Blog Archives

Author Update: E. Joe Brown

After retiring from careers in the United States Air Force and civil service, E. Joe Brown began a third career as a writer. He is now an award-winning author who focuses on historical fiction and memoir. A Cowboy’s Fortune (Artemesia Publishing, January 2024) is his newest fiction release and the second book in The Kelly Can Saga set in early twentieth century Oklahoma. You’ll find Joe on his website EJoeBrown.com and Happy Trails blog, as well as on Facebook and his Amazon author page. For more about his work, read his 2022 SWW interview.


Distill the story you tell in A Cowboy’s Fortune into a few sentences.
The main characters, Charlie and Susan, are recently married and we follow them as they take charge of The Kramer Group (business empire of Walter Kramer, Susan’s father) and grow as people as they expand the business. They deal with some very bad people along the way.

For those who aren’t familiar with book one in the series, A Cowboy’s Destiny, tell us about your main character.
Charlie is a young ambitious cowboy who meets his future bride Susan as he travels across Oklahoma heading to the Miller’s 101 Ranch, the largest and most famous ranch in the state. Charlie proves himself as a cowboy, a man, and a leader at the 101.

Did your characters surprise you as you wrote their story?
Yes. I had ideas as I began, but I let my characters tell me the story as we moved through the pages.

Two books into The Kelly Can Saga, what have you found are the most challenging aspects of writing a series?
The research required to keep the story honest to the time frame as I incorporate real people into the storyline.

Is there a scene in either of your books you’d love to see play out in a movie?
Actually several. There are action scenes where Charlie shows his character, and there are scenes where you see his romantic side and Susan’s response that would jump off the screen in my opinion.

What makes this novel unique in the historical fiction market?
I don’t know of any other novel that focuses the reader on what was happening as society transitioned from ranching, farming, and rural life into what we call the Industrial Revolution. At least not in Oklahoma.

Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for this book?
The oil business and the overall population exploded during this exciting period in my home state of Oklahoma. After World War I many folks came West and homesteaded 160-acre parcels.

What did you learn in writing/publishing A Cowboy’s Fortune that you can apply to your future projects?
I continue to learn more about time management as an author. It takes a lot of time to write, revise, edit, and market a book.

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
People have told me time and again how much the enjoy the storyline and how readable my writing style is.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How do you feel about research?
I love the creative side and truly enjoy research. I’ve always enjoyed history.

What advice do you have for writers still striving for publication?
Attend conferences and conventions and meet publishers. It helps when you develop a relationship with a publisher.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m writing book three of at least five books in The Kelly Can Saga. I’m also working on more memoirs.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I appreciate my readers more than I have the words to express.


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




Author Update 2024: Larry Kilham

Author Larry Kilham writes nonfiction and science fiction, memoir and biography, and poetry. He is also a world traveler with a love for climbing mountains in exotic lands. Himalayan Adventures: India & Nepal (August 2023) is his newest nonfiction release and second travel adventure book. You’ll find Larry on his website LarryKilham.net and blog, and on his Amazon author page. For more about his work, read his first SWW interview, as well as his 2019, 2021, and 2023 interview updates.


You’re a hiking and trekking enthusiast who has traveled across the world. Of all the places you’ve visited, why did you choose India and Nepal as the focus of your second travel adventure book?
As a boy, I was thrilled reading Annapurna by the famous French mountaineer Maurice Herzog and Edmund Hillary’s account of being the first to climb Mt. Everest. These mountains are both in Nepal, and India is a contiguous country and shares similar cultures. While not a world-class climber, I was determined to visit that area. I was also fascinated by Indian and Nepalese art and cultures.

Tell us about the journey from inspiration to completed book.
I wanted to write about my travels in India and Nepal. I started by looking through all my photos from that trip and found over a hundred that told a story. What emerged was a narration for a slide show.

If a traveler could only visit a few of the places mentioned in the book, which would you suggest they see?
Very difficult to answer. If you started in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, you could enjoy an awesome collection of art and architecture and meet many interesting people. From there, based on your interests and local conditions, you could travel to the various parts of Nepal and India described in my book.

Give us a few of the more interesting facts you uncovered while doing research for Himalayan Adventures.
Populations are exploding in all the areas I visited, even apparently in remote villages. Also, climate change is penetrating even the most remote and frigid areas.

While going through your stash of memories to write this book, what did you discover about your younger self or about what you learned on your journey?
In my youth I was intensely curious and energetic. Now my curiosity defers to my perceived knowledge and wisdom. I learned that when you want and can do such a trip, do it. Later, your physical problems, personal constraints, or local politics (including wars) where you might visit will block your trip.

Amazon categorizes the book as General Nepal Travel Guides, Travel Writing Reference, Travelogues & Travel Essays, as well as Mountaineering and Indian Travel. If you didn’t have the limitations of Amazon categories, how would you characterize the book?
This is the story of a young man’s journey to see and understand beauty in nature and other cultures.

Your writing has taken several forms – nonfiction books and articles, novels, memoir and biography, and poetry. Is there one form you’re drawn to the most when you write or read?
I much prefer reading nonfiction and historical novels, but I have enjoyed writing novels, memoirs, and nonfiction. Now I am drawn to poetry inspired by Wadsworth, T.S. Eliot, and others like them.

What can fiction writers learn from nonfiction writers?
Base your story on people and places you know. There’s still lots of room for imagination.

Is there something that always inspires you or triggers your creativity?
Writings by a great writer start my creative flow.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Your “golden years” (I’m 82) aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I can hardly walk, but I can still write!


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




An Interview with Author Gency Brown

Author and fly-fishing enthusiast Gency Brown used her experience as a performing musician to help craft her debut novel A Right Fine Life (The Wild Rose Press, January 2024), the story of a young man striving to succeed in the music industry. Look for Gency on her website at GencyBrown.com, and on Facebook, Instagram, and her Amazon author page.


What do you want readers to know about the story you tell in A Right Fine Life, and what do you hope they take away from it?
I wanted to write about a boy next-door type making it in a tough world but sticking to his standards. It can be done. It takes tenacity, patience, and a passion for what you’re doing.

Who is your main character in the book? What are his flaws and strengths?
My main character is Randy Walters, a young man with a dream. He just may be too nice a guy for Nashville.

What is the main setting of the book, and why is it the best place for the story to play out?
The main setting is Nashville, Tennessee. As Music City, USA it is the center of the business that each young hopeful heads to for a career in country music.

Have you ever been to Nashville? If so, how did that experience affect the story you wrote?
Yes, I have been to Nashville three times and driven through on I-40 many times without stopping. My first time was with my dad in the early 1970s when the Opry was still held at the old Ryman Auditorium. We took a couple of tours of the city including stars’ homes. In writing the book, I was able to use my thrill at being in such a historic place and meeting country stars I idolized. The next time I visited Nashville was on a bus tour of the Smoky Mountains and the area with my aunt. The Opry had moved to the new facility by then, so I’ve been to both. My third time was in October 2023 and boy had things changed by then. Luckily, the time setting for the book utilized my memories of earlier visits instead of the glitz and glamour and very loud music coming from clubs. Good thing, since the book had already gone to print.

What sparked the story idea, and how did the book come together after that?
I wanted to present the life of a music star that wasn’t riddled with alcohol or drugs but would show the human side. It took two years to research and write and one to edit.

When did you know you had taken the manuscript as far as it could go, that it was ready for publishing?
Probably not until the publisher, The Wild Rose Press, sent me the contract. Every time I read it, I find something to change.

You published two short stories in 2022: “Sister” and “Ladies of the Quilt.” After writing short pieces, what challenges did you face writing your first novel?
My main challenge was knowing when to stop. After the word count limitations of short stories, I felt free and had to make sure everything I wrote moved the story forward.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
When I was putting the words on the page, the words flowed. Sometimes I had to get out of bed to put down an idea that couldn’t wait.

How has the creativity and discipline you use as a musician helped you in your writing journey?
Music is very structured. In its look on the page and the rules that create harmony. If you play this note, you have to play this one next. In writing, you make a statement or create a scene early on, it affects another twenty pages later. I can improvise, but in the end the words have to harmonize.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I am in the middle of another novel about a woman striking out to follow a passion for writing while looking for answers to questions in her life.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I am appreciative of the learning opportunities and friendships that come to me through SouthWest Writers.


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




Author Update: Vicki Kay Turpen

Author Vicki Kay Turpen is a retired teacher of English, the Bible as literature, and drama who co-founded the Durango Lively Arts Company in Colorado. She has published dozens of articles for The Christian Science Publishing Society, and in 2019, released her first novel, The Delicate Balance (co-authored with Shannon Horst). Her newest release, Opelika Opiate (June 2023), is set in Alabama “where cars, men, and race collide to unhinge the life of a young woman.” You’ll find Vicki on her SWW author page and her Amazon author page for Opelika Opiate.


What would you like readers to know about Opelika Opiate?
Opelika Opiate is the result of my own disappointment with leaders in today’s world. There is a lack of education and brotherly love and a tendency toward anger and blame. My story is based on an actual experience I had when I was fifteen. I was stranded in a run-down motel with my grandmother. She was allowing her emotions and brain to stupefy her and halt all normal functions. She refused to get out of bed and drive us home. For years, I never thought back on that experience or the man who tried to rape me then. Now the world news can be full of women and men accusing each other of harmful actions.

As I was growing up in the American south with its unjust and unequal laws and social life, I was so disappointed with even my own relatives who allowed prejudice to rule their lives. Until we all begin seeing ourselves as more than sexual objects and see ourselves and each other as equal human beings there will never be real equality and harmony in our world.

Your first novel, The Delicate Balance, was a science fiction story exploring climate change. Opelika Opiate is not only a different genre but it seems to be a huge departure from your first book. What inspired you to take this new direction? What themes do you explore in the story?
My experience with the man who tried to rape me was over 70 years ago. I never told my grandmother (who later was healed of her problems and became a loving and helpful friend). I never told my parents. I never shared the experience with anyone or allowed shame, blame, or hatred to rule over me. However, my heart goes out to women and men who allow themselves to become life-long victims to their own thinking, and then much later take revenge. Why has forgiveness and love so disappeared from our lives? I decided to write about my own decisions, hoping my story would encourage young people today never to think of themselves as victims.

Who is your main character? Why is she the best choice to carry your story?
The main character in Opelika Opiate is Karla Sue. She is a 15-year-old taking care of her depressed grandmother. The story came from the real experience I had in 1953. The incident with my grandmother and all of the heat, rain, fear, and actions with other characters is based on my experience. The forward of the book is written by the author (me) in explanation of her memories. The actual characters, except for Karla Sue, are fictional, but the actions are based on how Karla Sue handles the attack. Then the story states why she refuses to think of herself as a victim for the rest of her life. That reflects back on the opening statements by the author. I suppose you could say there are two protagonists, the author and Karla Sue, but they are the same person at 15 and later at 80.

How did the book come together?
I began writing Opelika Opiate while on vacation with my daughter Kelly. My daughter-in-law Toni helped me with complicated technical aspects. A good friend who is an artist did the sketches for the book, and I created the cover. It was published by Austin Macauley last year.

Choosing a book’s title can be a complicated journey. Tell us why you chose the title for your newest novel.
In choosing the title for Opelika Opiate I was also expressing my deep feelings concerning our increasing delusions about drugs. Look around today, one opiate is supposedly recreational, when the combination of several others or just one can cause death. Many opiates that are used just for pain never really heal, and our leaders are boasting about the money gained by legalizations. I was hoping to discourage the reader not to sleep away his or her life with the use of drugs. I wish to encourage them to never destroy their ability to think, reason, and lead creative lives.

For your first book, you shared the writing responsibilities with a co-author, your daughter Shannon Horst. What was it like this time, writing a novel on your own?
I loved writing with my daughter, it was fun. I also enjoy doing my own writing. I found out when I retired from teaching that writing was a very happy way to spend special time alone with my thoughts. I write the same way I directed theater. I chose characters, like I did for a play or musical. I see them in real life-moving through their lives either in conflict to their own thought or in conflict with others, or in instances that bring harmony. They are in my consciousness and often tell me how they feel and how they are trying to deal with life. Often the ideas are ones I never have thought about, they come directly from the character.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I just finished writing a historical novel that takes place in Louisville, Kentucky in 1900. It is called Kat’s Dilemma and is based on events that occurred in my great-grandmother’s life. It answers the question, “What was it like to be a woman then?” Katherine Amelia (Kat) faces the belief she has no individual rights or no freedom to make decisions for herself. I did a lot of research and discovered shocking facts, laws, and attitudes concerning women. Kat’s intelligence, her searches through books, and her determination to be a real person eventually create her happiness and success. My next book is a memoir entitled Mike and Me and Music about marriage and family.


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




2023 New Releases for SWW Authors #4

Jane M. Bardal, Mark Fleisher, Sue Houser, Paula Paul, and Cassie Sanchez represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW) with 2023 releases in the genres of biography, poetry, middle grade fiction, contemporary fiction, and fantasy, respectively. Their releases couldn’t fit in this year’s interview schedule, but look for new interviews or updates for most of these authors in 2024.

A list of interviewed SWW authors with 2023 releases is included at the end of this post.


Colorado’s Mrs. Captain Ellen Jack: Mining Queen of the Rockies (The History Press, May 2023) by Jane M. Bardal. “You get off this property.” In 1887, Captain Ellen E. Jack backed up her orders with a shotgun as she stood at the entrance to her Black Queen Mine. To profit from the mine, she engaged in many other battles with lawyers and capitalists who tried to wrest her ore away. Mrs. Captain Jack contributed to the myth of the West by crowning herself the Mining Queen of the Rockies as she entertained tourists at her roadhouse near Colorado Springs. This is a captivating biography of a pioneering woman who fashioned a legacy through true tenacity and maybe even a few tall tales.

Colorado’s Mrs. Captain Ellen Jack is available on Amazon.


Knowing When: Poems (Mercury HeartLink, March 2023) by Mark Fleisher. Under the mantle of its intriguing title, Mark Fleisher writes of sadness and tragedy, lightens the mood with poems about love, nature, even baseball, as well as a mirthful look at technology. Fleisher’s blend of narrative and lyric styles cut to the heart of the matter, showing the ability to speak volumes in a minimum number of lines. His eclectic collection also invites the reader to contemplate questions posed in the title poem and other selections.

You’ll find Knowing When: Poems and more of Mark’s poetry on his Amazon author page.


Walter Steps Up to the Plate (Kinkajou Press, October 2023) by Sue Houser. Walter will do anything to help his mother when she’ s diagnosed with tuberculosis, but does that include standing up to Al Capone? Twelve-year-old Walter wants to spend the summer of 1927 watching his beloved Chicago Cubs play baseball. Instead, Walter must leave everything he knows and loves to accompany his mother to Albuquerque, New Mexico — a place he has never been to with relatives he has never met. To help with expenses, Walter gets a paper route. But the situation gets worse when his mother is admitted to a sanatorium and needs expensive surgery. A chance encounter with the gangster, Al “ Scarface” Capone might change his mother’ s fortunes and get her the surgery she needs. But to do it, Walter will become indebted to the notorious gangster.

Look for Sue at SueHouser.com and on her Amazon author page.


The Last of the Baileys (March 2023) by Paula Paul. Trudy Bailey Walters, who is in her 70s, thinks the old house she just bought for back taxes might be haunted. Adam Bailey, who Trudy has known since childhood, says he will help Trudy find the source of the “haunting,” but he doesn’t want Trudy to know the truth. Although Trudy has no intention of taking in boarders, she soon finds several people living with her, including a young mother with a rebellious teenager and an undocumented immigrant who is searching for her child. While they all look for the source of the haunting, Adam convinces them to help find the missing child, including a reluctant Trudy. Illegal escapades, unexpected friendships, and startling conclusions ensue.

You’ll find Paula on her website at PaulaPaul.net and The Last of the Baileys on Amazon. Many of her other novels are available on her Amazon author page.


Conquering the Darkness: The Darkness Trilogy – 3 (December 2023) by Cassie Sanchez. Ultimate victory is won within the battlefield of the soul. Without his magic or his memories, Jasce Farone finds himself in the frozen realm of Balten, suffering the lingering wounds from his last battle and haunted by a woman he can’t recall. He tries to be the man everyone expects him to be—the one they remember—but the spindly fingers of revenge wrap around his heart while a past he’s never confronted escorts him further into darkness. In his journey, Jasce will need to trust those who fight by his side while battling the demons within if he wants to preserve magic and prevent tyranny from spreading throughout the land. If he succeeds, then a chance at love and peace is within his grasp.

Visit Cassie on her website at CassieSanchez.com, on Facebook, and her Amazon author page.


SWW Author Interviews: 2023 Releases

Marty Eberhardt
Bones in the Back Forty

William Fisher
The Price of the Sky: A Tale of Bandits, Bootleggers, and Barnstormers

Patricia Gable
The Right Choice

Cornelia Gamlem
The Decisive Manager: Get Results, Build Morale, and Be the Boss Your People Deserve

Joyce Hertzoff
Train to Nowhere Somewhere: Book 1 of the More Than Just Survival Series

Brian House
Reich Stop

T.E. MacArthur
The Skin Thief

Nick Pappas
Crosses of Iron: The Tragic Story of Dawson, New Mexico, and its Twin Mining Disasters

Marcia Rosen
Murder at the Zoo

Lynne Sebastian
One Last Cowboy Song

JR Seeger
The Enigma of Treason

Suzanne Stauffer
Fried Chicken Castañeda

Jodi Lea Stewart
The Gold Rose

Patricia Walkow
Life Lessons from the Color Yellow

R. Janet Walraven
LIAM: The Boy Who Saw the World Upside Down

Donald Willerton
Death in the Tallgrass

Linda Wilson
Waddles the Duck and
Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere




2023 New Releases for SWW Authors #3

Dale A. Garratt, Larada Horner-Miller, Neill McKee, and Victoria Murata are just a few examples of the genre-diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW). Their releases couldn’t fit in the 2023 interview schedule, but look for new interviews or updates for these authors in 2024.

A list of interviewed SWW authors with 2023 releases is included at the end of this post.


The Peace Road: A high-stakes geopolitical thriller (August 2023) by Dale A. Garratt. North Korea launches a hypersonic missile that barely misses Los Angeles. The U.S. President tasks top physicist Ric O’Malley with completing a quantum computer (QC) project. Running 150 million times faster than any existing computer, this QC will bring Artificial Intelligence to a level that can stop any ICBM in the world. Ric races to East Asia to obtain breakthrough research data from South Korean and Japanese allies. China enters the conflict and attacks the U.S., while a ground-breaking plan to counter war quietly takes shape — a Peace Road. Can Ric and his team finish the QC in time to stop a nuclear war? Is building a peace road a viable option for a permanent end to war on the Korean Peninsula?

Visit Dale on his website DaleGarratt.com and his Amazon author page.


Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir (September 2023) by Larada Horner-Miller. Are you hoping to rediscover the magic of the winter holidays? Looking for traditional inspiration for your upcoming Xmas parties? Ever wondered what’s behind the twelve days of gift-giving? The daughter of a real cowboy, award-winning author Larada Horner-Miller grew up in a small rural community in southeastern Colorado. Now she uses her seventy years of festive experiences to share the true meaning of the season and how to rejoice in its miracles. Hair on Fire is a compilation of poems, prose, and helpful scripture references centered around family. Using vivid and humorous language, Horner-Miller presents tales that touch the heart and renew anticipation for the holidays.

Look for Larada on her website at LaradasBooks.com and her Amazon author page.


My University of the World: Adventures of an International Film & Media Maker (August 2023) by Neill McKee. The author takes us on an entertaining journey through the developing world from 1970 to 2012. His memoir is filled with compelling dialog, humorous and poignant incidents, thoughts on world development, vivid descriptions of people and places he visited and worked in, and over 200 images, all of which bring readers into his “University of the World.” The story takes us to Asia, Bangladesh, Africa, Baltimore (Maryland), Moscow, and finally Washington, D.C. This is a book for anyone interested in world affairs and development, film and multimedia production, the use of media for behavior and social change, exotic travel, and interesting career choices.

You’ll find My University of the World on Neill’s website, on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.


The Ranger: Magicians of the Beyond, Book Two (September 2023) by Victoria Murata. Rafe is a ranger, skilled in the ways of the forest and the creatures that live there. He’s been sent to another world along with Covert assassins. Their mission is to find the young heir to the kingdom who’s fled from the sister who once loved him. Rafe knows he will find the prince. He always finds what is hiding. But this foreign forest and its creatures don’t play by the rules. As he inches closer to finding what he’s searching for, he uncovers unexpected magical beings and a monster. This monster is an ancient creature that doesn’t behave like normal bloodthirsty beasts. This monster has been waiting for him for centuries. It wants his heart, yes, and it wants his soul.

Vicky’s books are available on her Amazon author page.


SWW Author Interviews: 2023 Releases

Marty Eberhardt
Bones in the Back Forty

William Fisher
The Price of the Sky: A Tale of Bandits, Bootleggers, and Barnstormers

Patricia Gable
The Right Choice

Cornelia Gamlem
The Decisive Manager: Get Results, Build Morale, and Be the Boss Your People Deserve

Joyce Hertzoff
Train to Nowhere Somewhere: Book 1 of the More Than Just Survival Series

Brian House
Reich Stop

T.E. MacArthur
The Skin Thief

Nick Pappas
Crosses of Iron: The Tragic Story of Dawson, New Mexico, and its Twin Mining Disasters

Marcia Rosen
Murder at the Zoo

Lynne Sebastian
One Last Cowboy Song

JR Seeger
The Enigma of Treason

Suzanne Stauffer
Fried Chicken Castañeda

Jodi Lea Stewart
The Gold Rose

Patricia Walkow
Life Lessons from the Color Yellow

R. Janet Walraven
LIAM: The Boy Who Saw the World Upside Down

Donald Willerton
Death in the Tallgrass

Linda Wilson
Waddles the Duck and
Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere




2023 New Releases for SWW Authors #2

Sue Boggio, Sara Frances, Larry Kilham, Mare Pearl, and Vicki Kay Turpen are dedicated authors who represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW). Their 2023 releases couldn’t fit in this year’s interview schedule, but look for new interviews or updates for most of these authors in 2024.

A list of interviewed SWW authors with 2023 releases is included at the end of this post.


Hungry Shoes: A Novel (University of New Mexico Press, September 2023) by Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl. Maddie and Grace meet in an adolescent psychiatric unit after each has committed desperate self-injurious acts in response to years of abuse, neglect, and chaos. Together they navigate the surreal world of their fellow patients while staff provide nurturance and guidance to support their healing journeys. With the help of veteran psychiatrist Mary Swenson, Maddie and Grace come to terms with their pasts and discover the inner fortitude they need to create futures filled with empowerment and hope.

You’ll find Sue and Mare on their website at BoggioAndPearl.com.


Unplugged Voices: 125 Tales of Art and Life from Northern New Mexico, the Four Corners and the West (February 2023) is an illustrated four-color coffee table 324-page compendium of verbal narratives collected and edited by Sara Frances. Make a connection to 125 unique western personas, each in a five-minute read. Stories abound everywhere; but the threads of nature in and of The West, its independence, resilience, creativity, and beauty, weave together in unique revelation of life and land. Theses narratives are told as if the taleteller were sitting in front of you, across the kitchen table, around the campfire, on the front porch, or under the stars.

Look for Sara on her Amazon author pages here and here.


Himalayan Adventures: India & Nepal (March 2023) by Larry Kilham. This is a captivating account of the author’s adventures hiking and trekking in India and Nepal. The author was an international sales manager who lived for climbing mountains in exotic lands. His most treasured goal was the Himalayas. Northern India borders the Himalayas so a mountaineering trip included sightseeing in the classic Indian cultural centers of Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Khajuraho, and Varanasi. He experienced the splendor of human and architectural achievement of which the Taj Majal is only one. Kathmandu in Nepal has a limitless collection of Buddhist, Tantric, and Hindu art. His hiking and trekking excursions could be a to-do list for any newcomer to the area: Kashmir in the Indian Himalayas, and Pokhara and the Mt. Everest area in Nepal. He also describes other adventure stops on a round-the-world tour: Chitwan National Park in Nepal (home of the royal Bengal Tiger) and the mountains of Kauai in Hawaii.

Visit Larry on his website at LarryKilham.net.


Opelika Opiate (Austin Macauley, June 2023) by Vicki Kay Turpen.

Opiate — to induce sleep; to stupefy; to hijack the brain and change its normal function.

Opelika, Alabama — where cars, men, and race collide to unhinge the life of a young woman. Piecing it back together will require figuring out the role she played, and who she really is — or wants to be.

You’ll find Opelika Opiate on Vicki’s Amazon author page.


SWW Author Interviews: 2023 Releases

Marty Eberhardt
Bones in the Back Forty

William Fisher
The Price of the Sky: A Tale of Bandits, Bootleggers, and Barnstormers

Patricia Gable
The Right Choice

Cornelia Gamlem
The Decisive Manager: Get Results, Build Morale, and Be the Boss Your People Deserve

Joyce Hertzoff
Train to Nowhere Somewhere: Book 1 of the More Than Just Survival Series

Brian House
Reich Stop

T.E. MacArthur
The Skin Thief

Nick Pappas
Crosses of Iron: The Tragic Story of Dawson, New Mexico, and its Twin Mining Disasters

Marcia Rosen
Murder at the Zoo

Lynne Sebastian
One Last Cowboy Song

JR Seeger
The Enigma of Treason

Suzanne Stauffer
Fried Chicken Castañeda

Jodi Lea Stewart
The Gold Rose

Patricia Walkow
Life Lessons from the Color Yellow

R. Janet Walraven
LIAM: The Boy Who Saw the World Upside Down

Donald Willerton
Death in the Tallgrass

Linda Wilson
Waddles the Duck and
Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere




2023 New Releases for SWW Authors #1

Chris Allen, Parris Afton Bonds, Melody Groves, and Patricia Walkow represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW) with books published in a variety of genres in 2023. Their new releases couldn’t fit in this year’s interview schedule, but look for 2024 interviews or updates for many of these authors.

A list of interviewed SWW authors with 2023 releases is included at the end of this post.


Alchemy’s Reach (August 2023) by Chris Allen and Patricia Walkow. Jennifer Murphy, deputy sheriff in a small town in New Mexico, has closed her heart to love. She throws herself into her job as well as running the ranch she and her brother, Ethan, inherited from their parents. Ethan’s wanderlust has taken him away in search of odd jobs. When he returns home, Jennifer entices him to stay for a while by telling him about Alchemy, a ghost town, once drowned by a reservoir, but now exposed by drought. Local barflies think there is treasure buried there. Others believe it is cursed. Intrigued, Ethan packs up his dog, Fi, and heads to the town. What happens at Alchemy will change Jen’s life forever, but will it open her heart to love?

You’ll find Chris Allen on Facebook and her SWW author page. Look for Patricia Walkow on PatriciaWalkow.com, Facebook, and her Amazon author page.


Answering The Call (Motina Books, May 2023) by Parris Afton Bonds. It’s never too late to have the adventure of a lifetime. With her 70th birthday looming, Lauren Hillard thinks there has to be an easier way. She has long felt her family has simply stowed her away like a precious heirloom. She’s had it – she is done. Lauren makes the snap decision to answer the call to adventure and move to affordable, exotic Mexico. Exotic, like the much younger David Escobar, attorney and former criminal. Soon she wonders if it’s wise to answer calls from a treacherous family member who wants to have her committed, a ruthless organ harvester, and her captivating but high-risk attorney.

Visit Parris on her website and her Amazon author page.


Lady of the Law: A Maud Overstreet Novel (Wolfpack Publishing, March 2023) by Melody Groves. Women in the 1870s have little control over their lives and the women of Dry Creek, California, look to Sheriff Maud Overstreet, a thirty-something spinster, as an example of women’s progress. Following a disastrous fire that leveled the town’s school, Maud appoints a woman as fire chief. Inspired, several women step forward to run their own businesses, much to the consternation of the male town councilors. While searching for the school arsonist, Maud takes on the role of campaign manager for two of her friends, both vying to be Mayor. Toss in more fires, a wild romance, a rowdy town dance, establishing a school for Chinese girls, and mysterious threatening notes, Sheriff Overstreet faces each challenge with determination. She is, after all, a Lady of the Law.

Showdown at Pinos Altos: The Colton Brothers Saga (Wolfpack Publishing, March 2023) by Melody Groves. Andy Colton, the youngest of the Colton brothers, leaves Mesilla to pursue gold mining in New Mexico’s Black Range. However, he finds little gold and is captured by a runaway slave while fleeing from a band of Apache. When news reaches Mesilla that the Apache have raided Santa Rita and Pinos Altos—areas where Andy was last known to be—his brothers Trace and James set out to search for him. After the slave sells Andy to the Apache, a fight ensues between the Coltons and the Apache in Pinos Altos in an explosive showdown not soon to be forgotten.

Look for Melody on her website MelodyGroves.net. You’ll find all her books on Amazon.


Holes in Our Hearts: An Anthology of New Mexican Military Related Stories and Poetry (May 2023), edited by Jim Tritten, Dan Wetmore, and Joseph Badal. Holes in Our Hearts provides snapshots of military life and how the military has affected lives. It is written from the perspective of New Mexico active-duty military members, veterans of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as their family members and caregivers. Some of the writing represents the first time many authors have revealed their innermost thoughts to anyone. Some of the stories are written by established authors with numerous publishing credentials. All are worth the time to learn why we continue to honor the military on behalf of a grateful nation. This collection of prose and poetry was gathered and created by SouthWest Writers and funded through a grant from the State of New Mexico Arts and the Military Program.

For a list of contributing authors, visit the Holes in Our Hearts book page on the SWW website. The anthology is available on Amazon.


SWW Author Interviews: 2023 Releases

Marty Eberhardt
Bones in the Back Forty

William Fisher
The Price of the Sky: A Tale of Bandits, Bootleggers, and Barnstormers

Patricia Gable
The Right Choice

Cornelia Gamlem
The Decisive Manager: Get Results, Build Morale, and Be the Boss Your People Deserve

Joyce Hertzoff
Train to Nowhere Somewhere: Book 1 of the More Than Just Survival Series

Brian House
Reich Stop

T.E. MacArthur
The Skin Thief

Nick Pappas
Crosses of Iron: The Tragic Story of Dawson, New Mexico, and its Twin Mining Disasters

Marcia Rosen
Murder at the Zoo

Lynne Sebastian
One Last Cowboy Song

JR Seeger
The Enigma of Treason

Suzanne Stauffer
Fried Chicken Castañeda

Jodi Lea Stewart
The Gold Rose

Patricia Walkow
Life Lessons from the Color Yellow

R. Janet Walraven
LIAM: The Boy Who Saw the World Upside Down

Donald Willerton
Death in the Tallgrass

Linda Wilson
Waddles the Duck and
Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere




An Interview with Author Kate Harrington

Author Kate Harrington channels her optimism for a hopeful future into her science fiction novels for young adults. Her most recent release is Planet Quest (March 2022), book two in her award-winning Pawn Quest trilogy that follows a group of teens marooned on a hostile planet. Look for Kate on her website at KateHarringtonWrites.com and on her Amazon author page.


Planet Quest is a finalist in the 2023 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. What else do you want readers to know about this second book in your trilogy?
Three teens, linked to a mystery back on Earth, land on a strange planet with ten others, but where are the people? Ran, the only teen not recovering from SpaceSleep, goes in search and ends up trapped. But nothing’s going to stop him from rejoining his friends. This is a young adult sci-fi adventure.

Who are your main characters, and what do they have to overcome in the story?
In Pawn Quest, book one, machine-empath Ran, researcher Pel, and impulsive Hallie each comes up against different aspects of a mystery of disappeared persons. The AI that holds answers propels them off Earth, but is it for their safety or to be rid of them? In Planet Quest, a hostile planet, an old alien shipwreck, and non-communicative adults challenge the teens to discover and use their inner strengths.

From inspiration to publication, how did Planet Quest come together?
Over more than half my lifetime, the story grew in the background of raising kids and pursuing a career. I was always revising and never finishing. A couple years before Covid (BC?) I got depressed. It seemed I had a choice: to quit altogether—or—to self-publish something still incomplete. Choosing to publish provided a huge sense of relief and the freedom to move forward.

Publication fell into place relatively quickly. Chatting with Lois Bradley at a conference gained me a wonderful jacket designer. A presentation at Bubonicon identified E. M. Tippetts for book formatting. A church friend added me to her copyediting clientele. I took Sarah Baker’s Continuing Ed class on self-publishing and Rob Spiegel’s blogging class — though I’m still not into self-promotion. My IT son sat shotgun while I uploaded various files online. And none of it would have happened without invaluable feedback over the years from critique groups and individuals.

What was the most difficult aspect of world building for the Pawn Quest books? What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
The most difficult part of world building was staying ahead of the future; our world is changing so fast. Actually, my favorite part was writing the companion book Ty’s Choice (December 2020), also a New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards finalist. I wanted to know more about a ten-year-old boy who appears in Pawn Quest. With the background of future Dodge City already formulated, and keeping to a single point of view, the book came together much faster than anything else I’ve written.

What sparked the initial story idea for book one, Pawn Quest? When did you know the storyline or characters were strong enough to carry a series?
My heart was set on finding a library job when my boys reached school age. Instead, I found myself pregnant again and started writing to fill the gap. I had this view of teenagers on a strange planet, but no idea how they got there. About the same time, I read about a parent whose child had been unfairly taken from her. The strong emotion that article evoked got attached to those kids on that planet and kept me seeking answers.

I never intended more than a single volume, but the story ran away with itself. Pawn Quest answers who the teens are and how they arrive on the planet. Planet Quest covers their first ten days. In the final volume, Quantum Quest, they’ll have to overcome challenges related to that initial mystery back on Earth before they can return home.

Tell us about any challenges this work posed for you.
I wanted to publish on IngramSpark, but it was such a challenge I ended up with Amazon. I’ve since managed (with Rose Kern’s help) to load all three titles on IngramSpark.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And when did you first consider yourself a writer?
I discovered both my loves—libraries and writing—in junior high school. I don’t think I dared call myself a writer until after retirement.

What topics or themes does your book touch on that would make it a good fit for the classroom?
I’ve jumped over a lot of present/future problems with AI and social media technologies. It’s easier to solve them in retrospect. An interesting discussion might be how to get from where we are to the more equitable (but flawed) society I describe, or to any other society the students might imagine.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What do you admire most about their writing?
I love Diana Wynne Jones for her humor, imagination, and ability to connect with children’s emotions. Space opera authors Lois McMaster Bujold and the team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are great world builders and storytellers. And so many others…

What writing projects are you working on now?
While working on book three of the Pawn Quest trilogy, I’m also revising two verse novels — fairy tale retellings set in an ancient past — which I’d love to see published.


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




An Interview with Author Donald Willerton

Donald Willerton is the award-winning author of the ten-book Mogi Franklin mystery series for middle-grade readers plus four novels in various genres for adults. His most recent adult release is Death in the Tallgrass: A Young Man’s Journey Through the Western Frontier (July 2023) that has been described as “a beautiful, smart, engaging, enraging book…gentle and thoughtful and fierce.” Look for Don on his website at DonaldWillerton.com and on his Amazon author page.


What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in Death in the Tallgrass?
The novel centers around the kidnapping of a 10-year-old boy, Sam, by Comanche warriors in 1870. Sam is declared dead soon afterwards. Lucy, his six-year-old sister, goes on with a wealthy but rocky life until her son, Harry, in 1904, discovers that the family history may have been a lie and Sam may have lived. Following what he thinks are clues to Sam’s life, Harry goes on a wagon trip that begins in Las Vegas, New Mexico, crosses Texas, turns around at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and retraces its route until it ends on the Goodnight Ranch, east of Amarillo, on the rim of the Palo Duro Canyon.

This is real country. My childhood home was close to the book’s Beale Wagon Road where it crossed the Canadian River; I have photos of wagon swales almost two hundred years old. I picnicked in the same riverbed where Kit Carson led his troops to the First Battle of Adobe Walls in 1864, and I have stood in the meadow where the Second Battle was fought in 1874. I helped harvest wheat in Oklahoma (west of Fort Sill), climbed in the Wichita Mountains, and have driven through the original Goodnight-managed JA Ranch in the canyons of the Palo Duro. I’ve taken the hair-raising road down the Canadian River Escarpment east of Las Vegas to get to Conchas Lake.

As my young, smart, arrogant, rich Harry Bonner rides on that wagon trip, I hope it’s obvious that falling in love with the country is as fundamental to his growing up as it was to my growing up. My passion for Texas sunsets and rain clouds continues after a lifetime.

What challenges did this work pose for you?
My biggest challenge was learning to stop putting in historical anecdotes about the history of the areas and characters mentioned in the book. I wrote long historical passages only peripherally related to what was happening, and at one point, had to delete thousands of words to clear out the clutter to regain my story. That’s one problem with research — sometimes reality is more interesting than fiction.

Another challenge was developing an authentic-sounding spiritual mysticism surrounding Sam’s life during his seven-year Comanche captivity. That mysticism brings Harry in touch with his uncle and drives home the cruel and unjust life that he fought against, which is key to the plot. In some instances, authenticity took precedence over accuracy, but it’s all close to being real.

This is a departure from your middle-grade mysteries and your three other novels — two that move through history to tell their stories (one with a haunted house as a main character) and a third book that is a contemporary morality tale. What inspired the idea for your newest release?
Three years ago, I read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I was dazzled by how rationally a character could unexpectedly go out one day on a walk to the Post Office box and not return until 400 miles later. Along the way, he finds redemption, forgiveness, and the love he had so desperately missed in his life. Joyce’s story gave me the construct of a journey allowing disparate stories to be blended with the main action while preserving the emotional cohesion of the characters. Tied in with echoes of Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, I had a solid time period and context to make my story about Sam, Lucy, and their dysfunctional family work.

Tell us about your main characters and why you chose them to tell your story.
I created the characters of Sam and Lucy in my seventh middle-grade mystery novel, The Lady in White, about 12 years ago. They existed only as ghostly apparitions, but were key in giving my middle-grade readers the spookiness I desired. For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about a ten-year-old boy who grows into a seven-foot Comanche warrior. Sam and his sister reappeared in a more real form in Smoke Dreams, along with the haunted house, but their lives were, again, revealed only in backstory. After failing at writing a sequel to Smoke Dreams, I found a story framework that allowed them to be flesh and blood. My other main characters are Harry, the son of Lucy who sets off on a quest to trail Sam after his capture, and Alice, the lady wagon master who is the trip leader and is responsible for most of Harry’s growing up.

How did Death in the Tallgrass come together after your initial inspiration?
I had the history of the kidnapping from the middle-grade novel, the desire to feature Sam and Lucy in a larger context, and the construct of a journey to build words around, but it was not until I imagined the wagon trip that the basics of the story fell into place. It permitted me to use dreams, backstory narration, and remembrances to characterize the missing thirty-four years of Sam while I described the daily action of Harry and Alice. It took about two years to write and rewrite, including two early submissions to a publisher that I withdrew (ever wake up one day and discover that what you’ve written sounds simply awful?). I finally found my center for the context, actions, crises, and emotions, and produced a workable draft I was happy with. I decided to self-publish, probably because I was too embarrassed to submit a third time.

Through Reedsy, I hired an editorial reviewer who confirmed the strength of the story and its goodness, and the characters with the depth I had intended. He also corrected many errors and story conflicts. After incorporating his suggestions, I hired (again through Reedsy) a copy editor who did an excellent job of helping me clarify, delete, simplify, and resolve all of the loose ends to make the story feel right and complete. I did not finalize the last chapters until after having done both edits, but, by then, I knew exactly what they needed to do. My cover came from a media artist who responded to an internet request through Reedsy. Given a list of my ideas and only a brief description of the novel, she sent an initial design that nailed it on the first try. I was lucky.

Why did you choose Death in the Tallgrass as the title of the book?
I had several initial ideas, but my first official title was The Biggest Cowboy in the World, which I thought was clever, eye-catching, and was drawn from the novel’s text. An early reviewer (an honest, true-to-God, steeped in history, Texas cowgirl with family ties going back to Charlie Goodnight) thought it was silly and would alienate Western-loving readers. She suggested using “tallgrass” in the title which was a common descriptor of grass in the Great Plains. I liked the word, read some about the preserved areas of grasslands in the Plains, and added “death” to make it dramatic.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
Editing, to me, is using the authority to change anything I want, with a heavy emphasis on deleting whatever I can’t explain. With my latest book, both editors were so affirming of the storyline that I was overwhelmed by their encouragement. Afterward, editing was like polishing a jewel — every change made it better, and I fell even more in love with what I had written.

Of the fourteen books you’ve written, which one was the most challenging and which was the most enjoyable to write?
The most challenging was The King of Trash. The story addresses the problems of ocean pollution and of homelessness, but by the end of the book, I could propose no meaningful solution for either. Even though the novel has a satisfactory ending, I feel a sense of lost opportunity.

The most enjoyable novel was The Lost Children, the second of my Mogi Franklin Mysteries. Beginning with a naturally endearing incident of three children mysteriously disappearing in 1891 in Ouray, Colorado, I added an old mining story out of the Gold Rush days of California that gave the tale a unique and gripping solution. In the end, combining the emotions and the facts gave me a story that grabs the heart of the reader.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How do you feel about research?
I like editing. It allows me to identify and confess all the errors I find, and to feel redeemed when I correct them. Research is a natural requirement to make my writing credible and authentic. I’ve never had trouble being appreciative of non-fiction.

Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your writing?
I’ve always written my middle-grade mysteries as a combination of history, geography, and adventure, hoping the readers will learn about the Southwest as well as being entertained. My adult books have been less deliberate, but I hope my characters show their need to live by grace.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I’ve begun a Dan Brown-ish type of mystery involving the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and the Shroud of Turin.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
An audiobook (my first) is being produced for Death in the Tallgrass. I’m anxious to hear how it sounds, and how it is received by listeners. I hope those who listen will leave reviews.


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




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