DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Children's Author Margot Finke

Mother, wife, gardener, and traveler, Margot Finke writes stories for children and middle-grade young adults. Born in Australia and currently residing in Oregon with her family, Margot established her presence in the writing world with a seven-book series entitled "Wild and Wonderful," in which she offers fun facts about animals of the U.S. and Australia through rhyme.

In "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind" Margot tackles the difficulties children face when changes beyond their control and comprehension occur in their lives, and the sometimes not so acceptable displays of emotions that can and do occur. Not an easy topic, and one that has been known to create wide divisions between children and parents. Yet, Margot not only addresses the subject, but does so in a manner designed to enlighten and entertain readers both young and old(er) while bridging the generational gap. Her “Horatio Humble Beats the Big D” (dyslexia) offers encouragement to both the children, and the parents of children with dyslexia.

Margot also posts rattlesnake recipes (yes, you read that correctly) on her web site.
http://mysite.ncnetwork.net/mfinke/index.html#margot

Q) You devoted a portion of your life in classrooms as a teacher's aide. What inspired you to pursue that interest?

A) Initially I wanted to help our local school district and teachers. That led to talking to classes about Australia (my Down-under home) and their weird and wonderful animals. I began telling the kids stories about the various critters, right off the top of my head - frill-neck lizards, koalas, platypus and others. This led to writing stories, and eventually my “Wild and Wonderful” rhyming series. I loved visiting different schools and sparking their interest in my Aussie homeland.

Q) Obviously, I have to ask. Why rattlesnakes?

A) Aha. . . I guess you missed the reason when you scanned through my website and bio. The reason is, “Rattlesnake Jam.” This rhyming picture book is written for small boys with a yen for yuck and all things messy. Pa hunts the rattlers, and Gran cooks them into her yucky green jam. But will Gran ever make Pa the rattler pie he craves?

Q) You are a strong advocate of children's books and offer assistance to folks who show interest in writing in this genre. Why is writing for children so important to you?

A) I have always scribbled stories, and after I saw how school kids loved the stories I told about the Aussie critters, I became dedicated and serious about it, and just kept on writing more and more. I joined SCBWI and several online children’s writing lists, and I was lucky enough to find wonderful mentors. Over time, and probably enough rejection letters to paper my bathroom, I learned the craft of writing tight and terrific stories with kid appeal.

My days as a teacher’s aide taught me that boys and reluctant readers need a WOW FACTOR. Call it kid appeal. If not, you can forget about luring them away from texting, computer games and TV movies. Give them plots that share a young macho man’s humor, hobbies and sports interests. Or HOOK them, with the treacherous and mind-boggling culture shock of a different world: Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble, for instance.

My helping other writers has turned into a Manuscript Critique Service that draws clients from many corners of the globe. My website offers various pages of help for writers, plus links to other great sites, as well as listing my 11 published books and how where to buy them.

Q) So much of your writing is in rhyme. What influences and inspires your verse?

A) I really can’t take credit for my rhyming ability. When the rhyming gene was handed out I snuck in for a double dose! Rhyme and meter is like singing in key. Some are born singing in tune, while others are painful to listen too. It comes naturally to me.

I find a lot of ideas for my books from children. My Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind and Horatio Humble Beats the Big D for instance. Grade school children today have to deal with a lot of divorce, death, and moving far from friends and family etc. And dyslexia and other learning difficulties seem to be on the rise. I wanted to offer fun stories that were also helpful to both child and parent: hence the parent teacher guides with Q & A included. I have also found that stories in rhyme stick in a child’s head – we adults still remember those old nursery rhymes.

Q) "Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble" is your first real venture into middle-grade adventure stories designed for boys. Can we expect more of these tales from you, and are any middle-grade girls' adventure stories on the horizon?

A) Our son was a reluctant reader, and this fuelled my desire to write books that would hook boys and tomboys on reading. Many girls love adventure stories – I know I did. So they are the tomboys I am targeting along with the boys.

I want to send those reluctant readers on a magic carpet ride into the Aboriginal Dreamtime Land Down-under. What better way to Hook them on reading than my :

Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble:
Join Taconi on Coorparoo Cattle Station in the Australian outback territory. The time is the mid nineteen hundreds, and his only mate is a big-mouthed cockatoo named Claude. Taconi has nightmares about his upcoming Man Ceremony, plus big problems with his dad. He also battles fierce biting green-ants and a crazed emu. Yummy witchetty grubs, yabbies and goanna steak are high on Taconi’s list of good eats. Then there are the powerful Dreamtime Spirits: they, too, have plans for him. And where is the elusive magical Kingfisher feather Taconi is sure will solve all his problems? Should he become a wise storyteller for his tribe, or a fine jackaroo who works for the cattle station? Finally, a huge tribal gathering, with dancing and storytelling, brings a surprise revelation, plus the life answers Taconi seeks. All helped along by cockatoo Claude’s “right on the money” one-liners.

Glossary of Australian and Aboriginal words can be found at the back of the book.

The “Down-under Fun” page has more facts about the animals mentioned in Taconi and Claude, as well as those in my “Wild and Wonderful” series. Look for the “NUTTY NOTES.”

Read a sample chapter from “Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble.”

http://taconisample.blogspot.com/
Margot’s Magic Carpet – all my books on the one page

+ Links to Reviews and Book Trailers

http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/

YES, I do have a dramatic follow up adventure for Taconi and Claude in the works, plus a ghost mystery set in Oregon. Another book has a reluctant grandson writing to his Aussie Grandmother, and soon becoming hooked on the tales she tells about growing up Down-under. I think my ghost story, with its boy-girl protagonists, will appeal to both boys and girls. Scary is always a WOW factor. The same with the Aussie Grandmother and her grandson: it definitely has boy/girl appeal.

Thank you Mr. Kentner for allowing me this time with your readers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson is a writer and author with more than fifteen bestselling novels including the number one New York Times Best Seller "Fatal Burn."


An extraordinary track record.

But Ms Jackson didn't "burst" onto the literary scene. She has written more than seventy-five novels over the decades in order to earn her attraction to readers.

The magnetic draw to her stories is her ability to vividly bring the characters to life. They become flesh and blood in the reader's mind. So much so, you may swear you've met one or two.

Originally partnered in the early years with her sister, novelist Nancy Bush, the duo eventually became household names, just not together. Fortunately, the pair reunited of late and produced the bestselling "Wicked Game," which inspired "Wicked Lies."

In the meantime, Ms Jackson has authored and released the acclaimed "Without Mercy," "Running Scared," "Sweet Revenge," and "Devious" (due out April 2011).

The woman's a writing machine - - with a gigantic, gentle heart.

An animal lover and advocate for the Southwestern Washington Humane Society, Ms Jackson also actively supports the MISS Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing support to families who have lost a child regardless of cause.

Human and humane, Ms Jackson has also murdered hundreds of people from coast to coast. Okay. Her characters have, but all at her devilish command of the English language.

http://www.lisajackson.com/

Q) What books captured your imagination as a child and lit the fire that inspired your first stories?

A) I read anything I could get my hands on. (I grew up in a small timber town in Oregon where it rained and rained and rained! Remember—there were only three TV stations back in the 50’s& 60’s and Dad had control of what we watched.) I started with The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley, moved onto Nancy Drew stories by Carolyn Keene and eventually graduated to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I went for anything mysterious and kind of gothic with a little romance and, oh, yeah, I was one of those “horsie girls” in grade school.

Eventually I discovered Stephen King—Oh-Wow!!!!

Q) I have to ask this. With so many tales, so many books you have written, how do you keep the creative juices churning to produce such fresh and vivid stories and characters?

A) You know, I was blessed with a really vivid imagination. I can “see” stories, visualize plots and create twists. I really sink into my stories and my characters. I also think I understand human nature, so, after I write enough pages I actually “get” my characters. (It takes nearly 150 pages to accomplish this, though.) Now, before you think it’s all just easy-peasy, I have to admit that I can’t spell and I have trouble typing and I hate to sit for long stretches. So, along with that great imagination, there are challenges to writing a 500-page novel.

Q) I know you occasionally have to walk away and regroup during the writing of a book when the characters become so intense within you, but what do you do when you need a break from writing all together?

A) I find my wonderful, funny family and friends!!! I’m a social person and writing is a lonely, almost antisocial career path, at least for me. When I “submerge” into my story, I don’t see anyone, so when I can get a break, I go out with friends or hang out with my family. I love walking with my dogs or friends, especially on the beach. I like to do cross word puzzles and play games and spend time in the mountains. Always with friends. There’s nothing better than to dig up people you’ve known most of your life and have a party—right?

Q) You readily avail yourself to your fans. One day you are on the west coast, the next in Florida. Unlike some noted authors, you also post your email so fans may contact you directly. And, you have dogs. And, you're willing to shelter strays. And, of course, you write for hours on end. How did you manage to turn the length of a day into thirty-six hours?

A) I’m a Zombie! Actually it’s a juggling act, but it’s one I love. I’m working on that 8 hours a night of sleep, but it’s elusive. There’s just so much to be done! Sometimes I think I’m not spending enough time with my family or caring for myself, so I shut down for a while, turn off the “Lisa Jackson machine” and just be mom, grandma or a friend. It’s great! (Don’t tell anyone, but I really am a homebody! I LOVE to bake Christmas cookies and sip hot chocolate while watching snow fall. Well, who doesn’t?)

Q) Do you foresee a day when you will retire from writing? Also, what advice would you offer a person who believes they have a story to tell, but haven't put pen to paper?

A) Oh, I’ll have to retire. I’ll get too old; won’t be able to see the world through younger eyes, and that’s okay. But I’m not there yet! As for anyone who believes they have a story to tell? Tell it. Write it. Not just a killer beginning, not just that unbelievable ending, but write the whole damned book. It’s like the Nike slogan: Do it. (But don’t give up your day job!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bestselling Author Margie Church

Margie Church's web site describes her writing best: "Romance With SASS – Suspense, Angst, Seductive Sizzle". Obviously, the faint of heart, or those without a heart to melt, need not apply. There isn't a topic within romance Margie isn't afraid to confront with rose petals, champagne, and stilettos. From "Awakening Allaire" with its white-collar crime, kidnapping and murder, to the erotic vampires of "Love Bites," Margie weaves intricate tales that will be around for decades to come.

Married now for nearly three decades, with two children and an English Springer, Margie describes herself as a mother and author – make that taxi driver and writer – who enjoys "Days of Our Lives," lobster, vanilla ice cream, and "great" beer. Yes, "Days of Our Lives" - Margie is such a fan that her characters Devon and Allaire in "Awakening Alliare" and "Avenging Allaire" were inspired by that show. She even has the actors' autographs in a personal copy of the book. No, I wouldn't risk my fingers trying to pry it out of her hands.

Margie's love of life is real, her passion and talent - unforgettable. http://site.romancewithsass.com/

Q) You've been writing magazine articles on the subjects of construction, engineering, and business issues for decades. What finally pushed you to venture into romance novels?

A) I've also worked in marketing communications all that while and still do. About three years ago, I was running a national magazine for my employer. Sadly, I got laid off and sadder yet, my biggest freelance client tanked two weeks later. I'd been writing fan fiction on a site for Days of Our Lives fans and accepted an invitation to write in a blind challenge at Forbidden Love. I had time on my hands to give it a try. I took second place with the piece and realized I had a great story in the making. It took a lot of work, but that challenge piece turned into Awakening Allaire, my debut novel. I didn't get a new job for almost 16 months and by then, I'd cranked out three novels. Allaire is patterned after the character Sami, played by Alison Sweeney. Devon is modeled after hunky Brit, James Scott. And you're right...don't touch those autographed books, or the autographed photo of James. Ha!

Q) Your research impresses me. If a character has a physical ailment, you detail it far beyond the superficial terms many writers use to camouflage their lack of research. In fact, you develop entire genealogies for your characters. Why do you employ such intense background work into your writing? Thank you for doing so by the way.

A) Silly me, I thought it was a requirement! Researching and finding subject matter experts is time consuming and daunting for me. However, I know there's always going to be a reader who knows more than I and won't hesitate to step forward to call me out on shoddy work. I've seen authors get humiliated over goofy mistakes and outright wrong information. I haven't enjoyed the times it's happened to me so I really try hard to avoid it. So that's the practical reason. The other half is I want to keep your eyes on every word until the last one. Dramatizing situations with real life facts, creating scenes with products and materials you can touch, smell, hear, taste, envision...those things make my work memorable. I took an online BDSM class to help me write Dangerous Love. I bought a dictionary on British slang. I have a number of subject matter experts who I rely on for everything from what kind of booze I should use, to how to treat a serious infection. I might add there's a balance to be sought with the research. The information must continue to drive the plot and character motivations. It cannot throw the reader out of the story, making them wonder why they needed to know every precise detail.

Q) You and I share strong attachments to our respective Midwestern communities. In an article, you once wrote, "Financial contributions are important, but hands and feet run the world." Why is volunteering so important to you?

A) (Thank you for digging so deep into my background, David. I'm honored.) I grew up in a very poor family. My mother always said we didn't have money to donate, but we had some time we could give. I recognize volunteerism as an opportunity and a requirement to being a citizen in this world. My husband also volunteers, and I believe we're good examples to our children. We must give of our time, treasures, and talents when we can, not only when it's convenient and affordable. Sometimes doing the most mundane things for someone fills me with such humble satisfaction. I gain empathy for others and appreciate what I have even more. I have had so much fun making new friends, working toward a common goal, learning new things, and sharing what I know. And sometimes I've had to receive these gifts of grace from others. I've appreciated them more, knowing what it felt like to walk in their shoes.

Q) I've heard you would like to be a guest on David Letterman's show. I have to ask. Why Letterman?

A) My father watched Johnny Carson every night probably until the night before he died. I like Letterman's style because he never pushes too far with his humor. I think it would be cool to be famous enough to be a guest of his. I always laugh with my sister in-law that she'll have to come with me and give me a shove when he calls my name so I'll know it's really happening. I'd better get writing that best-seller so it can happen before he retires!

Q) Blame yourself for this question. You brought it up. What's a not-so-great beer?

A) Lite beers mostly and any beer that doesn't have much substance. I enjoy a full-bodied beer - everything from Guinness to authentic German beer. My current favorite is Berry Weiss.

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her moniker: Romance with SASS (Suspense Angst Seductive Sizzle). She has a degree in writing and editing and has been a professional writer, editor, and journalist for over 25 years.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions are music, flower gardening, biking, walking her dog on moonlit nights, nature, and making people laugh.

Keep up with Margie:

Margie's website and blog: Romance with SASS ( www.RomanceWithSass.com )

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MargaretRChurch

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/margie.church

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedIn.com/MargieChurch

Noble Romance Buy Link: http://www.nobleromance.com/BrowseListing.aspx?author=102

1Place For Romance Buy Link: http://1placeforromance.com/index.php?searchMe=margie+church&column=author&_a=viewCat

Friday, March 4, 2011

Author William Freedman

William Freedman isn't new to writing, or being published.


Best known for his fictional works such as "Forever and Ever, Amen" and his latest offering, "Land That I Love," Mr. Freedman makes use of his journalism and international business degrees by penning articles for business and financial news outlets. He is topical with a keen eye for cutting through camouflage and trappings to uncover and discuss the heart of any subject matter. Most importantly, he does so with sincerity, honesty, and a sense of wry humor worthy of Jon Stewart.

Though Mr. Freedman is frequently categorized as a science fiction, horror, or dark fantasy writer, what the reader quickly discovers is Mr. Freedman merely transposes his observations of today's world to a future time where our current tribulations have become follies and foibles. While providing us with hours of reading enjoyment, Mr. Freedman also leaves the reader to ponder, to remind us, that what we do today will without a doubt impact what will have to be done tomorrow.

To stay abreast of Mr. Freedman's unique take on our world: http://landthatilovenovel.wordpress.com/

Q) "Land That I Love" is a futuristic parody of U.S. political culture. What prompted you to write this far from the ordinary tale?

A) I wrote it in early 2005 and, if you recall, the United States was essentially a one-party country then. George Bush had just won the 2004 election (I hesitate to say he was re-elected because I don't believe he was actually elected in 2000), had solid Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and hadn't yet wasted all his political capital by screwing up Social Security reform and the Katrina response.

I was in a weird position. On the one hand, I'm a poster child for conservatism: white guy working for a Fortune 500 company, living with his wife and three kids in the suburbs, so I'm a lifestyle conservative. At the time I could claim -- though I don't anymore -- that I was a religious man. I'm still pro-life, although I'd put a whole lot of codicils in that claim. I hold an MBA degree, so I'm by definition a fiscal conservative. As someone who was under fire during the 1991 Gulf War, I didn't need a new reason to support military intervention in Iraq -- knowing full well it had nothing to do with 9/11.

But I also believe in civil rights. I believe in such concepts as habeus corpus and Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure. I don't believe in warrantless wiretaps or torture for torture's sake. And I was concerned -- and these concerns turned out to be well-founded -- that we were fighting two wars without having any idea how we were going to pay for them. One key reason for the economic stagnation of the 1970s was Lyndon Johnson's refusal to raise taxes or cut other spending to pay for military escalation in Vietnam.

But I couldn't voice any of this. If you said anything against the Bush White House, you were "with the terrorists" or "hated our freedoms". I couldn't find anything I was allowed to disagree with the President about and still be considered a good American by my neighbors or co-workers.

Q) You live in New York but chose to have "Land That I Love" published by a South African publisher. How did that decision come about?

A) As you can imagine, nobody wanted to go anywhere near Land That I Love when I wrote it. Some agents and publishers didn't care for it, and that's fair. Others didn't want to get into the risky business of repping a first-time author, especially if he straddled two very difficult genres to market: sci-fi and humor. And I can certainly understand that too. But let me share my favorite rejection with you: “You’re a terrific writer, there’s no doubt about that. And you’ve got a wicked sense of humor … Here’s my problem: editors are shying away from broad satire and parody of the war …. They’re praying mightily that this will all be over soon (well, hell, me too). I don’t think I can sell this simply [be]cause of the topic.” So basically she's saying: The war will be over any day now, so why write about it? That was in 2006.

So it languished in my trunk until about two years ago. I had Facebook-friended a lady named Joan de la Haye. Like me, she's a genre writer (horror, in Joan's case). And she lives in South Africa, a country I've visited on day job business. A few months after we met up on Facebook, she posted a status update saying that she and her friend Caroline Addenbrooke, another genre writer, were establishing their own small press and were looking for manuscripts. It took me about two seconds to reply. They liked Land That I Love and agreed to publish it.

Q) As a writer, you devote much time to encouraging new writers through your creating a science fiction critiquing group and serving as a panelist at writers' conventions. Why do you spend so much time helping others break into writing?

A) Who's helping whom?

Without the monthly crit group meetings, I wouldn't have the deadline pressure that focuses me like nothing else. More importantly, my crit group partners -- and they're not, on average, any more or less "new" than me -- provide insights into what in my first drafts work and what doesn't, and what I can do to improve a scene or a character or a plot thread. And by reading others' works critically, I learn from their mistakes before they become my mistakes.

And as anyone who attends conventions can tell you, we authors go there to market our own wares. There's really nothing altruistic about it.

Q) Your writing bring a freshness to the scene through your humor. Where do you believe your love of laughter comes from?

A) I'm a Jew from New York who tells jokes. Wow. What were the odds? I'm just doing my part to break down barriers and destroy stereotypes.

Q) What's next for William Freedman?

A) I'm about two thousand words shy of finishing my second novel, "Mighty Mighty". It's a superhero spoof, at least superficially. I think it's a much deeper book than "Land That I Love," although I hope it's at least as funny. "Land That I Love" is a political satire; it's about the limits of power and the limitlessness of the arrogance it engenders. "Mighty Mighty" is a social satire about how we all have amazing skills and abilities and yet choose to settle for comfortable mediocrity rather than use them. It's got elements of adventure, romance, family drama and horror in it, but it remains at heart a comedy. If the characters pull down their pants and shpritz each other with seltzer bottles on every page, it stops being funny. So to keep the humor fresh, I'll do anything I can to get you to care about the characters.