Blog Archives

2020 New Releases for SWW Authors #2

Parris Afton Bonds, Loretta Hall, Esther Jantzen, Dennis Kastendiek, and Paula Paul are a few examples of the dedicated members of SouthWest Writers. Each of these authors represents a different genre, but all pushed through the craziness of 2020 to see their work published. The releases in this post couldn’t fit into this year’s interview schedule, but look for interviews or updates for most of these authors in 2021.

A list of previously interviewed SWW authors with 2020 releases is included at the end of this post.


In The Barons (Lagan Press, July 2020), the second entry in the Texicans saga, New York Times bestselling author Parris Afton Bonds tells a tale of intrigue and loyalty stretched to the breaking point. Politics, plunder, passion, profit, and power collide in a new and bountiful land through the eyes of the Paladín family, a captivating, richly-painted cast of characters playing out their lives against the backdrop of history. Their loves, their desires, their perils and rewards — all rendered in service to create a new state in America’s southwest — take on an urgency and realism unlike any before.

With the third volume in her Texicans saga, The Bravados (Lagan Press, November 2020), Parris Afton Bonds weaves a spellbinding tale of love, hate, revenge, and reconciliation set against the milieu of the turn of the twentieth century. From the streets of Dallas to the oil fields of Louisiana and the blood-soaked jungles of Cuba, the Paladíns find themselves caught in the great struggle between the traditions of the past and the technologies that will shape the future. Can bonds of blood withstand such tides of change? What about the feuds of ages long past? With true-to-life characters, high drama, and painstaking authenticity, The Bravados is a masterpiece of epic romance.

Visit Parris at ParrisAftonBonds.com and on her Amazon author page.


Higher, Faster, Longer: My Life in Aviation and My Quest for Spaceflight (Traitmarker Books, 2020), by Wally Funk and award-winning nonfiction author Loretta Hall, tells the story of a unique American space pioneer. Since she was a girl in a Superman cape jumping off the family barn and stargazing from the slopes of Taos Mountain, Wally Funk has kept going higher, faster, and longer every time she saw an opportunity. She soared through the aviation program in college, landing herself a flight instructor position after graduation. From there, she set a record in astronaut testing. The scuttling of the Mercury 13 program didn’t stop Wally, who used her dreams to fuel an adventure-studded life. Traveling the world, shattering glass ceilings, and always keeping one eye on the stars, Wally relentlessly, joyfully reached higher, flew faster, and traveled longer on her way to space.

You’ll find all of Loretta’s books on her Amazon author page.


In September 2020, Esther Jantzen published WALK: Jamie Bacon’s Secret Mission on the Camino de Santiago, her first fiction book for children and young adults. This is the story of Jamie Bacon who’s angry at his parents for making him walk 500 miles in Spain as part of their homeschooling plan. He’s especially disappointed that his dad can’t come along, which means he’ll be alone with his mom and sister. But when Jamie meets Father Diego and hears the backstory of the Camino de Santiago, he becomes intrigued. And when he naively agrees to the request by two pilgrims to secretly carry a heavily taped envelope, unopened, all the way to Santiago de Compostela, Jamie is stuck with keeping his word and finishing the very long walk.

Visit Esther on her Amazon author page.


Dennis Kastendiek’s first novel, A Seven Month Contract at Four Thousand Per (September 2020), tells the hilarious story of Johnny, a small-town Kansas high school graduate who feels guilty after a prank results in his sister breaking a leg just before her community playhouse debut. Fortunately (or not), Johnny learned all her lines while watching her rehearsals. And when a talent scout passing through town sees a girl he thinks is the most gifted actress to be found on the plains in ages, shit really hits the fan for Johnny/Johnnie. Broadway, here he/she comes! Reviewers call the story “brilliantly written, with compelling characters” and “plenty of bumps and thumps to enlighten and delight.”


Murder is Contagious (February 2020) is Paula Paul’s sixth installment in her Alexandra Gladstone Mystery series. Several children have died in a measles outbreak in the village of Newton-Upon-Sea. Equally as frightening is what begins to look like an epidemic of murder that may be related in some way to the measles contagion. Dr. Alexandra Gladstone finds herself deeply involved in both threats. Not only is her own life endangered, but the lives of members of her own household are at risk. Her attempts to stop both epidemics are hampered by the reappearance of an old lover who threatens to reveal secrets from Dr. Gladstone’s past.

Visit Paula at PaulaPaul.net and on her Amazon author page.


SWW Author Interviews: 2020 Releases

Connie Flores
Our Fascinating Life: The Totally Accidental Trip 1979
Sue Houser
Wilmettie
BR Kingsolver
Knights Magica
Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin
How My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding It Better and Keeping It Healthy
Manfred Leuthard
Broken Arrow: A Nuke Goes Missing
Shirley Raye Redmond
Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God
J.R. Seeger
A Graveyard for Spies
Lynne Sturtevant
Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide and The Collaboration Kit
Patricia Walkow
New Mexico Remembers 9/11


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




2020 New Releases for SWW Authors #1

François-Marie Patorni, Donna Pedace, Shirley Raye Redmond, and Jasmine Tritten represent a few of the nonfiction authors among the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW). The new releases in this post couldn’t fit into the 2020 interview schedule, but look for interviews/updates for these authors in 2021.

A list of previously interviewed SWW authors with 2020 releases is included at the end of this post.


François-Marie Patorni’s The French in New Mexico: Four Centuries of Exploration, Adventure, and Influence (April 2020) is the first history of the French in New Mexico. In the book, the author chronicles the lives of French-speaking people from France, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands; of people with French ancestry who retained some of their French culture; and of people with strong connections to France. The book traces their presence in New Mexico from the 1500s to present times. It tells the stories of influential, unusual, or colorful characters, and those who are not as well-remembered — explorers, adventurers, fur trappers and traders, soldiers, merchants, priests, farmers and ranchers, business people, scientists, artists, actors, politicians, lawyers, criminals, women of note, intellectuals, and other influencers in society.

Visit François-Marie’s website FrenchInNewMexico.com.


Scandalous Women Of The Old West: Women Who Dared To Be Different (September 2020), by Donna Pedace, profiles ten amazing women who lived in the Old West. They dared to step outside the traditional roles of wife and mother, and left society’s conventions behind them. These women engaged in a wide range of interests and professions, and their stories will inspire and entertain. They overcame incredible odds to make a place for themselves in their chosen world, despite the sometimes strong objections of both men and women. Each blazed new trails for women who would come after them.

Visit Donna’s Amazon author page.


Award-winning author Shirley Raye Redmond’s newest nonfiction release is Brave Heroes and Bold Defenders: 50 True Stories of Daring Men of God (Harvest House Publishers, 2020). In the book, readers will meet men who have used their God-given talents to live out their faith to the fullest. The fifty featured defenders of the faith have made a profound impact on the world around them, and in many cases changed the course of history. These inspiring profiles will captivate kids’ imaginations and encourage them to discover their own gifts and how they can use them to glorify God.

You’ll find Shirley Raye at ShirleyRayeRedmond.com and on her Amazon author page.


In August 2020, Jasmine Tritten published her travel memoir On the Nile with a Dancing Dane, and it soon became a #1 New Release in Travel Egypt on Amazon.com. In this adventurous memoir, filled with mystery and surprises, she explores the land of the pharaohs and overcomes challenges and obstacles while following her love for dance and the Egyptian culture. Original artwork and photos are by the author. “Underneath the black and gold glittery outfit, danced a blonde, blue-eyed Danish Viking woman with a Middle-Eastern soul.”

Visit Jasmine on Facebook and her Amazon author page.


Seeing the World in 20/20: A SouthWest Writers Anthology of Award-Winning Stories

The year 2020 fits Confucius’ curse of “May you live in interesting times.” As the premier writers association in the southwestern part of the country, SouthWest Writers is all about writers helping writers succeed. The SWW annual writing contest is open to anyone and provides challenges for poets and authors. Seeing the World in 20/20 contains award-winning entries from each contest category: Biography/Memoir, Humor, Social Consciousness, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Mystery, Animals, Philosophy, Historical Fiction, and more.

Visit the SWW Publications page for all the organization’s releases.


SWW Author Interviews: 2020 Releases

Connie Flores
Our Fascinating Life: The Totally Accidental Trip 1979
Sue Houser
Wilmettie
BR Kingsolver
Knights Magica
Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin
How My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding It Better and Keeping It Healthy
Manfred Leuthard
Broken Arrow: A Nuke Goes Missing
Shirley Raye Redmond
Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God
J.R. Seeger
A Graveyard for Spies
Lynne Sturtevant
Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide and The Collaboration Kit
Patricia Walkow
New Mexico Remembers 9/11


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin is a clinical neuropsychologist in private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With over thirty years of clinical experience, and a background in research, she is an expert in brain health who strives to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. Her first book, How My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding It Better and Keeping It Healthy (Golden Word Books, 2020), is “an everyday guide to harnessing our most powerful mental tools in shaping the healthful and successful lives we all seek.” You’ll find Dr. Barb on her website at DrKoltuska.com.


Why did you write How My Brain Works?
The purpose of my book, which comes from my more than thirty years of experience as a neuropsychologist, is to explain how neuropsychological evaluation can help people understand how their brain is working, in order for them to reach their full potential and/or to help them heal if they are recovering from brain trauma or other brain-related problems or diseases.

I always talk to my patients about a healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating, exercising, mindfulness, gratitude, and getting enough sleep. Our brain doesn’t work in isolation. The healthier our body is, the better our brain will function. I truly believe that food is our medicine. Therefore, I share favorite healthy recipes. My lifelong hobby has been organic gardening and organic cooking, using produce mainly from my garden. I also share how to use commonly grown weeds, herbs, and edible flowers to enhance the flavor of meals so there is no need to use heavy sauces full of chemicals, calories, or artificial flavor enhancements. As a bonus, some readers may lose weight in the process.

I hope the book inspires others to take the first step on the road to a healthy, fulfilling, and successful life — this was the main reason I wrote this book.

What was the spark that got you started on the book?
This book probably would never have been written if not for the famous writer Elizabeth Gilbert. I was “writing” How My Brain Works for about three years in my mind before I decided to sit down and actually start writing it. I have a very busy practice, and caring for my patients has always been my priority. I felt that I never had enough time to start working on my book and had pushed it out of my to-do list. However, several years ago I saw Ms. Gilbert on TV talking about aspiring writers who complain they have no time to write. “Hmm, that’s me,” my inner voice said. Ms. Gilbert had brilliant advice for all those people. She said something like, “If you are really in love, no matter how busy you are, you will always find time to see your lover. So fall in love with your book and find time to write it. Assign time every week. It can be as little as fifteen minutes.” That did it for me. I decided to work on my book every Monday evening and try to write about one page. I kept this promise to myself and tried not to miss a Monday evening. It took over three years, but I did it. Therefore, I thank her in my book for this advice. I have never met her personally, but I hope I will in the future.

What was the hardest part of putting this project together, and what was the easiest?
The hardest part was keeping the promise to myself that I would work on my book every Monday. I was able to do it most of the time. The easiest was to take pictures of flowers and herbs from my garden for my book. It was fun!

Do you have a favorite quote from the book that you’d like to share?
The motto for my book is the famous saying of the mindfulness/meditation guru Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn: “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you.” Also, I strongly believe and always tell my patients, “Knowing how your brain works is powerful, because what you don’t know could hurt you. If you know what works well in your brain and what does not — for example, which of your brain functions are strong and which are weaker — you can learn to use the good parts of your brain to compensate for those that aren’t that good. For example, a person’s good visual memory can be used to facilitate compromised verbal memory. You can also do specific mental exercises to work on improving that part of your brain that isn’t functioning well.”

How did the book come together?
The book writing and research took three years. The editing cycle and searching for the publisher took about two more years. I mailed the finished manuscript to my friends and professional colleagues and asked them to give me feedback. I wanted them to honestly tell me what was wrong with the book. All of them loved it and said it had a lot of important information and should be published. I did not believe them. I felt they were being nice to me because they were my friends, so I sent the manuscript to an independent and well-regarded editor. When he got back to me, he started his evaluation with the sentence, “I was very impressed with your manuscript.” At that point, I knew I had written a good book that needed to be published. After a long and frustrating search, I finally found a reputable publisher. An email from the publisher’s editor noted that “this is an excellent manuscript.” I looked at his email and my first thought was that he just tried to be nice to me. And then I started thinking, “He is an editor, he reads a lot of manuscripts because this is his job. My book was already accepted for publication, so he has no incentive to be nice to me. If he thinks this is an excellent manuscript, it must be.” I told myself, “Barbara, pat yourself on the shoulder,” and I did.

What interesting facts did you discover while doing research for the project?
I learned a lot of detailed and important information about the health benefits of herbs and common weeds. As a matter of fact, most herbs are just weeds, which is a source of their potency. They can survive in all kinds of soil and air temperatures. I knew most of them had a health benefit. I had grown them and used them in my kitchen for many years, but I did not know their detailed health benefits. I was amazed to find out how many vitamins and microelements they contain. Also, most of the research on Alzheimer’s emphasizes that the best Alzheimer prevention is daily aerobic exercise, like a brisk walk. Isn’t it amazing that such a simple and totally cost-free thing like walking is the most important prevention?

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing How My Brain Works?
The most rewarding aspects are all of the positive feedback from my readers and the great reviews on Amazon, Kirkus, and Online Book Club. My readers greatly appreciate the simple but comprehensive guide to brain functioning and healthy living that helps them overcome, or better manage, their brain problems. Also, they like the common language of the book and the easy and engaging reading.

Have you tried your hand at writing fiction?
Not yet, but I believe I have a creative mind and a lot of stories to tell, so I may try some novels in the future.

How has music helped you in your personal, professional, or writing journey?
I always loved music, especially classical music. I have many years of formal musical education in piano and voice, and I am a classically trained mezzo-soprano. I have a CD on the internet titled Old Masters Love Songs (I think people can listen to it on Spotify now). It is very beautiful and relaxing music from the 17th and 18th century, mostly Italian. I get a lot of praises for it.

I strongly believe that studying music for many years gives a person specific sensitivity training. You need to be able to recognize and feel the emotions that the composer “placed” in his masterpiece and be able to “run” them thorough your emotional channels and perform them in such a way that the audience can feel them as well. The music you perform needs to emotionally “speak” to them. This specific training makes me very sensitive to other people’s emotions, so I can quickly “sense” what may be going on with them. It also helps me to establish a good rapport with patients and makes them feel at ease in my office.

What are your hobbies or creative outlets?
I am an organic gardener, and I eat mostly out of my garden. I also share my garden goodies with friends, neighbors, and family and freeze the rest for winter, or I pickle the vegetables. As a matter of fact, all my closest neighbors started their gardens after getting my garden goodies for some time. I am very happy that I inspired them. Now we share seeds, starter plants, and leftovers from our gardens. We are a community and it is wonderful.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I would like readers to know that if they have (or suspect they may have) brain problems, it is not the end of the world. Most problems can be treated and/or successfully managed, and people can still have a quality of life. We only have one life, why not make it as enjoyable as it can be?


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Manfred Leuthard

Author Manfred Leuthard is a world traveler, born and raised in Switzerland, who now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His experience with nuclear engineering and computer programming, as well as piloting a long list of aircraft, gave him a wealth of knowledge to pull from for his debut novel Broken Arrow: A Nuke Goes Missing (2020). You’ll find Manfred on his website at ManfredLeuthard.com and on Facebook.


What is your elevator pitch for Broken Arrow?
This is the story of a case of blackmail, mostly seen through the eyes of the narrator and the principal protagonist Harry — a helicopter pilot — who ends up embroiled in the heist of a nuclear weapons component from Los Alamos National Laboratories.

What challenges did this work pose for you?
Writing in first person voice was a challenge, as well as dealing with sex tastefully in a romantic setting. Grammar and vocabulary were challenges, too, because English is my second (actually fifth) language. I also tried to stay away from too many “flying stories.”

How did the book come together?
I used to fly for Los Alamos Labs, so I got to know the operation a bit and that helped spark the story idea. I tried to write 500 words (or two pages) a day. Altogether, it look about two years to put together — 1 1/2 years for 60 percent of the book and three months for 40 percent (during the pandemic). I had the manuscript edited by a professional editor, found a great book cover on Fiverr, and released it through Amazon KDP publishing in July 2020.

What were the hardest kinds of scenes to write, and what were the easiest?
Humor and sarcasm came easy, as did writing the science. Writing from the antagonist’s (crook’s) viewpoint was difficult due to my lack of relevant experience. Conflict dialog was hard to write, and violence was tricky.

What settings are included in the book, and why did you choose them?
I included Northern New Mexico because I live there. I’ve traveled extensively in Mexico, so that setting made it into the book as well. Aviation and nuclear engineering, which I’ve both done for a living, factor into the story too.

Tell us a little about your main character.
Harry Scott Anderson is a 52-year-old cynic who hates being lonely. His best friend and sole companion is a German Shepherd named Zorro. Harry is tired of constantly chasing new customers and has essentially given up on romance — until he meets Erin. His observant and meticulous nature entangles him in a plot to sell stolen nuclear weapons components.

What makes this novel unique in the thriller market?
Broken Arrow has a complex plot with many twists, including blackmailing the government and letting the crooks succeed.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Broken Arrow?
Getting it out of the door and reading reviews chock full of adulation.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
Find ONE person who believes in you. And find an editor who believes in you — even after having seen your prose.


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Ed Lehner

Retired professor Ed Lehner is a luthier, musician, and Reiki master who also finds time to journal and write poetry and short stories. In 2017, he added novelist to his list of accomplishments with the release of San Juan Sunrise. His second novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson (2018), explores a journey of failure, depression, self-discovery, and love. You’ll find Ed on Facebook and Twitter, and on his website ELehner.com.


What is your elevator pitch for The Awakening of Russell Henderson?
Chicago investment-banker Russell Henderson — newly divorced, suffering from depression, his structured life falling apart — makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to go on a camping trip to explore the Western United States. On the second day of his trip, he picks up a woman hitchhiker in western Iowa. This sets off a chain of events that involve an American Indian sweat lodge, a Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche, and a road trip through stunning countryside. His relationship with the woman becomes more complex, especially when the dark secret of her past comes into play.

When readers turn the last page of the book, what do you hope they will take away from it?
I hope the reader will feel uplifted. I would hope, along with the story itself, readers might come away with new insights into the struggles in their own lives or those of others.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
This being only my second book, it is hard to pick out any unique challenges. Writing a novel, for me with my lack of experience, was the main challenge. But I would have to say, describing the sweat lodge and creating the Rinpoche (from a number of Tibetan teachers I have had over the years) and giving them both due respect was probably the hardest. Originally, I was not going to include the sweat, but finally felt it was a necessary part of the story.

Tell us how the book came together.
When my wife and I lived in Iowa, we usually spent three weeks of every summer camping out west, visiting national parks, exploring and hiking, mainly in the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Along the way I met some great folks, some being Ogallala Sioux from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota where I experienced my first sweat lodge. Also I have studied Buddhism for thirty years.

With teaching relatively small studio labs in design when I was at Iowa State University, I got to know most of my students fairly well along with their struggles, fears, their self-criticism of not being good enough, not creative enough among other things. I kept journals of these encounters along with my teaching experiences, and, for the most part, many of my students created Russell Henderson.

Also, the first book I wrote, San Juan Sunrise, dealt with childhood abuse and recovery. I found digging into abused and damaged individuals, and their subsequent recovery, rewarding. For The Awakening, I wanted to write a road-trip book to include some of my adventures and the places I had visited. I added a spiritual growth aspect, and it all fell together. I first had the idea to write the book in 2016 and fooled around with it, but didn’t begin to seriously write it until January of 2018. I sent the manuscript to the editor at the end of July 2018, and it was published by the end of November that year.

Who is your main character, and why will readers connect with him?
Russell Henderson might be anyone…anyone who is feeling trapped and wants to break free of the influences of their upbringing, their familial and societal expectations. Somebody who is suddenly confronted by the confines of their present life and is facing the necessity to have to change, especially when they realize there are no roadmaps.

When did you know you had taken the manuscript as far as it could go?
I felt Russell’s relationship with Hanna, the hitchhiker, was fully developed, but it wasn’t until he had complete closure with his family secrets which were revealed after an event that called him back to his family home in Iowa.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
It was fun to share some of my own experiences. I am a closet romantic, so I had to include a love interest and found the opposite personalities of uptight Russell and free-spirited Hanna interesting to develop and work with.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I never knew exactly if or when I really wanted to be a writer. I’ve written quite a bit about my struggles with creativity on my blog. I began to write poetry after discovering Robert Frost in a literature class in junior college. I always had an urge to create but was drawn to the visual arts and ended up as a professor of graphic design. Also, I journaled and continued to intermittently write poetry for many years. Around 2012, I began writing poetry more regularly and attempted some short stories about the same time. Prose was a different animal to me, however, and thoughts about me ever writing a novel never entered my mind. San Juan Sunrise came quite unexpectedly when I was recovering from pneumonia in 2015. The book started as a poem which morphed into a short story and just kept going and growing until I had to bring it to a close around 90,000 words. I was quite surprised. The Awakening of Russell Henderson was intentional as a novel. Once I started, it was a great road trip.

Your writing takes several forms – poetry, short stories, novels. Is there one form you’re drawn to the most when you write or read?
Poetry and short stories are my favorites to write. They are obviously quite different, mainly much faster and more immediate from doing a full-blown novel but, nonetheless, have their own challenges of creating a full story, or a feeling, with only a few words.

How has the creativity and discipline you employ as a musician (or music itself) helped you in your writing journey?
I must say I have never been a dedicated or disciplined musician. But I find rhythm in poetry as well as prose to be the same as music in many ways. I see rhythms in the sentence, paragraph, chapter, the rise and fall of the plot or the protagonist that can be inherent in either a folk song or a symphony.

What are your hobbies or creative outlets?
I am a luthier and repair stringed instruments, mainly for the B Frank Foundation in Bayfield, Colorado that has around 500 instruments they put into the hands of any child who wants to learn music, along with offering lessons and orchestra. I also like being in the mountains, four-wheeling or hiking. I do still hang out with my guitar and mandolin quite a bit. Also, of late, I have been messing around with doing some photography again. Being a designer, I look for patterns and the interactions, anomalies, and details that sometimes occur that may be easily overlooked. I try to capture these images that I consider to be abstractions of our common visual sense. I think I also see these same concepts in my writing to some degree.

Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
Renée Vivian for her beautiful poetry. Henry Miller for his writing style. Ernest Hemingway for his writing style, characters, and stories. Marc Levy for his gentle and sometimes surrealistic stories. Nina George for her delightful stories set mostly in Paris, my most favorite city. Anne Hillerman for continuing her father’s legacy of stories about the Navajo people in and around the area where I live. Kerry Greenwood for her Miss Fisher series on which I am totally hooked. I am also reading SouthWest Writers authors and have liked a number of the books I have read. There are so many other great authors that have influenced both the vocabulary of my visual world as well as my writing world.

Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your writing?
I hope I project the idea of hope and possibilities of personal growth and/or healing, despite the real or perceived roadblocks that can be frightening and overwhelming.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
The first encouragement came from my wife after she read my first draft of San Juan Sunrise. She thought it was a good story and that I should try to get it published. I had several other readers look at the manuscript who also thought it was a worthy story that should be out there. The same held true with The Awakening. Then my short story “The Anchor” was awarded second place in the Support Indie Authors contest, which gave me some nice validation for my efforts.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I have been writing short stories. I also have the sequel to San Juan Sunrise in the works and am working to bring it (slowly) to fruition.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I have struggled most of my life with creative expression, and it wasn’t until I had some aha moments of self-discovery that I could finally feel the freedom to both design and write. My twenty-part memoir of my road to creative freedom is on my blog, www.elehner.com. Just go to August 2020 and scroll down to the beginning.


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author/Editor Patricia Walkow

Patricia Walkow is an award-winning author whose editing skills (as well as fiction and nonfiction contributions) have shaped dozens of anthologies including Corrales Writing Group’s Kale is a Four Letter Word (2020). Pat’s most recent editing project is New Mexico Remembers 9/11 (Artemesia Publishing, October 2020), an anthology of memoir and poetry from two dozen contributors living in The Land of Enchantment. You’ll find Pat on Facebook and her Amazon author page.


What would you like readers to know about New Mexico Remembers 9/11?
September 11, 2001 is seared into America’s collective memory. Although New Mexico is two thousand miles from the sites of destruction in Manhattan, the Pentagon near Washington D.C., and a verdant field in rural western Pennsylvania, on that day, our “home” was attacked, regardless of how many miles away from New Mexico those attacks occurred. As curator and editor of New Mexico Remembers 9/11, I wanted to create a body of work that enshrines the connectedness New Mexico has to the rest of the country.

One of the things I learned during the process was the extent to which the contributors—young and older—were affected, and how those wounds are not fully closed. It is my hope their poems and stories helped them make sense of it all. My wish is their evocative poems and prose will help readers who, to this day, still grieve.

What were you looking for in a submission to the anthology?
I was looking for prose and poetry. Happily, I received both. There were two requirements for submitting work: 1) the writer had to be currently living in New Mexico, even if they were not New Mexico residents on 9/11/2001, and 2) the submitter had to be a writer. That is why I opened up submissions to some local writers’ groups.

A few of the contributors were children or young adults on 9/11/2001. I wanted to hear their experiences and perspectives, and include them. As with any set of submissions, there is considerable variety in styles and abilities of writers. In the case of this particular anthology, the differences were related more to style than ability. As a result, I didn’t need to reject any of the submissions. However, I standardized some technical aspects, such as the use of dashes, fonts, indenting, etc. I read each story multiple times and provided a critique to the writer, identifying what was working well, what was confusing, or what was a problem. Using that approach, each story became more polished.

Although New Mexico Remembers 9/11 is not a SouthWest Writers publication, I approached this work with the spirit of SWW as a driving factor—writers helping writers—providing a publishing opportunity for those who submitted. Local publisher Artemesia Publishing (from Tijeras, New Mexico) took on the project. If that had not happened, I was fully prepared to release the book through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Tell us how the book came together.
I had the idea of a 9/11 anthology in my mind for a few years. I had co-authored a story with my husband, Walter, about our own 9/11 experiences. We had been separated by distance and wrote an account of our days from 9/11 until I finally arrived home on 9/14. Certainly, there are thousands of stories about those days. They needed to be written. Originally, I pitched the idea to my own critique group, but that didn’t go very far. So, I figured I’d suggest the idea to SouthWest Writers, opening it up to them, and also to New Mexico Press Women.

The entire book took about eighteen months from initiation to publication set for October 13, 2020. Originally, I thought I’d wait to publish it until 2021 on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Instead, I opted to publish it in 2020 and give myself through 2021 to market the book. Each submission was originally written by the author, reviewed and critiqued by me, revised by the author, then reviewed and critiqued again by me. A few required a longer cycle. The publisher had someone do the cover design, but I did legwork ahead of time. The flowing New Mexico flag is something I found and wanted on the front cover. The cover design process was easy and quick, since the publisher and I were pretty much on the same page about it.

Why were you the perfect editor for this project?
I can’t admit to being the perfect editor for this project. However, I’ve edited several anthologies, and most of them have won awards for editing. I used a couple of beta readers to help with the 9/11 anthology. In addition, publisher Geoff Habiger and I made a good go of it, but we did find some additional errors and had to make more changes. Editing is an iterative process, and over the years I’ve learned that what an editor sees on the screen is often seen differently in print. I always print a manuscript to edit it, mark it up, and only then make changes on the electronic copy of the manuscript. It uses a lot of ink, but so does printing a book with lots of errors in it. Often, I use Word’s voice feature to read the text aloud. That can catch errors the eye no longer sees.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
There are twenty-five contributors to the anthology. That is a larger set of writers to work with than I am used to, and the review process was quite intense for a while. One of the challenges I had was writers wanting to keep certain punctuation or phrasing I thought was more confusing than illuminating, and some of them just not right. For example, some used dashes inappropriately, or left double or triple blank lines as breaks…in general, a lack of consistency. But as editor, I considered it my job to create the consistency. Any anthology I curate and edit will have a polished, consistent look. Reading the stories, I noted discrepancies between “facts” about the events and documented facts. Each fact in a story was verified, and these verified facts were used, instead. Had a writer not agreed to this consistent look or had been adamant about using an incorrect “fact,” it would have been a deal breaker for including that piece in the anthology. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Do you have favorite quotes from the book that you’d like to share?
There are so many. Here are a few:

The ability of the human spirit to surmount the tragedy of 9/11 is not forgotten in New Mexico. ~ Elaine Carson Montague

We need to know we are something together which we are not and cannot be apart. ~ Ryan P. Freeman

…spirits dropping from the sky – no way to unremember… ~ Sylvia Ramos Cruz

Back before—
before the trajectory of history
took an unexpected turn.
~ Janet Ruth

What was the best part of putting this project together?
I got to know some writers in a deeper way than I had beforehand. The fact they entrusted me with some of their deepest feelings and beliefs is very humbling. It has been my honor to work with them.

What did you learn in editing/publishing New Mexico Remembers 9/11 that you can apply to future projects?
Know what you want the final product to look like and stick to that vision.

Do you prefer the creating, editing or researching aspect of a writing project?
Researching is fun. Writing is fun, but researching still continues as you write. Editing is not “fun” but it is part of the process. I prefer the writing part.

How has your experience writing nonfiction benefited your other writing?
Facts are important whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction. To make fiction “real,” I think you have to use real facts in stories, whether you’re talking about a sailboat, or a murder investigation. Some fiction I write requires a good amount of research. If you’re writing complete fantasy and create your own world…well, more power to you.

What advice do you have for beginning or discouraged writers?
Understand why you write. To express yourself? To heal wounds? To make money? To tell a great story? I don’t write for money (which is a good thing, I’ve come to realize). Most importantly: WRITE. Be brave enough to have people read what you write. What you think you are saying may not be the way it reads. Join or start a critique group. It’s a huge help.

What writing projects are you working on now?
Fellow SouthWest Writers member Chris Allen and I are working on a murder/mystery novel with a bit of romance. It is set in hills and mountains of southeastern New Mexico, Lincoln County. We are on our second draft and haven’t killed each other. Yet. (We work quite well together, actually). The book has a working title of Lake Fortuna.

I am also considering curating another anthology for publication in late 2022. There are several topics in mind, and if I do pursue this project, I will open submissions to members of SouthWest Writers and other writing groups.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
The first word in my 1st grade reader was “LOOK.” I am still looking with my eyes, with my heart, with my mind. It is an endless source of writing inspiration.


Read more about Pat in her two 2016 SWW interviews—one on writing and the other about her debut novel, The War Within, The Story of Josef.


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Lynne Sturtevant

Lynne Sturtevant combines decades of tourism experience with a love of local history to produce her nonfiction books. In a span of two months she published her three most recent releases: Create Successful Walking Tours (November 2019), Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide (January 2020), and The Collaboration Kit (January 2020). Find all of Lynne’s books on her website LynneSturtevant.com and her Amazon author page, and connect with her on her blog HiddenNewMexico.com and on Facebook.


How did these closely tied books evolve from the spark of an idea to their first draft?
All three books started as blog posts. For several years, I had a blog called The History Biz for folks working in local history and tourism. When I moved to New Mexico four years ago, I stopped updating the blog. About a year ago, I read through the posts. There was a lot of good content there. So, I decided to repurpose some of it as eBooks. The material needed to be updated and significantly expanded. I knew how to do that. What I didn’t know how to do was self-publish.

What was the most challenging aspect of publishing three books in two months?
The biggest challenge was just sitting down and doing it. Even though I’m comfortable with technology, there was a learning curve. To be honest, I wouldn’t have attempted it if I hadn’t taken a self-publishing workshop from SouthWest Writers. The process is tedious, but it’s worth it. I’ve become a huge fan of self-publishing.

Who are the audiences for the three books, and what would you like readers to know about each of these releases?
The Collaboration Kit and Create Successful Walking Tours are practical guides for people working in county historical societies, small museums, and historic houses, as well as entrepreneurs who offer history-themed walking tours and events. The books describe how to find interesting program ideas, how to work with other organizations, how to properly price events, how to deal with unruly customers, how much to pay guides, how to effectively use social media, etc.

Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide is for writers and people who would like to become writers. It’s a complete guide to conceptualizing, writing, publishing, and marketing a local interest book. I published two local interest books about ten years ago. Both are still in print and selling well. So, I have good information to share on this topic. Whether it’s a town history, a family saga, a neighborhood’s story or a collection of legends, a local interest book is a manageable project. The research is fun and there are lots of interesting and lucrative marketing opportunities that are only available for local books.

How has your experience writing nonfiction affected or benefited your fiction writing?
I’m convinced writing both fiction and nonfiction makes me a better writer. I have more techniques to draw from. When I find opportunities to use scene setting and character description in nonfiction pieces, it always strengthens the prose. I also do web copywriting. Part of my process is to interview people about what they want for their websites. I don’t just focus on their answers, though. I listen to the way they speak, their tone, their vocabulary. Because I’ve had lots of practice writing dialogue, I can bring their voices to life on their websites. As far as what nonfiction brings to the table, it’s editing. You learn to spot the chaff when you have to adhere to word count limits.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I’ve got two projects in the works. My novel The Good Neighbors, a contemporary fantasy about a troop of Celtic fairies rampaging through the hills of West Virginia, is in final editing. I’m in the outlining stage of another book for the local history crowd. The working title is Haunted: Profiting from the Paranormal. It’s about how to create ghost walks, graveyard tours, investigations of haunted houses, that sort of thing. I plan to self-publish both.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I offer website design and copywriting services to writers, artists and other creative people. You can find out more about that at www.magicwordscreative.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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author BR Kingsolver

BR Kingsolver combines adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction to craft imaginative worlds (currently eighteen published novels across five series). The author’s latest release is Knights Magica (2020), the fifth book in the Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill series. Find all the author’s books on BRKingsolver.com and Amazon, and connect on Facebook and Twitter.


What is your elevator pitch for Knights Magica?
The exciting conclusion of the best-selling five book Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill series. Find out why these books have been at the top of Amazon’s Supernatural Thriller lists for more than a year.

Who is your main character, and why will readers connect with her?
The main character is Erin McLane, a former assassin for the Illuminati who discovered the secret order was working for their own dark ends instead of for the good of mankind. It’s a redemption story, and people seem to connect with a hard, capable, but naïve woman trying to find her way in the world. She knows a hundred ways to kill someone, but has never encountered a coin-operated washing machine before. Readers also seem to like all the quirky characters at the bar, from the pink-haired half-elven astrophysicist, to the aeromancer waitress, to the pyromancer chef.

What was the most difficult aspect of world building for this series?
I constructed a city in a place where there isn’t one on the Oregon coast, and making sure the details remained consistent throughout all the books in the series was a bit of a challenge. That and describing the Fae village that lies between the Underworld and the city of Westport.

Tell us how the book came together.
I actually bought three pre-made book covers from another author. I didn’t have a story idea, or a character in mind. At the time, I was working on a book for another series, and then I wrote a book for still another series. When those books didn’t sell as well as I hoped, I started working on the first book in the Shadow Hunter series with only a series title and a vague idea of a girl/woman running from something. I really intended the series to be more lighthearted, and there are moments of that and of humor, but parts are much darker than I originally intended.

I wrote the first six chapters—in first person—trying to hide who the protagonist was and what she was running from, but it became increasingly difficult. I could have done it easier in third person, but most urban fantasies currently are written in first. So, I went back and wrote a prologue to give her back story, which turned out to be problematic. A lot of people don’t like prologues. I wrote the book in about six weeks, then turned it over to my editor and she loved it.

I’ve been working with the same editor my entire writing career. She does it all—comments on story, characters, sentence structure, spelling, grammar, the whole works. We usually do three passes with revisions, then I format the final manuscript and publish it. I released Shadow Hunter on April 17, 2019 and had my best month ever. The response was far beyond anything I expected. The book hit #1 in at least five sub-categories on Amazon. When I released the second book, Night Stalker, six weeks later, everything just took off. Dark Dancer is the third book—and the last cover that I originally bought. It released in August of 2019. Three best sellers in a row. I didn’t expect such an incredible response to the books.

Is there a scene in Knights Magica that you’d love to see play out in a movie?
Perhaps the part where Erin is taken underground, into the land of faery. But the scene I think would truly be fun is the costume party New Year’s scene at the bar from Night Stalker. The aeromancer juggling three witches would be incredible to stage.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
This was the first series I started with a story idea designed for a trilogy. That goes back to buying those three book covers. I was pleased with the way that worked out. The second trilogy with the same characters didn’t work out so well, and ended up only being two books.

In the past year you’ve published five books in the Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill series. What’s your secret to releasing so many books in such a short amount of time?
Sometimes a story just flows. I wrote the first three books in less than six months. The last two in the series took ten months to write. But I had few distractions with the first three books. I had recently retired and was sitting alone in Baltimore waiting for my house to sell. I really didn’t have much else to do except write.

Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you started your writing career today?
Start a mailing list and engage my readers. Be more active on social media. I’m an introvert, and all that is difficult, but if you don’t have a large publisher spending large sums to promote you, then you have to do it yourself.

What typically comes first for you: a character? A scene? A story idea?
A character. For one of my books, I had a character in mind for years, but then I had a story idea that was right for her, so I wrote it. Scenes are often adaptable to many different characters or stories.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a pantser. I might have an idea of how I want a story to end, but very rarely do I know how I’m going to get there. That’s part of the excitement of writing.

What writing projects are you working on now?
My current book is called Magitek. It’s set about 200 years in the future after a series of pandemics and wars ended with an act that broke the world and opened a rift into other dimensions. In the aftermath of all that, most of the world is dominated by a magiocracy. (Magitek is currently on pre-order through Amazon, with a release date of August 30.)

Anything else you’d like readers to know?
I have four series of urban fantasy novels published. The ebooks are available from Amazon and print books from almost all online bookstores, such as Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. Two of my series, Dark Streets and Rosie O’Grady’s Paranormal Bar and Grill, are available as audiobooks, published by Tantor. Audio production of my Chameleon Assassin series is scheduled to start in August 2020. The audio books are widely available almost everywhere on line.


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Author Update: Sue Houser

Author Sue Houser strives to preserve New Mexico’s history and traditions through her fiction and nonfiction. Her newest release, Wilmettie (Texas Tech University Press, 2020), is children’s historical fiction inspired by her grandmother’s homesteading experience. Visit Sue at SueHouser.com and on her Amazon author page. To learn about her earlier books, read SWW’s 2017 interview.


What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in Wilmettie?
Wilmettie is the story of a young girl and her family who travel from South Central Texas to homestead in New Mexico Territory in the early 1900s. This historical fiction was inspired by the real life homesteading experiences of my grandmother, Willie Mettie Wright Williams. Her stories have been embellished, but historical events accurately fit the time period and the locations.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
In the first versions, I tried to keep the family stories intact. It wasn’t very exciting. I needed a little more drama and adventure, so I elaborated on various incidents. Some family members didn’t approve, so I shelved the manuscript for a few years. From time to time, the story nagged at me. So I expanded the family stories, but I changed the characters’ names. When my cousin recently asked what his name was changed to, I said, “You’ll have to buy the book and find out.”

Tell us how the book came together.
This has been a long process. About 20 years ago, I was searching for a children’s story and remembered conversations about my grandmother, at 10 years of age, leaving her grandmother in Texas and what a traumatic experience it had been for her.

I first wrote about her as a picture book, then a chapter book in several versions. Then, for ten years, it sat in the drawer. Three years ago, a friend suggested I turn it into historical fiction. Something clicked. I was free to write the story. The research was fun. I spent a year and a half re-writing and submitted it to Texas Tech in October 2018. I received a positive response right away.

How does the setting impact the story and the characters?
I guess the journey would be the setting. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting. Often challenging. Wilmettie struggles with feelings of resentment for being uprooted from her comfortable life and for the dangerous conditions they face. But the challenges force her to find inner strength and become a self-confident person.

Why will readers connect with Wilmettie, the main character in your book?
Wilmettie lives a comfortable life until she is thrown into a situation she didn’t choose. Her stepfather doesn’t mistreat her, but their relationship is strained. She holds onto feelings of homesickness and resentment. In time, she realizes her own inner strengths. She becomes accepting of the situation and embraces her new life.

What makes Wilmettie unique in the children’s market?
There have been a number of children’s books about covered wagon journeys over the famous Oregon Trail and the gold rush of California. But I have not found any children’s books about homesteaders coming to New Mexico Territory during the early 1900s, a fascinating time in our state’s history.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
My grandmother moved away when I was five, and I only saw her for brief visits. But in writing about her experiences, I somehow feel closer to her.

Any upcoming writing projects?
I heard a story ― maybe true, maybe not ― that Al Capone hid out in New Mexico for brief periods of time in the 1920s. I am doing some research. We shall see. Maybe it could be another children’s historical fiction.


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author J.R. Seeger

Before JR Seeger tried his hand at writing fiction, he served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne and then as a field collector and team leader in the CIA. He now draws on 27 years of federal service to add authenticity to his military thrillers. A Graveyard for Spies (Mission Point Press, 2020) is the fifth book in the MIKE4 series “about a family who have served in the special operations and intelligence community from World War II to the present.” You’ll find all of John’s books on his Amazon author page.


What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in A Graveyard for Spies?
The MIKE4 series is about a mother and a daughter dealing with both the past and the present world of espionage. My main character is Sue O’Connell, a special operations officer who is a wounded warrior (a below the knee amputee) hunting terrorists in the post 9/11 world. Her mother, Barbara O’Connell, is a retired CIA officer still living with the consequences of a Cold War career. Graveyard for Spies brings past and present into focus on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Due to my former career as an intelligence officer, my work focusing on post World War II events has to be reviewed by the CIA to insure nothing in the text is classified. So, after writing the story, I submit the manuscript to the CIA and wait for their approval before I can share it with the editors working with my publisher. It is just another step that I accept as part of my obligation to my former service.

Tell us about your protagonists and why readers will connect with them.
Sue O’Connell is a woman serving in a very manly man’s world. She is not trying to be a good “female special operator,” she is trying to be a good special operator — full stop. Her colleagues, both men and women, work as a team. Sue’s biggest flaw is she is very impatient in a career where patience is essential.

Barbara O’Connell is a retired intelligence officer who lost her husband to a Russian assassination. She has a history of working counter-terrorism missions prior to 9/11 and has a network of men and women who she calls upon when her old world intrudes into her life as “a mere, wretched, federal pensioner.” Both of her children (Sue and her brother William who is an FBI agent) have trouble imagining their mother as an action hero, though she was (and is).

All of your books involve characters in international settings. What settings will readers experience in A Graveyard for Spies?
In Graveyard, readers will be introduced to a small town in the Taunus Mountains north of Frankfurt, Germany, as well as settings in Northern Afghanistan and Croatia. The story moves between the actions of Barbara, as she hunts an assassin from her past, and Sue, who is hunting international arms smugglers.

What makes this novel unique in the military thriller market?
I am reluctant to say that the novel is unique, but I do believe there are few military thrillers out there that focus on the actions of women in the special operations community.

When did you know the characters or the storyline was strong enough for a series?
I admit that the creation of a series was not my plan from the beginning. That said, once the O’Connell world existed, it was easy enough to imagine multiple storylines including a prequel focusing on World War II (O’Connell’s Treasure) and very specific storylines which expanded into the world of counterintelligence (Friend or Foe and Graveyard for Spies). Of course, we still haven’t heard the full story of the death of Sue’s father or, for that matter, how in the world the Russians seem to be always in pursuit of the O’Connells. There are more stories out there.

What sparked the story idea for the MIKE4 series?
In 2016, I was working with the writer Doug Stanton on a potential project related to a nonfiction book on the intelligence community post 9/11. That project did not work out, but it started me thinking about how I could use some of my personal experiences and my knowledge of the young men and women fighting the current counter-terrorism fight. I knew of men and women who were second and third generation intelligence officers or special operators. I also knew of men and women who were gravely wounded in either Afghanistan or Iraq. They didn’t want to be considered broken; they simply wanted to be back in the fight. Once Sue O’Connell was created, the rest of the story flowed easily.

You began your fiction writing career later in life. What has your mature self brought to the writing table that your younger self never could have?
I believe I now have a better understanding of people and their motivations — why they do the good and bad things they do. I really didn’t understand that as well in my 20s and early 30s. Also, I didn’t have time to write in my 20s and 30s.

What first inspired you to become a writer?
My first thoughts about writing had nothing to do with the MIKE4 series. When I first visited New Mexico before moving to the state, I started researching the blend of history of Native Americans, Spaniards, and North American adventurers. I began plotting out a short story about a member of the Holy Inquisition. Eventually, this became my short stories currently on medium.com titled “Arrival of the Inquisitor.” I wanted to see colonial New Mexico through an outsider who was not part of normal society.

Of the five books in the MIKE4 series, which one was the most challenging to write and which was the easiest?
The hardest book to write was the first one. MIKE4 had to set the stage so the reader could see a world where the intelligence community and the special operations community worked as “one team, one fight.” The action sequences were the easy part. Creating the world of MIKE4 was hard. The easiest story to write was The Executioner’s Blade. It focuses exclusively on Afghanistan, and I spent the last years of my career either in Afghanistan or working on Afghan issues. It also allowed me to bring characters I liked back to life.

Looking back to the beginning of your writing/publishing career, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I am still learning to write, but one thing I wish I had known at the beginning was that readers want to know how characters feel as well as what they see, say, and do. I am still working on that challenge. Also, it is important to accept the fact that rejection is part of the game. I received many rejection notes, including some that were exceptionally rude. Eventually, I found someone to publish the stories. It is not cheap and I suppose through KDP I could self-publish, but I know that finding the right publisher involved receiving rejections from other publishers.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How do you feel about research?
I like creating and researching the novels. I suppose it is not surprising that I do not like the hard work of editing. Luckily, I have a great editor who is both hard on me and kind at the same time. Editing usually takes twice as long as writing.

Who are your favorite authors?
In the nonfiction arena, my favorite authors are William Dalrymple and Peter Hopkirk who have written on Central and South Asia. In the area of fiction, I have a number of favorites depending on my mood. Generally, I like classic mystery writers — Dashell Hammett and Eric Ambler — as well as modern mystery writers like Barbara Cleverly, Donna Leon, and Andrea Camilleri. In the thriller genre, I enjoy Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Alan Furst, and Gerald Seymour.

Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your writing?
I don’t think I have a message in my writing. My characters are always outsiders looking into a world where they work, but are perhaps not fully accepted. In the MIKE4 series, Sue and Barbara O’Connell are female operators in a male-centric world, and in the Inquisitor series, Brother Patrick is an Irish priest in colonial New Mexico.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I just finished the first in a new fiction series I am calling Steampunk Raj. The first manuscript, A School for the Great Game, is a blend of espionage and mysticism set in Central and South Asia in 1910. I hope the series will be intriguing to both young adult and adult readers interested in the world just before, during, and immediately after World War I. The second book in the Steampunk Raj series, A sound like distant thunder, is plotted and I have about 5,000 words written. Also, I am working on another MIKE4 book taking the family in other directions. I am about 10,000 words into that story tentatively titled Chasing the Neurotic Racer.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I hope I write stories that are fun to read. They are probably best imagined as “airplane” reads — something light that will take you to someplace different while you are trapped in an airplane or an airport for hours. Also, please know that I am learning to be a better writer. I hope that each of my books is better written then the previous book. MIKE4 was my first effort and is certainly nowhere near as well-crafted as the later books in the series. Still, you have to start somewhere, eh?


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 posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




SWW YouTube Videos

Blog Post 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.