Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jan Phillips, Poetess

Welcome from Oklahoma USA Poetess Jan Phillips! Jan is the author of God Speaks, I write a poetry anthology about her relationship with God.

Do you remember writing your first poem?
I really can’t remember the first poem I ever wrote. I have been writing and reading poetry for many years because I love the rhyming of the words and they sound so musical.  I have read them many times at church and everyone enjoys them very much.  Everyone who heard me read them or read what I wrote always wanted a copy and I was encouraged by friends and family to put them in a book form.  I decided if I was going to do a book, I might as well publish it.  Since I feel that most of the poems were given to me by GOD, I think He would like for them to be seen by as many people as possible.  I am sure He would not want me to keep His words to myself.

Describe your poetry…
I think God Speaks, I write appeals to readers because it is a different sort of book.  It has a poem for everyone.  It has humor, truth, life and beauty.  The poems have a musical quality that is not often displayed in poetry.  It not only can be read, but if you are so inclined, you could sing most of them.

My book is different because I am a unique individual and each person brings something of themselves to their writing.  I also think that with God doing the speaking and me doing the writing we make a powerful team.  Not everyone has that sort of relationship and if they do, they don’t always use it for the purpose that God had in mind.  By reading this book you can tell my mind was open and the words flowed like a spring.

In your opinion, what makes a great poem?
What I really like most are the poems that rhyme.  The others don’t always make sense to me.  I think because the rhyming ones almost sound musical and I love music.

What do you write in Dear God Letters?
Writing Dear God Letters is a way for me to pray sometimes.  There is no book and the only place I keep them is my computer.  I may decide to make a book out of them someday. My main inspiration is God and all He stands for.  Sometimes people will say something that also strikes a chord and I immediately know I want to write about it.  I guess I get my inspiration and vibes from living life to the fullest.

Where do you like to write?
Usually when I get my inspiration is late at night when I can’t sleep and I go outside and look at the stars and wonder at the greatness of the world, then I come back in and write whatever comes to mind.

Who is your favorite poet?
I am not sure I have a favorite poet.  I like them all very much.

What are you currently writing?
Currently I am writing a novel.  It will be called Sharecropper’s Daughter and it’s all about growing up with nothing and ending up with something.  Still writing poetry as well.

You attend the Remington Park Church on the backside of Remington Park Race Track! Sounds horsey...
I run the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet at the Church.  We used to have racehorses at Remington and it is so great to watch the beautiful horses going by when I am there.  Never won anything.  The closest we came was 5th place one time and the friend that was co-owner of the horse had an ink pen in her hand and we got so excited that he was coming up in the race, jumping up and down and yelling and at the end of the race my friend was missing the ink pen.  We often wondered if we would see someone walking around with a pen stuck in their head.  We finally lost our trainer and our horse wasn’t doing well and so we donated him to the Baptist Boy’s Home in Edmond.  He was so tame and such a sweet thing that we figured maybe the boys would enjoy riding him.  Being in the race business is like riding a rollercoaster.  It’s all ups and downs.  When you are really up its so much fun that you forget about the down side.  I always wanted to be a trainer, but I was working at the time and didn’t think I knew enough to train a horse, but it would have been great to have been around horses all the time.

Since I work on the backside at the Closet, I get to see some of the most beautiful animals.  Prancing along like they are on top of the world.  One day I was outside watching these guys trying to unload one of the horses and one guy was at the front and the other at the back.  They couldn’t get it to come out of the trailer.  The guy on the back side tried pulling on its tail and that wouldn’t work either so I walked out to the fence and spoke to the horse and told it that no one would hurt it so to come on out of the trailer so I could see how beautiful it was.  The horse suddenly backed right out.  The guy led the horse up close to me and it kept trying to come over to me but he would not let it. Then it started throwing a fit when they tried to take its blanket off.  I told it no one would hurt it and let the take the blanket off so I could see how pretty it was and so it settled down and let them take care of business.  I don’t know if it was me talking to it, but the sound of my voice seemed to calm it.  Off it went with the guys prancing and beautiful. 

I miss having a race horse.  It was great fun.  In fact we had riding horses before that and it was great fun too.  I guess seeing them all the time is the closest I will get to owning one again.  But I still think it was one part of my life I will never forget and enjoyed it immensely.

List a few things that your fans may not know about you...
I have a good sense of humor
I have great rapport with all animals but mostly horses, dogs, and cats
I smile all the time
I love to garden
I love to cook (not gourmet)
I crochet
I love to read murder mysteries
I have been married 47 years
I have two beautiful daughters

Connect with Jan…

Jan’s Biography:
I was born in a small town in Oklahoma and grew up close by in another little town.  We lived on a farm until I was in the seventh grade in school and we had to move to town because my father was so sick.  He died when I was 16 years old and a senior in high school.  I missed him then and I still miss him and think about him a lot.  We were very poor and had very little to eat or wear.  But that’s another book being written.  We had to work hard just to survive and we did a lot of farming.  The first house I remember living in was built badly and we had to stuff newspaper in holes in the walls.  We papered the walls with any newspapers or magazines we could get.  That is how I learned to read and write at the age of five.  I started writing poetry then, it just wasn’t very good at that time.  I still love nature and all its glory and I believe living as we had to do give me a solid foundation on which to build to learn to cope with the world and people as they are today.  It instilled the love of family and God into my life.  I accepted God as my savior at 15 and started to grow as a person.  I hope some of that part of me went into the poems I have written to help others to fulfill their destiny with God as I hope I am doing.  I have no other books published.  I have written several short stories and am in the process of writing a book, but don’t know if I will publish it or not.  I still write poetry and probably always will as long as God gives me the words. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Diane Mayer Christiansen, Author

Diane Mayer Christiansen grew up in Aurora, Illinois USA, a western suburb of Chicago. A graduate of Aurora University, Diane earned her degree in biology. She has worked at the University of Chicago as a laboratory technician, and Northwestern University as a laboratory manager. After the birth of her son, Jackie, she decided to be a stay at home mom and write. Diane began writing young adult fantasy books and hopes to be an advocate to children struggling with dyslexia. Switcher is her first published novel.

Switcher takes you to St. Levitius, a place of mystery and intrigue. There you enter into the lives of Samantha and Dottie. A thrilling young adult novel that is recommended for all readers.

Welcome Diane!

What are the secrets of St. Levitius?
St. Levitius has the outwardly appearance of a very respectable facility, a place where a loved one can go for a rest or for minor medical attention. The staff wants you to feel comfortable leaving your family member there. Of course it's all a façade' and that's one secret. In reality, St. Levitius is a place to hide people away, people whom society doesn't want to see anymore, people like Samantha.

Is it fiction... or fact...?
The story is a work of fiction though the characters are very real to me. Samantha and Dottie are both based on my feeling growing up. Because I grew up with a Neurological Disorder, Dyslexia, I often times felt as if I didn't fit in anywhere.  I was quiet like Dottie and always afraid that my peers would make fun of me. I think I always wished that I could be more like Sam. She always wants to stand up for what is right.  In the end I grew into Sam and left Dottie behind.  In the second book, Dottie begins to have a voice.

How did your main character, Samantha, become magical?
Much like I was born with Dyslexia, Sam was born with the ability to transform into a cat. She has always known that she had this ability but kept it a secret. There are so many parallels in the book between the magical differences and my own struggles, but in the end the main idea is to learn to accept who we are and not worry about what other people think. Once Sam meets others with similar abilities, she begins to realize this.

So, I looked it up and the idea of people turning into animals goes back to ancient times (also referred to as therianthropy).
Yes, the idea of Transformation has been around forever and can be found in many cultures including the Native American culture. I've always been fascinated with that culture and the human animal connection. But Switcher is not based on mythology.  The main purpose of the book is to help us accept who we are in a world that much of the time expects normal and perfect. Switching into animals is only one of the abilities that this group of children possesses. Some can fly while others can become invisible. There's a spectrum there. 

Did you do a lot of research in writing Switcher?
I did some research. I love documentaries and the idea for St. Levitius itself came from a documentary on institutions of the twentieth century, mainly places to hide away our mentally ill. I am always amazed at the human attitude of that time and am also happy that the study of Psychology has progressed since then.

What was the most intriguing thing you found out about therianthropy?
I know this may sound strange but as a writer you find yourself asking, "Could this really happen, can I write this, is it feasible?  When Sam switches into a cat, what happens to her clothes?" I was constantly struggling with ideas, trying to make it work and be believable to the reader.  Even though it is fiction, you want your reader to believe it could happen and be able to envision it all in their minds.

Who/what has had the biggest impact on your writing?
These days, my son.  I have made a switch myself, from talking and writing about dyslexia to my son's autism.  I find that our issues are very similar; feeling as if we don't always fit in, wondering if people will make fun of us. Well, I don't worry so much anymore but seeing him struggle brings it all back.  Now I write about autism and all of him accomplishments inspire me every day.

Describe your writing/editing style and routine...
I try to write three hours a day, usually in the morning.  I can usually write a chapter or two a week if I keep this schedule. That's at the beginning. Then there's editing, a lot of editing.  I do the first edit myself and then send it out to my editor.  She does one edit and then I revise from that.  This editing process goes on for several edits until I feel good about it.  The publisher then has their own editor go over the work.  These edits usually are more about content and writing style and are more subjective. I really enjoy the editing because that when I can plant things for later books and develop my characters better.

Where do you like to write?
I have an office in my house and that's where I do most of my writing.  The great thing about being a writer is that I could do it anywhere as long as I have my laptop. My son wrote a short story about me and let his class know that, yes, sometimes I write in my PJs. I feel most productive when I can work in the same space throughout a book.

What are you currently reading?
I loved the Divergent series and I also like any Science Fiction Fantasy.  I've read Maze Runner by Rick Yancey and The 5th Wave  Series Unwind, books like these. I love them and can't get enough.

What are you currently writing?
I am now writing a nonfiction book entitled I’m Just a Mom. It is the story of my life with an autistic son. My son is working on a companion book entitled I’m Just a Kid. It is the same story from his point of view. After this is another book waiting entitled, Green, a fiction work about the struggle of divorce.  I never have a loss for things that I want to write.

Do you have advice for beginning writers?
My advice is to write what you know. I don't necessarily know how to switch into a cat but I know how it feels to not fit in and I use that all the time in my writing. Life experience makes the best stories. Once you finish your first novel, begin your second.  Keep writing and remember that publication takes time.  If you're constantly writing new material, you always have fresh material to submit.  This is important because we never really know what the market is demanding, not like the publishers do.  Another piece of advice is to do your homework. Find out what is already done in your genre. Every agent and publisher wants to know why your work is different and why you think it will sell.

List 10 things that your fans may not know about you...
I am a very silly person.
I love unicorns.
My glass is always half full.
Chocolate is my nemesis.
My favorite place in the world is Disney World.
I love to travel.
I'm terrified of flying.
Sarcasm is my favorite form of communication.
Pink is my favorite color.
I could never imagine my life without writing.

Connect with Diane…

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A.V. Wedhorn, Author

Author A.V. Wedhorn is a creative writer. He is writing The Kingdom Chronicles trilogy; A King's Quest, A King's Task, and a third novel in process. He has an intriguing history, which I’ll let A.V. explain…

“I was born dirt poor, was kidnapped as a baby, so I started life out at a run. In my youth, I changed schools 24 times in twelve years. I am the oldest of three kids of a single mom who let the love of her life beat me every time he had a chance, until he died when I was sixteen. I discovered fantasy at an early age as a means to escape reality. At 19, I joined the Army and became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA and in Italy. While I was overseas I toured several other countries including Rome, Paris and Berlin, where I watched the fall of the Wall. I lost the manuscript to my first novel A King’s Quest five times while writing it; four times my fault and the fifth to a fire, but I persisted. I finally created The Kingdom Chronicles and brought to paper some of the thoughts in my head. Now, I am back in the Army, defending my country, having other adventures including a combat tour in Iraq.”

Welcome A.V.! Thank you for your service!

Has your enlistment played a role in your writing?  
I have actually enlisted in the military twice with a seventeen year gap between tines and the answer to your question is yes in some ways.  I was also an over the road truck and have been to 49 states.  The military and my constant traveling lifestyle have played a big part because I have seen so much of different cultures.  The military has given me a good eye for the battles and fighting which some say are my strong points.  It has also helped me in giving my writing a direct, sometimes in-your-face approach.

What is the premise for A King's Quest?
A King's Quest is set on the world of Tyrus where the Elvynn were the first race and the first to discover magic.  They were cold, cruel and heartless masters and ruled with an iron fist.  After the other races discovered magic, a great war was fought that almost destroyed Tyrus.  The gods stepped in and banished the Elvynn and put limits on magic for a period of two thousand years.  A King's Quest is set when the humans, other races and some Elvynn have been living in relative peace for almost a thousand years.  The story of the Elvynn banishment has faded into legend and has been forgotten by most except for knights and battlemages.  It is into this that Damien Daverge is thrown as a newly robed battlemage and an unknown heir to a throne where his parents were killed by deceptions put into place to crumble the 14 kingdoms and allow the Elvynn to return as masters.

Are your characters based upon your own life experiences?
Somewhat... in some ways.  I have met a lot if people in my life and yes I have taken several of the more colorful ones and put them into some of the jobs where I have know them.  My 8 years in the 82nd [Airborne] helped me see leaders in a professional environment. 

Who is your favorite character in A King's Quest?
That is a seriously hard question; I try hard to pour so much life into each character that I am not sure, but... I guess I would say Kendle Stonebreaker, my traveling dwarven ambassador.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas? 
I keep lots and lots of notes and I reread them all the time so I don’t forget, and sometimes I still do.

Describe your writing/editing routine... 
Write, read, picture myself there, rewrite again, read it out and correct.

Who is your favorite author?
I have two, Robert Jordan because of his ability to paint pictures with words and his craftiness in hiding plots.  My second is Jim Butcher, just for the sheer delight of reading his work and his quirky hard hitting style.

What are you currently writing? 
I am supposed to be working on book 3 of the The Kingdom Chronicles but I have been sort of sidetracked by something else.  A side project called Dragon's Eye.

What are you currently reading? 
I am reading The Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Write something.  Don't just say you like to write, actually sit down and do it.  If you write 1/2 a page for 2 years you will have a complete book.  And don't give up.  I had to restart A King’s Quest five times because I lost the manuscript in several unfortunate accidents.

List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
I love to talk.
I try every day to do something nice for someone.
I almost died and spent 3 weeks in a coma.
I love to swim and I am scuba certified but I am terrified of drowning.
I am both a cat and dog lover.
I started studying martial arts because I needed self discipline.
I still need self-discipline.
My first car was a 49 Chevy.
I love all kinds of pizza and could eat it every day
I wish I had time to just be lazy…lol.

Connect with A.V….

Friday, April 10, 2015

T.K. Lukas, Author & Equestrian

T. K. Lukas, a born-and-bred Texan with a hunger for international travel, lives in rural Palo Pinto County, Texas USA, with her husband and a menagerie of four-legged friends, equine, bovine, canine, and feline. The recipient of the A. C. Greene Literary Award for Texas Authors for her short fiction, Of Murder, Mayhem, and Magnolias, she now concentrates her efforts on long fiction, from Historical, to Romance, to Adult Contemporary.

Congratulations, T.K., on your new book release Orphan Moon!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
When I was 5 or 6, my family and I went to Arkansas for a family reunion. I was determined to make my cousin’s Shetland pony my friend, even though it was known to bite and kick. I took it a peace offering of an apple, which it ignored.  “Sugar” instead chose to bite a mouthful of my hair, and she proceeded to shake me like a rag-doll. My mother came running, slapping the pony, yelling at it, and finally I was dropped to the ground. I was so upset, not at the pony, but at my mother for hitting the pony! For me, it was love at first bite.

What is the premise for your new book?
Orphan Moon, set in Texas and in various western frontiers in the early 1860’s, is about a girl who survives an Indian raid on her family’s homestead. She’s determined to rebuild, but is left penniless and alone. She forms a plan - it’s reckless and foolhardy – but it’s her only hope. The story is a saga of family love, loss, and betrayal. It’s a gripping adventure and a timeless love story. And, there are lots of really nice horses that populate the pages.

Who is the main character?
The main character is nineteen-year-old Barleigh Flanders. She’s smart, driven, and very courageous – a girl with gumption. However, she’s also a bit reckless and doesn’t think things through, which gets her into trouble. She has some inner struggles, too, that she has to overcome, and those inner struggles are just as daunting as the physical journey she undertakes.

Are your scenarios and events based upon your own personal experience?
While the book is classified as Historical Fiction, and the characters are purely figments of my imagination, it is based upon historical events that occurred in the 1860’s during the time leading up to the Civil War. It helps that I have real-life experience with horses so that I can write convincingly about them. I hate picking up a book that has horses in the story line, only to discover that the author calls a two-year-old filly a “mare,” or refers to all newborn horses as “colts,” or to see that the book cover depicts a cattle drive and the horses are tacked up in English saddles. I want authenticity - readers should expect that.  

Can you share an excerpt?
Here’s an excerpt of the opening scene from Orphan Moon:     

September 27, 1860

High upon the Brazos River ridge, bare-chested warriors on war-painted horses gathered with lances, bows and arrows, and tomahawks in hand. The fire-holder, the elder and revered medicine man, sat astride his decorated pinto in the middle of the assembly, his mount indifferent to the flaming torches his rider gripped in each hand. Other horses stomped up puffs of fine caliche dust that glittered in the moonlight. One hundred or more in strength, they waited in patient surveillance of the quiet farmhouse below, while those in the farmhouse watched them.
The moon cast shadows where there should have been none, as if the sun instead had reached full bloom. A lone white stallion stood on the highest point of the ridge, silhouetted against the silvery backdrop, its rider sitting tall. He held his hand high above his head, as if connecting to some lunar spirit. His arm dropped, the signal was given. The rocky ridge came alive with horses pouring over the edge, sliding and tumbling down the steep slope, racing across the moon-lit valley. Terrifying war cries filled the air as a gyrating circles of mounted warriors constricted in an ever-tightening noose around the ranch.
Brilliant arcs of light erupted in the night sky like blazing traces of shooting stars falling from the heavens. Barleigh Flanders stood transfixed in the barricaded window of her bedroom, peering through the gun port as arrows streaming fire rained down all around. Dread rooted her feet to the floor.
Henry’s hands shook his daughter’s shoulders. “Run to the goat shed, Barleigh. Get in the cellar. Take Birdie and the baby and Aunt Winnie. Now! Uncle Jack and I’ll give cover till we can make a run for it.”
“No, Papa. I’m staying with you.” Barleigh picked up the shotgun, thrust it through the port.
“Don’t argue, girl. No time to waste. Keep hold of your gun—take it with you.”
Winnie ran out of Birdie’s room carrying the baby. Born two days earlier on the first night of the full moon, Barleigh’s half-sister wailed with hunger. “Birdie’s too weak to run or walk. Having this child took all of her strength.”
Henry shouted instructions as he shoved them out the back door. “I’ll carry Birdie down in a minute. Don’t open the hatch unless you know it’s me. Hurry now—run.”
They ran, Winnie clutching Birdie’s and Henry’s baby, Barleigh the shotgun. Noble the hound bounded alongside, his black hair bristling in alarm. From the back of the house, past the horse corral, then to the goat shed, they raced the roiling cloud of dust churning in from the ridge. Barleigh threw open the secret hatch in the floor, and after Winnie and the dog made their way down the angled earthen steps, she slipped into the cool darkness below. Henry had dug the cellar and crafted a secret door for it as their hiding place to seek shelter from dangerous weather or even more dangerous men.
“Hurry. Close the hatch,” Winnie whispered. She bent forward, shielding the baby’s tiny body with her own as hooves pounded the ground all around, dirt sifting down onto their heads.
“But Papa’s coming with Birdie.” Barleigh peeked out the hatch, straining to see. A cavalcade of horses passed in front of the open door of the goat shed. All she saw were fast hooves and painted legs, but that was enough. She knew what was above. She secured the latch.

Do you have a favorite horse anecdote to share?
A favorite – that’s tough. Horses have been a part of my life since before I can remember remembering. Before I got my first horse at the age of ten, I read everything I could about them, rode my cousin’s horses, dreamed about them, drew pictures of them, plotted how I might steal one (I was eight-years-old) if my parents or Santa didn’t get me one.  I will say that they’ve had a huge impact on my life in very profound ways, most notably in that they brought me together with the love of my life: “There I was, waiting my turn at this equine veterinary hospital, when this handsome man walked in leading a bay roan mare with a bad hock...”  And the rest is history – or – the rest is a historical romance waiting to be written.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently re-reading Empire of the Summer Moon, Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, by S. C. Gwynne. It’s by far the scariest and most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time. I initially read it as research for my book, so now I’m reading it for pleasure. It’s scary because it’s about real people and real events and the horrible things humans inflicted on one another.

What are you currently writing?
I’m currently writing the second follow-on book to Orphan Moon, that takes Barleigh and Hughes through the Civil War and into some very convoluted conspiracies involving a certain U. S. President. I’m also working on an adult contemporary thriller that has a USMC hero – which will lead into a real-life biography of the man who that character was patterned after. So, I’m very busy these days, and that’s a great thing! In all my books, no matter the era or setting, horses gallop across the pages!

Who is your favorite equine author?
My all-time favorite equine author is Marguerite Henry – I have many fond childhood memories, late nights under the covers with a flashlight, reading about Misty of Chincoteague. Will James, too, is a favorite. He wrote so eloquently of the emotional bond between a human and the horse. I still remember crying reading Smoky the Cow Horse.

Do you have advice for novice riders?
Yes! Ride, ride, ride. And then, ride some more. And, don’t forget when you’re done riding - stop and smell the sweaty neck of that horse. Imprint that scent into your memory bank. It’s a worthy deposit.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
For me, horsemanship, or being a good horseman/horsewoman, is pretty simple: take good care of your horse’s physical needs, keep your mind open to learning new ways to better train and/or communicate with your equine partner, and don’t impose human emotions and thoughts onto your horse. I’ve heard people say things like “my horse hates me,” or “that horse is such a bitch,” or “my horse is testing my patience today.” Horses are smart, some are clever, but they aren’t human, thank God. It would make for better equine/human relationships if the human tried to think more like the horse when in the saddle instead of assuming the horse is thinking/feeling human thoughts and emotions.

Connect with T.K…

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mara Dabrishus, Author & Equestrian

Originally from Texas USA, author and equestrian Mara Dabrishus now resides in the Buckeye State, Ohio! Mara’s new book Stay the Distance is recommended reading for every horse-lover!

Mara grew up in the Arkansas Ozarks, spending a good two decades there before she started to move around for school and work. After Mara received her Masters in Library Science from UNC, she moved up to Pittsburgh and finally Cleveland, where she is a librarian at a small college. This year Mara is doing a bunch of big life events, like getting married and buying a house, so onward and upward!

Welcome Mara!

Congratulations on your new book, your upcoming wedding, and a new home!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
Besides my trusty rocking horse that I absolutely adored as a tiny child, I have absolutely no memory of my first horse encounter. I do, however, have photographic evidence of me when I was quite little sitting in front of my aunt on her Thoroughbred, an ex-racehorse named Cody. That could have been the first time. I didn’t have horses growing up, and for the longest time the extent of my experience was staring at them in awestruck wonder--movies, TV shows, parades, as we passed them on the highway on family vacations. Of course, I read about them voraciously. I took lessons off and on, but I had the worst luck! Barns sold to developers, people moved away, and I eventually stopped looking for that horse connection until my twenties when I absolutely had to have horses in my life again. I’ve been riding dressage for nearly seven years and love every second I’m learning in the saddle.   

What is the premise for Stay the Distance?
July Carter’s world is perfect from the back of a horse. From the ground, everything is a complete mess: her jockey mom ran off for California years ago, her dad always seems more interested in the horses than in her, and the horse July wants for herself will never be hers. Even though the New York racing circuit has taught her not to get attached, July can’t help connecting with Kali, a hopeless filly that refuses to run when it counts. When bankruptcy rumors start swirling around the barn, the future is murkier than ever. July can’t stand losing one more thing, and Beck, the barn owner’s son, knows more about the rumors than anyone else. July will get the truth, even if she has to pry it out of him, for Kali’s sake and her own.

Can you share an excerpt from Stay the Distance?
Yup! You can read the whole first chapter here:

Are your scenarios based upon your own personal experience?
For Stay the Distance, I found myself pulling a lot from my dressage lessons. July as a character became this multifaceted horse girl: an exercise rider galloping racehorses, but with a dressage background. I find that knowing those little details really helps a horse book come alive and connect the reader to the story.

Where do you like to write?
Generally, I’m not picky. Most of the time I like to curl up on my sofa, listen to music, and tap away on my laptop. Usually there’s a cat trying to help, so that makes things interesting.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
I feel so scattered just thinking about this question! I don’t know how good I am at organizing and maintaining ideas. My process, if you want to call it that, looks a bit like this:

1. The Notes and Voice Memos apps on my iPhone for when I am driving or standing in the produce section of the grocery store when the idea hits.

2. Dropbox. I have a whole folder of Word documents, each assigned to an idea.

3. Pinterest. I’m a librarian, and I like to hoard research. I have boards dedicated to each idea in my Dropbox folder. When I eventually get around to putting the idea to use, there’s plenty of information to form a story’s foundation.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Appaloosa Summer by Tudor Robins. She’s a lovely writer who really gets into those moments with horses without feeling clinical or overloaded with horse jargon, so you really feel the emotional connection.

What are you currently writing?
I have two projects right now, both young adult books amidst horse racing. The first— working title is Finding Daylight (you heard it here first!)— is about a girl trying to juggle life and her burgeoning career as an apprentice jockey. The second is an untitled beginning for a series of books I want to write that is inspired by the North American Racing Academy, which is a jockey school in Kentucky. I’m expecting Finding Daylight to be released at the end of the year, but the series has a while to go yet.   

Do you have a favorite horse movie/novel?
I have a soft spot for The Man from Snowy River, to the point that the sequel does not exist for me. I could play the theme song on the piano as a kid, and I’m pretty sure that movie was the basis for my need to visit Australia a few years ago. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch, but how can anyone not love that downhill ride? As far as books go, I adore Kim Ablon Whitney’s The Perfect Distance for the way it blends horses and young adult themes. No surprise, I pick a YA book.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Whenever I think of horsemanship I think of that connection between horse and rider. The communication and understanding going back and forth between two very different individuals because the trust is so strong is such an amazing thing to experience. I think it’s that feeling that always has people climbing back onto a horse even after they might have every reason to walk away. I don’t own a horse, but I keep coming back and getting on, because that’s just what I need to do.

Connect with Mara…

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Paul David Powers, Author

Welcome to the world of Telly Tales! A trilogy for children 6 to 12 by Paul David Powers!  In Book One, Telly the Owl becomes the new overseer in Tales of the Swamp Creatures.  Book Two, Telly Tales Adventures, Thomas Telly Owl becomes the next generation leader. Released in 2014, Book Three and the final book of the Telly Owl Triology, Telly Tales III, concludes with the history from the beginning of Telly's arrival, his son's new rule, to Thomas Telly Owl's coronation and marriage…   

What is the premise for Telly Tales?
Telly Tales is about God's All Knowing Presence and Love towards his Creation as seen through the lives of the creatures who live in a swamp; that good always outweighs evil and that there are consequences for the things that we do wrong!

Are your characters based upon your on life experiences?
Telly Tales III is about life's struggles, being rejected like Morris the Yellow Spotted Frog, and moments of doubt like Thomas Telly Owl who succeeded his father as ruler of the swamp creatures. It’s about overcoming adversities - how Teddy the Turtle uses simple humor with his shell game to lighten the spirits of the hurricane ravaged swamp creatures! It’s about the Blessed Hope that Jesus will come again, like in a Glimpse of Heaven and how we, like millions of creatures, will someday rejoice in heaven with all the saints, before the Throne of God!

How did you come up with the name Telly?
Like Aslan [C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia] being a type of Christ, Telly Owl is like Jesus the Good Shepherd who watches over the creatures!

Please share an excerpt from your new book release Telly Tales III
     “Aunt Tully, What is the Greatest Love?”
     Tully was overjoyed to share with her precious nieces about the Greatest Love ever given to Mankind, Jesus dying on the cross for our sins!  “He died forgiving those who crucified Him. However, a Glorious thing happened! On the Third Day, Christ arose from the grave, just as the Scriptures foretold! It was finished. Man can once again be in right standing with God, “IF” they repent of their sins and accept God’s Eternal Sacrifice for those sins - Jesus Christ!”
     Mary and Carrie began crying! Deep inside, they knew that they did not know the Jesus that their Mother or Aunt knew! That afternoon on a hill similar to where Christ died, Mary and Carrie prayed and ask Jesus Christ to become their Savior. How about YOU? Do you know Jesus?” (The Greatest Love taken from Telly Tales III).

What would you like the reader to render from your books?
Being in ministry for over thirty-two years my message has been simple, JESUS LOVES YOU! And that Love is Eternal for those who accept His Gift of Salvation!

What are your views on current world events?
For this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached as a witness to all the world, to all the nations. Then shall the end come! Matthew 24:14
What are you currently writing?
I am currently writing Romantic Poetry in hopes of publishing a poetry book in the future.

List a few things that your fans may not know about you...
I am Hippie from the 60's!
My life changed when I met Jesus Christ! (1972).
We are saved by His Grace, not by works!
I love to sing and play Classic Rock, Blues and Christian Music!
My Goal is that Telly Tales III will touch children's lives worldwide!
My book sales support children's missions!
I am single, looking for that mate to spend the rest of my days with!

PAUL DAVID POWERS graduated from Miracle Valley Bible College in 1976. In 1982, he received Leadership Development / Helping People Who Hurt Certificates from David Wilkerson’s- World Challenge Institute of Christian Training. “Journalism Awards-1992-1997”, as Photographer & Editor of TNCC’s- The Nelsonite.  In 1997 He graduated from Thomas Nelson Community College with an Associates Degree in Photography, went on to Southside VA Community College, earned an Associates Degree in Human Services, Substance Abuse Counseling, finally a Bachelors Degree in Counseling from Master’s International School of Divinity.

Connect with Paul…
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Monday, April 6, 2015

Peggy Gish, Author

Residing in Ohio USA, Peggy Gish is a world traveler for peace. As an author, Gish takes a solid look into the lives of those afflicted and in adverse situations. She delves into the communities of the people of Iraq and writes about their challenges and quest for peace. I had the opportunity to interview Gish last year; she is currently in Nigeria. Gish expounds…

“I grew up in inner-city Chicago, but for the last 40 years have lived on a farm. My late husband, Art (died in 2010) and I had three sons, two of who are still living. We have lived on a Christian communal farm which started in SE Kentucky and moved up to Athens County in 1977. We earned our living by growing and selling organic vegetables at our local farmer’s market, until the fall of 2010. I worked for the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network in Athens, Ohio for 11 years, during which I taught conflict management in schools and with community groups and became a community mediator.

Art and I first got involved in peace and social justice work when we, as college students, went to Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in Aug. 1963. We were inspired to continue to work for justice and peace, and have been doing so over the past 50 years. When I joined the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), in 2002, I first worked with CPT in the West Bank, and have gone there 6 times since then. In October 2002, I began working with CPT in Iraq, and have traveled there 15 times, the last time being July-Sept. 2014.

I have learned some Arabic and Kurdish, so I can shop, travel, and do some simple conversing in social situations, but have not become fluent. From my experiences working in Iraq, I wrote two books, Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace (2004) and Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation (2013).”

Do you pen your thoughts daily while abroad, or do you wait until you arrive back in the States to compile your thoughts?
I took notes on a small notebook during the day, in which I recorded general information and notes from interviews with people. I also kept a daily journal, and summarized what happened that day and included information from my notebook, as well as personal responses to what was happening. So when I wrote my books, I gleaned from these writings and records of our team, as well as cross-checking information with other sources.

What organization do you support and travel with?
The organization I work with is the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a violence reduction/prevention organization with offices in Chicago and Toronto.

I heard you were almost run over by a tank on one of your peace-keeping trips. What happened?
Actually it was my late husband, Art Gish, who, in a fruit and vegetable market in the city of Hebron in the W. Bank, in Jan. 2003, saw tanks destroying the market, crushing crates of produce. When a tank started coming toward him, he stood facing it with his arms outstretched and stopped it. An AP reporter took his picture and it was on the front page of newspapers around the world, but not in the US. At the time this happened, he was working with the CPT team in Hebron and I was in Iraq.

What other unexpected or interesting things happened while you were there?
I was not expecting US Military personal to be as brutal in its detention/prison system, and fight against those who resisted occupation and harm and kill so many civilians in its "anti-terrorism" activities. I also met many young men and women in our armed forces who were there wanting to do something good, but found themselves in a system of violence where they were ordered to use excessive violence. Personally I experienced some very violent/dangerous situations, such as men coming to our apartment saying they were suicide bombers and were going to blow up our building that evening, but then end up just being robbed. Then there was the kidnapping of four members of our team in Baghdad, and a couple years later, another team member and I were kidnapped for a short time in northern Iraq, and I’m very grateful to have come through these experiences safely. Maybe more pleasantly unexpected to many people was to find so many Iraqi people and groups who out of their love and faith risked their own safety to work nonviolently for peace and justice and rebuilding their broken society. I tell these and many other stories in my two books.

How can the US protect Israel without being drawn into the devastation towards the Palestinians and Gaza?
I think the US can protect Israel, but not go along with and support its repressive and humiliating daily treatment of the Palestinians, its taking more and more of the Palestinians’ land, and the killing and destruction in Gaza that was extremely excessive compared with the violence against it by the Palestinians in Gaza. Israel wouldn’t have been able to do what they did in Gaza last summer if the U.S. had spoken clearly against it and withheld financial aid we give Israel. I think speaking clearly to Israeli leaders that we cannot support these things, would in the long run help Israel be more secure. If Palestinians were treated justly and respectfully, were not subject to daily violence and mistreatment, and were able to keep their homes, land, water supplies and not have them being taken away, control their own borders, trade, etc. Israelis wouldn’t need to be afraid of violence against them.

In your opinion, how can we bring about world peace?
As individuals, I think it starts with finding peace in yourself and in your relationships, and then finding ways to get involved in nonviolent activities to speak out and act publicly for peaceful alternatives to strife in our own society and for peace on a global level. On any level, peace will not be given unless we acknowledge and address the problems behind the strife. On a societal and global level it means addressing injustice for certain groups of people who do not have equal access to resources and opportunities for earning a living wage or to advance economically and socially. In other words, you can’t have peace without justice. It means changing basic economic policies in our country and internationally which allow rich people and corporations to make huge profits while those who work for them, to barely survive. It means rich companies should not be able to take and control the resources of poorer countries or the poor sector in those countries. For our country it means changing how we relate to countries of the world. It means curbing our need for cheap oil and therefore, the drive toward war to gain control of oil-rich areas of the world. It means caring more for the wellbeing of the poor in our society and for people of the world than our making profits. In theological language, it means repentance, which involves turning around and changing direction.

Will you be journeying to the Middle East again soon?
A month ago I returned from a two and half month time working with our team in northern Iraq. I may go back sometime in the coming year, but have not made any plans.

Describe the SOA Watch at Fort Benning, Georgia, November of 2013…
The atmosphere and spirit of the crowd protesting there and calling for the School of the Americas to be closed was positive, energetic, and peaceful. I was glad to be able to be there to also speak out against this school’s training fighters, from other countries, torture and “death squad” practices. Before the protest there started last Nov.,, I was part of the group that also visited the Stewart Detention Center, the largest for-profit prison for immigrants in the US, and was sad and sobered to see how immigrants were treated.

What are you currently writing?
In the past month I have mainly been processing my experiences from my last time in Iraq and preparing for the various talks I’ve been giving. I hope to soon start writing more reflections/articles for my blog. I don’t have plans for another book, at least for now.

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading older novels from authors such as George MacDonald, Rummer Goddard, and Marilynne Robinson, as well as some modern young adult fiction to keep up with my granddaughters. I also read magazines I subscribe to, such as Yes Magazine and Sojourners Magazine.

Who are your favorite authors?
One of them, besides those I named above, is Madeline L’Engle. She combines realistic characters with problems we all face, with imagination, magic at times, and hopeful solutions to the dilemmas. I enjoyed series of fantasies such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. For political books, I appreciate Naomi Klein, who wrote Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. One of my favorite inspirational religious writers is Henri Nouwen.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Write out of your passion and experience. Address real human dilemmas and problems. Combine realistic coverage of problems with messages of hope. I usually like to learn something and come away with more insight, understanding, and personal growth, when I read. Sometimes I’m just happy to have fun and be brought into a whole new fantasy world if it is creatively done.

List 10 things that your fans may not know about you....
1. I am an introvert, and basically a shy person, yet prefer working with people than doing desk or research type work.

2. I love to spend time walking in the woods. It is one of the ways I find healing and nurturing.

3. I like to garden and see things grow.

4. I grew up in the city, but have lived more of my life in rural areas, and feel more of a country-person.

5. In the past 40 years I have lived very simply. Until recently, we heated with a wood stove, and I used a wringer washing machine.

6. As an adult I have lived without a TV, and have never wanted to have one. Life is too full without it.

7. Even though I respect people of all religions or the non-religious, I am personally a Christian, and find strength to do the work I’ve been doing out of my faith.

8. In spite of all I have experienced, I still feel very young at heart, and love to play and be with children.

9. In my work in Iraq, I have had some of the most difficult experiences of my life, but also some of the most rewarding.

10. Even though my recent work has focused on global peacemaking and preventing war, I am also very concerned about environmental issues, racial violence, economic justice, and violence against women, etc. I see them as interconnected.

Connect with Peggy