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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Libby Grandy has promises to keep

Libby Grandy lives in Claremont, California with her husband, Fred. She writes a weekly blog, hosts a critique group and belongs to Inland Empire Branch of The California Writers Club. Libby’s novels, Desert Soliloquy, a mystery, Promises to Keep, Book One of the Haverford Trilogy, and Lydia, Book Two, are available on Amazon. True Abundance, Book Three of the trilogy will be 
published in 2016.
 
Libby, welcome to the blog! Have a latte and a cookie while we talk about your books.

Thank you, Susan. Sounds good.

You're such busty lady. How many books have you written?

I've written four books, published three and am editing the fourth for publication in 2016.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

Some people make a difference by simply being who they are. They provide a spiritual haven for others. Lydia Nelson is such a person. When people are with her, they have a clearer sense of themselves. In Lydia, Book Two of the Haverford Trilogy, the problems of a family in a small town mirror the stress—and danger—of modern life.

Sounds intriguing.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us.

I did not have to travel to write Book One and Two of my trilogy, as my memories of the countryside in Virginia where I lived for over forty years served me well. I lived in a rural environment until we moved to California when I was forty-one. For my mystery, Desert Soliloquy, I traveled to Durango, Colorado and visited the beautiful mesas where the Anasazi once lived. I used the ghost town, Calico, in the high desert of California, as a template for my fictional setting of Odessa in the novel and visited the town often. On one visit, I collected epitaphs from the old tombstones in the graveyard there. I sat in the shade of one of the tall tombstones, typing, when I realized someone was standing beside me. A woman looked down and asked, “Are you from L.A.?” I guess if you are leaning against a tombstone in the desert, at high noon, typing on a laptop, you must be from L.A. (We live forty miles south of L.A. in Claremont.)

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far and what advice can you give new writers?

What I've learned over the years is to just enjoy writing. It is a gift, as well as a welcome distraction at times. My advice to new writers is to write from the heart. Don't concern yourself about what is presently trending, as it probably won't be by the time you finish your book. Learn about marketing but don't focus on it until you have a good, clean, well-written novel. Join critique groups that are helpful, not critical. I have advice about that on my website. Most importantly, learn the craft of writing before you publish your work.

Good advice, Libby.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I promote my novels on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Goodreads. I write a weekly blog and mention them whenever I can. I attend book fairs in Southern California. I belong to the Inland Empire Branch of the California Writers Club and encourage fellow members to write reviews for me.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I am editing the third book in my trilogy, True Abundance, and hope to publish it in January 2016. I still have some research to do. I've written around 30,000 words on a new novel, The End is the Beginning, and will continue writing on it after editing Book Three of the trilogy.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My published novels can be found on Amazon at http://ow.ly/HXHE3 and my published articles on my website, http://www.libbygrandy.com.

It's been nice to meet you, Libby. I wish you continued success with your writing.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Get to know Ken Farmer

After proudly serving his country as a US Marine, Ken Farmer attended Stephen F. Austin State University on a full football scholarship, receiving his Bachelors Degree in Business and Speech & Drama. Ken quickly discovered his love for acting when he starred as a cowboy in a Dairy Queen commercial when he was raising registered Beefmaster cattle and Quarter Horses at his ranch in East Texas. Ken has over 41 years as a professional actor, with memorable roles Silverado, Friday Night Lights, The Newton Boys and Uncommon Valor. He was the spokesman for Wolf Brand Chili for eight years. Ken was a professional and celebrity Team Penner for over twenty years—twice penning at the National Finals—and participated in the Ben Johnson Pro-Celebrity Rodeos until Ben’s death in ‘96. Ken now lives near Gainesville, TX, where he continues to write novels, teach acting, writing and voice over.
            Ken wrote a screenplay back in the '80s, The Tumbleweed Wagon. He and his writing partner, Buck Stienke adapted it to a historical fiction western, THE NATIONS—a Finalist for the Elmer Kelton Award. They released the sequel, HAUNTED FALLS—winner of the Laramie Award for Best Action Western, 2013—in June of 2013. HELL HOLE was the third in the Bass Reeves saga written by Ken alone. They just released the fourth in the series, ACROSS the RED.
            Buck and Ken have completed twelve novels to date together including the westerns, six novels in the military action/techno genre and two in SyFy. Ken has also just started converting all of their novels to Audio...four down and eight more to go.

Ken, it is truly an honor to have you on the blog. I'd like to say thank you for serving our country. That is monumental! 

Susan, thank you so much and thanks for having me over here.

Now on to the interview.

How has your environment affected your writing?

I don't pay much attention to my environment as long as it's private. I live about twelve miles from town on a five acre ranchette with my two horses, six dogs and one cat. I like privacy.

How many books have you written?

A total of thirteen...so far. One non-fiction (Acting is Storytelling) and the rest fiction.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

Bass Reeves and the US Marshals Service team with the Texas Rangers to combat rustlers along the Red River. How good can it get?
            Between the Indian Nations and Texas lies an area on the south side of the Red River that was once the winter camp for the likes of the notorious guerrillas, William Clarke Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson and later, the James Gang—known as Delaware Bend.
            The same northeast portion of Cooke County, Texas in 1896 was the center of a massive rustling operation by the Red River Gang.
            Texas Ranger Bodie Hickman enlists the aid of Deputy United States Marshals Bass Reeves and Jack McGann to go undercover to end this scourge once and for all.
            But, the Red River Gang slaughters a sixteen man patrol of US Army soldiers to acquire a new weapon—a deadly Gatling Gun.
            Bass and Jack add Marshal Brushy Bill Roberts and Chickasaw Lighthorse Osí Hommá and Bodie calls upon fellow Texas Ranger Walt Durbin, to bolster their forces against the gang.
            Will it be enough when they have to face the awesome firepower of a ten barrel Gatling Gun? Who’s the mysterious person behind the massive rustling operation?
-336     Find out in the exciting fourth novel in the award winning and best selling Bass Reeves saga of The Nations—ACROSS the RED.

I'm in!

Ken, how much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I usually only weave my own personality into one...sometimes two of the characters. My background in acting has facilitated my ability to create widely disparate characters. It's really one of my greatest joys in writing.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Research. I write what I like to call, 'Faction'. Historical facts (as in the case of our westerns) blended with fiction. Let the reader figure out which is which.
Across the Red takes place mostly in and around Cooke County, Texas which has a great history in the days of the wild west. I recently discovered that an area of the county, Delaware Bend on the Red River was a real hot spot in the latter part of the nineteenth century. I say recently because it has been under Lake Texoma since 1946. During the mid to late 1800s, it was considered one of the top three most violent places in America.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

Thank God for the Internet. The places I haven't been to, I research thoroughly on the net. Others, like Turner Falls—the primary location of our second western, the Laramie Award winning, Haunted Falls—I actually went to many times when I was in high school. It was only thirty-five miles north of my hometown of Gainesville, Texas.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

I had an epiphany when I started recording my novels for the Audio Book market. It's amazing what you learn about your own writing when you say every thing out loud. Now I don't mean just recite it...I mean tell the story. I feel that doing audio books has greatly enhanced my writing and my writing has enhanced my storytelling. A win-win situation.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

In my head. I'm a true pantser. I have more ideas floating around in my punkin than I'll ever be able to get to. Someone asked at a recent workshop I was teaching what I did about writer's block. I asked them: “What's that?”

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

Online, I'm on Face Book, of course, also I have a good presence on Linkedin, Twitter and the various writing associations...Westernfictioneers, Western Writers of America, Military Writers of America and so on.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

Future...Keep writing and my newly found avenue...Audio Books. I also love teaching workshops. I'm currently doing a Voice Acting Workshop every two months. I'll probably do a couple of acting and writing workshops this year too.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website: www.kenfarmer-author.net. My publishing website: www.timbercreekpress.net. My Face Book page: www.facebook.com/KenFarmerAuthor

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

All of my books are available in print and e formats worldwide and, to date, the four western novels are available in audio too. Working on the rest. The best place to see all of my books is on my Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Farmer/e/B0057OT3YI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 and the page link for my latest, ACROSS the RED is: www.tinyurl.com/AcrossRed
 

Thanks for taking time for the interview, Ken. I wish you the best in writing and acting endeavors!



Thursday, March 19, 2015

COMING SOON!

Hey, folks. It's been a while since I posted but I wanted to let you know that beginning in April I will once again interview authors and other industry experts. I hope you'll check back for introductions to some new authors and exciting new work from some veterans. I am excited about having folks over and look forward to you giving feedback or asking questions. We love to get comments, so don't be shy. See you soon!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

You'll love this Bacon!


Mark S. Bacon began his career as a newspaper reporter covering the police beat.  After writing news and features at two newspapers, he moved to copywriting when he joined  the advertising department of Knott's Berry Farm, a large theme park down the road from Disneyland in Orange County, Calif.  Bacon wrote commercials and ads and he directed special events.
Later, his career moved into other forms of communication, but his early background covering a daily police beat and working in a theme park led him to create Nostalgia City, the setting for his new mystery novel.
He is the author of several business books, one of which was selected as a best business book of the year by the Library Journal and printed in four languages.  He is also the author of two collections of short mystery fiction including, Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words.

Welcome to the blog, Mark.
Give a short synop of your recently published book, Death in Nostalgia City.
Thanks, Susan!
Ex-cop Lyle Deming talks to himself.  And he wears a rubber band on his wrist—therapy for stress.  He thinks he’s found the ideal new job to cure his chronic anxiety.  He’s driving a cab in a theme park resort that lets him relive a quieter time.  Nostalgia City is a meticulous re-creation of an entire small town from the early 1970s, complete with period, clothes, cars, music, stores, hotels, fads—the works. 
The relaxed atmosphere is just what Lyle needs, until rides are sabotaged and tourists killed.  Iron-willed “Max” Maxwell, the billionaire founder of Nostalgia City, drafts Lyle into investigating—unofficially. When more “accidents” happen and employees get jumpy, Lyle gets help.  Maxwell persuades his PR director, 6-foot, 2 ½ -inch Kate Sorensen, to deflect the horrific media coverage—and help discover who is behind the deaths.
Lyle and Kate scour the Arizona desert—the setting of the theme park—and travel to Boston and back in a race to uncover a deadly conspiracy.


How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your book?
Lyle is really a combination of several people I’ve known with a healthy dose of my own psyche tossed in.  I think I have a type A personality at times and, like Lyle, seek peace whenever I can find it.  Some of Kate’s opinions about the news media are similar to mine—I was a PR manager for a time, after I was a reporter—but for the most part, she’s a combination of two women I’ve known and admire.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration?  Can you share some special place with us?
As to the research, I stayed in Boston twice and thought it was an ideal setting for several reasons.  First, it forms a good contrast to Nostalgia City which is a small town located in the open spaces of northern Arizona.  Second, I especially like the New England city’s downtown, with its winding, unparallel streets, modern glass buildings next to centuries-old historic structures and a mixture of city hubbub and Boston Common calm.  The geography of eastern Massachusetts fits the plot of the story as well.  Or perhaps the geography influenced the plot. Which came first?  

Inspiration also came from the southwest where I’ve lived for a long time.  Parts of old Route 66 run across northern Arizona from the New Mexico border to California at the Colorado River, connecting the past with the present in bits of cracked asphalt and retro diners.  Nostalgia City fits there for many reasons, not the least of which is I needed lots of inexpensive land to build the theme park and resort.

How would you characterize your book in terms of genre?
I would call this a suspenseful mystery.  Or perhaps a mysterious suspense story.  I wrote the type of story I enjoy reading.  I want an author to create a puzzle, stir in lots of clues and suspects for me to consider.  That’s the intellectual side.  But I don’t want it all to happen in a manor house.  Action and suspense are necessary to involve the emotions and persuade you to identify with the protagonists’plight.  I hope Death in Nostalgia City appeals to both the head and the heart.


Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
I store my ideas in my head only long enough to get them down on paper. Eventually, I collect the scraps of paper, with ideas hastily scrawled on them, and enter the details in files in my computer.
At first, your mention of a spreadsheet sounded strange, but it could work for me.  I’ve always written detailed outlines of my books.  When I was writing nonfiction I would create lengthy outlines, covering many pages, for each chapter in my book.  Then when I got started I knew exactly where I was going.  I had made note of everything.
When I started doing fiction I followed the same strategy.  But things happen.  I’m not saying my characters did things I didn’t expect, but circumstances change—especially in a mystery/suspense story—and at times my outline went out the window.


What books have you read recently and do you have favorite authors?
I read in a variety of genres, mainstream fiction, historical fiction, and history to name a few.  I’ve recently read Team of Rivals, Unbroken, Destiny of the Republic, Water for Elephants, Shadow of the Wind and Thunderstruck.  Obviously I love mysteries and suspense.  I read a broad range of authors there including Robert Harris, J.A. Jance, Harlen Coben, Scott Turow, John Grisham, Elmore Leonard, Bill Moody, David Morrell, Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci, Stieg Larsson and the list goes on.  Some favorites of the past include the wonderful Graham Greene and 30s and 40s noir master Cornell Woolrich.

Are your books available in print and e-book formats?
Death in Nostalgia City is available in print and in all popular e-book formats for Kindle, Nook, iPad and more.
Here are links:

Barnes and Noble            

Congratulations on the book, Mark, and continued success!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Meet Ashleigh Galvin


Ashleigh Galvin was born in Toowoomba, Australia in 1990 and grew up in Wyreema, located in Queensland, Australia. She attempted to write her first novel in primary school and hasn’t stopped since. She enjoyed reading Fantasy series as a young girl, which fueled her to start writing as a hobby. Her first published novel, Birth By Fire’s Embrace, was released in May 2013.

Many people ask Ashleigh where she gets her ideas from and her answer is simple: daydreaming. She likes to call them epic daydreams because some can last for a week or longer. Interestingly enough, she gets most of her story ideas this way. Now she has combined her great imagination and her love of fantasy to create exciting and fresh novels featuring strong characters and lots of action to keep even the most imaginative mind fully enticed.

Welcome to the blog, Ashleigh! 
How many books have you written?

I’ve written three books although only one has been released at this stage. My other two novels, sequels to my first Birth By Fire’s Embrace, are currently in the publication process so hopefully they will be released some. Once I’ve finished editing the third novel, I’m going to start on either the fourth installments of the Amethyst Series or maybe a side project. Haven’t decided yet.

Give a short synopsis of your most recently published book.


A taut fantasy for all ages, Birth by Fire’s Embrace explores how drastically things can change when the world that lies just beyond our senses begins to surface. When all that is familiar vanishes from Shar’s life, she begins to look inside and find the strength and courage to carry on in a harsh world, and look towards another world that lies ahead.
At the beginning of the summer she was doing so well; done with school, a promising promotion in the works, the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, and the chance of a lifetime at the Academy. Then he came and it was all ashes. He had cost her everything, the job, the boy, the acting school, and even her family. He had cost her the world.
What Shar didn’t know was that the stranger was actually there to protect her from another dark intruder in her world. Caught in a deadly game between two lethal adversaries, she comes to know that there are forces around her that she has only dreamt of. Forces that will bring her to the edge of death and back again, that will show her a new realm to fill the void left by the one she has lost.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

I think the best lesson I’ve learnt is just to keep writing. Every word written will help your craft grow and evolve. It’s very important to find your voice when you write as well. It’s your voice that will separate you from all the other authors writing in your genre. And the best way to find your voice? You guessed it! By writing. Write short stories. Write long stories. Keep a journal and write down your whole day every night. Try to make it sound as epic as possible without stretching the truth too much.  

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

Story ideas always start in my head as either a day dream or as an epic flash of I Must Write This! I keep the idea in my head for a few days, mulling over the details and trying to refine the story as much as possible. Once it’s ripe, it’s time for it to leave my head. Normally my story ideas get added to a folder on my USB. However if I’m away from my computer, I find the closest piece of paper and write it down so I can transpose it later. Once the idea is out of head and on the USB, my brain can start to think up new ideas. I have a notepad I use a lot but that’s mostly for help with planning and writing the novel, not storing ideas.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I’m a very active marketer. I try as hard as I can to get my book out there but it’s very difficult when you’re not drowning in money. I have a webpage which I post up regularly and also a monthly newsletter to help people keep up to date with what’s happening. I use Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well. I’m on GoodReads and often try to run ads there because their price is actually really good.  I also have a video on You Tube and will hopefully be able to add more once I get my new camera.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

My future writing goal is to finish the Amethyst series but that’s going to take quite a while. I’m most probably going to start writing other books in between each of the Amethyst books to give myself a break and to shake up my writing style with different genres and characters. I’ve got about fifteen other book ideas on my computer at the moment so there’s plenty of inspiration to choose from. 

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

The best place would probably be my website although I post everything up on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Links are:
And you can sign up for my monthly Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/YNCSv

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

Birth By Fire’s Embrace is currently available in both Paperback and Ebook formats. They are available in most online stores including Barnes & Noble and the IBook store but I have included the Amazon.com links below for ease of use.



I wish you continued success, Ashleigh. Thanks for dropping by.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Networking Perks

It's been a while since I posted on my own blog, and  for that I apologize to you loyal followers. I won't bore you with excuses, but I thought it about time I talked about how important networking is for us as authors and for you readers as well. It's more than selling a few books. I have met some wonderful readers and I want them to know how much I appreciate them coming back again and again as I spread my wings from mystery to women's fiction to current project, historical fiction.

I have to admit that going to conferences and book events has not only brought me closer to readers but I now have a vast network of authors who are truly genuine friends of mine. I've met some outstanding authors who've won many national awards and remained humble. I will post a few pictures here with a little about a few of them.

Here I am at Book'em North Carolina with headliner, Mary Alice Monroe from South Carolina. I'd read all of her books so it was a pleasure to meet this sweet lady in person. Did you know she helps protect sea turtles? I wish Mary Alice many more books and I'll buy them as they come off the press;-)






I have to mention Michael Palmer, a great big teddy bear I met several years ago at the same book event. He died only a few months after this picture was taken. Such a wonderful writer and such a sweet man. Rest in peace, Michael.

I met Haywood Smith at Book'em last year. What a hoot! I could have talked with her the entire day if we hadn't both had other things to attend to. I hope everyone who went to that event got to meet her in person. And her books are full of humor even though at times a little strange, Haywood:-) She gave me the background  and inspiration for Out Of Warranty, my personal favorite of her books so far.




I have to mention some pals of mine who are richly talented and live here in North Carolina so that we can meet once in a while, do some signings and benefits together, and just get together to pick each other's brains over lunch.  Even though they're not as well known, they soon will be, so you should add them to your reading list ASAP.

Joyce and Jim Lavene organized the Carolina Conspiracy, composed of mystery writers from North and South Carolina. They somehow manage to write a multitude of novels together without killing each other. My hat is off to them. I don't have a picture of this dynamic duo to post, but they have written series after series of delightful who-dun-its that you should explore. If you enjoy Renaissance faires, this team is for you!

I met Lynette Hall Hampton at my first Carolina Conspiracy event and we've been close friends since the moment we laid eyes on each other. Lynette is sweet with a side of saucy. I adore that woman! She writes several series: mysteries, romances as well westerns. Check out her work. I especially enjoyed her series featuring a female preacher, Willa Hinshaw, who can't help investigating when things go awry, as they always do in Lynette's books.

Yes, I know she looks innocent, but trust me ... (teeheehee)

I could mention a multitude of other authors,too, but I should get back to my historical.

By the way, if you've never been to Book'em North Carolina, it's a huge event in Lumberton, North Carolina the last Saturday in February. The very talented and highly-organized Trish Terrell (P.M.) not only organized this outstanding event but finds time to write great books too. She's the most organized person I've ever met and her technical skills are mind-blowing. She's also a friend and I have to thank her again for helping me get my books back out there after my Dreamspell publisher died and the company closed. I owe you a lung, Trish!

So you see, networking is wonderful. I've met hundreds of people who still keep in touch and we hug when we see each other here and there across the state and nation. My BFF, Mary Daly, who rides shotgun most of the time, has helped make long trips so much more enjoyable and sometimes downright spectacular. Love you, Mary.

Thanks to all of you who make my life so rewarding. And don't forget to keep reading! There are so many talented folks right under your nose. Check them out. You won't be disappointed.

Another time I will tell you about some of the Dreamspell "Dream Team" who still keep in touch although we've been picked up by different publishers or started our own companies. And then there are the Killer Nashville folks and then .... Just stayed tuned. And thanks again, y'all!