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.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Playwright and Author Colette Freedman


Colette Freedman is an internationally renowned playwright who also co-authored the edgy thriller novel “The Thirteen Hallows” with bestselling author Michael Scott. She also co-authored the humorous novella “Tennis Dates,” the tale of a woman’s adventures in Internet dating. Colette’s plays have earned her the distinction of being named “One of 50 to Watch” by the Dramatist’s Guild. “Sister Cities,” a black comedy surrounding four sisters who have reunited following the alleged death (I love the “alleged” part) of their mother, received international acclaim and resulted in the film rights being purchased. Movie buffs should keep an eye out for this one. 

In spite of her success and growing fan base as a playwright, Colette couldn’t deny her passion to write novels as well. Currently, she is in the process of novelizing “Sister Cities.” But her love of writing drove her to pen “The Affair,” released Jan 29th. 

“The Affair” is an outstanding story about three people caught in the events of a disintegrating marriage. Told in three segments, from the viewpoints/perspectives of the wife, husband, and mistress, the reader learns and understands the motivations, hopes, and misguided beliefs that send these people on a journey to find their version of happiness. Interestingly, there is no “bad guy,” just three people we all could know or be, who eventually find themselves confronting each other in a turn of events that causes them to examine not just who they are, but who they aspire to be as individuals and as partners. 

In “The Affair,” Colette’s skills as a storyteller and writer truly shine. The writing is impeccable, the characters believable, the plot intriguing, and the ending…. Well, you’ll just have to find that part out for yourself. Trust me, it isn’t what you expect.

Q) I guess my obvious question should be (I apologize for not knowing); is “The Affair” the book version of your play Affari di Cuore (Affairs of the Heart, if I’ve translated that correctly), and if so, what alterations did you have to make to bring this fascinating story to print? If not, did the play serve to inspire this book and how? 

A) The two projects are sisters as it were. They explore the same landscape but the two formats – novel and play – allow me to address the material in different ways. I actually wrote the play before I wrote the novel. Plays come easily to me. I was an actress for many years and developed my skills as a playwright long before I could genuinely call myself a novelist. I got to know the characters three dimensionally, workshopping the play several times in front of audiences, before committing them to the page. The play and the novel are very similar with the biggest difference being the setting. In the play, I went for a style ala Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney. Each character spends most of the play in their stylized section of the stage delivering monologues to the audience. Occasionally, they cross into each other’s playing areas to create a scene and, during the big denouement, all three are together. What the play does not have is a sense of place. Affairs are universal and, even in the early stages, we knew that this play would work across the world. In the novel however, Boston plays a big role in the story. I set the novel in my favorite city, so I had fun personifying the cold, the energy, the rich history of this city as the backdrop to the story. The city becomes the “stage” against which the characters move and act. 

Q) There’s a huge difference between writing a play and writing a novel. How do you make the mental shift from creating living characters to print characters a reader must see with their mind and not their eyes? 

A) For me, it begins with the characters. If I can “see” them, I can write about them. One of the reasons I love writing plays is because I love actors. I love what they bring to their characters, sometimes above and beyond what I, as the writer, have imagined for them. During the rehearsal process of a play it is a give and take as I work with an actor to create the most authentic and engaging character possible. In a novel, it’s just me. I try to leave enough for the reader to fill in, using their imaginations to fill in the blanks the way actors do in the theatre. But I see everything as a play, so even in writing the novel of The Affair, Stephanie, Robert and Kathy were lifelike characters for me. I knew how tall they were, what they weighed, what they ate for breakfast, what their quirks were, so I just did my best to put that on the page. 

Q) You’re working on the book version of “Sister Cities.” Do you have plans to share your other plays with readers? 

A) I do. I think most stories work in all mediums and when you find a story you love, why not explore all of its incarnations? With Sister Cities, I’ve written the play and the film, now I’m working on the book. With The Affair, I’ve written the book and the play, now I’m working on the film. One of my more successful short plays Ellipses... I am turning into a web series. My short plays Bridesmaid #3 and First to the Egg were both made into a short films. I think the possibilities for stories are endless and if there is room to explore them in different mediums, I want to do that, because each medium enhances, alters or challenges the material. 

Q) You learned “release day” isn’t always flowing champagne, tuxedoes and gowns, in a room filled with excitement that so many of us imagine the life of authors to be. You celebrated at home with two hard boiled eggs and coffee, and then went to work writing. So, I’m curious, considering your success as a playwright. Was the release of your novel as personally fulfilling as you expected? 

A) Unlike the theatre, where you get flowers opening night and are showered with adulations and well wishes, novel releases are less about instant gratification than being in it for the long haul. While the release day itself was fairly underwhelming, the days after it have been quite wonderful. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t get an email, text, Facebook post or tweet that someone has read and loved the book. It’s quite wonderful because everyone reads the book on a different schedule, so it’s kind of like a never ending stream of well wishes. I sincerely hope it continues as people pick up and discover my book. 

Q) “The Affair” will leave readers wanting more from you. Yes, the book is that good. What’s on the horizon? 

A) On the immediate horizon is the sequel to The Affair which takes place ten minutes after The Affair ends. We become deeper embroiled in the lives of the three characters and there are a few surprises which, hopefully, you won’t see coming. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and potential readers? 

A) I think I have two comments. Readers become writers. I was a reader long before I decided I was going to try it for myself. Perseverance, hard work and not listening to the nay-sayers have paid off. But here’s the thing: it will take me a year to write a book. It take a reader a few hours or days to finish it. Readers are always looking for more books to read. And someone had to write them. And that could be you. 

If you read and enjoy the book, spread the word. I’m discovering more and more that the success of a book, especially one written by someone whose name isn’t Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Danielle Steel, is about word of mouth. For all potential readers, I encourage you to spread the word, not only about The Affair, but about any book you like. Readers are a really wonderful community and always ravenous for a good read.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Medieval Romance Author Heather Grothaus


Though Heather Grothaus’s daily life revolves around her family, home, garden, and trying to find ways to utilize the daily supply of eggs her chickens lay (if you have some fun recipes, send them to her), her imagination swirls in the age of half-clothed, sword-wielding warriors roaming the Highlands and the women whose hearts they would die to win. 

Where Heather’s fantasies become reality is not only in her writing, but the recreational enjoyment that doubles as research. When she writes about a warrior’s swagger under the weight of chainmail, a man’s muscles twitching as he hefts a steel broadsword above his head, the cut of cloth, the smell of sweat, hay and horses, she is writing from experience. Heather and her husband enjoy the world of renaissance fairs. Yes, Heather dresses in costume, the majority of which she has made herself. 

Heather’s published author career began with “The Warrior,” the story of a man fighting to regain his stolen lands while having to face the realization that true love can only be found in the half-sister of his bartered wife. Six more books followed. In the course of writing about the masculine and courageous heroes, Heather conjured the three Foxe sisters who decided they wanted their own set of stories centered around their life in Fallstowe Castle and a magical stone circle. 

“Never Kiss a Stranger” introduces Lady Alys to a midnight stranger of mysterious intent and intrigue. In “Never Seduce a Scoundrel,” Lady Cecily is charged with caring for Lord Bellecott during his stay at Fallstowe. But it is his past that provides the danger not just to their future, but their lives. Now it is Sybilla’s turn.  “Never Love a Lord” casts Lady Sybilla in the thankless role of defender of the keep as the king first sends a representative, Julian Griffin, to lay claim to Fallstowe Castle. The attraction between the two is instantaneous, as is their resolve to play out their believed destinies and divided loyalties. 

Heather provides superb tales of romance, betrayal, and daring set in a period of history that has enthralled readers’ imaginations and libidos for decades.

Q) What made you decide to go from Renaissance Fair visitor to active participant? 

A) I attended my first fair in "street clothes," and it felt kind of like taking a shower in a hat--just out of place. The prices of ready-made costumes were completely beyond of my budget at the time, so I looked around at craft stores and was happily surprised at the selection of patterns. From that point, I never looked back. 

Q) You’re a former journalist who enjoys reading nonfiction books. So, why write fiction instead of nonfiction? 

A) Mostly because embellishment is generally frowned upon in journalism. With fiction, I can devour a book of history and then take out whatever tickles my imagination to create a unique, breathtaking tale. For instance, in my latest novel, NEVER LOVE A LORD, there is a thread of historical fact running through the plot line of Sybilla's alleged treason. Oh, and the bad guys always get it in my books. Sometimes they really get it, and that's satisfying. 


Q) I’m intrigued with renaissance fairs providing your stories that added touch of realism. Was that by design, or did the two interests meld on their own? 

A) I have loved the time of knights, ladies, and castles since I was a very young girl, and so Ren fairs let me play grown-up pretend in my favorite time period. I've never attended a fair and not uncovered some idea or detail for a story. 

Q) You have mentioned in the past your love of magic, religion and ghosts. Will we see more of that in your work? 

A) Absolutely. I believe life itself is supernatural--the awesome powers of love and hate, questions about where we go when we die, and what that journey might look like, the miracle of new life. Even though my stories are set hundreds of years ago, the characters in them deal with many situations and emotions that we can relate to today. 

Q) I want to point out to readers that you hold your family first. As your author fame increases, how will you ensure you don’t lose that time with your loved ones? 

A) I write in the afternoons, because that's the time of day when Daddy is home, school is over, the house is as clean as it's getting, everyone's been loved on and played with, and I have some idea of what's for dinner. All of those things have to be in order before I write a word because everything flows from my family. They are the reason I can craft a highly character-driven, emotional story, so each book is actually a happy by-product of protecting and nurturing our time together. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and potential new readers? 

A) I love hearing from readers! Visit me at HeatherGrothaus.com for news of current and upcoming releases.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Imagination Heals and "Pacha’s Pajamas"


On Feb 22nd, A Forever Recovery and BALANCE Edutainment are bringing together music, sports, and entertainment celebrities such as Jim Brown, Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush, Cathy Rigby, and Leeza Gibbons at the Beverly Hilton to celebrate the launch of the Children’s Hospitals Program “Imagination Heals.” 

Imagination Heals centers on providing inspiration and positive reinforcement at a critical time in a child’s life. This includes but is not limited to music and stories that can reduce depression/anxiety, offer relief from chronic pain, and outpatient visits and inpatient care. To that end, Imagination Heals is donating 10,000 CD’s of “Pacha’s Pajamas,” the story of a young girl whose magical pajamas transport her to a global festival organized for and by plants and animals. The humorous and entertaining musical instills positive messages about the importance of following our dreams, our connection with the natural world and the power of creative expression. 

Every dream come true contains a heart. In this case the dream’s heartbeat belongs to entertainer, author and ecologist Aaron Ableman, aka ANatural, and his multitalented team of entertainers, musicians, a former VP at Atari, marketing specialists, and conservation enthusiasts. “Pacha’s Pajamas” is the culmination of Ableman’s love of helping children, and the beginning of a concerted effort to aid in bringing relief and hope to hospitalized children. Inspired by his mother, a healthcare nurse, Aaron has become a regular at hospitals where he performs for kids who need and deserve a smile.

Q) Mr. Wickstrom, you overcame addiction and have devoted your life to helping others find the same freedom. Imagination Heals focuses on children and their battle with health obstacles. What inspired this expansion of your interests? 

A) Shining a light on the efforts of ‘Imagination Heals’ to bring hope and joy to the lives of ill and challenged children throughout the U.S. is the motivation behind this [program]. 

Q) Aaron, through your voluntary efforts at hospitals you obviously display a concern for children. What transformed that concern to “Pacha’s Pajamas” and Imagination Heals? 

A) I grew up around music, storytelling, and the service of others. My mother’s a nurse and my father a farmer/author. Imagination especially music gave me a voice and a way to connect with people. Music and stories were as much a part of my transition from child to adult as growing out of my PJ’s. “Pacha’s Pajamas” provided an entirely new level of connecting with children through the book, the CD, and live performances of the story as well. 

Q) Fifty-five people including celebrities like Mos Def contributed to the CD version of “Pacha’s
Pajamas.” How on earth did you pull that together? 

A) Grace of God, and people who believe as I do that children are the future! I reached out anywhere and everywhere to my entertainment networks and some of my favorite artists responded “YES!” 

Q) What do you think Balance Edutainment, the name under which you and your team work, brings to the table? 

A) Children are uplifted by music and stories. Thanks to people like Per Wickstrom, Jim Brown, Mos Def, and so many others, not the least of whom is our CEO and Executive Producer Dave Room, Balance Edutainment is able to bring top level entertainment to children in the form of books, CDs, web shows, viral videos and live musical productions. Though Imagination Heals is being launched in ten major cities, we hope to see the program expand to any and all places where children could use a little inspiration. That’s our goal. First, last, and everything in between, it’s about the kids. 

Q) What was it about Imagination Heals and “Pacha’s Pajamas” that took you from moral support to active involvement? 

A) The world needs each of us to participate, with whatever gifts we can share. My gift is as a storyteller, a musician and a voice for the planet at this critical time. This work allows me to serve in a big BIG way! 

Q) Aaron, any parting comments for our readers? 

A) Never give up on your dreams and the most powerful nation on earth is the Imagination!
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net
 

 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Author Kat/Jeanette Murray


Kat and Jeanette Murray are the same person writing for different publishers. Wife, mother, and servant to a Goldendoodle, Kat’s entry into serious writing began when her Marine husband had been deployed overseas and the base library ran out of romance novels she hadn’t read. Kat’s solution to the problem on her limited budget? Write her own. True story. So, before we leave this subject, if you, dear readers, live near a military base, call their library and see if they could use some of those books that won’t fit on your shelves, and if they can, see if your neighbors have a box or two to donate as well. 

Because Kat began writing as an outlet for her own enjoyment, she wrote, and continues to write, the stories she enjoys reading most – contemporary romance with strong alpha heroes their ladies can’t resist no matter how hard they try. Where Kat and Jeanette’s story paths differ from the standard is Ms. Murray focuses on the relationship before love enters the picture. Her characters have needs on a level apart from the heart. As such the plots are about relationships of convenience that become strained when one of them falls in love. Heady, emotionally charged stuff. Still, Kat handles the challenge with skill and guarantees a resolve readers will find satisfying. 

“The Game of Love” was Jeanette’s debut novel about a former NFL player now coaching high school football and the pro-tennis player now teacher and coach in the same school. The “Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful.” trilogy soon followed, beginning with “The Officer Says I Do.” Each book centers on one of three Marine officer friends and the not-so-average relationships they encounter with women so wrong, and ultimately, so right for them. 

Kat’s first novel (and Jeanette’s latest release) is “Taking the Reins.” Peyton Muldoon needs a trainer for her failing horse ranch, but whisperer Redford Callahan has no interest in wasting his time with a soon to be defunct enterprise. That is, until Peyton arrives at Redford’s hotel room with a sensual offering he can’t wait to negotiate. Oh yeah. The poor man is in so much trouble. 

If you enjoy well-written contemporary romance with an edge, give Kat and Jeanette Murray a try.

Q) You initially wrote to satisfy your need for romance novels. What made you decide to take your stories public? 

A) After writing and enjoying writing for myself, I just decided it was worth a shot. I was a stay at home mom, and while I liked creating the stories for my own pleasure, I figured there was nothing stopping me from sharing them and doing the research to find a publisher. I had the time, and I had the drive. 

Q) I have to ask: Is your husband home and safe and what are your future plans? Thank you both for his service by the way. 

A) He is home safe, thanks for asking. And you’re welcome, though I know both of us never really consider it service. It’s just his job, one he loves, and I love him so there it is. Future plans are always up in the air in this lifestyle. For now, we just want to continue to focus on keeping our family together whenever possible, and for us to raise our daughter and keep her happy and healthy! 

Q) You also wrote the novella “No Mistletoe Required.” Do you prefer writing the shorter stories or full length novels? 

A) I get a reward from both short stories and full length novels. Novels give me the chance to explore the relationship more, twist more turns into their lives, delve more into a back story or secondary characters. Novellas are more focused, and so they get to the heart of the matter, with a little less drama than a novel, simply because of the lack of words. Usually if I’m feeling the burnout from novels, I try a novella for the change of pace. Literally, novellas have a different pacing, and a different approach to their plots. 

Q) You are very active on Twitter, Facebook – Internet social sites. How important do you think a digital presence has become for authors? 

A) I think digital presence is as important as the author wants it to be, for lack of a better way to say that. I do believe a website is almost required, since fans want a single place where you can list all your releases and the info for them. But social media is what you make of it. If the thought of tweeting makes your teeth grind, it’s not for you. And that’s okay. If you force social media and it’s a chore, people will sense that and it won’t be effective. I only do what I enjoy doing, and I enjoy tweeting and posting on Facebook. I was in college when Facebook started, back when it was ONLY for college people. So I’ve had a Facebook account since the day it literally existed. It’s very natural for me to get on Facebook and cruise. I LOVE when readers reach out to me and ask questions on social media, or just share tidbits about their day with me. That’s why I’m on there, to chat. It’s not static, it’s meant for interactions. 

Q) “Taking the Reins” is actually the first of a planned trilogy. What came first, the characters who would live your story, or the plots? 

A) The characters come first, always. I don’t write suspense (at least not right now) and so what drives my plot, what is at the root of the “conflict” for each book is what the characters are bringing to the table. I like to write characters you could know. I want readers to believe this is happening, that they could head to a horse ranch and meet Red or buy a horse from Peyton because they’re that believable. So the conflict is from the characters themselves. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and potential new readers? 

A) I’ve been writing for three years now and it still amazes me when someone contacts me to say they’ve read my book and they loved it. I love hearing from readers, so seriously, come on by and say hi. Write me an email from my contact page on my website, or tweet at me (@KJMurrayBooks) or leave a post on my Facebook wall. I always try to respond, and I love it.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paranormal Romance Author Lexi George


I don’t have a list of favorite romance authors. But, if I did, Lexi George would join Victoria Alexander in my top five. 

When I first encountered Lexi’s work, my aged brain instantly flashed to Carol Burnett tugging her ear in loving respect to her grandmother after just bringing an audience to side-splitting laughter. Lexi is like that. Her writing is witty, sometimes laugh out loud funny (“Being a zombie sucks. It’s hard to feel sexy when you’re bloated and starting to smell.”) and yet, warm and sensual with a promise of a happy ever after. Lexi also eviscerates demons that hide in the shadows. So, yeah, I guess that’s where any comparison between the two personalities needs to end. 

An appellate attorney by trade, Lexi grew up in an Alabama rural community where the general store supplied everything a barefoot little girl could want, including jars of pickled eggs. Her childhood home sat near the railroad tracks and Lexi admits to a continued fondness for long train whistles embracing the night. She also confesses to the church library being one of her favorite writing hideaways to escape the loving interruptions of her husband, children, and dogs. 

Lexi’s work first appeared in the anthology “So I Married a Demon Slayer.” Readers demanded more, and Lexi eagerly responded with her debut novel “Demon Hunting in Dixie,” the story of a warrior, a demon, and the girl next door. “Demon Hunting in the Deep South” followed with previous secondary characters taking center stage as the heroine and hero in what has become a thoroughly enjoyable, funny, romantic, and extremely well-written series. 

“Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar,” the third offering, is now set for release. Half demon Rebekah runs a club replete with a vegetarian flesh-eater, a musical ghost seeking a piano bar, and a demon-hunter who has ensnared Rebekah’s full attention. The fact the warrior is looking to kill Rebekah’s buddies bent on destroying the remaining demon-hunters might be a bump in the road to romance. 

If you enjoy demonic characters, ultra-sexy heroes, and romance laced with fresh humor and tightly crafted plots, definitely pick up a Lexi George book.

Q) Your southern community roots shine through in your work and add a subtle but sincere charm to the characters and settings. Is this something you plan during the writing stage or a natural flow? 

A) I'd have to say it's more of a natural flow. For years, when I attended writing conferences and craft classes, I heard the adage "write what you know." I thought, because I'm a lawyer, that it meant I had to write about the law, which held about as much appeal for me as taking a nap in an ant bed. It wasn't until I started writing the demon hunter series that I had a big 'duh' moment. You see, for me, writing what I know means small towns and the South. Although I briefly lived in NYC with my husband the first year we were married, I was born and raised in a small town and I've lived in a small town for the past 22 years. The Southern part is in my bones and inseparable as wet from water. 

Q) The obvious question: Given your experience in playhouse productions (she met her husband while performing Oliver), why paranormal and not a more traditional style of romance? 

A) I will tell you a secret: I LOVE historical romance! I cut my teeth on Georgette Heyer, but I've always loved magic, too. The first book I wrote (and never sold) was a fantasy romance with hunky warriors, wizards, demons, and trolls. So, when I set out to write a romance, the paranormal element worked for me. The thing I love about writing paranormal is the freedom it brings. Anything can (and does!) happen in Hannah, because of the magic, and I love that. It's exciting to write, and it’s natural for me because I've always loved myths and fairy tales. 

And I will tell you another secret: I write paranormal, but a bigger chicken never lived! To this day, I have never seen The Exorcist. Too big a scaredy cat. I'm like the Cowardly Lion in the wizard of Oz: "I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I DO!!" 

Q) Your novels are standalone (books that can be read without reading any others in the series), yet, “Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar” ends with a hook leading into the next book and new characters. Sometimes readers object to cliffhangers, so, why do it? 

A) Good question! When I wrote Demon Hunting in Dixie, it was with a series in mind. I have a lot of characters and story lines whirling around in my head, and ending the book with a hook is one way to let the reader (and me!) know that the story isn't finished. There's a lot going on in Hannah, Alabama; too much to fit into one book. And I love the continuity and the recurring wacky characters. Tickles my funny bone. 

Q) I love your humor. Where do you believe your sense of humor comes from? 

A) My dad was a dear, sweet, funny man who made me laugh. If I got a sense of humor, it's from him. Also, I was a very awkward teenager. Too tall, too skinny, with gi-normous skinny feet. Think Olive Oyl without the bun. I think humor is a defense mechanism for a lot of people, including me. Laugh WITH me, instead of AT me.

Another factor is the work I do. I'm a criminal appellate lawyer for a large state agency, which means I read criminal transcripts all day long. Transcripts that describe, in great detail, the rude things people do to one another. Humor is my way of coping with the dark and uncomfortable. 

Q) You traveled the traditional publishing route, amassing many rejections along the way before finding a home with Kensington Books, instead of turning to e-publishing or self-publishing. What was behind that decision? 

A) Pure unadulterated stubbornness! I started writing more than 15 years ago and, from the start, I dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing my work on the shelf. With that goal in mind, I just kept plugging away. One hundred and forty-five rejections later, I made it! I got my contract with Kensington in 2010, right as ebook sales took off. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans or those yet to read your stories? 

A) I am thrilled and humbled to get the opportunity to share my stories with others. It's a dream I dreamed, but wasn't sure would ever come true. And I hope I make you laugh!
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net