Monday, January 31, 2011

Emersed in the warmth of a million stares...

Kelli Sue Landon  is a member of an elite club; adults who have the attention of organisms younger than the age of 20. It isn't easy to call those things people, yet. Suffice it for now to use the general term YA. If you've been in a brick-and-mortar book store lately, you will know they have renamed that section, Self-Help.
That is it's entire purpose. YA books are guidelines for how to survive as fledglings.

I wouldn't really know if they work. I have Ys. I don't have YAs yet. Mine might not make it to the A designation; they've barely progressed beyond books with pictures.

I couldn't find any pictures in Kelli's book. But, I found a lot of guidelines that are well suited to the A half of the generic term. Organisms should thrive, if they could be drawn to her book, and that highest of honors could be within their grasp - Tax Payers. (YATP)

There is a secret, aparently, to writing for the A progression of the Y crowd. You must be born with the skill. A few old newspapers from her hometown brought that fact to light, in my search for who this woman was, and how she could interact with YAs without a nervous twitch. Kelli has been published before, while she was a kid! That startled me. There were other important details to be learned...I even searched in her website for more...

Fact Number One:  Kelli is only 22. You write what you know.  That's only 4 perms - in adult female terms - away from being a YA herself. So innocent, she really believes she stood on stage with Rick Springfield a few years back. Ha! He's, like, old enough to be her grandfather.

Fact Number Two:  Kelli is a psychic. She's clairvoyant. According to the Morton Police Department, Kelli Sue is responsible for the happy outcome of numerous missing persons cases in recent years. I spoke to an officer on one of her earliest cases with their department. "She told us the kid would be at the Mall, probably near the Cinnabon store, or Chic-fil-A. We found that missing kid in twenty minutes. Kelli has our respect, because she can just see things. I never was a believer before."

Kelli is young enough, that her gift of insight has not dimmed. It's obvious when you read her work - she is still 'one of them'.

I have an idea now, and Kelli is just the person I need to enlist on my team. I believe now, after reading her book 'Sudden Moves', that the YA literary movement has an untapped power. I'm all for helping these things grow up, but I'm wondering...why wait for the full benefit? We have stuff which needs doing now. I will be suggesting, here first, actually, that Kelli make some adjustments to her next YA work, now that she has established her 'connection' to her audience.  Her next book should include some subliminal phrases.

Now! I remember all the hooha back in the 70's about the 'subliminal' messages in TV commercials and movies. I protested against that, too. Nothing in my suggestion should rekindle any of the horrors of Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific Shampoo, or the misuse of Tickle Deodorant we all remember....
It could be subtly used. Hardly noticeable.....

"Would you like to go to the Mall, Candy?"
"Sure, Debbie, sounds great! Do you think Mark will be there?" she winked.
"Oh, God! I hope so! He's so dreamy!"

With the unbridled cyber fascination within the YA culture, and the growth of hand held E-book readers, Kelli could be helping to tidy rooms and improve grades all across the civilized world with automaton efficiency. I'm already feeling good about our chances for success! I just know, with her cooperation, there is a helpful best seller within "Nightmare at Camp HELPWITHHOUSEWORK  Forrestwood". Imagine the benefit when she combined her earlier works into a 'The Diary, Pizza Night, GETAJOB, Campfire Dreams" collection! K.S. Landon is already on the cusp of this new age! She has them within her grasp!

Spoiler alert: This question might give away some plot elements. It is hidden, until you select it as if to copy it. But - don't read it - until you've read the book! Silly you!
Your gripping story, of Mafia crime, and covert ‘hit men’ has a chilling reality to it. Does that come from living in Peoria, the center of FBI suspicions for a generation?
I have always been a fan of Mafia movies and believe it or not, when I started Sudden Moves, this was just going to be a rumor for the story.  Well, I saw an episode of Frasier while I was writing this.  Fraiser and his brother, Niles, enlisted an organized crime boss to get rid of Maris's traffic tickets that were piling up.  Well, this guy wanted payback from Niles later in the show.  I thought – this is it!  I had many scenarios written for the ending.

I’ve detected subtle code words in your text, reading ‘Sudden Moves’. Things like ‘cell phone’ ‘texting’ which have no apparent meaning to me. What are you trying to say with that? It that YA speak?
Texting is a household word these days – I even say it and I'm not a young adult.  Texting with a cell phone is done more than calling a person.  Sending texts are quicker without taking away minutes.  Oh and yes, young adults are doing it more and more.  Some even get carpal tunnel from it! I adjust my toupee and try again....

Define YA for us.
Young adult – to me it's the ages between 14 and 20.  Young adults are the main characters, but for Sudden Moves, it evolves into a more adult ending.

Who wrote your favorite books?
Mary Higgins Clark, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Sandra Brown and Janet Evanovich.

Did you have a dog like Buster?
No, but I grew up with a basset hound – we actually had three during my teen years.  Our first one who lived a long time was named Bosley.  Buster is my favorite dog name.

Katie – Kelli….. I could not help wondering. Naming a character so closely to your own name; are you, perhaps, too close to your writing? Could you be regressing?
This is funny – no, it's nothing like me.  I was more like Tami (named from my old school friend Tammy) and she was more like Katie!  I do have to say – I had the more strict parents like Katie.  So, there are similarities here.  Katie is a name I have always liked – in a way, wished it was my name growing up. I thought it had more of a ring to it and it's not a guy's name like Kelly is. 

I still crave Dynamints candies, but can’t find them anymore.
I forgot these even existed until I looked them up!  That took me back!

I couldn’t help giggle at your Nostalgia page, Kelli. The 70’s are not pre-historic. Haha! I still wear a few shirts I bought back then...
I love the 70's fashions!  My older brother and sister wore many – along with the old hair styles!  I love looking at our old photos.

One thing is blatantly absent from ‘Sudden Moves’.  Teenage smoking.  Well, two things then. No underage drinking either. Are you trying to drive kids away from your books? Why are your characters so good?
Well, they are not what I would call “good.”  Katie lies to her parents and gets out of the house – even taking her dad's car once and then sneaking out with Brad to go to Sean's house.  There is statutory rape slightly mentioned with Tami wanting to go out with a married older guy.  I never saw my characters drinking or smoking in this book.  If I tried it, I would have thought “they wouldn't do this – it's not like them.”    My characters run the show in my stories.  Watch for my next novel – Nightmare at Camp Forrestwood – there kids are far from good! 

Weren’t you tempted, to toss in a vampire?
That is funny!  Nope – I'm not a big vampire fan.  I mean, I like some movies and books, but I cannot write about a vampire.  I have to be my characters to write them – I don't see myself as a vampire!

How many siblings do you have?
A brother and a sister plus two step-brothers.  All older.

What was your first book signing like?
My first signing doesn't happen until March 5.   I will say that I am going to have a trivia game (questions about me and the book) for a chance to win my next novel!  It's in a small independent bookstore and I am so excited!

There was an upsurge in discussion about violent themes in YA books this last year. ‘The MockingJay’ constantly came up in that debate. Have you read it? What is your opinion of the complaints made against it?
No, I have not read it.  I wasn't aware of any discussion on violence in YA books.  Sudden Moves crosses over into a more adult like theme toward the end.  I will say the violence in Sudden Moves could really happen and to a young girl.  It happens every day, but most kids aren't as lucky as Katie was.  Thanks for mentioning this book – I want to pick it up.  I see it's in a series of The Hunger Games?  If it is correct – I have had a recommendation of The Hunger Games from someone in my book club.  I may have to read that one first!

Did you ever get an autograph from Rick? Have a link to any of the pics posted online?
I wasn't able to find online pics of this show!  I found a few years ago on a fan's website, this was back when I had my first computer.  I do have a photo of me and him after the first show I saw him in (Decatur, IL) – a meet and greet where yes, he signed my old 45 record jackets and a couple album covers!  What a great night that was!  VH1 was there doing his Behind The Music.  Let me know if you want to see my photo with him – I have long hair!

Tell us a little about ‘Nightmare at Camp Forrestwood’.
This book came to me so quickly. I have always wanted to do a whodunit.  It's a senior class trip – they take a weekend camping trip about an hour away.  It's a lesson to teach teens how to survive without technology – no cell phones, computers, or even Ipods are allowed to accompany them.  Well, little do they know, there is a killer among the group.  It's in the editing process now.  Should be out around May.

Describe your writing process. Are you ever really satisfied with a story?
My writing process is NO OUTLINES!  I cannot plan out a whole book or story, then write it.   I have to write spontaneously.  For example – Chapter 30 of Sudden Moves was all spontaneous – I had nothing in mind for that chapter until I wrote it.  I set it up at the end of chapter 29, then just went with it.  It's actually my favorite chapter in the book-it brought out a good turning point.  I am satisfied with a story after my first reader reads it and tells me what they think.  I need feedback from others before I am satisfied.  I was worried I didn't explain enough at the end of the book – or if I over explained. 

Have you been keeping up with your Journal?
I am trying!  I don't write in a journal every day, only when I get a good idea for my third novel or when I really get the urge to write something down about the day.  I have two journals – one for my plotting and a love journal, writing down the positive things that happen to me.  It makes me feel happy and relieves stress when I do this!

There are youth trends on TV, about which you have expressed a negative opinion on your blog. Are there any such subjects you will tackle in your upcoming novels? Do you see a Young Adult novel as a teaching tool, as well as entertainment?
I don't like to “preach” to teens with my stories.  I want my novels to be entertaining for young people – they could get teens to start reading.  That's what I want to see come out of my stories.  I love it when I hear of a teenager reading a book!  I didn't read my first novel until I was an older teen and was hooked since then!  I put myself in my main characters shoes, so I don't see myself as teaching them.  They are more likely to say “I think this will work” then they do it and it doesn't.  So in a way that is teaching – though action, which is my favorite way to teach.  Entertainment is above all when I write with a few teaching elements thrown in.

Would you consider putting some subliminal messages, like CLEAN YOUR ROOM, in your text, as motivational inputs? The YA crowd could use a little help in that arena, right?
I would put that in, then have the teen get out of the cleaning task by sneaking out of their bedroom window!  I love conflict so I try to put that in when I can.  Hmmmm, this gives me a good idea!

Tell me one thing that typical youth oriented literature just does not seem to be saying. Are you bringing that message to your own work?
As an example of Sudden Moves – A high school crush that isn't what you thought it would be when you find out the truth about the person.  That was a strong message that may be hard to get in this book since there's so much going on.  It's important to me that teens don't get hung up on heartbreak.  I have been a victim of this early in my life and you just have to find a way to press on.  I would like to see that more in the young adult genre.  This is something that may be explained more in depth in my third novel.   I will see where it takes me! 

Did you have trouble keeping yourself out of your main character? Was Michelle easy to write?
Michelle was very easy to write – she was more straight laced since she was paranoid of her mother.  I was just like this (even though I had a side that was a lot like Tami) but did take chances on sneaking out of the house and lie about where I was going.  Needless to say – I got caught!  That made me more paranoid!  I loved being in Michelle's shoes as I wrote Sudden Moves!  I have no trouble keeping myself “out” of my character - my characters can be a lot like me, so I guess I am the character or am I not?  Hmmmm, now I am confused!

Michelle didn’t mention Rick Springfield even once. Don’t you two have the same taste in music?
This is funny!  Yes, we both love rock music!  I didn't mention much about music in the story – didn't see it as relevant.  I do shy away from mentioning brand names or actual stars, because I wasn't sure how copyright or trademark would work with that.  If you noticed, I mentioned Betty driving a bug – not a Volkswagen.  I had the brand name, then changed it.  I wanted to come out clean with no conflicts.

I'm not sage enough to have advice lying around, ready to hand out for the general improvement of my friends, but, I will mention this bit in thanks, Kelli: Continue to write exactly as you are writing. And, in your next book, namedrop like a Top 40 Pop DJ. Mention every product you can imagine, and make up a few for good measure. Just leave off any asking for payment; big companies won't like that - they didn't hire you to advertise. But, they won't give a hoot for the free adverts and mentions you give, put your kids in designer duds...and write like a machine gun. Release four books a year..... YAs are a vast, hungry audience.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Leaving corpses where I used to have lunch....

Oh, that Susan at Win A Book! She's a piece of work. Hello to her wonderful fans. (where did she get half a billion readers?) Jenny, Susan *sneak* and I have our heads together today...with a devious plan....

Two words come quickly to mind when reading Madness and Murder...insanity, and homicide. Isn't that remarkable?...that rush of 'Oh, my God! I get this!". Such is the skill of J.F. Hilborne, or JennyFrank. There is a reason you recognize the obvious gift of direction with her prose. She is almost Shakespearean - because - she's from....England!

"Well!" you say, "I suspected that, but wasn't sure..."
I know! It just makes you go wobbly, huh!

Nineteen years ago, plus three, JennyFrank was handed to her parents, and they rushed to get a pram. Her nickname, for years, was Oops. They seemed better prepared in a few years; she was the baby sister no longer, and was a big sister to two other girls. Remember, this was England, the time of great ships, red coated armies who stood in such ordered lines as they marched. A family of six had to hide in the bleak countryside. She longed for years to be able to go to school, as normal, properly numbered siblings were allowed to do. As she tended sheep on the moors, she dreamed of America. Where the language was less strenuous.

"Someday, in 1997, I shall flee this woolen place! Leave the Henges, and the drizzle behind me. I shall be... a Californian!... and join a society of predatory dogs with verbal skills."

Oh, you've noticed that smile, haven't you. Ok. I'm lying.
But, I'm not going to tell you, in which parts.

Like most Britainfleeers. (itsa word! Britain flee-er. Just ask her.) Anyway, like most refugees, she came to Southern California, because she needed a few years out of the rain. Uneducated, unable to speak to the natives, JennyFrank struggled to fit in. But, tall and thin, in a land where no one was blonde, she almost returned to her homeland. It's a mystery why she stayed. None of her sisters will speak of it. They offered me a really nice, hand knitted sweater, to leave them alone, but, I can't wear wool.

She's just here; and, that, as they say, is...well, that. (God! That language! It'll wack your spell check fo shizz!)

So, she writes this book. (I think that's it.) And some publisher guy hears about it.
And now she's on a blog. America really has been the land of dreams for this lady.

But, we ordered a banker from the U.K. and they doubled our value, sending a fiend along with her. I've forgotten to mention, the wicked, evil, murderous JennyFred.
Yes, she was born a twin. It is that Jenny F. who penned Madness and Murder.
She, who tells me exactly what her serial killer does to his victims; in details to make a coroner wince. Two personalities must be the result of duel citizenship. Either that, or sheep shearing is practice for other means of torture. The second M in her book title gets a very good workout in her tale.

That brings me to the bridge. The little JennyFrank could boast of living near one of the most famous bridges in the world -  The London Bridge. (not the one we were sold.) I've lived near the other, more famous bridge - The Golden Gate, which is painted rust color, BTW. It is near my beloved Art Deco suspension marvel where JennyFred leaves her corpses in M&M. I worked downtown in San Francisco, and had lunch at the Embarcadero regularly; Boudin Cafe actually. All that time, she could have killed me. She has a second book, due for release on Tax Day this year. If it is set in the Rockies, I may need to move.

She came to California, in 1997 - remember? I was living in San Fran in 1998.
I could have been a statistic, or headline: CRAZED, BLONDE BRIT BATTERS BOJANGLES

I suggest extreme caution around her; here she comes.....

Have you tried to drive down Lombard Street? I lived there for a year and never got the courage.
Yes, I did drive it and it’s not as difficult as it looks, in a compact car anyway. I just got little dizzy.

You were raised in the U.K., but you are now a good-twin/evil-twin citizen. Have you lost your British accent?
Not at all. It gets a little diluted when I’m around Americans, but a trip home and a good dosing of Brits levels me out. I do get into trouble now and then for dropping Brit clangers when talking to Americans – you know, the phrases that don’t mean the same in both places.

Brits don’t seem as eager to learn a second language, as others on the continent. Do you speak a second language?
Yes, but not fluently. I learned foreign languages from the age of 11; German, French, and later Russian. I can speak a smattering of French and have a reasonable understanding of German. Oh, and I do know some swear words in other languages but I doubt if that will impress anyone. (This, my dear readers, is only due to Brits needing to phone over the Channel for decent food. The French deliver that week, or it's free.)

 Why murder mysteries? Aren’t you a banker, by profession? Those are mild folks – or should be.
I work in the banking industry but I’m not a banker. As for mild…well, I haven’t come across too many mild personalities in this industry. Quite the opposite. I write murder mysteries because I love them, I can craft them, and I can pull from a lot of real life influences when I plot. Plotting makes me look interesting when I’m not even really listening. Say no more, eh?!

Does your job require you to travel much? What is the most exotic country you’ve visited?
I used to travel in the job, but not any more. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere I’d call exotic, but the most interesting country I’ve visited is the former Yugoslavia. I went to furthest point before the Albanian border and it was fascinating.

Give us the moment, when you realized you were about to write a complete novel.
July 2007. Etched in my brain. I set about with unwavering determination after several years of fear-induced procrastination.

Was there any event in the plot, which arrived as a surprise – something which wanted to move off in its own direction?
Yes indeed. My villain came out of nowhere, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, forget about that other guy. I’m way badder ‘n him!” I let him have his way and it totally altered the course of my novel. I’m far happier with the result.

Do you outline and plan your work in any way?
No, I’m a total panster. I sit down and write what comes to me at the time. I fix it all in the re-writes. I’m an eclectic personality; order on the outside, jumbled on the inside.

Describe your first visit to the U.S., what brought you here?
A Boeing 747 brought me here.   I came to America quite unexpectedly. I wanted to visit Canada but couldn’t get a ticket because I left it too late to book. I thought everything was huge.  Enormous. The roads baffled me, couldn’t figure out how anyone knew when it was their turn to go. The people were so friendly I came back.

Any twins in your family?...your sisters, perhaps?
No twins. One of me is probably quite enough. I do have 3 wonderful sisters and there are only 5 years between all four of us so we’re close.

Your next novel is also set in San Francisco. What is the draw of that location? Why does it spark your creativity?
When I go to a place, it either calls to me or it doesn’t. Most places don’t. San Francisco does. Parts of it remind of England. I had to set my novels there so I could have an excuse to keep going back for the research .

I’ve come to think all British children are packed off to boarding school. Were you?
No, I went to a regular public school. Funny, how the stereotypes of British folk still exist. We’re not that reserved either, and we don’t have a stiff upper lip. We just sound snooty!

Were you a creepy kid? You don’t shy from striking descriptions of bodily injury in your text.
HAHA. Me, creepy? I was sweet and loving. Barf.  No, I wasn’t creepy at all. I was a wallflower. I still am. But definitely not creepy. Am I?

Which would you rather do, on your next long trip; sail or fly?
Fly. My biggest fear is drowning. The water is not for me, and I’m a Pisces. I think it’s a cruel twist of fate.

Have you ever seen the Queen?
Yes, but only in magazines and on book covers. I’ve been to Buck palace many a time, but she’s never been home. Has she read your book? You know what, I’ll bet she has, but I don’t think she’d admit it. Folk might think she’s creepy.

Tell us about Wolfwriters, if you are allowed, please. They aren’t some secret society of murder-mystery fans are they? You know, meeting in obscure places and play acting all sorts of crimes…
Wolfwriters  is a group of writers who meet several times a month in San Diego to read and critique each others work. I’m not currently active in the group due to my hectic commute and work schedule, but they are a great bunch of folk who share constructive criticism and a bunch of laughs with each other. (That commute she complains about, is about two hours each direction. She advertises her book on the rear window of her car!)

Which do you have the strongest passion for – writing, or reading?
Both. Writing probably has the edge.

Do you get nervous before book signings?
No. They’re just people. I’m delighted to meet them.

Have you ever encountered a ‘strange’ fan?
Probably, but I didn’t recognize them.

Give us the title of the book, which you might not otherwise admit to reading.
The Idiot's guide to Forensics. I’d rather do my own research but I don’t always have enough time.

Cooking at home, or dinner out?
Cooking at home, as long as I’m not doing the actual cooking.

Did you work in a record store for a while? Here in the U.S. or Britain?
I did. It was in the UK for about 4 years in total when I was in my 20’s. I absolutely loved it. What could be better back then than listening to my favorite tunes all day and getting paid for it?

Do you like bagpipes? Can you play them? What instrument can you play?
I do like them. Many would disagree with me here, but I don’t have enough wind to play them! I love listening to them. I can play (badly) the drums, the oboe and the violin. I learned all 3 when I was younger and sucked at all of them.

If you could have named yourself, what name would you chose?
I would be Alison. I have a sister named Alison and I think it’s an excellent name. Plus I’d be at the front of the alphabet, which was always an advantage at school. I do like my own name, however. I go by Jen or Jenny, but not Jennifer. I like Jennifer but find it too stuffy for me.


J.F. Thank you for the sweet use of your answers. I understood every word. But, I must admit. your sister said you would chatter like mad when given the chance.  Are you certain you said all you desired to say? Jut drop a note if you wish. I rarely believe interviews should have an ending....
Oh, and if you want to hear bagpipes done RIGHT! check out this guy...


Monday, January 17, 2011

Treadmarks in the cattle trails...

 There are many who will say the Wild West never truly died - it only upgraded transportation and weapons. I live out in the Four Corners, where the 'Old' wild west still exists, where it remains unchanged, if you drive away from the cities. Texas is a wonderful place to see that as well, and you don't have to drive far. In certain places, here in the West - along the great river - things only got wilder. The Mexican/American deserts can be wicked places, not only because of the snakes and cactus. There are treadmarks in the dust of the trails now. Outlaws rule vast, open expanses, just as they did in the 1800's.

The land cannot be tamed, and the outlaws are hardly more modern, but for those vehicles and weapons.  William T. Prince, a Texan, brings all this reality to life, far more eloquently than I just have. He does it with a single character, who, amazingly, embodies most of the gun slinging good guys you've grown up reading and watching on TV. Clint is as real as the Wild West gets. He attracts outlaws, almost as easily as he attracts women.

I wished, reading The Legend of Sasquatch - Clint's story - that I was born to grow about 76 inches tall. That is a perfect height to live a perfect life. I'm stuck at Tom Cruise. Not much to brag about. But I weigh 76 inches worth, so, there!

Mr. Prince must be 78 inches tall, because he writes it well. The way...birds can really explain how to fly; if you are it, you can tell it. But, that also means that William T. could drink me under the table. Someday, we might try that. Over a steak the size of our boots. See, the Wild West lives on, because we LOVE IT!

Clint - William - both - exist where extremes are permissible. Big land, big guns. Big people, big ideas. Big hearts - very big crimes. Guess what one thing brings Clint - William - me, for that matter - to tears and trembling? Wide open arms of forgiveness. That is about as extreme, in this West, as you can get. Boundless love, when it doesn't feel deserved. Boundless love, in a place where you may still die for being in the wrong place, near the wrong transportation, speaking to the wrong person. Clint could handle the bad guys, and does, but he was desperate for that love. I adored the chapter where he found it.

 Now, I've mixed a lot of elements into all this. So does William T. You can read how he did it, by reading his book. It is the best blending of modern crime and Old West that I've read. Here is my review of it. The story sweeps through its own pages like a twister, picking up every element possible and mixing them together. And it is perfectly written, perfectly - destructively told. William Prince seems to dare you to disbelieve a word of it. And, you won't. Because of Clint.

Watch the book trailer here.
Or visit William's website here.

William Prince writes his character, Clint Buchanan as though he lived that boy's life. He may have, his occupation away from writing is corporate security; he knows law enforcement. He has put Clint in a tailor-made environment, and it reads beautifully - every bigger-than-life moment of it. So, if this is not actually an autobiography hidden within a fiction...Mr. Prince's superhuman life condensed to quick-turning pages...then it must be a biography still. I'm convinced that 'Clint' was someone Prince knew. I'll just ask. The settings are real enough. I've been there. The author mentions so many familiar places, it only helps to cement his character in my mind, as a breathing human. I like that a lot. In a place so big, they like to say it's like a 'whole other country'...and it is all known to me. The whole damned State of Texas within those pages.

Yes, the whole thing is large enough, there will be a second book, sometime early this year. After meeting Clint, you will be waiting for his return: The Education of Clint Buchanan. Watch Mr. Prince's website for news about that. Well, he's reachable in lots of places. Here, here, and here.

Do steak joints really cook steaks, big as your boots? Hell yes! You don't get out much, do you? Not out West, that's for certain. And, stop thinking they are cooked. That's city talk. Damn! You need to read The Legend of Sasquatch. It's a travel guide for non-Texans, and will teach you at least enough that you won't look too silly when you come out. Leave the dorky clothes home when you come, too. We can tell you've never worn boots, by the way you talk.

I turn the space over to my guest:

I always begin fresh with an author, hardly reading other interviews until my questions are written. I’m very curious to hear how Clint became a character in your mind. What brought him to life?
Clint was rolling around in my head for many years.  I had some very basic ideas about the character and his story (and the opening line) as early as the 1980s, but I never really thought that I could write a novel.  In October 2007, I finally decided to give it a try, and I typed the first chapter in a single sitting that really didn’t take very long.  That gave me some confidence, so I just kept writing.  Once I really got rolling, Clint kind of brought himself to life.  His story had to be told, and I was thankful to be the messenger.

How long did you write in this book?
From start to finish, it took about five months, but I was actively writing for only about three of those months.  Frankly, I was surprised that I was able to do it so quickly.

You work in corporate security. Does that mean you get to chase bad guys?
No, not really.  I don’t do a lot of chasing.  The goal of my job is to be proactive—to prevent.  If I never see a bad guy, it means I’ve done my job well, and it keeps the lawyers happy.

Do you carry a weapon? (At work; I meant.)
No, I worked briefly in law enforcement, but since then, I’ve never been required to carry a weapon as part of my job.  In fact, security directors are generally opposed to weapons of any kind in the workplace, and I practice what I preach.  If guns are required, that’s police work, and it’s time to call 9-1-1.

Do you ride a Harley?
I wish!  No, I don’t ride a motorcycle anymore, but if I did, it would definitely be a Harley.  If I sell a million copies of my novel as a result of this interview, that will probably be my first purchase.

What’s the longest you’ve lived in a tent?
Well, that was certainly off the wall!  Uh . . . I don’t know, probably not more than two or three days, and it’s been a very long time.

Are you a native Texan?
Yes, I was born and raised between the Red and Rio Grande.  (By the way, only someone who was both born and raised in Texas can claim to be a Texan.)

Remember the year the Houston Astros were in the League Championships with the Mets? (1986?) That damned final game went to nearly 17 innings. Do you watch baseball?
I remember that year, and I did watch some of that series.  As a rule, though, I don’t watch a lot of sports of any kind.  I follow sports.  I read box scores, standings, and the occasional recap.  I keep up with how my teams are doing, but I don’t have time to watch games.

The four C’s include cars, don’t they?...making that ‘five C’s’.
Joel, I’m 6-8 and about 375.  Cars don’t fit me.

How much time to do you spend at the gun range? What do you shoot?
This may surprise you, but I don’t shoot much.  When I was in graduate school, I bartered all of my guns to my roommate for rent, and for many years, I never felt the need to replace them.  I’ve purchased two firearms (a pistol and a shotgun) in the last year, and those are the first guns I’ve owned since 1990.  I’ve taken the pistol to the range three times, and all I can say is, “I’ve still got it!”

Was the competition between Clint and a few other officers based on a real event? (I know the steaks are.)
Yes, you could say that.  That particular episode in the story is a composite of real events—and, yes, I was eventually put in my place.  I was so brash during my firearms training in the police academy that my instructors gave me a baggy half-full of blanks during a night-firing exercise, and they didn’t come clean until three months later.  I spent those three months praying that I wouldn’t get into a shootout at night!  The lesson took.  My pride took such a beating that I dialed down the cockiness several notches after that.

Houston is the only place where I’ve driven 80 mph in bumper to bumper traffic. That was in the mid-80’s. Is it any better?
No, not really.  That’s just how things are in Texas.  In fact, I’d say that Dallas is even worse.

Galveston is my favorite spot to just stand and breathe. Where is yours?
I prefer the mountains, especially the Rockies.  If I could live anywhere, that would be it.  My favorite place is Rocky Mountain National Park.  It’s so beautiful that even this big Texan gets misty-eyed.

Has your wife nicknamed you Clint yet?
Only in the bedroom!  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that!)  Seriously, no, she calls me “Will” just like everyone else—well, everyone aside from my blood relatives, who still use my full given name.

Was book two simmering in your mind before you finished ‘Sasquatch’ or did you begin to feel the need to write it, later?
It was always there.  I have a rough outline of a story in my head, and “Sasquatch” was only the first chapter.  I see this as a series of three to five books.

I have two boys, close in age; perfect monsters – filthy beasts. They actually leave a trail. You, have twin girls, same age as my boys. I cannot imagine the blessing. Please tell me...what is it like, to have sweet, neat, polite children?
I wish I knew! ;-) 

Where did Ruth Willis come from? She’s not just a creative bit of text, is she?
Actually, Ruth is entirely fiction.  She’s one of the few characters in the story who is a complete fabrication.

Have you been in a life or death situation before, in your line of work?

What led you into law enforcement?
I’ve always been interested in crime and criminals, and after about a minute-and-a-half in law enforcement, I realized that I was primarily interested in studying crime and criminals as an academic pursuit and not as a vocation.  Besides, police work is arguably the most complicated job in the world.  It requires multi-tasking, and I’m far too linear to be good at it.

Which is more difficult?...writing your book, or marketing your book?
Oh, that’s easy—marketing the book.  Marketing is not my bailiwick, and selling the book has been difficult.  Sales have picked up some since I started offering it as an e-book, but we’re still talking about a trickle.  I’m a long way from retiring from my day job.  I try to take inspiration from how Ron McLarty (The Memory of Running) was more or less accidentally discovered by Steven King, but it’s hard not to get discouraged.  I didn’t write the book to get rich, but I’d like to sell more copies.  I just can’t seem to get the word of mouth help that I need for it to go viral.

I ask nearly everyone if they are actively seeking traditional publishing. Are you sending out queries?
No, I haven’t started doing that yet.  I would like to, but the traditional publishing industry is essentially closed.  The door is cracked ever so slightly, and it’s tough (nearly impossible) for a self-published author to sneak a foot in that crack.  I think I need to sell a lot more copies before I could even get an agent to notice me, much less a publisher.

Were you surprised, that you had an entire novel at your fingertips?
Truthfully, once I got that first chapter out of the way, I knew I could do it.  My only real question was where to end the first one and start the second.

When presented with a larger-than-life character, in a larger-than-anywhere else setting, it stands to reason there would be more to come. But, Mr. Prince sliced out a major piece of writing with book one. It brings a promise, the second book will be outstanding. You can expect little else from Clint Buchanan.
Actually, you can hardly expect less than excellence from any Texan. They are after all, as gentle as they are grand. Except in those deserts....

Thank you Mr. Prince.  It has been a pleasure. Watch in the comments for other questions. They sometimes crop up there.


Friday, January 14, 2011

My Favorite Reads of 2010
             Late, but still great.    (no order to my adoration.)           

There are so many things to say, again, about Charlie Courtland's beautiful Elizabeth Bathory. The best thing to say it that it should be read by all of you.

“Charlie Courtland has taken a time and event in history and put a story to it that would rival the actual events. She takes the reported facts as well as many of the rumors of the day and spins them into a story so believable that is could be the true events as they transpired.
This story is not for the weak of heart as there is much madness and despair. Be prepared to be sucked into the story and become a part of it. You will see the blood spatters and will feel the actual weight of the horror as it unfolds.”
Amazon reviewer, Sept. 18, 2010

Jason McIntyre unravels your imagination with his words, and presents a better version, which you cannot help but love.

"This is a roller coaster ride: you're in the hot sun, chugging to the top, anticipating the drop the whole way and then--boom--the drop comes and you're gasping for air. The hot wind blasts you and your guts are in your throat. In the last half of the book, some scenes had me by the larynx. Highly recommended!"
Dvier, Sony Reader Store

This is a new cover for Danielle Bourdon's nightmare, and exactly the creature I saw in my own mind.

"Dreoteth is one of the more unique books I've read in a long time."
Daniel L. Carter, October, 2010

Heather Paye illustrates the perplexities of childhood; feeling invisible, yet seemingly always in trouble.

"...It was hard to put this book down without proceeding further. I found this reading material very close to the heart reading. It is a book I would recommend for all the general public. This young writer I feel will go very far in writing more books in the near future."
Joyce L. Paclik, April 19,2009 

Very shortly, one of my next interviews. Jen Hilborne writes a vicious mystery.

"I read this book in one sitting--could not put it down! Loved the San Francisco setting and the shout out to the Gold Dust Lounge! Would like to see more of the characters created for this book. Hopefully Ms. Hilborne has more Mac Jackson stories... "
Amazon reviewer, June 30, 2010

The first of my Darcia Helle experiences. She made me laugh, then chilled me before the laughter died away.

"I have read all of this author's books and have loved them all but this one has it
all humor with an edge. I could not put this book down the characters are still in
my head I hated to see the last page I wanted more."
Lorraine A. Benton, July 14, 2010

I want to flee the earth, in search of this woman; Captain Dace. Jaleta Clegg gave me a new childhood heroine.

"This book was hard to put down once I got into it. There is something very special about Dace, something very relate-able. This is a wild ride that at points even brought me to tears with the heartfelt and sympathetic character interactions."
Bobbie Berendson, March 19, 2010

Maria Savva creates a near vacuum between her two characters, and they still harbor love which can withstand the damage.
Amazon Link
"What's beautiful about this novel is that as the plot opens up and takes its twists and turns, the relationship between husband and wife remains the strength of the prose. These two people are so confused, so in love, and have so much to contend with. They need to talk! And each time they do, they seem to say everything but what they need to say. I kept thinking the world seemed against them, but all they really needed was to confide in each other, to share. Notice how I'm speaking of these characters as though I know them? This is Savva's magic."
J.L. Knox, Dec. 28, 2010

Next week's Featured author; William T. Prince.  His character, Clint Buchanan is humble, as he is tall, but he cannot shake trouble, which rides in an outlaw gang of Texas bikers.
Amazon Link
"Action packed, a real triller to be sure. The characters are full, rounded and you come to know them as people you want as your friends. 'Sasquatch' himself is a little part in all of us, the good parts, of course. It was a pleasure to read this book, and I look forward to getting my hands on the sequel."
Jay Henderson, June 4, 2010

Remove the two most powerful men in America, within hours of one another, then stand back to observe if the Constitution will unravel before your eyes. Who, in all the world, might be to blame?
Amazon Link

"As Beaudet adds layer on layer to the story, it’s like a punch in the gut. I kept thinking, this could really happen.…'By a Thread' has the ring of authenticity—It’s obvious that Beaudet has done his homework when it comes to Mormon customs and culture, to the finer points of our Constitution, in the descriptions of exotic locales such as Vienna and Munich. Most importantly, he understands that love is transcendent." [This is an excerpt. To read the full review, click here.]
Neil Badders, Minneapolis, MN*7 November 2010

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year - go buy this book!

Heather 'Kitty' Paye:  if you are not instantly in love with this delightful Imp, then you are made of stone. Sour, sour stone. This bundle of giggles and fun, was the most endearing find of my entire Indie year. 2010 is precisely the number of laughs she has provided. (really....more like a bazillion) She has some hundred names, in the some hundred places you can find her online, but I call her Kitty. That's the name I put behind the @ when I'm out for Twitter mayhem. She usually beats me to it.

Oh, this person isn't just a youthful presence propelled by mirth - this is a novelist - a writer; a proper author, of a wonderful book about a childhood. When I began to read A Gift From Above I began to grin, and highlight the text in my Kindle copy. It opens as a book of rainbow colors now; Kitty put me in stitches all over the place. I have kids, I know how they behave. Kitty told God's truth about what they think and feel.

Could I have written that well, about childhood, at her age? No. Writing hadn't been invented when I was a kid. My brain wasn't functional until just after college. I was still communicating in grunts and moans. Had I figured it all out, the way Kitty has, I'd be offering eighty or ninety books now. I hope she never runs out of words. She doesn't seem likely to... run out of words...she texts the way other humans breathe - about every eight seconds. Linked texts. They appear simultaneously in almost 40 places.

"About what?" you ask?

No subject is mundane. No thought wasted. No smile unshared. I suggest you follow her on Twitter (@kittynadem ) just for the delightful, dizzy feeling that you get. Kitty thinks with her keyboard, at the speed of thirty cups of coffee. (Which she does not like.) I believe she is the first bubblegum powered human.

I didnt' ask her any questions for this New Year's interview. Questions would have gotten in the way. But, we talk that way, over the web, when we run into one another...we just throw thoughts at each other. Between the chuckles, cool things are said.

So, what about this fabulous book?
It gave me a glimpse at the secret Heather C. Paye. She does not live her life, as her online personality would suggest - either manic or deeply asleep. Between the words, and costume changes, is a serious, thoughtful young lady. (She's laughing out loud suddenly.) Celia, her playful main character is not Heather, not an alter ego, yet Celia learns something devastating in her quest for attention, and reacts in exactly the manner that Heather would have reacted.
Utterly calm.

I will let you find that discovery, within the book, for yourself. It was a deeply satisfying truth to learn about Celia, about Kitty, because it was within that event in the story that I began to really see how well the entire book was crafted. Without making it evident, Kitty was showing me something without discussing it in plain text. You get to discover that on your own as well.

You could read my review of the book; I may have given most of these pleasing secrets away there. But it would be nice if you found it the way I did. It was quite unexpected. I had been enjoying the book, but then, found I appreciated it as well. It would be a shame, to think it is only a kid's book - it is YA - and yet, it is so much more than that. I must admit though, I've a lot of kid left in me...years and years worth.

There should be an interview here, somewhere......

Ohoo, here ya go, Joel! If you need anything else, just let me know.

(Note: Joel, I think I went a bit URL happy. And I’m a bit of a babbler, so feel free to cut and kill whatever you want to!)
That's fine, Kiddo. Here we go...

Two three-year olds sit discussing lunch with a four-year old. Who mentions bacon first?
I started writing my first novel when I was nine-years-old. I had written two short stories and right away, I decided it was time to make something bigger. It took me about four years to finish, but I became addicted to writing. *sigh* It wasn’t my fault. You see, I would have never thought just “anyone” could be a writer if J.K.Rowling didn’t say so in one of her interviews! That’s why I started writing.

Can you tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi? I can’t.
I do many things in my spare time. One of my favorites is helping others create their own books. Some of my bigger projects include doing the illustrations and layout for Elysabeth Eldering’s Junior Geography Detective Squad series, and I’m doing the book cover, layout, and website for J.M.Levi’s MoonZeLent series I post most of the work I’m doing on my graphic design website

In Fear and loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson wrote... "Order some golf shoes," I whispered. "Otherwise, we'll never got out of this place alive..." What does that mean to you?
To date, I have one novel and one anthology published. A Gift from Above and For You, From Me.
Santa brought you a new smart phone for Christmas, didn't he? 
I have so much in the works right now I’m having trouble prioritizing them! I have one novel, The Jewel of Onsolot, that is the start to a spectacular series of nine, The Artifact Series, which I am in the process of editing. After it’s all done, it will be released by
Wild Child Publishing. I’m still writing the second book in The Artifact Series, The Cloak of Erason, it is about 60% finished.

Yes, Taco Bell has Wifi! Whoda thunk it!
A project I’m really excited about is Howl, a novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, all I have to do is finish up the ending and then get to work editing. I’m hoping it'll be ready in 2011.

 My favorite pie is pecan.
What's yours?
Finally, I have a short story anthology that I’m putting together for Father’s Day 2011.  It’s just like the Mother’s Day anthology, For You, From Me that I put together earlier this year, except this year we have editors and all of the entrants receive a PDF copy of the anthology after it’s finished and before it’s released to the public. I’m accepting entries for it right now, and to be honest, I’m getting a much smaller amount of entries than I expected. It may be because the website URL sounds creepy… If not, I have a feeling it’ll start picking up as soon as the new year rolls around. (I'm entered!)


What’s my favorite pastime other than writing? *silence* Uhh… sometimes I’m a normal teenager. Does that count as a pastime? Oh, I love to watch good quality movies on my laptop with my awesome Realtec speakers! I’m almost always listening to music no matter what I’m doing (beauty of working at home). I LOVE to play piano, guitar, and record my own music. I’m probably not as crazy about reading as I should be… Oh, and I love to annoy my Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace followers/friends.

Thank you for featuring me on you blog, Joel! Can't wait to see the interview up

In one hour, you won't have to wait. It's 10:52 PM, December 31, 2010 right this moment. I'll be up, surely you are. I wonder how many seconds before you notice the post....Happy New Year, Kitty!

One other place to be blessed with Heather's wit, is her excellent blog 'Down to the Core'. She's also runnerup for the 'Mad Hatter' award over at I'm clearly in the lead there, but bow to her impressive lunacy. Thank you, Heather Kitty, for being the first Indie author on The Tale's The Thing in 2011. It's as fine a beginning for the new year as I can imagine.

Yup - I just jumped over to Twitter, 20 minutes to midnight, and there's Kitty, twelve tweets down the list..... "Party party!"
6 minutes to midnight, there she is again!