Blog Archives

Author Updates: Patricia Gable & Linda Wilson

Patricia Gable and Linda Wilson are former teachers who now write middle grade and children’s books, respectively. These members of SouthWest Writers (SWW) each had at least one new release within the last year and have an interview posted on the SWW website.

Patricia Gable has authored essays, memoirs, children’s stories, and educational articles. In 2021, she published the first in her middle grade Right Series, The Right Address. Her latest release is The Right Choice, book two in that series. Visit Patricia’s author pages on Amazon and For more about her work, read her 2022 SWW interview.

What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in The Right Choice?
When writing this series, I wanted to feature good characters that relate to the reader. They have problems along the way, but they are resilient. Strong friendships develop, and they support each other. Also, they have no devices to distract them. Set in the early 1980s, readers will learn some things that are different from the world today.

Annie and Willie, introduced in The Right Address, return in the second book along with a new character. Tell us about your main characters and why a middle grade audience will care about them and their plight.
Christopher is a new character in the second book of the series, The Right Choice. He is a talented basketball player, the youngest and best player on the high school varsity team. When his dad is deployed to the Middle East, he and his mother move to a small town to live with his grandmother, a woman with wise advice. He is allowed to continue playing at the high school for the current season. A college recruiter comes to watch the boys play and he sets his sights on Christopher. But when misfortune strikes, will Christopher ever realize his dream?

Annie and Christopher do not get along at all in the beginning. When six-year-old Willie gets hurt, Christopher takes care of him. Annie sees that Christopher is not as bad as she thought.

When did you know the characters were strong enough for a series?
In 2005 I entered a short story contest with two homeless children, Willie and Annie, as characters and was awarded Honorable Mention. The story kept nudging me in the back of my mind. When my sister and I took a novel writing course, I used the story as a springboard to write the first book. Then I just couldn’t put the characters away!

Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your writing?
My message is for middle graders to not give up on their dreams. If you have an obstacle in the way, take another path but always move forward.

What is the greatest challenge of writing for the middle grade market?
Middle grade readers are a wonderful audience. My personal challenge is making my books and stories exciting, funny, and inspiring to readers.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on the third book in the series, featuring the kids from the two previous books. When a winter storm closes school, the friends hang out at Christopher’s house. After board games and television, they decide to play hide-and seek. Willie hides in the basement and discovers an underground tunnel built during prohibition. What will he discover?

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two newest releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at, and on Facebook. Visit the Writers on the Move blog where she’s a contributing author. And read more about her writing in SWW’s 2021 interview.

Waddles the Duck was inspired by a family of mallards that came to live in your swimming pool. Did you also have a personal experience that inspired Cradle in the Wild?
My picture book, Cradle in the Wild, was inspired by an idea I found in a craft book that I used when my two daughters were in grade school. The idea is to gather natural materials that birds use to build their nests, such as dried leaves, grass, bird feathers, soft parts of weeds and flowers, small pieces of bark — virtually any type of materials birds might find in the wild. In the spring, we would scatter these natural materials on the grass and watch for the birds to discover them and carry them away. The birds didn’t always discover our materials. I remembered how disappointed we were when they didn’t find our contributions to their nests. The two young sisters in the story were disappointed, too, when the birds didn’t come. So, they brainstormed about what they could use to attract the birds. I love to sew and especially love colorful fabric and sewing incidentals. My collection of ribbon, yarn and lace gave me the idea of adding these colorful snippets to the natural nesting materials, and the story was born.

What topics does Waddles the Duck and Cradle in the Wild touch upon that would make them a perfect fit for the classroom?
Waddles: The main message I want readers to come away with is to realize that feeding waterfowl foods that are nutritious for them (such as waterfowl pellets available at pet stores, dandelions, wheatgrass, chopped lettuce leaves, and cracked corn) are far better for them than feeding waterfowl bread. The boy in the story must discover a solution to finding a good home for a mallard duck family that has taken up residence in the family pool. He realizes that the ducks wouldn’t survive for long due to the chemicals in the pool and the lack of natural food that ducks ordinarily find in their natural habitat. I’ve purchased little rubber ducks and plan to have them float in a tub filled with water to demonstrate to students what happens in the story.

Pygmy nuthatches, March 2021, gather to wait out a storm and eat the thistle in Linda’s bird feeder.

Cradle: I’ve presented a program for Cradle that has worked well with students and adults a number of times now. I begin by passing around a collection of about ten bird’s nests that I’ve gathered over the years and discussing birds while the students are feeling the nesting materials, especially the soft fuzzy insides that birds use for protection of their eggs and hatchlings. I show the adults a terrific book — Bird Watch Book for Kids: Introduction to Bird Watching, Colorful Guide to 25 Backyard Birds, and Journal Pages, Dylanna Press, 2022 (Amazon) — which suggests taking water, sunscreen, etc. on bird-watching trips with their children. The book encourages children to keep track of the birds they see in the book’s journal pages. I show the parents a bird guide for adults to keep on hand and tell them about bird-sound apps they can save on their phones. I either read or tell the Cradle story, then give them a craft I’ve put together in a Ziplock bag for them to make a bird nest of their own at home.

Tell us about the journey to choose the evocative and poetic title for Cradle in the Wild.
Creating the title Cradle in the Wild was just one of those inspirations that came to me one day. Many times I write title ideas in a notebook over many days and weeks. Sometimes nothing works. Then if I’m lucky the aha moment arrives and I’ve got my title.

You released two books in less than one year. How did you accomplish this?
I have to chuckle at this question because, though these book ideas marinated for quite some time before they made it to the page, I wrote both books during COVID when we were all stuck at home. While doing that, I thought I needed a special COVID project, too, so I erected a bird feeder close to my kitchen window. So, while writing the books I enjoyed watching many kinds of birds frequenting my feeders.

In your last interview for SouthWest Writers, you shared what you wish you’d known when you began your writing/publishing career. What did you learn from publishing Waddles the Duck and Cradle in the Wild?
I learned something about marketing from writing these two books. As a self-published author, for a few years I tried to make sales by placing ads on my social media, I wrote blog articles, I became the newsletter editor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and more. Though I enjoyed doing all of that, I made very few sales. Once I accumulated the five books that I’ve published (a chapter book and four picture books), I began selling at book fairs. It’s a lot of work, but I started meeting readers and selling books. Since I don’t have a publisher backing me up and helping to distribute my books, I’ve decided my biggest reward is coming from meeting local readers. This is how I plan to spend my time from now on — sharing my stories with parents, grandparents, and their children in venues where they can also purchase my books.

What writing projects are you working on now?
Sometime in 2023, I’m hoping to finish the second book in my chapter book trilogy, Secret in the Mist: An Abi Wunder Mystery, which is a ghost/mystery story. I’m also working on creating a new Tall Boots book which will be a side-by-side Spanish/English bilingual book, and after that making my other picture books bilingual. And for a new project, I want to write a book about turtles/tortoises. The working name of my character is Twiddles.

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 and writes about memoir at

An Interview with Author Keith Pyeatt, Part 1

Keith Pyeatt is an engineer turned novelist who writes paranormal thrillers with a psychological twist that he calls “horror with heart.” Living for ten years in an isolated cabin in Vermont may have influenced his choice of genre, but his empathetic nature is what helps him create a variety of characters — “likeable, despicable, tortured, and those ‘gray’ characters you can’t quite decide whether to love or hate.” Keith has four published standalone novels including Struck, Dark Knowledge, and Above Haldis Notch, with Daeva (October, 2015) being his most recent. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and his website

daeva-front-200What is your elevator pitch for Daeva?
Daeva pits supernatural manipulation against human devotion when a powerful demon with a grudge against mankind stands ready to gain access to the world.

What sparked the initial story idea for the book?
My working title was Imagination, and my plan was to write a novel that showed how a strong paranormal influence would change different characters over the years. I decided a young boy would receive what appeared to be a great gift: a friendly entity who lived inside the boy’s mind and could grant him the power to make things happen. The boy accesses the power by using his imagination, which is fun and exhilarating at first, but the “gift” is actually a demon with his own agenda. The storyline expanded quickly as I wrote the first draft and developed the different characters’ motivations. The initial idea that sparked the novel is still there, but it became a launching point for a much more intricate plot.

Tell us about your main protagonist, his flaws and strengths, and the hurdles he tries to overcome.
Chris was raised to host a demon in his head, an upbringing which gave him some interesting personality defects. He’s inherently a good guy, and his sister Sharon helps pull out his best side, but he keeps many secrets and doesn’t allow anyone to get too close, partly out of need, partly out of habit. Unfortunately for Chris, even a lifelong commitment to being fair and strong can become a character flaw when a demon knows your every thought, desire, and need. And this particular demon has thousands of years of experience manipulating men, and he can dangle a mighty big carrot in front of his host to help lead him astray.

Why did you decide to use the particular setting(s) you chose?
For the macro-settings, Connecticut gave me elements I needed for a general location, and the time period seemed to take care of itself. I went into the past to set up a history for the daeva and moved forward from there. About three-quarters of the novel takes place in late 1992 and early 1993.

The micro-settings were really the key to creating atmosphere in Daeva. Minnie’s cabin in the woods gave me a combination of beauty and eeriness as well as the atmosphere of cold isolation and loneliness that I needed in Part 1. Rowena’s cluttered little house became the next important setting. It helped create the right atmosphere while characters frantically worked to piece together information and plot a course of action. A rural wooden bridge spanning a stream added an atmosphere of danger and mystery to the ending.

DK-cover-150Of the four novels you’ve published, which one did you enjoy writing the most? Who is your favorite character?
I liked editing Daeva the most (good thing!), but I enjoyed writing the first draft of Dark Knowledge the most. It just poured out of me, and it showed me how fun it is to create complicated and engaging “gray characters,” the ones you can’t quite hate and can’t quite love. Lydia is my favorite character in that novel, and if there ever was a gray character, it’s her. She comes across as completely despicable initially, and she definitely enjoys her evil moments throughout, but there’s more to her than is shown in those early chapters. A great joy I have is when someone finishes reading the novel and tells me, almost reluctantly (as if they expect me to be disappointed) that they don’t hate Lydia. A little voice inside me yells WooHoo!

What is your writing routine like? What is your writing process like?
I write in long stretches. Ideally, I like to write every day, but sometimes reality interferes with creating fiction. My process is to start by creating some primary characters and a rough outline (with an ending). I write a first draft that’s loose and sloppy. It will wander. There will be repetition, inconsistencies, time frame problems, and gaping plot holes. There will be a huge number of typos, weak sentences, clichés, and vague notes like “fill in details” or “modify motive” or “fix time frame.” Sometimes I back up and change something to keep the first draft moving toward the ending (or revised ending) I have in my head, but I try to keep moving forward. I keep notes as I write so I’ll have an outline of what I actually wrote that’ll be more accurate than the outline of what I had planned to write.

I always edit novels start to finish, then I begin again. First edits are slow, with a lot of fresh writing and rewriting and deleting chunks of text. Successive edits tighten things up, and after several edits, they start going faster, which is important to get a good feel for the novel as a reader. I keep editing until I’m happy. Then I go away for a while, come back, and find myself shocked with the number of new things I find to fix and old problems that still need attention. When I can leave the novel alone for a while, come back, and still feel good about it, I’m getting near the end. Only a few dozen more edits to go. *smile*

If you suffer from writer’s block, how do you break through?
I’m of the mindset that you don’t wait for inspiration; you go after it…with a club. When writing a first draft, I generally muscle through a “block.” I’m not afraid to write something I’ll later delete or rewrite. It’s important to me to keep the process going, and I’ll usually stumble onto something that works if I keep hammering away. In editing, if I just can’t seem to make a paragraph or section flow and convey what I want, I’ll take a break for a few hours to workout, run, hike, play with the dogs, read, or do some project around the house.

What advice do you have for beginning or discouraged writers?
Write what you enjoy writing (which is probably what you enjoy reading), even if it’s not currently a hot-selling genre.

To learn more about Keith and his writing, including what he’s working on now, go to Part 2 of “An Interview with Author Keith Pyeatt” on

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

Sign Up for Elerts  Stay Connected

SWW YouTube Videos

Search Posts


More information about SWW Programs can be found on WhoFish.