Category: Interviews

SENECA SURRENDER, An Interview

banner 2Howdy!

And welcome to another Tuesday blog.  Well, SENECA SURRENDER has just been released in e-book format — here is the Amazon link to the book:  https://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Surrender-Warriors-Karen-Kay-ebook/dp/B01M3QAE67/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478576809&sr=1-1&keywords=SENECA+SURRENDER+by+Karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20.

In celebration of the release, I thought I’d give away one e-book copy of SENECA SURRENDER to some lucky blogger — but also, just to celebrate the release of SENECA SURRENDER, I’ll also be giving away a mass market copy of the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE to another lucky blogger.  So do come on in and leave a comment.

Recently, E.E. Burke posted a blog and interview concerning SENECA SURRENDER.  You can still go and see that particular blog, and here is the link:   http://getlostinastory.blogspot.com/2016/10/get-lost-in-american-indian-historical.html

So I thought I’d repeat the interview here on Petticoats and Pistols.  So grab that cup of coffee and sit back, and I do hope you’ll enjoy the interview.

 

Seneca Surrender Gen Bailey 3 Web

  • What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?

 

As long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the life and times of the American Indian.  I grew up in the 50’s and still remember always being on the side of the Indians, even if they were portrayed in an unfriendly light.  Always, I felt that there was another side to the story.

 

And then there’s my daydreaming about love and romance when I was practicing the piano.  I’d make up stories or scenes to what I was playing – I still do this.

 

And so when I picked up pen and paper (literally), two things drew me to this genre:  My love of romance and my love of the American Indian culture.

 

  • What inspires you daily?

 

rwa-2012-001In truth, this would have to be my husband.  I met him when I was writing GRAY HAWK’S WOMAN.  Our first kiss is in that book, and he continues to find his way into my stories, even if I don’t intend it.

 

Then there’s history – real history – or perhaps I should say the truth.  : )  It’s a real eye-opener to read accounts of people who were there at the time.  I think I can truly say that the old saying that  “the winner is who writes the history” is true.  The truth is rarely found in history books in school.  At least this is what I’ve found.

 

And so I find it inspiring to find the truth of different aspects of the American Indian way of life and to write about it.

 

  •   Is writing or story-telling easier for you?

 

This is an easy question for me.  Story-telling is hands down easier for me.  As a matter of fact, I consider myself a story teller first and a writer second.  Lately I’ve been telling my grandchildren stories off the top of my head – mostly because my grand daughter found out that I write stories and she’s asked me to write a story about mermaids for her.  And so I’ve been telling her several stories lately to see which she likes the best.

 

So definitely story-telling.

 

  • Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?

Yes, I do write to music – sometimes.  When I’m actively creating a story I find music helps.  However, if I’m editing my work, sometimes it detracts, cause I get lost in the words of the song or some such thing.  Then, there’s just the fact that I love music and so it’s a real pleasure to turn on music that I love and write to it.

When I was growing up, my brother and sister and I had to practice the piano and our other instruments every day.  As piano playing grew easier for me, I found I would start making up stories to fit the song – especially if that piece was beautiful and romantic.

seneca-surrender-ad-graphic        I write to all different kinds of music.  The only thing I look for in a song is if it inspires me.  If it does that, then I’ll play it while I write.  Right now, country music inspires me, particularly Keith Whitley songs.  But in the past I’ve written to classical music, opera, Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy operetta, and sometimes contemporary – but rarely contemporary unless it’s country.  I find the classical and the old country  sad songs have a lot of heart and that makes a difference when I’m writing creatively.

 

  • How often to you get lost in a story?

 

Actually I get lost in almost every story that I read.  I have my favorites, of course, but I get lost in these stories. ..particularly if the stories are about something that I write.  And that includes all genres.  I’ve had to give up horror stories, however, as they can cause me to lose sleep.

 

Once on a writing tour, I was driving at night (not something I usually do).  But this time I was.  I had a book on tape playing in the car – and it was a scary story, and I was really frightened.  I decided after that to never listen to this kind of story if I’m driving when it’s dark – even if it’s early evening.  : )

 

But I get lost in stories and am known to stay up getting no sleep whatsoever rather than put a book down.

 

  • What’s the first book you remember reading?

That would be Fairy Tales, I think.  It might have been Cinderella or maybe Alice in Wonderland.  It might even have been Woody Woodpecker – remember him?

Or it might have been Dick and Jane from school.  But I like to think it was Fairy Tales.

Now the first romance book that blew my socks off was a library book entitled THE PINK DRESS.  I read it over and over and over and over.  It was a teen romance, and I literally fell in love with the genre right there.

 

  • Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?

lila-paul-me-313This is a really easy question for me.  A real-life hero I’ve met is my husband.  And who has he saved? Well, me for one.  After my divorce early on in my career, I wanted nothing more to do with men, marriage, relationships, or even dating.

My husband turned all that around form me by simply being kind.  Yes, he’s a real man, who very much loves things that men do (cars, gadgets, trucks, etc).  But he is one of the kindest people that I know.  He tempers the forcefulness of a man with kindness – and that’s about the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.

Who else has he saved?  Two of my cats – he literally saved one of my cats lives, and found a lost cat, whom he saved.

He is a hero.  Truly a hero.  Above here we are with our granddaughter.

 

  •  What is your real opinion about books?  Why are we drawn to them?

Well, I think of books in a rather intense way.  I believe they help us through difficult times, and some of the stories I read are as though those characters become real people.

It was when my own children were young that I sat up and took notice of romance books.  I’d always read stories – mysteries, romance.  But if I’d had a choice to play outside or read – it was always outside that I would choose.

But when my kids were young, my husband was often gone.  And he didn’t support me or the kids when he was gone – usually because he was doing some study or apprenticing, and so he wasn’t making money.

This left it to me to be everything, from earning the money – to paying the rent – to buying the food – to taking the children out each day – to planning and cooking the meals, etc., etc.  Yes, daycare helped.  But the brunt of the raising of the children was left to me.

It was during this period that I discovered that books could take me places, could ease fears, could sympathize when I needed it, could even educate me on things I didn’t know.  And all of these books were romance books.  Every single one of them.

I gave up reading almost any other genre at this time because romance books ended well, and I knew that no matter what, the characters would work it out.  They were…delightful, inspiring and they helped me through a tough time period.

I’ve never forgotten that.  And so when I write, I try to entertain, yes, but I always remember that I need to take people to other places, other times and that the most important thing is that this book becomes a companion when one needs it, and sometimes that’s all we need to get through these trying times.

I love writing.  I love this genre and I fall in love with my characters – and other people’s characters too.  And this is probably the reason why I write.

Well, that’s it for the interview.  Sure hope you enjoyed it.  So come on in an leave a comment.

https://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Surrender-Warriors-Karen-Kay-ebook/dp/B01M3QAE67/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478576809&sr=1-1&keywords=SENECA+SURRENDER+by+Karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

seneca-surrender-ad-graphic

Updated: November 7, 2016 — 11:21 pm

BLACK EAGLE — An Interview

banner 2Howdy!

Yes, you’re right.  It is Winnie’s blog day today, but because she’s under a heavy deadline at present, I volunteered to take her place today.  So again, let me say a warm and hardy HOWDY to ya.

Hope you all had a terrific Holiday!  For my part, as my husband and I were going across country to visit family, we got caught in first some sleet around the Chicago area, then a combination the sleet turned into a combination of sleet and snow in Iowa (it took us a long time to go across Iowa), and then we got caught in a snowstorm so great in South Dakota that I (who was driving at the time) couldn’t even see the road.  In my opinion, that could be classified as a blizzard.  Funny thing was that every time my husband took over to drive, the weather behaved and he drove in good conditions.  But the moment I took over the wheel, at first the weather was great, and then…  What’s that all about?

BlackEagle72lgAs you may (or may not) know, BLACK EAGLE has just been released in both ebook and tradepaper book formats.  My publisher is Samhain Publishing and here’s a link to go and look at an excerpt and a little bit more about the book.  https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5640/black-eagle

Meanwhile, Lori Soard, at Word Museum, recently interviewed me about the book, BLACK EAGLE, and with her permission, I thought I’d post that interview here.  So here we go:  An Interview about between Lori Soard and Karen Kay regarding her newest release, BLACK EAGLE.

 

 

LS: Your readers already know you write amazing Native American romances. Can you share a little about how you got started in this subgenre of romance?

 

KK: It seems that all my life I’ve love stories about the American Indian. But as I grew older, I put that love behind me…or so I thought. It was really when I had children of my own that I began to really read romance stories. Before long I was writing them, and although I loved the contemporary novel and English historical, for me something was missing. And then I read some American Indian romances, and I was hooked. Interestingly, it was only after becoming a writer that I learned of my own American Indian heritage.

 

LS: BLACK EAGLE is one of your recent releases. What inspired the story?

 

KK: The novel, BLACK EAGLE, was inspired from many different sources. One was THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, by James Fenimore Cooper, which I read in school, as well as seeing Hollywood’s version of the story in the movies.   Another was my friendship with Michael Badnarik, who was the Libertarian candidate in 2004 for President. Michael inspired me to go back in time to around 1776 – to America’s roots. Of course, it was in that history lesson that I discovered all sorts of references to the Iroquois Confederation and their amazing government – a government that was put in place in order to do away with war forever. When I learned how these people influenced our own country and our idea of just what is freedom, I was inspired, and thus came about BLACK EAGLE, a Mohawk (the Mohawk’s were one of the tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy).

 

LS: Tell us a little about the main characters in BLACK EAGLE…

 

iroq11-214x300[1]KK: Black Eagle is Mohawk, and the time setting is the French and Indian War. At this period in history, this is the furthest West that we as a country had pushed through. So although the setting is different, it’s still classified as a Western. Black Eagle is a chief in his tribe, and he is on an important mission for his people and for his grandmother, who has increased the importance of his duty because of a threat to their family. He has made friends with the English and the Scots and has been educated in the English culture as a result. But he remains firm and loyal to his tribe, to members of his family and in particular to his grandmother. Because he is friends with the English, he is an important person and well-respected in both camps.

 

LS: This is the first book in the The Warriors of the Iroquois series. When can readers expect the second book in the series to be released at Samhain?

 

The second book, SENECA SURRENDER, is due to be released next year (2016), although I’m uncertain of the date for release. The Seneca were another tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy. They were the “Western Door,” the farthest West of the Iroquois Confederation.

 

LS: How long did it take you to research and write BLACK EAGLE?

 

KK: My research tends to be long and rather intense for each of my books, and starts before I sit down to write the story and continues all through my writing of the story. So for all intents and purposes, it took me about a year to research it and write it.

 

LS: You’re a very busy lady these days. How do you find time to write and promote your books? Any tips for time management?

 

hrbw-1491666-2[1]KK: With great difficulty, I must admit. With the birth of two grandchildren in the family, my husband and I pulled up roots and relocated to the East. Since I’m a Western gal to the tips of my toes, it is strange to be in the East again. And although I’ve spent a good deal of time in the East – Washington DC and VA area; Florida and my favorite place of all time in the East – Vermont – my heart is in the West. As far as time management, I have to work on a schedule – not something I like doing necessarily – but a must, if I am to help with the family, keep writing and keep up volunteer work for my church. The only thing I can say about time management is to get a schedule and try to keep it. If it doesn’t work, scrap it and write up another one, and never get frustrated if one doesn’t keep the schedule to the T. Do the best you can. Most of all, when you write, you write, not do other things at the same time. Sometimes one has to protect her time to write – usually just a casual word, filled with kindness – just letting others know you’re working, because generally when one writes, it doesn’t look like she is working. LOL

 

LS:  Do you have any events coming up we should know about?

 

KK: BLACK EAGLE was just released, and although the book was previously published, the book has been added to and revised so substantially, that for me, it is like a new book – even the plot is changed significantly. BLACK EAGLE was also written under the pen name of Gen Bailey, and so many of my fans didn’t even know it was one of my books. But again, the story has been changed so much and added to so greatly that for me, it is like a new book…almost.

 

LS: What do you do for fun in your free time?

 

KK: For fun, I love to watch my grandkids, I also love to cook, and am intensely interested in nutrition. Much of my free time, when I’m not with my grandchildren or cooking, is spent listening to different CD’s or YouTubes about nutrition and/or reading about it. My favorite sources of information are Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions,” Tony Pantalleresco’s YouTube videos, as well as Dr. Russell Blaylock’s YouTube videos.

 

LS: Who is your favorite author and why?

 

10-greiman[1]KK: There are so many authors that I admire and adore, it’s almost impossible to list them all. In Romance, my favorites are Lois Greiman, every single one of my fellow Petticoats and Pistols author sisters – and I mean that sincerely – I’ve gone out of my way to read their stories, and am always impressed with their storytelling, and your books, Lori. Older Romance authors I love are Johanna Redd, Jodi Thomas, Kathleen Woodiwiss, to name only a few. In the field of Adventure stories and Science Fiction, as well as the old Western, I love L. Ron Hubbard and in the Western in particular, I also love Zane Gray and Louie L’Amour .   Why do I love them? Not sure. Perhaps it’s because they take me to places I’ve never been – and as far as other fiction goes besides Romance, I must have a happy ending, and not always does one find that in genres outside of Romance…but these authors have never disappointed me in that regard.

 

LS: Do you remember that moment you fell in love with the written word? What inspired you to become a writer?

Actually, I think I fell in love with storytelling, and since one uses words to convey the story, that love followed naturally, but it was storytelling that I first fell in love with. There’s a long history there. When I was growing up, music was my main interest. My mother was a Music Teacher, and she sang and played piano (and other instruments) and she gave music lessons, and so I grew up with music filling the house. I was only 4 years old when I vividly remember asking for a toy piano – I had just turned 4, and was small for my age. But no one would show me how to play it and I remember looking at all those black and white keys and feeling overwhelmed by it. No one would teach me, however, because I was “too young,” and so I begged my sister (only 1 ½ years old than me) to show me a note, any note. With great annoyance she hit middle C and said, “that’s middle C” and left posthaste – obviously I was just too young in her estimation. Well, I grabbed a pencil and marked the key on the piano – found that note in the little book that came with the piano – and taught myself to play “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” My mother heard me playing, asked me who taught me, and I looked at her blankly and showed her the little book that came with the piano, and that was the beginning of piano lessons for me. That piano – I still have it – still has that pencil scratch on it.

 

Later, when I was about 13, I ran into trouble with classmates in school. It was an extremely hurtful time. It was then that I learned that music could soothe the soul, and make an unhappy situation at least bearable – if only for a time. It was during this time that I turned to storytelling and daydreaming, in an effort to find peace and a little comfort. Later than that – when I was about 16 – my boyfriend dumped me in a very bad way, and that was when I turned not only to music but to the written word. Many poems followed (one was 20 pages long or so). And then a little later, when I was 16 going on 17, I was practicing a song Un Sospiro by List for a music contest. It’s a difficult piece to play (and I must admit it’s over my head now), but at the time I could play it and was practicing it – still hurt from my break-up with my boyfriend. It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of work, translated as A Sigh. That’s when I started inventing stories to go with the music. And that led to storytelling, which I do even to this day. And often, even today, I listen to music when I write. Not always. But I’m on the constant alert to find music that inspires me – it doesn’t matter what genre – only that it inspires me.

 

LS: Describe a day in the life of Karen Kay the author…

 

KK: Well, my day starts early – usually between 6:30AM or 7:00AM, and I watch my grandchildren while my daughter goes to work. It’s a full day, and usually I don’t stop watching them until around 6-7:00 PM at night. That’s when I do promo for my books, or edit my writing, or do some volunteer work for my church. Weekends are filled with chores, more promo and of course intense writing. Because I’m also interested in cooking, I often go what I call “the Farm” on weekends, since I tend to shop at Farms as my grocery store.

 

LS: Anything else you’d like to add?

 

KK: I think I forgot to mention that I admire what you do, Lori. Not only do you write and keep up that line of work, but you work for others on their websites, helping us at extremely reasonable rates. Any time I’ve had even a hint of a problem with my website, you have been right there, fixing it. And it’s always been your origination to update the site. LOL I know so little about these things, I tend to get bug-eyed, and the idea of making a website more up-to-date. So please allow me a moment to thank you for your patience with me all these years and for helping me with my author activities, the big one (amongst many others) being my website. Perhaps I should mention the URL to my website, which is: www.novels-by-KarenKay.com – that beautiful website is a creation of Lori’s.

 

LS: Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us today, Karen.

 

KK:  You bet!  Thank you for the interview, and for a chance to say a little bit about BLACK EAGLE.

Pictured below is myself with Lora, a friend and reader.

1-LORA-1[1]

Updated: January 11, 2016 — 12:46 am

Seven Days to Texas …

TheTycoonAndTheTexaneBookI think it’s always fun to go behind a book. How did the author come up with the names and the idea? In my new eKensington release The Tycoon and the Texan coming out next week,  the story and names developed in a very personal way. I’d like to share the story behind the book then let my hero, Nicodemus Dartmouth, tell you a little bit about the him and the story.

My husband and I have friends who we’ve known for over forty years and vacationed with since their boys and our girls were young.

In 2002, my DH and I were on our way to meet them in Florida when we received a call, thank goodness for cell phones, that Harry had emergency heart surgery. He was in a coma, and the future was uncertain.  We immediately turned our car north and headed for Dartmouth Medical Center where he laid critically ill for weeks.  We were determined not to leave until he and Pat were safely home under their own roof.  And, that we did.

One day while sitting in the waiting room, my attention was drawn to a show on TV, you know the ones up in the corner of the room you have to crane your neck to see and can barely hear, that pertained to a foundation’s auction of bachelors for charity.  That seeded the idea for a story about a strong, multi-millionaire who ends up buying an ugly duckling at his own foundation’s charity ball. Of course, she had to be from Texas and the hero’s name had to be as strong and willful as my character, so Nicodemus Dartmouth was born.

Now nearly ten years and many vacations together later, my story The Tycoon and the Texan is due to be released soon and needless to say I dedicated it to our dearest friends.

Let’s get on with learning more about Nicodamus Dartmouth. I’m gonna let him tell you about himself first, and then he’ll answer some questions.

Nick: I don’t really like being referred to as a tycoon because I see myself as just another hardworking man in his 30’s. I have to admit being a product of a wealthy, widowed mother, who I don’t always see eye-to-eye with, did have its benefits. I worked my fingers to the bone to establish one of the largest construction firms on the west coast, while being CEO of  Mother’s charity … the Elliott-Dartmouth Foundation.  I own a Double A baseball farm team and love to workout with my players.  Mother is pretty well appalled when I show up at the office with bloody road rash showing through a tear in my baseball pants.  By the way, Josie, the Foundation Director and mother hen, thinks I belong in the dog pound. I have one supporter in the organization, well most of the time, and that’s McCall Johnson, who used to be my secretary at the construction company until I transferred her over to the foundation when I found myself crawling up twenty stories of red iron thinking about her.

Now back to the charity auction that Phyliss mentioned. Mother thought it was a grand idea to auction off bachelorettes, while I told her from the start is was a bad, really bad idea.  She called me into the office to go over the final arrangements, including the table decorations.  I need to be out at the construction company offices arranging for a shipment of material we don’t need to be shipped to Habitat for Humanity, but no I’m standing here looking at a bunch of flowers stuffed in a vase. I won’t even tell you what I think about them because Mother sure didn’t approve of my description.

The auction was a nightmare, just as I had predicted, although it raised a lot of money for the foundation … a good bit coming from me.

The jinx I apparently put on the event began when one of the bachelorettes called in sick and our resident Texan McCall Johnson was forced to step in.  In an unexpected turn of events, and I have to admit a bit of jealousy on my part to boot, I ended up paying what McCall called “a vulgar” amount for a week long date with her.

That began our adventures … seven days to Texas.

I wanted so badly to show her that our lives weren’t that much different, but at every turn, I hit a roadblock.  From nearly cutting my finger off trying to prepare dinner on my private boat for her to seeing a ghost on Harris Grade coming out of Lompoc, California, something got in my way of showing her that I don’t get everything I want, although she thinks I do.

It took me the full seven days, plus some while visiting her Granny’s ranch in Texas, but I finally succeeded at showing the independent, spirited, uprooted Texan that our lives aren’t as different as it might seem, only to find that we are more alike than I ever dreamed … including our secrets.

I hope you’ll go buy The Tycoon and the Texan by native Texan, Phyliss Miranda, so you can learn more about me and Miss McCall Johnson.

Two celebrate the release, I will give two lucky winners an eBook of “Tycoon”, if you leave a comment.  If you don’t have an eReader, I’ll send you a copy of our award winning anthology, A Texas Christmas. I hope everyone who buys my new contemporary release enjoys the journey Nick and McCall take on their Seven Days to Texas!

ATexasChristmas

Updated: August 27, 2013 — 10:13 am

Robert Randisi Comes to the Junction

 

Today, we welcome author Robert Randisi. He writes western novels and detective thrillers. His publishing list is quite long. He’s graciously let us interview him. We hope you enjoy what he has to say.

How did you start your writing career?

I started reading in earnest when I was 10. Decided to write my own stuff when I was 15. Went to the movies and saw HARPER. Read all the credits, discovered the movie was based on Ross Macdonald’s book THE MOVING TARGET. I went out and started reading Ross Mac, and all other private eye fiction. That year I decided I wanted to write private eye fiction, and I wanted to write for a living by the time I turned 30-and I did.

What was your first sale as an author?

I sold a story called “Murder Among Witches” to Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine when I was 22.

How did you come to write Westerns?

I backed into writing The Gunsmith series and-as a result-also backed into writing westerns. I had written my first novel, THE DISAPPEARANXCE OF PENNY, a private eye novel, for Charter Books.  It was my hope-and the hope of my editor, Michael Seidman-that I’d be writing for books in the “Henry Po” series, but one day I got a call from Michael who asked me, “Can you write westerns?” At that point I had never even read many westerns, but I naturally said, “Yes.” (This was 1981. Back then I always said yes.)  He told me to come up with a proposal for a series.

I went to a used bookstore and bought about 40 westerns, representative of at least one book in every existing series. I read them so that I would not repeat anyone’s character. I then came up with a proposal for The Gunsmith series.  The working name for the character was “Tom Sideman.”  I submitted the proposal about a traveling gunsmith who was actually a fast gun legend AS WELL as a true gunsmith.   Michael liked it and gave me a contract for two books. When I submitted the first book he said it was good, but that he was going to have to break me of my “hardboiled” style. I told him that in a western it was called “hardcase.”

Before long I got a call and Michael said they wanted to give me a contract for a third book, as well.  I said that was fine.  Within weeks he asked me if I could write a book a month. I didn’t know if I could, but I said, “YES.” They then gave me a contract for 9 more books, which made it an even dozen I was contracted for. And so, I began . . .

Oh, one morning  about 8:30 am – I had just gotten in from my real job with the NYPD and had only gone to bed at 8:00 am – Michael called me and said they had just had an editorial meeting and decided to call the character “Adam Steele.”  I told them that was fine with me, but that they should check with George Gilman, who already had a 22 book series about Adam Steele. (Really, who was doing their market research?)  He said he’d call me back.  Later that day he called and said they’d decided to name him “Clint Adams.”  I said they could call him Sue if they wanted, as long as they paid me. The first book was published January 1982, the same month I quit my job and became a full time writer.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I write every day, day and night. How long depends on whether or not I have to go out and run errands that day. Two day shifts, broken up by dinner. Two night shifts, broken up by a nap.  The longest stretch is usually midnight to 4. Usually, I’m working ion two books at one time-a mystery and a western.

What books have most influenced your life?

Private eye novels, meaning Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald.  An occasional favorite novel like NINE PRINCES IN AMBER by Roger Zelazney, REPLAY by Ken Grimwood, HEIRO’S JOURNEY by Sterling Lanier, DINOSAUR BEACH by Keith Laumer.

What do you think makes a good story?

Anything that shows an application of serious imagination.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have one-and by that I mean I don’t have ONLY one.  But the books I mentioned above comprise a good list-Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald, Zelazney, Laumer, lesser known authors to the general public like Thomas B. Dewey, Ralph Dennis, modern authors like Pete Robinson, Wallace Stroby and Max Allan Collins.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

The time to write all the ones I have in my head. I generally do about 16 books a year. These are mostly books I HAVE to write to make a living. That doesn;t leave much time to write the books I WANT to write.

What are your pet peeves as a writer? As a reader?

My pet peeve used to be self published authors who thought they should be eligible for professional awards. If you put on a play in your basement should you be eligible for a Tony? But “self-published” has come to mean something totally different these days. But I still don’t approve of it as a short cut to a career. Having the disposable income to publish your own books doesn’t make you as writer. As a reader? Hmm, writers who have nothing new to say.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

The business has changed a lot, but my advice has not. Write every day. Don’t look for short cuts. Pay your dues.

Where are your fans most likely to find you hanging out?

Casinos, race tracks, book stores mostly. And sitting behind my desk. A lot!

Who are your books published with?

The Gunsmith series has been published for 30 years by Berkley. My Rat Pack books were published by St. Martins Press, but have been moved to Severn House.  I’ve had some books published recently by Perfect Crime Books, Vantage Point.  I had 24 books published with Dorchester over the past 15 years until they went under. My Adult Westerns are being reprinted by Speaking Volumes LLC.

Visit me at: www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/randisi_r.html

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001698781430&sk=photos

Livia & James Reasoner Share Their Writing Secrets

 

COLLABORATING FOR FUN AND PROFIT

LIVIA: Thanks for having us here on Petticoats and Pistols! James and I been married for more than 35 years and writing together for nearly that long. We began collaborating professionally as well as personally early in our marriage, when James was trying to break into writing by submitting short stories to various magazines. He usually wrote his stories in longhand, and then I would type them up. (Yes, we’ve been doing this since people used typewriters.) As I would be typing the stories, sometimes I saw little ways that things could have been done differently, or things that could be added to make the story better. I would make suggestions to James, and he usually listened to them. Then he said I should write my own stories.

JAMES: But I said it in a nice way!

What usually happened was that Livia would catch some bone-headed mistake I’d made, and being the naturally lazy person that I am, eventually I realized that when she pointed something out, I could say, “You’re absolutely right. Can you just go ahead and fix that for me?” From there it wasn’t a very big leap to her coming up with her own stories.

LIVIA: Over the years we’ve developed a pretty good system that takes advantage of our individual strengths and weaknesses. I really enjoy plotting and researching, while James would rather be sitting at the keyboard pounding out words. Since he writes a lot more than I do, I can take some of the load off him by coming up with ideas and developing them. In return, he helps me with the editing of my books.

JAMES: To a certain extent nearly everything we produce is a collaboration, because we plot most of the books together and then edit and polish each other’s work before an editor ever sees it. I’m still quick to take advantage of her ability to fix the things I foul up. And she’s the greatest plotter in the world! One time an editor called me on a Friday afternoon and wanted plots for three books in a new Western series he was pitching on Monday morning. I had to go run some errands, so I asked Livia to think about it while I was gone. When I came back a couple of hours later, she handed me a piece of paper and said, “Here are six plots. Take your pick.”

The rest of the story is that while that particular series didn’t sell, eventually I used all six of those plots for books in other series, and they worked just fine.

LIVIA: One series we plotted and wrote together was WIND RIVER, six books that came out in paperback about fifteen years ago. This one we figured out ahead of time to the extent that we knew what the ending of Book 6 would be before we ever wrote a word of the first book in the series. That way we were able to plant little clues all the way through the books. We wanted to publish these books with both of our names on them, but the publisher vetoed that idea. (For some reason publishers have always given us trouble with using both of our names.) So when they came out James’s name was the only one on them. However, now that the novels are available again as e-books, we’ve been able to put both names on them as we always intended.

JAMES: Another way we collaborate is in the creation of cover images. Years ago when I was in Jackson, Wyoming for a Western Writers of America convention, a group of writers and editors went out for dinner together, and on the way we stopped at a place that made old-time photographs. They dressed us as outlaws, saloon girls, etc., and took a sepia-toned group picture of us (which we all bought copies of, naturally). Being writers, we started naming the “characters” in the photo. My name, they said, would be Big Earl.

Well, since the person in the picture next to me was a Western editor at the time, I told him I was going to write a Big Earl novel and sell it to him. It was more of a joke than anything else, but a couple of weeks later he told me he really did want me to write a Big Earl novel for him. So of course I did, fleshing out the character and making him a former stagecoach shotgun guard turned lawyer turned circuit-riding federal judge. I wrote three Western/mystery novels about Judge Earl Stark, and the first one, STARK’S JUSTICE, featured part of that photograph on the cover, making me one of the few authors to portray my own character on a book cover.

The idea came to me a while back that it was time to do another Judge Earl Stark novel, this time as an original e-book. Livia has always been a fine photographer and has also discovered that she’s a talented graphic designer. She volunteered to round up some vintage Old West clothes and came up with an entire outfit for me to wear so that she can take pictures to use in designing the cover for the new book. So the legend of Big Earl lives on! (As soon as I can find time to write the book, anyway.)

LIVIA: Being able to work together like we have has come in very handy over the years. We work at home, so we were able to raise our family together and both of us were very involved when our daughters were in school. We were both on the local PTO board (James was even the president one year) and were able to take part in all sorts of activities such as math and science team tournaments and band and journalism competitions. Plus there’s the added benefit of just being able to spend more time together. When you both write for a living, there are always books to plot, characters to create, and story problems to work out, so you never run out of things to talk about!

JAMES: I couldn’t hope for a better collaborator, all the way around.

LIVIA: Neither could I.

James is giving away two copies of his newest paperback REDEMPTION: HUNTERS. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

LIVIA’S HALLAM COLLECTION IS FREE FOR THE KINDLE MARCH 3-5th. Click on the book cover and it’ll take you there. AND THE AWARD WINNING HALLAM NOVEL, WILD NIGHT, IS AVAILBLE FOR THE KINDLE AND THE NOOK FOR ONLY 99 CENTS.

Updated: February 16, 2012 — 2:02 pm

TROY D. SMITH IS WITH US TODAY!

Hi Everyone,

I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Troy Smith, who writes some of the best western fiction you’ll ever lay eyes on. I’ve had the privilege of editing some of Troy’s work, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Not only is Troy a fantastic writer, he’s also a wonderful person, and I’m excited to introduce him to y’all here today at Petticoats and Pistols. He’ll be giving away a copy of CALEB’S PRICE at the end of the day, so be sure and leave a comment along with your contact information!

Now here’s a bit about Troy Smith:

Troy D. Smith was born in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee in 1968. He has waxed floors, moved furniture, been a lay preacher, and taught high school and college. He writes in a variety of genres, achieving his earliest successes with westerns. His first published short story appeared in 1995 in Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, and he won the Spur Award in 2001 for the novel Bound for the Promise-Land (being a finalist on two other occasions.) He is currently teaching American history at Tennessee Tech, and serving as president of Western Fictioneers -the first national writing organization devoted exclusively to fiction about the Old West.

Tell us about your current release.

Caleb’s Price is a very serious story –about the longing that echoes in all of us –that is told in a humorous and sometimes bittersweet way. My goal when I started it was to take all the standard themes, even stereotypes, of the western story and give them a surprising twist. The plot is reminiscent of Shane, Pale Rider, and dozens of B Westerns: an orphaned boy named Joey, raised by his aunt and uncle, is befriended by a mysterious stranger while the whole area is caught up in a range war. Romance seems to develop between the stranger, Caleb, and Joey’s sad and lonely, neglected Aunt Sally. But there are major twists. The “evil cattle baron” is not quite what he seems to be, and Joey (as well as the reader) begins to wonder if Caleb really is there to save them, or if he is there to destroy them. Pretty heavy plot. Yet while I was writing it, the characters took on a life of their own –even the villains (and sometimes it’s hard to tell who they really are) –and the story was imbued with a simultaneous mixture of comedy and tragedy. The only way I could explain it is: imagine if Shane had been written by Thomas Berger, the guy who wrote Little Big Man. It’s at the top of my list of favorites among the things I’ve written. 

How did you start your writing career?

Totally by accident! I have always told stories, even as a kid, but it never occurred to me to be a professional writer. When I was in my early 20s I had a job buffing floors at K-mart and Wal-mart stores- in those days the stores were closed from 9pm till 9am, and I was locked in there alone for 12 hours to do a 4 or 5 hour job. I filled the empty hours by reading everything I could get my hands on (including a whole lot of westerns.) While I was buffing, my mind wandered to the stories I was reading- how would I do them differently? So for my own entertainment I started writing those stories down. I was on my 3rd or 4th novel before it dawned on me that I could try to get them published. I started taking the writing seriously, reading every how-to book I could find, and developed my craft.

What was your first sale as an author?

A western short story called “Mourning Glory.” It was in the Nov. 1995 issue of Louis L’Amour Western Magazine. I remember looking at that first paycheck -328 bucks –and thinking that, no matter what happened for the rest of my life, nothing could change the fact that I was a professional, published author. The magazine took several more of my stories –but unfortunately it folded not long after that.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

From about 1998 to 2003, there were a number of people I met through Western Writers of America and online Western forums who helped me enormously. Robert J. Randisi included me in several anthologies he edited in that time, and was very encouraging. The list is very long, and I’m bound to slip up and leave someone out… but it included Jim Crutchfield, Dale Walker, Peter Brandvold, John Nesbitt, and more. Some of them introduced me to agents or editors, or read my manuscripts. Jory Sherman and Frank Roderus were especially helpful and encouraging when I was at the bottom of the barrel, devastated both emotionally and financially by a bad divorce. One veteran writer, whom  I won’t embarrass by naming, sent me a computer and printer when he learned I no longer had such things, and the only repayment he would ever accept was a promise to do the same for another struggling writer someday (I did just that eventually, when I no longer needed that equipment.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people I named above don’t even remember helping me, it was such second nature to them –but I remember, and I always will. 

Tell us about a favorite character from a book. How did you develop that character?

My favorite character I have ever created was Lonnie Blake, a supporting character in Bound for the Promise-Land. I wanted my hero, an escaped slave-turned-Union soldier named Alfred Mann, to have two army comrades who could play the roles of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to his everyman. Blake was the MLK character- tormented by his human frailties, yet saintly in his love. I grew quite attached to him –he was the sort of man I’d like to be.

What do you think makes a good story?

Conflict. You can’t have a story without conflict –not much of a story, anyhow. And the best stories have both inner and outer conflict; something is challenging the character in the outside, physical world, and that is mirrored by some inner challenge that the hero must overcome in order to defeat the physical obstacle. I also believe that the hero must be changed inside somehow, if only a little, at the end of the story or else you (and the reader) have just been passing time.

Where do you research for your books?

I used to do a lot of research in actual libraries, but nowadays it is possible to find even the most obscure items and documents online. Five years ago I spent an entire summer going from archive to archive in Oklahoma and Arkansas; everything I looked at then can now be accessed digitally. Of course, it’s still good to get a feel for the landscape, and you can’t do that in your computer chair looking at j-pegs. A lot of the western stuff I’ve written lately, and most of what I have planned, has been set in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Arkansas, and Kansas –the area I researched intensely for my history dissertation, so I’m already pretty familiar with it.

Who are your books published with?

A crime novel I am very proud of, and which I hope grows into a series –Cross Road Blues –was published last year by Perfect Crime Books. My whole Western backlist is in the middle of being re-issued in both paper and e-book format by Western Trail Blazer, with new stuff upcoming as well. So far they’ve done four of my western novels, with four more in the chute, as well as several short stories- I hope to be with WTB for a long time to come. Rebecca J. Vickery is a treasure for our genre, and hopping on her WTB bandwagon when it was first rolling out was one of the smarter things I have done. 

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they? 

Read a lot. Read to gain factual information, to stir your muse, to examine how other people construct plots and characters. If you want to write good prose, in addition to telling good stories, also practice writing and reading poetry- notice meter and rhythm, and imagery. 

And stick with it. Be persistent. Most “overnight successes” had been trying for years –and no one had heard of the ones who quit just before their big break came along. 

Do you have a Website or Blog?

I sure do. My official website is www.troyduanesmith.com –there’s info there about my books, and some biographical material. I also blog at http://tnwordsmith.blogspot.com –sometimes about writing, or about westerns, pop culture, history or politics (as a historian, I don’t separate history and politics into different compartments, it’s all part of the same beast!)

How about an excerpt from the book you’re giving to some lucky commenter today,  Caleb’s Price?

Glad you asked! Here it is. 

EXCERPT FROM CALEB’S PRICE: 

“You homesteaders are a stubborn breed,” Caleb said.

            “We’re not stubborn,” said Burt. “Our dreams are. Some dreams die hard, and others don’t die at all –so long as they have a bit of rich soil to sink into. Surely you can understand that, Caleb. Even you can’t be as hard as you sound. We all have dreams.”

            “I manage to sleep pretty sound, myself. If I have any dreams I don’t remember ’em.”

            “You’re an unfortunate man, then. A man who never dreams is a sad thing.”

            “How about women?” Caleb asked.

            “What do you mean?”

            “How about women? Do they have dreams?”

            Burt laughed. “Not bein’ one myself, it’s hard to say.”

            “Have you ever asked one?”

            “Asked one what?”

            “About her dreams.”

            “No, Caleb, I haven’t. What are you gettin’ at?”    

            “Nothin’ in particular. I was just wonderin’. You bein’ so big on dreams, I just wondered if you ever noticed anybody else’s.”

            Burt frowned. “At least I notice my own.”

            “What about your wife, Burt? Does she have any dreams?”   

            “What do you think?”

            “I think that if she does, they’re not about land. Or sheep.”

            “Perhaps you’d be good enough to tell me what you think my wife dreams about.” Burt’s voice had taken on a rough edge.

            “Oh, I don’t know. The sea, maybe.”

            Burt laughed again. I think his laugh was beginning to irritate Caleb. It had been irritating me for years.

            “So that’s it,” Burt said. “Sally’s been entertainin’ you with those fairy tales of hers. It’s getting’ plain to me that you have no experience with women. If we had stayed in New Bedford she would have dreamed about the West, and complained about never havin’ seen it. That’s just the way women are. They don’t know what they want. They only know that it’s always somethin’ they’ll never have. It’s different with a man, he dreams about somethin’ simple and sets about gettin’ it. Like me. I know exactly what I want.”

            “Then your dreams are important enough to risk your family’s lives over.”

            “Yes,” Burt said, in a voice that was softer than normal for him. “That’s how great nations are built. I’m only sorry that you don’t understand any of the things I’ve been tellin’ you.”

            “I probably understand more than you give me credit for.”

            “I was right about you, wasn’t I, Caleb?”

            “What do you mean?”

            “About what I said earlier. That you’re a wanderer.”

            “I’ve never denied it.”

            Burt’s face took on a cold expression. “Then I think that it’s only fair I warn you now, Johnson. Don’t try to include my wife in your wanderin’.”

            Caleb chuckled. “What on earth brought that on? The last I knew, we were talkin’ about sheep.”

            “All that fancy talk about what her dreams are,” Burt said, his tone hot. “They’ll not come true from the likes of you, I’ll warrant.”

            Caleb shook his head. “You sure take a lot out of a little polite conversation.”

            “Just don’t fawn over my wife, that’s all.”

            “I wasn’t fawnin’ over her, I was just tryin’ to make a point. The point being, you’re risking her life over something she doesn’t even want.”

            “I’ll be the judge of what my wife wants, not you. Women are like sheep. All they really want is to be directed. Anything else that comes from ’em is just mindless bleating. And besides, it’s none of your bloody business to start with.”

            “I can’t argue with that,” Caleb said. “I was just offerin’ some friendly advice, that’s all.”

            “Save your advice for the polar bears. The way you talk, I’d almost believe Ike Majors sent you here as a spy.”

            Caleb stared at him for a moment, silent, then said, “If Ike Majors had sent me here, somebody would be usin’ this little wagon as a coffin, and you’d be a lot closer to God’s green earth than you ever wanted to be.”

            “Aye. Or else you’d be.”

 Troy, thank you so much for being our guest today here at Petticoats and Pistols.  We hope you’ll come back  and join us again sometime! You’ve  got a lot of wonderful work out there and some beautiful covers, for sure!

PETER BRANDVOLD IS WITH US TODAY!

Hi everyone!

Cheryl Pierson here! I want to introduce you to a very special guest, a good friend of mine who writes some fantastic western adventures, Peter Brandvold! Pete has been gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule to answer a few interview questions for us and will be poking his head in every once in a while today to read and answer comments and questions. He’s got a couple of new releases to tell us about today as well as some insight as to how he got started writing and a few of his pet peeves.

 

How did you start your writing career?

I hated teaching so much so it was either writing or suicide the way Yukio Mishima did it–seppuku.

Tell us about your current release.

I have two current releases–a paranormal or “weird” western, DUST OF THE DAMNED, and a traditional western under my pen name Frank Leslie–THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE.  DUST is a werewolf western in which two ghoul-hunting bounty hunters, Uriah Zane and Angel Coffin, go after the Hell’s Angels–a pack of werewolves brought into the U.S. by Abe Lincoln to win the Civil War at Gettysburg.  The Angels were supposed to go home when the job was done, but it seems you can’t trust a werewolf farther than you could throw your fattest aunt uphill against a cyclone.  They came west and caused all kinds of trouble.  A beautiful Mexican witch and necromancer is leading them across the Arizona desert in search of the werewolf-equivalent of the holy grail.  (Jesse James makes an appearance as a ghoul-hunter, as well, because in my messed-up West there’s more money in hunting down vampires, aka, “swillers,” and hobgobbies and werewolves than there is in train robbing!) 

JED STRANGE is about one of my series characters, young Colter Farrow, who wears the ‘S’ mark of Sapinero on his cheek–branded there by the vile Bill Rondo.  In this one, he’s on the run in Mexico with a young girl, Bethel Strange, who’s looking for her outlaw father who was last seen running guns in the Sonora Desert.

Who is your favorite author?

I have tons of favorite authors, and the list moves around a lot.  I like Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore a lot–sci-fi writers from the pulp days.  And I also like the fantasy novels of Jack Vance.  For western writers I like Gordon D. Shirreffs, Richard Jessup, Luke Short, Lewis B. Patten, and H.A. DeRosso.

Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

The students I hated teaching.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

My dogs have always been here for me.  (Actually, my ex-wife taught me a lot by her incredibly gifted editing, but if you tell her I said that I’ll deny it and call you a raving lunatic!)

What was your first sale as an author?

ONCE A MARSHAL back in ’98.  It was about the aging lawman Ben Stillman, whose career was cut short when a drunk whore shot him in the back by accident.  Sigh.  But Ben got himself dusted off and went back to work to solve the murder of his old hide-hunting pard, Milk River Bill Harmon.  I really like that book.  I wish someone would reprint it.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Editing.  I really hate editing.  I like to just keep moving forward.  Going back to polish is like when you’re a little kid out playing cavalry and you got dead Injuns all around and only a few more to go and your mom calls you in for supper.

What are your pet peeves as a writer? As a reader?

As a writer, it’s editing.  As a reader, it’s dull writing.  Writers today seem more preoccupied with telling back stories than front stories–i.e, keeping things rolling.  I mean, they’ll start a book off with, “Jessica gripped the gun in her fist and walked into the saloon.  She’d just ridden into Dodge City that morning and found her father hanging from a gallows.  That really miffed her, so the first thing she did was…”  Know what I mean?   The art of bringing all that stuff in through action and dialogue is an art and most writers today do it about as well as I can dance.  Omniscient narrators should be killed en masse all over the writing world.  There, I said it, and I don’t care if I hang for it!

Who are your books published with? 

Berkley and Signet.  At one time, Forge.  They’ve been good to me. 

You can order Pete’s books from his awesome website:  www.peterbrandvold.com

His blog can be found here:  http://peterbrandvold.blogspot.com

Here’s a link to a fantastic review for DUST OF THE DAMNED:
http://www.themaineedge.com/content/21164/Ride_out_with_Dust_of_the_Damned/

Pete, thank you so much for being our guest today and giving us these personal glimpses into your career and how you got started writing.  You’ve written so many wonderful action packed westerns, my new kindle is going to be loaded down. These latest two additions to your credits look absolutely wonderful. Again, thanks for being our guest today, and we hope you’ll come back again in the future!

Cheryl

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015