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, April 29, 2011

Medium and Author Maureen Hancock

Maureen Hancock didn't just write a book – this energetic and profound lady lives and embodies every word.

"The Medium Next Door" is an account of Maureen's experiences as a psychic who, in her words, "sees and hears dead people" and the help to individuals and law enforcement she has provided over the years. But it is also a book designed to provide reflection and insight the reader can use to improve their own circumstances and health.

A standup comedian, Maureen infuses her gift of laughter into all she does. Be it with her readings, assisting to locate a lost child, or comforting those grieving, Maureen extols the joys and miracles of life and how each of us can find peace and the strength to move forward.

Children have been and remain a top priority. To that end Maureen co-founded the not-for-profits Seeds of Hope, which provides holistic care for cancer patients and support for parents who have lost children, and Mission for the Missing, providing assistance and equipment in missing children and adult cases.

Though already nationally renowned, Maureen is about to enter all of our homes through a reality TV show scheduled this fall courtesy Disney ABC. So, don't turn that dial, because there is much more to come from Maureen Hancock.
http://www.maureenhancock.com/

Q) What is the one message you hope "The Medium Next Door" leaves with your readers?

A) The one message I hope my book "The Medium Next Door" leaves with my readers is that those that have gone home before us are simply not dead; just different. The bonds of love cannot be broken by this temporary, physical separation. We all have experienced losing a loved one. In my book, I help readers understand that the layers of grief can be peeled away by opening up to the possibility of the continuity of life.

Q) A wife and mother devoted to her family, yet so busy making personal appearances, and now a reality TV show, how do you balance your time with your loved ones?

A) In dealing with death on a daily basis, I've come to realize what a gift each day is. Witnessing families squeezing every morsel of joy out of their remaining time together has helped me to align my own priorities. I made a promise to myself and my family a few years back when I found I was trying to "squeeze in" family time. I now vow to work to live, not live to work. I make sure to schedule my charity work during the day when my children are at school. My events take place a few nights a week after sports, homework and a hot meal. Time is the one thing we will never get back~I choose to use it wisely and carve memories in my heart.

Q) You are on the verge of becoming a "household name," a celebrity recognized everywhere you go. Some handle such notoriety with grace, some spiral out of control. Are you and your family prepared for the inevitable changes fame brings?

A) I will admit I am a bit anxious about becoming a "household name." Thankfully, I am grounded in my life's mission and feel humbled to be able to share my message with the world. I've been offered a handful of television opportunities over the years and am proud to say I turned them down. The time just wasn't right, the networks didn't have my best interest at heart, and my children were too young. I plan to take one day at a time and remain true to my beliefs and my ultimate goal. No matter what road fame takes me down, I will have my boys on one arm and my husband on the other.

Q) To whom or what do you attribute your innate, quick wit and charm?

A) I attribute my quick wit and charm to my mother, Gracie. Growing up she was the loud, boisterous, strong-willed Irish woman who woke me to do chores early on a Saturday morning. I shrank in the front row pew at Sunday Mass as she bellowed hymns at the top of her lungs. At a family function, the whole room would gather around Gracie's table as she told a joke or shared a funny story. I now wake my children to do chores, I sing in the back pew at church, and I attract a crowd at any event as I share her stories which have now become my stories. I hold my head high realizing that I am slowly becoming my mother.

Q) Life is about moving forward, and you have accomplished so very much in your life. What is your ultimate goal? How would you like to be remembered?

A) My ultimate goal in doing this work is to teach people about living life to the fullest before we leave our leased vehicle behind. I hope to relieve the pain of the masses and show people how to open up to infinite possibilities. My vehicle will be public speaking, additional books, and growing my not-for-profit charities. I hope my mission to give back is contagious.

I would like to be remembered as the girl next door with a twist who never judged, loved unconditionally, gave back in humble ways, and touched thousands of lives with her light-hearted message of unending love and life. I hope the dash between my years is in bold and holds many memories my children can be proud of. Oh, and I'd like to be remembered as a kick-arse "Overseas Operator" bridging the gap between here and there.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Award-winning Author Brett Battles

Brett Battles is an author, world traveler, and devoted father. His thrilling tales about a cleaner's exploits encompass the world. A "cleaner" is a person who disposes of bodies so no trace remains of the killing or the crime scene. Jonathon Quinn is Brett's recurring protagonist who contracts with a covert agency to clean up their messes, and usually finds himself embroiled in a mess of his own.

What Brett adds to his creatively crafted plots is a reality far beyond his marvelously twisted imagination. As a lover of travel, Brett includes personal observations into his stories. This compulsion to provide genuineness to his readers extends to his uncommon practice of photographing and videotaping people on the street in order to capture their miniscule quirks and gestures, their unique styles of dress, and their expressions, which he then implants into his characters.

Such devotion to detail has produced acclaimed and award-winning novels such as "The Deceived" and his latest release "The Silenced."

This desire for detail also happened to snap a photograph of Paris Hilton scanning the self-help/relationship section in a bookstore. True story.

Brett's books have been distributed around the world, and his fan base continues to grow. The reason is, Brett Battles' stories draw the reader in to international intrigue, suspense, and danger. When you sit down with one of Brett's books, be it a Quinn tale such as "Shadow of Betrayal" or the Logan Harper thriller "Little Girl Gone," make sure your calendar's cleared. Or, if it isn't, Brett knows a cleaner who just might be able to help you out.
http://www.brettbattles.com/

Q) Your taste for life is eclectic. Your music choices range from Billie Holiday to David Bowie. Movies: from Casablanca to The Matador. What drew your focus to writing suspense-filled thrillers?

A) I’ve been a thriller fan since I was a kid, so it must be something sewn into my DNA. I remember reading stories like ICE STATION ZEBRA by Alistair MacLean and BLACK SUNDAY by Thomas Harris and absolutely loving them.

Q) In "Shadow of Betrayal," you focus on children, some with special needs. You, yourself, have a child with Down's syndrome. Obviously, this book was difficult for you to write. So, why did you?

A) Why? That’s a good question, but one I don’t think I have a clear answer for. I had this scene in my mind before I started, a quiet little scene with Quinn and a child with Down Syndrome. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, or if I even wanted to do it. That scene did make it into my book, and while it was quick, it may have been one of the hardest I’ve ever written. I got very emotional while I was working on it.

Q) You have adapted quite well to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. How important do you believe similar sites will be to an author's popularity in the future?

A) I think they are very important now, and will be even more so in the future. With the move to more and more people reading ebooks, these online venues become the primary place where authors can connect with the readers and where they can share news about new work. They can definitely be exciting and all consuming, but they are here to stay.

Q) You travel extensively. Does the traveling inspire your stories, or do the stories inspire you to travel?

A) Yes and yes. They feed into each other. Sometimes I’m traveling and a scene will come to me. For instance, I have this image in my mind of Nate (Quinn’s apprentice) standing on a dock along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok watching the water...that came to me while I was there. Haven’t written it yet, but it will probably be in the next Quinn book. Other times go to a location with a story already in mind and look around for specific locales that will help me out. I did this with THE SILENCED by purposely traveling to London and Paris, knowing the book would be largely set there.

Q) "The Silenced" is the fourth novel for Jonathon Quinn. Do you plan to continue this series, or is Quinn's dangerous lifestyle catching up with him?

A) Definitely will be more Quinn books, but Quinn is also starting to show the strain. In THE SILENCED his past comes into direct contact with his Cleaner life, and that is something he never thought would happen. That’s going to have a big effect on him. Plus he’s been growing slowly disenchanted with his profession, and that’s going to make things interesting. Then there’s his whole relationship with his girlfriend and partner Orlando and where is that going. Plus his apprentice Nate, what does his future hold? This is a long way of saying there’s a lot more to come! I’ll be sitting down to write the next one in a few months, and can’t wait to get back into his world.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Author Jerri Drennen

Born in Nebraska, raised in Minnesota, and now residing in Missouri, author Jerri Drennen is, first and foremost, a wife and mother of four devoted to her family. She is also quite shy and reserved, until she begins adding another story to her list of published novels.

It is then Jerri fills the page with thrilling adventures of love found, lost, recovered, or yet to be in settings such as the bayous of Louisiana, the Florida Everglades, the Amazon jungles, or just about anywhere the reader can imagine. Add in some stolen jewels, a hidden treasure, or a maniacal killer or two on the loose, and you have a peek inside the mind of one of today's up and coming fiction romance writers.

Jerri enjoys writing series such as the Aztec Security series of which "Mauvelous" and "Caddy-Did" are a part of to her latest, the Men of the Jungle series, which houses the attention-getting novel "Untouched," and the just released "Unplanned." And let's not forget the Denver Homicide and Men of the Black Stallion series.

Her gutsy heroines and muscled heroes with theirsometimes-questionable motives are as diverse as the captivating settings. Jerri is well on her way to becoming very established in the world of fiction. So, grab one of her books, turn off the TV, send the kids outside to play, and enjoy the ride right along with her.


http://www.jerridrennen.com/

Q) I've heard you're addicted to yard sales. What's your best find so far?

A) I find treasures all the time, but last year I found this cute little black dress that still had the tag on it, which I paid a dollar for.

Q) You have referred to romance as the "music of your heart." Do you prefer the journey toward love between your characters, or the moment they surrender to their love?

A) I like building up to love more than anything. When the characters are just becoming aware of the sexual tension between them. That's with reading and writing romance.

Q) You are a vegetarian. Do you plant (terrible pun intended) your beliefs in to your characters? Why or why not?


A) I believe I've only had one character who was vegetarian. I love animals, and that was catalyst to me becoming one, but I don't try and sway anyone into the no-meat lifestyle--though both my daughters and one of my son's are vegetarian.

Q) In "Unplanned," you truly are continuing an intriguing subplot started in "Untouched." What inspired you to do that?

A) When I was writing Untouched, I knew I'd have to write Galen's story once I got to know him, though he was a difficult hero to write. Some might even say he's a anti-hero. He hides his pain behind a carefree, unemotional attitude. The man is closed off and afraid to connect with people--especially women because of something dark in his past.

Q) What draws you to writing series and not stand-alone novels?

A) I've been writing series for a long time, though I have written a number of stand-alone as well. My first series was the Department of National Security series, based around a fictitious agency, not unlike the CIA. My reasons for writing them are simply, I have a hard time letting go of characters. I want to keep them around as long as I can, even if that means making them secondary character in the next book.

I want to thank you so much for having me here today!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pulitzer Nominee Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH

Dr. Yvonne Thornton: First American woman to be accepted into the OB/GYN residency program at The Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, first black woman in the U.S. to be Board-certified in High-Risk obstetrics and to be accepted into The New York Obstetrical Society, established and developed the program for a new form of early prenatal diagnostic testing known as CVS (chorionic villus sampling), outspoken advocate on women's health issues, spokesperson for The March of Dimes, hosted her own television show on women's health, Pulitzer Prize nominee and bestselling author, wife and oh, so proud mother.

Obviously, such a gifted and successful woman had to have been born into a family and circumstances that afforded such opportunities. Dear reader, if you believe that, you are so very wrong... and so very right.

Dr. Thornton and her five sisters are the daughters of father, Donald, and mother, Itasker, whose wealth was the love and determination to succeed they bestowed upon their children. Donald Thornton was a ditchdigger who worked two full-time jobs to put food on the table. Donald's guidance and creed of "Don't let anyone define who you are" instilled the sisters with the understanding that intelligent and educated are not synonyms. And, that by combining intelligence, drive, and courage, any goal is attainable.

Dr. Thornton stands today as the ultimate example of that philosophy.

In the heart wrenching and inspiring novel "The Ditchdigger's Daughters," Dr. Thornton shares her upbringing and the family values that gave her the strength and faith to venture into a world with many doors closed to women, and especially black women.

"Something to Prove: A Daughter's Journey to Fulfill a Father's Legacy" is Dr. Thornton's personal story of how, armed with her father's teachings, she ascended to the top of her field despite setbacks, bias, and a white male-dominated field.

As a result of Dr. Thornton's continuing dedication to helping women "INSIDE INFORMATION FOR WOMEN: Answers to the Mysteries of the Female Body and Her Health" was released this year.
http://www.doctorthornton.com/

Q) A question from my wife: Why did you choose to pursue a career specializing in obstetrics and gynecology?

A) The answer is in my first memoir, The Ditchdigger's Daughters ("The Thornettes"). I didn't choose obstetrics, I think it chose me. At the age of eight years of age, I was witness to a precipitous delivery in an elevator.

Q) You and your husband, though so busy with your distinguished medical careers, both volunteered to serve active duty in the U.S. Navy. Why?

A) That answer is also in my first memoir ("Navy Blue and Black"). However, it was my husband's fervent belief that, as Americans, we should all give back in service to our country.

Q) Excluding family, what would you consider your crowning achievement; the one accomplishment you feel defines your character?

A) I can't exclude my family because they are the essence of my being and my children are my most valued accomplishment. My husband is my champion. After that, being the first black woman in the United States to be Board-certified in High-Risk Obstetrics is my highest professional accomplishment.

Q) I've heard a rumor about a T-bird and its role in some college shenanigans. Care to share a story or two?

A) If you define "shenanigans" as commuting back and forth home from Monmouth College (West Long Branch to Long Branch) in my fabulous 1965 Thunderbird convertible with sequential turning signals, well that was about it.

Q) Your father said, "If you look back and think you did a whole lot then, you're not doin' a damn thing now." So, what's next for Dr. Yvonne Thornton?

A) He is absolutely right!! My plans are to continue my parents' legacy by supporting and encouraging my children to leap and go as high as their talents will allow. As for me, my hope is that the book (The Ditchdigger's Daughters) will be adapted into a Broadway musical (from the page to the stage)!

Friday, April 1, 2011

An Interview with Effervescent Kristina McMorris

Kristina McMorris has been in the media spotlight most of her life. At age nine, and for the next five years, she hosted an Emmy and Ollie award-winning children's TV show. Pursuing her affinity for acting, Ms McMorris joined the cast of Days of Our Lives for a time, and performed a comedy sketch with Jay Leno. From 2001 – 2008, she hosted the WB's Weddings Portland Style. Add owning her own full-service wedding and event planning business (Best Kept Secret) and serving as Director of Public Relations and Special Events to the Yoshida Group for ten-years, and you tend to get the idea Ms McMorris doesn't sit still very often.

However, a very special man managed to hold her heart in one place long enough to convince her to marry him and give birth to their two sons. The family continues to reside in the Pacific Northwest.

But, we're not done yet.

Ms McMorris became a contributing writer to Portland Bride and Groom magazine. Now that Kristina possessed professional writing experience, Ms McMorris’s grandmother called upon Kristina to do her a small favor – type up a few of Grandma's recipes for the grandkids. Over a thousand recipes later, the small favor became the self-published cookbook "Grandma Jean's Rainy Day Recipes" with the proceeds going to aid the Food Bank.
One day Grandma shared with Kristina the letters she had saved from her beau and future husband, a WWII navy man. The letters had carried the young lovers-to-be through the war and home again. Her grandparents' love story contained in those letters ignited a flame within Kristina that eventually became her debut women's fiction novel, "Letters From Home," an intricately woven tale of love and deception. A portion of sales proceeds benefit United Through Reading®, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children.

Currently, Kristina is hard at work on her second novel for Kensington Publishing.

http://www.kristinamcmorris.com/index.php

Q) You are so incredibly devoted to your family, how do you juggle all you do and maintain such strong ties?

A) You mean, aside from not sleeping much?...

Seriously, though, it's always a challenge to maintain a healthy balance -- as so many parents know. I'm fortunate in that I indeed love my job, and since I can write anywhere, I also have the luxury of being home when our kids return from school every day. On the other hand, working out of the house can make it especially difficult to limit my "office hours." So I simply do my best to stay aware in that regard, and to not only be present while spending time with my children, but to actually make them feel a part of my literary journey.

Q) Near death as a newborn, you credit Seattle Children's Hospital with saving your life. As an active advocate for children's health, what message would you like to share with parents?

A) My parents were barely making ends meet when I was hospitalized for severe jaundice. After a week of intensive care that saved my life, the nurse presented a bill for only $250 and simply encouraged my parents to "give back" one day if they were able. It's that spirit of "paying it forward" that we could never have enough of in this world. Being half Japanese, I'm touched by how many people are doing just that for families in Japan today.

Whether for good health or a solid roof overhead, it's always a helpful reminder to appreciate what we're given.

Q) I heard you have a children's picture book completed. Can we expect to see that on the bookshelves in the near future?

A) Wow, you've done your homework!

Since my children won't be old enough to read my wartime novels for quite some time, I penned a children's picture book to tide them over. It prompted plenty of giggles among them and their friends, so during a pause between deadlines, I decided to aim for picture-book publication. Well, that pause didn't last long, plus I realized it would be wiser to remain focused on my current career path than to dilute my efforts -- at least for the time being. So for now, that manuscript is in a drawer. But hopefully someday I'll be able to share it with others.

Q) For authenticity sake, you interviewed WWII veterans. What affect did hearing their personal stories have on you?

A) While researching for my new novel, LETTERS FROM HOME, I've been deeply moved by memoirs from various veterans, ranging from GIs in European trenches to nurses in the Pacific Islands. But interviewing vets in person has by far been the most rewarding experience. I'll never forget a Japanese-American man tearing up as he recounted the night his unit shot down a squadron of Japanese fighter planes, one of which he later discovered had contained his brother. Nor will I forget another WWII veteran who, after generously combing my manuscript for any historical errors, looked me in the eye and simply said, "You got it right."

How could any other compliment compare?

Now when I see elderly strangers, I view them in a very different light. I often find myself trying to imagine what kind of life they've had, or what they looked like in their youth, and if time and opportunity allows, I enjoy asking them questions.

Q) Not to be maudlin, but with all you have done and will do, what is the one accomplishment you hope your children will be proudest of?

A) No doubt, it's been a treat having them see "Mommy's book" on store shelves. What I'm proudest of, however, is that through my literary accomplishments, along with a folder of rejection letters, I've been able to provide them with tangible proof of what determination can bring. And I'm happy to say that it seems to have worked. For just after they helped me cut open my very first box of galleys, rather than exclaiming "That's so cool" or "You're so lucky," they both hugged me and said, "Mom, I'm so proud of you. You worked so hard."

That's when I fully realized the lesson they had learned, and for that I'm extremely grateful.