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, January 27, 2012

Intuitive Author Jim Wawro

In 1921, Carl Jung theorized intuition as “irrational function” and “perception via the unconscious.” Psychology and science continue to try and understand where intuition comes from and how it plays in our daily lives, potentially the universe, as well as how intuition can be harnessed.

Cornell Law School graduate Jim Wawro chose a different route. Utilizing everyday terms, Wawro wrote “Ask Your Inner Voice,” a book designed to aid each of us not just in understanding what intuition is, but its significance as inner wisdom and how to reap the benefits of that wisdom.

While on the surface the subject may sound complicated, credit Wawro’s vast experience in communication as an attorney and public speaker with reducing the complex into a written dialogue designed to be discussed over coffee or the neighbor’s fence, and since we’re talking about a book… a very enjoyable read that includes references to historical figures as well as interviews with contemporary notables such as Oprah Winfrey and modern day spiritual messenger Neal Donald Walsch.

We all have intuition: that unexplainable turn right when logic said ‘left,’ carrying an umbrella on a cloudless day, the trip we opt to reschedule for no apparent reason, or our child we suddenly decide to drive to school one morning instead of letting him or her walk.

Why do we do these things and how can we best tap into this unconscious wisdom and make it conscious? “Ask Your Inner Voice” provides those answers and more.
http://activateintuition.com/

Q) Briefly, when and how did you first realize intuition was something each of us could tap into and use to our advantage?

A) When I was trying cases, I would often get powerful intuitive “hits” that usually proved exactly correct—particularly in the jury selection process where intuition is about the only thing you have to go on. As I got comfortable with using intuition, I realized that I could actively call on it to get meaningful answers. I’m basically a trial lawyer, not a psychic, and I soon came to understand that intuition is simply an inherent human power that everyone has if they want to develop it.

Q) What is it about intuition that caused you to explore it to the depths of writing a book?

A) After experiencing several instances of surprisingly accurate intuition, I decided to look into what has been written throughout history about intuition to see what more I could do with it. And I found that not much has in fact been written about intuition. So, since I found it so valuable in my life, I thought I could make a contribution by writing a basic book about how anyone can actively use their own intuition.

Q) You headed a 1400-lawyer firm, regularly lecture on a variety of topics, and have written articles in a growing number of journals and magazines. So, I have to ask, did or have you met with resistance to your belief in our ability to accept intuition as a personal wisdom we can each empower?

A) Everyone has had a remarkable hunch, coincidence, or intuition come to them at least once in their lifetime. So people generally accept that they do receive valid inner messages that they should pay attention to. In fact, if you don’t acknowledge the validity of inner messages from conscience, for example, society calls you a sociopath. The only real resistance I’ve encountered is as to how much to trust intuition; whether to rely on intuition instead of “cold, hard facts.” But I’ve rarely met an individual who felt comfortable ignoring a strong “gut feeling,” and that goes for some pretty tough customers, including police officers and trial lawyers.

Q) How has channeling intuition changed your life?

A) That story is told in Ask Your Inner Voice:

It happened at about 6:20 p.m. just as it was getting dark on a rainy Southern California winter evening. After driving into the street-level secured parking for my condominium complex, I got out of my car as the lattice-work metal garage door was sliding closed. When the door slid to within about four feet of closing, a person ran from the sidewalk into the garage. He was about 5'8", weighed about 140 pounds, and was in his early twenties. I am much bigger than he was. He had a bandana pulled up around his nose. As he ran past the closing gate, I heard him pump a round into the firing chamber of the pistol he was holding.

He ran toward me and demanded the gold Rolex I was wearing. I was not afraid but I was very alert. I was not at all thinking of being spiritual. I could not see him clearly because he was backlit by the fading daylight from the garage door. He repeated the demand. By this time he was nearly next to me. I took off the watch and gave it to him. I was standing by the open car door. At this point he said: “Turn around and lie down in the car.” My first thought was that he wanted to kill me.

I paused for a moment trying to decide whether to attempt to overpower him or to, as I then thought, let him kill me. I decided to try to overpower him. When I got that thought, almost immediately I received a deep inner knowing that the reason for his demand was only that he wanted a clean getaway. I paused for an instant to consider whether to follow that inner feeling. He repeated the command that I turn around and lie down in the car. I decided to follow the inner knowing. At that point he simply ran away. There I stayed for a moment, completely unhurt, oddly relieved that the garish Rolex was out of my life, and feeling compassion for a young man whose life was supported by armed robbery. The emotion of the experience was gone within the hour.

I repeated the incident to a friend, who commented “You just bet your life on your inner voice.”

Q) Why should a working mother of three read “Ask Your Inner Voice”?

A) Mothers know that they often have to use their intuition to make decisions in the best interests of their family based on incomplete information. Ask Your Inner Voice sets out a few, historically proven steps for them to use to verify that they have connected with their intuition and that the information they have received from within is reliable. If you’d like to be centered and to make wise decisions with confidence, this book’s for you.

Q) Any parting comments for your readers?

A) You don’t have to wait for intuition to come to you. You can ask your inner voice any question about finances, health, or relationships and get reliable answers. Try it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Author Sherri Wood Emmons

Sherri Wood Emmons is a graduate of Earlham College and the University of Denver Publishing Institute. A mother of three, she lives in Indiana with her husband, two fat beagles, and four spoiled cats. As a freelance journalist she has covered stories from the joy of children helping their church and community, to the tragedy and heartbreak of Pati Hensley whose husband was kidnapped and ultimately executed in Iraq.

Sherri’s own childhood involved the coal mining area of the Coal River Valley, West Virginia, and the strong family relationships forged through both love and necessity. It would seem almost prophetic that when Sherri penned her debut novel “Prayers and Lies” the story would involve the complexities of love and betrayal within a family, and an ending of hope built upon human frailty and the strength to overcome, accept, and even forgive. “Prayers and Lies” contains characters a reader will cheer for, and ones we can’t help but loath, and then worry about as they come to terms with their demons and seek to rectify the damage they have done.

Now Sherri’s second novel of family “The Sometimes Daughter” is set for release. Judy is a child of the sixties, raised around flowers, protests, and non-commitment. She grows as her mother seemingly refuses to, including avoiding her nurturing role in Judy’s life. Once again, Sherri provides readers with a finely crafted story of broken relationships, promises never kept, and a child becoming a young woman who must in the end define life and family in her own terms and prepare for the day the mother she never knew decides to come home to her sometimes daughter.

Kensington Books provided me the opportunity to preview “The Sometimes Daughter.” It’s a story well worth reading, and then discussing with family, friends, and book club members. http://www.sherriwoodemmons.com/

Q) Why did you choose the sixties as the opening stage for “The Sometimes Daughter”?

A) A few years ago, my husband and I watched a documentary on Woodstock. At some point during the festival, they announced over the loud speaker that a woman was having a baby in the hospital tent. And I thought, what would that be like, to be born at Woodstock? The story flowed from that original thought. Also, I was a child in the sixties, so it’s familiar territory for me.

Q) Has your faith conflicted with your stories of family relationships that travel some very irregular paths?

A) I think there is a faith element to both of my books. In “Prayers and Lies,” what saves the family from complete chaos is Helen’s strong faith. And throughout the story we see Bethany struggling to make sense of the bad things that happen in her world, and she does that through a lens of faith. In “The Sometimes Daughter,” Cassie is on a search for meaning. She goes about it in all the wrong ways, but at the core, she is looking for a meaning greater than herself.

I find people’s faith journeys fascinating. Whether Christian or Buddhist or Bahá’í or whatever, I think all of us are searching for meaning in life. We just go about it in different ways.

Q) “Prayers and Lies” includes the sometimes uncomfortable topic of child abuse, and then presents a not so customary conclusion. Why did you decide to make abuse part of that story?

A) The abuse was an intrinsic part of the story, and so I chose to hit it head on. I tried not to be too explicit, but Reana Mae’s relationships with her mother and her uncle make her who she is. They shape how she views the world and how she responds to the world.

The scenes between Reana and her uncle were very difficult to write. My own daughter was about the same age as Reana when I was writing that part of the story, and sometimes after I wrote I had to take a walk to just calm down and distance myself from the story. I know they are hard to read, but ultimately, I think they are necessary to the story.

Q) As your stories focus on families caught in the darker side and struggling to find happiness, what do you do with your own family to ensure your children don’t fall into the tribulations your characters do?

A) My husband and I have three great kids. We are a blended family, so there are some additional challenges there, but we made the decision early on that we wanted our home to be welcoming to our kids and their friends. That sometimes meant a lot of noise and chaos, and sometimes lots of kids around the dinner table, but it also meant we always knew our children’s friends. I think that’s important.

We always sat down for dinner together, we read together and played together, and I spent a lot of time at school events, dance recitals, and band concerts.

In the end, though, I think we were also just really lucky. Our kids are now healthy, happy young adults, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Q) I noted in a previous interview a reference to “Lies and Prayers” taking shape in your teen years. How long did it take to write that story, and why did you devote so much time to it?

A) I didn’t set out to write a novel, actually. My family spent summers in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia when I was a child, and I wanted my own kids to have a feel for where their family came from. So I started just writing about that time and place, and it turned into a novel.

I worked on the story for seven or eight years before I submitted it, but not steadily. I was working full time and raising kids, so sometimes the manuscript sat for months before I picked it up again. Finally, I decided I had to finish it, so I took a writing retreat and wrote the last 200 pages in a single week. And then, of course, I spent another year or so revising. It was a long process.

Q) Any parting thoughts for readers not yet familiar with your work?

A) Well, I hope they’ll give the books a try. And then let me know what they think. I love it when readers give me feedback on my website (http://www.sherriwoodemmons.com/). It’s amazing and humbling and just wonderful to hear from readers.

Friday, January 13, 2012

NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author Mary Burton

Crime and thriller author Mary Burton’s professional background is in marketing. In fact, she wrote a book on the subject – “The Insider’s Guide to Direct Marketing.” She also has written (and ghostwritten) articles for periodicals including the Virginia Review and Innsbrook Today. Married with two children, Mary enjoys yoga, cooking, hiking, and triathlons. So, how did this seeming lady next door become the author of some of today’s premier mystery and crime novels?

Mary’s path started with historical romance, not murder and mayhem. “A Bride for McCain” introduced the character Jessica Tierney, a woman on the run who must find the inner strength to forge the life she desires. Set aside that story’s romantic traditions for a moment. Jessica is a woman who must think on her feet as she searches for happiness and an answer to her dilemma. In that character and the ones who followed in sixteen romance novels, Mary established a pattern of women who will and do tackle the world around them while coping with whatever personal issues Mary heaps upon them. Mary’s skill in creating these intriguing characters and masterfully constructed plots has contributed to her success in mystery/thriller.

Mary diligently infuses realism into each of her novels by attending civilian law enforcement courses as well as forensics classes for writers. To do this requires a firm dedication to not just her craft, but her readers. In “I’m Watching You,” Mary made the leap to maniacal murder and shaded pasts, firmly establishing her place as an author capable of intertwining suspense, twisted killers, and unsettling personal issues, with her love of romance.

“Before She Dies” is Mary’s latest offering, due out Jan 31st. ‘No one knows about defense attorney Charlotte Wellington's murdered sister, or about her childhood spent with the carnival that's just arrived in town. For Charlotte, what's past is past. But others don't agree. And as a madman's body count rises, she and Detective Daniel Rokov are drawn into a mission that's become terrifyingly personal.’

Sit back, enjoy, and keep the lights on.
http://www.maryburton.com/

Q) Why did you make the leap from historical romance to stories that rattle our spines, yet put a smile on our face?

A) I’ve always loved suspense. And when I wrote historicals I was always itching to add more mystery and suspense. Many times in the rough draft I’d have a strong suspense element that I loved, but that I also understood just didn’t fit with the gentler genre. Invariably, I’d cut out the mystery thread but the desire to write suspense just got stronger and stronger. However, as much as I wanted to write suspense, I also didn’t want to abandon my romance roots. Romance adds an energy and vibrancy that keeps the reader turning the pages. For me, romance and suspense are a perfect balance of emotion and action.

Q) Do your friends and family ever raise a brow at your ability to come up with such diabolical killers?

A) Most folks who know me are shocked when they read one of my suspense novels. I’ve heard all kinds of comments that make me smile. “Can you believe she is someone’s mother?” “But she seems so nice.” And when readers meet me for the first time they are also surprised. One gal I met recently at a book club meeting was certain I’d be a dark and scary person. For the first half of the book club she didn’t speak to me but just stared. It wasn’t until after the meeting that she came up to me with a big smile on her face. “You are so different than your stories.”

Q) You avidly support Banned Book Week. Would you briefly explain what that project is about?

A) Founded in 1982 and sponsored by the American Library Association Banned Books Week celebrates our freedom to read. Though our right to read any book of our choosing is protected by the First Amendment many classic and modern books have either been challenged or banned. It’s a freedom we should never take for granted.

A couple of years ago I put the call out to some of my author friends and we joined with the local library for a Banned Books Week event. Each of us read from our favorite book that had either been banned or challenged. It was an eye-opener to me that classic books such as "A Wrinkle in Time" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" were once in danger of being pulled from a library shelf.
Q) Your love of baking has taken you to volunteering at the University of Richmond's Culinary Arts Program. Have you considered melding thriller tales and baking into a series?

A) I have not considered putting a baking storyline into a suspense only because my books are pretty fast-paced and there’s just not much time in the story to bake a cake or wait for the bread to rise.

Baking for me is just a really wonderful creative outlet that gets me away from the computer and yet still allows the current story to simmer on the back burner in my brain. I’ve always joked that you can tell how the writing is going by the number of cupcakes on the counter. Lots of cupcakes mean a lot of heavy duty plotting in my head.

I enjoy baking so much I’ve shifted from volunteering at University of Richmond’s Culinary Arts Center to working toward my baking certificate. And needless to say, my husband and kids are totally spoiled with my baking.

Q) Having established yourself in the romance and murder/thriller genres, is there another genre you would like to immerse yourself in?

A) I really do love the romantic suspense/thriller genre. I’ve got so many characters and plots swirling in my head that it will be a good while before I run low on ideas!

Q) Any parting thoughts for your readers?

A) When I started writing, my now college-age children were both in diapers. In the beginning it was a little crazy trying to squeeze in writing time, which was either very early or late in the day or while the kids napped. But no matter how crazy the day was, I always found time to write even if it was just for five or ten minutes. Thinking back, it took me eighteen months to finish that first 400-page, very rough manuscript. But no matter how slow going the pace, I never considered stopping. I truly love what I do and feel blessed to have made a career of it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Internationally Acclaimed Author Poppet

The first interview GateHouse News Service published of mine was with enigmatic author Poppet, who had recently taken an abrupt turn from writing articles for health digests and released “Darkroom,” an unnerving novel of horror and sadism. The success of “Darkroom” turned a page for Poppet, and I thought it might be fun to check in with her to see what has happened in the fifteen months since the book’s release.

I can tell you Poppet has written and published more than ten books since then from horror to romance to the children’s book “Fey’s Adventures.” “Fey’s Adventures” is the story of a six-year-old girl whose innocent, albeit precocious, life in her backyard is only limited by her limitless imagination and ability to see the beauty and mysteries of nature through her child’s eye. Fey meets elves, rides monsters, walks on the wind, and visits whimsical lands. Needless to say, this tale of innocence and joy has rightfully captured the attention of parents around the world.

As one mother so aptly stated: “It's been a challenge as a parent of a young one to find media that isn't scary. I've kept my kid away from television as much as possible, which may have added to her sensitivity about violence, intense chases, bad guys, etc. The point is, Fey's Adventures is offering us a magical tale that is exciting and engaging for all ages. Or at least ages 43 and 5 1/2.”

Poppet is a storyteller, and as such sees inspiration all around her. We can only wait and see where she leads us next.
http://authorpoppet.weebly.com/
http://authorpoppet.wordpress.com/

Q) “Darkroom” was raw terror, “Erra” is contemporary romantic suspense enveloped within struggles between mythology and religion, and then there is “Fey’s Adventures.” Why don’t you limit your writing to any one genre or subject?

A) The straightforward answer to that question is: I don't like limitations.

People like to pigeonhole. But a rock band can have ballads and manic hardcore music, so why can't an author have the same scope of expression?

I started out wanting to write for the children's market, but once I'd tried adult fiction I found I quite liked it. As for subject, I'd have to say my work includes a theme. In almost all of my books you will find an undercurrent (at the very least) of mythology and symbolism.

Q) What or who inspired Fey and her ability to look beyond the obvious?

A) I like Irish fairy-tales. (They are alive with beings inhabiting nature.) I wanted to introduce a young mind to this incredible cultural history, in a contemporary way, while also using the moment to educate them on preserving nature (the planet) and learning through Fey that we are responsible for our actions. Fey was mostly inspired by Druidic lore.

Q) Will Fey reappear in another book? Let’s be honest, if she doesn’t you’ll have some disappointed fans.

A) Fey was a once off excursion. I'm sure I'll return to writing Children's fiction again one of these days, and then Fey can have more adventures. I'm aiming a little higher this year, trying my hand at YA and fantasy (for the first time).

Q) As an artist, you have been exploring the growing tendency for novels to have video trailers and taking said videos to another level all their own. Do you believe book videos may become a medium of interest beyond the books they are designed to promote?

A) Some people are great fans of video trailers (there are websites dedicated to them), but I've found them to be mostly viewed by people who are already my fans.
http://youtu.be/r_l4Tg3g09I

Q) When you are writing, what genre are you most comfortable in?

A) Thriller / Horror / Supernatural. Despite writing romance novels, I still struggle to be comfortable in the genre (and tend to use them as metaphors).

Q) Any parting thoughts for your readers?

A) The only boundaries we face, are those imposed on us by ourselves. If you remove your restrictions (mentally), you will find there is very little you can't accomplish once you put your mind (and time) to it. David pointed out how I hop around genres (this was once frowned upon). I chose to ignore *the done thing*, and *do my own thing*, and I've been relatively successful at it. Don't ever allow other people to restrict your creativity, do what feels right and let the details take care of themselves. If you are a writer, your only concern is to write. And whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, push yourself to reach higher (and deeper), and be willing to go to uncomfortable places mentally. When you step outside your comfort zone, your work feels more realistic even if it's just fiction. My only other advice is: Don't think it will get easier, and don't expect success overnight. Hard work usually only pays dividends years from now. Just trust your path and follow your passion.