Friday, December 30, 2011

10 Class Management Skills

One of the first teaching aides I learned as a trainee instructor was the list of class management skills. I had to memorize all ten and demonstrate them in a classroom situation. During each of my recertification seminars, these skills were reinforced and practiced. These skills show how well the instructor is conducting the class and how much he/she cares about the students. The next time you’re in class, check off how many the instructor is following:

1. Set mood and tone of class. Is the instructor happy to be there or showing what a bad day he’s having?

2. Set a direct goal. Does the instructor have a game plan for the evening and does he announce it?

3. Create positive environment. Does the instructor smile and share his enthusiasm?

4. Personal approach/individual contact. Two examples of this are the instructor acknowledging the individual student by giving him a high five or touching them to make corrections in technique.

5. Give positive feedback to questions. Does the instructor give intelligent answers to questions or ignore them? Even if the question is asked by a child and does not relate to taekwondo, how does the instructor respond?

6. Reinforce positive behavior. Acknowledge the attributes for a successful class. Is a student standing at attention, paying attention? Does a particular student assist another having problems?

7. Realistic praise. “That is the most awesome front kick I have ever seen in my life.” The student isn’t going to buy this and it’s wrong. Praise the student for improvements made from the last attempt or praise some quality in the technique.

8. Positive correction instead of criticism. “That’s a bad stance, you should try harder.” How will the student feel after hearing this? A good formula is praise-correct-praise. Praise the student for the attempt and find a good quality about the technique. Then show the necessary correction to make it better. Then praise the student for the correction made.

9. Refer to students by name. Everyone wants to hear his or her name and to be remembered, especially in a large class.

10. Promote personal victory. As an example, don’t tell the student he needs to kick head high. Rather, give them a realistic goal, and count that as a victory. Even if the improvement is kicking two inches higher than yesterday, it’s an improvement and victory for the individual.

Many of these skills are designed to promote the individual, which is one of the best attributes of martial arts. Yes, there is a team atmosphere, but the individual is the key. I can’t play football, so I wouldn’t make the team. I can’t dribble very well, so I’d sit on the bench a lot. However, I can practice hard and after a few months be worthy of testing for a higher rank. Others may have moved up faster, but that’s okay. I’m concerned with me.

These skills show how the instructor cares about the students. In my book, Beta, my heroine, Mallory Petersen, is a private investigator and head instructor in her taekwondo school. She cares about every one of her students, from the black belt who’s won multiple trophies at tournaments to the squirrelly lower rank who has problems with a basic front kick even after eight weeks’ worth of classes. She has meetings with her staff about instruction techniques and concerns about the students. She knows every one of her students by name and how each is progressing through the curriculum.

Class management skills are vital for a successful club or school. If the instructor isn’t using these on a regular basis, then these are something to pass along.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Random Christmas Thoughts

Well, another year has rolled around and the holiday season is upon us. Last year I discussed the groups out there who protest Christmas depictions and exhibits in any given community as well as the PC crowd wanting everyone to not say Christmas. I’m pleased to note that this year I didn’t hear any incident on the news of the AFL-CIO or other such group suing a community over a Nativity scene on the town square. I’m sure such a suit came to pass somewhere, but I wasn’t privy to any.

This year, as so many others November and December seemed, in one sense, to drag by. However, as I post this blog today, there is only another week and some change before 2012. Once it’s here I’ll have wondered why the holiday season passed by so quickly. I feel the same way about warm sunny spring and summer days. I want to enjoy them, cherish them, have them last for more than they do. I get excited when April and May arrive e and suddenly – boom! – August is ending and Mother Nature throws us September and warnings about what’s coming.

I wrote a recent Facebook post about enjoying a green Christmas. As children, my sister and I differed on Christmas weather. She always wanted snow and I always wanted green grass (or at least the semblance of green grass). And not a flake in sight. Usually, she won. I have experienced some green Christmases in the past number of years and I enjoy not having to worry about slipping and sliding on ice and snow while traveling.

This year, I requested not to work the holiday. I was granted the time. Usually, my family tries to schedule things around my free time which, sometimes, isn’t the best for everyone else. However, since Christmas falls on a weekend, I pounced at the chance to get it. I’ll just have to wait to see if the same holds true for New Year’s Eve.

So, what did this past year bring me? Two published books and a possibility of a third for next year are the big highlights. Also, I started a new venture in reviewing books for an online magazine and two other websites. Which of course means MY unread books stay on the shelves for a bit longer.

I made some new friends and contacts and continued writing stories. I’ve almost reached my goal of finishing the first draft of a new private investigator story by the end of the year. Next year I would like to wrestle with and pin (or is that pen?) the sequel to Night Shadows as well as a few other projects.

What didn’t this year bring me? Uh, no new girlfriend, new job, or new apartment. Same ol’, same ol’. But, my buddy Thomas the cat is still with me. He turns eleven on Christmas. (I don’t know if he actually was born on Christmas but what the hec, it’s easier to remember.)

So, next week and into next year, look for more writing blogs. Some of them will be fresh and some of them will have been seen on other sights this past year. Any author/writer wishing to be a guest on my blog is more than welcome to submit. Plus, anyone wishing to be interviewed for the Around the Globe with… series may also contact me.

Otherwise, Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and may all your dreams come true.

(Yeah, I know corny standard ending, but hey, sometimes the old lines are the still the best.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

Maybe a more appropriate title would be “How do you hear me?” Or maybe, “Sounds like…” with the proper charades gesture.

What I’d like to discuss is how to add voice or sound to your stories. How do characters speak? What do specific noises sound like? Taking the second question first, it’s not enough sometimes just to write something making noise. To add elements such as mood or emotion, you must show the reader how things sound. You do this by relating the particular noise to something recognizable. For instance, “The rain fell hard against the roof.” This can be spiced up depending on what you’re trying to convey. “The rain falling against the metal slats sounded like a hail of machine gun bullets.” “She sat alone in the cabin. The light rain against the screens was as many whispers silently calling to her.”

Wind and rain are fairly easy to bring to life. The wind can moan like a dying asthmatic, cry like ghosts from the past mourning their own passing, sing like a teakettle on full alert, or whine like an injured animal. Other sounds may challenge the writer. I’ve heard the familiar blatting exhaust of a passing bus described as ‘snoring’ and ‘farting.’ Did you know cats doing the courting dance sound exactly like a crying baby? The similarity is downright eerie.

Voices are another area where you can bring the reader closer to your story. In nearly every story I read, I assign a specific voice to each character, sometimes by the author telling me how someone speaks, sometimes with only the character’s description.

I have a friend who suffers from MS and as a result she can’t read a book very long before her mind gets tired. So she listens to audio books. When we dated, I’d spend hours reading aloud to her. She ended up with someone else, but since then, when I discover a book I think she might like, I’ll record it for her. I’ve heard hundreds of audio books and I enjoy them so much more when the narrator uses a different voice for each character. One who reads in a monotone or with no emotion even in the action packed scenes tends to make a good story boring.

I’ve developed a standard set of voices for various types of characters when I read aloud. Unless I’m specifically told the person has a particular voice, I usually rely on past experience and descriptions. With exceptions, of course, see if you hear the same voices.

Attorneys, especially the adversarial ones usually have an aristocratic tone.

Techno geeks and some doctors are nasally.

Military colonels and general will speak in a bass or gravelly voice.

The beat cops or veteran detectives talk out of the side of his mouth while their captains are gruff speakers.

Preachers are charismatic with maybe a touch of a southern accent. On the other hand, priests are quiet and subdued.

Unless specifically mentioned, I usually put a little high pitched waver to elderly voices.

Women are of course done in a higher voice except when you have a Lauren Bacall type character. Breathy, perky, whiny, nasally, domineering, seductive, grating…the voice depends on the character.

Accents are fun, too. Does the Irishman have a Dublin or north country accent? Is the British speaking in a London or rural twang? Cockney or House of Lords? Is the Mexican high pitched or raspy? Is the black person speaking in a deep, formal, commanding voice (think James Earl Jones), sassy street slang (think Martin Lawrence or Eddie Murphy), or very distinctive (everybody recognizes Morgan Freeman)? Is the businessman from Mississippi, Alabama, or is he a boisterous Texan with a hat too big to fit inside his pickup truck? Is the Russian a weary ex-KGB officer or his sexy partner (a’la James Bond movies)?

The point is to make the reader mentally hear the sounds and the voices by giving them life and distinction. How many books have you read where everybody sounds the same, where you don’t here any “grinding metal gates, nerve shattering creaking doors, Armageddon like eruptions, droning insects like miniature model airplanes?” They’re not very exciting, are they?

Give your readers some sound. Their ears will thank you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Around the Globe with MELODIE CAMPBELL

Well, my part of Iowa received about two inches of snow last night, reafffirming my loathing of winter. The temp is sitting at a crisp (ugh!) 12 degrees. So, I hop in my transporter, pick up this week's featured author and it's off to England...where I think she forgot it's still winter.

Anyway, we land in Shropshire at an old Norma castle with the traditional turrets and crenalations and merlons (whatever the hec they are) and I'm still cold the castle is cold, but, the Ms. Campbell thought enough to bring wineskins. But this is a fascinating place because it's used in one of Melodie's books. Let's interview!

1. Who is Melodie Campbell and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

Nix the fascinating, but I am probably one of the silliest. I’ve written comedy for years and opened the 1999 Canadian Humor Conference. Way back in the early 90s, a producer from fledgling HBO saw my play ‘Burglar for Coffee,’ labeled it “completely nuts” and offered me a spot writing pilots, which I stupidly turned down. This goes on record as one of the worst decisions ever made by a person not officially insane.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I love sportscars. My first car was a Triumph Spitfire. Dang, I loved that car. Second was a Lotus Europa. I now own an older Porsche Boxter. One person I really envy is Jay Leno. I want his garage…and the contents.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an astronaut?

Well, I’ve already been a bank manager, marketing director, college instructor, association executive, and possibly the worst runway model ever. (Never could get the hang of high heels.) You could say I’m running out of professions.

Okay, to be honest, I was the class clown in high school, always getting in trouble for being a smart-ass. So the progression to writing humor was natural.

I’ve been writing professionally since 1991, when I won my first short story contest, and then snagged a humor column contract.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Janet Evanovich. Charlaine Harris. Lisa Lutz. All the first ladies of comedy. How I would love to be counted in their number. Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon from Italy. Also Douglas Adams (but he’s dead, so it might be more difficult).

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

I write escape novels! Escape with me into a grand adventure for a few hours, Stephen! Pretend to be someone else for a while, in a different world, with different challenges and delights. Let me take you out of your real world, be it the airport or that blasted island. When you need a laugh the most, pick up Rowena Through the Wall. It’s funny, sexy, and totally free of any messages.

6. Share the Campbell process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

I am the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada, so my days are rather full. I write at night, for breaks and on weekends. I watch very little TV, because you have to give up something to get time for writing. Oh, and I gave up exercise.

Now the process: I was trained as a mystery writer, and cut my fiction teeth on short stories. In writing mystery, you always start with plot. You don’t start writing until you know the ending. So…when writing mystery or crime, I always know the ending before I start writing.

When I write fantasy, it is a teeny bit different. But I still start with plot, and then figure out what sort of characters I need to make the plot work. In Rowena Through the Wall, I needed a character who had the guts to walk through the wall into an unknown world. The plot needed a character who was spunky, who was smart, and who would be the cause of a lot of hot passion among the guys on the other side of the wall. Rowena was born.

Research? I write what I know. I know what Norman castles look like; I have relatives in England and have been there many times. I know something about the medical field (I was a hospital director). I know about the life of college instructors and students, and I ride horses. For ‘Rowena Through the Wall’, I had to research medieval weaponry and satanic weddings. For the most part, I lean on my personal experience, and do research for secondary aspects of my fiction.

Number of edits or rewrites? I’ve written professionally for 20 years, so my work is very clean from the start. But even then, I’ll go through 4 complete edits on my own, before it hits the publisher’s desk.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Just start writing! By this I mean, start writing anywhere in your story, to see if you actually like writing. I find a lot of my writing students want to be authors, but discover the process of writing is too much like work. It is work. No excuses – get in there and get your hands dirty! You’ll find out soon enough if you are one of us.

8.I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

My most commonly quoted quote is: “Recent studies show that approximately 40% of writers are manic depressive. The rest of us just drink.”

Philosophy? Guh - I was a business major, Stephen! “When in doubt, Integrate” was as close as I came to philosophy.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

‘The Goddaughter’ has been bought by Orca Books and will be out in mid 2012. It is a comic mob caper.

“Stolen jewels, smoggy Steeltown and a reluctant mob Goddaughter make for a whole lot of laughs!”

(Again, write what you know. My mother’s family is Sicilian, and I live on the outskirts of industrial Hamilton…)

Also, the second in my comic time travel series, “Rowena and the Dark Lord” is well underway.

Stop writing? Ask me to stop breathing. Or eating. Pass the wineskin.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

I have a comic blog, where I am currently featuring previously published humor columns.

More information is available on my website, where you can view trailers and read opening scenes:

You can reach me by email at


Do you like comic time travel?
Meet Rowena Revel!

“Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent. Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?

“Hot and Hilarious!” Midwest Book Review
“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum” Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine
Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at,,,, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Short bio:
Melodie Campbell has been a bank manager, marketing director, comedy writer, college instructor and possibly the worst runway model ever. Melodie got her start writing comedy, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her fiction “wacky” and “laugh out loud funny”. She has over 200 publications and has won five awards for fiction. She is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada, and has taught fiction writing for ten years.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Some time ago, a friend dropped me an email I thought was just delightful. I had never heard the term, don't know if it's even a real word or something someone made up to fit. But, these are wonderful and shows creativity. Plus, they make great story inserts.

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.

1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

2. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

3. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
4. If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

9. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

10. How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

11. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

12. I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.

13. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "In an emergency, notify:" I put "Doctor".

14. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

17. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

18. Hospitality: Making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

19. I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.

20. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

21. I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

22. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that theFire Department usually uses water.

23. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

24. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

25. I prayed to God for a new bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thank You

I'll admit it. I'm not comfortable saying thanks. I receive a compliment or a present and I have a difficult time just saying thanks. I don't know why.
It's just me. I mean it but sometimes it's difficult for me to express it.

We've all seen the email about giving thanks even though we complain about our own personal situations. You know the one I mean. I get it forwarded to me every year by at least one of my family members or friends. I'm bored with my job but am thankful for it because there are so many unemployed. My house is a mess and the landlord is a jerk but I'm thankful because many people don't have a home. My car is eleven years old but many people don't have cars. I have bills stacked up and drowning in debt but am thankful for the money I receive from working to chip away at the stack because there are people worse off. I don't have much to eat and not sure what I'll scrounge up for dinner but thankful for the little bit of food I have because there are those who really don't know from where their next meal is coming.

Or how about the email about parents. Surely, you've seen this one. The one about how my parents are rotten people because they gave me a curfew and didn't let me party all night when I was in school. They were rotten because they didn't let me stay home all day but made me go to school to get an education. They were rotten because they disciplined me when I committed acts of disrespect or was a complete brat.

I sort of like those emails. I read them and I appreciate them. Also, I get the emails about friendship and where I'm supposed to send the email back to the sender to express my friendship. I never do. Not because these people aren't cherished, but because I'm just not that good at doing those things.

This Thanksgiving what did I do? Did I spend the day enjoying family and a fine meal? No. I worked. I worked Wednesday night and Thursday I spent a couple of hours with a few friends and a fine meal. Then I slept for eight hours before I went back to work. Tomorrow, I spend the day with family and another fine meal. That's it. No shopping, no being one of the mob waiting in line for Black Friday. Just a quiet day with a few friends and my cat who couldn't care less about the holiday.

I'm sitting here at work bored out of my mind. I haven't seen a single person since the second shift person left. I've watched mindless television and read chapters out of the latest in the never ending stack of books I own. I've printed out the required reports that I really didn't need to print. But that's another story and I don't wish to throw around trash talk about work. Because I'm thankful to be indoors all night long as a few feet away there is cold and wind and if I weren't here, others would have to sacrifice their time or I would be home wondering where to go for my next paycheck.

No, I don't have much. My apartment is small and the apartment house is an eyesore. But it's home and a place where my cat is comfortable and happy. I don't have much money, but somehow I get by even if it is one paycheck to the next and somehow I'm able to buy food for my next meal. I don't have much of a social life and I don't remember the last time I went out on a date. But I have friends I talk to every week either on the phone or through email. And I'm thankful they consider me a friend. I'm not a world leader or a person with a lot of influence on the masses, but I have my small circle of loyal students who look to me for guidance and discipline and training. And I have made a happy life for a furry companion who wants only a little food and water, a regular treat and an occasional belly rub.

And I'm thankful for every person who allows me into his or her life through my books. All of those who granted me interviews, allowed me to sit on a panel at a conference or event, or to give a talk or be part of a discussion. And I don't care how popular or famous I become, I will always thank every person who takes the time to purchase my books.

I don't say thanks all that often and it's difficult, but I mean it just the same. I hope you understand.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Around the Globe with ANGELA ROE

Oh my goodness, where do I start with my introduction of this week's featured author? I met Angi back in the first critique group I joined eleven, twelve years ago. For a few years, I lost track of her as, well, you know, stuff happens. Then, in January I'm preparig for the release of my first book, Night Shadows (available at fine Internet book stores near you) when Echelon Press comes back with news about the acceptance of four of my short stories. A couple of days pass and one morning I realize I could be in trouble, because one story, Bar Scene, I collaborated with Angi to write. Finally, and fortunately, I managed to reestablish contact, and once again, we're involved in a weekly (well, we try for weekly, but you know, stuff happens) writers' group.

She's a romance novelist, a freelance writer, a freelance photographer and a freelance editor. She also write non-fiction and have many online articles published on topics as diverse as home improvement, ballroom dancing, fitness, marketing and research, computer programs and business associations. She provides SEO copy to industry-leading Web content providers.

So today, I hop in my transporter and pick up Angi, thinking we're going someplace warm on this cold November morning. But I forget that Angi is a take charge type of gal and, like so many in the past, she pushes me aside and assumes control and in a few seconds we're in Chicago, walking alongside Lake Michigan watching rush hour traffic while sipping Starbucks coffee. Well, she is. I opt for hot chocolate, because, hey, it's Chicago in November. Thanks, Ang.

1. Who is Angela Roe and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

My neighbors are intrigued by my being an author. They say it with such reverence that it makes me smile. They obviously have no idea what it means, the hours sitting in front of a computer, lost in a world of your own, oblivious to the real world taking place around you, much to the annoyance of your family and friends. If it didn’t result in a book, I’d be medicated for hearing voices in my head, but I call them characters so it’s okay!

2.Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I think people would be surprised to find out I'm dyslexic. While it certainly has a huge impact on certain parts of my life, it doesn't impact my ability to read or write, thankfully. Mostly for me, it manifests itself with numbers, and reversing the order of things. So if you tell me to go to a specific street and turn left, I'll go to that street and turn right...nearly every's annoying but you learn to live with it.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a NASCAR driver?

I don’t think I ever made the decision, I’ve been making up and telling stories my entire life, long before I could write them down, according to my parents. I made up stories to entertain myself during car trips and my mom referred to them as the movies in my head. Being a writer isn’t a career decision, at least not for me, it’s just who I am.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Oh wow, all of them! Nora Roberts comes to mind, I’d love to know how she got around the antiquated idea that you can only show one person’s thoughts or feelings in a scene…two people are there, I want to know what both are thinking and feeling…Andrew Greeley was probably one of the first authors I started to follow and I love how diverse his writing is. I think he is also responsible for my addiction…I mean my love of Chicago!

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

You’d be in terrific company with my characters. They’re fun, funny and find themselves in situations that most of us can relate to in one way or another. Their situations are exaggerated, but the feelings evoked are universal. Plus they’ve got a unique way of looking at things that will make you smile and make time fly.

6. Share the Roe process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

The Roe process…I like that…the truth is, there isn’t one!!! I typically find myself struck by a phrase or a line and the book develops from there. Once I hear it, the characters are pretty much full-blown in my head and clamoring at me to tell their story. I sit down to write with no more idea of what is going to happen than you have when you pick up the book to read it.

I make up my worlds, I set it in a general location but the specific city is fiction. It’s easier that way, otherwise I’m sure to mess up the streets and have them going the wrong direction and tick people off.

I write all day. I try to promote my books in the morning until around 9 or 10am and then I write afterward. I write until I have to stop to do something like laundry, or mow the lawn or make dinner. After dinner, I spend time on various social networks and then I read for about an hour before bed.

Editing stinks and I hate it so I tend to do it based on the reviews I get during critique group on Sunday night, and other than that, I leave it until the book is completely finished. Then I usually give it to someone I trust to read and give me feedback. If I agree with the feedback, I make the changes. Then I do two final edits, one strictly for content and one strictly for grammar and spelling. Once that’s done, I give it to my husband and he reads it and points out all the mistakes I missed.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Write it down. Forget about editing and spelling and all that stuff, just write it down. If you find yourself at a point where you need more information…say your character picks up a gun and you need to know more about guns, make a note (research guns) and go on with the story. The most important thing a writer can do is write so my advice remains to write it down.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

That’s fun, isn’t it? I can totally relate to the ones that say things like…”My doctor says I have ADHD but I think he just doesn’t get me…oh look, a squirrel!” I think my philosophy is to have fun. Yes, there are things we have to do that aren’t fun, but we can add fun to them. I listen to audio books while I clean my house, for example. I hate the housework but I love the books and it keeps me occupied while I mindlessly scrub the bathtub. So add fun to your life. You’ll enjoy it more and so will the people around you!

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

Good gravy, no. I can’t, really, the voices won’t leave me alone. I am currently working on book number two to the Walkers Ridge Romance series and the basics for books three and four are in place. I also have multiple works in process that I’m working on and I have an on-going series called “Carried Away” that I add a small volume to each month. So not writing isn’t something I’ll ever entertain!

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

Visit my website, and you’ll see everything from my books that are available to my blog site. There are links there that’ll take visitors to sites where they can download samples and purchase my books and they’ll be able to contact me through that site as well.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me, I appreciate it. I’m a huge fan of your work, as you know, and I consider it an honor to be here.
Following are a list of Angela's books and stories. She's a prolific writer with more material to come. Keep visiting her website and she always appreciates feedback on her books. However...if you want to stay off her S-list, do NOT say her stories are cute.

This Montana Man
Caroline Edwards takes a year's lease on a run-down farmhouse in the middle of Montana. She needs the solitude to complete her newest novel. Jamie Overton isn't pleased that his mother rented out the old house and thinks it should be torn down. When he meets Caroline, he's convinced this city girl is out of her element. Will those sparks grow stronger when Caroline's ex puts in an appearance?

The Journey
A touching tale of the transition from one life to another.

The Creeps
Each of these stories will give you the creeps, sending shivers up your spine for entirely different reasons. Keep your kids close and leave the lights on tonight.

It Was Snowing
Walk along side this couple as they find themselves the unwilling subjects of a snapshot depicting a painful and life-changing moment

Carried Away
Come ride the rails with me as we get to learn a little about the lives of our fellow train passengers. You may notice a few things about this train. It’s bigger and comprised of private compartments of various sizes, most which come with their own bathrooms. Consider this twist literary license. Some of my characters are quite insistent upon their right to privacy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adult Truths

So, this week's is an early post as I'm not going to be around the computer tomorrow. I've had this in my bin waiting to be used but I can't take credit for creating it. I received this as an email from a friend and thought I keep it and share it.

What does this have to do with writing? I'm not sure, but give me a moment and I'll think of something. Just a little fun to get you through your day. Put a little humor in your writing. Cold one of your characters have similar thoughts? Could you take one of these 'truths' as a writing cue, maybe to help with writer's block? Or could you just enjoy them for what they are?

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 ; the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Ladies.....Quit Laughing.

Heal the past, live the present, dream the future.

Enjoy life!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Around the Globe with DAVE ANDERSON

This morning, I set the controls in my transporter for Portland to visit this week's featured author. Now, I have an interesting situation because he really wanted to have the interview about half an hour before the beginning of the Daytona 500. He wanted to be sipping $8.00 beers and eating cheese-steak sandwiches in an air-conditioned box with an expansive view of the track. Also, he wanted to take time to boo the Busch brothers during their introduction. I thought it would be a great idea.


The Daytona 500 isn't until February and this is the beginning of November. Sooo, I've settled on a compromise. We're still in Daytona, and I've persuaded the track administration to let us visit for a short while at in the best box, AC on. I've brought in a couple of six packs for him, and since I'm not a beer fan, a few sodas for me. I've even managed to get some sandwiches delivered. In the box is a large screen TV with a video of the 2011 race in it's entirety so he can boo and cheer to his heart's content.

Sheesh, the things I go throuh for these authors...

1. Who is D.M. Anderson and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I live in Portland, Oregon, which was recently voted the “most miserable city” in America, mainly because of the weather, unemployment, divorce rate and number of suicides. Since I'm happily married & employed, and do not plan on killing myself anytime soon, that leaves the weather, which is mostly rain. Living in Portland is like being on the set of Blade Runner 24 hours a day. It never bothers me like it bothers my wife.

In the real world, when I'm not fighting crime, I teach middle school English and mostly write stories for that same age group. I'm still trying to get used to kids asking me to sign their copies of Killer Cows while doing hall duty. I'm not complaining, though. I don't know any other teachers who are sometimes asked for an autograph during the school day.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

As an author, I don't know what would surprise anyone, other than the fact I'm probably more inspired by movies than other writers. Not that there aren't writers who have inspired me, but my approach to writing novels is that they are “movies for your head,” with better special effects and no bloody 3-D.

As a teacher, a lot of people seem shocked that I have long hair and listen to death metal, especially at my age. But what can I say? I like being different.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an nuclear scientist?

Well, duh...nuclear scientists don't get paid for making stuff up. Nobody's lining up for a nuclear scientist's autograph. Besides, writing is a lot of fun, because you get to make up anything you want.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

I think, since I love movies so much, I'd love to share dinner with Roger Ebert. I do not always agree with his assessments of films, but he's easily the best writer on the subject. I think it would be fun to debate things with him. After that, probably Stephen King. He's my all-time favorite author. I would try not to ask the usual dumb questions like, “Where do you get your ideas?”

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

Well, if you were stranded with teenagers in-tow, I think my books could keep them amused so you wouldn't half to listen to them complain. Although all of my books are intended for young adults, the one thing they all have in common is that they are about extraordinary things happening to everyday ordinary kids. In the case of Killer Cows, kids might imagine what they would do if they had a flying saucer. But in the case of Shaken, my second novel about the worst natural disaster in American history, they might read the ordeal these characters go through just to survive, and then thank God it isn't them.

6. Share the Anderson process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

I do not start with an outline, mainly because I think writing is more interesting if I don't always know what will happen next. So I pretty much map-out the main characters then go to work cranking out the rough draft. Sometimes my ideas evolve into an story, sometimes they go nowhere. As far as research goes, I think it is important for some stories. For Shaken, I needed to do some online research about how earthquakes trigger tsunamis, as well as how fast tsunamis travel. I'm not saying Shaken is a 100% accurate depiction of such a disaster, but it is important that the reader feels like what they are reading at least sounds plausible.

My writing schedule varies, depending on my day job and other obligations. I do try to write for a couple of hours each day (with weekends off during NASCAR season). I think it's very important that any would-be author writes on a regular basis, even on those days when they may not feel quite so inspired. That whole notion of waiting until your inspired is ridiculous. If you really want to be a writer, part of you has to look at it like a job.

Editing and rewrites suck. I hate 'em. And I've never met any writer who thinks otherwise. But hey, that's what separates the wannabes from the committed. I revised Killer Cows several times before submitting to anyone, and at least four more times after signing a publishing contract.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Start with the fun stuff! Beginning a story is the hardest part, especially if a writer has so many great later scenes mapped-out before-hand. So why not start with those great scenes and worry about exposition later? I've discovered that getting to the 'good' scenes first actually increases the chances I'll finish the actually story.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.' What is your philosophy of life?

I guess, since I just recently recovered from a serious illness and almost lost my life, I'd have to say my current philosophy is “Every day above ground is a good day.” It's a line from the movie, Scarface, which I hated. But whenever things aren't going exactly as I'd like them to, either in writing or my work, remembering that line always puts things in perspective.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing. What’s next for you?

Right now, I'm working on a few projects. I'm trying to finish up my third young adult novel, which is a horror story. I'm in the revision process and it's giving me fits, mainly because I totally scrapped the last 40-or-so pages and started over. This could either be my greatest book or the one that kills me.

I'm also putting together a collection of dark tales, most of which were published before in various small press magazines before I turned to young adult fiction. These stories are definitely not for kids.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

There's lots of info on my blog, D.M. Anderson's Free Kittens (, which is also an outlet for frequent lists, cartoons, narrative essays and updates on my writing career. It also features the occasional author interview. People can also go to the Echelon Press website ( ) or its young adult imprint, Quake
( There are a lot of great authors and books featured on both sites.

Probably the easiest place to find my published books and stories is at Amazon. Killer Cows is available there as both a paperback and Kindle edition. I'm pretty sure that's the first place Shaken will be available when it is released.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fighting Back

Just when I think I have regained control over my blog (that pesky Darren hacking in the last couple of weeks was okay. I just wish he would have let me know), I receive this email saying if I don’t put a guest post, something bad might happen to my front lawn. I wrote back saying nothing worse could happen since my landlord doesn’t take care of it in the first place.

Anyway, after reading the following piece, I thought it worked quite well for a good follow up to the last few weeks of the theme of martial arts mysteries. So, I welcome guest blogger and author Robert Bennett, who in exchange for my allowing his post has agreed to shovel my walk when it snows more than two inches the previous night. (Wait, that’s what I want my landlord to do.) Uh, take it away, Robert.

Fighting Back

It's Saturday night and you're at the cash machine taking care of that last, crucial detail before picking up your girlfriend for a night out-dinner, theater, the works. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, the mugger zones in and you're pulled from your wheelchair. In a few minutes he’s gone, but so is your wallet. Instead of going on a date you end up spending the evening in the emergency room.

This scenario is speculation, but the statistics are scary. Three out of four blind people are assaulted sometime during their lifetime. Women with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault as so-called able-bodied women. And, people with developmental disabilities are at a four to ten times higher risk than able-bodied persons.

It used to be said that people with disabilities could not take care of themselves. Of course that is an old, foolish and paternalistic idea. More recently the idea has been changed to something like ‘people with disabilities can not protect themselves.” This too is wrong thinking. Everyone deserves the right to protect themselves, and to learn how to do so. But, you might ask, as many people do, why would someone who is already at a physical disadvantage take a risk of further injury by learning some sort of fighting skill? The answer is simple…why not. Most people with disabilities are no more likely to sustain injury than their able-bodied counterparts. Martial arts experts teach the skills to fight off an attacker, but perhaps more importantly, they also teach self-confidence, focus and the awareness not only of the environment, but of one's abilities.

For me, as a wheelchair-using paraplegic, the study of martial arts has allowed me to keep in good physical condition and given me the confidence to move around my environment without worrying about limitations or the possibility of assault.

Several years ago, when I decided to put together a book about martial arts for people with disabilities, I contacted teachers and students from all over the world. People with a wide range of disabilities who have learned a wide range of martial arts disciplines. Each of the people contacted had a different disability and a different reason for studying the martial arts. Finally the stories about some amazing martial artists came together in a book entitled Enabling the Dragon (available as an ebook on my website,

More recently, in my Blind Traveler mystery novels, the second of which is now available in Ebook format from Echelon Press, my protagonist is a blind man who has learned to use the ancient art of Judo to fend off would-be assailants. Through years of study he has not only improved his fighting technique, he has also regained the self-confidence he lost after the accident that blinded him, and found a community of like-minded individuals with whom he can have a relationship.


The year is 2021. Natural forces have changed our world. As the Earth's magnetic poles have shifted, pressure on the planet’s mantle layer is building. The bottom line . . . earthquakes now wreak havoc in areas they have never occurred before.

In Mexico, members of an archaeological team investigate the remains of an ancient village uncovered by a quake; racing to prove their theories about the civilization that once lived there. But, disaster strikes when the accidental destruction of an artifact unleashes a worldwide agricultural plague.

Halfway across the continent, Douglas Abledan, a blind computer technologist, embarks on a long anticipated vacation. On the plane to Chicago, he meets world-renowned agricultural pathologist Cara Cordelia. Little do either of them know she has been targeted for murder.

In this stand-alone sequel to his critically acclaimed "Blind Traveler Down a Dark River," author Robert P. Bennett continues to bring us suspense and intrigue while exploring a world of the not too distant future. While society struggles with the impact of natural changes, the advancement of new technology enables a blind man to investigate a murder.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Answers from Mallory

Hey, folks. Darren here again. I’m back this week as promised to give you the answers to questions asked of my boss, Mallory Petersen. As you know, Miss Petersen is a fourth degree black and private investigator. I provided the facts of one of her cases to author Stephen Brayton and he published the adventure in a book called Beta. The book can be purchased at various online outlets including, Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Anyway, onto the questions. As I mentioned last week, I knew a few jokers out there would send in some pretty lame and sometimes crude questions. I won’t bother posting those. However, because I wanted to see how Miss Petersen would react, and because I like to tease her every now and then, I give her every question submitted. Her response to most: a roll of the eyes and an exasperated gulp of Dr Pepper. She then gave me a look that said if I ever did anything like this again, she’d toss me out the window. (Wait until she sees what I have planned for the next book.)

Before I get to the serious questions, I will mention Miss Petersen received at least ten requests for a date…including, um, one from a Brenda in Idaho. She also received a marriage proposal from Bob in Pittsburgh. I did not get a verbal response to these invitations, but my boss’ narrowed eyes told me her answer. Buck from Sedalia, Missouri, asked if Miss Petersen would be interested in selling her car. She drives a 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger bought from her father. Sorry, Buck, I know she loves her car. Mary from Ankeny, Iowa, just north of Des Moines wanted to know if Miss Petersen owned any pets. She then mentioned she raises iguanas and could make Mallory a good deal on one. Unfortunately, Miss Petersen’s schedule does not permit her the time to properly care for an animal. Plus, I don’t know how she’d react to a large lizard skulking around her house.

To all the local people interested in taekwondo classes, she asks you call her school’s number directly.

Okay, let’s get to the serious stuff.

Melissa from Chicago: Miss Petersen, how long have you been in martial arts?
Mallory: I started when I was eleven. My first instructor lived in Burlington. I earned my black belt in less than two years and my fourth degree a few years ago.

John from St. Paul: I think a woman PI is cool. Why did you want to be one?
Mallory: Thanks, John. I fell in love with mysteries as a child. I even helped solve an embezzlement case in high school. I didn’t want to be a policeman because I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule and conditions. I thought it would be a fun and fulfilling job.

Sarah from Council Bluffs: You sure get a lot of weird people coming to your office.
Mallory: You’ve noticed, huh? I’m not sure what attraction I have for the odd cases, but I do seem to get more than my fair share of them.

Tammy from Terra Haute: Can you introduce me to Lawrence Cameron? He sounds like a real hunk.
Mallory: No.

Patricia from Cincinnati: With all that you do professionally, how do you find time for yourself and what do you do to relax?
Mallory: Sometimes it’s tough. Many of my cases dictate my schedule and most weekday evenings I’m teaching my students. I love attending taekwondo tournaments. Weekends I usually spend with friends or my parents. I also work out on a regular basis. Lately, I’ve been trying to spend time with Lawrence. It’s a challenge because we live three hours away from each other.

Victor from Rapid City: I have a nine year old daughter and it was heart-wrenching to read about Cindy McGee. How did handle the aftermath and how were you able to move on, emotionally and spiritually?
Mallory: I couldn’t for a long time and my heart still aches when I think of Cindy. Knowing what happened to her, discovering who was behind the kidnapping, and everything that happened after I found her…wow, it was draining. I experienced many sleepless nights and I cried a lot. But I came away cherishing my students, my instructors, my friends and family so much more. All of them were very supportive and helped me recover faster.

Well, Miss Petersen received a few more questions, but I think I’ll save them for later. If you wish to submit a question, please do so either here or at Mr. Brayton’s email. I want to thank all the contributors (yes, even you, Norman, who wanted to know the weirdest place she’d ever had sex), and I also want to congratulate Patricia from Cincinnati as the winner of a free copy of the next book when it is published. If you could send Mr.
Brayton your information, he’ll keep it on file.

Well, thanks for dropping by this week. Feel free to leave comments as I’m sure Mr. Brayton will appreciate them. Tell your friends about Beta and watch for future posts regarding my wonderful boss, Mallory Petersen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ask Mallory Petersen

Darren here. You know, I’m Mallory Petersen’s secretary and office manager. I’ve hacked into Mr. Brayton’s blog this week because I want to promote my boss’ latest adventure, Beta.

Often times she’s told me I am much more than a secretary and I do accomplish a lot for both her investigator practice and her taekwondo school. I make sure the bills are paid on time and I book her motel accommodations whenever she travels to tournaments or business seminars.
However, she’s the heroine in my life. I’m amazed how she can be a success at so much. It’s not easy running a full time private investigator’s business and instructing four nights per week at her martial arts studio. I know she has a loyal and well-trained staff of instructors under her in case her investigations preclude her from attending her classes.

Take the case in Beta. She was constantly on the go searching for Cindy McGee. When she discovered the connections with a child pornography ring, Miss Petersen put everything she had into the case. Sure, she may have crossed the line a few times to obtain information, and she risked damaging her reputation as an honorable taekwondo instructor, but I don’t blame her for her actions. She did her job to the best of her ability.

Anyway, I learn so much from Miss Petersen (yes, she keeps telling me to call her Mallory) and I thought this would be a good opportunity for you to learn more about her, too. If you have any questions you’d like to ask my boss, please leave them in the comments section or email them to (This email is the author’s, but don’t worry. I’ve also hacked into his email account and any questions for Miss Petersen will be transferred instantly to my account so Mr. Brayton won’t even see them and be confused.)

My problem will be to convince Miss Petersen to answer them. See, at first, she wasn’t totally accepting that I gave the facts of the McGee case to Mr. Brayton to put into book form. She’s come around and has done a few interviews on one of our Des Moines radio stations. I don’t know how she’ll react when I present her with a bunch of questions because she doesn’t know I’m soliciting them.

You may ask just about any question. From her favorite color (if that is what you really would like to know) to how her relationship with Lawrence Cameron is going. Mr. Cameron, as you may know, is a member of the Special Case Squad in the Quad Cities whom Miss Petersen paired with for a day searching for Cindy.

I know I’m probably going to get a few smart-alecks asking crude and disrespectful questions, but rest assured, I will weed out those. However, from reading Beta, you will know Miss Petersen does seem to attract the oddities in her cases, so don’t be afraid to be a little outlandish with your questions.

So, again, write your questions in the comment box or send them to Mr.
Brayton’s email. I’ll be hacking into this blog again to post the questions and answers in next week’s blog. Depending on the number of questions received I may extend it for a second week. Of course, you’ll be wanting to read Beta, so be sure to click on one of the two book cover images in this blog to be taken to a purchase site. Kindle and Nook owners can check Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well.

Oh, and I’ll give you an incentive. Everyone who participates is entered into the drawing to win a free copy of the next book, Alpha, tentatively scheduled for a 2012 release. I’ll be picking the winner based on either the quality of the question or picking a winner at random.

Thanks for your participation and let’s have some fun.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mallory Petersen and Company

Beta book trailer:

Back in 1988, when I worked for radio station WKEI/WJRE in the self proclaimed “Hog Capital of the World” town of Kewanee, Illinois, one of my fellow broadcasters was named Gary Petersen. He was the first person I knew who spelled the surname with EN rather than ON. When I created my private investigator/martial artist, I gave a slight nod of admiration to Gary by naming her Mallory Petersen.

Last week, we explored the early life and the current situation of Mallory. This week I want to show a little more of her personality and tell you a little about the people in her life. I spent many months developing Mallory starting with a character profile. I started by writing attributes I thought were interesting. I included basic things like height, weight, hair and eye color, and then moved onto little tidbits of information. Her favorite color is lavender. She likes chocolate and lilacs. She dislikes coffee but drinks Dr Pepper.

I wanted her to be fun loving with a sense of humor, wit, sarcasm, a touch of cynicism. Part of the humor is shown through her involvement in odd cases and the people she meets during those cases. Even on her serious case, she can’t avoid the oddballs. In Beta, Mallory receives a visit from a Focal Point Seer, otherwise known as a remote viewer, who gives her a list with ‘clues’ pertaining to the kidnapping. Of course, Mallory thinks the woman is a bit strange considering when she sometimes receives her ‘visions’.

Part of her personality I mentioned last time with her love of the Bogart portrayal of Sam Spade. Although Mallory wouldn’t dream of smoking a cigarette, she loves the trench coat and hat.

I borrowed several attributes from my life for Mallory. One is the first car I remember my parents owning when I was a child. A 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger, blue with a white hardtop. Mallory’s parents also owned one and she bought it for a buck when she went off to college.

Mallory possesses a lot of love and adoration for her students and the people around her. She cares for everyone who trains at her taekwondo school. She also throws herself wholeheartedly into each of her cases, even the weird ones. So when she starts after the kidnapped girl in Beta, you know she is going to get emotional. She has to utilize a lot of self control when squaring off against the people involved in the crime. She pushes the envelope and steps over the line at times because she cares so much. She knows the potential of the young students in her classes and can’t imagine the horrible acts perpetrated on this one little girl.

Mallory has a wonderful supporting cast, each of whom will assist her with finding more leads on the case, help her to control her emotions, or show the humorous side of her life.

Darren: her enigmatic secretary with a last name she can’t pronounce. He is Mallory’s rock when things get rough. A few years her junior, Darren is a loyal and trusted friend and confidante.

Willy Washington: Mallory’s ‘confidential informant’. She caught him trying to steal her car and did her own version of ‘scared straight’ on him. Now, he occasionally provides information about various criminal elements around town.

A few years ago, some author friends persuaded me to change the name of Mallory’s secretary. Originally, I named him Jamie. I also had given the handsome detective Mallory meets in the Quad Cities the moniker of Laurel, but they pooh-poohed that name, too. So, I chose the more masculine names of Darren and Lawrence.

Lawrence Cameron: First name taken from, ahem, yours truly (what do you think the L stands for?), and the surname from, um, well, a certain someone I give a passing mention to in the book and about whom I’ll tell you if you ask me, but not here in this forum. Anyway, he’s the very good looking member of the Special Case Squad, based out of the East Moline police department. He partners with Mallory when her search for the girl takes her to the Quad Cities. He also will stick around for awhile as Mallory’s romantic interest.

So, tomorrow is the day. The first day the new month with a new heroine ready to take the stage. I hope you will come to love Mallory Petersen as much as I have. Do me a huge favor and spread the word about her. If you like martial arts, a detective with a few quirks but real emotion, and an action packed story, give Beta a read.

Thank you.

Beta is published by Echelon Press. The book can be purchased October 1, 2011, at,, and For more information on Beta, my other book, Night Shadows, my upcoming book, Alpha, and four short stories also to be published, please visit

Friday, September 23, 2011

Introducing: Mallory Petersen

In the following weeks, as you follow me along my blog tour (and I hope you do. Take a look at the Where I’ll Be section to the right to find the locations of my guest posts and upcoming interviews), you will learn of a marvelous new woman in my life. Actually, she’s been with me for years, but now I get a chance to show her to the world.

Mallory Petersen.

Who is she? What is she? Part of the answers to those questions is easy, another part isn’t. I suppose we can start with the basics and work deeper.

She’s twenty-eight at the beginning of her first adventure, Beta. Her birthday was celebrated a month earlier on October 26. She stands six feet with long blonde hair and a fabulous figure.

Mallory fell in love with mysteries and private investigation early in life. She especially loved the image of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade so much, she even bought a similar trench coat and hat as her trademark apparel. She envisioned herself solving crimes and bringing the bad guys to justice.

To be able to handle potential foes, she needed to be able to defend herself. She started taekwondo classes as a teenager and quickly advanced in rank. Her instructor was highly impressed with her aptitude and her discipline. She continued her training in college even while holding down various jobs and studying for a liberal arts degree. She had a goal to own both a martial arts school and her own private detective investigations office.

Mallory attended a small high school with only thirty students in her graduating class. She was a popular student but not in the traditional ways. While she had many friends, some girls didn’t quite know what to think of her, since she didn’t join the popular ‘cliques’. Most of the boys were attracted to her and although she dated a few, she never developed anything serious.

After college, she moved to Des Moines, Iowa, and with some financial help from her father, opened up a taekwondo studio on the south side of town. She lost a lot of sleep those first few years recruiting and instructing students, attending numerous camps, tournaments, and business seminars. Her hard work paid off. Currently, she’s a Fourth Degree Black Belt with several adult and junior instructors under her. They’ve been trained to take over and manage classes if, for some reason, Mallory can’t attend.

Because we can’t forget about her other profession, the private investigator. Almost simultaneous with the opening of her martial arts school, she found a downtown office on the second floor of what once used to be an art gallery. Years ago, the elderly German art dealer cut back on his inventory and moved everything to the first floor, which left a huge amount of space upstairs. Mallory pays a fair rent for a lot of space. A front office for a desk, computer, filing cabinet, potted plant, and a couple visitor’s chairs. Her personal office once held the majority of the art gallery’s exhibits, but now is like a hangar without the airplanes.

This quirkiness seen in her office design is reflected in the types of cases she ends up accepting. Yes, she does the normal employee background checks and takes witness statements for court cases. She also trails spouses accused of infidelity and track missing persons. However, the majority of her cases are a bit odd. She can’t recall one of her infidelity cases not having a bit of weirdness involved either with the people themselves or the specific circumstances of the affair.

She does take on serious cases. Her landlord’s daughter suffers from mental problems due to an abusive ex husband and tends to wander off on occasion. Subsequently, Mallory is called upon to find her.

In Beta, Mallory accepts an assignment to find a kidnapped eight year old girl. Cindy McGee is the latest victim in a string of kidnappings in Iowa in the past eighteen months. Mallory soon discovers individuals associated with a child pornography ring. It’s a dangerous underworld of heinous crimes in which Mallory finds herself. Her skills as both an investigator and a martial artist come into play. Along the way she not only meets evil up close but also the oddballs, the type with which she is familiar which give her a temporary break from the seriousness of her case.

So, who is Mallory Petersen? This is a good introduction, but next time, let’s explore deeper and I’ll introduce you to a few more people in Mallory’s life.

Beta is published by Echelon Press. The book can be purchased October 1, 2011, at,, and For more information on Beta, my other book, Night Shadows, my upcoming book, Alpha, and four short stories also to be published, please visit

Friday, September 16, 2011

The P.I. Life, Part 2

As promised, here's the second part of my interview with Amy Drescher, private investigator.

8. How much do you utilize computers in your business?

The internet is a tool of the trade. I’m online daily to run background checks, search profiles on Facebook, access property records and on and on. A serious P.I. subscribes to at least three different proprietary databases. It’s like “one-stop shopping”—with essentially one-click, we can access comprehensive data on an individual.

Also, I never leave the office without my iPad so that I have a constant link to the internet, especially during a surveillance. Live GPS mapping and access to databases, including motor vehicle records (license plate numbers) are invaluable.

9. Could you list some differences between what a private investigator can do as opposed to police officers?

The most obvious difference is that a PI has no power to enforce the law or arrest someone. Also, I can’t be accused/tried for violating someone’s civil rights. While I don’t need a search warrant to snoop around in someone’s home, I do, however, need permission.

The best way to generally answer that question is this: A private investigator follows the exact same rule book as any civilian. If it’s against the law for YOU to do it, then it’s against the law for me, too. An experienced PI fully understands local, state and federal laws in all areas related to the job, from privacy rights to public record access.

10. In my book, “Beta”, my investigator, Mallory Petersen, utilizes at least one individual who could be termed an informant. How often do you utilize civilian (non-PIs) consultants or informants?

The short answer is rarely.

11. At one point in the story, Mallory Petersen receives a visit from a remote viewer. In your profession, have you ever encountered a person with psychic abilities?

Interestingly, I had a case that involved an entire family of unscrupulous psychics! It’s a long story so I’ll just say that my investigator endured two psychic readings as a “ruse” to get inside the physic’s home, the same place where business was conducted. Interestingly, the psychic failed to predict the investigator’s true identity and the real reason the PI was there.

12. Mallory Petersen tends to have clients and cases coming from the nuttier side of life. Could you briefly relate one of your ‘goofier’ cases?

One particularly odd case involved me and my team conducting surveillance, over several months, to document a cheating spouse. The cheating spouse was very wealthy and had hired a security team to protect his “interest”. That is, the security team’s job was to insure that no one was observing or following the cheater and/or the paramour (the legal term to describe an illicit lover, male or female).

So, we were constantly faced with conducting surveillance on the “counter-surveillance” team in order to perform the original task of catching the cheater. It was a very tricky covert game of PI’s spying on PI’s and took an extraordinary and creative effort. I’m pleased to report that the other team never knew of our presence and we fully documented not only the infidelity but the fact that the cheating spouse spent and wasted nearly 100,000 dollars (of marital funds) on the security team.

13. What errors do you see writers make in regards to writing about private investigators?

The fictional PI tends to be a super hero when conducting a moving or rolling surveillance i.e., surveillance while driving. A single PI following a Subject should be a very brief scene because of the strong likelihood that the PI is going to lose the Subject or the PI is going to get busted.

As a matter of fact, I will flatly refuse a client who wants to save money and asks for only one PI to do a moving surveillance. Writers and the general public seem to underestimate the constant challenges of a moving surveillance, regardless of whether we’re in heavy interstate traffic or on a rural road. A successful outcome is greatly improved with two or three PI vehicles. It’s one thing to follow a vehicle around town but it’s an entirely different ballgame to follow someone and NOT be detected!!

The other myth about private investigators is that we arm ourselves with a concealed weapon, namely a handgun. The handful of PIs that I know who carry do so because they would even if they weren’t a PI. The PI is armed with pepper spray, a stun gun or a taser is more plausible.

14. Do you have any advice for mystery writers for adding realism to their books?

• Learn about our “tricks of the trade”. Ideally, you would pick the brain of an experienced PI who will share what’s in his/her bag of tricks.
• Here are a few keywords to Google (possibly include the term “private investigator”): pretexting, spoof call, gps tracking devices, computer forensics, key logger software, shooting video in darkness, legally steal garbage, simple disguises.
• One element of realism that tends to be ignored (and maybe for good reason)is something we face on every surveillance. Hunger and having to pee. Regarding the latter, occasionally we have an opportunity to race to a public restroom. The more common scenario takes more skill and I apologize in advance for a crude description. As a matter of routine, my female colleagues and I pee in plastic cups. The “pee-in-the-cup” method which, if done correctly is fast, convenient and sanitary enough.
• Read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Private Investigating, 2nd Edition by Steven Kerry Brown

My thanks to Amy Drescher for her time to attend Killer Nashville and taking the time to give us some insight into a very interesting profession. For more information, plese review the following:

615.305.0060  Franklin, TN 37069
TN Private Investigation & Polygraph Commission #5936/#1452
News Link
or Google search: “Amy Drescher, private investigator, youtube”

Ms. Pam Taylor, Attorney at Law
401 Commerce Street, Suite 800
Nashville, TN 37219 (615) 244-5200
Mr. Larry Hayes, Jr., Attorney at Law
214 Second Avenue North, Suite 103
Nashville, TN 37201 (615) 244-2202

Honorable Kevin Sharp, Federal Judge (U.S. Middle Dist. of TN) for the Middle District of Tennessee
801 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203, (615) 736-5498
Ms. Renee Nantz, Licensed Private Investigator
Nashville, TN 37201 (615) 573-5095

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The P.I. Life, Part 1

As the countdown continues toward the October 1 release of Beta and the first adventure of private investigator/martial artist Mallory Petersen, I thought I’d take an opportunity to show you a small part of the world of an actual private investigator.

I met Amy Drescher at the Killer Nashville writers’ conference in 2010. She sat on a panel discussing surveillance techniques and equipment. Afterward, I had an opportunity to speak with her one on one and she agreed to do an interview to help promote my upcoming book.

Amy Drescher is a licensed private investigator and owns Rosetta Stone Investigations, a licensed PI company based in Williamson County, Tennessee. Ms. Drescher specializes in domestic and civil matters and has handled hundreds of cases since she was licensed in 2002 by the Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission. She is a member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Investigators and holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Media & Broadcasting.

Her career as a female private investigator was the subject of a Nashville television news feature report (WKRN/ABC News, “Nashville P.I. on a Mission to Catch Cheatin’ Hearts”) and most recently she was a speaker for the Nashville Bar Association Family Law Institute/CLE (“Using a Private Investigator to Prepare Your Case”, October 2010).

Prior to becoming a licensed PI, Ms. Drescher spent more than a decade as an investigative television news reporter and TV anchor in Illinois where she earned numerous state and national awards for investigative reporting.
She and her husband, Nashville lawyer, Jay Drescher have three children and reside in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. Drescher is 46 years old and enjoys photography, working out at the local gym, and she is an enthusiast of Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes as evidenced by her collection of books and memorabilia.

1. What was the lure of the profession for you? How did you make the decision to become a private investigator? How long have you been in this profession?

My intrigue began when I was in elementary school. My dad had a police scanner and I specifically recall memorizing the “10-CODE” (that’s 10-1 through 10-99!) so that I could decipher the “coded language” between the 911 Dispatcher and emergency personnel (police, fire, coroner, etc). Since my youth, electronics and gadgets have interested me. So much so, that in the sixth grade, I pleaded for a CB radio home unit, “a base station”. It was a treasured Christmas gift and my outlet to talk “in code”. Today, 35 years later, it resides in my office.

I gave some consideration to attend a police academy, but ultimately, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Broadcasting. During college I was a DJ at a local Top Hits radio station until my first real job as television news reporter and anchor in Illinois. Ironically, the 10-CODE served me well in the newsroom. Many times, I scooped the competition or at least, I was the first reporter at the scene because I was able to easily decipher the police scanner. Coded language between the 911 dispatcher and emergency personnel was, after all, old hat to me. A decade or so later, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee and set out to become a private investigator. I became licensed in 2003 and formed a licensed PI agency. I specialize in Civil and Domestic matters. The majority of my clients are referrals and/or family law attorneys.

2. What training did you undergo to become a PI? College courses? Weapons? Self defense?

My best training was my previous experience as a news reporter. There are very strong parallels between a news reporter and private investigator. Skills such as writing a detailed and objective report, operating and troubleshooting video equipment, interviewing, understanding privacy laws and, of course, digging up dirt like there’s no tomorrow!

Each state has its own rules, guidelines, and licensing requirements. A handful of states have no requirements. No state mandates weapons training. Check the rules in the state where your fictional PI lives and works. For example, in Tennessee, a licensed private investigator MUST work for licensed PI company.

As I instruct each “PI Wanna-Be” who calls me wanting a job—Your first case assignment is to figure out how to become a PI! Hint: Ignore all online classes/seminars. Go straight to your State Government website.

I am licensed by the State of Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission.
I have an individual PI license and a company PI license. Here is general summary of what it takes to be a PI in Tennessee. Minimum 21 years old, clear an FBI background check, and a written exam. Licensing for a PI company (which you must work for) is more difficult.

License renewal and continued education (12 hours) is also required every two years. All of the above comes with a price tag for application fees, fingerprinting fees, testing fees, license fees, and renewal fees. Double the costs for owning an agency.

3. What types of cases do you prefer to investigate and how did you decide? For instance missing persons or background checks versus finding evidence of cheating spouses?

I specialize in civil (i.e. non-criminal) and domestic cases (family law) cases such as divorce, child custody issues and infidelity (and, lots of it, sorry to report). My niche seemed to unfold naturally and rapidly, in part, due to my husband being a divorce lawyer. Once my foot was in the door, my passion for the job and constant professionalism has kept the door wide open.

I can’t say that I prefer a certain type of case over another. I find missing people and those who don’t want to be found. I run background checks as frequently as I run the dishwasher. I spend most weekends with liars and cheaters. At the end of the day, it’s always about finding the truth.

4. Do you have any other people on your staff? Do they all wear different hats?

The investigators who work for me have varied backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles.

Jason, 34, single, father, former United States Marine, avid hunter/fisherman, known to conduct surveillance from tree-tops.

Lisa, 48, married, petite brunette, a Southern lady, church youth group leader, and will drop everything when called upon for an urgent surveillance.

Vince, 35, single, former police officer, works in Fraud Protection, and thinks like a cop-which is a good thing!

Renee, 49, single, tall blonde, sincere and sweet yet brazen and very competent, my first choice because of her skill-level.

5. Do you have a certain region in which you work? For instance if someone from Iowa, for some reason requested your services, would you be willing to travel?

The majority of my work is in Nashville and the surrounding counties. A few times a year, a job that originates locally will take us to another state. Such was the case recently when we flew to San Diego to watch a suspected cheating spouse while she attended a week- long conference at an upscale hotel. More frequently, a client from out-of-state will hire me to do a job here.

6. Describe some of the surveillance equipment you use?

The one piece of equipment that I could not live without is a top-of-the-line digital Sony video camera with Sony night-shot and manual adjustments to shoot in the dark. I have a stockpile of tech gadgets such as body-worn cameras, a key-fob camera, a covert camera hidden in a rock and of course, a pair of high-end binoculars.

7. What types of weapons do you carry, if any?

I do not carry a weapon. As PI Jim Rockford once reasoned, “I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want to shoot anybody”.

Stealth and discretion is the backbone of remaining anonymous and avoiding confrontation. My identity might be revealed during court proceedings, for example, but it is not something that concerns me enough to carry a weapon.

By the way, that is the number one question that men ask me.

Stop by tomorrow for Part 2.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Around the Globe with J.R. LINDERMUTH

Another Friday is upon us. I just wanted to mention that I've been doing author interviews for quite some time. This week's interview will be the last one for awhile since I would like to concentrate on promoting my upcoming book, Beta. I hope you will join me on my blog tour and continue to visit me here as I'll be telling you all about the book, my thoughts about it, and giving you tidbits of relative information including an interview with a private investigator.

However, first this week's featured author. When I asked where he'd like to go for the interview he said this: If I had access to a time machine you might find me in darkest Africa with Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor), in the Yucatan with Cortez, or dropping in on the Koryo dynasty in Korea, where I spent some time in the 20th century. Equipped with a good supply of antibiotics and assurance of returning to the present, those are all places and times I would have liked to look in on. Since we don’t have the time machine, you’ll just have to join me on the porch of my home in this village in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region. We can have coffee, tea or a beer. Your choice, my friend.

I'll take tea. Thanks.

1. Who is J. R. Lindermuth and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’m a father, grandfather, retired newspaper editor/reporter, pen & ink artist, genealogist and author of nine published novels and numerous articles and short stories.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

If I tell you my secret I’ll have to…well, you know how that goes. Truthfully, did he have the courage, this mild-mannered older gentleman would have loved to have been an explorer/archaeologist. Despite my skin and bone build, my adventuring is primarily restricted to food. I won’t say I’m in a league with Andrew Zimmern, but my palate has experienced some odd victuals.

3.What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a NASCAR driver?

How else can you have so much fun without heavy lifting? Imagination can take you any place in the world (or other worlds) and any time period with no danger (except, possibly, to your sanity). A limited number of us even become rich and famous.

4.Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Many writers who are a pleasure to read might not prove as congenial in person. If it were possible to meet one from the past my choice would probably be Miguel de Cervantes, whose writing I treasure for both his sense of humor and his wisdom. In these current times I wouldn’t mind sitting down to a meal and/or a Dr. Pepper with James Lee Burke.

5.If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

Since I write both mysteries and historical fiction, readers have some choice of venue in my books. Reviewers seem to like the sense of place I provide and the depth of characterization.

6.Share the Lindermuth process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

I’m more of a pantser than an outliner. I generally have an idea how a story will end, but getting there may be more of a roundabout process than I expect in the beginning. I may pen a few notes now and then to keep me on track. A story/book generally begins with an image in my mind of a character/situation which may be inspired by a conversation overheard, something I’ve read or just conjured out of the blue. I tend to write in scenes as they come to me and there may be some juggling of these as I get closer to the end. I try to get the whole thing down before doing revising, since stopping in the middle tends to throw things out of kilter. And I love research—whether that means actually going to a place, reading about it, or searching it out on Google.

7.“I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

I doubt if my process would work for someone else. I don’t think there is ONE method. We each have to find our own way. One suggestion I would make is if you have an idea don’t dally over it waiting for inspiration. Just sit down (or stand, if you prefer) and start writing. The wonderful thing about writing on a computer is if it doesn’t work the first time, it isn’t as difficult to start over as it was in the days of typewriters and quill pens.

8.I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I’ll quote my friend Cervantes here: “Good actions ennoble us, and we are the sons of our own deeds.” We’re all responsible for our own actions. So it behooves us to make the best choices we can and hope they’re the right ones.

9.Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I like to keep the pot a-stirring. And have more ideas than I can hope to get to in one lifetime. I just want to keep on writing, my friend; hopefully with the product always improving and people interested in reading it.

10.Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

My website:
My blog:
And of course there’s Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and all those other places we lurk these days.

Thanks for the opportunity, Stephen. I’ve enjoyed this time with you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Around the Globe with SALLY CARPENTER

A little rainy, a little humid for the beginning of the new month. I'm looking forward to having the release of my next book, "Beta" on the first of October.

This week gets a little funky because my featured author wanted to travel to a place I didn't think we could go. However, my transporter is fashioned after a famous blue police box, so with a little manipulation, a few thrown switches and blown fuses, we end up in Indiana standing backstage after a sold out Sandy Fairfax concert. Sandy is a 38-year-old former teen idol/TV star making a comeback and the amateur sleuth of Carpenter's series. While waiting for Sandy to finish schmoozing after the concert, we talk.

1. Who is Sally Carpenter and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’ve written a book that nobody else has written. My mystery is the first to feature a middle-aged former teen idol that still wants to work in the entertainment business. Matt Williams wrote a play about southwestern Indiana called From Daylight to Boonville, but mine’s the first book ever set in Evansville, Indiana. I grew up in a town north of Evansville, but I don’t live there any more.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

My hair is naturally curly. I don’t roll it or style it. It just grows that way.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an astronaut?

I’ve always wanted to tell stories, although I never did it well until recently. As a child I made up stories in my head—didn’t write them down—and read oodles of books. When I was a kid I cut pictures out of magazines and made up my own stories about them. Even when I was working at another job, I still wanted to write. I’d go in a library and think, “I’d like to have a book of my own on the shelf.”

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Steve Hockensmith, author of the “Holmes on the Range” mystery series. He grew up in the same town where my book is set.

I also admire William Link, TV writer extraordinaire who created “Columbo” and “Mannix.” Also William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter, who wrote for “Mission: Impossible” and other shows.

Can we include deceased persons? I’d like to meet Mildred Wirt Benson, who wrote most of the original Nancy Drew books as well as hundreds of other juvenile adventure books.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

My book’s quick and easy to read, not the kind of reading where one has to plod along slowly to figure out the meaning or stop to look up words in the glossary. My novel’s funny and can maybe cheer up someone who’s stuck in an unpleasant situation. The plot is interesting enough to keep a reader turning the pages. The characters are likeable. And hopefully the mystery is crafty enough that readers won’t figure out whodunit before the end (although all the clues are in plain sight).

6. Share the Carpenter process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

For the character development of this book, I researched “teen idols” like crazy. I read biographies and autobiographies about teen idols, taped TV documentaries about them, watched concert videos, attended concerts and got wrapped up in the whole fan thing of collecting records and merchandise.

For this book I listened to all my Beatles records, watched their movies again and read those Beatles biographies on my shelf. With all this information in my head, the story nearly wrote itself.

As for the outline, the setting determines the structure. In this book, Sandy’s at a weekend Beatles fan convention, so the story takes place in the three days of the event. The various activities of the convention provide the framework of the story and I fit the sleuthing in around that.
In the next book of the series, Sandy’s a guest star on a sitcom. These shows rehearse and shoot in five days, so he has that much time to find the killer. He has to fit his sleuthing around rehearsals, publicity events and family matters.

I once worked at a movie studio, so I dug out every scrap of paper I’d saved from that job—old scripts, call sheets, information about the studio. Fortunately, at the time I had the foresight to save everything.
In each book, Sandy is performing at a different venue and the demands of that gig forms the basics of the story. Plotting is easy because the structure’s already in place.

Writing schedule, editing, and revisions. I work a day job, so my writing time is limited to evenings and weekends. I try not to get dictatorial about time—“it’s seven o’clock and I must start writing on the dot!”—because then it feels too much like a job. But I try not to wait too late in the evening to get started or I run out of time.

Revisions are numerous. The rough draft is just that—words to get me started. I edit and rewrite each page many times. I look at editing like a jeweler—I take a rough stone and keep polishing and cutting to find the gem inside.

Too many writers slap off a first draft quickly, send it to publishers and then wonder why it’s rejected—because it needs more work!

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

I’m not aware I have a “process.” I plop my seat in the chair, pick up a pen or turn on the computer and go (okay, sometimes I start with a few minutes of computer games, the worst time wasters ever invented). That’s the best advice I can give. Do it. Don’t spend all your time talking or blogging about writing. If you never start, you’ll never have a finished product.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Trust that God can help you overcome setbacks. Took me many years of failure to finally publish a book. The writer’s journey is not straight, short or easy.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I’m working on the next book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series, The Sinister Sitcom Caper. Most of the story takes place on a studio lot as Sandy’s rehearsing for a TV show. An actor drops dead at Sandy’s feet. A dwarf, an animal actor and his biggest fan aid our hero in the case. We also meet some of Sandy’s family members. And could romance be in the air?

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

You can reach me at I’ll be happy to answer any questions. I hope to set up a website soon. My book is available at