Blog Archives

An Interview with Author Claire Stibbe

Claire Stibbe is a British author of nonfiction, short stories, and novels who writes from her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her award-winning books include a historical fiction series set in Egypt and a crime thriller series set in New Mexico. Past Rites, the third of her Detective Temeke crime novels, was published by Noble Lizard Publishing (2016). You can connect with Claire on her website CMTStibbe.com and blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.


What is your elevator pitch for Past Rites?
What do you get when you mix a psychopathic killer with a few teenagers dabbling in black arts at a boarding school? A recipe for murder! For those who like a walk on the dark side this might be your cup of tea or, more aptly, your poison.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
I think the most difficult challenge was trying to answer some complex and seedy questions I had been asking myself for years. What are serial killers? Are their demons real?

How did the book come together?
The idea for this book came from watching serial killers being interviewed and learning how the roots of their catastrophic behavior often reach right back into their childhood. Often, I saw a pattern in the way their parents meted out discipline; it was abusive, unpredictable, unfair and wicked. Maybe there is an argument for serial killers being manmade not born. Huge developmental fractures occur when a child is isolated and in permanent terror. They will soon believe the emotionally barren world that surrounds them is normal. Serial killers are like ticking time bombs, but what makes them tick? Past Rites took about three years to research and about five months to write. I have five BETA readers and two Alphas plus two paid editors. All this can add a further two months before publication.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing it?
The most rewarding aspect of writing Past Rites is the conversation between the person I call Demon and the serial killer in the book. How the serial killer spars for bodies and how Demon haggles for souls.

All kinds of warfare are devastating, including spiritual warfare, where the assault takes place on the inside, in a person’s head. Past Rites is about one man’s internal war and the devastation it causes.

Tell us a little about your main character. After writing four novels in The Detective Temeke Crime Series (the fourth yet to be published), did your protagonist still surprise you as the story unfolded?
My protagonist is an old dog in the fight—a feisty and somewhat crabby Brit who has wound up in New Mexico much like I did. He sees the world through cynical eyes, believes in cutting corners, and has a passion for justice. Although there are some who would like nothing better than to cut him from the unit, Temeke is the one person who always seems to find a way to finagle the truth out of his crooks. He’s so bloody good at it and gets more proficient with each book. It always surprises me how he does it.

Why did you choose New Mexico as the setting for the series?
New Mexico is a unique state. With its Pueblo Indian and Hispanic society, sand that looks like snow, unique rock formations and vast national forests, it makes for the perfect setting. Diverse cultures amp up the characterization and make the book more interesting. Having said that, I don’t tend to write in local accents or expressions since overseas readers lose the gist.

Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for this book?
Yes, I think the most surprising thing was the way the police department operates here in New Mexico. I am told that it’s unlike other states where some procedurals are concerned. Having graduated from the Citizen’s Police and Sheriff’s academies, I replicate the local procedures of investigation, but at the same time I don’t tend to place all the typical people at a crime scene because I don’t want to overwhelm the reader. For instance, Temeke’s assistant district attorney is not named even though she would be present. There are also some inconsistencies in the way Temeke conducts non-custodial interviews. I also describe Northwest Area Command as a two-storey building to incorporate Unit Commander Hackett’s extraordinarily large roost on the top floor. All these add eccentricities to the characters.

You have two other novels in your Detective Temeke series (The 9th Hour and Night Eyes) and a fourth (Dead Cold) on the way. What are the challenges of writing a series?
The most important challenge for me is to complete each case in one episode/book, leaving the core characters and their relationships to develop over the body of the series. The main protagonist, Detective David Temeke, must be both gutsy and shrewd enough for readers to want to return to meet him again. I have been told the series is addictive and that readers love the characters. Malin Santiago, another detective in Temeke’s unit, receives texts and emails from someone who appears to want to help her with each case. We don’t know who this is yet, but it provides a recurring theme throughout the series.

What do you love most outside of writing and reading?
Coffee. Must have a good cappi (cappuccino) in the morning. Peace. I love listening to the wind in the trees.

What first inspired you to become a writer? When did you consider yourself a writer?
My father was the biggest and brightest influence. He was taught by C.S. Lewis during his time in Oxford and frequented many of Professor Tolkien’s seminars. School holidays would not be complete without sitting on a tartan rug down the Lion’s Mouth (a wooded gorge in North Norfolk, UK), eating sandwiches and being bitten by midges, while listening to my father’s memorable voice reading The Lord of the Rings. It’s one of the many things I miss and one of the many things for which I’m so very grateful. My father wrote a book about his time in Wingate’s second expedition into Burma, and my twin brother is a bestselling author. I can’t say when I considered myself a writer because I’m still learning.

Of all the books you’ve written, which one did you enjoy writing the most?
Night Eyes. I love the dynamic between parent/guardian and child and the lessons learned. We live in a fatherless society where boys need a good and lasting influence. Adults shape children. Boys need dads.

Tell us about your writing process.
Since the books are character driven, I’m mostly a pantser. But there is a good deal of coffee drinking alone in cafés with a notepad where plotting and people-watching occurs. You catch the greatest dialogue when sitting close to two unsuspecting people. I have a set-in-stone timeline for each book. Some span two weeks, some are only twenty-four hours—it depends on the case.

Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
Paul Gallico for his astonishing powers of description. John Grisham for flawless plots. Dean Koontz for intricate characterization and Thomas Hardy for historical fiction.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
The best advice I have ever received was the familiar adage “less is more.” Another has to be “write what you know.” Extensive research and life experience goes without saying.


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


An Interview with Author Charlene Bell Dietz

In her search for “the parts of life that really matter,” Charlene Bell Dietz discovered “if you throw your heart and soul into what you care about,” the little things you fuss over disappear. She developed a firm foundation for creating plots and characters during a long-term career in education, plus time spent volunteering in the scientific community and caring for elderly relatives. The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur (2016) is her debut novel inspired by the real life of her mysterious aunt. Look for Charlene on her website and on Facebook.


What is your elevator pitch for the book?
In this novel a workaholic bio-medical scientist, Beth Armstrong, is torn between saving her sabotaged ground-breaking, multiple sclerosis research or honoring an obligation to care for her chain-smoking, Cuba-Libre drinking, ex-flapper aunt.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur crosses the traditional genre lines because the story intertwines corporate espionage with a generational battle-of-wills family saga. Even though I received kind and even complimentary rejections, I discovered most agents and larger publishing houses weren’t willing to put time or money into something this different.

Tell us about your main characters. Will those who know you recognize you in your main protagonist?
Being a nursemaid ranks a notch above catching the plague on Beth’s scale. She’s an obsessive professional dedicated to keeping her science institute a world-class organization. Unlike Beth, her aunt would prefer anything deadly to losing her independence under the care of her compulsive niece. While a murderous culprit runs loose in the science institute, frustrating Beth at every turn, her raucous aunt entertains Beth’s neglected husband with nightly cocktails and stories from the Roaring Twenties.

No one who’s read this story has ever mentioned that Beth reminds them of me. That’s a relief, because at first Beth might not be likeable to readers. I write a lot of short stories, and having my characters change from beginning to end is always on my must-do list. In this book, and also in my next book, I hope readers notice how at the end even my secondary characters have grown and changed from the beginning.

Why did you choose Colorado for the setting?
For over twenty-five years I volunteered at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute at Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque as their lay person for the Institute Animal Care and Use Committee. I read researchers’ protocols, participated in their monthly meetings, and helped the committee with their biannual inspection of all the animals. Since my story took some artistic license with what I know about research science institutes, and because my story highlighted the economic espionage act with some nasty characters, I needed to remove any suspicion concerning my imaginary story with my connection to the Sandia Laboratory institute.

Denver became the logical place for several reasons. When I was in grade school, I spent many summer days running all over the city with my young cousins via city bus. As kids do, we believed we owned the place—from the Capitol building stairs to the Aladdin Theater on Colfax to the elevators in the Museum of Natural History. As an adult, I continued to spend time there visiting relatives. I know the city. The size of Denver allowed me to invent a science institute without identifying its exact location. I also needed a small, mountain town several hours away for my protagonist’s family home. I’d once lived in Cañon City, Colorado, so it became my Valley View—with artistic license again.

How did the book come together?
When my mother died, her mysterious elder sister needed help. You guessed it. Her photo is the one on the cover of my book. She kept most of her antics as a flapper secret, but after an evening of rum and Cokes, she dropped names of people, places, and dates. Without her knowing, I took notes on anything handy—napkins, grocery receipts, envelopes, whatever I could put my hands on. When she died five years later I didn’t really know her story, but it needed to be told. Most of it is fiction, but still researching, editing, rewriting, getting rid of all the bad advice and keeping the good parts, plus finding a publisher took me well over ten years.

What did you enjoy most about writing the book?
Listening to my aunt’s voice in my head as I wrote made the writing easy. She seems to have won the favorite character award for this story, and I know why. When this aunt kicked up her heals as a teenager running away to Chicago, she gave up her college career. Probably because she didn’t get a high school diploma, she read all the time so she could prove she wasn’t stupid. She did seem to know everything about everything. I’ve discovered tremendous enjoyment in writing about strong women who follow their passions.

Is there a scene in The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur you’d love to see play out in a movie?
From the first conflict on page one to the final emotional last page, I wanted the reader to live every scene. Because of this, my writing style doesn’t use a lot of physical descriptions except when connecting bits of it to motives, emotions, and the characters’ deep internal conflicts. In my opinion, the whole book would make a tension-filled, eye-appealing movie—especially if Maggie Smith played the aunt (big smile here).

Your second book in the series (The Flapper, the Imposter, and the Stalker) will be released in the fall of 2017. What are the challenges of writing a series?
In The Flapper, the Imposter, and the Stalker the reader learns more about the ex-flapper aunt as a young woman. In 1923 this beautiful, bright teenage girl flees to Chicago looking for happiness, love, and an escape from being murdered. Since it’s a prequel to the first book, I had no problem creating it as a standalone. In the first book I give the reader hints about some of the aunt’s antics in the Roaring Twenties. Readers of the prequel may believe they’ve heard some of these tales before; however, now they’ll learn the full story behind all of her misbehaving.

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
Before being awarded the 2016 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award in the First Book category, or being selected as a finalist in the International Book Award, I would have said the best compliment happened when a professional editor told me she couldn’t get my characters’ voices out of her head months after she’d finished working with my book. All the other compliments I’ve received naturally made me feel good inside—but kind of like your mom saying, “Good job, sweetie, I’m proud of you.” You know authors; we have fragile egos when it comes to our work. Having those award judges select my book from all those submitted totally validated my writing ability.

You mentioned you took lots of notes when your aunt told some of her stories from her flapper days. What have you done with them, and where can readers buy your book?
The notes are amusing to read. I never knew what might come out of her mouth: funny, inappropriate, or heartfelt. I’ve slid each of them into sleeve protectors in a three-ring binder. Along with photos, these are items I take to show-and-tell after a book club has read the book. When a book club reads The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur, I’m excited to come, answer questions, and show them the rest of the story. Book clubs can message me through Facebook or email me at chardietzpen@wildblue.net. Op Cit in Taos and Santa Fe, along with Collected Works, has copies of my book, as does Bookworks, Treasure House Books, and Barnes & Noble in Albuquerque. Naturally, it can be ordered online, too.

What writing project are you working on now?
Whenever I need a break, I write short stories. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers published one last year in their anthology. I’m submitting two more for consideration in other anthologies. In a few days I’ll get back to the third book in the Flapper series. This one takes place in time right after The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur. Right now I’m about fifty percent through the first draft.


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


An Interview with Author Michele Buchanan

After retiring as a special education teacher, Michele Buchanan learned to play the Celtic harp and traveled a circuit of Renaissance Faires and Celtic festivals with her hand-made costumes. She now performs with Celtic Singers of New Mexico, lectures on Scottish history and harp history, and plays her harp for hospice, as well as festivals and fairs. Her debut novel, Scota’s Harp (Mercury Heartlink, 2016), blends history with legend and myth to tell the story of an Egyptian princess who becomes the namesake of Scotland. Look for Michele on her website MicheleLangBuchanan.com and on LinkedIn.


What is your elevator pitch for Scota’s Harp?
Scotland is named for a tribe of warriors called the Scotti, who were named for their queen, Scota. Who was Scota? An Egyptian princess of course! Or so say the ancient oral legends of both the Irish and Scottish people. Because they had no written language, they relied on oral legends for their history. It is therefore very curious that the name of an Egyptian pharaoh occurs in the story, since no one could read Egyptian names until the Rosetta Stone was translated. Yet Nectanebus was a real pharaoh and a magician whom ancient people believed was also the father of Alexander the Great. Such legends needed exploring, and along with the famous Stone of Scone, I have woven these legends into a convincing historical fiction. If you love Celtic history, this book is for you!

What sparked the story idea?
As I began playing the Celtic harp upon retirement, people would ask where harps came from. By researching this question, I learned there were no harps in Europe until the Renaissance, and that harps came from the ancient middle east, across the Mediterranean, then eventually to the British Isles. Harps became nearly extinct with the reign of Elizabeth I who believed harpers were spies and decreed that all harps should be burned. The harpers were the bards who kept the oral traditions and histories alive. The Romans did their best to eliminate the culture by killing the Druids and harper/storytellers. So the history of harps has many political and cultural factors that are hidden. When I found out about harps, the story of Scota and her harp just had to be written.

Who are the main characters in the book, and what are they up against?
The main character is an American archaeologist/Egyptologist who gets hired to do some illegal excavation in Spain. This modern man and his contemporary people are countered by the love story in ancient Egypt between Princess Scota and her lover Gamal Miledh. Scota’s conflict is that she is to be forced into marriage with her father, a threatening dabbler in evil arts, who gained the throne by assassination and magic. It is the story of her escape and her desire to fill her destiny to be a queen. The American hero will be the central protagonist in the sequel to Scota’s Harp as he tries to overcome his PTSD suffered in Gibraltar. The novel is quite a travelogue!

The story takes the reader from ancient Egypt to modern Scotland, and places in between. Tell us about the settings and why you chose them.
In this book you have scenes from ancient Egypt and their religious practices, scenes from Scotland at the Battle of Bannockburn and King Robert the Bruce, scenes from modern Scotland when the Stone of Scone was stolen from London by college students, so there are varied points in history that support the thread of a princess from Egypt being connected to modern Scotland. You will read scenes about the Pharaoh receiving his mercenaries from “Sea People” as well as scenes of Elizabeth I screaming about Blarney Castle. The book is about half ancient Egypt and the rest a quilt of other historical places and events that bind the story together. I have included a glossary of Egyptian words, Scottish idioms, and historical events that help the reader know that I didn’t just make this stuff up.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing the book?
I found that I really like writing. I like telling stories, and especially like writing about hidden history. When I learn some anomalous thing, I just have to insert it into my concept of truth about the world. So writing and making coherent concepts about history was immensely fun.

How did the book come together?
I spent about a year actually writing and editing and organizing the book, but the story of Scota had been percolating in my head since I began playing the harp in 1996. The greatest challenge was weaving disparate legends into a coherent flow of time from 363 BCE to the present through an American archaeologist and his travels. The book jumps in time into different scenes and eras, but the sequencing took perspective in order to encompass the whole story. This book was not an easy subject to weave together, so it took more time than I expected. I finally did the self-publishing route, as no publishers or agents were interested in the story, which was quite disappointing.

Anything surprising you discovered while doing research for Scota’s Harp?
Yes! Scottish tartan weave was invented in far western China in a place called Urumchi. Tall red-haired Caucasian people lived there and invented the twill weaving pattern and the plaid designs. These people were valued mercenaries who eventually came to fight the Persians in Egypt.

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
Reading reviews on Amazon does a lot for my ego, as strangers actually thank me for writing Scota’s Harp. I worked hard on the historical facts, so this was rewarding to hear people actually give me validation for this very obscure oral history. I once described a scene in the book to a little lady in a walker. The scene was where the pharaoh thinks he is cursed because his son, Alexander the Great, has horns at his temples. Statues depicting him show little protrusions hidden in curls, and it is a medical anomaly that people can sprout horns. Anyway, the lady said she would show me her scars. She took off her straw hat to show me the two circular scars where she’d had her horns removed long ago. She thanked me for writing the story!


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


An Interview with Author Rose Marie Kern

Before retiring in 2017, author Rose Marie Kern was an air traffic control specialist for over 30 years. Besides being a popular speaker at aviation events around the United States, she writes monthly columns for several aviation publications and is an active member of SouthWest Writers. The newest of her nonfiction books is Air to Ground, an anthology of the articles she has written since 2006. You can find Rose on her website at RoseMarieKern.com.


What is your elevator pitch for Air to Ground?
“Air to Ground” is a phrase used to describe the frequencies used by the pilots when they speak to Air Traffic. My book, Air to Ground, gives pilots a glimpse into the cold corridors of Air Traffic and allows them insights into the people who work in an environment so critical to their own. Intermingled with the technical information are stories and snippets of humor collected over the last 33 years. These little bits exemplify what happens in the Air Traffic workplace when the microphone is not keyed, humanizing the disembodied voices the pilots hear. Air to Ground contains current and historical data on the National Airspace System, the Air Traffic Control System, and aviation weather in a way that is friendly, easily readable and understandable to even the most novice pilot. It is not meant to replace the government’s directives, but to supplement them.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Aviation is a niche market—if you can call a quarter million pilots across America a niche. Because of that, getting a major publisher interested wasn’t worth the effort. I decided from the beginning that this book would be self-published and marketed through channels I’ve developed over the last 34 years.

How did the book come about?
Two years after Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 air traffic controllers, I entered that profession. Over 34 years I’ve been given three national awards and several regional ones by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and later, Lockheed Martin. I’ve worked in all divisions of Air Traffic Control (ATC) so I know how they all connect with each other and with the pilot community. Because of that knowledge base, I began writing articles 12 years ago about ATC, aviation weather, and the FAA. Now I have monthly columns in several publications and occasional pieces in other magazines. My editors say I get the most fan mail of any of their writers. One commonly expressed theme is they wish all the information I give out in my articles could be found in one place. Air to Ground is that place.

What was the most rewarding aspect of putting the book together?
The pilots and the editors of aviation magazines who have been behind me 100 percent.

Do you have a favorite quote from Air to Ground you’d like to share?
“Stress is relative.”

You’ve written two other nonfiction books besides Air to Ground (FUNdraising Events and The Solar Chef). How did writing/publishing these earlier books help with the Air to Ground project?
Both of those were also niche markets and also self-published. The Solar Chef was my first book—it was the only cookbook that focused exclusively on how to cook using only sunlight. I learned a lot about using existing interest groups as a marketing vector and how important it is to interact with your target customers. The Solar Chef is now in its 7th edition with an 8th on the way. FUNdraising Events was born because I’ve managed many such events for small to medium non-profit organizations over the years, and in every case my events have resulted in significant donations. Like Air to Ground, it was written at the request of those I’ve worked with. Working on those books gave me a lot of insight into Indie publishing, copyrights, and self-marketing.

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
Several pilots have told me that when they get their copies of magazines, the first thing they do is open it to my column. One pilot even told me he’d recently cancelled all his magazine subscriptions except one—and he kept it because he really enjoyed what I had to say.

What are your hobbies or creative outlets?
Organic gardening, cooking, working with various green/sustainable living organizations, and donating my talents to SouthWest Writers.

Do you, or have you wanted to, write other than nonfiction?
Yes, I’d love to write fiction but despair of ever attaining the ability of my literary heroes to create whole worlds out of thin air.

What writing projects are you working on now?
In addition to my monthly articles, I am currently writing three more books. The first is my memoir: a young, divorced mother of two stepping into a totally unknown career with no prior experience after the ATC strike. The second is a college level text on the History of Air Traffic Control to be released in ATC’s hundredth anniversary in 2020. The third is a booklet on regional variations in aviation weather specifically for hot air balloon pilots.


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


An Interview with Author Sue Houser

Born and raised in New Mexico, author Sue Houser writes about the Land of Enchantment in her nonfiction books Hot Foot Teddy: The True Story of Smokey Bear (M.T. Publishing, 2014) and La Conquistadora, The Story of the Oldest Statue of the Virgin Mary in the United States (Sunstone Press, 2011). Her first fiction title, also set in New Mexico, is The Corn Whisperer published by Irie Books in 2017. Visit Sue at her website SueHouser.com and on her Amazon author page.


What is your elevator pitch for The Corn Whisperer?
In the book, written for children 7-10, young Charlie is apprehensive about visiting his grandfather who lives at a pueblo in New Mexico. However, Grandfather Joe is a storyteller. He tells Charlie ancient legends to help him live a better life in today’s world. And, as a result, Charlie and Grandfather Joe develop a close relationship.

When readers turn the last page, what do you hope they take away from it?
A realization that cultural myths and legends hold universal truths that apply to everyday life. In this trio of stories, the lessons are about becoming self-sufficient, accepting and valuing change, and forgiveness.

The seeds of the story began with a visit to a cornfield near Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico and connecting with the truth in the old saying “It is so quiet you can hear the corn grow.” Tell us more about how the book came together.
After the seeds of the idea began to germinate, I worked on the story for about a year and a half. At first, the book was one story. I sent it for a critique to the publisher (Irie Books) who suggested breaking the text into three separate stories, according to the seasons.

Why would this book appeal to both young and old?
This is an intergenerational story. It bridges the old ways with a modern lifestyle. I hope adults recognize the impact their own cultural stories can have on future generations and that children and adults alike become more aware of the sounds and beauty of the environment.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing it?
I gained a new respect for the co-dependent relationship we have with corn. Although corn fertilizes itself, it cannot re-seed itself. Corn depends on people to prepare the ground, plant the kernels, pull the weeds, and water the plants. In turn, corn provides us with food and food products. Corn provides feed for livestock, and if left in the field, corn serves as mulch for the soil. Cornstalks support the vines of beans and squash. Cornhusks are used in weaving and making dolls. Ornamental corn is used for decoration. Corn needs us, and we need corn.

Why did you choose New Mexico as the setting for the book?
A New Mexico pueblo was the perfect setting for this story because the earliest evidence of corn being grown in this country was found in New Mexico and Arizona—as early as 2100 BC.

Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for The Corn Whisperer?
I learned that some Native American legends are told only during certain seasons. For example, the “Coyote Scatters the Stars” legend is a winter story—told during the time when the earth, animals, and plants are asleep, waiting for the return of the sun. I also learned that Native Americans consider oral stories to be more reliable than written stories. And even though there may be different versions of the same legend, each version is valued and preserved.


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


An Interview with Author Janet Wahl

After retiring from a long career in education, Janet Wahl used her 15-year study of Montague Ullman’s dream work to start a new career. Now she is a ThetaHealing® Master and a certified provider of hypnosis with clients seeking to dig deep into their own dreams. She has three published nonfiction booksDream Digging Guide 1: Discover the Messages in Your Dreams with the Ullman Method (2015) and Dream Digging Guide 2: Discover the Hidden Beliefs in Your Dreams (2016), plus the Dream Digging Journal (2017) to accompany the second book. You can find Janet at DreamDigging.net and MindBalance.biz, as well as on Facebook.


Give us a summary of the books in your Dream Digging Guide series.
Dream Digging Guide 1: Discover the Messages in Your Dreams with the Ullman Method describes with examples the structured dream group process developed by Montague Ullman, MD. Monte, as he was known to friends, realized that people in psychoanalysis were not making as much progress as he had hoped. Dream work seemed much more effective, so he created a highly structured process that could be facilitated by lay people, those without a mental health license. His premise is that dreams are personalized metaphors invented by our “incorruptible core”; therefore, dream images carry messages that our waking mind, although ready to hear, might be reluctant to hear. A group can help the dreamer discover those messages because we are all connected via the collective consciousness; we all relate to dream imagery.

Dream Digging Guide 2: Discover the Hidden Beliefs in Your Dreams provides a step-by-step process to discover subconscious beliefs and verify these beliefs so they can be changed. We are unaware of most of these beliefs, some of which block our potential. For example, our waking mind says we deserve prosperity, but our subconscious mind says, “No, prosperity is dangerous. Someone will rob and kill you if you are successful.” And the subconscious always overpowers our waking minds. It holds these beliefs to keep us safe. Dream images and metaphors along with beliefs come from our subconscious minds.

A structured dream journal, Dream Digging Journal is now available to guide dreamers who want to find these beliefs. Only when we find these sabotaging beliefs can we change them, the subject of the forthcoming Dream Digging Guide 3.

In sum, each Dream Digging Guide describes a process to discover different concerns. Dream Digging 1 helps the dreamer uncover messages which have yielded solutions to problems, warnings of disease, inspiration for visual arts, music, and film. Dream Digging 2 helps dreamers discover beliefs that sabotage success. The ThetaHealing® Technique is an effective method to change unwanted beliefs.

What first sparked your interest in the study of dreams?
I have always been curious about dreams since my recurring childhood dreams. I didn’t take them seriously until I brought a vivid dream to my therapist hoping that he could help me interpret it. He referred me to a dream worker who in turn referred me to one of the masters: Monte Ullman. (His papers are at siivola.org/monte.)

What challenges did writing this series pose for you?
Because I wanted to use examples from my life, I had to overcome my reticence of revealing myself and dream meanings. Dreams are very personal, sometimes showing us what we would prefer to hide. I had to get comfortable with sharing my private “stuff” in order to give some powerful examples of the impact dream work had on my life.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing the books?
It helped me form dream groups. It is very rewarding to help others discover the meanings of their dreams. Dream messages help people heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This was the purpose of writing the books.

Tell us how the guides came together.
I took my first manuscript to a critique group that read the entire book. Their suggestion was to divide it into three books because each has a different target audience. Dream Digging Guide 1 was my first book, so I had to learn the entire publishing process. It took me a little over a year to refine the first guide, find a cover designer and editor. The second guide took less time because I used the same designer and editor. Dream Digging Guide 3 will contain examples of how ThetaHealing® belief work can change sabotaging beliefs found in dreams.

Any “Oh, wow!” moments when doing research for the guides?
Not really. I’m a plodder by nature, so I just take things as they come. Encountering people who believe that dreams are just random, meaningless brain wave spikes did help me hone my audience. I guess that was my, “Oh, wow! Not everyone thinks dreams are important.”

Do you, or have you wanted to, write other than nonfiction?
I never intended to be a writer. I wanted to teach others how to find dream messages and beliefs hidden in dreams. That is my passion and joy. Writing facilitates it.

How does someone go about finding a dream group?
I conduct dream groups in Albuquerque, so you can be invited to participate to see if it is something you want to pursue. After the trial, I ask for a commitment to come on a regular basis so the trust in the group is maintained. I am also offering online dream groups. Call or email me for more information: janet@dreamdigging.net, (505) 508-5805.


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


An Interview with Author Gail Rubin

Gail Rubin is not only an author, columnist, and radio/television host, she’s The Doyenne of Death®. As a Certified Thanatologist (death educator) and a Certified Funeral Celebrant, Gail brings light to a serious subject, helping others plan for the inevitable as well as remember the lives of loved ones. Her award-winning nonfiction books published by Light Tree Press include A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die (2011) and Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips (with Susan Fraser, 2015). Her newest book, Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die, was published by Rio Grande Books in 2016. You can find Gail on her websites AGoodGoodbye.com and GailRubin.com, and on her Amazon author page.


What’s your elevator pitch for Kicking the Bucket List?
Kicking the Bucket List is two-thirds about downsizing and one-third about organizing for end-of-life issues. We’re more inclined to deal with our material goods than our mortality, and this book helps get the conversation started.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
At first, it seemed like coming up with 100 items for this particular Bucket List was going to be a stretch. It turned out I had to pare down and combine items to make everything fit. Each item needed a photo or other artwork. I found a great resource for free Creative Commons images at Pixabay.com, and I took my own photos around the house of my own junk and my cats.

How did the book come together?
Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts, the publishers at Rio Grande Books, have published a series of Bucket List books since 2015. It started with Barbe’s The Basic New Mexico Bucket List: 100 Things to Do in New Mexico Before You Die. Each bucket list item has one page, with a paragraph or two of description, a link to a website for more information, and a color photograph. By the time Barbe approached me about doing a book for the series, other titles in the pipeline focused on hot air ballooning, cowboy life, space buff activities, and other New Mexico topics. This was the first of the books to focus on a practical issue everyone will eventually face.

We met to discuss the book in August of 2015, and signed a contract in September. I first focused on doing an outline of tips that went from “why downsize” to “how to downsize” to “creative ways to downsize” to “organizing for end-of life issues.” Once I started the writing, found appropriate website links and gathered photos, it came together within three months. Paul said the editor commented this was the most polished manuscript she’d ever seen, so the editing process didn’t take long. I thank my critique group for helping make it so polished. And we have SWW member Steve Brewer to thank for the title. I believe alcohol was involved.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Kicking the Bucket List?
As a professional speaker, the book has given me a new way to speak about mortality issues. I now have a PowerPoint presentation with photos from the book that I can customize to focus more on downsizing or on end-of-life issues, depending on the emphasis desired by the organization having me speak. The talks have been very well received, and I’ve sold a number of books after these presentations.

Do you have a favorite quote from the book you’d like to share?
I love the promotional blurb provided by Caitlin Doughty, YouTube “Ask a Mortician” star and author of New York Times bestseller Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory: “The connection between downsizing and death acceptance has never been more obvious. Clear your mind and conscience by sucking it up and doing the things Gail suggests.”

How many of the 100 items from the list have you checked off?
You would think The Doyenne of Death® would have completed all of the items, but no, I’ve still got drawers, closets, shelves and rooms that have excess goods that need to go. I have done a number of the end-of-life organizing items, though.

Any “Oh, wow!” moments while doing research for this book?
Oh, wow—I still have a lot of stuff to get rid of.

What inspired you to write about planning for death?
I got married for the second time in 2000, and had a really creative and fun Jewish Western wedding. Everyone had such a good time, I wanted to write a book about creative life cycle events and call it Matchings, Hatchings and Dispatchings, about weddings, births and deaths. From 2006-2007, I did a monthly feature in the Albuquerque Tribune by that name, and it was the columns on death and funerals that got the most reader response.

The responses told me there’s a real need to have conversations about death, and humor is a good way to start the conversation. I focused on funeral planning, since there were already plenty of books on wedding planning. The course of my career changed when I wrote A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. I went from being a public relations professional to a Certified Thanatologist (a death educator), a Certified Funeral Celebrant, a licensed insurance agent, a very busy blogger/podcaster/YouTube creator, and a contributing writer for funeral trade press.

How did The Doyenne of Death® come about?
My brother Mitch suggested the moniker, and I thought it was great. It wasn’t until I ran out and spent a lot of money getting the phrase trademarked that I realized most Americans don’t know what a doyenne is, although Europeans are familiar with the term. So, in addition to being a death educator, I’m educating people that a doyenne is a woman who’s considered senior in a group who knows a lot about a particular subject.

What marketing techniques have been most helpful to you?
I do drawings at my presentations for a free book or the 4-DVD set of my TV interview series that incorporates information from A Good Goodbye. The information requested includes name, email, phone number, age, city and state. If they include their email, they are added to my email list. I also provide check boxes to indicate if they’d like more information on A Good Goodbye programs and having me speak at other organizations.

I also offer several free documents on my website that people can access by opting in to my email lists. These include a 50-point Executors Checklist from Kicking the Bucket List, a free cremation e-book and a 10-page planning form from A Good Goodbye. Those offers help build my email list, which is almost 6,000 contacts at this point. Including lists or forms for download on the website was a must-have as I planned the marketing for the books. Visit my site, see what these forms look like, and sign up at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.

You’re active in Toastmasters. How has participating in this organization helped in marketing and promoting your books?
Being a good speaker is essential for writers to sell and promote their books. I joined Albuquerque Challenge Toastmasters in 2012, and it has made a huge difference in my competence as a speaker. I encourage all Albuquerque writers to visit our meetings to see how ABQ Challenge members help each other become better speakers. We meet on the second, fourth, and fifth Saturday of the month from 8:00 to 10:00 am (doesn’t conflict with SWW meetings) at Cooper Art Center (as in SWW’s Susan Cooper, the Queen of Mold). Learn more at www.ABQChallenge.org.


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


An Interview with Author Avraham Shama

Former dean and university professor Avraham Shama is the author of four nonfiction books and numerous articles. His short pieces have been published internationally and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Christian Science Monitor. The memoir Finding Home: An Immigrant’s Journey (2016) is his newest book, “a powerful tale of dislocation, despair and transformation.” Born in Iraq, Avraham now lives in the United States.


What is your elevator pitch for Finding Home: An Immigrant’s Journey?
Remember Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee who drowned and washed to the Turkish shore? Finding Home: An Immigrant’s Journey is about another child who survived the trauma of exile to tell his story. It is an intimate, lyrical memoir of an Iraqi child looking for home, a powerful tale of dislocation, despair and transformation shared by refugees and immigrants at all times, including those refugees seen on TV almost every night. Narrated in the first person, it captivates the reader with its candidness, honesty and hope. The protagonist is a seven-year-old Jewish Iraqi child living a peaceful life with his parents and many siblings in the countryside near the Hanging Gardens of Babylon by the Euphrates River. When things change abruptly for the worse in 1951, he and his family flee to Israel, where they spend years living in tents and shacks in sub-human conditions in transition camps. He becomes a day laborer, survives a terrible disease, becomes an adult with a different name and personality, gets a college education and a doctorate, and ends his search for home in the United States, amazed and happy with his life.

When readers turn the last page, what do you hope they take away from it?
I hope that at least some aspects of the book will resonate with all readers and remind them of events in their own lives. Several American-born readers of the book, seemingly not connected in any way to this story which spans Iraq, Israel and the United States, felt an immediate connection with it. They told me some of the family dynamics portrayed in the book, as well as the fears, aspirations and hopes of the protagonist were reflected in their own lives. I guess that is why we all read: to see ourselves in others, know that we are not alone, feel human and connected with fellow human beings, especially when life’s events are difficult, even impossible.

What was the hardest part of writing your memoir? The most rewarding?
When I was very young and living in a transition camp I contracted typhoid fever and almost died. For many years, I did not dare think about that deadly experience. Every time the thought of writing about it crept to my mind, however faintly, I would run away to save my life. Deep down, however, I knew one day I would face that brutal experience. This happened a few years ago in my old age, when I confronted it and found a way to convey the many weeks of confusion, fever and psychosis to readers. I tried many different writing styles until I found a suitable one. Writing about this set me free and helped me understand myself. For me, memoir writing was a path for knowing myself better, which was most rewarding.

When did you know you wanted to write your story? What prompted the final push to begin?
I have published many academic books and articles, but I always knew that someday I would write my memoirs—not only mine and my family’s, but of a whole generation of 120,000 Jews who had to leave Iraq empty-handed like refugees and start over. But I did not want the exposure which comes with writing my own memoirs. I was much more comfortable writing academic books because I was not personally invested in them. Then I took a class about memoir writing and immediately began writing.

Tell us how the book came together.
I say I “began writing,” but reality was a lot more complicated. My research required several overseas trips to interview relatives and other sources about life in Iraq before I was born and the difficulties of life in Israel later. This was important and urgent as many of my relatives were already very old. Then, of course, I had to make decisions about what to include in the book, how to tell the story, etc. This was a process of trial and error, sifting and distilling until I found my voice and rhythm. I wrote in the mornings, edited in the evenings and decided how to tackle the next morning’s writing in my sleep. And my conversations with my characters in my sleep were most satisfying. As usual with me, my better writing is my re-writes, many re-writes, and extensive editing way before a draft is submitted to an editor. My guiding principle, always, was to engage readers in the conversation, to lure them into the plot and to make them crave hearing the narrator’s familiar voice chapter after chapter. I decided to publish the book through CreateSpace and to hire an Albuquerque artist to design the cover. I had two excellent editors who contributed to the readability of the book and whom I sometimes drove crazy because I kept changing my mind, sometimes about small details that most readers would not notice. In all, the book took about three pregnancies from start to finish.

What surprising facts did you discover while doing research for Finding Home: An Immigrant’s Journey?
In researching the book I found out that beginning in 1947 the Jewish Agency, and later the state of Israel, secretly sent Zionist messengers to Iraq to convince the Jewish population there to migrate to the infant and poor state of Israel. Their means of persuasion included setting fires to Jewish Synagogues and businesses. The Iraqi Jewish population immediately assumed those fires were set by hateful Muslims and decided that Israel was the only safe place for them. Imagine that: Jews from Israel killed Iraqi Jews and harmed their synagogues and businesses in order to push the rest of the Jewish population of Iraq to move and populate the barren land of the new state of Israel.

Do you have a favorite quote from the book you’d like to share?
Thinking back about my favorite quote from the book, I realize it did not pertain to an action, a deed or something that one of the characters said. Rather, it pertained to a feeling, a mood that concluded turmoil or an inner emotional explosion. When such an emotional chaos happened and the characters found a way not to fall to pieces, they reaffirmed their lives by saying “all is good, right and proper.” Like a mantra, this had the effect of cooling their inner fires and establishing peace and acceptance. I found this very reassuring, even rejuvenating. Strangely, I began using it myself. And it works!


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


An Interview with Author Dan Wetmore

Through his writing, retired Air Force officer Dan Wetmore strives to add something new to the storehouse of human stories. He also embraces Horace Mann’s advice to “be ashamed to die until you have achieved some victory for humanity.” My Mother’s Gentle Unbecoming: The Absentings of Alzheimer’s (Saint Andrews University Press, 2016) is Dan’s first book of published poetry. You can find him on LinkedIn and his SWW Author Page.


What is your elevator pitch for My Mother’s Gentle Unbecoming?
This collection of poetry is a chronologue of my mother’s stair-step descent into the privations of Alzheimer’s Disease; an attempt to be an oblique voice for one who’s unavoidably voiceless, and not have such a taking pass without being taken to task.

When readers turn the last page, what do you hope they take away from the book?
Appreciation that the lion’s share of a life are the ripples we imbue in others; that beauty can be found in the seemingly most ugly, even if it’s nothing more than the shadow of sadness outlining former joys; and that a lamentation can be as much a tribute of recollection as can a remembrance.

How did the book come together?
It started as conversations with myself, trying to come to grips with such a perverse affliction, to sort out the paradoxes and anticipate what lay in store. The printed page was the best scapegoat I could find for the frustrations of these days, in hopes that casting words out to wander in the wilderness might somehow free those of us closest to her from our own aimless stumbling. And seeing so many friends and their parents in similar straits, hoping that sharing the words might include the catharsis I found in them.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Trying to avoid slipping into self-pity and let the proper focus shift away from my mother. Working to plumb the grief’s depths without becoming maudlin; keeping the sentiments from becoming a caricature, or worse, an exploitation.

In poetry, how important is accessibility of meaning? Should a reader have to work to understand a poem?
My answers might seem contradictory. Accessibility of meaning is very important if the object is to be read (as opposed to those who write solely for catharsis). But despite creating an obstacle to that, the reader should have to work to understand a poem. Mainly because things we’ve striven for mean more than those which are simply handed to us. But also because if the reader hasn’t traveled beyond where they were previously, if a lightbulb hasn’t come on—a new idea apprehended or phrasing experienced—it’s been nothing more than a passing distraction. Maybe I’m channeling my mother that way: having spent hours preparing the best meal I can, the last thing I want is for you to wolf it down without savoring it.

How does a poem begin for you, with an idea, a form, an image?
With an idea or turn of phrase. For me, poems are always exercises in concision (I’ve bought into Polonius’ assertion that “brevity is the soul of wit [insight vice humor]”), completeness, and sometimes the quixotic. I try to wring every nuance from an idea, in the most succinct way possible and if possible make it memorable/stamp it uniquely my own through an improbable juxtaposition. In poetry’s relatively few words, there are few to spare as guard rails (for the author or the audience), and I enjoy the adrenaline of walking the tightrope which is seeking the one word which has all (and only) the desired connotations, without which I and the reader will both fall.

Since you began writing poems, has your idea of what embodies poetry changed?
At age six, rhyme and meter—poetry’s unique traits—held the whole of their value for me (the evident perspiration found in technical precision). Now I believe the way seen defines the short lines as much if not more than the way said; the subject viewed peripherally, obliquely, intimated rather than stated. Also, since poems are snapshots of the world through the lens of the author (of the human condition and other verities), their aesthetic value lies most in how true a likeness rather than how well liked a particular truth.

Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
For the sheer lyricism of well-crafted prose, Mark Helprin and Anthony Doerr. For remarkable situations, ingenious plot twists and concentrated character studies, I can’t pass up the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, and Robert Heinlein. For exploring and embracing the self-deprecating absurdness of the human condition, Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut take the cake.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? What is your writing routine like?
It’s a draw between creating and editing. Like ice cream, one is mint chocolate chip and the other is caramel praline. The creating is exploratory and marveling at the unanticipated newness coming from a mind you thought you already knew in full. The editing is imposing order and wresting control from chaos, enjoying power over the world of your words. Sadly, my writing routine is 10 percent writing, 90 percent editing. Long blocks late at night when distractions are at a minimum are best, but a few minutes with a scrap of paper on a cross-town bus or waiting in a restaurant are good to jot down plot anchors or snippets of dialogue. When limited time provides the freedom of low expectations, the rewards are inversely high. And a sense of the illicit always helps to catalyze writing. I write best by procrastinating something else!

What do you want to be known for as an author?
Managing to weave seemingly disparate elements into something cohesive; unique turns of phrase and insightful reflections on the human condition. One of my high school teachers told me writing should do one of two things—take a reader someplace they’ve never been, or show them one they’ve been to but in a way they’ve never seen it before. I’d count either as success.

Do you have other creative outlets besides writing?
Building furniture, genealogy, and restoring old cars. Probably because they and writing all share the aspect of trying to give something to the future, whether being a steward of the past and care-taking what’s lent to us, or adding something new to the stores of the human story; trying to embrace Horace Mann’s admonition to “be ashamed to die until you have achieved some victory for humanity.”

What writing projects are you working on now?
My first novel, which has been dogging my steps for more years than I care to admit, but is finally nearing its end through the combined exhaustion of the material and myself.


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


An Interview with Author D.E. Williams

D.E. Williams began her writing journey at the age of ten and has followed its winding course through decades of life’s detours. A dying friend’s wish (see the end of this interview) gave her the push she needed to complete her first novel and seek publication. Child of Chaos (2015), book one of The Chesan Legacy Series, went on to win the award for best sci fi novel in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. You can find the author on her website at DollieWilliams.com and on Facebook.


What is your elevator pitch for Child of Chaos?
Fighting a forgotten past and a prophetic future, a young assassin struggles to free herself and save her friends, but she just might destroy the galaxy in the process.

What sparked the initial story idea?
The idea was originally a short story titled “The Freedom Maneuver” that I wrote back in the 80s. It was badly written and never published, but the characters never left me alone. I had to tell their story.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
When I first started writing Child of Chaos, I let the characters have control and it roamed all over the place. The central plot was there, but very well camouflaged. Reining the characters in and sticking to the plot became the greatest challenge.

How did the book come together?
It took about seven years to write the book, then I realized it was really two books, and it took another four years to separate them and refine book one.

Tell us about your main characters. Which point of view did you enjoy writing the most?
Tridia Odana is a 17-year-old assassin raised in a militaristic society, the Odean Hierarchy. She’s very good at what she does, but hates it, because she’s also telepathic and gets hit with her victim’s dying thoughts. Her best friend is framed for a heinous crime, but the only way to rescue him is to rise to the Master Assassin’s rank—something no female has ever done. A prophecy unknown to Tridia predicts she will either cause a horrific war across the galaxy, or she will ensure galactic peace. One of the few who know of this prophecy is Brenden Aren, a former Master Assassin sworn to kill her to prevent the worst from happening. For the most part, I write from either Tridia or Brenden’s point of view. Tridia’s POV is by far the most fun, and Brenden’s is the most challenging. I mean, I’ve been a 17-year-old girl, but I’ve never been a cold and dangerous male assassin.

What was the most difficult aspect of world building for this book?
I gave a lot of thought to defining the Hierarchy’s rules and regulations and what it was like for the soldiers who lived with them. It was difficult balancing the nature of my characters to make them believable in that society, as well as being able to function outside of it. I wanted them to have personality beyond being killing machines and to be able to show emotions, even though those emotions are often subdued by their training.

Do you have a favorite quote from Child of Chaos?
“You can’t fail more badly than being killed.” ~ Tridia Odana

If the stars aligned, what past or present movie/television series would you love to write for?
There are so many! I would love to rewrite the ending of St. Elsewhere, the old hospital drama. That show ended so badly. I enjoy anime and some of those series don’t end—or don’t end well—they just stop. I’d like to write or rewrite endings for several of them. Then there’s the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise that I would really love to get my words into! Most of all, I would absolutely love to be involved in The Chesan Legacy Series movies, with Child of Chaos being the first in the franchise. (You did say, if the stars aligned!)

Tell us about your writing process and your writing routine.
Definitely a pantser who loves to write late at night. I have to do the original writing with my feet propped up—but all editing is done with my feet firmly on the floor. Go figure!

What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write, and what do you do to get over this hurdle?
I struggle with action scenes—which is really funny, because for those who have read Child of Chaos, it’s pretty much non-stop action. My mentor Kirt Hickman gave me some very good advice that I cling to. He said an action scene isn’t only about what they’re doing, it’s also about what the characters are thinking and feeling, and a writer has to show those things, as well. The reader needs to be a part of the action, not just watching it. So I write the scene with the moving parts first, then go back and add the internals. If it doesn’t move me, then I’m pretty sure it won’t move anyone else. I keep at it until I’m hooked.

What typically comes first for you: a character, a scene, a story idea?
The characters always bring their mixed-up stories into my head, expecting me to sort them out.

What do you love outside of writing and reading?
I sew and do a few crafts from time to time. Apart from reading and writing, my first love is movies. I’ve gotten much more select in what I watch over the years. I rarely watch an R movie. If it’s got filthy language, gratuitous blood-letting, or explicit sex, I’m not interested. I will see anything put out by Disney, Dreamworks, and Studio Gibli. Usually, if it’s a superhero or adventure movie, I’m there. Same for Star Trek and Star Wars. And if it has human-sized green amphibians who wear colored masks and use martial arts weapons, I’ll stand in line for a ticket. (Yeah, I’m worse than any three kids I know.)

Do you have a favorite how-to writing book you’d like to recommend?
Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness by Kirt Hickman. I’ve given away several copies to aspiring writers and recommended it to several others.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
Keep writing! And David Morrell said something at the SWW Conference a few years ago that set me free. He said to write your story. Don’t try to write what’s popular right now. Don’t try to write what you think someone else wants to read. Write the story that’s given to you.

What writing project are you working on now?
Chaos Unleashed, book two of The Chesan Legacy Series. My target release date is June 15, 2017. But I have this day job that pays the bills and keeps me occupied 10-12 hours a day, so I do editing and rewrites when I can. It will definitely be out before Bubonicon at the end of August.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Child of Chaos is a self-published book, and the reason for that is a poignant one. My most ardent supporter was always my best friend Mary Cellino who started reading my stuff in college, way back when I was doing it for fun—and it was pretty awful. Even so, Mary encouraged me to pursue writing as a career. I didn’t, but I did keep writing, and she kept reading and encouraging. In 2012 she was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer. We knew it was terminal. When I asked her if there was anything on her bucket list we could do, she said the only thing on it was to own a copy of my published book. [Insert knife in heart here.] How do you deny that last wish to your best friend? I got serious about cleaning it up and submitted it to Penguin publishing in the fall of 2014. The editor held onto it for eight months before telling me that it was an intriguing story, but she just didn’t fall in love with it. That was in May 2015. By this time, Mary was failing fast, so I decided to self-publish because no publisher could have gotten it out fast enough. In late September, I told her the book was scheduled for release on December 15th of that year. She died on October 25th. I got the first proofs back a few days later. There was a copy on the altar next to her urn at her Celebration of Life Service. I knew it didn’t matter to her that she never held the book in her hand. She’d read it in all of its lesser stages through the years, and she knew it would be printed. She also knew if she hadn’t asked for it, I would probably never have actually published it (at least not for many years). There are others who worked very hard with me to make Child of Chaos the really good book it is, and I acknowledge them every chance I get (Clare Davis, Shari Holmes), but it wouldn’t be in print right now without Mary’s request.


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


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.