Blog Archives

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, 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 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

Author Update 2023: Patricia Walkow

Patricia Walkow is an award-winning editor and author of fiction and nonfiction including magazine articles and newspaper columns, essays and short stories, and memoir and novels. Her newest release is Life Lessons from the Color Yellow (February 2023), a story collection of people and events who have influenced her life. You’ll find Pat on her website at, on Facebook, and her Amazon author page. Read more about her writing and editing projects in her 2016 and 2020 interviews for SouthWest Writers.

What is at the core of this memoir collection?
This collection of stories represents significant people, events, and places that have shaped me. It is not an autobiography, but a collection of separate stories from my childhood through the present day. I have learned something about life from each of these stories, not only as I lived them, but also, years later, as I wrote them.

Which story in the book means the most to you? Which one revealed something unexpected as you wrote it? Give us a one-sentence description of each story.
“Golden Meadow” holds a special place in my heart, as it tells the tale of sharing my youthful dreams and aspirations with two friends, all in the encompassing embrace of a beautiful meadow. What surprised me was how difficult, emotionally, it was for me to write “My Mother’s Kitchen.”

“Mr. Howard’s Roses” — a school-age child learns how to care for roses. Lesson learned: Friendships happen between people even when they are quite different from each other, and there are things in life worth fussing over.

“The Dog Against the Yellow Wall” — a dog photographed by the author turns out to be almost identical to the dog she adopted many years later. Lesson learned: Serendipities exist in this world. Enjoy them without analyzing them.

“Sunny” — the author encounters a woman who always wears yellow. Later on, she finds out why. Lesson Learned: Despite terrible things that can happen to a person, it is ultimately a choice to be happy.

“Lemon Love” — some relationships are intense and beautiful, but cannot last. Lesson Learned: Always be true to yourself.

“My Mother’s Kitchen” — a dysfunctional family forever affects your life. Lesson learned: You can get beyond the issues of your childhood.

“The Promise of the Yellow Box” — when life gives you a gift, make the most of it. Lesson learned: Make your choices reflect your hopes and dreams rather than your fears.

“The Estate Sale” — a young woman comes across an estate sale and realizes she would have enjoyed knowing the person who once owned the house. Lesson Learned: Seize the moment to make a new friend.

“Golden Meadow” — three teenage girls bond during weekly hikes through a meadow as they share their hopes and dreams for the future. Lesson Learned: Friendships on the cusp of adulthood are among the most precious.

Why did you decide to write short pieces as opposed to a longer-length memoir?
From my past, I wanted to distill specific people and events that helped form the person I am today. As a result, I wrote the book as a set of discrete short stories, unrelated to each other, rather than creating a flowing set of chapters in sequential order over a long arc of time. I know this approach is not the typical way of writing a memoir, but it is the method I found satisfying.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting this project together?
The most challenging part of writing this piece was deciding which events and people helped form me into the person I am today.

Tell us about the book’s connection to the color yellow.
As I wrote, the color yellow surfaced over and over in my stories. It is not as though I was seeking out the color…or any color at all. Yellow simply turned out to be an integral part of each story and revealed itself as my teacher over the years. It was a surprise to me.

What do you love about your writing in this book?
Writing each story reconnected me to parts of myself, to people, to places I had not thought about in years.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I coauthored Alchemy’s Reach with SouthWest Writers’ member Chris Allen. It is a murder/mystery with a romantic undertone set in southern New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains. It was published by Austin Macauley on August 18, 2023 and is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook.

Another project I’m working on is The Far Moist End of the Earth. It’s a literary novel about a young widow who volunteers to work at a Methodist mission in Siam in the early 1900s. Prejudice, limitations on women’s lives, and multicultural appreciation are the key themes in the book. It is scheduled to be distributed to beta readers by the end of 2023.

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/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 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.