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 25, 2012

Bestselling Author Holly Chamberlin

Holly Chamberlin pens stories about growth and rising above whatever obstacles life places in our path. An NY University English Lit grad, she worked for years in publishing as an editor and ghostwriter, honing her own storytelling abilities along the way. In 2002, she made her literary debut with the finely crafted novel “Living Single,” the story of four women and their individual, albeit rocky, paths to self-fulfillment and happiness. 

Now a resident of Portland, ME, Holly and her husband (an architect, photographer, and food writer – though why anyone would want to write on food instead of paper escapes my logic) enjoy the company of their independent dependent cats. With several novels and anthologies to her credit, Holly authored “Summer Friends,” a tale of two nine year old girls whose friendship blossoms and traverses decades of life’s hills and valleys. 

Once again returning to the Maine coastal setting of “Summer Friends,” Holly’s soon to be released “Last Summer” combines the elements of youthful curiosity and seemingly insurmountable dilemmas with the adult problems of raising a teen while trying to maintain a foothold on life’s slippery slopes. This is the story of two teens and their mothers, friends all, and the divisive events that will damage imagined unbreakable bonds. But it’s also the story of how hope shattered, can be pieced together, one fragment at a time.

Q) You have lived in a variety of locales besides Maine, including New York and Boston. Do you believe such varied lifestyles have added to your storytelling? 

A) I grew up in New York City, moved to Boston when I was thirty-three, and then to Portland, Maine when I was in my early forties. But before you asked this interesting question, I’m not sure I ever gave any thought as to how living in these various environments might have made me a better storyteller. But now that I think about it, yes, I think that the particular friends I made in each place, as well as the particular dynamic of each community in which I’ve made my home, certainly provided (and continues to provide) me with a wealth of information I’ve used in my work in a variety of ways. The more you experience, the more you can imagine various lives into existence. 

Q) Your novels regularly focus on the discovery of the inner strengths of women. What is it about this topic that brings you back to it? And, have you considered other genres? 

A) Everyone’s heard that old bit of advice: write about what you know. I suppose that for me writing about girls and women and their journey to (one hopes) strength and peace of mind, is in some ways a no-brainer. That said, as I certainly haven’t experienced first hand half of the adventures my characters have lived through, there is a good deal of empathetic and sympathetic imagination required in my work – meaning, I’m often writing about what I don’t know - yet! 

As for considering other genres, well, I’m not sure I have the talent to write in many – if any – other genres. For example, I love reading mysteries, especially historical ones, but the very idea of what it would take to plot a mystery causes me to black out. My friend Brenda Buchanan is a writer of contemporary mysteries based here in Maine and when I review her plotting strategies I’m in awe. 

Q) In “The Trouble with Witchcraft,” a novella in the “Sex and the Single Witch” anthology, you unveiled a delightfully crisp and sexy humor. Will we see that side of your writing style again in the future? 

A) First, I thank you for your kind words about the writing in “The Trouble with Witchcraft”. It’s one of my favorite pieces! And yes, I’d love to try my hand again at the kind of – to quote you! – “delightfully crisp and sexy humor” – found in that novella. Now, the opportunity just needs to present itself. 

Q) Broken friendship such as in “Last Summer” isn’t a light subject, but one many of us have suffered through. What inspired you to broach this theme? 

A) Yes, the subject of broken friendships certainly isn’t a light one. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to write about a damaged friendship at that particular point in my career, but I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t done some emotional damage to others once close to me, and that I haven’t been the recipient of some emotional damage, as well. Another big theme in SUMMER FRIENDS and in many of my other books, especially in LAST SUMMER, is forgiveness. I think I was most interested in writing about forgiveness and renewed understanding between the main characters. I hope that in the end readers find the story to be an uplifting one. 

Q) Why cats and no dogs? We have both, though I swear the cat’s dyslexic because it says “Woem” instead of “meow.” 

A) Well, the jig is up. I’m a crazy cat lady and there’s no denying it. One of these days I’ll be coughing up a fur ball. Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs, too. In fact, I go mad over most all animals. But there’s something about cats . . . I don’t know. Maybe I was a feline in a former life. Still, I promise to try to introduce a canine character very soon! 

Q) What recharges your batteries so you’re prepared to write your next novel? 

A) The easy – and true – answer to that is: sleep, sleep, and more sleep! If sleeping were a paid profession I’d be a millionaire. Also, and coming in a close second, reading is another very good way to recharge my batteries so that I’m (eventually) ready to tackle the next book. And did I mention sleep? 

Q) Any parting comments for those who have yet to discover your wonderful stories? 

A) Once again, I thank you for your kind words about my work. I try really hard to write books that touch people’s hearts and that challenge them to be, as I mentioned above, forgiving and open-minded. And, of course, I try really hard to entertain people, too. So, I certainly hope that anyone in the mood for a story that will make her laugh and cry, as well as a story that will in the end leave her feeling better for having read it, will consider picking up a book by Holly Chamberlin.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net


Monday, May 21, 2012

The Readers' Writers 2nd Anniversary Edition

Thanks to you the readers, the (Freeport) Journal-Standard, and GateHouse News Service, this column has been coming into homes for two years now. Again, thank you all very, very much for allowing me to share some time with you, and for the fun I’ve had interviewing a wide range of authors. I wasn’t sure what to do for this edition, so, I asked my friend romance author Evanne Lorraine for some advice. She said I should talk about me. 

Nah. I didn’t want to carry on about myself. However, not one to miss an opportunity to hawk my books, I told her to do it. Evanne gulped and said she’s not a journalist. I said, “You are now.” Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Evanne Lorraine: 

On a road outside Freeport, Illinois, five acres of rolling lawn surround a well-kept house and a barn stuffed with antiques. This is where David Kentner lives with his beautiful wife Virginia. He mows grass, sneaks off to fish, deals in the above mentioned antiques, and interviews famous and soon-to-be famous authors for this column. In his spare time, he writes romance and mystery under the pen name KevaD (Dave K backwards). 

When I first met David he mentioned he was a writer and author (the two are not necessarily the same thing), blazing a path to where he had no clue, spinner of tales, purveyor of misfortune, U.S. Army vet, retired cop, former auctioneer, son, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather, commentator on anything that strikes a chord in a moment of passion, and willing to share his trials and tribulations as he blindly plodded his way through the swamp toward literary success…or failure. 

As time passed, I became familiar with a slightly different man. He’s an author of poignant, funny, and gripping tales. He’s generous with his time, gentle with his insight, and incredibly brave. Confronting armed drug dealers is nothing compared with the hazards of having dreams sliced, diced, and left to bleed out on the cruel pages of critiques by ruthless women and red pen wielding grammar Nazis. (Uhm…please remember Evanne said that - not me)
Q) Your first published novella “Out of the Closet” remained a best seller at Noble Romance Publishing more than a year after its release. What’s makes this romantic comedy stand out from the crowd? 

A) I wish I knew. At some friends’ urging, I brought together two unlikely characters and a sadistic cat, and turned them loose. They played havoc in my mind, grabbing every punch line I’d ever imagined until their story took shape. Fortunately, my wife didn’t call the men in the little white coats, and readers apparently have enjoyed some of my outlandish foolishness. The story was a total departure from what I ever thought I’d write, and at the same time, a complete joy. 

Q) “Whistle Pass” from Dreamspinner Press is your newest release. It’s already showing signs of becoming a perennial favorite. What inspired you to write this unique story set in 1955? 

A) The 1950s was a dangerous time for minorities in this country. I wanted to present a tale unlike what we as readers have come to expect from that era. The horrors inflicted because of skin color can never be nor should ever be ignored, minimized, or trivialized. What many aren’t aware of these days were the court ordered lobotomies and placements into insane asylums for the “offense” of being homosexual. Again, at the urging of friends, I decided to tell the story of Charlie and Gabe, two war veterans caught up in a time they didn’t want to be a part of, and a series of events that would plunge them into a mystery they would either solve, or die in. I also elected to give their story a small town setting instead of the usual major city fare such as LA, and yet provide the political corruption, illegal gambling, and backroom maneuverings that were so commonplace in 1955.   

Q) “Kantu’s Heart” will be releasing this summer from Decadent Publishing. Please share a little bit about the characters from this time travel romance. 

A) Decadent has a line called Western Escape. The stories range from the 1700s to modern day, all surrounding the fictional town of Freewill, WY. When I was approached about writing a book for this line, I decided to take their concept a step further and created Kantu, a cave-dwelling warrior and clan leader who makes a mistake that costs his clan their lives, including his heart and mate, Sanda. What Kantu doesn’t know is the means to correct his mistake lies 50,000 years in the future. He’ll have to find that means, win back his heart, and then return to his own time so he and Sanda can birth and guide their people to the tribe’s ultimate destiny. 

Q) Is there a common thread that runs through everything you write? 

A) I have to include a few unexpected twists and turns as well as a love story, regardless of whether the book is a comedy, romance, or mystery/suspense. 

Q) Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers? 

A) Only to say thank you once more for keeping this column in existence for two years, and I hope you’ll pick up a copy or six of my books. Thank you, all!
Evanne Lorraine is an author who never wanted to work as a journalist. http://evannelorraine.com/





Friday, May 11, 2012

Inspirational Author Al Dickens

Al Dickens created “Uncle Yah Yah: 21st Century Man of Wisdom,” which was also Dickens’ solo debut on the literary scene. Now, Volume II is set to be released. This second installment ends on a hook imbedded in the future third book of the series. 

Yah Yah the series is an amalgamation of theory, religious beliefs, mythology, porch conversation, and questions you never asked, maybe because you didn’t want to know the answers. Uncle Yah Yah himself is a combination guru, mystic, theologian, and horseback preacher minus the horse. Filled with proverbs - some familiar, many original - Vol. II reunites the protagonist, reporter Rudy Hawkins, with the man changing Rudy’s life and spirituality, Uncle Yah Yah and his increasing flock. 

Hawkins’ life is falling apart, but Yah Yah’s complexly simplistic viewpoint of being grounds Hawkins and provides him focus. Through Uncle Yah Yah, the author melds his own view of his past, present, and hopeful future to the wisdoms imparted upon humankind from the beginning, and presents an offering of opinion that at a minimum will cause brows to rise, fingertips to tap closed lips, and occasionally, eyes to roll. But isn’t that the purpose of shared thought and meaningful inspiration? To create individual thought, regardless of whether or not the reader agrees with the material presented. 

Al Dickens isn’t some literary scholar bent on changing the world. His prose is basic, not gardens of flowery phrases. His message is undisguised and undiluted, just like the man himself. You see, that’s the true beauty of this series. Al Dickens has a tested IQ of 72. He spent the last fifty years of his life in prison for a string of bank robberies, studying the writings of those who came before us in order to understand his own failings, his mistakes, and how by improving his lot, he might inspire others to broaden their lives as well. What he has learned he shares with us through Uncle Yah Yah.

Q) How did the character Uncle Yah Yah come to be? 

A) In prison, Al, spent a lot of his time reading books. He kept a notebook to save things he found inspirational. After saving notes for 13 years, his notebook was very large. He wanted to share this knowledge, so he created a fictitious character, Uncle Yah Yah, and made the notebook the teachings of Yah Yah. 

Q) There were those who did not believe you were capable of creating such profound opinions. Did those people detract you, or cause you to dig even deeper inside for the will to persevere? 

A) At the age of 22, Al started serving prison time. He was considered border line mentally retarded. He started school at Trenton State Prison, N.J. He started on a third grade level of grammar school. By the year 1973, he had 74 college credits and was writing books. Most folks in prison, inmates and prison officials were encouraging and helpful. 

Q) Of all the faiths and practices you studied, what one do you believe had the greatest impact on you personally? 

A) Islam; the Spiritual Teachings. 

Q) If you had to choose one message of love and hope to inspire readers, which one would that be? 

A) What you look for, you will find. What your hands plant will grow. Don’t plant apples and look for oranges. What goes around comes around. If you do good-good comes back to you. 

Q) Love of family, holding family together, is hugely important to you. How supportive has your family been in your endeavors? 

A) After all my family has been through, they are very happy with the outcome . . .  from prison to respectability. 

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

A) There is no God, outside of man, and no man outside of God.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net

Friday, May 4, 2012

NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Wahida Clark

Wahida Clark has been called the “Official Queen of Street Literature,” “Queen of Thug Love Fiction,” and credited with the creation of the Thug Love Fiction genre itself, a sub-genre of street lit fiction. Wahida’s storytelling abilities initially grabbed readers’ attentions with “Thugs and the Women Who Love Them,” her first bestseller. “Thugs” is the story of three women rising within the educational system to become a lawyer, psychologist, and a doctor. What they share is a magnetic attraction to men who can destroy not just their ambitions, but their very essence. 

“Thugs” evolved into Wahida’s first series and a recipe for raw, in your face prose and characterization that the author has become renowned for. Her latest novel “Payback Ain’t Enough” is the third installment of the Payback series, the first being “Payback is a Mutha.” Ironically, Wahida hadn’t intended on creating this series. The concept took form during a ten month stint in isolation during the author’s 10 ½ year incarceration for money laundering and mail fraud. Yes, that’s correct. Wahida knows the characters and stories she pens up close and personal. In fact, seven of her eleven novels were written behind bars. 

Wahida emerged from the prison system a dynamo of energy and vision. Capitalizing on her literary success, she founded Wahida Clark Presents Publishing, and has since become an integral part of several not-for-profit organizations including Phoenix Academy Inc, which provides assistance to groups and mentors for at-risk children. In other words, she’s paying it back tenfold. 

“Payback Ain’t Enough” is the story of lies and deception in the midst of Detroit’s blood-drenched drug turf where lives can rise to success, only to fall to ruin in the jealous pull of a trigger. This novel jerks the reader inside the nightmarish realities of life on the edge, of hurried footsteps on a darkened street, futures buried within hidden compartments in cars, and never fully trusting those your next breath depends on. Yet, through Wahida’s skilled plotting, dreams never die, and hope reigns supreme even when the odds of a tomorrow are stacked against us.

Q) You developed the idea of your publishing company while in prison. There, you also met with fellow inmate Martha Stewart. More as curiosity on my part, did she offer any advice that reshaped your plan, allowing it to materialize faster upon your release? 

A) No she didn’t. The prison allowed us to do a woman’s empowerment workshop. Her session was on business trends and mine was on writing and getting published. Her business was running on all four cylinders while she was locked up. It was only logical to show her my business plan and she gave it a nod of approval. 

Q) You are crazy busy. How do you make time for your family? 

A) My husband and two daughters all work for my business. We all arrive around the same time and leave late around the same time. My daughters alternate traveling with me, so we are always together. Quiet as it’s kept, I value my time away from them. J 

Q) As time goes on, the personality that wrote your early books has to erode and reveal more and more of the astute businesswoman underneath. It’s part of your personal evolution. How do you balance those traits, or have you reached a point where you need to yet? 

A) Oh, I’ve reached that point, and of course, there are those who don’t like it.  And I have to agree with Martha Stewart when she said that you basically have to be a bitch to run a company. 

Q) Any plans for an autobiography? 

A) I’ve completed the first draft, submitted it to the editor and have not picked it up since. 

Q) There are critics and detractors of street fiction. What do you believe incites some to not give the genre credibility? 

A) Their detachment from a culture that they prefer not to acknowledge and some just want something to stick their noses up at. However, I can’t find one major publishing house that doesn’t have a Street Lit imprint. 

Q) Any parting thoughts for those who have not read your work yet? 

A) I write to entertain. So if you are up for a good read, visit my website www.wclarkpublishing.com I am excited about expanding my audience and creating more awareness to the genre. Street Lit books are the same as mainstream books. They are just written from the urban, or as we like to say ‘hood’ perspective. My characters in Payback Ain’t Enough want revenge, romance, and to live a comfortable lifestyle. I write using intricate plots, suspense, and everything else that is in mainstream novels. Payback Ain’t Enough is a gift to be shared with the world.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net