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.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Historical Fiction Mystery Author Anna Loan-Wilsey


Iowa’s Anna Loan-Wilsey goes to great lengths to research the historical locations her amateur sleuth Hattie Davish finds dead bodies in. Which is a good thing since Anna’s latest novel “Anything But Civil” takes place in 1892 Galena, IL, a community just ‘up the road’ from where I live – a town I’ve visited many times, located near the junction of two rivers I’ve pulled more fish from than I could ever lie about. Needless to say, but I will anyway, I was elated to find almost nothing to nitpick. Kudos to the author for her devotion in establishing proper settings, atmosphere, and ambiance. 

“Anything But Civil” is the second book in the Hattie Davish cozy mystery series. The debut offering, “A Lack of Temperance,” introduced readers to sleuth Hattie, a traveling secretary with an eye for detail, an ear for eavesdropping, and a nose in pretty much everybody’s business. Hattie is a delight, and, as she is young, attractive, and unmarried, there is no lack of potential suitors, leaving the reader wondering when, or if, the right man will capture Hattie’s heart. 

Anna Loan-Wilsey began her journey to become a published author after she lost her job. She scoured the Internet for tips, attended classes, conversed with authors, all the while honing her craft. Her efforts were rewarded with a contract for “A Lack of Temperance.” She then learned about deadlines, and just how much of a business being a published author truly is. Still, she makes time to hang out at the local Barnes and Noble play place with her daughter and answer any and all questions folks might have for her. In other words, she’s a nice lady, a mother and homemaker who is living her dream. 

I appreciated the fact Anna takes great care in creating not just her primary characters, but the secondary ones as well. If a character is involved in a scene, the reader is left with no question of who he/she is and their appearance and importance to the story. Overall, Anna’s writing is clean, precise, humorous when it deserves to be, and makes us wonder ‘who-done-it.’ 

Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries set in legitimate historical settings should definitely pick up one of Anna’s books.

Q) The obvious question: Why historical settings?
 

A) Would it be an obvious answer if I said because I love history? I live in a Victorian farmhouse, complete with a parlor, a library, and Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper.  I wore a bustle dress for Halloween in high school when my friends were dressing like Madonna.  I collect 19th and early 20th century china teacups which I drink tea from every afternoon.  When given the choice, i.e. not a book club selection, I always prefer to read historical fiction.  I could go on and on.   So given the choice of writing in the present or being given the opportunity to research minute tidbits of an era and then pulling them all together to create a story from the past, there was no contest.  As I work I become completely immersed and “live” in that time period. It’s about as close to a time machine as I can get.

Q) Since you opt to use differing, genuine locations instead of fictional ones, what is the deciding factor in selecting the community? 

A) I like to think of my setting as a vital character in each book, drawing my plots directly from the history of the town. Therefore I’m always on the lookout for communities that have intriguing stories of their own to tell.  Eureka Springs, AR was famous for its healing mineral springs. Galena, IL was at one time a thriving steamboat town with a rich Civil War legacy.  Newport, RI (the setting of book 3) is infamous as a playground for the richest of the rich in America.  As many towns fit this criterion, I then narrow it down to those that have preserved their historical architecture as well. I want my readers to be able to walk through a town and sense that, besides the clothes and the cars, what they’re seeing is what Hattie would’ve seen.  

Q) You’re a biologist and librarian. Will those experiences play roles in Hattie’s development in future stories? 

A) Absolutely.  In fact, they already have.  Hattie is an amateur botanist which has served her well in solving several mysteries.  Hattie’s eye for order among chaos, her list making and her need to collect and catalog her plant collection were definitely inspired by my library background. 

Q) The romance door can only be opened and closed so many times in a mystery series before it becomes a yolk and/or tight wire for the character. How will you handle suitors and keep Hattie fresh without her becoming shrewish in her travels? 

A) Good question! I wish I’d considered it more thoughtfully before I wrote my first book.  As it is, Hattie has had a “steady” suitor almost from the very beginning, Dr. Walter Grice.  But without giving too much away, Hattie and Walter are like any other couple who must navigate the ups and downs that come with a growing attachment, including the physical distance between them, their differing social standings and of course, Hattie’s aversion to Walter’s profession.  

Q) Have you begun to create another character for a different mystery series, or does Hattie have your full attention, and why? 

A) Right now Hattie has my full attention.  I really like Hattie and I’m eager to see where she goes next. And besides, as it takes an enormous amount of time to research a new location for each book as well as the historical details that make the story authentic, it’s nice to have a familiar character I can rely on to step into a story with ease.  

Q) Any parting thoughts for fans and potential readers? 

A) Just to say thank you!  As it said in the introduction, I’m living the dream.  I know there are a multitude of new mysteries, let alone books, coming out every year.  To be able to add my effort to the list and actually have readers take time out of their busy lives to discover Hattie is a joy and a wonder.  I hope you enjoy stepping back into her world as much as I enjoy writing about it. 

DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Spiritual Author Marion Stroud


During my mother’s last days, I sat at her bedside, and each day I read to her from prayer books in the hope she would find a comfort I couldn’t provide. I don’t pretend to understand the power of prayer, but I can attest to its presence and the peace it gave my mother, a former cancer survivor who ultimately surrendered to a stroke. 

When I learned Marion Stroud not only writes books containing prayers and Bible passages reflecting the joy and pain of being a woman, but also authored “Face to Face with Cancer: Comfort and Practical Advice for Sufferers and Carers,” a book prompted by the death of her father to pancreatic cancer, I knew I had to interview this special lady, especially when she’d gone to the trouble of contacting me. 

Bedford, England’s Marion Stroud started out as a physiotherapist. The birth of her children sent her on a path writing children’s books. Realizing a need for books written about finding faith after marriage, she authored “I Love God and My Husband.” “Loving God but Still Loving You” followed. 

Marion’s ‘Gift Series,’ prayer books surrounding friends, marriage, mothers, grandmothers, children, and maturing with grace, struck a chord with readers around the world, resulting in sales nearing a million copies and translations in fourteen languages. “It’s Just You and Me Lord,” a book offering prayers to women no matter where they are in life, was a Sam’s Club selection. With those kinds of statistics it’s hard to dispute Marion’s ability to connect with her audience. 

Her two dozen releases include “Dear God, It's Me and It's Urgent: Prayers for Every Season of a Woman's Life.” I want to note here that “Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent” is an Easy Print book. That means the lettering is large enough even folks with eyesight like mine won’t have any trouble reading this marvelous book of prayers and inspiration. 

Whether readers are in need of support, a shot of faith, or just want to enjoy prayers and passages designed for women everywhere, I heartily recommend picking up a book or three by Marion Stroud.

Q) I’m curious; why didn’t you return to physiotherapy?
 

A) I loved the opportunity to work with people, and help them to re-establish their physical fitness that being a physiotherapist gave me, but two problems faced me when our first baby was born. 

The first was that I had injured my back while helping a patient to walk during my pregnancy. Keeping an elderly lady on her feet when she slipped wasn’t good for my spine! 

The second problem was that in those days there was no ‘part-time’ work available; you either worked full time or not at all. I had always wanted to write, so if what I wrote could help people towards spiritual health, that seemed a great opportunity. 

Q) “Face to Face with Cancer” had to be difficult to write. Obviously the book has helped many family members, friends and strangers. But, what did writing the book do for you personally? What comfort or release did you find in the book? 

A) It was certainly the hardest book I’ve ever had to write. When my father was ill, I had five children at home and two of them were facing important examinations. I wanted to support them, as well as helping my mother to nurse my dad, and as a result I just blanked out my own emotions and got on with what I had to do. So when I wrote Face to Face with Cancer I was working through my own grief.  

Then 17 years later my publisher asked me to update it, just as my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I cried all the way through the revisions, but the words of hope and comfort I offered to my readers helped me too. 

Q) You have been working on a fiction novel with the working title “Rumor of Angels” for some time now. How is that project progressing? 

A) Slowly! You know what they say about a ‘bird in the hand being worth two in a bush’, and when I get offered commissions, it’s easier to do what I know. But I have promised myself that before I write any more non-fiction, I will at least complete ‘Rumours’ and we’ll see where we go from there. 

Q) You’re still finding your way around social media sites such as Facebook, building a U.S. fan base. How do American fans differ from U.K. readers? 

A) The UK is definitely a post-Christian society. In a recent poll, around 78-83% of Britons professed a belief in God. However only a portion of these are practising Christians, who attend worship regularly,  and we have a much smaller Christian publishing industry than you do in the US. Inspirational fiction for instance barely exists. However people still have a spiritual concern, and if you can meet them at the crisis points of life, and provide guidance in a time of need, they’re like any other fans and will look out for your next book. 

Q) Finding a foothold in any writing market is tough, and getting tougher. Your prayer books truly connect with readers. What do you believe your books offer that other prayer books don’t? 

A) One word – reality! I get as confused about how prayer works as the next person and often feel I don’t know enough or pray enough. But one thing I do know is that I can talk to God about anything, and be wholly honest about my doubts and my fears. He listens, he loves me and there is no area of life that is beyond his care. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and readers new to your work? 

A) I am passionate about the power of the written word to comfort, inspire and inform people and consider myself very blessed to have been able to be a writer. I love the words of the author of the classic ‘Imitation of Christ’, Thomas a Kempis when he wrote: "If he shall not lose his reward, who gives a cup of cold water to his thirsty neighbour, what will not be the reward of those who, by putting good books into the hands of those neighbours, open to them the fountains of eternal life?”
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Author Alison ‘Ellie’ Heller


Alison ‘Ellie’ Heller is the acquisitions editor for an e-publisher, dedicated blogger, and single mom who also writes paranormal and fantasy romance novels. 

Her latest book, “A Matter of Fate,” follows the plight of half-trained Warder, Mona Lisa Kubrek, as she tries to identify the source of the death spells targeting humans. Along the way, Mona reluctantly accepts the help of Cart Dupree, a half-elf as interested in Mona’s unique magic abilities as he seems to be in checking out her bedroom talent. Unfortunately, Cart possesses the skills to locate Mona’s enemy, which means she has no choice but to dodge Cart’s advances, and an evil magician’s sorcery, while she battles her way to either heroine or victim. 

Ellie’s writing is sure to keep readers turning the page. She is skilled and provides her audience with artistic settings and carefully crafted, engaging characters. 

That all said, Ellie also believes in lending a hand. When she heard about a project designed to raise money for breast cancer education and funding mammograms for those in need, she was quick to respond. Her short story “Flock That” is included in “Shades of Pink: A Romance Anthology.” “Shades of Pink” includes works by thirty-three authors and available as gift with a donation during October. “Flock That” is Ellie’s story of a woman who has unresolved issues with an 'ex'. She's contemplating how to approach him when a friend helpfully fills her yard with pink flamingoes, immediately bringing her to the attention of the homeowner's board he chairs. Hopefully, he won't walk away…again. 

Ellie is a relatively new author still building a fan base and more than willing to share her journey on her blog where she writes about everything, including helpful advice on writing, becoming published, and whatever else is on her mind. Check her out. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Q) Before becoming a published, you worked with other authors, critiquing their manuscripts and offering writing advice. What finally convinced you to write your own stories? 

A) I've always been a writer, the nudge I needed was to start submitting my stories! Being in a great critique group helped a lot with my confidence letting me know I was ready to take the plunge. 

Q) The obvious question: Why focus on paranormal and fantasy when you write marvelous straight-forward contemporary romance too? 

A) I keep trying to write more straight forward contemporary but paranormal elements keep sneaking in!  Actually I'm about to take another tack and am focusing on a historical novel right now. We'll see how that plays out and if I can keep the shifters/elves/witches at bay. 

Q) Where can readers find “Shades of Pink”?
 

A) Shades of Pink is being offered as a gift to everyone who donates through http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=261380 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. 

Q) How have your children adjusted to mom writing romance tales? 

A) My teen boys don't talk about it much, and my tween daughter wants to read my stuff, but it's still a little too 'hot' for her in my opinion, although the door does remained closed! (i.e. there's no explicit sex scenes.) In the end I think they're proud, they've seen and heard how difficult it is to be published, so they recognize it is an accomplishment. 

Q) You work for Curiosity Quills Press, a publisher focused on ‘out-of-the-box’ stories, hard-hitting dark sci-fi, speculative fiction, and paranormal works aimed at adults, young adults, and new adults. I’m aware you have a strong affinity for these types of stories, so, why are you writing romance? 

A) I like to feel upbeat and good after I read/write a story. Romances are, by definition, happy by the end, so it's a good fit. Plus I'm a romantic at heart. I like the idea that not only can you find someone who accepts you as you are, warts and all, but that each person has the capacity to grow and love someone, warts and all. 

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

A) Rather than talk about my work, it's a small list, I'd love to encourage people to donate to the “Shades of Pink” fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. In case you need it, here's the link again to donate and receive your copy: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=261380
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Relationship Authors Trevor Crow and Maryann Karinch

     
 
There is no denying we live in an electronic age where relationships are sometimes mistakenly judged by the number of ‘friends’ we have on social media sites. The truth is that the wellbeing of our hearts and minds require the intimacy only personal, real-life connections can provide. 

Partnering with personal trainer and multi-published author Maryann Karinch, Trevor Crow and Maryann detail how to enhance and invigorate the precious commodity of human worth and contact in their book FORGING HEALTHY CONNECTIONS: HOW RELATIONSHIPS FIGHT ILLNESS, AGING and DEPRESSION. Inside this remarkable book readers will find true-life accounts of people whose lives have changed by embracing their emotional needs and letting love in. Trevor and Maryann explore the ‘how-to’ for building relationships, and the all-important maintaining those established connections. 

FORGING HEALTHY CONNECTIONS is about taking back control of what we each need to live healthy, productive lives. It is about the happiness and hope found within personal bonds, and providing the framework to achieve personal connections that will lead to a lifetime of fulfillment and satisfaction in who we are. 

Trevor Crow, LMFT, hosts "Keeping Connected," a weekly radio show about relationships, and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Crow has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fairfield University, Connecticut and also holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BS from Parsons the New School of Design. She practices and resides in Southport, Connecticut. www.TrevorCrow.com 

Maryann Karinch is the author of eighteen books, most of which focus on human behavior, and is the founder of The Rudy Agency, a literary agency specializing in non-fiction. She holds bachelors and masters degrees from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and is a certified personal trainer. She lives in Estes Park, Colorado.

Q) The book opens with “we are built for relationships.” What do you mean by that? 

A) Our bodies thrive when we have great relationships. They suffer when we don’t. The need for connection with other beings permeates the human body. Our bonds with other people profoundly affect our immune system—and we have a lot of science to back that up! In other words, relationships directly affect the mechanisms in our body that restore health and keep us healthy—and that make us sick.  Health and healing benefit from positive thinking, but thinking isn’t what sustains them—it’s feeling.  What gives our immune system juice is connecting intimately with another human being. The assumption that you are better off pursuing answers to all your problems intellectually is ruinous to relationships and to your health. 

Q) What are the top five themes that you explore in the book? 

A) Medicine is a left-brained discipline; healing is a right-brained process.

Healthy habits come from choices; physical well-being comes from feelings.

Stress is vital to self-defense; stress is lethal to health and healing.

Autonomy is vital for a human being; vulnerability is vital to connecting with another human being.

Cars are built so they can be fixed; people are built so they can regenerate. 

Q) Why are you critical of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT? 

A) “Deciding” and “thinking” alone don’t make people change. If you tell a cigarette smoker, “Stop smoking. Just make a decision and do it,” that will not work. People don’t make a big change unless they are emotionally invested in it. You can decide to stop smoking, but the thread running through the decision and the result is emotion. Try telling a toddler to stop screaming in the middle of a tantrum; it doesn’t work. A smoker is as emotionally invested in smoking as the toddler is in throwing the tantrum. Neither can cognitively turn off their behavior.

Now here’s the problem with people getting some kind of talk therapy, including Emotionally-Focused Therapy, which is what Trevor practices. There is a widespread acceptance in our culture—reinforced by lots of self-help books—that thinking through problems, deciding to change, positive thinking and so on, yield measurable results. As a result, therapy like CBT that is thought-based is reimbursable by insurance companies. Even though the patient’s change may be short term, the change occurred and is documented, making therapy like CBT “evidence-based.” But the reality is, change actually involves emotions. 

Q) You say that if one generation is stressed out, that can affect the health of the next generation—and even more than that. How does that work? 

A) This is the science of epigenetics. Basically, everyone has a certain genetic make-up, but just because we have a particular gene doesn’t mean it’s expressed. Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy because she has the BRCA1 gene and her doctors estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer. That meant there was only a 13 percent chance the BRCA1 gene would not express itself.  

Various factors can cause genes to be activated or deactivated, so they either do or don’t express themselves.  We don’t have all answers on why yet, but we do know that our responses to environmental stimuli—like hunger or war that cause stress—can effect activation or deactivation. A pregnant woman’s response to stress can trigger that activation or deactivation, and that affects the fetus. If the fetus is female, she has the ability to pass along the change to her children, too, so the change becomes an inheritable trait.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net