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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

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

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

An Interview with Authors Vicki Turpen and Shannon Horst

It took twenty-five years for Vicki Turpen and daughter Shannon Horst to bring their debut novel, The Delicate Balance (Terra Nova Books, 2019), from story idea to publication. During that time, they have seen their fictional plot regarding climate change begin to play out in the world. Both authors live in an intentional family community on a farm in Albuquerque’s South Valley and strive to do their part to replenish spaceship Earth. You can connect with Vicki and Shannon on Facebook.

What is your elevator pitch for The Delicate Balance?
In The Delicate Balance, people all around the world try to do what has never been done on a mass scale—change the way they live their lives to avert what they believe is certain impending death. When atmospheric data from around the world indicates the delicate balance of gases that make up air has begun to shift as a result of climate change, United Nations’ climatologist Jesse Forester lands in the hot seat. To avert mass extinction, Forrester and Hannah Koenig, Senior Counsel to The Secretary General, create Operation World Salvation—a worldwide mandatory (on threat of being shot) shutdown of all use of fossil fuels and burning. Amid the chaos that ensues (abandoned hospitals with patients still inside and hordes of roving, starving people), Forrester and Koenig search for ways to put some semblance of civilization back together. Just as they discover pockets of people who have long been living carbon-neutral lives that are rich in many ways, new data appears that indicates the original figures on gases were falsified. Who would do that and why? And, does it matter?

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
We wrote the book with the hope that readers will love the story and the characters. And if climate change does exist, it is an outcome of the way humans live their lives. If that is true, it is entirely within our power to reverse it. There are solutions we can implement right now, no more research needed. If we had the political will, we could restore soil carbon on a massive scale. This would offset huge portions of the legacy load of carbon and the annual increase load. It would also rebuild fresh-water aquifers, increase food production, produce healthier food, restore wildlife habitat, contribute to human health, etc. To reverse the course we are on will require that we all live simpler—but in many ways richer—lives. When people quit pursuing consumptive material things and focus on relationships and restoration of habitat and caring for creatures, their lives aren’t poorer, they’re richer.

We also hope the reader will choose to quit finger pointing, being a victim or allowing others to be victimized. Very few people get up every day and say, “I’m going to destroy biodiversity and throw carbon into the air.” All of us live our lives doing the best we can. We are all in this together. There are people already living rich lives with carbon-neutral or carbon-negative footprints. The reader will meet some of them (or their fictional twins) in the book and ask, “Why aren’t we replicating this on a grand scale?”

Who are the main characters in the book?
Jesse Forester is a tree-hugger and the chief atmospheric scientist for the United Nations who watches ozone levels and trends in climate change. As a result of the worldwide mobilization to halt all use of fossil fuels, he sends his spouse and two teenage boys to his childhood farm in Iowa where he hopes they will be safe. He is then thrown into a working relationship with Hannah Koenig, chief legal counsel to the Secretary General of the UN. Their task is to create and implement a worldwide ban on all fossil fuels and all burning (agricultural, industrial, etc.). And then to find ways to rebuild civilization without repeating the patterns that created climate change. Jesse and Hannah are a mismatched pair—even antagonists—at first. But they quickly build a bond out of the intensity of the chaos they are creating and then attempt to mitigate. They try to make ethical decisions in a world where everyone is just trying to survive. They face dilemmas we may one day face. Do you let prisoners go before you run out of gas to transport them or just let them starve in situ? What about hospitals? Assisted living facilities? Jesse is also faced with the very real prospect he will never see his family again. He is too aware that Hannah is beautiful and intelligent and, if they survive at all, someone he might build a new life with.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
The many challenges included: 1) trying to make sure the book read smoothly and not like it was written by two different people; 2) making the story simple—but not simplistic—around the science of climate change; 3) challenging each other many times over what had to get cut, added, or changed in the manuscript (and probably wanting to kill each other, but we survived in the end and remain good friends to this day); 4) being willing to let go, to be okay with the possibility of never getting published; and 5) when we began this 25-year journey, we both had full-time jobs (one of us still works full time), so writing, editing, pitching, and getting published was a real labor of love.

What sparked the story idea?
The kernel of the story came from a conversation one of us had with a colleague who had been working on issues related to the loss of biodiversity, desertification, and the inevitable result of climate change. We brainstormed ways to tell a compelling story about the relationship between soil carbon, soil carbon destruction, the attendant release of carbon to the atmosphere, etc. At the time, we also looked at the fact that most of the movies about global warming proposed it was going to come as just a big series of climactic events that destroy civilization. We considered that we have never mobilized to ward off a tragedy we could see coming. Generally, we wait until the crisis happens and then clean up the mess. Our plot came from all of these musings. There were already plenty of technical books, but the average reader doesn’t read them. So, we put together a mystery plot. As the years went by, the fictional plot we created began to play out around us—increased extremes in weather, increased diseases related to breathing, etc.

Tell us how the book came together.
We divvied up the major characters and the settings where they appear. Vicki wrote most of the short snippets where a character appears only one time but tells the reader things like what really happens when a zoo can no longer feed its animals because there is no fossil fuel. The full manuscript was ready after about 15 years. We edited and reworked it for another five years while also trying to get it published. We sent letters of inquiry, went to various conferences where we pitched the book, etc. Vicki did most of the pitches because she was already retired. And she kept her ear to the ground through SouthWest Writers (SWW). Vicki signed up to do a pitch for two publishers at an SWW conference in 2018. The editor from Terra Nova/Golden Word Books showed sincere interest. Within about a week of the pitch, we had an agreement for them to publish The Delicate Balance, and it was released in 2019.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
Our favorite thing about writing this book was the fun times we had together. For example, one time we were working on the book while on a trip and Vicki was updating Shannon about the plot. Vicki had murdered a couple of characters along the way and after the third murder, Shannon (a bit put out) said, “How many of our characters are you going to snuff out?”

What are you most happy with in your writing?
Vicki: I love discovering characters. There is a wonderful world out there of interesting, fascinating people. Once I latch on to one of them, I allow him or her to do the talking and acting for me. Characters in my authored works have said and done things that came from them, not from my own experience. As a long-time drama teacher and director, I visualize the story, scene by scene. I may argue with my characters, but so often they are more creative and ingenuous than I could ever be.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
Vicki: We all learn and remember more when we sit down with a pen or open a computer and write. That is a fact. If we are forced to edit what we write, we discover the myriad ways to say the same thing. We discover what is clean and valuable, or worth thinking and writing about, and not just flotsam and jetsam. During my master’s program in education at UNM, I loved writing for the class about the students I was teaching and learning more about teaching from the vast variety of other teachers in the class. One morning at home after breakfast, I went to write in my study. Later I decided it was probably time to eat lunch only to discover it was already 5:00 pm. I thought, this is fun, and I would love doing this when I retire.

What writing projects are you working on now?
Vicki: Right now, I have in the works a short young-adult novel based on my real experience with #MeToo when I was fifteen. I have a historical novel about what it was like to be a woman in the late 1800s/early 1900s, if you didn’t bend to the rules created by men for women. Lastly, I have a few chapters of a memoir about my 51-year marriage and raising five children.

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

More 2019 New Releases for SWW Authors

Authors RJ Mirabal, Don Morgan, Robin Perini, and Vicki Turpen represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW) with 2019 releases in the genres of children’s books, mystery, romantic suspense, and science fiction. Look for interviews or updates for these authors in 2020.

A list of previously interviewed SWW authors with 2019 releases is included at the end of this post.

Trixie Finds Her People, written by RJ the Story Guy (aka RJ Mirabal), tells the story of Trixie the Brown Dog. This mama dog is rescued from a situation where she and her puppies were part of a hoard of 23 dogs. After her puppies are adopted, she joins a girl and her grandparents as her new family. At first, everything is new: living indoors in her new home, learning to potty outdoors, getting the occasional bath (not fun!), and being locked in the laundry room at night (really not fun!). Soon Trixie and her people’s lives turn into a series of wonderful, humorous, and sometimes scary adventures. In addition to her real life, Trixie embarks on three fantasy adventures while she sleeps. In the end it’s all about the bond of love between a rescue dog and her true forever family. Available on Amazon.

Visit RJ’s websites at and Read his 2015 interview and 2017 interview update.

The Voxlightner Scandal is book six in the BJ Vinson Mystery series written by Don Travis (SWW member Don Morgan). No good deed goes unpunished, as investigator BJ Vinson is about to discover. Writer John Pierce Belhaven was murdered before he could reveal the name of another killer—one connected to the biggest scandal to rock Albuquerque in years. Two of the city’s most prominent citizens—Barron Voxlightner and Dr. Walther Stabler—vanished in 2004, along with fifty million dollars looted from Voxlightner Precious Metals Recovery Corp. BJ agrees to help novice detective Roy Guerra reopen the old case which the wealthy and influential Voxlightner family doesn’t want dredged up. But Belhaven was part of their family, and that connection could’ve led to his murder. Or did the sixty-year-old author die because of a sordid sexual affair? Available on Amazon.

You’ll find Don on his website at Read his 2018 and 2019 interviews.

Robin Perini’s Forgotten Legacy is the second release in the Singing River series published by Montlake Romance (2019). Forgotten secrets. Forgotten lies. A family legacy…A determined killer. On the outskirts of Singing River, Wyoming, a couple dies in a fire that ravages their remote mountain home. Everyone believes it’s a tragic accident—except FBI profiler Riley Lambert. She isn’t convinced, and neither is her fiancé, ex-Navy SEAL turned sheriff Thayne Blackwood. When they discover that the couple’s daughter is missing, Riley’s dark memories of her own sister’s kidnapping ratchet up the urgency to find the girl—before it’s too late. Dodging danger, they follow a tangled web of clues pointing to a forgotten secret that Thayne’s Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother holds dear. But when their deadly investigation veers too close to home and brings a twisted killer to Riley’s and Thayne’s doorsteps, can they save those they love and stop the murderer before time runs out? Available on Amazon.

Last Stand in Texas, by Robin Perini, was released by Harlequin Intrigue in early 2019. Two people whose dangerous pasts are never far behind… Will their secrets catch up to them? Stranded in small-town Texas, desperate to keep her daughter from her serial-killer ex, Faith Thomas must rely on covert operative Léon Royce. But he, too, is on the run, hiding his real identity and denying his real attraction to Faith. Protecting her and Zoe becomes his mission…one he’ll risk his life—and heart—for. Available on Amazon.

Visit Robin’s website at and read her 2016 interview.

The Delicate Balance is a post-apocalyptic thriller written by Vicki Turpen and Shannon Horst. The Earth is dying—its life forms bound for extinction—unless the most fundamental of changes is made: Carbon-based fuels must be abandoned. Chaos results—migrating hordes of starving people, abandoned hospitals and prisons (patients and inmates still inside), and deserted cities where only cockroaches still live. But then Jesse Forester, the U.N. scientist responsible for the changes that survival demands, finds hints that the data at the core of the new global policy may be flawed. And murders start happening. Rushing headlong into a frantic search for the truth, Jesse and his team discover pockets of people who are living rich and satisfying lives in Eden-like landscapes without any use of carbon fuels. As the plotters Jesse is seeking become more desperate, can these flourishing communities help avert humanity’s slow death from the poisonous fruits of climate change growing at its doorstep? Available on Amazon.

SWW Author Interviews (2019 Releases)

Sherri L. BurrComplicated Lives: Free Blacks in Virginia, 1619-1865
Kit CrumptonPlease Send Ketchup: WWII Letters from a B-29 Pilot
C. Joseph Greaves (Chuck Greaves) • Church of the Graveyard Saints
Scott Archer JonesAnd Throw Away the Skins
Jacqueline Murray LoringVietnam Veterans Unbroken: Conversations on Trauma and Resiliency
Neill McKeeFinding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah
Sharon Vander MeerThunder Prime Hunter’s Light
Don MorganAbaddon’s Locusts

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

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