt. Eugene Enriquez is BJ’s former riding partner when they were both APD detectives. They remain close, helping one another with problems. Ariel and Margot Gonda are the owners of The Lovely Pines Winery and Vineyard in fictional Villa Plácido, New Mexico. Charlie and Hazel Weeks are BJ’s business partners. Charlie is a retired cop, and Hazel is the office manager of Vinson and Weeks Confidential Investigations. The antagonist in the story is not revealed until the final pages of the book, so I’ll not mention that individual here. The remainder of the characters are drawn from the winery workers, former owners of the Lovely Pines, two AWOL soldiers, and other fringe players.

In listing major players, I would have to include the Land of Enchantment, the 47th state of the United States. New Mexico—the fifth largest and fifth least populated of the states with a landmass of 121,699 square miles and a population of around 2,000,000—is one of the Mountain States located in the southwestern section of the nation. A “wowser” of a state!

Why did you choose New Mexico as the setting for the series?
Is it not apparent that I am in love with this country? I was born in woodland Oklahoma, attended college in Texas, settled in fabled Denver after service in the army, but was bowled over when I drove south into the Land of Enchantment. I had found a home.

Did you discover anything surprising or interesting when doing research for the book?
I always learn something that surprises me, and a lot that interests me, when I begin research for a book. I learned Bernalillo was originally an Anasazi settlement a thousand or so years before the Spanish settled the abandoned site. Likewise, Placitas was originally one of the “ancient ones’” settlements. Did you know that? Despite the present-day hype about New Mexico wineries, I didn’t know that our state was one of the first major wine-producing areas in the northern hemisphere. To a history buff, that’s fascinating. To a writer, it stimulates the imagination.

What sparked the initial story idea for the BJ mysteries? When did you know BJ had enough life in him to carry an entire series?
As is typical for me, a character appeared in my mind first, a man searching for his environment. BJ Vinson was born whole, so to speak. The Santa Fe Fiesta was approaching, so naturally there were advertisements with depictions of the Burning of Zozobra on the tube. So I began to draw connections, and The Zozobra Incident emerged. I tend to become emotionally vested in my characters, so it was clear the story of BJ Vinson and Paul Barton was not finished. Thereafter, I looked for various interesting parts of the state on which to hang a story. By the way, I generally tend to write a prologue and then build a story based on the mood set by the prologue. The prologue for Zozobra sets the scene as New Mexico and then foretells the nature of the book by a forced car crash on La Bajada. The Bisti Business shows a murder in the Bisti-De Na Zin Wilderness area. City of Rocks sets a more jocular tone—the theft of a duck from a ranch in the Bootheel section of the state.

Of the novels you’ve written, which one was the most difficult to write and which was the most enjoyable?
The most interesting of the BJ Vinson mystery novels thus far is the fifth (yet to be published) called Abaddon’s Locusts. Interesting because it allowed me to bring two characters from previous novels together—Jazz Penrod, a mixed-blood Navajo kid, and Mrs. Gertrude Wardlow, an elderly widow who’s a retired DEA agent living across the street from BJ. These two are the most beloved characters from my books according to readers’ comments. Abaddon allowed me to bring them together even though Jazz lives in Farmington while Mrs. W. lives in Albuquerque. It took a ring of sex traffickers to do that. The most difficult to write was the first novel because I had to flesh out the main characters. Once I had living, breathing characters, it was easier to let them tell me how to write them in successive books. (If you think I’m kidding, then you’re not a writer.)

You help writers perfect their craft at a local community center. What is it that many beginning writers misunderstand about telling a story?
Dennis Kastendiek and I teach a writing class called Wordwrights at North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center each Monday at 1:30 p.m. What I find to be the most common misconception for beginners is assuming that the incidents (real or imagined) they choose to put down on paper are as fascinating to others as they are to themselves. While that may or may not be true, it is the manner of the telling that determines whether or not the writing is truly interesting. It’s a simple concept, but so many of us (even experienced writers) have to relearn this each time we sit down at our desk.

What first inspired you to become a writer?
Tubercular as a child, I lived in the library, not on the sports fields. I became interested in various cultures—especially Native American—and started doing essays. Then they became little stories…none of which survived. Nonetheless, I kept writing, except for a brief foray into oil painting. I wasn’t bad at painting, but it didn’t scratch my creative itch like writing did, so I picked up the figurative pen again.

What else do you want readers to know?
The fifth book in the BJ Vinson Mystery series, Abaddon’s Locusts, will be released in early 2019, and I am presently working on the sixth book with a working title of The Voxlightner Scandal. What some readers might not know is that I also write erotic historical fiction under the name of Mark Wildyr. I have published eight books under that name. My original publisher seems to have virtually gone out of business, so I’m beginning to think I need to reclaim the titles and look for another publisher. Under my own name, Donald T. Morgan, I have self-published an eBook called The Eagle’s Claw. I have a sequel on paper that needs a lot of work. I also want to write a prequel on which I have done nothing yet. In addition, I have six unpublished novels (four of which make up a series) and decided I’d like to get those in publication. So now I’m going through the painful process of looking for an agent or a publisher. By the way, I’ve never felt the need for an agent before since I write for a niche market. Not so with the Morgan novels. Ergo….


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview Update with Corrales Writing Group

Corrales Writing Group formed in 2012 and meets twice a month in the village of Corrales, New Mexico to review members’ writing and plan projects. This closed group is currently made up of authors Chris Allen, John Atkins, Maureen Cooke, Sandi Hoover, Thomas Neiman, Jim Tritten, and Patricia Walkow. Together they produce an annual anthology that includes essays, short fiction, memoir, and poetry. Their newest book, Love, Sweet to Spicy, was published in 2018. Follow Corrales Writing Group on Facebook and read part two of their 2016 interview for their take on group structure and indie publishing.


Why did the group pick the theme of love for the 2018 anthology?
Since the group formed, its members have written stories about love from time to time. It wasn’t necessarily about romantic love. Some stories were about parental love, love for a pet, and then, of course, romantic love. We had enough content to create an anthology on the theme, but we also wrote new stories, a few of which were collaborative efforts.

Five of the twenty pieces in the book are collaborations. What was the easiest part of collaborating for Love, Sweet to Spicy, and what was the most challenging?
The most challenging part of writing a collaborative piece was the need to leave our egos in a parking garage on Mars and work toward the common goal of creating a viable story. Imagine a blank canvas and asking three artists to create a visual work. Just like visual artists, writers have different styles. The commitment the writers make must be to the story itself, and not to their own opinions, methods, or styles.

Specifically, our group experimented with ways to get past the ego issue and settled on a method that worked for us. Each person in the group came up with a brief concept of a story with enough detail and character description to serve as a workable writing prompt. We then broke into teams of two or three members, but the individual whose idea it was did not participate in writing that particular story. Getting everyone to agree to this approach was probably more difficult than the actual writing. Once everyone tried it the first time, the method worked fine and all the finished stories were accepted for publication in anthologies or journals not associated with the Corrales Writing Group. Most won prizes in the annual New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest.

The easiest part of collaborating was the synergy and brainstorming that occurred when we created something together. Also, assignment of who did what was never an issue. Everyone did their fair share of work. Another enjoyable part was pairing male and female writing teams to ensure characters stayed true to their gender. This often led to interesting conversations that generally included something like, “Well my husband would never say that, or never do that,” followed by validation from group members of the opposite sex. We had a lot of fun kicking those situations around.

We initially designed our collaborative stories with more romance and just a hint of sex. Later, we experimented with more sexuality than romance. In the end, we found a balance between romance and sex in the stories based on suggestions from our beta readers.

Pick a piece from the anthology written by another member and tell us what you enjoyed most about the writing or the story.
CHRIS ALLEN: I loved the piece “The Anniversary Letter” by Pat Walkow. It describes a husband-wife connection in a wonderfully amusing way. It is made all the funnier knowing it is a memoir. Pat perfectly captures the dialogue of a couple after years of marriage.

JOHN ATKINS: “Last Days – A Dog’s Perspective” by Chris Allen recounts the final days of a beloved pet’s life. I’m drawn to stories about a person’s love for a pet. I particularly like Chris Allen’s approach. She gives the reader a unique look at a dog’s end of life routine as seen through the body and mind of the pet. Her writing tells a story all too familiar to many people, but from a point of view that makes it all the more moving.

MAUREEN COOKE: I particularly enjoyed Tom Neiman’s “A Heart’s Journey.” He writes eloquently about the love for his wife Gretchen and his concern when Gretchen underwent heart surgery. What makes this piece stand out is that Tom and Gretchen married in their later years, or as Tom writes, “…this wasn’t our first rodeo.” I enjoy reading about a real, as opposed to a Hollywood, love story. Tom’s devotion to Gretchen and her healing from heart surgery jumps right off the page.

SANDI HOOVER: “The Power of a Smile” is a beautiful homage to a loved one. Jim Tritten’s trick of not revealing—until the end—the person being written about is so artfully done that the reader floats along on the river of words, simply enjoying the emotions, the love felt for the object of the story.

TOM NEIMAN: “Enough to Kill,” written by Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten, was developed from my original idea and they took it from there. When I read the first draft, it was as if my baby had grown into adulthood. I was so proud of how the authors stuck with my premise and developed it into their own.

JIM TRITTEN: I am not one who reads, writes, or normally critiques poetry. “What Love Is” by Sandi Hoover challenged me to understand, appreciate, and attempt to comment on an unfamiliar genre. I remember reading this piece for the first time. Here is what I sent the author: “My first thought was that the recipient of such feelings is a very lucky person.”

PAT WALKOW: I particularly liked two stories. “I Remember Hoover” is John Atkins’ story about love for a dog named Hoover. I found the dialog realistic, the emotion real, and the pace perfect. “End of the Story” is Maureen Cooke’s accounting of the end of a once-loving relationship. It is beautifully written and heart-wrenching.

Since the last interview in 2016, Corrales Writing Group published Passages as well as Love, Sweet to Spicy. What’s new with the group? Any lessons learned from the publishing side?
We’ve grown from six to seven members. In addition to individual work published in various print and online anthologies, members of the group have two major projects going. A group of four writers is working on a murder/mystery/romance novel, and a pair is working on an adventure novella. The writing will be reviewed within the group just as other pieces have been reviewed in the past: a series of questions will be answered by reviewers, changes will then be made by the writers, and the piece will be reviewed again. And possibly yet again!

We’ve learned a few key things:
1. It is best to have one person take the lead on being the editor of a specific anthology, with a secondary editor. Of the seven members of the group, five have now edited an anthology and become familiar with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing.

2. Read, reread, and reread before you publish. Then give it to others to read, reread, and do it again. No matter how many eyes have looked at the book, some silly flaw will escape until it is purchased, and then it blinks in neon. Fortunately, with independent self-publishing it is easy to fix.

3. Marketing consumes an awful lot of time, and we need to step up our efforts. We are actively engaged in finding places to present our work as performance pieces. A presence on Amazon, Facebook, Hometown Reads, and other social media outlets is necessary, and we share our work there. Our website is in progress.

The constant delight is still the fun we have, as well as the intelligence and humor of the members of the group. We have formed close bonds.

Six of the seven members of the group were featured in part two of the previous interview. Tell us about John Atkins, the newest member.
He’s retired, having spent more than 40 years in project and technology management in healthcare, hardware/software, and energy companies. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Communication. His work has appeared in Love, Sweet to Spicy, as well as The Esthetic Apostle and 50-Word Stories. He’s well into the second draft of a speculative fiction novel and continues to serve as transcriptionist to worlds and characters that demand attention. None will leave until they have been written, rewritten, and polished until the turds they once were shine like the jewels they demand to be.

Give us a summary of your group’s accomplishments since forming six years ago.
The Corrales Writing Group (CWG) as a whole has published five different books. Two of our anthologies were produced both in black and white and color versions and all are available as Kindle books. Four members who wrote collaborative short stories had six chapters picked up and published elsewhere in other books. Six members had six chapters from our anthologies published as short stories in journals. Four of our individual members had six chapters published in other anthologies and thirty-seven of their CWG chapters published as short stories in other journals. The group’s books have won six awards, two additional awards for editing, and were finalists in two other competitions. Chapters or short stories based upon CWG chapters have won eighteen individual awards.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
As part of the Corrales Writing Group, our members have written more than 100 pieces of humor, fiction, memoir, essay, and poems. We also reprinted Passages and Love, Sweet to Spicy in color to honor local artists who contributed photographs of their work to our anthologies. Individual authors have additional articles published in magazines, newspapers and journals.

Also, every Tuesday a few members have lunch at Las Ristras Restaurant in Corrales from 11 am to 1 pm on Taco Tuesday. It’s a meet-and-greet with other authors…sort of a round table discussion. Send a message to John if you’d like to drop by and chat.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Upcoming Events

  1. Loretta Hall: Researching Your Writing Project

    January 12, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - January 19, 2019 @ 4:00 pm

Categories

Support SWW

Make A Donation


bookworksLogo


Search Now:  
amazon search

SouthWest Writers receives a commission on all books ordered via Amazon.

Follow Our Blog

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.