Michael Ribisi, Author of “Admissions”

Welcome, Michael. What is your book about?

My book is a story about a love affair between a husband (Jeremy Covington) and wife (Amy Covington) and the problems they have been having in their relationship lately. It takes place three years after they have split up and begins with Jeremy’s confession that he has finally found new love with his long time best friend Lisa! Amy is not only happy for him she actually wants to help him find closure and end the relationship once and for all. She has no choice but to lead him down a dark path through their mysterious past and uncover the real reason why they split up in the first place.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Actually it’s quite funny. I had the idea for about three hours prior to starting to write the novel. It just came to me in the car while I drove past a similar setting in the book. Can’t give away too much here!

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Anything I do is for my family. I’ve been wanting to write a novel for a long time. I really wanted to create a novel and finish something that would make my wife, kids, and family proud of me. It felt good to have the last words down on paper and see my story to completion.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

The main character, Jeremy, is like me in a lot of ways. His sarcasm and humor certainly reminds me of my younger days. Full of confidence and love! Very emotional, in the sense that his emotions rule his behavior. Towards the end of the book he becomes like I was for a short time. Disconnected with the world and afraid of change. Accepting change is tough for anyone.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me a little less than 90 days. The book is only 35,000 words. I would consider that a short story in most cases.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I knew how it began and how it ended. That’s all. I felt like the story changed as the characters developed. I started to feel like the dialogue was coming from them directly and not me. I prefer to tell the story through dialogue, rather then descriptions. I feel that painting the picture is important but a reader also needs to feel the same emotions as the characters. This is where the dialogue really tells the story better then a writer ever can using descriptions.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

A good story has to have interesting characters of whom we can relate. If you don’t like the characters of a story then you won’t really care what happens to them in the end. I also feel that trying to be unique in storyline is extremely helpful. That is very difficult with all of the material that is out on the market. If you put your own spin or twist into your plot then you may have a good story on your hands. Write it down!

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

I have to write at night with a pair of noise cancelling headphones wrapped around my head. Depending on what I intend to write will determine what kind of music I listen to on that night. For “Admissions”, it was a ton of easy listening love anthems from the 60′s to today.

What are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on a couple of different projects. The first is a prelude to a trilogy that has been in my mind for many years. “The Gem Sphere Saga” will be a number of episodes between 5,000 to 10,000 words each specifically designed to build the back story and foreshadow the main story in the trilogy. The next one is called: “The Diary of a Cheater”, a story about a woman named Claire who finds a diary in her husbands home office that outlines some of the not so nice things her husband Mark has been a part of lately. She must prove the diary true and find out what he has been up to before she confronts him. Obviously, this takes her down some very interesting paths.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Anyone interested in my work can go to my website: http://www.michaelribisi.com or like my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/michael.ribisi. Right now, “Admissions” is currently for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ibooks.

http://www.amazon.com/Admissions-ebook/dp/B005TXQHO6 = Link to purchase on Kindle
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/admissions-michael-ribisi/1106527684 = Link to purchase on Nook

Elaine Garverick, Author of “The Darque Princess Chronicles”

Welcome, Elaine. What is your book about?

The epic novel, “The Darque Princess Chronicles”, is about all the things I love to read about–history, time-travel, adventure, and self-examination.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

That day, or the next. I was overly excited and anxious to get the bones down on paper.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was working on a book, largely autobiographical, and I was having a difficult time maintaining distance from the main character. I decided to make others carry the burden of my confessions. The princesses just sprang to life. I felt more like a channeler than a writer.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

All of me, but I can’t tell you which princess(es) are bearing most of the load. It’s a secret.

What are you working on right now?

The infamous, aforementioned autobiography.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The demanding characters. I created them, but most insist on talking, giving advice, interrupting my thought processes…it’s like raising children!

What writer influenced you the most?

Because I really didn’t want to answer this question, I guess I will. Nobody spoke to me in my youth the way JD Salinger did…and still does. I never wrote to him to tell him how monumental his work was for me…thousands of adolescents were already doing that, and I guessed my adoration might too much for him to stand.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

I love Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series. And Ian Pears’ “The Dream of Scipio” is a close second. Also. “The Source” by James Michener…this could go on forever.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

It was in one of those “So You Wanna Be a Writer” books years ago. It’s a cliche, but worth mentioning. “Write about something you know. Write about something you love.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Elves are at work on a website. Domain name is “DarquePrincess.com” Elves are complaining re busy holiday season. Elves are hostile. I am also considering Amazon/Kindle if I can ever figure out their format qualificaions.

K. Rowe, Author of “Dragonslayers: Battle Rhythm”

What is your book about?

“Dragonslayers: Battle Rhythm” is the third book in the series about an unlikely Special Forces unit tasked to do battle with terrorists anywhere on the planet. The first two books are titled: “Project: Dragonslayers” and “Dragonslayers: Mind Games.”

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

The two main characters are Lt Col. Eagle Tryggvesson, and Maj. D.M. Elliott. Eagle is Norwegian by birth, but came to the US and wanted to serve her new-found country. She has long been interested in special operations, and has a dream to put together a small, elite team which would take the fight to the terrorists. Maj. D.M. Elliott doesn’t realize his rather interesting background until he’s thrown into Eagle’s motley group. As things progress, he finds a deep love for her, although it’s against regulations. They form a partnership that brings the team together and makes them a nearly unstoppable force.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I put many hours of research into each book. As well as being retired military, I do tons of internet searches to get information for the books. My husband is also retired special forces, so I have a great resource in him as well.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I guess the goal for the DS series would be to enlighten the non-military person and help them understand what special operators go through on a daily basis. Things like PTSD are still not well understood in society, and my characters suffer from it, and have to deal with their families who don’t always understand. It can be frustrating and heartbreaking when family does not get the son or daughter they sent to war back as they were.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Editing! Granted I use an editor, but I still do several rounds before it goes to her, and when it comes back from her, there’s always lots of “blood” that needs to be taken care of. Over the years, I’ve gotten better, but I still hate editing.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing comes WAY too easy for me. I liken it to a disease that the only way you can feel better is to get the words out and the story written.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day

I have gobs of files on my computer for stories that I’ve written and haven’t yet published, or are in the “design” phase. Currently, besides the 4 novels I have out, there are at least 5 others in the works right now.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

My best friend always gives me good advice. She’s also my toughest critic! I’ve NEVER gotten a 5 star review from her. But, I admire that, because she’s brutally honest and I know that being a good writer requires the ability to accept criticism.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Don’t expect mega sales right from the start. If you do, you’re darned lucky! All the other authors I’ve spoken with say it takes 6-9 years to become truly successful. Well, I got at least 3-6 more to go!

It takes 6-9 years? That’s interesting. How are you marketing your books?

I market on Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and word of mouth. No, it’s probably not enough, but when you have a 100 acre farm to take care of as well, you gotta divide your time.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I’m always putting out new books and short stories. The best places to find me are:
twitter: sturgeon3736

Helen Bradley Hall, Author of “Chocolate Mama”

Welcome, Helen. What is your book about?

“Chocolate Mama” is about a woman whom held a dark secret from her past that could destroy her family as a whole, or her soul. Her boyfriend, who later becomes her husband, held a darker secret that would rip his family and the entire world apart.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired by my own life adversities to write this particular book, I would say that a lot of my past issues are hidden in this book.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

The main characters in my book are: Liza Dozier Hamgorium, Berlin Hamgorium, their 5 daughters: London, Leanne, Lana, Lahti, and Latasha Hamgorium. I liked London the most because through all the tragedies she stood her ground and found out the truth about her mom Liza in the end.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

The message I want readers to grab is it does not matter how hard or bad your life once was you can overcome it and be the person that God wants you to be.

Are you writing another book?

I am currently working on a book titled “Babyrobber’s” based on a true story about a crime spree that took place in Garden city, and Inkster Michigan.

Where can we find out more about your book?

“Chocolate Mama” is available in paperback and Kindle, it is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other sites. It is also available in Japan, Canada, and Australia. Website: www.bradleyspublishingcompany.webs.com

Nancy Naigle, author of “Out of Focus”

Welcome, Nancy. What is your book about?

My latest novel is OUT OF FOCUS. It’s about a woman caught in a web of friendship and betrayal as she desperately searches for her son. It’s available in trade paperback and in all digital formats, too. OUT OF FOCUS is a really special book to me. This book took me only about eight months to write – start to finish. It won four awards right out of the gate. It has a really special place in my heart and I hope readers will love it as much as I do. You might need a hanky, but some of those tears are really precious and probably because they poke at your own fond memories.

Have you written any other books?

Yes. OUT OF FOCUS is the second novel I’ve written with ties to the small town of Adams Grove. The first, SWEET TEA AND SECRETS, came out this summer. I also co-wrote a suspense with Phyllis C. Johnson under the pseudonym Johnson Naigle. That one is called inkBLOT. It’s an awesome suspense that’ll make you think twice about all the information you put out on the internet and it’s perfect for any age reader.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

In OUT OF FOCUS the main character is Kasey Phillips. She’s a successful commercial photographer balancing her career with married life and being a mother. This story opens with her at a photo shoot of the popular country singer, Cody Tuggle. Cody is one of my favorite characters. He’s got a bad boy image and the paparazzi love to flare up a good story about him, but really, he’s a great guy. I loved pulling back the real Cody. Handsome, successful, and nice…the man of all of our dreams, right? There’s a book with Cody Tuggle as one of the main characters in progress now.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

You know, I think the most unusual likable character I’ve ever written would be King in inkBLOT. He’s a tattoo artist. He’s got that badass look with a bandanna tattooed around his bald head that looks so real you want to touch it. Big guy, but he’s all heart and a wonderful single dad. I love that guy. He breaks the stereotype and that’s a good thing.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I’m a plotter. I know the synopsis before I get to writing too much. As a lister and planner in everything I do, that’s just a natural process for me.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

You know, I have a busy day job, too. I’m an SVP with Bank of America. One of the main reasons I wanted to get my stories out to the world is that I believe woman are busier than ever. We juggle so many things and we need life balance. Books bring me balance and I wanted to write stories that were easy reads that could offer an escape – even if just for a little while – to other busy gals like me.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I’m best mid-morning. First thing in the morning, while I’m drinking coffee, I’m doing email and tweets and visiting facebook friends. Once I have that done, I’m ready to face the day. Have a full-time job I don’t have that luxury though. I write whenever I get the chance. I tease that USAirways has a vested interest in my success because I do some great writing in those seats on their planes.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on edits to the next Adams Grove book right now. I love that little town. It’s a sweet southern town and the community is made up of so many personalities that lend to its charm. Max over at the bakery is known for his baked fresh daily treats, especially the bear claws. Ted Hardy of Floral & Hardy can whip up an amazing arrangement to suit any occasion and does the best twinkle lights in his display window. Chaz Huckaby is the guy with all the connections, and Sheriff Calvin is pretty darn awesome even if he did hire the bound-to-step-into-trouble northerner as Deputy for the town. Deputy Dan has his heart in the right place but he can be a little overzealous. Oh, this town is full of great cooks, too. They love sharing recipes so there are a couple in the back of each book.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

The best advice I can give is to never give up. It’s a long journey so surround yourself with people that will prop you up when the going gets tough, because it does get tough. Share what you know and be willing to listen and continue learning. That circle will lift you toward your dream come true.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I have a website. http://www.NancyNaigle.com and I’m also very active on facebook and twitter. I’d love to chat with folks there, too.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about you?

I write love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense. I’m a native of Virginia and I live in a small town in southern Virginia with my husband on our goat farm with our dog, Hunter, and hundreds of goats.

Hugs and happy reading~

Stephen Michael Natale, author of The Shopkeeper

By Stephen Michael Natale
Available @ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55288?ref=StephenMichaelNatale

What is your book about?

In a nutshell the premise of the story is how the wronged respond, and in a way, the limits placed on those responses via fear of moral cultural acceptance or the justice in law. Many do not possess the fortitude to act…some men do.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I’m not so sure there is much of me in any of the characters, perhaps a few of the moral traits and some of the quandaries, but almost all of the characters are composites of people I know that live in my little corner of paradise, the strong, the lovely and the wicked.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Geez I’m not sure I can in the space allotted. There are a group of characters that would be considered protagonists, but then again throughout the book readers will be wondering if they are. But that is the point of the book, just who is The Shopkeeper?

Then there is another group of antagonists; hateful, vengeful, deceitful but in way real, as I mentioned above these are composites and at times caricatures of people I know.

I think, though a powerful supporting main character, my favorite Character maybe Sheriff “Bump Soloman. He is one that really gets caught up in the trap of loyalty and the law.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think Ivory Fallow probably fits this bill the closest; she is also the character truest to real life. She is a composite of four maybe even five very beautiful women I am fortunate enough know.

How long did it take you to write your book?

This work was actually an evolution, one of a story and two of a writer. I initially wrote the first few pages over ten years ago, and though more off years than on I cobbled it together working on it during work breaks, sometimes at most only a week or two at a time until I had a working manuscript. Then I set is aside for about 4 years. I finally sat down for about a month with the test read comments and concentrated on refining it in 2009 and set it aside again. Then did rewrites and more fleshing out in the summer of 2010 until we went to publishing.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Hardly any, the story developed as I wrote, and rewrote. The only concept I stayed with throughout was to write a story that keeps the readers guessing as to who the title character is.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Actually I did quite a bit into the historical aspects of the novel, primarily the Civil and Seminole Indian wars using mostly the net and local museum resources. Given the setting in South there is a wealth of history to work with that’s lends itself to cultural viability in modern day.

How has your background influenced your writing?

In The Shopkeeper my construction and technical background and the fact that I live and play in the setting of the book make everything in the novel easy to write because it is real. In the situations I create, there are no flaws from a technical aspect because these things can be done by someone with the know-how, (that would be the Author), and the scene descriptions are straight off the bow of my boat.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Not really, I like to crack open a bottle of scotch, which is a bit of a conflict because I also like to write very early in the morning, between about 4 and 7 AM. Then again when I was really moving through the story I might be on the keyboard straight through, up to 36 hours or so.

What are you working on right now?

A sequel to the Shopkeeper called The River Kings and a humorous How-to Book called The Gentleman’s Guide to the Honey-do List.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Finding the time, especially uninterrupted time to create the story aspects and then be sure there are no holes.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

Same as above, I find writing a good story just as entertaining as reading one.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yes, but I hate grammar and editing. Think about writing with a Southern drawl? That should give you some idea why my editor and proofreaders despise me. I think I might have to include a little note about this in the preface of the book so the grammar Nazis don’t go insane.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Nope I made’em for slaughter.

What writer influenced you the most?

Easy the guys I liked to read, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Rather than a book I think I would have preferred to record “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. Though if I had I might not be writing… but I would be long retired.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Being entertained. I am not really into message heavy, cerebral works or pieces that are academically appraised as “great writing.” I read for recreation. When I read I want to be drawn into the story, akin to watching a good movie, and I will allow an Author that opportunity, but if I’m not enjoying the experience…..no matter what the genre I loose interest. My book should keep readers entertained because it is written with this concept in mind. That may be one of the reasons many consider it a quick read. Most people I know that have read the book complete it in a weekend or less. Some have told me they got so involved they read it cover to cover overnight.

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Gotta’ write those yet. I think all the things I wished someone would have told me when I was too young and stupid to listen, you know, when I knew everything. It would have been a lot easier to have been told rather than to learn on my own.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My website http://www.stephennatale.com

P.I. Barrington, Author of Isadora DayStar

What is your book about?

I think the overall theme is about guilt and redemption but in a nutshell, the blurb below gives it all:

When drug-addled assassin Isadora DayStar finally snags a major interplanetary kill job she thinks it will both support her habit and revise her status as the laughingstock of her profession. Instead she embarks on a journey that brings her face to face with her tortured past.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

It took about a year and a half of rolling the idea around, coming up with various, sometimes unrelated scenes which is not how I write at all. But I had a trilogy coming out that I was working on, a book every four or five months for my publisher so Isadora was on the back burner so to speak. I’d sneak in little hand written scenes at night before I went to bed after working on the novels during the day. Finally, Isadora really began to demand attention so every time I was stuck on the trilogy books, I’d pull up her document and work on it. I did begin to get a little obsessed with it after all my other deadlines were met.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

This is a true story! First I’d read an interview article with an author who, when asked why she gave a particular main character such huge obstacles to overcome, said she disliked that character so much she wanted to torture her, lol! The interviewer told her that those obstacles were the reason she loved that character! That started me thinking if it was possible to intentionally create a main character that you hate intensely as the author. I began an opening for the story and tried to make Isadora (no name at the time) as repulsive as possible. I got about twenty pages done and realized that I’d started to be interested in, if not liked, Isadora. As I mentioned earlier I wrote her in fits and starts. I also used to watch a program called “CreationScapes” on the DayStar Christian Channel late at night and I was hooked on it. One night the DayStar logo came up and I thought “what a great last name for a sci-fi character, especially a female. About five minutes later, Isadora popped into my head and that was it: Isadora DayStar. By that time she had entire story.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I really don’t know. I think I see her as someone who I have the potential to be if I’m not careful.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Isadora is always my favorite, probably because I like losers, I like people who have false bravado and just keep going, keep trying no matter how insane the obstacles. Isadora has a great ability to deal with negativity and trauma and I think that’s due to the giant amount of guilt she carries around inside. When you have that much inner torture, outside torture can seem minor in comparison. Iphedea I like because she sees something in Isadora that’s good, she recognizes Isadora’s potential and herself in her as well though that isn’t obvious to her. Rafe Tucker is just an all around bastard.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Wow. Again, it’s got to be Isadora. She’s just so determined to survive and prove to not only everyone else but herself as well that she still has some type of worth and she can be ridiculously soft-hearted in spite of herself. She has this fragile shell around herself that cracks with all the abuse but never quite breaks and she tries to be tougher than she really is; she pretends to herself that she’s tough though deep down somewhere she knows she’s vulnerable. It shows in her relationship with Iphedea and in the guilt she bears.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Total about a year and a half to write it but then writing speeded up once I’d made all my writing commitments. By the time I could sit down and concentrate on Isadora, it was all pretty much written. I just had to type it all out.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Well, I usually have two arcs like a double rainbow: the top arc is the overall story plot, theme, etc., that is the Beginning A to the End B; the arc below that is the plot action that gets me from point A to point B. So I may not know all of the details until I begin that lower arc of action. I know the first line and I know the last line.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Actually I do. I write sequentially, that is from the first line and go straight through to the end. I have one WIP that has taken me ages and is awful to write because I wrote the scenes out of sequence. I’ll never do that again!

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

As I said, I know the first line and the last line. When I get to that last line I am done. I write “The End” and it’s over but for editing.

What is your goal for the book, i.e.: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I want them to remember it and to feel that they’ve been on the journey with Isadora. I want them to sympathize if not empathize with her—root for her—feel her pain (to quote President Clinton). I want them to relate in terms of guilt and redemption. I want them to like her even if she doesn’t.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

There’s almost always a moral to the stories I can’t help but put it in. People say the messages are subtle but there and I never think they’re that obvious.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Writing the prostitution scenes was definitely the hardest. Isadora had to reduce herself to doing pretty much anything to survive—it was hard to watch her humiliate herself, hard to write it.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

You know I think every writer has that special book inside them—sometimes they call it “The Great American Novel.” Isadora is that one for me. I had this need to write an underdog story, a real need to do it, and I realized when writing it that I’d had various versions of this story inside my head for years and when it emerged it was all those versions congealed as one—Isadora DayStar.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

My level of professionalism has shot itself into the upper stratosphere! When you’re young or not yet published, you don’t realize what kind of attitude you suddenly need once you are published. There’s no more fooling around, no wasting time, you have to devote complete attention to things like edits and revisions your editor(s) need.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’ve always written from the time I learned the alphabet but I never wanted to give in to it. I was a journalist and then worked in radio and entertainment so all of that definitely influences how I write—concise and tight. I also know pretty much what it takes to entertain people on a professional level and make my work as accessible as I can.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

No, and I’m desperately trying to find some, lol! I’m only half facetious about that—I’d love to have some cool preparation before I dig into the keyboard!

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I’m a night person and don’t really get into functioning gear until late afternoon so mornings are pretty much devoted to email, FB, etc. If I’m working on a book deadline, I start as early as possible, every day and write as much as I possibly can or until I finish one or more chapters and need to stop and regroup to continue the story. Most of the time I begin serious writing about 4 p.m. and go as far as I can into the night or until my dog drags me to bed. The only time I count words is if I need a certain amount for my publisher’s deadline & word count requirements. Or if the story needs more count to be an actual novel—that’s where the concise and tight becomes a problem, lol!

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Coffee and Diet Coke are my working poisons. If I could get them both via an IV drip I would, lol! I’ve drunk coffee since my grandmother gave it to me as soon as I could hold a cup! Popcorn—I love popcorn—without butter.

What are you working on right now?

Several things: I’m finishing up a paranormal crime thriller, I’ve begun an epic fantasy, and have several short stories to finish slated for anthologies, two sci-fi romances, and a couple of things I’m thinking of serializing.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

I think I’m writing for those who read big commercial authors and I hope that doesn’t sound insanely egotistical. But my stuff isn’t strictly held to a genre. I don’t write super technical sci fi but I also don’t go overboard with romance either. My hope is that both men and women will like my books.

What was the first story you remember writing?

There was only one and it won the school district contest. It was a first person account of the life and care of the American Flag! I came in first and should have known back then but I did not want to be a writer at all! That small story triggered a love/hate relationship with writing that has only really ended in the last two years.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Coming up with a great premise.

Does writing come easy for you?

Ridiculously so.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

No. I create characters that are marked for death from the beginning.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

No less than five. But as I’ve said, if I’m on deadline, I concentrate on the novel at hand.

What do you like to read?

Totally incongruent, but I LOVE ancient historical—both Christian and non-Christian. I’m a closet history buff and wannabee archaeologist!

What writer influenced you the most?

Two: Stephen King and Taylor Caldwell.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
Again, two: Taylor Caldwell’s Great Lion of God and Dear and Glorious Physician. Oh, how could I forget? Pat Wallace’s House of Scorpio! That’s one romance fantasy that I wish I’d written! By today’s standards it’s perhaps a little mawkish and maudlin but such a clever and unique premise and setting/world building. I love it!

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Don’t be self-indulgent. Don’t look at everything you write as perfect. Be your own harshest critic and that way no one else will have to be.

What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

To get all of my stories written and published and perhaps get an agent would be my current goals. Promoting and writing? That’s the REAL trick of publishing today. Writing takes time, but for me at least, promotion is constant and at times overwhelming!

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

Be proactive—don’t expect everyone else to do it for you, especially your publisher.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, my sister and I have several:

Future Imperfect trilogy (Crucifying Angel, Miraculous Deception & Final Deceit) futuristic crime thriller
Inamorata Crossing, Borealis 1 anthology sci fi romance
Button Hollow Chronicles #1: The Leaf Peeper Murders
Lights! Camera! Murder!
Isadora DayStar, a dark sci fi adventure available now via Smashwords:


Information on all books and the authors can be found at P.I. Barrington/Loni Emmert’s website:

Thanks so much for having me Pat!

Leonard Wayne Compton, Author of Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory

What is your book about?

Treadwell is about the Alaska Territory, in particular from September 1915 to April 1917, and a cross section of the people who lived in the Juneau area. The main focus is on an honest man who is first a Pinkerton detective and later a lieutenant on the Juneau Police Department, who comes to Alaska to locate evidence against a serial murderer.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

About a year. I got the urge to write about the area and then decided to do some research and see what sort of a challenge it would be. I was living in Juneau at the time and spent 8 months of my free time in the Alaska State Historical Library where I discovered my characters and actually read original documents created by the people on whom I based them.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

A letter from the wife of the main lift operator at the Treadwell Mine the night it caved in and flooded. Her typewritten letter is only three pages long. But she talks about how it felt to live at Treadwell, what  they did for fun, how proud they felt to be part of it. In short, she made the place breathe for the length of her letter. And she didn’t sign it; we have no idea what her name was. When I read that I thought,  “I want to write a book that brings that time and place to life.”

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

There is a lot of me in some diverse characters, especially Jack Malone, the boss of Lower Front Street, and Julia Prescott, the anthropologist who literally falls in love with the culture she is studying.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

August Lepke is a Pinkerton detective who is good at his job. He is analytical and thorough. He is not afraid of hard work or any size ruffian. He is a naturalized citizen from Germany and spent eight years in the US Army prior to attending college for three years and then joining the Pinkertons. He is honest and stubborn to a fault.

Florence Malone was born in Juneau, she has a younger sister, Fiona, and they live with their father, Jack. They know their father is heavily into Democrat politics but not much else about him. Their mother died of cancer in 1911. Florence attended the University of Washington and lived with an aunt. She discovered photography and the suffragette movement, which changed her life. Rather than spending the money her father provided for her senior year tuition, she bought a complete photographer’s outfit and returned home. Her father was less than pleased. She now works for Winter and Pond, one of the most prestigious photography firms in Alaska.

Amanda Ganbor, who is the first character we meet,  is British born and unhappily married to an Austrian Baron-to-be. Amanda goes through more life changes than any other single character. She is a tough, earthy, mature scrapper who gets what she wants at the beginning and quickly becomes terrified of her choice.

George Mak-we is a Tlingit policeman in the Auk village. He is also a dry alcoholic, educated, very aware, and pragmatic. His wife died from burns sustained when they both were drunk and an oil lamp was knocked over. He carries massive guilt with him and will collect more as the story unfolds.

Then there’s Jack Malone, Begay Santo – a college educated Filipino who works as a grocery clerk, Julia Prescott, Maye Wattnem – who keeps incredible secrets, Fiona Malone – Florence’s sister who goes from naivety to strong businesswoman. You get the idea. This is a very large work and there are 22 characters you come to know intimately. And I didn’t even get to the real villains.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Eleven years.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Maybe half of it. At the beginning I wanted to illustrate the day-to-day life of people living on Gastineau Channel. The characters provided the story, I just wrote it.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I want the reader to feel like they have been there. I want them to care about the characters, and be intrigued enough to buy the rest of the Gastineau Channel Quartet when it gets written.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

Pretty much everything.  My first marriage ended in divorce (I blame me). I left Alaska and spent a year in Colorado and then ten years in Washington state before moving to Nevada two years ago. I met and married Colette. And somewhere along there I finally matured into an adult, I hope.

How has your background influenced your writing?

By the time I was eight I had read all the titles in the “children’s section” of the Grand Island Library. So I went and picked out five volumes in the adult section. The librarian said I couldn’t do that. When I asked “Why not?” she said there were words in those books I couldn’t understand. I told her to find one. She couldn’t. The only word I remember from that episode was “moccasin.” I have always loved books and images. I didn’t start to write seriously until I had to give up my painting/printmaking studio in Juneau due to the economy. I needed a creative outlet so I started writing short stories and somehow never got back to fine art. However my current day joy is being a visual information specialist for the USAF.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I grew up on the Oregon Trail in Nebraska and became obsessed with the history of it. The Indian tribes, especially the Pawnee and Sioux, fascinated me. I developed a yen for adventure. So my best friend, Del, and I joined the Navy. That turned out to be a bit more regimented (duh!) than I had anticipated. So when I got out I messed around for a few months and decided to go look at Alaska for the summer. I left 31 summers later, and only then because my mother was dying from cancer and I needed to be closer to her.

What are you working on right now?

I’m in the process of publishing my work under my own imprint, Pullo Pup Publishing. I spent twelve years trying to get agents and publishers to give Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory a chance. Nobody would. Then technology caught up with me and I ran with it. I have another novel being edited – actually my editor has me rewriting the first quarter of the ms. – which I will be releasing soon, titled Whalesong. I went ahead and released a short story and a novella that had not fared well in the “publishing world.” Deliverance is a western short story set in frontier Nebraska, and Diplomatic Exchange is a science fiction novella that deals with three founding fathers getting swapped in time with three men from the year 2014 with conflicts for the characters in both times. I have a friend working on turning that one into a screenplay.

And I’m writing two science fiction novels at once, one is the sequel of the other, and I have the third story in the series in outline. My plate is pretty full at the moment.

What was the first story you remember writing?

A short story about going back to Nebraska for the funeral of my favorite great aunt. I was in college in Missouri at the time and took a creative writing class. I still have the ms but it will never see the light of day again.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yeah, it does. I have always been a story teller, or a BS artist, you choose. I tried journalism in college but I always wanted to embellish the story to make it more interesting. I usually have two or three manuscripts in progress at the same time so if I bog on one I just switch to a different one. That was when I wasn’t outlining. I’ve just started outlining and while I don’t find it quite as thrilling as “seeing what happens next” I must admit it makes getting through a story a lot easier – and I allow myself to embellish and take off on tangents, so it’s all good.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

How much I love it. And also how much it really surprises me when someone comes up to me and tells me how much they enjoyed my novel.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Yes. To the point I wept as I wrote the death scene.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

Yes, as well as stories that got started and bogged and I just haven’t gotten back to them yet.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?


What do you like to read?

History, historical fiction, science/speculative fiction, literary fiction, biography, action/adventure, Alaskana, anthropology, I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

What writer influenced you the most?

That’s like asking which of your children you like best. For fiction, James Warner Bellah. For non-fiction, Steven Ambrose.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. That is the most elegant piece of fiction I have ever read. She is a genius talent.

Where can people learn more about your books?

On my website: http://www.stoneycompton.com  It needs work but all the information is there. Thank you for this opportunity and I apologize for running on for so long.

See also: Interview with: August William Lepke, hero of Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory by Leonard Wayne Compton

Mitchell Waldman, author of “Petty Offenses And Crimes Of The Heart”

Today I am interviewing Mitchell Waldman, author of PETTY OFFENSES AND CRIMES OF THE HEART (Wind Publications, August 2011)

Mitchell, What is your book about?

PETTY OFFENSES is a short story collection including both stories about actual crimes and criminals and the effects they have on ordinary people, and crimes which run much deeper, are of a much more personal, emotional nature.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Some of the stories in the collection are based on personal experiences, persons I have known, while others are purely fictional.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?

One of my favorite characters in these stories is Delores Leary, the mother in “Fortunate Son,” who exhibits an incredible amount of strength despite the circumstances she goes through when her son goes MIA in Iraq. Then, there’s the unknown interviewer in “Catching Up with Cartucci,” who has his own very unique manner of questioning his subject.

How long did it take you to write your book?

The book developed after several years, and the stories all just seemed to fit together in a uniform body of stories that seem to work very well together.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

Usually, I am just trying to entertain and give the reader a glimpse into the lives of characters they don’t know, make them relate to, feel what my characters are going through. Transport them to this other person’s life. Make the reader feel. Although, in a couple of instances in Petty Offenses, the stories do have a greater agenda, to get some of my social concerns known, without hitting the reader over the head with a “message.” My greatest goal is to keep my readers interested, turning the pages and live through my characters’ lives and dilemmas.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I have to admit that in a couple of instances in the stories in Petty Offenses, I have a greater agenda, want get some of my social concerns known and felt, without hitting the reader over the head with a “message.” About war, the environment, various social injustices, prejudice.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I was a psychology major and have a law degree, so, yes, my background has influenced the writing of Petty Offenses in that I love to study people, why they do what they do. And, particularly, in this book, why the commit crimes, sometimes make decisions that others of us would never make.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on more stories and a novel, with my partner, Diana, that ought to be something spectacular.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I carry a little notebook around and jot down story ideas. Then there are the piles of fragments of stories that I start sometimes and then come back to to revisit. Once in a while they result in an actual story. I have to admit my best ideas for stories often come to me in the shower.

What writer influenced you the most?

There are so many well-known and not so well-known writers I could recommend, that have influence me, that I can’t count. Yes, a lot of people have read some of my favorites — Joseph Heller (Catch-22), Philip Roth, Bret Ellis, John Irving, Nick Hornby, Ellen Gilchrist, Larry McMurtry, Frederick Barthelme, and Andre Dubus, all of whom have influenced me in one way or another over the years, but there are so many other great writers out there that people need to discover. Such as Perry Glasser (author of Dangerous Places) who is an excellent, engaging writer of short fiction, and Benjamin Percy (The Language of the Elks), Not to mention the great fiction of my former teacher at the University of Illinois, Mark Costello (The Murphy Stories), Paul A. Toth (Treating a Sick Animal: Flash and Micro Fictions) , and the powerful poetry of Diana May-Waldman (A Woman’s Song), who speaks to every woman. These are just a few. There are so many great writers to read and so little time to read them!

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Write from your heart. Write what you know/what you want to know, what interests you, what you care about, not what you think other people tell you or think you should read. (Be careful of English teachers’ reading list suggestions!) Don’t try to impress people with your vocabulary. Communicate from the heart, from your soul. Your writing is your mark on the world, so make it your best every time. Move someone with your words.

I like that you expanded the adage of “write what you know” to include “Write what you want to know.” It’s more realistic and a lot more fun. Have you written any other books?

I’ve also written a novel, entitled A FACE IN THE MOON, and co-edited with my partner, Diana, an anthology entitled WOUNDS OF WAR: POETS FOR PEACE.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My books are available on online bookstores, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. For more information, check out my website at: http://mitchwaldman.homestead.com, or my publisher’s website at: http://windpub.com/books/PettyOffenses.htm

It’s been great talking to you today, Mitchell!

Thanks, Pat!

Sam Baahuhd, Hero of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy by Sandy Nathan

Character Interview for Pat Bertram, written by Sandy Nathan:
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy by Sandy Nathan
Sandy Nathan | Writing Inspirational and Visionary Fiction and Nonfiction : http://sandynathan.com
Buy Sandy’s Books: http://sandynathan.com/buy.htm
Synopsis of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy: Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: a teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.

This is a spoof TV interview of Sam Baahuhd, headman of the village on the Piermont estate in The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. The year is 2199.

From the station’s advertising:
Join Meredith at Piermont Manor in the Hamptons! Our favorite investigator visits one of the poorest areas in America and one the USA’s greatest and oldest stately homes. Tune in at 3 PM for a view of life in the 22nd century.

At the shoot on the estate:
“Meredith, I don’t like it here,” my stylist says, backcombing my hair furiously. I sit at my dressing table on the estate’s lawn. I’m Meredith Carlisle. But everyone knows that.

“Did you see all the trees driving out here? Weird,” he whispers.

“It was very weird.” I turn to the rest of the crew. “Everyone: This is the country. They have trees in the country. We’ll do the show and get back to New York.”

“They don’t have that in the country,” Alfred, the director, points at the stone mansion stretching as far as we can see. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it all on camera.”

I stare at the enormous structure. The mansion is like a wedding cake made of granite. Breathtaking. “We’re at Piermont Manor. It was constructed in the 1800s, four hundred years ago. Nobody gets in here. We had to agree to interview this idiot to be allowed in. Who is he? Sam who?”

My crew edges toward the van. They’re freaked out by the acres of lawn and all the trees. The lack of skyscrapers. I take control.

“Alfred, where is the man we’re supposed to interview?”

“I asked those guys over there,” Alfred points to a group of very large men standing on the other side of the lawn. He cowers a bit.

“What did they say?” My crew’s undue nervousness is irritating.

The whites of Alfred’s eyes glint in the sunlight. “I don’t know what they said. They speak a foreign language.”

“Great. Why didn’t anyone find that out? Alyssa, you’re the production manager. Do we have a translator?”

“No, Meredith. I’ll try to find one.” Alyssa looks around helplessly.

“Oh, wait. Someone’s coming.” My jaw drops. I can’t stop looking at him. He’s the same as the mansion. Breathtaking. A huge man. Shoulders like forever. That chest. He strides out forcefully. Something wafts from him. Manliness.

My jaw drops farther as he gets closer. Also, my nostrils twitch. He’s dirty. It’s real dirt, not something applied by the makeup department. He appears to be sweating copiously. He takes off his hat. His graying hair is matted where the hat’s brow band pressed it tight.

“Hello there?” I extend my hand, despite my disgust at his grimy paw. “You must be Mr. . . “ I search for Alyssa and she mouths the pronunciation. “Baaaaah-huuhd.”

“Mr. Baaaaah-huuuhd.” I smile broadly.

“Ma name i’ Sam Baahuhd. A’m th’ headm’n o’ th’ vil’ an’ o’ersee’er o’ th’ big house.” He nods at the mansion.

“Oh,” I say. “Who?”

He repeats what he said.

“Do you have anyone who speaks English? I don’t speak your language.” He’s very appealing close up, if filthy. My heart flutters.

“Ah fergot tha’ yer not o’ th’ Hamptons. Been out here s’ long, we got our own way o’ talkin’. Ah’ll pretend yer th’ hooch man out at Jamayuh. Ah always speak proper English when ah’m w’ him. Canna make a deal otherwise. Can ye understand me?”

“Yes, Mr. . . .”

“Baahuhd. Ye say i’ like this, with th’ air comin’ from here.” He presses my belly, forcing the breath out of me. I feel faint. Something comes off of him, like a force. It’s wonderful.

“Baahuhd. I see. Well, we’re set up for the interview,” I indicate a couple of club chairs set on the mansion’s front terrace. “Any chance of us getting a peek inside?”

“Nah. Jeremy’s got ‘er wired up. Get any closer ‘n’ ye are an’ ye’ll nah go nowhere again.” He smiles, showing surprisingly white teeth.

“It’s electrified?”

“Yeah. An’ more. D’ ye know Jeremy Egerton?” I shake my head. “He’s the lady’s son, Mrs. Veronica Egerton. Ye know of her?”

“Oh, yes. Veronica Edgarton is famous. And rich. And beautiful. She’s the general’s . . .”

“Aye. She owns th’ big house an’ the village an’ all th’ rest around here. An’ me, too.”

“She owns you?”

“Might as well. Ye know why yer here t’day?”

“Yes. To interview you.” My cheeks tremble from smiling so much.

“Nah. Yer here because Jeremy Egerton sent word to let ye in.” He looks me in the eye. It’s terrifying, though thrilling. “If Jeremy hadn’t tol’ me to let ye in, ye woulda been chased back to th’ city th’ minute you set foot on this place. That was three hours ago, out on th’ road. Jus’ so we get straight on it.”

“Certainly, Mr. Baah . . .”

“Baahuhd.” He walks to one of the chairs and sits down. “OK. Le’s get this goin.’ Ah got work to do. What ‘er yer questions?”
“I thought that the natives of the Hamptons didn’t like to be asked questions.”

“We don’. Usually, we shoot before we get t’ askin’ questions. But ah figured this was a chance t’ say some things we don’ get t’ say.”

“And what’s that?”

“That we’re not animals. We’re in th’ Hamptons because we was born here, jus’ like ye were born in th’ city. Weren’t our fault. Weren’t our fault that we don’ have schools an’ have to work like we do. Weren’t our fault that we got nothin’.
“We risk our lives seein’ that the lady keeps that,” he tosses his head toward the mansion. “An’ we get very little thanks fer our trouble.”

“You risk your lives?”

“Yeah, lass. Th’ Hamptons is a dangerous place. We get th’ people who run away from th’ cities. Th’ people escape from th’ torture camps––there’s one o’er at Jamayuh, th’ next town down. We got the hooch runners an’ them that deal in the weed and mushrooms. An’ th feds. All of them is dangerous, an all of them want this place.” He smiles. “Coupla times a year, they come t’ get it.” The smile broadens. “Ain’t got it yet.”

“You fight to keep the estate for Mrs. Edgarton?” I’m shocked, but I shouldn’t be. The Hamptons are like the Wild West once was.

“I got plugged three times so far. Not countin’ the nicks.” He rubs his chest where he’s been shot. “Ah’m scarred up lak an ol’ bear. It’s war out here. Jus’ like in the cities.”

“We don’t have war. What are you talking about?”

“Whad’ya think th’ smoke runnin’ along the horizon is? There’s a war.”

“There’s no war. If there were, the government would have told us about it. President Charles says everything is fine.”

He nods his head and smirks. “When ye drove in, did ye happen t’ see big round bowls cut out o’ th’ ground,” he uses his hands to indicate large depressions, “all lined with cement? An’ wi’ long pointy things stickin’ out of ‘em, aimed at the sky?”

“Yes. They’re all over the place. President Charles said they’re satellite dishes to help our screen reception.”

“No, lass. They’re atomics. An’ they’re set to go off t’morrow morning. Early. All over th’ world.” He’s looking at me steadily. He’s so magnetic I almost believe . . .

No! I can’t believe what he’s suggesting. The president would lie? There’s going to be an atomic war? That’s treasonous. We’re in the Great Peace. Everyone knows that. A niggling thought about my daughter’s third grade teacher disappearing comes up. No, she took a leave of absence.

“I’m not going to listen to this.” I turn to Alfred. “Pack up, we’re going back.”

“No,” Sam says just a little bit louder than normal. Everyone freezes and looks at him. “Yer gonna get ev’ry thing ah say, an’ yer gonna play it on the tellie today. Tha’s why Jeremy let ye’ come out here. You gotta tell the people wha’t happenin’.”

“A nuclear war starting tomorrow? The government would have told us.” I’m shaken. For some crazy reason, I believe him and know that I’ll do what he says. “What will we do? Where can we go?”

“Yer gonna go back an’ show ‘er on th’ tellie,” he says to the others. Then he turns that million volt gaze on me. “Fer ye, there may be a way out. Yer a pretty thing. Ye could be one ‘a’ ma wives.” His smile is mesmerizing.

“Wives?” The idea seems worth considering.

“Ah got four. Ye’d be ma fifth, but we gotta big house. The stable, yon.” He points to a barn.

Fifth wife to . . . His dirty hands make up my mind. “No. I’ve already got one ex-husband. I don’t need to be married.” I regret the words as I say them. There’s something about him.

“OK. Ye’ll take th’ camera back t’ the city an’ play ‘er today. Ye need t’ tell the people to . . . to run. Or t’ stand. They’ll die, either way. But they d’serve a warnin’. Tis only fair.

“Tha’s what ah got t’ say. Now git. Ah’m done wi’ ye.”

I watch his back as he heads toward the stable. Broad shoulders. Easy gait. Powerful.

I feel drawn to him. No. I made the right choice. We have to get out of here.

“We’ve got the van packed, Meredith.” I hop in as it pulls away from the mansion.

“We can’t play what we got,” Alfred says as we jolt down the rutted road. “It’s treasonous. Everyone knows that the Great Peace is baloney. We’re in a war. But it’s covered up. This will blow the cover. The feds will kill us.”

“Yes, we can. Sam said to,” I’ll do what Sam told me to do no matter what. “We have to give people a warning.”

“Why, Meredith? There aren’t enough bomb shelters in the world to save everyone. We’re going to die.”

And then it sinks in. If what Sam said is true, we’ll die tomorrow.

I should have taken his offer. He wasn’t scared about what’s coming. He must have a shelter or something. “Turn around! We need to get back to the Piermont estate.”

The van shudders to a stop.

“What’s that?” There’s something in front of us. A vehicle across the road. Another vehicle pulls up behind us. Black figures are moving toward our van.

“What is it, Alfred?”

“They’re feds.”

“Open the door,” a black-clad commando yells. “Give me the cameras.” We give them to him.

“I’m Meredith Carlisle of WNYC. Those cameras are the property . . .”

“I don’t care who you are.” He uses some very rude language, and tosses something in the van, slamming the door. It clatters on the floor. I see a digital timer counting down.


After the explosion, the commandos gather near the flaming remains of the van. “We got the treasonous materials. Should we look at them?”

“Nah. The president said everything is all right. That’s good enough for me.”