Okay, so I’m about 2 weeks later than expected. That’s because I hadn’t known at the time that my father would pass away at the beginning of January (it was a blessing that he lived to 90 and the memorial service was really wonderful)…and that I would need to stay on with my mother in Southern California for two and a half weeks to help see her through cataract surgery and the change in her circumstances.

In any case, we’re all moved in here in Saint George, and I finally took a walk today on one of the trails among the pink cliffs behind our house in Paradise Canyon. The skies were clear (as you can see in the photos) and the temperature hovered around 55, though now it’s 67. Jealous all you northerners? Well, come on down!

Near the trail head

 Near the start of the trail

Looking back at our neighborhood

Looking back on our neighborhood

Coming up on a nice ravine

Coming up on a cool ravine

I spotted a rabbit!

I spied a rabbit at the opening to the cave!

End of the trail looking back

At the end of the trail, looking back

I’m gearing up now for the annual ANWA Writer’s Conference next week in Mesa, AZ. I’ll be pitching “The Heyman Legacy” (the first in a middle grade fantasy series) there, so wish me luck!

I’m also scheduled to attend the LDStorymakers Conference at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, UT in April, and then present a class on dialogue at the first annual Indie Author Hub Writing & Publishing Conference on Saturday, June 7th, at the Courtyard Marriott in Provo, UT. (More on that next week!)

Busy times! I’d better get writing.

In the meantime, I’m looking to continue my “Wednesday Writer” and “Thursday Thriller” series beginning in March, so if you’re an author I haven’t yet interviewed, or you have a new suspense novel recently out (or coming out soon), please contact me.

Originally posted 2014-02-13 15:52:12.

Moving for the Holidays

I’m afraid I won’t be posting much until January. Our house sold and we’re moving to Southern Utah, so this Christmas will be extra busy!!

I promise to blog again by mid-January once we’re all settled in beautiful “Red Rock Country.”

red rock country

Keep reading and writing!

Originally posted 2013-11-30 22:43:27.

“Wednesday Writer” – Tami Franklin

Tami Franklin, better known to her readers as T.M. Franklin, writes stories with a liberal sprinkling of romance, mystery, adventure, and a touch of magic. She hovers between fantasy and contemporary fiction, between full-length novels (even series) and short stories. Let’s see what we can learn about the mysterious T.M., shall we?

T.M.FranklinME:  Please describe your childhood, where you grew up, and your first memorable encounters with fiction. (And I’d love a picture of you as a child, with or without your family.)

TAMI:  I was born in Seattle, WA and grew up in Washington state, with a brief foray into California. I lived with my parents and younger sister, who never ceased to drive me insane. (Isn’t that what families are for? To test our social limits?)

I was always a voracious reader as a child – some particular favorites included What the Witch Left, by Ruth Crewe and Ozma of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, among many others. (Aha! The early fantasy influence) I loved stories with a little bit of mystery to them – a little magic that had you wondering, “What if that happened to me?” I guess that explains why I now write those kinds of stories.

(Exactly!)Image(Tami as a little girl…hasn’t changed much, has she?)

ME:  Who among your family or acquaintances first encouraged you to pursue writing?

TAMI:  Although my family has been quite supportive, it was an online community of writers and readers that first really encouraged my fiction writing. In fact, it was a friend online who initially recommended me to what is now my publisher.

(Now that’s a first among all I’ve interviewed thus far. Others have talked about their writing groups, but Tami found hers online. A writer’s own group of colleagues, online or in person, can really make a difference!)

ME:  What was your first childhood ambition and what led you to broadcast journalism (a major I also pursued in college)?

TAMI:  Well, I wanted to be a princess when I was a little girl, but eventually learned that was probably an impossible goal.

Initially, when I went to college, it was with the intention of studying pre-med. My first college chemistry class cured me of that goal, however. (Not surprised.) I took a journalism class to fulfill a basic requirement and decided that was the road I’d like to take.

ME:  Please summarize your career in television and share how that experience has helped you in your fictional endeavors. (I’d love a picture of you with your Emmy Awards.)

TAMI:  I worked for nine years in TV news, as both a newscast producer and what’s called a “special projects” producer, which means I put together special reports and series for ratings periods and special broadcasts. I had semi-moved into a management position as a senior producer of the morning newscast when I decided to leave the newsroom behind when my son was born.

My Sad Broken Emmys(Her sad broken Emmys…fragile, but still powerful)

I find that the writing style I developed for television – shorter, conversational sentences with minimal filler and no “flowery” language – has definitely impacted my fictional style as well, I tend to write how I speak.

ME:  Tell us a bit about your first “unsuccessful” novel. What led you to write it and how did you come to the realization that it wasn’t good enough?

TAMI:  It’s still on my computer! It was about a TV news producer (go figure) who found out the apparent suicide of a software billionaire wasn’t quite what it seemed. I queried it unsuccessfully to a few agents and it was one of those agents who encouraged me to keep writing and hone my skills.

That novel was set aside and I started something new – and since have written quite a few other stories – and it was only after going back and looking at it that I really understood why it didn’t make the cut. I might go back to it at some point and try to clean it up. It’s just hard to make time for it when I have so many other stories running around in my mind.

MoreME:  Please share the story of how you came to write your first published novel, MORE, and include a bit about the storyline.

TAMI:  I started writing MORE as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo – it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I decided I wanted to try to write another novel during November of 2011.

(Good for you. I’m such a slow writer that I’ve never had the guts to try NaNoWriMo.)

I knew I wanted to write about something with ties to myths and legends, so I started thinking about what if some of those legendary creatures were real? What if they lived today? If they were around, why wouldn’t we see them? Where would they be and what would they be like? That was the initial inspiration for the First Race in MORE. Then I thought, what if their survival depended on secrecy, and a normal girl found out about them? What if they saw her as a threat?

(As any good journalist knows, all it takes is asking the right questions to get you hooked into a great story.)

From there, I put together a rough outline and started writing MORE on November 1, 2011. I made my 50,000 words during that month and finished up the novel in early 2012.


The GuardiansME:  How does its sequel, THE GUARDIANS, carry the plot forward?

TAMI:  In MORE, Ava Michaels finds out about The Race and begins to see how she fits into this secret world hiding in the shadows of our own world. In THE GUARDIANS, she discovers more about why she was hidden in the human world in the first place. She’s got a lot on her plate – the rebel Rogues are after her, the Race’s Ruling Council still wants her, the cops think she’s a killer, and her boyfriend, Caleb, has disappeared and is accused of betraying the Race. In order to survive and figure all of this out, Ava has to make some rather unlikely alliances.

(Sounds very well plotted and intriguing.)


ME:  You’ve also written and published short stories—Window and A Piece of Cake. The former was an Amazon bestseller and the latter was included in the ROMANTIC INTERLUDES anthology.

Romantic Interludes

Which is harder for you: writing a novel or a short story, and why?

TAMI:  Oh, I would say a novel is definitely more difficult – especially a series like the MORE Trilogy. There is just so much more to keep track of – story arcs that carry on from book to book, as well as subplots that are resolved within a single book, not to mention all of the characters!

With a short story, it’s all so quick. There’s really only time for one main plot, and a handful of characters, so it’s much easier to focus on that. The downside of a short story is making sure the characters are sufficiently fleshed out. You have chapters and chapters to get to know a character in a novel. You really have to make your words count in a short story.


ME:  Please describe your writing process and tell us what you’re working on next.

TAMI:  My writing process has really become pretty organized. I start with a three–page synopsis of the entire book (something that’s required by my publisher when I submit.) From that, I flesh out a chapter-by-chapter outline, then divide the chapters into scenes. I use yWriter5, a free writing software download that allows me to input the chapters and scenes, and then I can move them around, add notes, keep bios on the characters, etc. That’s a huge help for me.

(My author friend, Marsha Ward, first tipped me off to yWriter5. As a Mac user, I’ve moved on to Scrivener, but yWriter5 does work really well.)

Right now, I’m working on TWELVE, the third book in the MORE Trilogy. I just received a release date for that and it will be out October 9, 2014. I’m also working on a YA romance about a quirky boy who sets out – in a rather unique way – to win the heart of the girl of his dreams. It’s called How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You, and we’re still working on the release date for that one.

ME:  Finally, please describe your office or writing space in the voice of Ava, your protagonist in MORE. (And I must have a picture to see how it matches up.)

TAMI (as Ava):

Tami doesn’t write in an office or at a desk. She has her computer set up on her kitchen island. Why? Well, if you ask, she’d probably say it’s so she can spread out her notes, or so she can have a view of the back yard. The REAL reason, I’m convinced, is that she’s two steps away from the coffee machine. She may not have any writing rituals, but she guzzles coffee like there’s no tomorrow. Around noon, she switches to either water or Diet Coke, so amidst the papers and pens, you’ll often find a cup, glass, and can or two. It’s a little cluttered, but she swears she knows where everything is.

Image 1(Not too messy, I’d say)

By the way, Tami’s MORE was a 2013 Finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book Awards:

2013 Finalist

And here’s a peek at the book trailer:

If you’d like to learn more about Tami, check out her website, Facebook page, or Twitter page. You can also order any of her books on Amazon. In fact, if you’re interested, she’s offering a giveaway of both MORE and her latest in the series, THE GUARDIANS. The giveaway is good until December 2nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Next week I’ll be back to interview best-selling author, Trina Boice, who specializes in nonfiction for LDS readers.

Trina Boice

Originally posted 2013-11-13 06:00:04.


Today I have a double dose of mystery to announce–two thrillers from the same author, Cindy M. Hogan. Let’s have a look at ADRENALINE RUSH first.

Adrenaline RushSynopsis

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him.

To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.


     As I hurtled toward my destination at 500 miles an hour, I pulled out a notebook, placed it on the shiny mahogany table in front of me, and scribbled a quick to-do list. Pick out an outfit. Get folders and notebooks. Switch into fourth period drama. I chewed on the end of my pen. Oh yeah–just one more thing. Get kidnapped.

     According to my pre-mission briefing, kidnappings were up in the States by five percent over the last five years. The significance of which didn’t hit me until I found that the statistics for kidnappings had remained static for a good thirty years. The spike caught the attention of the FBI, and they put their best men on it. The problem? Right when they thought they’d discovered the pattern of the kidnappers, it seemed to change.

     We hit some turbulence, and the force of it pulled me out of my reverie. I sucked in a deep breath, my hands resting on the soft leather side arms of my big comfortable seat as the Gulfstream jet jumped. I let the rollercoaster feeling wash over me like a wave, forcing myself to enjoy every last tingle. I only had this flight and a few hours tonight to assume my new thrill-seeking alias–the one that would lure the kidnappers and save the day before the pattern changed again. I might as well make the most of it.


Thrilling, heart pounding, an Adrenaline Rush indeed!” (Konstanz Silverbow, Author of Only Half Alive)

“Jeremy and Christy have a chemistry akin to a younger version of Alias’ Vaughn and Sydney Bristo.” (S.M. Anderson, author of Copied)

“Hunger Games move over – Adrenaline Rush has arrived.” (D.K. Holbrook, reviewer)

ADRENALINE RUSH is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.


And now for her second release, GRAVEDIGGERS.


Seventeen-year-old Billy thinks his father’s murder will never be solved until he stumbles across an old ammo box while digging a grave in his small-town Tennessee cemetery.

What he finds leads him to question everything he knows, and his search for answers will uncover more than he bargained for: lies, secrets, and conspiracies, and behind them all, a dangerous truth.



Why did people have to die in June when it was so dang hot? I jumped on the top edge of my shovel, forcing it into the ground, the metal pressing into the soles of my feet through the holes in the bottoms of my shoes. The muggy late afternoon air sent sweat dripping into my eyes. I wiped my sleeve across my face.

Henry, my best friend since forever, and I had dug three graves in just over two weeks. The average for the Halls, Tennessee cemetery was only one grave a month for the six years we’d been working there. It was hard to believe it would be my last year of digging graves, but I was totally excited about going away to college. Even though I hated sweating to death and would rather be playing baseball, I was stoked about the one hundred bucks I’d earn. I’d finally have a few extra dollars to buy new shoes. I’d seen an awesome looking pair of Nikes at the thrift store just the other day. They had probably belonged to Mikey, Mayor Clement’s youngest son. I didn’t want to have to wear his cast-offs, but I needed every penny for college. Mikey tended to wear something only a few times before tossing it aside anyway. No such luck for me. Use ’em up and wear ’em out was our family’s adage.



“A thrilling mystery with spine-tingling hints and bone-chilling secrets. Hogan has a knack for creating killer scenes that make her books irresistible. Don’t miss this one!” (Rachelle J. Christensen, Author of Wrong Number and Caller ID)

“Mystery, adventure, danger, and a touch of romance fill the pages of Gravediggers.” (Angela Woiwode, reviewer)

“Friendships are tested to the limit and secrets and lies are uncovered in this unpredictable mystery.” (Susan Tietjen, reviewer)


GRAVEDIGGERS is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.



Cindy M. Hogan graduated with a secondary education teaching degree and enjoys spending time with unpredictable teenagers. More than anything she loves the time she has with her own teenage daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. If she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her snuggled up with the love of her life watching a great movie or planning their next party. She loves to bake, garden, and hang out and play outdoors.

Cindy Hogan

Originally posted 2013-11-04 11:43:58.

“Wednesday Writer” – Bernard Besson

Thriller writer Bernard Besson has won multiple awards as he’s crafted stories based on his own experiences working in French intelligence and such modern phenomena as climate change, which he researched for his new American release, THE GREENLAND BREACH. I was happy to have an opportunity to interview him recently.

Besson_240_small-206x300ME:  I see that you were born a few years after the end of World War II. What was your childhood like in Lyon, France, and could you still sense the effects of the war? Also, did those effects have anything to do with your later joining the French intelligence service, and, if so, how?

BERNARD:  I was born in 1949 in Lyon, France. I remember when I was seven or eight walking across a “temporary” metal bridge over the Rhône River. The retreating German Army had bombed all of the city’s bridges. I understood later that the bridge in question had been built by the American army; it was still in use many years later.

In World War I, my grandfather had fought victoriously against the Germans at the battle of Verdun, and at home he reproached my father for having lost. I was raised with both memories of a victory (1918) and unthinkable defeat (1940). That confrontation between generations was a little confusing for a little boy. (I can well imagine.)

These feelings were then strengthened with the wars in Indochina and Algeria, and those defeats. It was these military disasters that, in part, explain why I signed up to work for the state, along with the admiration that I still have for General Charles de Gaulle. So it wasn’t entirely by chance that I chose to work for the police and then later for the intelligence services.

When I was little, I didn’t want to see my country continue to lose on the battlefield. I remember when I was a kid going to see a movie with my parents that had something to do with Waterloo. I cried at the end and wanted “Mister Director” to rewrite the scene.

We spent the summer with my younger brother and my mother in Dun-les-Places, in the Morvan, a rural, wooded region in central France. The little town was one of the only ones in the area to have new houses and streets with right angles. One day, as I came out of church with my two great aunts (my grandfather’s sisters), they told me why that was. On June 26, 1944, German soldiers had shot 27 men in the village church. They made the priest climb up the steeple and shot him in the head because he had blessed fighters in the Resistance. Then they threw fire grenades into the church. All the houses in the village were burned down in retaliation for what the Resistance was doing in that wooded, mountainous region.

My father was arrested by the French gendarmerie in 1942 when he tried to join the resistance. He was delivered to the Germans and deported. He resisted in Germany, and went on strike with others. Then he was sent to the Russian front to build anti-tank trenches, and punished a second time, to be sent to Rhineland to rebuild the roofs of the Messerschmitt factories that the Americans kept bombing. He was finally freed by the American GIs.

(I can see that World War II had a very real impact on your family. Thanks for sharing such details.)

ME:  How old were you when you determined to become a writer and what fueled your desire?

BERNARD:  I was fifty when I published my first novel, the Vierges de Kotelnikovo. When there was a shift in the French government, I found myself in another department, working for the Inspection générale de la police. I had way too much free time and was bored. I had written a few books already about business intelligence, and I thought I knew how to write and it would be easy to write a novel. It turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined.

ME:  What kind of preparation, academic or otherwise, did you have before you entered the intelligence world, and what personal characteristics made you so successful in your field?

BERNARD:  I studied law in Lyon and then in Paris. I wanted to have a Masters degree in law to pass the competitive examination to be a police chief. I did so in 1974. I was the youngest in my class. But I didn’t want a career in the police, because I don’t like firearms and have no taste for dead bodies. So I chose to work in intelligence right after graduating from Saint Cyr National Police Officers School. I never regretted the choice. I met many people who offered me interesting, high-ranking positions. I was able to work with a team of loyal colleagues, some of whom followed me to Paris and are friends. They taught me things I didn’t know. A good leader is one who chooses people who are more competent and more brave than he or she is. (Very wise.) And I had my fair share of them.

ME:  At what point in your career did you decide to write thrillers and what was the impetus behind your decision? Also, please tell us the title of your first novel, published in 1998, and how you conceived its storyline. (I would love to post a cover image, even if there’s no translated English edition.)

BERNARD:  I got inspired to write my first thriller when I was at the DST, which is French counter-espionage, or the equivalent of the FBI. I was very lucky to be working during the fall of communism and the Soviet Union. We were able to understand how networks of Russian, Bulgarian, Polish, Czech and Romanian spies worked with their allies in France.

The Russians from the KGB and the GRU were not in any hurry to return to Moscow. Living in Paris was much more agreeable than a future in Siberia. (I’ll say!) So we gave them an opportunity to explain how their system worked. I was impressed by the people skills these spies had, their extraordinary imagination and their patriotism that had been put to the service of a blind and incompetent dictatorship. The time frame was 1989 and 1993.

That is were I got the idea to write a novel and I began the Vierges de Kotelnikovo in 1985. This book recounts how the GRU, the Red Army’s intelligence branch, had imagined assassinating the president of France an hour before launching a nuclear war.

Bernards first book We discovered how widespread the network of spies was among what we called the “French elite.” I had been prepared for this debriefing work when I was in Lyon in 1985. There I was given the job of finding former French collaborators of Klaus Altman (Barbie), who had headed up the Gestapo, in order to get new elements in view of his trial in 1987.

I got an inside view of how the Gestapo had operated in eight different French départements, including three in the Alps, which was a major area for the Resistance. It was a very interesting experience. (I can only imagine.) My team and I were able to understand what tricks and organization Klaus Altman and his political police had used to manage to destroy the armed resistance in the region around Lyon and in the Alps.

ME:  As the daughter of a former CIA agent, I know that guns and spies do not necessarily go together—that it’s more about making contacts and gathering intelligence—but how large a role do weapons play in your novels? Do you try to follow the style of John Le Carré or tend more toward Robert Ludlum and Clive Cussler?

BERNARD:  Fortunately, I have never in my career used a weapon or killed anyone. I am happy about that. My characters don’t do it much either, or at least not with the usual kind of weapons. In THE GREENLAND BREACH, John Spencer Larivière uses a screwdriver and Victoire Augagneur a broken window in order to get rid of their bothersome adversaries.

I truly appreciate the professionalism of American authors. You don’t need to be a former spy or counter spy to write a good spy novel. It can help, but it can also hinder. I have learned not to explain things to my readers, but to leave my characters to act. Showing and not telling.

I do not try to follow the style of any particular author because I read very few mysteries and thrillers. But I loved Conan Doyle’s talent and the fast-paced action in James Bond.

ME:  Your latest work of fiction, THE GREENLAND BREACH, has been described as an eco-thriller. Have you written this kind of thriller before and what made you decide to do it now? Also, please tell us the main messages, if any, that you were trying to convey through the story.

greenlandbreach_750x1200-187x300BERNARD:  THE GREENLAND BREACH is my first eco-thriller. It was the debate among scientists in France that led me to write this novel. They do not all agree on the causes of global warming. And Greenland itself is a character in the novel.

After a career in intelligence, I continue to work in the field by teaching in the French “competitive intelligence” program. The most prosperous nations are those that are able to understand and anticipate economic changes as well as natural changes. In THE GREENLAND BREACH we have both. It was very tempting to tell a story that recounted this reality. Fiction makes it possible to tell more truth than an academic work filled with numbers and statistics.

(And it’s much more enjoyable to read!)

ME:  You have won several awards, including the Prix de la Chouette de Cristal, the Prix Edmond Locard for Best Science Thriller, and the IEC Prize for Economic Intelligence. Which book was honored for each of these, and which award means the most to you personally?

BERNARD:  I received the Prix Edmond Locard for Best Science Thriller for Chromosomes in 2000. It’s the story of a duel between two pharmaceutical companies—one French and one American. One of the two companies is trying to cure someone on death row and discovers something extraordinary and totally unexpected, as often happens in scientific research. You look for one thing and find something else.

 Chromosomes 1

In 2008, I received the Prix de la Chouette de cristal-IEC for Chien Rouge. “Chien rouge” or “red dog” was the nickname for the head of Japan’s intelligence services, a former director of Toyota. Japan’s prime minister asked him to anticipate a situation where the Americans and the Chinese would agree to split up strategic raw materials “forgetting” Japan all together. Operations are running smoothly until Chien Rouge has to defend Japan in a crisis situation. Part of the action takes place in my hometown of Lyon, where the Chien Dog has a talented female spy working in nanotechnology.

chien rougeME:  I understand that you currently live near the offices of French intelligence in Paris. Do you regularly get together with old colleagues and how helpful are they in terms of research?

BERNARD:  In fact, I live in the same neighborhood as my heroes John Spencer Larivière, Victoire Augagneur and Luc Masseron. They live and work out of 9 Rue Fermat in the fourteenth arrondissement of Paris. (Note: An arrondissement is a municipality or district.) They are former intelligence officers who left the DGSE for personal reasons. John had been wounded in Afghanistan, Victoire was bored and Luc had no skill in an administration. They founded Fermatown, a private intelligence company named after the Rue Fermat, but doesn’t yet earn a lot of money.

They now live (as of the sequel to THE GREENLAND BREACH, which is being released in French on Oct. 31) with a baby and a Persian cat in a house that John inherited from his American aunt, a sculptor. The building is really hard to heat, not very practical, and hugely expensive to maintain. But it is located in a great neighborhood called the Village Daguerre, which is a little bit like the Notting Hill of Paris.

(Hmm…could that Persian cat be anything like your own?)

Bernard Besson at desk with cat(Bernard’s cat editing his work)

I often see my former colleagues and it is always a great pleasure. But I also meet with heads of French companies interested in setting up ethical and legal in-house economic intelligence systems based on open source solutions, which are the most efficient. I help these organizations develop these solutions, which requires a long-term investment in people–a company’s most important resource.

ME:  Please provide a description of your writing process. Also, what are you working on next?

BERNARD:  I go to bed early, I think at night and I write early in the morning. I always come up with an extremely detailed outline for my novels. Certainly to reassure myself. And then, very quickly, my characters destroy my outline, because they have ideas and reactions I had not thought about. (Naturally.) I have learned that they are right, because life comes out on top over theory.

Right now, I am finishing a story inspired by the Cuban crisis between the United States and the USSR in 1962.

And, the sequel to THE GREENLAND BREACH will come out on October 31, 2013 in French. It has the same heroes. In this new thriller, Partage des Terres, thanks to the United States and their allies, including France, China has to share the exploitation and trade in rare earths with other nations. These precious metals are used in medical, military and information technology. The rare earths markets are set up in Paris and Malaysia and run smoothly until a grain of sand throws off the well-oiled international finance machine and obliges the CIA to put its best Asian agent on the trace of a mass crime in France.

(Sounds intriguingly complicated.)

All these stories are reread and corrected, sometimes severely, by Claudine Monteil, my companion for the past twenty-three years. She is a historian and writer herself who has published several books that have been translated into several languages. She provides great inspiration.

ME:  Finally, could you describe five items in your writing space or office that make it uniquely yours? (And I’d love to post a picture of your writing space.)

BERNARD:  My office is in the apartment that Claudine and I share in Paris. I have a normal wooden desk covered in sticky notes, which I use to write down ideas whenever they come to me.

desk with sticky notes(See the sticky notes?)

We have a slightly bizarre painting by Boldy that represents a cat, and a real cat named Caresse, who plays a role in THE GREENLAND BREACH. (Now I really must read it! Cats rule!) We also have a portrait of Simone de Beauvoir, painted by her sister, an artist Claudine and I knew.

cat poster(Bernard with Caresse beneath the painting by Boldy…I think)

You can learn more about Bernard in this interview and from his English publisher, Le French Book. As I noted on Monday, THE GREENLAND BREACH is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Nook.

I’ll be taking a break next Wednesday when I go to a writing retreat, but look for my interview with fantasy author T.M. Franklin on the following Wednesday, November 13th.



Originally posted 2013-10-30 06:00:09.


We’ve got a new thriller to announce from across the Atlantic, translated by the woman who brought us Les Miserables. Le French Book is releasing Bernard Besson’s cli-fi spy novel, THE GREENLAND BREACH, on October 30th.  It’s available on AmazoniTunes, and Nook, and should be up shortly on Kobo.

Have a look!


The Arctic ice caps are breaking up. Europe and the East Coast of the United States brace for a tidal wave. Meanwhile, former French intelligence officer John Spencer Larivière, his karate-trained, steamy Eurasian partner, Victoire, and their bisexual computer-genius sidekick, Luc, pick up an ordinary freelance assignment that quickly leads them into the glacial silence of the great north, where a merciless war is being waged for control of discoveries that will change the future of humanity.


(First published in French as The Greenland Breach, ©2011 Odile Jacob. English translation ©2013 Julie Rose. First published in English in 2013 by Le French Book, Inc., New York)

The Greenland Breach by Bernard Besson and Julie Rose (translator)


Greenland, the north face of Haffner Bjerg, 6:30 a.m.

Lars Jensen felt the ground tremble beneath the snow. He straightened up and abandoned his position, petrified by what he was seeing to the west, toward Canada. The last phase of global warming had begun just as a big red helicopter flew past from the east. It doubtless belonged to Terre Noire, the Franco-Danish oil-and-gas company that was carrying out geological surveys.

From the rocky slopes of Haffner Bjerg, events were taking an unimaginable turn worthy of Dante. With a sound as ominous as the crack of doom, the Lauge Koch Kyst had begun to tear away from Greenland and plummet into Baffin Bay in the North Atlantic Ocean. A colossal breach a mile and a half deep was opening up in the middle of the island continent. The trench ran for miles, as if an invisible ax had just split the ice cap in two.

Terrified, Lars backed away, forgetting what he had come to the top of the world to do. He’d guessed that his presence on the slopes of Haffner Bjerg had something to do with the death of the Arctic. The advance wired from an anonymous account on the island of Jersey was every bit as incredible as the cataclysm under way.

A mist shot through with rainbows rose from the depths of the last ice age. Behind the iridescent wall, thousands of years of packed ice raked the granite surface and crashed into the sea, stirring up a gigantic tsunami. He pressed his hands to his ears to muffle the howling of Greenland as it began to die.

It took Lars awhile to get a grip. His hands were still shaking as the thunderous impact reached him. It was even more frightening than the ear-splitting sound. Greenland was plunging into Baffin Bay. In a few hours, the coasts of Canada and the United States would be flooded. He fell to his knees like a child, overcome by thoughts that had never before crossed his mind. An abyss was opening inside him, and it was just as frightening as the one in front of him. It wasn’t until his fitful breathing slowed and his lungs stopped burning that he was able to get back to the tawdry reality of his own situation.

He lay down again on the hardpacked snow. With his eye glued to the sight of his rifle, he found the trail that the dogsled had taken from the Great Wound of the Wild Dog. That’s where the team would emerge, heading for Josephine and the automated science base that sounded the great island’s sick heart. The Terre Noire geologists were known for their punctuality, but at two thousand euros an hour, he would wait if he had to. Say what you like, the end of the world was good business.

Paris, fourteenth arrondissement, 18 Rue Deparcieux, 11:30 a.m 

John Spencer Larivière put the phone down and shot Victoire a triumphant look. It was an expression she didn’t like.

“What’s got into you?” Victoire asked.

“North Land’s offering me a hundred thousand euros for a mission. I’ve got a meeting tomorrow with Abraham Harper’s wife, Geraldine.”


“She’ll let me know at the last minute.”

“What kind of a job?”

“She didn’t say.”

“She’s obviously going to ask you to investigate their European rivals, Terre Noire, Nicolas Lanier’s outfit. I don’t like it, John. Don’t go looking for trouble. Don’t forget you’re French. Remember where you come from.”

“Still, a hundred thousand euros…”

Victoire moved closer. Ever since John had set up his own business, he had agonized over not being able to measure up. They were in the red. She rarely saw him smile these days. She slipped her hand into his pants and confirmed what she’d already guessed. “That Canadian woman has an effect on you.”

“She does not.”

“Come here, you idiot.”

They had met working in the government intelligence agency Hubert de Méricourt directed. Victoire and John wanted to have a baby, which was why they had quit together to start Fermatown, their own strategic- and criminal-analysis company. As the daughter of a Cambodian Khmer Rouge survivor and a French diplomat, Victoire bore a heavy legacy. After a spectacular nervous breakdown and a period of uncompromising psychoanalysis, getting pregnant had become her obsession. She wanted a son who would look like his father, a good-looking hunk, five feet eleven, with irresistible blue eyes and the blond mane of a movie star. John was a real man with simple ideas, a gentle giant who could massage her feet while getting his Cambodian and Cantonese hopelessly mixed up.

They left the media room and stepped into the space they called the confessional, where they settled into the welcoming arms of the black sofa. Their clothes soon lay where Fermatown’s rare clients sat. John kneaded that supple body yet again and made Victoire’s cheeks glow. She opened her eyes wide and encouraged him with her dancer’s hips. They grabbed pleasure by the handful as though it were the last time. Or the first.

Putting aside their old wounds and disappointments, they made sweaty love, falling off the sofa and onto the teak floor. Now they were nothing more than two balls of rage. Watching as though he were outside himself, John pinned her delicate wrists to the floor and prepared his assault. Wildly, he thrust faster and faster, and, when the moment came, he grunted like an animal, shooting into this flesh that was torn, as he was, between two continents and two histories.

Out of breath, they slid next to each other. And then, holding hands and looking up at the ceiling, they started bickering again.

“With a hundred thousand euros, we could redo the kitchen and get new cars.”

“A hundred thousand euros and a bullet in the head. Don’t go there, John.”

“I’ll send Luc to Le Havre. That’s where Terre Noire has its lab. I saw something on television. They sent one of their ships to inspect the lava that spewed into the ocean the last time Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland. It wouldn’t hurt to find out more.”

“This is way beyond us. Everything about the North Pole reeks of ashes and disaster.”

“I want to go there.”

“You just want to prove to yourself that you can still stick your neck out and act like an idiot. You’re worried about what your former colleagues think—all those people we wanted to get away from.”

“I’m sick of sitting around reading CVs all day. I didn’t start Fermatown to fact-check biographies and trawl through social networks looking for witnesses.”

“Typical man. Too proud to ask the agency to pay us an hourly rate.”

“You’re starting to annoy me!”

John bounded to his feet and ran upstairs to the bathroom. Victoire was right, and that put him in a foul mood. Ever since Afghanistan, he had failed at everything. He couldn’t even get her pregnant. He punched the railing of the staircase to the third floor. He had inherited this rambling four-story duplex and garden from an aunt. The property was situated between the Rue Déparcieux and the Rue Fermat, just outside the village on the Rue Daguerre.


Bernard Besson, who was born in Lyon, France, in 1949, is a former top-level chief of staff of the French intelligence services, an eminent specialist in economic intelligence and Honorary General Controller of the French National Police. He was involved in dismantling Soviet spy rings in France and Western Europe when the USSR fell and has real inside knowledge from his work auditing intelligence services and the police. He has also written a number of prize-winning thrillers, his first in 1998, and several works of nonfiction. He currently lives in the fourteenth arrondissement of Paris, right down the street from his heroes.

Besson_240_small-206x300Come back Wednesday for my interview with Bernard Besson!

Originally posted 2013-10-28 09:47:52.

“Wednesday Writer” – Jeanette Bennett

All I can say is, if Jeanette’s fiction is half as funny as she is, you’re going to want to pick up one of her time travel novels right away. This was a particularly entertaining interview and some of the pictures are laugh out loud funny. :D

Jeanette Bennett(By the way, Jeanette looks a lot like my sister-in-law with this expression)

ME:  Please describe your childhood and the role that books played in your life. (I would love to post a picture of you as a child.) Also, to whom do you owe your sense of humor—your mother or your father (or some aunt or uncle)? (I’d love a picture of you with that person.)

JEANETTE:  I had a rather weird childhood. When I was six I asked my mother what I was. She told me I was Choctaw-Cherokee Indian. When I was eight I discovered that was really two tribes, not one. The other kids never teased me when I told them I was Indian. They just backed away slowly like I was crazy. Maybe because I had blue eyes and blonde hair. Maybe because I’m not that much Indian. Then when I was twelve Mom said “Oh, and you are also Irish.” And yet the whole time I was growing up, she and my grandmother both told me that of all the kids I looked the most like my great-grandmother Domie who was English. So apparently I have the recessive English genes of an Irish-half breed family. It’s hard for me to reject my heritage since I’m kind of confused as to what it is.

Baby pic(And here she is looking very Indian-ish)

I always loved books. My first experience was my first trip to the school library in first grade. The teacher took the class to the library and told us we could all check out a book, so I grabbed one. It was about a little boy getting dressed. It was the most boring book I have ever read. I read it three times. I was just so enthralled with being able to read a book. Then the teacher told me I could check out another one. I was even more excited. I learned that day I loved books. I also learned to look at a book before you check it out. (:D)

The sense of humor comes from my mom’s side of the family. Whenever we gathered for family reunions, before we even said hello, we exchanged jokes. My grandmother and grandfather (Bob and Jewell George) always saw the funny side of life, even when it wasn’t funny. They were dirt poor Okies who had come Out West to find work during the Depression. Life was hard on them, so they got revenge by making fun of it. During a disaster, like a flooded basement, my grandma would say, “Someday we will look back on this and laugh.” And guess what? We never did! But we do laugh at grandma always saying that.

Jewell & Bob George(Grandma looks like she just told a joke and Grandpa looks a bit mischievous…like maybe he’s waiting for you to sit down on that whoopee cushion he planted)

ME:  What about your childhood or adolescence made you fall in love with time travel and history?

JEANETTE:  As a kid I didn’t really like history–at least not the history that they taught in school, which was nothing but dry facts, dates and cardboard characters. What really bothered me as a kid was the way Indians were portrayed in movies and television, because I knew my grandparents weren’t savages.

So I started reading up on Native Americans. Turns out Hollywood lied. Then I wondered if maybe they lied about black history, too, and started reading up on that. If history is written by the winners, I want to read about the losers! I want to find the real history. The more obscure the more I like it.

I like the absurd time paradoxes of time travel, but the real reason I write time travel is an excuse to hop about in history to different places and show what it was really like down to ignored details. That’s what my Temporal Anthropologists are all about. For them recording a special event is secondary to recording the mundane that was never recorded. (By the way, my Temporal Anthropologist Dr. Wendell Howe has a blog about his travels in the Victorian Age and you can see stuff you probably never knew.)

(Now that is something I’m going to have to check out!)

ME:  Please explain the term “Scablander,” so that my readers who are not familiar with the terrain of Eastern Washington will understand why you refer to yourself that way. If you didn’t invent the term itself, where did it come from? (And may I please share the wonderful masthead created by one of your fans for your website, along with its explanation?)

JEANETTE:  When I was a kid growing up in the Columbia Basin, I always heard of the Scablands in whispers and wanted to visit it. Then I discovered I had been living in the Scablands all along.

scablands(The Scablands of Eastern Washington bordering the Columbia River…the uninhabited part, anyway. It does kind of make you think of a scab under a microscope, I suppose.)

Apparently the name came from pioneers passing through here as quickly as they could to get to decent country. Back in the Miocene Age, the area was flooded with lava from volcanoes again and again until the basalt was 6000 feet deep. Over time, topsoil buried it, but then during the Ice Age the Missoula Lake (what is now the Bitterroot Valley in Montana) kept flooding Eastern Washington until it scoured the top soil and dumped it all in the Palouse Hills and Willamette Valley, creating fertile farmland for them and nothing but basalt and blow sand for the Scablands. It’s all sagebrush and tumbleweeds. Is it any wonder we were picked for the Hanford Atomic Works in World War II? If it blew up, who would notice?

This area is so isolated that there are Wanapum Indians living on the river who avoided being sent to reservations because no one noticed them! I use “scablander” for my website name because I spent most of my life in the scablands. And it’s easier to remember than my name. For some reason most people either can’t remember it or spell it.

scablander500_mast(Her hand-drawn masthead. Each letter represents a character or aspect from one of her books. Click on it for a larger view, and go here for an explanation.)

Feel free to share the Masthead. Best birthday gift I ever got. (It’s very impressive!)

ME:  You’ve described yourself as a nerd. How so?

JEANETTE:  Nerd: One who is socially inept, fashion challenged and just a plain misfit.

When I was twelve, I had the epiphany that I was never going to fit in no matter what I did. Rather than feeling sad, I suddenly felt liberated! I march to my own drummer–even if he is offbeat. (Nerds unite! I’ve been called a nerd, too, though indirectly.)

nerd(Jeanette the Nerd…She says she looks like Amy on “Big Bang Theory”)

ME:  What attracts you to the Victorian period, and similarly (or not), what do you like about the genre of Steampunk and how did you come to write a short story in that genre?

JEANETTE:  My character, Dr. Serendipity Brown, is so bold and brash I thought it would be fun to have her meet a repressed, stodgy Victorian. Dr. Wendell Howe is really from the 27th century, but has been trained to fit perfectly into the Victorian Age. I’ve had people tell me he is a “steampunk” character, but since he is pretending to be Victorian, he is really “steambunk.”


To be honest I have always been attracted to the Victorian Age. I think because so much was happening. It started with technology that was hardly more than medieval and ended up with the Modern Age. Steampunk just takes that flurry of invention and bumps it up a notch.

steampunk(She says this was her attempt at a bustle for her Victorian tea party in 1974. She was doing “steampunk” before it ever became a trend…because that’s what nerds do.)

As for my steampunk story, Sky Warrior Books was doing a steampunk anthology. My husband bugged me to submit a short story so I wrote one about Wendell meeting the Wild Bunch (the real one and not the Hollywood version.) When I submitted it, I explained it was really steambunk rather than steampunk and waited for the rejection letter. They accepted it! (Smart publisher!)

ME:  Tell us about your on again, off again affair with the written word and which individual(s) played a role in encouraging you to get published? (Please provide a picture of one or more of those individuals.)

JEANETTE:  I never really fell out of love with writing. It’s just I thought it would be best if we parted since I would never be good enough. So when I was thirty-one I bid a tearful goodbye and decided to get on with my life. Then twenty years later my husband decided to take welding classes at night. So rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I decided to write while he was in class. I fell off the wagon and went on a writing binge.

(Good for you . . . and us!)

Rather than being upset with my addiction, my husband Mike seemed delighted. Who knew? He became my sugar daddy and muse. And whenever I say “maybe I should quit this selfish foolishness,” he tells me to keep writing. (Like telling a drunk to keep drinking.)

Mike Farley(Her muse)

ME:  Please share the publishing story of WALKING A FINE TIMELINE.

UnknownJEANETTE:  My husband really liked my story and thought I should publish it. My family and friends liked it, too. I went to panels and heard all the horror stories about publishers, so I never bothered to submit to them. I didn’t want to work with people out to rip me off–I could do that myself. I found out the two things you need to self-publish are an editor and a graphic artist. Guess what I did for twenty-five years? I had already set up books and websites. Even so, it was scary!

I also discovered great software for setting up books that is affordable. Check out Serif PagePlus for under $100. It compares favorably to Adobe InDesign and is much better than the more expensive Microsoft Publisher or CorelDraw. I have worked with them all. (And no I am not getting kickback.)

(Thanks for the tip!)

ME:  Do you outline or are you a “pantser” when it comes to plotting? If you do outline, what method do you follow?

JEANETTE:  “Pantser”–or maybe it’s “quilter.” I get these scenes in my head that I write out before I lose them. I might have a list I make of what order I have them in, then don’t bother to look at it again. I just write, weaving in the scenes or tossing them out. Completely unorganized. That’s what rewriting and editing are for. I don’t know if that’s the best way to write, but it’s best for me.

ME:  What are you working on now?

JEANETTE:  The Fairhaven Home for Wayward Time Travelers. Terrorists from the 27th century decide the best way to protect history from being manipulated is to eliminate all time travelers and then Dr. Serendipity Brown, the woman who invented time travel. So she hides out in a Victorian mansion in 2010 Bellingham, Washington where they will never find her (she hopes) along with her assistant Sherman and her time travel consultant, Dr. Wendell Howe. They also share the house with five other temporal anthropologists she saved in the past from the terrorists and one of her ancestors she decides to bring back.

(Definitely sounds intriguing.)

ME:  Finally, please describe your favorite writing space in the voice of your main character, Dr. Serendipity Brown, as if she had just stumbled upon it in one of her adventures. (I must have a photo of that place, whether it’s out in nature or inside your home.)

JEANETTE:  Okay, you asked for it…

(Uh-oh. Just kidding, she really got creative here, so settle in for a fun read.)

Two crazy willows beside a suburban road begin to sway. A glowing spot appears beside the curb. Slowly four tires appear, starting from the bottom working up, then a U-Haul Truck materializes as though an invisible stage curtain was being raised. The roof appears and it stops shimmering. 

A door swings open from the side of the cargo compartment where no door is showing. Out steps a middle-aged woman with dark brown curly hair bouncing off her shoulders. She is wearing purple pants and a loose blouse. “Come on, guys!” 

A skinny, short teenage boy with horn-rim glasses follows her, wearing a black Def Leppard T-shirt and jeans. Glancing around, he brushes his black hair out of his face. “Are you sure this is the right place, Ser?” 

“Of course, Sherman. Wendell says it is and our Dr. Howe is never wrong.” 

A man of medium height, medium build with medium brown hair steps out of the time machine. He is wearing a brown frockcoat and top hat, staring at an open pocket Bible. “My computer says these are the correct coordinates, Dr. Brown.” He closes his computer and slips into a pocket inside his frockcoat. “Hmm.” He studies the white 1940s house in front of him. “Hardly looks like the home of a writer, wouldn’t you agree, Serendipity dear? Of course all the writers I have ever met were back in the Victorian Age.” 

“So who is this Janet Bernet, anyway?” Sherman asked. 

“Jeanette Bennett.” Wendell corrected him. “She was a little known author who apparently predicted time travel would be invented in 2353 by a woman in Beaverton, Oregon–a woman named Serendipity Brown! Far too much of a coincidence. She could cause history to go awry. At some point she must have traveled forward in time and we must find out how.” 

“Pfft!” Serendipity screws up her face. “You and your stupid ‘time manipulation.’ I just want to meet her. Besides she never made the New York Times Best Sellers List, so how much influence could she have?” 

“I must say, I had a devil of a time finding any information on her.” 

Serendipity marches up the concrete steps and bangs on the mahogany stained door, streaked where water had unstained it. 

“Are you barking mad!” Wendell rushes to her side. 

“Come on. I saw this Janine’s photo. She doesn’t look like anyone who would carry a shotgun.” 

“That’s Jeanette, not Janine.” Wendell corrects her. 

Serendipity knocks again. “I don’t think anyone is home. Maybe we should let ourselves in?” 

Wendell looks about nervously. “Well, I don’t like breaking and entering, but the less contact we have the better. The lock looks like the old tumbler locks. My key should work.” Wendell pulls out a skeleton key and sticks it in the keyhole. He twists the loop on top and it begins to hum as it vibrates. He then tries the door and it swings open. 

“Dear heavens!” He yelps. “The place has been ransacked!” 

Sherman sticks his head in and glances around. “Naw, just a messy housekeeper.” 

“Hmmpt! The sign of a genius!” Serendipity follows her companions inside. “Now we just have to find her office.” 

Sherman points to a small alcove next to the door. Beside the blinds covering the picture window is a large desk. It has ornate scrolling and inlaid wood that is barely visible under the laptop and books. Above the desk proper are small drawers and cubby holes stuffed with notes, CDs and books. At the top is a long shelf with a CD player and over a dozen books. It has to be the nicest piece of furniture in the front room. In front of the desk is the matching chair, the cushion covered with a lavender blanket, which in turn is covered with cat hair. Beside it is a TV-tray-sized movable computer table, set lower than the desk, upon which sits a small netbook computer. 

“That can’t be her office.” Serendipity studies it. “Looks like a desk for writing bills.” 

Wendell shakes his head. “That is a Victorian writing desk, or at least a facsimile of one. Look at the books on the top shelf.” He leans over to read the titles of the books. “Thesaurus, dictionaries, grammar books, The Chicago Manual of Style, How to Write a Damn Good Novel. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see this desk belongs to a writer!” 

“Or a writer wannabe.” Sherman mutters. 

“Okay.” Serendipity takes charge. “Wendell, you search around for manuscripts while I check the computers. Sherman, you watch out the window to see if anyone shows up.” 

Before anyone could move the front door swings open. A short dumpy woman with long brown hair streaked with silver steps in carrying a paper sack. The sack drops to the floor. “What are you doing in my house?” 

“It’s okay. I’m Dr. Serendipity Brown. You know the woman you wrote about who built the first time machine in 2353? This is Sherman Conrad, my assistant I picked up in 1985 and of course Dr. Wendell Howe, the 27th century temporal anthropologist formerly with Cambridge University who spent most of his life in the Victorian Age. We just came to find out how you found out about us.” 

The mousey looking woman’s blue eyes snap dangerously. “I don’t know who you people are. Get the hell out of my house before I call the cops!” 

“Maybe this is the wrong Janice.” Sherman concludes. “Or maybe the wrong house.” 

“I think you’re right.” Serendipity agrees. “We better get out of here.” 

Wendell tips his top hat. “We do apologize for any…” He stops short as the woman steps past them to grab a broom out of the kitchen closet. Before she can get close enough to make contact, the intruders are out of the house. She steps onto the porch to watch the truck disappear from the top down until it is gone. She drops the broom and stares speechless. 

After a minute she shakes her head, and steps back in, locking the door. Then she chews a finger thoughtfully, and rushes over to her netbook, and begins typing. “Whoa! What a great idea for a novel! Sounds so much better than talking jackrabbits.”

desk(The messy Victorian desk of a genius)

Wasn’t that fun? You can tap into this writer’s mind further on her website or blog. And WALKING A FINE TIMELINE is available on Amazon in either print or e-book form.

Next Wednesday, I’m featuring an interview with prize-winning French thriller writer, Bernard Besson, whose newly translated novel, THE GREENLAND BREACH, is next week’s “Monday Mystery.” Check it out on Monday for an excerpt and then come back Wednesday to learn more about the author.



Originally posted 2013-10-23 06:00:38.

“Monday Mystery” – POCKET FULL OF POSIES

PocketPosies_800I have another new release to announce, this time from Julie Coulter Bellon, and it’s available on Amazon. Here’s a quick look:

They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer . . .

Hostage Negotiation Team member Bart Gutierrez is shocked to find Lucy Aguayo, a girl he knew as a teenager, working for the deadly Castillo drug cartel. This revelation uncovers a secret in Bart’s family so big it forces him to accept a dangerous offer: infiltrate the cartel to keep his family safe. Once inside the cartel’s headquarters he discovers that a large-scale attack on America is imminent and the only way to prevent it is to bring Lucy in on his plans—and hope she doesn’t betray him.


Detective Bart Gutierrez is surprised to see a woman from his past working for a drug cartel.  She isn’t the girl he remembers and he can’t understand what went so wrong that she’d resort to working for such a deadly organization. He ends up going undercover to infiltrate the cartel and hoping for a chance to convince her there’s a better life out there.  Can he do both without getting himself killed?

Lucy Aguayo has suffered the loss of her father at the hands of a cruel cartel leader. She will do anything to bring him down. When Bart enters her life again, he stirs up feelings and memories that make her question her life choices. Can she find justice for her father or should she work toward being free from her past? And where does Bart fit into this equation?


The pre-dawn air was still, as if even nature sensed the tension emanating from the group of agents and officers huddled near a police van. Bart Gutiérrez blew on his hands, the chill seeping through him. He felt keyed up, ready to get going with the high-risk arrest, but instead of doing anything productive, he was standing around impatiently while a bunch of suits took credit for staging the whole thing.

Special Response made sure everyone knew they’d scoped out the mission with high-resolution aerial photos. DEA put it out there that they’d confirmed the subject inside was, in fact, Arturo Pérez, second-in-command of the Castillo cartel. ICE and the Joint Terrorism Task Force piped in that they’d tracked him the minute his private plane had entered American air space. Only the FBI guys were silent. Bart decided he liked them. 


Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of nine international romantic suspense novels and her book All Fall Down won the RONE award for 2012 Best Suspense/Thriller. Julie loves her work partly because she gets to travel to distant lands to research and add an authentic feel to all of her books. Her favorite cities so far are Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She taught journalism at BYU for fourteen years and that kept her on the cutting edge of current events and world news—which is where she gets her story ideas.


Julie offers writing and publishing tips as well as her take on life on her blog ldswritermom.blogspot.com You can also find out about all her upcoming projects at her website juliebellon.com.


Originally posted 2013-10-21 06:00:05.

“Wednesday Writer” – Candi L. Norman

Candi L. Norman, who writes under the pen name C.L. Norman, definitely has a love of books and is fortunate enough to work in our local bookstore. But I wanted to get to know the how and why of her fantasy writing.

Candi L. NormanME:  What was the first book you ever remember reading on your own, and which book gave you the idea of some day writing your own books?

CANDI:  Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish although my mom always said it was Green Eggs & Ham. I remember being fascinated by the guys who had to get their hair cut every day. (It’s so funny what particular detail in a story will capture a kid’s interest. Haircuts. Who knew?)

The book that gave me the idea of some day writing my own was never published. I loved books but I was intimidated by the idea of writing one. I mean only exotic people with lots of worldly experience can write these wonderful inventions called books, right? (Yes, that’s pretty much how we all regarded authors until we got published ourselves.)

Then my close friend in middle school showed me the rough draft of the first book in a trilogy she’d written. Wow! It was as good as anything I could pick up in the library and it was written by a girl in middle school. A girl like me. She wasn’t “old” or from some far off place where exciting things happened. That was when I knew I could write a book too.

(Now that you’re published, I hope you get her to see her own project through.)

ME:  Have you always lived here in the Tri-Cities? Please describe your childhood and the role that books played in your life. (I would love to post a picture of you as a child.)

CANDI:  I was born and raised here in the Tri-Cities, as were both of my parents. I come from a family described as ‘his, hers, and ours’ by my mother. I have five sisters and two brothers and I am the third oldest. I was also the reader in the family. Everyone made fun of me because I had my nose in a book at family gatherings and vacations. (Sounds familiar.) My uncles made a point of teasing me (and tickling me) just so that I would surface long enough to say hi.

My big brother loved to grab the book I was currently reading and remove the bookmark or close it, hoping I would lose my place in it. I learned to memorize the page number. As I grew older, I found that two of my grandmothers and my dad were readers too.  At that point, I loved to listen to them talk about books. They read different genres than I do but I adore listening to people I love talk about the books they love. It provides a glimpse into their soul that nothing else does. (Very true.)

CandiAge2(Candi at 2 and already looking at books)

ME:  How old were you when you first realized you were good at writing, and which individual(s) in your life provided your strongest encouragement?

CANDI:  I am still waiting to realize I am good at writing. I am still shocked when someone gushes about my stories. I keep working at it and hoping to get better with every word I write. (And that is exactly what will make you better and better.)

My big brother, Brian, was one of the first to encourage me to write. He said, “You should write a book. You read enough books you ought to know how to write a good one.” That might not seem like much but if Brian saw potential in you and pointed it out, you paid attention.

Brian Picture(Candi’s older brother Brian)

All of my friends are very encouraging, in particular my friends Shairylann and Veronica. (Hmm…I wonder if this is the Veronica I know.) They are both so very honest with me that when they admire my writing I can’t help but believe it. They are also very analytical and questioning which helps a ton when it comes to filling in the blanks in my stories.

Finally, the first time I shared my writing professionally was at a writer’s workshop at MisCon in Missoula, MT. I wrote a short story, Dragonslayers Anonymous, and turned it in to be critiqued by professional authors. Patricia Briggs was one of the authors who read my short story and she had a lot of good things to say about it. Since then she has encouraged me in my writing every time she sees me. Her husband even promised to build me a display case for my first print book. (How generous and what a terrific idea!)

ME:  Why fantasy?

CANDI:  Why not fantasy? I look at the fantasy genre as a door to almost every other genre out there. I can set a romance or a mystery or a horror story against a backdrop of the mystical. There are so many things I can do within the fantasy genre that I get excited at the possibilities.

ME:  Have you pursued any degrees having to do with writing? How important is the formal study of literature or writing, in your opinion, in an author’s career?

CANDI:  I have a degree in Social Sciences with an emphasis on English and History. Before I pursued that degree I was a drama major. (Now that’s key, in my opinion. I’ve found that so many great writers have a background in theatre.) While neither are directly for writing both have given me some insight into the process of creating characters and plot. (Agreed!)

In my opinion, a formal study of literature or writing is not necessary. Reading is where it’s at. Reading in your genre, reading other genres, reading non-fiction; this is how one learns about writing. I think that a degree in anything else will give a writer a sandbox to build ideas from. A college education gives you a lot of opportunity to people watch and exposure to new ideas which are also great things for a writer. But reading and reading a lot is where it’s at.


ME:  Tell us a bit about the short stories that make up your anthology, IN DREAMS. How do they differ and how are they alike? Is there a common or recurring theme in your writing and, if so, how would you describe it?

CANDI:  Oh no, I’m back in English class. (LOL. I had to include at least one uncomfortable question to keep you on your toes.) I don’t write with a look to theme or mood or any of those words they use in literature classes. I write about characters in bad situations and then I kick them when they are down. IN DREAMS is a collection of the first five short stories I have shared with the world.

Dragonslayers Anonymous is the result of a writing prompt; describe your last day on the job. From that I came up with John St. George, an aging dragonslayer located in the Pacific Northwest, who is ready to retire but when a dragon attacks he can’t turn his back. Survive to Eat is a result of an open call for an anthology. It is my attempt at a gladiator story. It also covers the back story of a major character in a novel I am working on.

(Oh, goody. You are working on a novel. But these stories sound great too!)

Most of the stories in the anthology were inspired by nightmares I’ve had. Wolves in the Mist features a monster from a recurring nightmare I had as a young child. It is also the most horrific of my stories. Off the Path is about a young boy whose only influence is a man of extremely questionable morals and unusual appetites. Finally, Empty is about a character who is so lonely that it begins to affect his sanity.

The one similarity between the short stories in this collection is in the ending. None of them have happy endings with no strings attached. Every one of these endings is costly and the characters are scarred from what has happened.

ME:  Please tell us about your writing process in some detail and describe your favorite place to write. (I must have a picture of that place, whether it’s out in nature or inside your home.)

CANDI:  For me, it starts with a character in a situation. Once I have that, I sit down and start to write from the beginning. As I move through the story, I can see further and further ahead. When I pass the halfway point I begin to get an idea of the end. I keep pushing forward until I reach the end. Once the first draft is done, I make one more quick sweep through and then send it out to my beta readers to read. Once I hear back from them, I fix problems they point out if I strongly agree that it is a problem that needs fixed. Once that pass is done, the story is done.

I write in a recliner in my living room with a laptop. (I believe you’re the second author I’ve interviewed who writes in a recliner.) I frequently have music on or the TV running some background noise while I write. While I like the idea of an office, I hate being cut off from the rest of the family, stuck in a room away from everyone else. I prefer to write where I can listen to the rest of the family as they go about their day.


(Candi’s recliner in the family room)

ME:  Tell us about your full-length novel. Does this mean you’re leaving short stories behind, or are you sticking to the form and why? Now that Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, do you think the short story will become more popular again?

Unknown(Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro)

CANDI:  I definitely have plans for a full-length novel. I started with short stories to teach myself things about writing and about the business of writing. I will most likely continue to produce short fiction on occasion but I have always aimed to write novels.

I think the short story is already on the rise. Ebooks allow for more variety in the length of stories. I think really cool things are happening in fiction because of that and readers are responding. (I definitely agree.)

ME:  Finally, tell us about Rivers of Ink and how you came to be involved in this annual local writing conference?

CANDI:  Rivers of Ink is a local conference for writers that started off as a means to connect local writers with readers. Over the years, due to feedback from participants, it has become a venue for writers to learn from writers about the craft and business. It has no genre or format boundaries either. Poetry, fiction, and non-fiction of various lengths are all a part of this conference.


I became involved by volunteering to set up chairs and show people to their seats. By the time that first conference rolled around, I was scheduled as a panelist and things rolled on from there. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate this year but I hope to again be a part of it in 2014.

(Me too, as long as I’m still living here.)

If you want to know more about Candi and her writing, check out her website and her FB page. Her anthology of short stories, IN DREAMS, is available in ebook form on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Smashwords.

Next Wednesday I’ll be talking with time travel author, Jeanette Bennett. Let’s hope you’re all on time!

Jeanette Bennett

Originally posted 2013-10-16 06:00:04.

“Wednesday Writer” – Kathleen Ellis

I am an equal opportunity author interviewer. That means that, whether I read the genre or not, I’m interested in the writer and his/her process. I think today’s interview is a first, since Kathi Ellis writes what I would call spiritual self-help books. So she’s breaking new ground for me, but I doubt it will be my last interview in this category.

Kathi EllisME:  As someone who ended up writing a book entitled THE DARKNESS CANNOT KEEP US: CHOOSING A BETTER TOMORROW, how would you characterize or describe your childhood? Where did you grow up and do you have any regrets? (I’d love to post a picture of you as a child.)

KATHI:  Actually, the book begins in the womb of my mother. Although most people would consider this an odd place to begin a story, it seemed fitting to me. I have discovered some amazing things about my own life, and the processes in it. My childhood was incredibly difficult. 

The book describes the life my brother, sister and I had. Our family was being torn apart even as I was developing in the womb, and we were all placed out for adoption. There were six living children. The oldest two had died at birth. We were placed in an alcoholic and abusive home with no love, no nurturing in our family.

Kathi as a child(Kathi as a child…it’s amazing she could smile)

I grew up in South Dakota. My greatest regret about the childhood of my brother, sister and me was that we didn’t know our birth family, including our parents and siblings. I eventually grieved a childhood lost.

(I suspected the roots of your book began in your childhood. You certainly wrote about what you knew.)

ME:  What did you want to be when you grew up and how did that evolve as you got older?

KATHI:  When I was young I always wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to help people. I think it was mostly because of the lack of nurturing I received as a child. I think on some level I knew I was meant to help people as part of my life purpose. Through my book and workshops I am able to do that now. Writing and speaking are passions of mine.

ME:  Did you go to college and, if so, what was your major? When did you realize you had a gift for writing?

KATHI:  I went to college to study nursing, but found after the first year I was too empathic toward my patients and could not deal with their pain on an emotional level.

I have always loved writing as well as reading. In high school, my teachers told me many times I had a gift for writing. I have written many unpublished essays and poetry and did publish one poem in a National Poetry Association anthology, as well as my first book, THE DARKNESS CANNOT KEEP US: CHOOSING A BETTER TOMORROW.

The Darkness Cannot Keep Us

ME:  Part of the description of the book on your website says “the author shares insights that took her from the depths of despair to fulfillment and love in every area in her life.” You’ve already touched on it, but when and why were you in “the depths of despair,” and how did you get there?

KATHI:  I was born into the depths of despair as the reader can experience in the book.  My mother was in the throes of severe post-partum depression, as I was the youngest of eight children, and our family was being torn apart even as I grew in the womb. By the time I was 18, having grown up in an abusive adoptive home, I made a decision to commit suicide. I talk about the miracle that changed that path of my life in the book. 

I felt compelled two years ago to change the direction of the book I had previously written.  As I have grown and changed throughout the years, I finally came to a point that caused me to have meaning and understanding about my early years. What I discovered was a process called cellular memory and how it affects everything we think, say and do on a totally unconscious level. Once I understood what was going on with me, I was able to heal a lot of physical and emotional pain, and correct the direction of my life. 

The depth of despair was a cumulative effect for me all through childhood. Getting to fulfillment and love was a journey that I describe in the book. I encourage others to consider the elements I have found that produce love and fulfillment in our lives.

ME:  What led you to write about your journey from despair to love and fulfillment?

KATHI:  When my youngest brother was dying in 1995, we had just lost our birth mother.  He asked me to promise him that I would make sure our lives made a difference, and would tell our story. I began this book at that time in part as a tribute to him.

When my brother passed away, he left me a book called “Hands Of Light”. It talks about the body’s human energy field. I was fascinated by the material so I decided to take some courses on it. I have studied the human body’s energy field for a long time, and became a Reiki Master over fifteen years ago. That knowledge, together with the study of cellular memory, has helped me to understand more completely how much we are in charge of our own destiny, physically, mentally and emotionally.

ME:  How did you become a motivational speaker and at what point did you develop your workshops? Please describe briefly the kind of workshop you put on and how it relates to your book (if it does).

KATHI:  I have always loved public speaking. It started when I took speech and debate in high school. In my adult life, I was active in political and social activities that called for public speaking. In the late 80’s, I joined a Toastmaster group because I was teaching adult education courses at the local college where I lived and wanted to improve my humor. Public speaking got into my blood as I began competing in Toastmasters. 

In 1994 I had the opportunity to become a Professional Development Consultant through the National Professional Women’s Network, and was trained and certified and began doing seminars. I also had the opportunity to contract with a national speaking circuit to do personal growth workshops. I lost my $50,000 investment, however, when the company was shut down by the Federal government as illegally operating a pyramid scheme. 

Now, I conduct personal growth and goal setting workshops to help people focus forward toward a better tomorrow. I know from my own experiences that what we focus on we will move toward.

ME:  Please describe the writing process you followed to produce your book.

KATHI:  Because of the promise I made my brother, I began by journaling. It was important for me to just start somewhere. The more I wrote in my journal, the more I began healing myself. 

It’s important for people to remember that all of us have a story within us. The most basic concept begins with going inside to find and touch that seed that will grow into our story.  Once we can get that story out on paper, we can move forward in our own lives. It doesn’t matter if you put your story out as fiction or non-fiction; it’s just important that you start somewhere.

(Well said. And I agree–we all have stories in us.)

ME:  Which came first, the workshops or the book? And can we expect other books from you in the near future?

KATHI:  I have to admit the workshops started before the book. However, I realize that since I wrote the book and had it published, the context and tone of the workshops has changed entirely. Writing this book has changed my life. After my youngest brother died in 1995, we had another 12 family losses and 6 of our best friends pass away in eight years.  My two older brothers passed away two years later three months apart as well. It literally sent me to my knees. (I can well imagine!) 

Two years ago, I picked up the book again, and began re-writing. I had an epiphany one morning during meditation that totally changed the direction of the book.

I will be writing more books. As a matter of fact, I have three titles in front of me to work on.  My readers are asking when the next book is coming out, so I guess that means I had better keep my nose to the grindstone and keep working on them. 

I have been really busy with the promotion of this book. Having self-published through Balboa Press, I find that much of the work is my responsibility. I’m sure it would be easier if I had a publisher that took care of all of that work for me, but right now I am arranging my own book signings and speaking engagements, etc. It keeps me pretty busy.

(Actually, unless you get signed with a big publisher, you’re still likely to have to do a lot of your own marketing. Writers rarely catch a break.)

ME:  Finally, please describe your writing space or office, and list the five things in it that make it unique to you. (And I have to have a picture of it.)

KATHI:  I have a beautiful office! My husband hung a chandelier in it because he said every queen has to have a chandelier. It has my favorite colors on the walls, a muted purple and a purplish taupe. I like lots of light in my work place. I want cheerful and warm but serene at the same time! I have light colored plush carpet on the floor. AND I have a cross stitched sign on my desk that says “SHHH – I’m talking to God!” 

I also play beautiful soothing music when I write. It helps me go within to that space where all inspiration is found.

My space is bright and cheerful, and the walls are lined with bookcases filled with books.  Most of my books are spiritual, self-help and motivational works. I have angels, pictures of my kids, grandkids, and friends around me, and a photo of my husband on my desk. He changed my life and is my life!

(And here’s the proof):

Office (3)(A beautiful, well-lit office)

Kathi’s book is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. If you’d like to learn more about her workshops or writing, please feel free to check out her website or her author page on Facebook.

Next week I’ll be featuring an interview with fantasy author, Candi L. Norman, who also happens to work at our local Barnes & Noble.

Candi L. Norman

Originally posted 2013-10-09 06:00:30.