Author Interview: Dave D’Alessio

For this interview, I ventured into a sci-fi convention to ‘meet’ with FANTASY/HUMOR author, Dave D’Alessio. After finally locating each other in the crowd, we sat down in a quiet corner and talked about his book. As always, ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Dave’ was written by Dave D’Alessio.


Kelly parked her car and started at the crowd going into the sci-fi convention. She had to admit, she’d never been to one of these in her life, so this was new. The only question was, how was she going to find her interviewee in this mass of people? “I’ll be dressed as Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart,” he had told her, At least that narrowed it down…to the cosplay people.

Getting out of her car, she sent Dave D’Alessio a message letting him know she had arrived. She decided to get through the crowd and find a quiet place and let him find her. Otherwise she’d spend all her time here lost, and that wouldn’t be beneficial.

Once she found another place, she sent him another message, letting him know her location, and then she began to watch people as this was a wonderful opportunity for that.

A man in a green commando sweater and a tan beret with a UNIT badge pinned to it made his way through the gang, stopping once to admire a young lady in a purple cadet’s uniform and carrying a katana. “She’s here every year,” he explained. “Once someone asked her if this was just a bunch of people playing dress-up games and she recited the program to him from memory. Poor guy was dying.”

When Kelly heard this, she laughed. “Oh, that’s hilarious. You must be Dave D’Alessio.” She rose to her feet and extended her hand to shake his. “Great cosplay. Is this a good place to hang out? Or do you know someplace quieter?”

“Dave” took his beret off and put it down on the. “Now I’m out of character, so, yes. You must be Kelly. It’s nice to finally meet you.” He looked around the floor and then up into the air, as though visualizing the floor above. “We could look for an empty panel room, but people here are pretty cool. They won’t take pictures without asking permission, and they’ll leave us alone. That’s the rule. Cosplay is not consent.”

“That’s a pretty good rule to have. As long as we don’t get interrupted too much because an hour time is really not that long.” Kelly shook her head, and the two of them sat down. She glimpsed around at the crowds then looked back at Dave. “I tend to avoid these events because of the terrible headaches I get, so it’s nice to actually experience it.” She smiled at him. “I want to ask you about your life as a writer, but first I’ve got to ask, how did you get involved in cosplay?”

He rubbed a hand over his bald head, clearly older than most of the others. “I started coming here to listen to the writing guests. The first year I came they had Brandon Sanderson, Leona Wisocker, and Michael J. Sullivan, and they blew my mind. Sanderson is a really giving guy, and just took over the panels and made sure we got lots of great information. But in between I saw how cool everyone was with everyone else, so it seemed like a fun way to participate to get into character. Last year I came as Doctor Who #2 and got hooked up with my new friends in the Connecticut Whovians, so I guess it worked.” He smiled and ran a hand over his bald head.

Kelly smiled. “Sounds like a lot of fun. I’m glad you get to participate like that. Now though, let’s talk about your life as a writer.” She shifted in her seat to turn to look at him more fully, and she smiled at him. “When did you first become interested in writing?”

“High school,” he said immediately. “But I didn’t do much with it for years. Too busy having jobs.” He laughed. “But in 2007 a friend of mine from playing online RPGs, Jennifer Lautenschlager, told me about this NaNoWriMo thing. ‘You’d like it,’ she said, so I tried my first one starting on November 7th. Man, that book sucks!” He laughed again. Stuff just seemed to crack him up all the time.

Kelly chuckled when she heard this. “Well, NaNoWriMo is always supposed to be a rough draft, so…” She gave a shrug but smiled at him. “But that was when you became interested in writing once more? How have you progressed from there to here?”

His eyebrows went up. “Good one,” he said. “Let me see…By 2008 I was ready for NaNo, so I was really excited to start. And I found a local group, the Fairfield County Writers Group, and they meet year-round, so even when we’re no NaNoing, we’ve got something going on. I  got my first published short…well, no, second. I got one out in the 1980’s…I got my second published short story out of a game we played at one meeting. Have you seen Rory’s Storycubes?” He takes an aging iPhone from his OD green pants. “I’ve got the app here if you haven’t.”

Kelly shook her head and looked at his phone as he showed her the app. She furrowed her brows. “So what exactly does it do?”

He fired up the phone and tapped the icon. “There are nine dice here, nine d6, and they each have different pictures on each side. So you roll them and try to make a story from the imagery…” He shook his phone and the cubes danced. “There’s um…keyhole, flashlight – that was one of the one’s I got that time – clock…I’m not sure what that is, a rainbow maybe…the scales of justice, or maybe just scales…” He poked at the screen, moving dice around. “I dunno…moon…It’s a way of generating visual prompts. The symbols can mean whatever you want them to.”

“Very interesting.” Kelly nodded. “I’ll have to look up the app once we’re done.” She smiled, sitting back in her seat. “So is that how you came up with the idea for your book? Or were you inspired some other way?”

“You mean this book, The Yak Butter Diaries?” Of course he had a copy. He took it from his backpack and riffled through the pages. “This was my 2014 NaNo project and I wanted to do something other than another space opera. So I made a list of things I thought people think make the world go around…you know, love, money, stuff like that. I threw it to the group, too, and they came up with some doozies. So, then I created a character, a sort of naif, and had him react to those things. It’s the journey of discovery,” he finished naming one of the seven basic plots.

Kelly looked over the cover of the book and nodded then had to smile at Dave’s simplistic way of describing the book. “Well, there’s a lot of stuff for sure. Who exactly is the main character? Tell me a bit about the story world you created.”

He grinned again. “Tamosan Acorn,” he said. “I was watching Yojimbo and there’s the one scene where the geishas come out and play the shamisen, but I couldn’t call him shamisen because I couldn’t spell it. And Acorn because he’s a founding brought to the monastery at the top of the Temple of Enlightenment, and the monks name all the foundlings ‘Acorn.'” He fingered a curving road on the cover of the book, leading into, or away from, the mountains. “The monks teach that each person has to find his own place in the world, so they send him off to find his place.”

“And so the story is about him finding his place in the world?” Kelly lifted her brows, looking back at the book. It sounded intriguing for sure.

He nodded. “Yes. It’s a bit of an allegory, so he runs into people in isolated villages who have their own view of the world, you know, that the world revolves around…Oh, sport, in one place, or fitness in another.” He smacked a hand across his mouth. “Sheesh, I actually said ‘allegory,’ and almost came out with ‘weltenschauung.’ That would have been a killer.”

Kelly laughed. She appreciated Dave’s sense of humor. “So, was there anything in the book that surprised you when you wrote it? Don’t need any spoilers! But…I’m curious.”

“I know the answer to that is supposed to be yes,” he said, “But the truth is I had that list of places, and I laid them out ahead of time, so I knew what he was going to run into.” He though back two-and-a-half years to the first draft. “The only rule I had was that he had to have a crock of yak butter and a staff, and for most of the book his friend Singhan, to get him out of trouble. Sometimes I caught him using one or more of them with a little more ingenuity than I would have shown.”

“Why did you have those requirements though?” Kelly furrowed her brows. She noticed the bold digital clock on the wall and saw their time was nearly up, but she turned her attention back to Dave to hear his answer. They still had a little more time.

“I caught you,” he said, looking at the clock himself. “Got a panel at 1 myself. Why those? Well, I wanted yak butter, or I couldn’t have called it The Yak Butter Diaries. I just thought it was suitably absurd. And as for his staff, well, he’s a monk so he needs a staff, and as for Singhan, I needed someone to tell the jokes. Tamosan is not an especially funny guy.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “Well, all of that makes sense. Now, is this the first of a series, or is it a standalone book?”

“Standalone,” he said immediately. “Part of it was an experiment…I mostly write space operas, so I have one series of seven books plus a prequel and sequel. I’m working on a alternative history trilogy that turned into a quadrilogy, got a new series of what I call space light opera, comic space operas inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan plays…I just wanted to write something that stood on its own for a change. That’s why I self-published it,” he added. “They others I’m looking for agents and publishers for, but,” he held up the book, “This is so unlike what I normally write, except for the jokes, that it didn’t make sense to keep it with the others.”

Kelly smiled. “Well, it sounds like a wonderful experiment, and I really wish we had the time to talk more about your other work! But maybe another time! For now though, I need to get going, but I’ve really enjoyed this chat. Am quite curious how the character interview will go.” She rose to her feet with a smile. “Thanks for meeting with me and for answering my questions!”

Dave got up as well, and gave a polite half-bow. “Thank YOU! This was fun.” He looked around. “You’ll get out okay, right?” A giant Groot cosplayer walks by, twelve feet tall.

“Yep, I’ll find my way!” She saw the tall cosplayer and shook her head. That must have taken a lot of work. But then she looked back at Dave with a smile. “Have a great day!” With a wave and a smile, she headed out.


Dave D’Alessio’s novel, ‘The Yak Butter Diaries’ can be found on Amazon. Also, be sure to follow him on social media for more updates on his work!



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Author Interview: Melissa E. Beckwith

I met with FANTASY author, Melissa E. Beckwith, today and had a lovely chat with her. I got to know a bit about the author behind ‘The Empress of Ventra: The Sword of Rhiannon: Book One’. It’s always nice pull back the veil and understand the mind behind the book. As in every interview, ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Melissa’ was written by Melissa E. Beckwith. Enjoy the interview! 


The door chimed when Kelly opened it and stepped into the coffee shop. She looked around and saw a young woman sitting at a table with a laptop in front of her. Kelly smiled but didn’t go to her right away. Instead, she went to the counter and ordered some hot chocolate.

Once she received it, she turned to the table and went to it. “Melissa Beckwith?” Kelly raised her brows then held out her hand to shake. “I’m Kelly. Thanks for meeting with me.” She saw down at the table across from Melissa. “How are you doing today?”

Melissa took a slow sip from her strong coffee. “I write full-time now that the kids are out of the house.  I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful husband who pays the bills and let’s me just worry about my writing.”   Melissa’s lips curved into a huge smile at the thought of her husband of almost thirty years.

“That is fantastic! You are truly blessed.” Kelly grinned at her and wrapped her hands around her mug. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”

Melissa cocked her head to one side, her long, brown hair falling over her shoulder. With a nostalgic look on her face, she answered, “I started telling stores as far back as I can remember.  Even before I learned how to read, I “wrote” stories in the form of picture books.”  Melissa chuckled softly, “I went through a lot of crayons.”

Kelly’s grin grew. “I was like that too! Did pictures because I didn’t know how to write, but had so many stories in my head!” She shook her head, still smiling, remembering those memories, but then she focused on Melissa once more. “Now a lot of writers have had a love for writing since they were children, but it wasn’t until years later that they actually became serious about writing. Was that the case for you? Was there a specific time when you suddenly just woke up and decided, ‘I am going to be a writer!’ Or did you know since you were a child that you were going to be a writer?” Kelly tilted her head to a side as she watched Melissa.

Melissa looked over Kelly’s shoulder with an unfocused look in her blue eyes.  She finally spoke.  “I always wanted to be a writer.  When I was young I told everyone that I was going to be an author when I grew up.  But some how when children start to grow up they lose that abandon and start getting self conscience.”  Melissa looked at Kelly, a serious expression on her face.  “I was not encouraged as a child to write, in fact I was discouraged.  In my family, people didn’t do that sort of thing seriously.  So I grew up, got married right out of high school and had three kids right away.  I just got busy raising kids and didn’t write much.” 

Melissa took another sip of her coffee and looked down at the floor as if she were wrestling with a decision.  Finally she took a deep breath, apparently making a choice and started to speak to Kelly again.  “I have bi-polar, and it has haunted my life for a very long time.  So much of my life was spend in deep despair.”  Melissa peered deeper into Kelly’s eyes, wanting to say the right words.  “Last summer was one of those times.  However, I just finally made the decision that I would get serious about my writing once and for all.  I had these two finished novels waiting to be edited and published, and darn it, that was what I was going to do.  I pushed aside my crippling self-doubt and just went for it!”

Kelly nodded as she listened to Melissa, and she leaned forward, locking eyes with her. “I am really sorry your family wasn’t supportive of your dreams, but I am glad you circled back round to it, and have managed to write and publish a book.” She smiled at her then sat back once more. “So, tell me about your book. What is it about?”

Melissa leaned back in her chair and took another drink of her hot coffee, her smile returning to her face.  “The Empress of Ventra is really about self discovery and overcoming self-doubt….with a little thread of romance thrown in, just to keep things interesting.”  Melissa laughed and looked out the window.  The sun had hesitantly come out and started to melt the light snow that was clinging to the ground.  She looked back over to Kelly. “Rhiannon Kossi had questions about her past. The answers she received took her to another world and changed her life forever. Suffering from vivid nightmares, she is sure that she’s been lied to about her childhood. Seeking the answers to long forgotten questions, she is mysteriously taken from her quiet, simple life on a Montana cattle ranch and thrust into a new, violent world where she is forced to either fight or die. In her quest for answers to her past Rhiannon must accept hard truths that will forever change the course of her life…that is, if she can stay alive.”

Kelly stared for a long moment. “Wow. That sounds…rather complex.” Then she smiled. “But interesting all the same. I want to ask more about the story and the characters, but I’m afraid if I do, it’d probably spoil it for the readers.” Kelly frowned. That was the part of her job she hated, but then she smiled again. “So, Melissa, how did you come up with the idea for this book? What inspired it?”

Melissa threw her head back and laughed, a couple people near the two looked over for a second but then went back to their conversations.  “I had a dream!”  Melissa smiled and nodded her head.  “It was a very long time ago, about 1999 or maybe 2000.  I had a dream of a woman who gets sucked into another world and has to to all sort of things to stay a live.  Of course over about 16 years I finally polished up the story and wrote it down.”

Kelly grinned when she heard this. “Don’t you just love it when stories come to you in dreams? It’s crazy! You said this was over 16 or so years ago? And you stuck with it all this time? Good for you! Now, there are a lot of other writers who have become discouraged because it is taking them years, maybe decades to write their story. Since you have experience with that, what advice would you give them to persevere?” Kelly remembered her hot chocolate and drank so more. She was so drawn into the conversation, she had forgotten about it.

Melissa scratched an itch on her nose and cocked her head to the side again while she thought. “Well, I spend most of that time learning about the craft of writing,” she said slowly.  “It’s not as easy as it seems to produce a quality, marketable story.  So I would tell new writers to educate themselves as much as they can on the craft of writing well.  Also, read A LOT in the genres you want to write in.  Study the tropes and what readers want.” Melissa stopped and took a sip of her coffee, then started up again.  “And don’t give up.  It takes a long time to learn all this stuff and become good at it.  I would advise all writers to just keep writing everyday.  Give yourself little goals, like 100 words a day, then when you easily meet that goal everyday your self-confidence will grow.  Also, network, talk to other writers.  Writing can be a lonely job, but when you find others who share you passion it’s not so bad, then.  You can learn a lot from your fellow writers.  Just don’t give up.  Never give up.  It’s never too late.  Finish that manuscript, even if you think it’s garbage, do it anyway.  Always finish.  That is another way to build self-confidence.”

Kelly nodded, grateful for her words. “Very true. Thank you.” However, she glimpsed at the clock on the wall and saw the time. She looked back at Melissa. “Our time’s almost up. Have about ten minutes left, so a few more questions. What was your favorite thing about your story as you wrote it?”

Melissa fidgeted a little in her seat trying to get comfortable. “Well, it was very refreshing to write about a strong woman.  I have never considered myself anything resembling strong of independent, so it’s been fun writing Rhiannon.”  Melissa laughed.  “I guess she’s like my alter ego.  Also, it gets more into it in the second book, The War of the Gypsy, but it was quiet refreshing to create a kingdom in which women ruled and men had to follow.”

Kelly smiled. “That is refreshing to see. I’m glad you’ve completed it and published it. That wasn’t easy, and you have done well. Unfortunately though, our time has come to an end, and I have elsewhere to be.” She rose to her feet and reached her hand out to shake Melissa. “However, it was wonderful to meet you and to hear about your story. Keep writing, okay? And keep publishing. You’ve got this.” She smiled warmly at her.

“Thank you, Kelly for spending time with me this morning.”  Melissa grabbed Kelly’s warm hand and shook it.  She smiled up at the woman.  “Be careful out there, there are some crazy drivers in Indiana!”  Melissa laughed.

Kelly chuckled. “Ah, my dad grew up in Indiana, so I’m a bit familiar with it. You have a good day, Melissa! Take care!” With a wave and a smile, Kelly headed out.

Melissa waved and had a content, happy look on her face.


Melissa E. Beckwith’s novel, ‘The Empress of Ventra: The Sword of Rhiannon: Book One’ can be found on Amazon here:


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Author Interview: Nan Sampson

For this interview, I actually met with an author who I’ve interviewed several years ago. Since then she has released a few new books, so I thought I would check up with her. Her name is Nan Sampson, and she writes MYSTERY. If you’re interested in her first interview, you can find it here: However, this interview we discuss her mystery series and get caught up to date. As always, ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Nan’ was written ’Nan Sampson’.


Kelly dusted off shelves in her Muse Shop as she waited for the timer for her cookies to go off. A few minutes passed, and she heard the timer sound, so she put down the dusting cloth and went to the kitchen in the back of the shop to pull the cookies off the cookie sheet.

She had just finished plating the hot cookies on a plate when she heard the door to her shop chime. Taking the plate, Kelly made her way back to the front and she smiled widely when she recognized Nan Sampson. “Nan!” Setting the plate of cookies on the kitchen, Kelly went to Nan and embraced her then pulled back. “You’re just in time! Just finished baking some cookies.” She turned back and grabbed the plate. “Care to sit at that table and chat?” She gestured to a table near the front window. “Afterwards, you’re welcome to meander about the shop. So how have you been?”

Nan grinned.  “Oh, my gosh.  I could smell the cookies out on the sidewalk.  I’ll bet they draw a lot of customers inside!”  She took a seat at the table and smiled warmly at Kelly.  “I’ve been great!  It’s so good to see you again!”

“It’s great to see you as well! By all means, have cookies!” Kelly sat down across from her and took a fresh cookie too. “So, before we talk about your writing and books, catch me up briefly. How have you been in life? Everything going well?”

“Gosh.  It’s been…an interesting year.  The day job has been particularly demanding, I suffered a rather ridiculous fall that took me down for about eight weeks, and my teenager is, well, a teenager.  But really, on the whole, we’re blessed to have the life we live.”

Kelly winced when she heard about the fall. “You doing okay though? I mean, after the fall? That can knock anyone back for a bit. And yeah, teenagers will be teenagers!” She chuckled, shaking her head.

“I’m good.  The broken nose was just humiliating and the broken hand has mended.  The real damage was to my pride!  Sooooo embarrassing as it happened at work!  The trick now is getting back to my publishing schedule.  I had a rather ambitious schedule back in September and the fall sort of… forced me to revise that.” Nan grabbed a cookie off the plate and savored it.  “OMG, these are so good.”

Kelly smiled. “Glad you like them! And on the bright side, at least you can write about having a broken nose!” She shrugged. “Okay, so, catch me up on your writing endeavors. You’ve recently published another book. Is this the second or third one of the series? I think when I last interviewed you, you had just released the first book. I’m not sure how far behind I am.”

Nan relaxed back in her chair.  The atmosphere of the shop was so beguiling.  You couldn’t stay anxious here.  “I’ve just released the third book in the Coffee and Crime series titled ‘Forest Outings’.  I think it’s my favorite so far.  I’m STILL in draft mode on the Steampunk novel, as well as the first book in a space opera trilogy.  Those were supposed to get finished in November and December respectively, but now will get pushed back until late spring.”  Her stomach fluttered.  It felt so odd talking about ‘her’ novels.   She was proud of what she’d accomplished, but sometimes talking about her own work felt a bit like bragging, which she’d been raised to believe was rude.

“Well, I hope you get to publish those steampunk and space opera books. I’d love to hear about them. However, I think we need to focus on the book you have published. Since it has been a while since our last interview together, remind me again, what is the Coffee and Crime series about? And how has it progressed since Book 1?”

Nan eyed the plate of cookies, then mentally shook her head.  Maybe later.  “The Coffee and Crime series features marketing manager turned coffee shop owner Ellie Gooden.  In the first book, Restless Natives, we see her moving from Chicago to a small town in southwestern Wisconsin to open her shop, The Sacred Caff, and getting embroiled in a murder.  Book Two, Office Heretics, has her returning to Chicago for a visit and to help solve the murder of an old college friend.  And Book Three, Forest Outings, takes place back in Horizon, Wisconsin, where a dear friend’s son is accused of murdering a colleague from Madison.  There is an element of the paranormal in the series—Ellie frequently encounters the shades of the dead— and then there is the ongoing mystery of who killed Ellie’s own parents, which won’t be resolved for quite some time.”  She plucked nervously at the hem of her flowing purple Boho blouse.  “Why does it never sound as interesting when I say it aloud as it does when I’m writing?”  She looked back up, gave Kelly a grin.  “Haven’t quite perfected my elevator speech yet.”

Kelly laughed when she heard Nan’s last statement. “I know. Summaries never sound as good as we come up with in our head once we say them aloud, but you’ve done well. Don’t worry.” She sat back in her chair, smiling at Nan. “Now, are these books surrounding the same original murder from the first book? Or was that was solved already and Ellie just got roped into solving yet another murder?” She tilted her head, curious.

“All separate and unrelated murders.  Each one gets solved by the end of each book.”  Nan laughed.  “Just call her Jessica Fletcher of the midwest! Pretty soon, people will run when they see her coming, knowing someone is going to die.” She considered.  “I guess that’s a trope of amateur sleuth mysteries.  You have to suspend disbelief there.  I mean, most cops don’t see as many murders as these amateur sleuths do.  But that’s also part of the fun!”

Kelly nodded. “She’s not an actual police detective though, right? That’s what makes this whole series interesting. But she has Charlie with her, right? And he’s with the police? I can’t remember the details!” She shook her head, chuckling. It had been about two years since she interviewed Nan last, so she was rusty on the details.

“No, she’s no cop.  She can’t stand the cops, after the way they bungled the investigation into her parents’ murders.  And yes, Charlie is there, although he’s a P.I. now.”  She couldn’t help grinning.  “Is it bad for a writer to have favorite characters?  I mean, as a parent, you can’t have ‘favorite’ children, but Charlie has got to be my absolute favorite character ever.  I love the sparks between he and Ellie.  Not just the romantic ones, but the snappy patter.  They’re oil and water and yet they work so well together.”

This caused Kelly to grin, and she leaned forward, setting her forearms on the table. “So, how have the characters evolved over the last few books? Have they surprised you? Are they what you expected? Or a bit of both?”

Nan took another cookie off the plate and bit into it before she even realized what she was doing.  Dang magic cookies.  “Oh, the relationship between Charlie and Ellie definitely heats up over the course of the series.  That’s another fun element, that romance.”  She pursed her lips, thinking.  “Originally, during the inception, Charlie was just a one-off, a bit part.  I had envisioned Ellie taking a different path in her relationships.  But leave it to Charlie—he can worm his way into anyone’s heart.  That really surprised me.  And the way Ellie is growing…I hadn’t anticipated some of what is happening.  Especially the way things are starting to go with the riddle of who killed her folks.  It’s evolving and morphing, but in such a great way.  As a writer, you gotta love it when the work takes on a life of its own!”

“Yes, when the story takes a life of its own, and all you can do, as the writer, is hang on for dear life—that’s the best.” Kelly grinned then took another cookie and sat back. “So this third book, was it just the next natural step for the series? Or did something specific give you the idea and inspire it? If that makes any sense.” She shrugged and ate the cookie.

That made her stop and think.  “You know, I don’t really know where the idea for Forest Outings originated.  There’s a certain pattern, or rhythm I’m working towards in the series, where the books take place alternately in town or someplace else.  So I knew I needed a murder in town, but I just wasn’t ready to kill off a townie yet.  And I had just read an article about some eco-warriors doing some tree-sitting in California, and then things just kind of jelled.  The next book, however, which doesn’t have a tile yet, will take place in the Wisconsin Dells and was inspired by a trip a couple of friends and I took up there for a mini-writing retreat.  We all got plot ideas from that trip!”  A movement from one of the shelves caught her eye.  Something had scurried or slithered or flittered or something.  She wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if it had been the Golden Snitch, there were so many fabulous curiosities in the shop.  Focus, Nan, focus.

“Sounds like a wonderful time.” Kelly smiled. “So, you said you have another book already in the wings. Any idea how many books will be in the series, or will you just see where it takes you?” She lifted her brows.

Nan giggled.  “Oh, I have so many ideas in the wings, the inside of my head looks like the skies over O’Hare!  As for this series, I have no particular number in mind.  I’ll let the series take me wherever it wants to go.  As long as readers are still enjoying them and I’m still having fun writing them, I’ll continue.”  She took one final cookie.  “But there are so many other things I want to write too.  We’ll just have to see where the journey takes me.”  She brushed crumbs off her ample bosom and onto a napkin, thinking her bosom would be less ample if she could just stop eating cookies!  Oh, what the heck.  Life was short and these were magic cookies anyway.

Kelly saw Nan’s conflict and grinned as she scooted the plate of cookies toward her. “Enjoy them.” She smiled. “However though, in addition to this series, you want to write and publish other series! How are you going to split your mind with all those different stories? I can’t even imagine doing that!!!”

Nan thought briefly.  “Actually, it’s not really that hard.  I have a different set of musical tracks I end up associating with each series, each world I create.  Music is hugely important to my creative process.  So when I want to get “into” a particular world or character, I just play that set of tracks and BAM, I’m there.  And to be honest, I’m kind of ADHD.  I can only really concentrate on one book for about two months straight.  So I do a two month draft process, set the book aside to, um, ferment,” she chuckled, “and either start the draft of something completely different, or work on a revision of something I’ve already drafted.  I usually have about three WIPs going at any given time, in various stages of either drafts, first pass revision (the hard one), or outlining.”  She rubbed at her temples, grinning.  “And people wonder why I can’t remember where I’m supposed to be most days.”

Kelly chuckled when she heard this. “Well, I am glad you can manage that because I know I couldn’t. Fantastic for you!” Then a clock on the wall chimed, and Kelly looked up at it then frowned. “Our hour is up.” She looked back at Nan. “Unfortunately I need to get back to work, but I’ve really enjoyed catching up with you.” She smiled as she rose to her feet. “If you’d like, you’re welcome to take a look around. Be careful though. Got plot bunnies lurking that like to jump out and bite people.”

Nan stood, thrilled at the opportunity to rummage around in the shop.  She reached out a hand to Kelly.  “Thanks so much!  I loved catching up with you as well, it’s always a blast talking with you.  And remember, O Great Muse, if you’re ever in Horizon, Wisconsin, stop into The Sacred Caff for a cuppa.  Ellie wold love to treat you!”  Then, abruptly eschewing a handshake in favor of a brief, heartfelt hug goodbye, she let Kelly go about the rest of her day and headed straight for the shelf where she’d seen movement earlier.  Plot bunnies beware, she announced mentally, Nan was on the hunt for inspiration!


Nan Sampson’s third novel in her Coffee and Crime series, ‘Forest Outings’ is now available. You can find it, along with the other books of her series, at the following links:

Amazon Link to Restless Natives, Book 1 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:


Amazon Link to Office Heretics, Book 2 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:


Amazon Link to Forest Outings, Book 3 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:







Amazon Author Page:

Author Interview: Arthur David

In this interview, I met with sci-fi spy thriller author, Arthur David, to discuss his new book ‘Agents of the Third Party’. This is our meeting. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Arthur’ was written by Arthur David.


Night had come, and Kelly came to the observatory where Arthur David asked her to meet him for the interview. She gazed around at the clear view of the night sky this place offered, and she smiled. It reminded her a lot of home, living in the country with millions of stars overhead every night without the pollution of too much light. She’d never been to an observatory although she always wanted to visit one, so this would be interesting.

Stepping into it, she found the massive chamber empty of people. “Hello?” She called out, and then she passed through, going out back where she found someone looking through a telescope. Kelly smiled. “Arthur David?” When he looked up at her and straightened, she reached out her hand. “I’m Kelly. It’s great to meet you. How’s the view out there?” She motioned to the stars?

He took her hand smiling then glanced up towards the stars. “Its wonderful, still one of my favorite sights. I never get tired of looking at the stars.” He motioned towards his telescope, “Would you like to take a look, its an incredible view.”

“Sure.” Kelly smiled as she stepped up to the telescope and took a look. “Wow…it is stunning.” After a moment of searching the stars, she finally stepped back and smiled once more at Arthur. “So, is this a hobby of yours?”

“Yes, I’ve always been fascinated by space and the stars, ever since I was a child.” He turned around to take in the night sky as well as the large telescopes around them. “As a seven year old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most kids want to be firefighters or police or something. But I knew I was going to be an astronomer.” He smiled somewhat sadly, “That didn’t quite happen, but that love I knew, it never went away.”

“I’ve always loved the stars too, but…couldn’t pass astronomy class.” Kelly chuckled as she shook her head, thinking back to her college days. “However, it’s a wonderful hobby to have. Now, I know we’re here to talk about your writing and such, but every writer comes from a different walk of life. I’m always curious what those are. So, are you a full time writer, or do you have another job?”

“Writing is another hobby though another one I truly enjoy. It’s something to help pass the nights when its raining, or I’ve decided it’s just to cold to be outside. In real life during the day I work in retail, selling wireless phones and products.” Arthur waved his hand towards his telescope and kits with various eyepieces and cameras, “It’s not nearly as glamours or exciting as the worlds I build on the computer screen, or as bright as this makes the nights sky, but it does pay the bill and keeps the family fed. It’s been a better job then I ever would have imagined it could be.”

Kelly nodded as she looked up at the night sky. “At least it’s something.” She smiled at him. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”

Arthur’s eyes lost focus for a moment as he thought back to when he really started doing some type of writing. “Back in high school I suppose. It wasn’t something I really had taken up as much as I do now, but I remember taking those prompts in English, and spinning stories of previous lives. I had entered into a contest to create a TV screen play at one point in high school as well.” Arthur laughed for a second at the memory of it, “It had been based pretty heavily on a book I had read, and probably wasn’t very good. But it was an old early attempt.”

Arthur took a moment to breathe and stretched his arms out behind him before continuing. “It wasn’t really until later though, while in college, that I really started to take up writing, A friend of mine had been writing something, and had ended up encouraging me to do so as well. It wasn’t really anything I had considered before then. But I took her up on it, and my first book was born.”

As he said all this, Kelly watched him and had to smile. Every author she spoke with had the same look on their face when they were thinking back to how they came to where they were as authors and what brought them to this point. “And from there you started writing more seriously then?”

“I started writing different things, I found a site, that held at the very least, weekly writing contests which I really enjoyed. They were pretty small stories, maybe eight hundred words and no real prize other then pride I suppose. But that site really helped by giving me other prompts that I might not have written on otherwise, and helped to develop me with help from the great community that it had. I found NaNoWriMo from there as I looked for other writing contests and communities.” He laughed for a second thinking of the various stories he had penned on that site, “Writing as been an off and on hobby for me for a long time. Something I do between the stars, reading, and everything else that comes up in life.” Arthur grinned as another memory crossed his mind, “Not to mention the most important things, trying to pass on and grow those same types of passions with my own children and of course taking care of my somehow very patient and understanding wife.”

Kelly smiled when she heard all this. “Certainly sounds like you have your hands full. However though, I heard you’re publishing a book soon? Or have published a book? That means you’ve come far with your writing. Telling about me about this book. What is it about?”

He laughed a little, “That’s a story in and of itself. When I wrote my first book, the one my friend got me to start, I realized that it was missing something, it wasn’t the whole story and needed something more. So I started a second book, that took place before the first. The Star Wars prequels were still coming out at the time, so I figured, hey if Lucas can do it, so can I. Only I’m releasing them in order.” Arthur took a moment to breathe and gather his thoughts before continuing. “This one, about to be released in a few days, the prequel of sorts, revolves around a woman BlackMail. She’s a secret agent in the year 2047 but for a shadowy organization called The Third Party that doesn’t belong to any particular government or organization but is bent on changing the world for its vision of the future. They do have some lofty visions, the end of war, hunger, poverty. However its a very ‘End justifies the means’ group as they don’t really worry about how or who may get hurt for their vision of the future.”

“Third Party…that’s interesting. Could be taken several different ways. I like it.” She grinned at Arthur. “So, you said it focuses on BlackMail? Is she discontent with the Third Party? Is she realizing things are not what they seem? Or why exactly is she the focus of the story?” Kelly furrowed her brows as she observed Arthur.

“The funny thing about that name, is it was meant to be a place holder. One of the most difficult things I do, agonize for long periods, is come up with names for things. So glad I let my wife name the kids, They would be ten before I managed to decide on one.” Arthur laughs then shakes his head slightly to get back on track, “I think it works out well though since they really are the third party to things happening. But in this story, BlackMail is considered one of, if not, the top agent for The Party. She gets tasked with training a young woman, Jade, who they believe is talented enough to be just as good of an agent, if not better, then BlackMail. BlackMail isn’t discontent with The Party, and she knows she doesn’t know the whole story, she doesn’t want to, thats not how it works. Even for a secret agent its best not to know everything. The story instead focuses on a mission BlackMail and Jade take on that does end up changing both of them. If that change is good or bad” Arthur grins a bit, “Well you’ll have to read it to find out.”

“Very intriguing story for sure.” Kelly nodded as she let her mind wrap around everything he had said. “It certainly sounds like it has a lot of potential!” Then she briefly checked her phone and frowned. “Our time is almost up. Can’t believe how much time flies! However…” She pocketed away her phone again and looked back at Arthur. “What is something, if anything, you’d like your readers to take from the story? Something they’d remember long after they’ve read it?”

Arthur furrowed his brow as he thought on Kelly’s question. “If anything I just hope people enjoy it. I’m not looking to make any kind of deep statement or anything with this book. I certainly have my own thoughts and ideas on most things in the world, many of my friends can attest to how I think on politics and such, probably much to their annoyance. ” He laughed, “But none of that is really on display in the book too much, well maybe a little in The Parties ideals, though I would never agree with their methodology.” He paused, taking a moment to breathe before continuing. “Like I said, I really just want it to be something people enjoy and find entertaining. I was always annoyed back in English class dissecting books looking for deeper meaning. Can’t a book just be fun? If someone enjoys reading it and has fun in BlackMail’s world, thats all I really want.”

“I’m sure people will enjoy it. And I hope you the best. Now though, unfortunately it’s time for me to head out. It was really wonderful to meet you.” Kelly shook Arthur’s hand then gestured to the telescope. “And have fun gazing at the stars.” She smiled at him. “You take care, okay?”

“It was great meeting you too, Kelly. Feel free to come back any time, and always look up at night. There’s a whole universe above us. Have a good night, Kelly, I look forward to hearing more from you.”

“And you as well!” With a wave and a smile, Kelly headed out.


Arthur David’s book ‘Agents of the Third Party’ is available on Amazon. Don’t forget to follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!



Facebook: Http://



Author Interview: Christy Mann

During this interview, I met with Christy Mann, author of the psychological thriller ‘Death of a Secret’ and got to know more of the author behind the story and what prompted her to write the book. 


Lounging under a shade on a white sandy beach with white wine in hand, Kelly smiled as the ocean wind brushed against her. This fictional setting was a nice escape from the January weather of real life. Her interviewee specifically requested this, including white wine, and Kelly was more than happy to oblige. A waiter even stood nearby to serve them.

“Your guest, madam,” he told her with a bow.

While Kelly had insisted he didn’t need to bow to her, she had given up earlier on and simply settled in for the experience. When she heard what he said, she looked down the pathway leading to her shade, and she smiled, rising to her feet when she saw who approached. She went to meet her halfway and reached out her hand. “Christy Mann, I presume.” They shook hands, and Kelly grinned. “So glad to finally meet you! Come on, the white wine is waiting for you!” She motioned for Christy to follow her to the shade.

Once they took their seats, looking out over the ocean, and once both had their wine in hand, Kelly smiled at Christy. “So, how are you doing today?”

“I’m fantastic, thank you. This is such a beautiful setting. I couldn’t have planned it better myself. How are you?”  She sipped from the glass and looked out at the waves lapping against the white, sandy shore.

“It’s been a busy day, so being here is actually quite lovely.” Kelly smiled then turned her full attention to Christy. “So, you’re a writer–obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Kelly chuckled but went on, “When did you first become interested in writing?

Christy looked back at Kelly and acknowledged her question with a not. “I’m right there with you.” She smiled back at Kelly “I really don’t know. It’s just something that I’ve always done. Not in the form of novels and short stories anyway.” She took a sip of her wine. “That was 2009. I started writing this really awful dark fantasy romance thing.”

Kelly smiled then sipped on her wine. “So, was it 2009 when you began to get serious about writing? What prompted that though?”

Christy snickered. “You really want to know the answer?” She chugged the last big of wine in her glass and held it up for the waiter. “Ok. Boredom mostly. It was a really dark time in my life and I was in an acute treatment center for suicidal ideation. I had my laptop and a lot of time to kill. I decided I was going to use the time to write a book. I wrote 37,000 words in a span of three days.”

Kelly raised her brows. “37,000 words in THREE days?? That’s really impressive!” But then she thought about what Christy had said and gave a nod. “So it sounds like you emerged from that darkness as a writer, and that is amazing. Thank you for sharing that with me.” She smiled. “So, what has your journey been like between then and now? You’ve published a book recently, and that’s a huge accomplishment!”

Christy nodded and swirled the wine in her glass before taking a sip. “Yeah, it was rough and I haven’t come near that kind of progress since. I don’t recommend it.” She chuckled. “It’s been a bumpy ride, but writing has gotten me through it.”

“So you’ve published a book? Tell me about it.” Kelly set down her glass of wine. She glanced at Christy with a smile.

Christy smiled back at Kelly and curled her feet up under her. “Death of a Secret. Yep. It’s a dark tale about a young woman who’s life is going along fine one minute and the next, it’s completely turned on it’s head. She tries to pick up and go on with life as usual, but it breaks her on the inside and she goes on a rampage.”

This intrigued Kelly, and she furrowed her brows. “So what’s the genre? And is there more you can tell me (without spoilers!) about what made her life turn on its head?”

Christy chuckled again. “I call it a psychological thriller. It’s missing some of the major aspects of the genre, but it’s the closest fit.” She looked up at the sky and paused for a moment, thinking of an answer to the second question. “It all revolves around her seeing something she wasn’t supposed to and is tormented to keep quiet by Latham. In the end, none of it was necessary and it’s just tragic.”

“That sounds a bit horrific and terribly sad at the same time. Lots of deep emotions to explore there.” Kelly nodded as she reflected on what she learned of the story. “So what inspired the story? Or where did you get the idea for it?” She cast Christy another glance, quite curious.

“Yeah. As proud as I am of it, because it’s finished and it’s a good story, it’s ugly and dark and not how I think my life is or how I think, most of the time. The original plan was for it to be a female serial killer story. It took me two years to finish and it ended up being something so completely different.”

“Oh, and the idea for it? I needed something to do for NaNoWriMo. I wanted something that would keep me interested, so I wrote a bunch of stuff down, picked Female Serial Killer out of a hat, and wrote it.”

“And you did well! Stories have a way of changing from what you expected to something totally different, but I’m sure it’s an amazing story.” Kelly smiled at Christy. “So what are your plans moving forward with your writing career? Are you going to write a sequel? Or write something totally different? Or what?”

“Well, I really enjoy the suspense and thriller genres. I’ve plotted a horror short story series which 2 ebooks have been published of about fog, and I’m enjoying it. I have another novel, Terrible Friend, it’s currently a two parter, that will be out later this year that’s a, I don’t even know what it is right now. Paranormal fantasy I guess?  Demons and magic, and that kind of stuff. Then early next year, I hope to finish and publish that original novel that we talked about.”

“I’m sure you will.” Kelly gave Christy a bright smile. “However though, it is quite unfortunate that our time is up. I’ve had a fantastic time getting to know you and hearing about your story.” Kelly rose to her feet. When Christy mirrored her actions, Kelly shook Christy’s hand. “Thank you so much for meeting with me and answering my questions. I am quite curious which character you will have me meet!”

“I’m looking forward to it as well.  Thank you so much for your time and for asking great questions.” She shook Kelly’s hand and smiled. “That will be Derrick Murphy. I can’t wait for you two to meet.”

Kelly grinned. “I’m sure it will be interesting. You have a great day now! Take care!” With a wave goodbye, Kelly headed back up the path toward her car.


Christy Mann’s novel has, unfortunately, been delayed in its release. However, she has published a few short stories, which you can find on at the following links. Be sure to follow her on social media to receive updates on the release of her book!

Short Story 1:

Short Story 2:





Second Tumblr:


GoodReads Blog:


Author Interview: Nancy A. Nation

I had the pleasure of meeting with sci-fi/urban fantasy author, Nancy A. Nation, to ask her a few questions about her writing and what inspired her series. In this interview, ‘Kelly’ is written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Nancy’ is written by Nancy A. Nation.


Pushing open the door to the cafe, Kelly looked around, finding it to be a quaint little place. She smiled as she went up to the counter. “Just hot chocolate with whip cream, please. I’m waiting to meet someone.” After chatting a little with the woman behind the counter and coming to learn a bit more about this place, Kelly finally got her order and went to a table in the corner but near the front window. She sat facing the door, so if her interviewee, Nancy A. Nation, came in, she would see her.

After sipping on her drink then deciding to just wait and let it cool down, Kelly heard the chime of the door opening, and she lifted her gaze to see a woman enter. The woman matched the picture Kelly had seen, so she rose to her feet. “Nancy?” When Nancy looked her way, Kelly greeted her with a smile and reached out her hand to shake. “I’m Kelly. Thank you for meeting with me. How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine, and you?”

Kelly smiled. “I’m quite well. If you’d like to order something, you may, and then you can join me over here, so we can chat.” She motioned to the table she had been sitting at.

Nancy sat down, “Thanks.”

Kelly sat down as well and smiled once more. “So, Nancy, tell me a bit about yourself. Obviously you’re a writer and you’ve published several books, but when did you develop the interest in writing?” She tilted her head to the side as she listened.

Nancy ordered a hot chocolate when the waitress stopped by their table. “I’m a snowbird. When we came to Arizona, I didn’t have a lot to do. I saw a sign in the local library about getting your story published through a writing class. So I said, why not?”

“Well, I’m glad you took that chance. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here, and that would be unfortunately.” Kelly smiled then sipped on her hot chocolate. Putting down her mug, she asked, “So what kind of stories do you write?”

“I chose science fiction just because I feel it gives me more freedom to move the characters. But also I didn’t want to write non-fiction and have someone come after me. When I began writing in nano two years ago, I came into urban fantasy.  It’s a way to mimic today’s issues.”

Kelly had to smile. “I totally understand that–about not wanting to write non-fiction and have someone come after you. There’s much more freedom, in a way, with sci-fi and even fantasy. You can address today’s issues, but in a more…roundabout way without fear of being attacked by people.” She nodded, understanding this greatly. “So, you said you wrote sci-fi, but now you’re writing urban fantasy…do I understand that correctly?” She furrowed her brows. “Or you still writing both genres?”

Nancy’s hot chocolate came, and she stirred it some with a  spoon.  “I have written both. I have six in a series that is sci-fi and during NaNoWriMo month, I have been writing the urban fantasy. The series in in third person, and the urban is in first person. Just a way to be flexible. Since I still feel new to the writing game, I try different methods.”

“I really like that. Staying flexible works quite well and is really good for strengthening all kinds of skills in the craft of writing.” Kelly nodded. “So, how long have you been writing? You’ve written quite a few books already, yet you said you feel new to the writing game.”

Nancy took a sip of the delicious hot chocolate and looked over at Kelly. “I started the writing class in 2011, published the first book in 2013. By then I knew how to self-publish. I have been writing three books a year because my readers want to know what the next story is going to be. I feel new because I’m always learning something new in the craft. My mother said you will learn something new every day, and she was right.”

“No matter how far advance as a writer, you will always learn something new…actually, this applies to life in general to.” Kelly smiled then took another sip of her drink. Setting it down, she focused on Nancy. “Okay, so which book of yours would you like to focus on? I’m afraid we only have time for one although I’d personally love to hear about everything!” She grinned at her.

Nancy smiled and began, “Might as well as talk about my latest, ‘The Pottery Sale’. This urban fantasy takes place in a real town in Idaho. This is a sequel to the first urban book I wrote in 2015, Where did they go?  I had to make sure in The Pottery Sale that the reader was informed as to what happened in the previous book. The Pottery Sale is about an ordinary housewife/widow that is bored with her normal routines until her gnome friend takes her into another world.”

Kelly raised her brows, but then she smiled widely and set her elbow on the table and her chin in the palm of her hand as she listened. “Oh, this sounds like a grand adventure! Can you tell me more of who and what they encounter? Without spoiling it, of course.”

“Well, I show two worlds. My heroine takes up pottery that somehow becomes associated with the drug world. Hobs, her friend, finds a fantasy land in the same building the bad guys are using. When a few people die at the Pottery shop, Susan runs for her life and Hobs saves her. The land of Bailory is your typical fairyland that has a wicked witch. This land is a combination of Norse spirits and local Indian ones The two worlds come together when Susan and Hobs saves the day.”

“That sounds fascinating!” Kelly smiled widely as she sat back in her chair. “A bit complex too, and that’s great! So, where did you get the idea for this story? You mentioned you did it for NaNo, but what inspired you to shift from sci-fi to urban fantasy?”

Nancy took another sip of her hot chocolate, “I don’t really know, it just came to me unlike my other tales that have some basis in real news stories. I was writing’ Where Did They Go?’ for NaNo, and it just seemed boring for me. As soon as I had my character walk into another world, I finished it in 11 days. I finished ‘The Pottery Sale’ in 16 days. It’s like I’m watching a movie with specific characters in a certain location. The characters take off and do their thing. I just relay their story.”

“You finished it in 16 days??” Kelly raised her brows. “That’s fantastic! So will there be more to the series?”

“I hope so, but now I have been thinking of what to do for my next sci-fi adventure. I’m still waiting on my readers to proof ‘The Pottery Sale’.”

“Well, I hope it goes well for you. Now though, we actually have little time, so why don’t you tell me about your sci-fi series? What is it about?”

Nancy finish her drink and set the cup on the table. “My sci-fi series has many arcs. Basically how we may live in the future 300 years from now. The first book, Similar but not the same, is about first contact with a species of people that want to be our friends. From there, humans travel with them to another planet and back again. A take off in the same time with the same characters is a detective story and the murders he solves traveling to Mars and the Moon.” She took a deep breath. “I always put a moral tone into my books that expresses how greed can destroy. You see examples every day in the newspaper.”

“So like a homicide detective but in space?” Kelly smiled, her eyes brightening as she thought on this. “I’ve got to say, that is quite unique. I like it a lot! Of course you said there are other arcs to it as well, so it must be very complex, but that detective story…gotta be interesting.”

For a moment, she checked the time on her phone and frowned. “Our time is almost up, but tell me, what is your favorite thing about writing? What makes you keep coming back for more?”

“Writing is relaxing for me and helps get those pesky irritations off my chest. I want to thank you for doing this interview with me. As soon as you post it I will post on my blog. I want to add at my age, I have to write as much as I can.”

“You are doing quite well. Keep up the good work. It’s certainly been a pleasure to meet you and to hear your story. I can’t wait to see which character you will have me interview.” Kelly smiled then rose to her feet. She reached out her hand to Nancy. “Thank so much for meeting with me. I hoe you the best with all your writing endeavors! Keep writing, and keep publishing!”

“Thank you, have a good day.”


Nancy A. Nation’s novel ‘The Pottery Sale’ is available online. You can find it along with her other books at the following links. Be sure to follow her on social media too!








Pottery (soon):   

Social Media:


Facebook Page:   




Amazon group page:    

Smashword group page::

Author Interview: K. M. Vanderbilt

I had the privilege of chatting with K. M. Vanderbilt, the author of the dark fantasy book, ‘Skeins Unfurled’.  In this interview, ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘K. M.’ was written by K. M. Vanderbilt.


Kelly sat on a bench overlooking the ocean. There was a pathway that led down to the sandy beach, and she might take her interviewee there in a bit, but for now, she waited, enjoying the breeze in her hair. She sighed. She needed this. It’d been a long few weeks, and the beach always had a magical relaxing touch.

Sensing someone approach, Kelly opened her eyes and looked over her shoulder to see a woman drawing near. Kelly smiled and rose to her feet. “K. M. Vanderbilt? I’m Kelly.” She extended her hand. “So great to meet you. How are you doing today?”

K. M. smiled and offered a firm shake. Her mother had always told her a good handshake marked someone’s character. “Yes, that’s me…I…she? Maybe it’s we.” Smiling sheepishly, she released Kelly’s hand and awkwardly amended, “Hi. Nice to finally meet you.”

It seemed like the interview would never come, but with it happening, she just felt unprepared and flustered. She struggled to remember what Kelly had asked. “I’m…great actually.” Her eyes wandered to the surf, sweeping across the beach. “Great view.”

Kelly smiled as she turned to take in the view as well. “Would you like to walk down to the beach? We can take that path.” When K. M. nodded, Kelly led the way. “So tell me a bit about yourself. When did you first begin writing?”

Looking down at her bare feet, toes kicking up rooster tails of sand, K. M. thought about that. “Well…I’m me. I dunno.” A deep noise hummed in her throat, the precursor to laughter. She always felt weird talking about herself despite the nature of interviews. “Well, okay…this is how it goes. 29, traveler at heart—and that lifestyle goes well with an Army guy as the hetero-life mate. I’ve pretty much been all over the continental US, a few other countries as well, and I use all of that to fuel my writing. I took up the pen, so to speak, when I was six,  and never put it down. I actually published my first book this year.” She smirked, one shoulder rolling up in a half shrug. “Finally. Ha.”

Kelly smiled. “Congrats on your writing accomplishment. That’s always a wonderful thing! However, who or what pushed you to finally get published?” After a moment, Kelly decided to remove her shoes too and sighed in relief at the sand between her toes. It felt good. But she looked to K. M., waiting for her answer.

That was actually a good question. As K. M. looked at the path ahead, she felt her eyes drawn inward to memories twenty years old. “My mom,” she answered, voice soft. Locking her hands behind her back, K. M. considered where it began. “My mom used to read to me every night. Then I started reading for myself. Writing followed. My mom read a lot of it and encouraged me to do something with it, though she didn’t want it to be my career. It’s not lucrative in most cases, so not a viable option for most people as a day job. Circumstances change, though. It’s the dream, right? Now, the reality.” She smiled softly and looked over at Kelly. “And she supports that.”

“I’m very happy to hear that.” Kelly smiled back at K. M. “So, what genre do you write? What kinds of stories?” As she asked this, Kelly noticed a beautiful shell sticking out of the sand, so she bent down and retrieved it then brushed it off to inspect it.

Cocking her head, K. M. scooted a little gray crab away with her toe. It scuttled off with an angry click of its pincer. “I mean…I write everything,” K. M. admitted, struggling to find that niche answer she assumed was expected. “I started off with YA urban fantasy when I was 17. It was my first complete manuscript…and it was complete crap.” Chuckling, she shook her head. “I don’t know. I’ve tried a bit of everything—southern noir, fantasy, sci-fi, ”she looked at Kelly and raised a brow, voice lowering, “romance. Most of it will never see the light of day. The book I published is part of a series, though, and it’s dark/epic fantasy. I think that would really fall as my comfort genre.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “So tell me about this story. What is it about?” She cast K. M. a smile. She loved hearing about writers and their stories.

K. M.’s face lit up and she spread her hands, palms out. “Allow me to geek briefly here. The book is called Skeins Unfurled: Prequel to The Breadth Key Cycle. Okay, so you know the Norse pantheon—death, blood, and Ragnarok…maybe a little gender fluidity when Loki decides to be a she for the day?” At Kelly’s nod, she continued, “Take that and expand it, throw in a sprinkle of other pantheons from around the world, and then make wyrd become this tangled concept that touches everything in a trickle down effect—chaos theory at its finest.” Laughing at the convoluted answer, she admitted, “It spans an entire universe—in the sense of planets—and shows how choices and consequences can affect people other than those gods who make the choice. I usually just tell people it’s about boobs, beer, and battle…but it is so much more.”

Kelly laughed when she heard all this. “Wow! Sounds quite complicated but awesome! What inspired this idea for you?”

Humming again, K. M. waggled her head back and forth, pulling a face. “That’s probably more complicated, but the short answer is…mythology. I love other religions and mythos, finding ways to blend so many different beliefs together and show how it all explodes.” She glanced at Kelly and smiled. “It was the challenge inherent to finding the differences and similarities between…say…Olympian and Aesir, or even Aztec and Aesir.”

“I bet you had a lot of research to do, but you likely loved every moment of it.” Kelly grinned at Kayla then motioned for them to go up the path a little to a bench. Once they sat down facing the ocean, Kelly glanced at K. M. once more. “So who are the protagonists and antagonists and the struggles they encounter?”

Taking a seat, K. M. buried her feet in the sand, wiggling her toes in as deep as she could. “It’s a multiple point of view story, so you’ll see different angles of the same conflict. There is no clear protagonist or antagonist, as it all becomes gray washed in motivations and character flaws.” Giggling low and throaty, K. M. admitted, “If you were to ask my beta, she would say Tyr becomes the main antagonist while Freyr and Forebelo are set as the protagonists. Loki is more of a wild card.” She nodded, as if to herself, and took a deep breath. “As for what they face…basically, Ragnarok is unwritten. Secrets emerge which have been kept for a thousand years. Everything falls apart. Loki discovers the truth behind his people being exterminated, Freyr discovers a an abandoned world, Tyr is just trying to keep his gathered world at peace…safe. and Forebelo has the biggest secret of them all.” She looked at Kelly, wiggling her fingers as she mystically whispered, “The breadth key. It all shows how they ally themselves, sometimes in the strangest ways, and how their goals are set against each other.”

I love it when stories don’t have a clear-cut antagonist or protagonist but rather a lot of gray areas. That’s more realistic. I like it!” Kelly grinned at K. M.. “So you said you published the book, but is it the first in a series? I imagine it would be because of the extent of the story sounds massive.”

“Yes.” K. M.’s eyes went wide. “Huge. I keep thinking I can pare it down to six books, but there’s just SO MUCH.” One corner of her mouth lifted. “This book is just a prequel to set the stage, which I think was needed for a deeper understanding of the universe. The next book—Errant Tides—shows the aftermath and moves into the main series.” That said, she looked out at the water. “I kind of view this series as an ocean all its own: the deepest corners may never be explored, but it holds a wealth of life.”

“Sounds amazing.” Kelly nodded but then happened to check her watch and frowned. “Our time is about up, so we should be heading back.” They stood, and Kelly led the way back up the path, but along the way she asked, “Is there anything you’d like your readers to take from your story? If they remembered one thing, what would it be?”

K. M. took a deep breath, eyebrows shooting up. “Well, I think it’s important to realize you never know as much as you think you do. In life, there are no absolutes, and no one view of the world can ever encompass every angle. So, on that note,” she laughed, “it’s good to question everything and explore what it means to be the other guy, have the dissenting opinion.” Grinning, she laughed, “Maybe playing devil’s advocate is dangerous, but I think it allows us to broaden our horizons.”

“And horizons are always meant to be broadened. How else will we explore, learn, and discover more?” They finally came back up to where Kelly had been originally, and she sighed. “Unfortunately our time is up, but this was a lovely visit. Here.” She offered the shell she had picked up earlier to K. M.. “A gift from the Muse.” She smiled at her. “I hope you the best with all your endeavors. Keep me posted on your progress. You’ve got quite a journey ahead of you.

“Thanks, Kelly.” K. M. flipped the shell, caught it, and tucked it in her pocket. “It’s been great.” Waving, she walked off into the sunset, gunslinger style.


K. M. Vanderbilt’s book ‘Skeins Unfurled: Prequel to the Breadth Key Cycle’ is now available. You can find it here:

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Author Interview: Adam Priestley

I had the honor of meeting with Adam Priestley to discuss his not yet released novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, which is a blend of many genres—sci-fi, romantic mystery and thriller with a futuristic edge. In this interview, I sat down to get to know the author behind the story. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Adam’ was written by Adam Priestley.


Kelly ran through the rain to the coffee shop, and she let herself sigh in relief once she was out of the rain and in the warm confines of the shop. Maybe by the time her interview actually began it would have stopped raining, but for now she stepped inside and up to the counter, ordering hot chocolate to ward off the cold of the rain.

Once she got her drink, she went to a table near the front windows of the shop and sat down facing the door. Here she could watch people, and watching them run through the rain was always entertaining, but she was watching for a specific individual.

Adam opened the door of the taxi cab and stepped out onto the high street in front of the coffee shop. Typical it was raining, and he had left his umbrella at home on the side of the sofa where he had discarded it last time.

The rain was coming down so hard he would be drenched by the time he was inside. He could see the girl he was meeting, sitting waiting patiently for him. He started to walk towards her and then froze as his nerves got the better of him.

Telling himself off, he looked across at her and smiled. Plucking up the courage he opened the door and went inside. As soon as he opened the door he was met by the welcoming, tantalising smell of coffee and pastries. He resisted the urge to go get himself a drink and walked straight towards kelly. “Hi.” he smiled, nervously. “Hope you haven’t been waiting long?” 

Kelly shook her head as she rose to her feet to greet him. She reached out her hand to him. “Adam, it’s great to meet you. I haven’t been waiting here at all. If you’d like to get something to drink, go ahead and then you may join me here.” She motioned to the table and smiled at him.

“Thanks” he said accepting her hand, he smiled. “I see you’ve already got a drink so I’ll get you your next one. I’ll just be a sec.” Adam walked to the counter, thankfully there was only a small que. As he waited he glanced over his shoulder at Kelly and smiled again. He hadn’t done anything like this before. He ordered a traditional cappuccino, no chocolate sprinkles as he was watching his weight and walked back towards Kelly. He buzzed with excitement ready to begin the interview.

Once Adam returned and sat down, Kelly smiled at him. “So, tell me a bit about yourself. I know you’re a writer, but do you have a job other than that? I find writers come from all walks of life, and it’s quite interesting.”

“Yeah I do. It’s not that exciting, certainly not what I trained at university for but it pays the bills and I’ve met some good friends along the way. I’m what the company calls a key operative, others call the position a charge hand. At a meat factory, specialising in hams.

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “Well, writers do what they have to to make ends meet, don’t we? Definitely not what we likely went to university for, but as you say, it pays the bills.” She took a sip of her drink before continuing with a smile. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”

Adam smiled as fond memories circulated in his head. “I think my interest started at a very early age I would always have my nose in a book as a youngster and used to love playing out my own scenes from the books. But my best memory was when I was seven and as part of a school production I had to read out one of my stories called Turkeys Revenge.” He let out a blissful chuckle at the memory. “It was about Turkeys who decided they weren’t going to be eaten for Christmas and attacked the farmer. The audience loved it and even to this day if I go back to the village I grew up in some of the old residents always talk to me about it. At secondary school there was a bot of a lull as I set my heart on becoming an actor. This is what I dreamed of being and went away to study at university.”

“You wanted to become an actor?” Kelly lifted her brows. “That’s pretty awesome! If you had the choice between writing and acting, which would you choose? I know, unfair question, but still…” She shrugged and smiled at him.

“N,o it isn’t as they were part and parcel of the same thing. I used to write a lot of my own material. I was in a production of Scrooge as Scrooge and I even played Snow White in an off beat comedy.” He smiled. “But this isn’t really answering your question. If you had asked me ten years ago I would have said an actor, but these days I much more prefer creating the characters and learning about them.” He shrugged. ” I think maybe when i am writing I am actually acting all of the characters.”

“And as a writer, you have the ability to be all the characters at once whereas with an actor you’re limited to one or two characters,” Kelly pointed out. “But what made the shift in you from acting to writing? Why did you change your mind?”

“To be truly honest. I really haven’t got a clue.” He laughed. “I think its time when I started working where I am ten years ago i was still involved with my local ma dram group trying to get them to put on one of my plays. then I started working at the factory where I have to get up at 4 every morning, and it was like if I can’t have the time to be an actor, I’m going to focus on my books and enrolled on an open learning course.”

Kelly nodded as she listened to this. “It sounds quite grilling, but you found your way back to writing.” She smiled at him as she leaned back in her chair, getting comfortable. “So, tell me about your writing. We can only discuss one story at this time, but you get to pick! I’d love to hear it.” She grinned at him because she loved hearing the new stories every writer had, and she knew they loved those stories with all their beings. That made her happy.

“Well,” he smiled, “That’s easy it would have to be Lava Lounge Nights. This has kind of grown out of the play I was trying to get my old am dram group to produce.” He loved talking about this story. It had been with him for a very long time and although it had evolved to him it was still the same thing. “It’s set in the future and about a night club caught in the middle of a turf war between two rival families. In the play version there was going to be this whole Romeo and Juliette style thing but as it’s evolved that kind of now feels so cliche.”

“This sounds very intriguing.” Kelly leaned forward, setting her elbow on the table and her chin in the palm of her hand. “So, who are the major players in this story?”

“Lazarus Sinclair, is the owner and he’s been with it every step of the way, although in the present version he has become a lot younger. He’s the eldest son in the main gangster family.” Adam took a swallow of his coffee, and Kelly smiled as it left a foam mustache.

Kelly motioned to his mouth, indicating to the foam, but she smiled nonetheless. “Okay, you have Lazarus, but who else?”

Adam flushed with embarrassment before wiping his face. “Then there is his wife Angelica, who is hiding some dark, mysterious secret and has been forced to make a late night runner from her parents house. She hates herself for dragging her kids on a red eye flight full off drunks and undesirables but she feels as though her hand has been forced. Through the whole journey she is feeling uneasy as though she is being watched. After she lands in the car park she is suddenly abducted by masked men.”

Kelly arched her brows when she heard this. “And I suppose you can’t tell me what happens to her, eh?” She gave him a look but then smiled as she sat back in her chair. “Guess I’ll just have to read the book! So, what inspired this story idea? You mentioned it was a play of your originally which has evolved since then, but what gave you the idea for the story?”

“I think I wanted to create a sci-fi that didn’t have the stigma of only being for sci-fi fans Lava Lounge Nights has a bit in it for everyone. From romance to aliens. I think the main inspiration comes from mixing together everything I like but also with scifi there are no barriers. One last character I really ought to tell you about is is Lydia, Lazarus Sinclairs twin sister. Like the Krays one is more damaged and prone to violent outbursts. In Lava Lounge this is Lydia. When we are first introduced to her she is in the middle of a bar fight.”

Adam looked at his watch he was enjoying this, there was so much more to tell but the real world outside wanted their characters back. “Sorry Kelly, I’m going to have to go, but I really have enjoyed this, maybe another time.”

“No problem! Thanks for meeting with me and showing me a bit of your world.” Kelly smiled as she rose to her feet. “I need to get going anyway, but I can’t wait to meet whichever character you’ll have me meet.”


Adam Priestley’s novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, is not yet published, but there is a taster chapter of Adam’s forthcoming story available on Wattpad:

Author Interview: E. M. McGowen

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Erin was written by E.M McGowen.)

It was a quiet evening in Moore, Oklahoma, and the quiet was not entirely unpleasant.  Erin sat alone in the small cafe, quietly writing and sipping on the smoothie she had prepared moments before.  It had been a long few months with little inspiration coming to her, and she was going to take advantage of any moment she had to be able to write freely. The ideas were beginning to come back, and Erin was beyond grateful they were appearing once again.  She missed her characters, like old friends she had not seen for a while.

She wouldn’t be alone for long, however – she was expecting a guest, a fellow author and friend, who would be conducting an interview with her.  Erin tapped her pen against the page and looked around the cafe, staring at the decorations – scenes of travel and far-off places she had both been to and desperately wished to go in the future. Already she was planning for her next adventure, and could hardly wait until the time came. 

She checked the time.  Any moment now.

Kelly stepped into the cafe and looked around. She locked eyes with Erin and approached her with a smile. “Hi, I hope I haven’t kept you waiting long. I’m Kelly. I’m assuming you’re E. M. McGowen, right? Kelly reached out her hand. “Nice to meet you. How are you doing today?”

Erin shook it, smiling in return and gestured toward the table she was occupying, inviting the other woman to sit down. “Call me Erin, and you haven’t kept me waiting long at all.  I’ve been writing a little to keep busy.  Would you like anything? A drink, or a pastry?”

“I’m fine. Thanks.” Kelly smiled as she took a sat across from Erin. “So, tell me a bit about yourself. What is it that you do? Obviously you’re a writer, but is it a full-time job?”

“Not exactly, although I would love for it to be someday.  I don’t have a profession exactly, more of a jack-of-all-trades.  I currently work customer service, but I’ve done everything from reception work to veterinary technician.”

“Then you’ve encountered a lot of people!” Kelly nodded as she eased back in her chair. “When did you first become interested in writing?”

“Lots of people—most of them good, some of them not so good.”  She gave a small shrug. “I’ve been writing since I was a young child.  I believe I wrote my first story around the age of five or six.  It wasn’t very long, but it was about my cat, Midnight.  I’m not entirely certain what the plot was, but I know I had him going on some epic adventures.  Before that, I would tell stories aloud. My mother used to tell me she’d hear me in my room, playing out and telling all kinds of stories to my stuffed animals.”

Kelly smiled when she heard this. It was a common tale that writers were story-lovers since a young age. “So did you always write? Or was there a moment in your life that really encouraged you to get serious about writing?”

“A little of both. I’ve always written and loved my stories.  I could read books by the time I was four—small children’s stories of course, but actually read them by myself—and it just went from reading and telling them to putting them on paper.”  Erin tilted her head a little, thinking as she took a sip of the smoothie, idly tapping bouncing her foot.  “I suppose what really got me to writing was the discovery of fan-fiction.  I was about eleven and had just finished the first two Harry Potter books.  I remember finding a website with a lot of artwork, and it had some stories on there written by the artist.  It wasn’t anything new to me—I’d been creating my own versions of fandoms since I was a little girl – but it fascinated me.”  She let out a laugh, remembering her excitement at the discovery.  “About a week later, I had a plot and had written my first real “chapter” to a story.  I admit, it was pretty terrible and embarrassing!”

Kelly grinned when she heard this. “I started off with Star Wars fan fic, so yay fan fiction!” She then tilted her head to a side. “But you transitioned from writing fan fic to writing your own work, right? How did that come about?”

“I always love meeting fellow fan fic writers!  It used to be something people didn’t like admitting, and it’s actually become a lot more acceptable now.  I actually had an interview with one of our local news papers here in Oklahoma about writing fan fiction.  The journalist was trying to discover what it was, and why people would do it! As for moving to my own stories …” She thought a moment, trying to remember when she made the jump from preset worlds to creating her own. “I have a character, Osamu, who I have had since I was about twelve.  He started off as a fan fiction character, but was one that was in the background.  I attached myself to him and gave him a story.  Eventually, I rewrote that story . . . and then rewrote it again.  Finally, there was nothing that even tied it to the original fandom he came from, and I dropped it all together.  He’s the reason for the jump.  Although, if I admit, I still write fan fiction more than I do original, still.”

“Don’t you love it when there’s a character that helps you make that jump?” Kelly grinned at Erin. “I know exactly what that’s like. So, you’re working on your own work (while still writing fan fiction, of course!), so which story of yours would you like to discuss?” Kelly leaned forward. “I’d love to hear it!”

“I really do! He’s probably one of my very favorite characters ever.”  Erin grinned and leaned forward, obviously excited to share a little about her story with Kelly, and those who read her work.  “The current original story I’m working on right now is called “Le Cœur a Ses Raisons.  Funnily enough, the main character is actually Osamu’s uncle.”

“Interesting.” Kelly tried to keep that title in mind because it was little unusual but asked. “What’s it about?” She smiled at Erin.

“It’s about a middle-aged man who uproots his life from being a well known and respected psychiatrist and professor in Tokyo to Norman, Oklahoma to work as a Japanese professor.  While there, he meets a fellow teacher, Jaime, and ends up developing feelings for him.  Problem is, Jaime is straight and much younger than him.  It’s mostly just a story about life, and culture shock.”

“Culture shock is definitely something we don’t think about much but is an intriguing element to include.” Kelly nodded as she eased back in her chair and still smiled at Erin. “So what inspired this idea for a story?”

“I’ve been using Tenshi—that’s my character’s name, and yes, I know it is in no way a name the Japanese actually use.  That comes up in the story! – in role plays with my friends for a number of years now.  Tenshi was actually the second character I created for Osamu’s story, and he’s been around almost as long.  I’ve always known Tenshi was gay, and I’ve always known he’s had a bit of trouble with love.  He was married to a woman in his late twenties and early thirties, had a child, finally came out and got together with his second partner.  That didn’t end too well for him.  The actual story came to me while riding on a bus through the Czech Republic.”  Erin took a breath, realizing she was talking very fast and probably not making a ton of sense. “I’m sorry, I tend to overshare when I get excited. I’d been calling Jaime “Tenshi’s Idiot”, because I didn’t have a name for him.  But I had a long bus trip from Berlin, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic and it just all hit.  It worked, and I’ve spent the last several years piecing it all together.”

“Don’t you just love it when things fall into place for a story?” Kelly grinned at Erin. “Now, obviously there’s lots of personal and internal conflict for the characters. What is it you’d like your readers to take from the story? Something you’d like them to remember?”

“I do love it, so much, especially when it comes so easily.  I got back home and pretty much bombarded my friend with all the ideas I had for it.” Erin nodded, looking down at the paper she had been writing on, and back up to Kelly, taking a deep breath. “I think what I want people to take away most is that there’s always more to a person than meets the eye, and I touch on a number of social issues as well.  Obviously the topic of homosexuality, but both of my main characters have HIV, as well.  For Tenshi, he was infected when his partner of ten years cheated on him.  For Jaime, he is a former heroin addict, and shared needles. There are so many stereotypes and so, so much information about HIV positive people that I want to shed light on that.”

Kelly paused to take all this in, and she regarded Erin for a moment then smiled at her. “Sounds like quite a lot to accomplish, and I admire your willingness to touch on their issues to try and help others understand. It’s interesting. Keep it up!” Kelly glimpsed at a clock on the wall and frowned. “Our time is almost up, but we still have a few more minutes.” She smiled at Erin. “What would you say is your favorite thing about writing in general? I know that can be a difficult question, but still…I’m curious.”

“My favorite thing about writing would be seeing my characters actually come to life.”  Erin focused her eyes behind Kelly, something she did when thinking hard.  It allowed her mind to drift, and not feel like she had to keep eye contact the full time. “I’m not an artist, I can’t draw anything more than a stick figure.  But I can paint a picture with my words.  I’m still a baby writer, and I have a long way to go.  Still, I want to share these characters with the world, and have them love my babies as much as I love them. I get very, very attached to my characters.  Every one of them mean something special to me.”

“And if I may, what about you? What is your favorite thing about writing?”

Kelly chuckled at this and wagged her head. It was hard to narrow down, but she tried. “I’d have to say creating new worlds and exploring the stories. Always fun.” She smiled. “But what’s the most difficult thing you’ve found about writing so far?”

That question made Erin laugh aloud, rolling her eyes at herself as she leaned the chair back on two legs. “Everything! As I said, I’m a baby writer, and things I’ve written even two months ago make me cringe.  I struggle with insecurity, I struggle with getting what I want out of my head an onto paper…it’s all difficult for me.”

“It gets a bit easier as you go.” Kelly reassured her with a smile but then sighed. “unfortunately though, I must bring this conversation to a close. It’s been lovely chatting with you though. You’ll keep me posted on the progress of your story and such, yes?” She raised her brows.

Erin nodded, extending her hand once again for Kelly to shake. “Of course I will.  It’s been a pleasure speaking with you as well!”

Kelly rose to her feet and shook Erin’s hand. “You keep writing, and never give up. Take care!” With a farewell wave and a smile, Kelly headed out.


E. M. McGowen’s story, ‘Les Cœur a Ses Raisons’ is not yet published but is due to be released sometime in 2017. Follow her on social media for more updates!



Author Interview: Lynda J. Cox

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Lynda was written by Lynda J. Cox.)

Not sure if Kelly was at the ranch house already, Lynda pushed the dually faster than safety would deem prudent on the slick, muddy approach to the old homestead. Just the past weekend, this part of Wyoming had been buried under a foot of heavy, spring snow. A week of sixty degree or better temperatures and most of the snow had retreated to shaded outcrops, the grasses were turning a deep shade of green, but the melting snow made the dirt roads treacherous. The last pasture gate before reaching the house was shut and there were no fresh tire tracks scoring the yellow/brown path through the sage and grasses. Lynda realized she hadn’t seen any tire marks since she turned off Old Gilchrist Road onto the five mile long road leading to the homestead.

She got out of the pickup, opened the gate, and drove over the cattle grate, a chill brushing her with the shade cast by the massive arching wrought iron sign that declared she was on Lazy L property. Getting out of the truck again to close the gate, she paused and tilted her head back, letting the noonday April sun wash over her face. The silence here wasn’t silence. A meadowlark trilled somewhere behind her, the notes like liquid gold. Far off in the distance, high overhead, a hawk’s scream was a muffled “kee-kee.”. Shading her eyes, she scanned the cloudless expanse for the winged predator. It was little more than a small black dot against the azure dome. The wind was a constant voice in this open space…today it was a hoarse whisper through the sages. On the shaded side of the drainage ditch cut along the edge of the “road” the melting snowbanks hissed as they rotted in the bright sunlight.

This empty, seemingly desolate landscape was home. And, less than a mile away was the house she desperately needed to see. Lynda climbed into the cab of the truck, clutched down, and dropped it into gear. When the road swung into a wide arcing turn over an eon’s old, eroded hogback, the ranch house came into view in the small valley below. It was exactly as she remembered it—wide veranda wrapping completely around the home, the massive bay window on the second floor so the home’s occupants could start and end the day with the view of Tableau Mesa supporting the western horizon—the flag pole in the front of the house was a new addition but somehow it didn’t seem out of place to see Old Glory snapping in the stiff breeze with the state flag of Wyoming mounted directly below the American flag. Daffodils bobbed their yellow heads from the confines of flower beds, their only neighbors seeming to be a myriad of white rose cones, protecting the still dormant plants from the unreliability of Wyoming’s weather. That roses could be grown in this semi-arid land still amazed her.

She climbed the wide flight of steps onto the porch and opened the screened back door. Nothing here had changed, either. Though the house now had electricity, provided by a bank of solar panels built directly into the roof and a wind generator which doubled as a water pump for the large trough by the barn, the massive Hoosier stove still dominated one wall of the kitchen. A neatly stacked grouping of wood filled the box next to the black monster. Pine cabinets appeared to have been painted and then a crackling medium had been applied, giving them a very aged look. The counter tops were still pine, multiple coats of resin and knife marks testament to how often they were still utilized. Hard wood floors were grooved and scored by decades of tread and it seemed more than a few pairs of spurs that had been neglected to be removed before entering the house.

“Hello! I’m here,” Lynda called.

Kelly sat at the piano playing it a bit. She stopped when she heard someone approaching the house, and when Lynda announced her presence, Kelly turned on the bench to greet her. “Hey, Lynda!

“Kelly. How the heck did you beat me here?” The sense of deja-vu was overwhelming. The piano dominating the front parlor, the cut crystal tumblers on the side board… “I didn’t see any tire tracks.”

Kelly smirked. “I’m the Muse, remember? I can appear wherever I want whenever I wait. Besides, I knew there was a piano here, and I wanted to play a little.” She motioned to the piano then turned her attention back at Lynda as she rose to her feet. “Shall we take a seat and get started?” They went to sit down, and Kelly smiled at Lynda. “So, tell me a bit about yourself. Other than writing, I’ve heard you work with dogs? How exactly?”

“I show them—on the beauty pageant side. They’re judged on how closely they conform—in that day’s judge’s opinion–to a standard of perfection written by the Collie Club of America and approved by the American Kennel Club. I’m also a western historical writer. I grew up with westerns and John Wayne. And, I have a master’s degree in English.”

Kelly smiled when she heard John Wayne. It’d been a long time since she’d watched those films, but they were always good. “So, I’ve got to ask, do dogs ever show up in your story since you work so slowly with them?”

“Amazingly, not yet. Because each dog has such a unique (and sometimes very quirky) personality, adding a dog to my stories would be the same as introducing a total character. Not fair to the dog to make him/her cardboard and only window dressing.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “That makes sense. I’ve always wanted to add my Doberman into a story but felt it unjust that she’d be sidelined.” Kelly sat back in her chair. “When did you first become serious about writing?”

Lynda crossed the room, and stared out the window at the flat roof of Tableau Mesa dominating the western horizon. “Serious about it? I’ve been serious about it since my first marriage when writing was my lifeline to sanity. I got serious about publication when I started work on my master’s.”

Kelly tilted her head to a side when she heard this. “And you said you write westerns…why westerns? I think they’re pretty cool, but why did they speak to you?”

“I grew up in the west, figuratively speaking.” Lynda hadn’t turned from the window. “I had a steady diet of the old syndicated westerns, my dad was a huge John Wayne fan, and my Grandfather Harris would read me bedtime stories of the Knights of the Round Table.” Lynda turned to the Muse and leaned back against the window sill. “Extrapolating those Knights to the Knights of the Plains wasn’t a long stretch. There was (and still is) a code of honor among the cowboy: Keep your word. Treat women and children as you’d want your Momma or young’uns treated. Listen a whole lot more than you speak.”

Kelly paused for a second, contemplating her next question. Finally, she leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “Okay, I have a question to ask, but before I can ask that one I need to first ask you to tell me about your story.” She smiled at Lynda. “Who are the characters? their conflicts? And such?”

Lynda laughed before she answered. “Which story? Which characters? There are times I feel like I have an insane asylum in my head with all these characters shouting at me to tell their stories. But, let’s go with the story that I’m working on…” She trailed off and took the time to sit on the leather couch. “Harrison and Rachel. They actually have appeared in all three of my published works. Harrison is a deputy federal marshal and the Harrison we see in those three books is mellowed by age and more importantly by his marriage to Rachel. Before Rachel, he viewed the world strictly in black and white, right and wrong. Rachel, on the other hand, knows that the world is filled with more shades of grey than in absolutes. That doesn’t mean she’s without a conscience or morality.”

Lynda traced the stitching in the arm of the couch. “Their conflicts…That’s a bit tougher. Rachel’s terrified of losing two things—her ranch and her autonomy. Harrison wants nothing more than to convince her she won’t lose either if she trusts him.”

Kelly nodded when she heard all this. “Okay, but what’s the main conflict? Is it between them or other people or what exactly?”

“It’s between them.” There was no hesitation in Lynda’s answer. “Rachel can’t trust Harrison and he is at a total loss on how to win her trust.”

Kelly chuckled when she heard this. “Hey, can’t make it easy on a guy. That’s totally unfair.” She watched Lynda. “So what inspired this story?”

“A dream.” She shook her head, bemused. “I know, sounds silly, but all I could remember about that dream was a scene that comes midway in the novel. Harrison is a little bit toasted and he’s trying to convince Rachel that with him “no” really means “no.” He has her backed up to the piano, she’s terrified…and when he doesn’t do anything other than draw a length of her hair through his fingers before he leaves the room, she finally starts to realize she might be able to trust him.” Lynda looked out the window again, without moving from the couch. “I woke up with that scene so vivid in my memory and had to write it down immediately. And, the story grew from there…asking myself the usual questions…who the heck were they? Why was she so afraid of that drop dead gorgeous guy?”

“Wow! That’s an awesome dream!” Kelly grinned widely. “Okay, so the question I wanted to ask you earlier but can do so now that I know your story a bit better, how’s this story different than all the other western stories out there? How does it stand out?”

“It’s standard trope.” Lynda shrugged. “But, what makes it different is how I take those standard tropes and add to it. This book is going to be a little darker, I think, than my first three. My last one dealt with spousal abuse, and it’s gotten some good reviews for the manner it was dealt with. Because of Rachel’s past, the issue of rape and the repercussions must be dealt with. It is a tightrope to walk across.”

“It is quite a tightrope indeed, and those are dark topics, but I’m glad you’ve addressed them because I’m confident you would handle it well.” Kelly eased back in her chair. “What has been your most difficult thing to write in this story?”

Lynda stood and walked to the sideboard. She moved a tumbler and then set it back. “Dancing around the rape. I have to tread very carefully or my publisher will reject it. And, because they are established characters in my previous novels, I can’t self-publish their story.” She drew a long breath. “And, that’s not exactly the truth, either. The hardest thing to write has been Rachel’s recollection of her rape. It was as if I was ripping open old, but less than healed wounds.”

Kelly frowned when she heard this. “That sounds very difficult indeed.” Then she shifted to a lighter topic. “And what’s been your favorite thing about writing it?” She smiled when she asked this.

“I honestly don’t have a favorite thing about writing.” Lynda smiled as well. “I love researching–one of the perks of being a history geek. I love creating. I love sharing my adoration for the Old West and for the places that thought process still survives, such as Wyoming with such an independent, pioneering spirit. I love connecting with readers. I love it when a character stops shouting at me to get it right, because I did get it right.”

“Not about writing in general but rather this story. Was there a moment that sticks out at you and still makes you smile?” Kelly raised her brows.

“Nope, because I’m not completely finished with the story. There might be a new favorite moment. As it is, my favorite moment in the rough draft is that moment in the parlor with Harrison and Rachel and he’s just about turning himself inside out to convince Rachel she can trust him to never hurt her.”

“I’m sure that’s a touching moment.” Kelly smiled but then had to sigh and rise to her feet. “Our time’s almost up, but I really do appreciate this time to chat with you, Lynda. Remind me again, do you title for your story?”

“The working title is ‘West of Forgotten’.”

Kelly considered this for a moment but then had to smile at Lynda. “That’s a good title. I really like it! Keep me posted on how it goes, okay? Because I’m sure my readers would be interested in a western for sure! Now though, I guess I should see myself out.” She gestured to the door. “But thanks again for agreeing to meet with me. It was great meeting you.”

“Likewise.” Lynda paused. “I think I’m just going to stay here for a few more minutes.”

“All right. You take care! Tell your characters I said ‘hi’.” With one final wave and a smile, Kelly headed out.


Lynda J. Cox’s novel, ‘West of Forgotten’ is not yet published, but her other books are! Also you can follow her on social media for more updates!

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