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, May 27, 2011

One Stitch at a Time: Author Marie Bostwick

Marie Bostwick is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, and so very much more.

Marie worked in the bean fields of Oregon, sang and danced in musical productions, acted in TV commercials, taught religion to deaf children, ran an event-planning business, directed a medical mission for the poor in Mexico, worked as the scheduler for a U.S. Senator, and directed women’s ministries, amongst other activities. She's also been married for nearly three decades and raised a family.

Throughout, Marie has enjoyed one pastime in particular – quilting. She still participates in quilting bees, though now she takes her favorite chair with her.

Her debut historical romance novel, "Fields of Gold," was quickly followed by "River's Edge." But it was her third novel, which, I believe, opened a door that Marie probably won't ever willingly walk back through. Continuing in the WWII era, Marie wrote "On Wings of the Morning." In this story, Marie enlisted her heroine in the Women Air Force Service Pilots. The heroine wasn't just empowered, but surrounded by other women possessing great internal strength and character. Marie's heroine had backbone, and a whole army of women standing beside her.

Marie carried this theme to her acclaimed Cobbled Court quilters series. The initial novel, "A Single Thread," introduced the ladies of New Bern, and how tragedy and conflict sewed the group of quilters into a sisterhood of solidarity.

Now, in the fourth title of this series, "Threading the Needle" due out May 31st, the sisterhood is confronted with the difficulties of economic downturn and the ensuing destruction hard times can bring to families. More than ever before the ladies will need each other in order to quilt a future from ragged remnants, one stitch at a time.
Marie's Web Site

Q) "Fields of Gold" took four years to write. Then you discovered publication comes with deadlines. How did you cope with learning you only had months to write a second novel?

A) After I stopped hyper-ventilating, I asked my agent to get me more time. Originally, my editor asked for a second book in four months. I knew I there was no way I could write a worthy successor to FIELDS OF GOLD in that amount of time - I still couldn't. Having to deliver a second novel that quickly would have been a deal breaker for me. After a bit of negotiation, we agreed on a one year deadline. It was challenging but doable. That's still about how long it takes me to write a full length novel.

Then and now, I cope with deadlines the same way - by saying no a lot.

I love writing; it is my calling in life. But writing is a jealous mistress. For me, responding to the call to write often means forgoing other opportunities and activities that I might enjoy, guarding my calendar carefully, prioritizing my career, family, and community responsibilities and relationships, and only saying yes to opportunities or requests which fit those priorities.

Q) Your faith in God is unshakeable as is your ministry, and while you instill divine faith in many of your characters, you choose not to "preach" to your readers when you very easily could. Has that decision ever drawn conflict within you?

A) Not really because I'm clear about my purpose in life. I'm not a preacher - I'm a storyteller. My books often integrate questions of faith and spiritual focus because faith is so tightly woven into my everyday life. I suppose it comes under the heading of "writing what you know".

But, the biggest reason I write about issues of faith is because I think that is one of the major questions each person has to wrestle with in life, at least at some point. I work very hard to write books that are relevant to what actual people are actually dealing with. If you're writing about a character as a whole person, someone with feelings, choices, and experiences that ring true, the picture would be incomplete without some examination of the characters spiritual beliefs and struggles. Not all my characters reach the same conclusions in this regard - some embrace faith, some reject it, and some remain undecided.

Q) You once said you become "a new person" when you begin a new story. What did you mean by that?
A) When I began writing in a serious way, I was a corporate wife and a mother with three children living at home. Then two. Then one. Now it's just me, an indifferent cat, a very spoiled Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and a husband who travels a lot. It seems that every year, the makeup of my family and my corresponding responsibilities change. That requires me to adjust my schedule and writing rituals accordingly.

This year, I became a grandmother and so, once again, I'm a new person. I don't have to squeeze my writing into those few hours between school bus pick ups and drop offs anymore, but being a grandmother will definitely mean an adjustment in my writing habits and schedules. Making time to cherish and help nurture my grandson is a priority for me. I love writing, but it isn't my first love. That distinction is reserved for my family.

Q) While filled with many stories, you initially chose WWII as the setting for your first novel. Why?

A) It's just such a fascinating time period. What other period of time so clearly exposed the most noble and most despicable, even depraved, aspects of human character? If you're writing a novel, that kind of conflict between good and evil is rich soil for growing stories.

At the moment, I'm enjoying writing my contemporary stories but I imagine that one day I'll write another historical novel. When I do, I'll likely set it in the period between the wars.

Q) In "A Thread of Truth" you took on the issue of domestic violence. Why did you choose so early in the series to tackle a subject many readers don't care for? It was a gutsy decision.

A) This might sound crazy, or perhaps naive, but I don't think it every occurred to me that readers might back away from the subject of domestic violence. In Ivy Peterman, the heroine of A THREAD OF TRUTH, I knew I had a character who was compelling, complex, believable, and had a story that was relevant and thought-provoking. Those are the essential elements of a good book and I trusted my readers would embrace that. Fortunately, my faith in them was not misplaced.

That being said, it was a difficult book to write and one that stretched me personally and professionally. I had to do a lot of research and talk to a lot of people to be able to understand how smart, kind, caring women find themselves in these situations and why it can be so hard for women to leave violent relationships. I learned a lot while writing A THREAD OF TRUTH and I think those who read it learned something too. The most important thing I learned about domestic violence is that if we just keep pretending that it isn't there or that it isn't happening in our neighborhood, it will continue to flourish.


Friday, May 20, 2011

New York Times Bestselling Author Nancy Bush

In 1975, single and carefree Nancy Bush dared a fortuneteller to read her palm. The verdict of the prophecy Nancy would have one child and become a writer? Ludicrous.

Today, with a husband, one daughter, and over forty novels to her credit, Nancy can still scoff. After all, the fortuneteller missed she'd become a proud grandmother and momma to a pug dog named The Binkster.

Nancy first began writing stories for young adults. Her works include five "Nancy Drew" mysteries under the penname Carolyn Keene. As Nicole Brooks she authored several "Days Of Our Lives" and "General Hospital" novels. She also worked for a time as a breakdown writer for the TV soap "All My Children." Contemporary romance readers may know Nancy as Natalie Bishop or Nancy Kelly.

Not content to be locked into one style of writing, Nancy successfully authored several historical romances such as "Scandal's Darling." Her sights set on new territory, she penned the acclaimed Jane Kelly mystery series starting with "Candy Apple Red."

Teaming up with sister and bestselling author Lisa Jackson, the duo wrote the hugely popular "Wicked Game," a thriller with a taste of the paranormal. Continuing her interest in thrillers, "Unseen" has shivered spines across the country and around the world. "Blind Spot" combined Nancy's love of mystery, romance, and thriller genres.

Nancy's latest offerings "Wicked Lies" (co-authored with Lisa Jackson) and "Hush" - due out, respectively, this June and July – are sure to once again keep readers turning the page.

Now, I have to be honest. Kensington Books sent me an advanced copy of "Wicked Lies." Oh, my. You don't want to miss this one.
http://www.nancybush.net/

Q) You hold a degree in Foods and Nutrition. What turned you from a career in that field to writing?

A) Motherhood. I was home with my 1-year-old daughter at the time and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I read an article in TIME Magazine about young mothers who were making a living writing romance novels. This was in (ahem) 1981. (Sheesh, I’ve been at this awhile!) I told my sister about the article and we sat down and wrote our first novel together, which was rejected all over the place. Deciding we wouldn’t listen to the advice of experts, we began writing separate novels and eventually each sold. Lo, these many years later we finally started writing together again, 2009’s "Wicked Game" and now 2011’s "Wicked Lies."

Q) With you and your sister having such amazing talent, is there a family member you attribute your literary gene to, or one who inspired you to pursue your dreams?

A) Everybody was a reader in my family, so that probably kicked off both of our interest. My sister was the one who dreamed of writing, but I was a science major and thought writing papers was a total pain. Still do. But I was a voracious reader. Lisa was kind of into the horse thing but I devoured mysteries, any I could get my hands on, and then thrillers.

Q) You once said the Jane Kelly mysteries is your favorite of all your work. Does that still hold true, and if so, when can Jane's fans look forward to another helping?

A) Jane Kelly and her exploits are still my absolute favorite books to write. They’re like the dessert at the end of the meal. I’m working on the fourth book. I really want to see it published, but I’ve taken a turn into thrillers and the audience has grown so fast that it kind of derailed my publishing plan for Jane! I really want to get back to the mystery series but I just don’t know when that’s going to happen yet.

Q) Holding the distinction of being a NYT Bestselling Author, does that distinction ever become a millstone pressuring you to repeat that achievement?

A) Not on your life. It’s like the best thing ever! Fans of my thrillers have put me there, and it’s one of the reasons I’m having trouble getting back to Jane, Dwayne and The Binkster. Not that I’m complaining!

Q) When it's time to step away from the keyboard and reconnect with your husband, what do the two of you do to rekindle your own romantic story?

A) You know that 1-year-old daughter I mentioned earlier? Well, she grew up and moved to California, got married and had two little girls of her own. What does it say about our romantic story that my husband and I make visiting her and playing grandparents to both of those two little girls our favorite vacation? Okay, we do get out of the Oregon rain, too, so maybe that counts. But after our vacation time with them, we tend to get on the airplane home and pass out before the plane’s even in the air. The combined energy level of a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old is awesome to behold. Our vacation from our vacation is being home with the DVR and saved episodes of MODERN FAMILY, HOUSE and THE GOOD WIFE!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Award-Winning Author Rick R Reed

Rick R. Reed, to the casual observer, appears to be an unassuming, polite, and sometimes shy man unobtrusively residing in Seattle, WA, with his life-partner and a Boston Terrier named Lily.

What lies beneath this man's calm exterior is a mind capable of producing unforgettable tales of horror, romance, and tragedy that have been compared to Stephen King, called "an established brand," won awards, and are constantly evolving. Each Rick R. Reed story takes the readers on a journey in which we may tremble, cry, laugh, swear we want to end, but yet, we will not close the book until the last word has been read.

Masterful prose provides settings and characters readers simply cannot get enough of. Rick's ability to cross and blur genre lines has enthralled readers around the world. His stories know no boundaries and courageously open doors some would rather remain closed. His settings may go from a penthouse to Mr. Leather night in an alley club; from characters trying to discover how they fit in a world they don't understand (Dignity Takes a Holiday) to the tragedy of sacrificing passion in order to know love (In the Blood).

His paranormal novel, "The Blue Moon Café" was named the 2010 Book of the Year by Rainbow Awards for Excellence. The dark and suspenseful "How I Met My Man" is currently receiving rave reviews.

Rick's voice is powerful, compassionate, and here to stay.
Website: http://www.rickrreed.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickRReed
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rickrreed
Blog http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/

Q) Originally, horror and suspense were the centerpieces for your stories. You are now branching out to intriguing tales of romance. What has inspired your shift in focus?

A) I think, as I've grown older and more settled in my life, I'm now more than ready to explore the vagaries of romantic relationships and how human beings interact with one another. I like to write about how people connect, what makes them long for connection, and what can get in the way of that connection. Those themes are timeless and universal. I especially like combining dark suspense with romance.

Q) You have worked as an advertising copywriter and as a movie critic in Chicago. Your entire life revolves around writing. What is it about the written word that has bound you to it so exclusively?

A) I have almost always written. I wrote short stories when I was a small child, a play in 4th grade, a novella in 5th that I read in serial installments to my class…writing is simply something that's constitutional with me, a part of me. I don't look at it as a job or a hobby, but who I am. It's what I do best…and so it's natural that it also plays a part in how I've always made my living.

Q) "Tales From the Sexual Underground" sent you on an odyssey in which you interviewed porn stars, prostitutes, self-proclaimed sex pigs, and delved into bizarre sexual practices. The stories are provocative and, at times, difficult to read. Why was this book so important to you?

A) The book evolved from a column I used to write for a Chicago weekly and many of the columns I wrote at the time are reproduced in the book with some explanatory manner. So are many short stories I wrote which revolve around people living on the sexual edge. I guess what fascinates me about the subject matter is what fascinates me about human behavior--what drives people and what sometimes compels them to do things that they know logically they should resist, but can't.

Q) In "Deadly Vision" you send out a clear message about the importance of a mother's bond with her children. That story was a bit of a departure for you. Why did you feel the need to tell it?

A) The story is not really a departure. It's a story of dark suspense about a reluctant psychic having visions into the murders of young girls in her small hometown. So I think it fits quite well into my canon. But the mother/child bond is central to the story thematically…probably because it was written as my own mother was dying from cancer.

Q) Obviously, you have to step away from the computer. What relaxes and reenergizes you?

A) I happen to live in the Pacific Northwest, which is beautiful and great for outdoor stuff like running, walking, and hiking, all of which I love to do. When I can't get outside, I go to the gym and work out with weights or on the treadmill or cross trainer. Aside from that I love to cook, read constantly, and enjoy movies and theater.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Readers' Writers - 52nd Edition

Yes, indeed. Readers have been welcoming our little column into their lives for the journalistic equivalent of a year. Thank you. For without you, the readers, this column simply wouldn't exist. That's a fact. So, thank you again.

But for a column dedicated to authors and the readers who enjoy them to happen requires a lot of people behind the scenes. Eric Petermann, former editor of the (Freeport) Journal-Standard, first took interest in the concept of interviewing writers, not just doing book reviews. I'd wanted a way to thank authors Sam Reaves and Barbara Sheridan for their mentoring of my story writing. Eric saw potential for a continuing article, and quick as that The Readers' Writers was born.

GateHouse News Service liked what they saw, and a twice-a-month column became a weekly.

Jane Lethlean and Bethany Strunk now spearhead the nuts and bolts of ensuring timely publication, as well as keeping me in line – not always an easy job.

Then, of course, are the authors themselves. Wouldn't be much of a column if there wasn't anyone to interview. Fortunately, the majority of published authors and their agents and publicists (we can't forget those folks) are some of the kindest, warmest people you could spend time with. They really are, and over the last year we've badgered, I mean harangued, uhm… interviewed… fifty-one of them.

From Adrian Dodson, author of one book, to Robert J. Sawyer, one of the most award-winning authors ever, to Charlaine Harris, one of the most recognized authors of our time, writers have availed themselves to us in order to be introduced to you, the readers.

Yes. Basically, I'm just the middleman, the literary maitre d' providing you the best seat possible to a day in the life of our favorite writers. And I thank all of you, readers, writers, and newspaper staff across the country, for the opportunity.

So, what to do, who to interview for this particular edition?

One writer, nearly unknown, yet read weekly from coast-to-coast, hinted that he might be willing to consent. He's a bit of a grouch, hard to live with, and very stubborn. Still, for whatever reason, my wife's remained married to him for sixteen years. Apparently she likes long-term challenges.

His name's KevaD, though we know him better as David "DA" Kentner.

A former army medic, EOD specialist, police officer and police chief, auctioneer, furniture restorer, and antiques dealer, KevaD clearly can't hold a job. But he loves to write – about anything. When not at the keyboard, shoveling snow or mowing their five acres outside Freeport, IL, he's trying to explain to his wife SOAPnet and the Game network aren't the only channels on TV, and that pizza really is a required food group.

Q) "Sunday Awakening" isn't quite like other romantic suspense novels. Where did that story come from?

A) "Sunday Awakening" originated from a news story about a young woman kidnapped at an early age and discovered alive years later. At the same time, documentaries investigating sexual slavery were being aired on TV. I wondered what a contemporary woman raised in bondage would do, what obstacles she would be willing to risk her life to overcome, in order to find the family she's never known, and the life she never had.

My character Cheryl needed a man as strong and courageous as she is, and willing to give his life without hesitation in order to gain her trust – and she doesn't trust easily. Taylor Hughes was as necessary as oxygen, because, in the end, home really is where the heart is, and Cheryl deserved only the finest of hearts to call home.

Q) Where did the name "KevaD" come from?

A) I'd been writing and unsuccessfully submitting novels to agents and publishers for two years. Then I was welcomed into ERAuthors, a writers' critiquing group comprised of new, seasoned, and a couple of bestselling authors. Those folks explained I had a lot to learn. I was a willing student.

I critiqued a chapter for gay fiction author Ash Penn. She asked if I'd ever considered writing gay fiction. I said, no. She said I should, as she was impressed with what I'd suggested. I laughed. Ash insisted. I gulped.

My gay romantic comedy "Out of the Closet" became my first published novella, and continues to be my best selling story. Since I'd taken a step I'd never envisioned, I selected a pen name I felt appropriate – KevaD – Dave K through the looking glass.

Q) I hear you just won a national writing competition.

A) Yes, I did. Thanks for mentioning it.

My short story "The Caretaker" took 1st Place in Calliope magazine's (A Publication of The Writers' Specialized Interest Group (SIG) of American Mensa, Ltd.) 18th annual short fiction contest. The story will appear in their Summer Edition sometime after June.

I hope folks will take the time to read it. I'm obviously pretty proud of that story.

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Ladies and gentlemen, from my heart, thank you so very much for allowing me into your busy lives this past year, and I sincerely hope you will continue to enjoy what we do here.