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A Conversation with NeonSeon, author of “Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness”

About NeonSeon

Creating Shouty Mack as a comic strip for a high school newspaper, NeonSeon developed Life of Shouty as a book series for children in 2010. NeonSeon grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and currently resides in Atlanta. Honors include a Mom’s Choice Award for Life of Shouty: Good Habits.

For more information, visit www.SHOUTY.com.

The Interview

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My ability to relate to others and see life through multiple perspectives.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I can be too critical of myself.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” attributed to Robert H. Schuller. I love this quote because it frees me to think about a wide-open future.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I’m most proud of my ability to learn new things and acquire new skills year after year.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My home was filled with positive and motivational books, and these themes are found in the Life of Shouty Series. My upbringing was also very creative, and without that, I probably wouldn’t have volunteered to be the cartoonist for the high school newspaper, and thus create the comic strip Shouty Mack.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Certain books gave me so much joy that it was natural to want to elicit that in others through writing. I read Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in eighth grade and it blew me away.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote short stories for fun when I was younger, and I had several writing internships in college. I was an English major so I was always writing papers. I have always enjoyed writing.

How long have you been writing?

The Life of Shouty Series came out in 2010, but I’ve been writing since I was able.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I’ve always known I could be a writer.

What inspires you to write and why?

The human condition inspires me, and the journey of growth. Laughter. Play.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Non-fiction comes easiest but rhyming is fun.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My character, Shouty. I knew I had to write and develop a series for him. He is relatable, lovable and imperfect.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

I like to let the story unfold so I would say it’s more of a stream of consciousness process guided by rhyme. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron helped to get me out creative blocks, as well.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

What has helped me the most over the years is looking at other people’s edits or suggestions of my work. For that moment, I get to see how their brains work and in so doing, it expands the possibilities I see in the act and process of writing.

What made you want to be a writer?

I didn’t necessarily want to be a writer or set out to be one. I just wanted to tell a story and bring a character to life, and writing was the medium I chose.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Getting over your own doubts to realize the project and developing a good arc for the story.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

I’ve struggled with making healthy choices most of my life and writing Life of Shouty: Food & Fitness taught me you can still contribute something of value in an area you’ve yet to conquer.

About Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness

Life of Shouty Food and FitnessShouty returns with a new challenge: his health. The second book in the Life of Shouty™ series by award-winning author and illustrator NeonSeon shows Shouty’s ups and downs on the path to wellness.

Like many of us, Shouty places a premium on being a productive person, and crossing items off his daily to-do list. While healthy food and fitness don’t make his list of priorities, Shouty is unaware of the impact this has on his declining health. Over time, Shouty becomes painfully aware that he must make lifestyle changes to improve his health, quality of life, and self-esteem.

Touching on themes of overeating, obesity, and inactivity, Shouty’s journey is illustrated in a way that captures his despair, as well as his ultimate triumph.

Debuting on Child Health Day, it is NeonSeon’s hope that this book affirms the importance of making healthy choices in one’s life and helps readers envision healthier versions of themselves. If you’ve ever found yourself on either end of the health spectrum, or are making your way somewhere in the middle, Shouty hits several notes on his path that will surely sound familiar.

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Interview with Steve DeWinter: ‘I am a heavy plotter and planner.’

I was born and grew up loving to read. But enough about me; you’re here for my books. If you like super-charged thrillers that merge high-tech gadgetry with ancient mythology and pit the outcast against powerful clandestine organizations, you are among friends.

My goal as a writer is to transport you to fresh and exciting worlds that not only take you on a white-knuckle ride but leave you hungry for more when you finally turn that last page and reluctantly slam shut the back cover of the book.

This is my promise to you the reader.

I will continue to satisfy your never-ending desire for more. So keep reading!

When one story ends, another begins.

To find out more about Steve visit www.stevedw.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Steve. Can you tell us what your latest book, Inherit The Throne, is all about?

A: Thank you for having me here today. I always love talking about my books. In my latest book, Inherit The Throne, Melissa Stone is a woman displaced. After being listed by the military as killed in the line of duty, her husband and young son move on with their lives. Living under an assumed identity, she would have been happy to spend the rest of her days under an assumed name in a small town. But my villain has other plans. She was the only one who could stop him, so he sends an assassin to close off the biggest loose end in his plan. His attempt to remove her has the opposite affect and instead puts her smack dab in the middle of the action. To find out what happens next, you will have to read my book.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Melissa Stone is a strong and capable woman. She has been referred by readers as a female Jason Bourne. Despite being a kick-butt female, she is still a mother, and that comes out when her son is put directly into harms way. Even though she has inner strength, Melissa still needs outward help. For this, she is surrounded by a cadre of supporting characters that help her find out who is trying to kill her, and more importantly, why. Nick is the man she turns to early on and he proves to be, by far, the best person to call. His easy access to much needed resources helps her evade the police after she tangles with the assassin; resulting in explosive results in the normally sleepy little town.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are larger-than-life and crafted entirely in my imagination. Thankfully, I write about events that never actually happened, or at least not in the way I write about them. I would hope that nobody in the real world behaves like any of my characters do.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am a heavy plotter and planner. I have usually written out what takes place in each chapter before I sit down to write out the detailed text that becomes the finished book you read. I work out the chapters and re-order them and revise them before I write out the entire novel. This helps me maintain a global perspective and assists with the pacing of my stories.

Q: Your book is set in some wildly different geographical locations throughout the story. Can you tell us why you chose these settings in particular?

A: The locations in my book range from the gritty backstreets of Washington D.C. to the fog shroudhed forests of the Pacific Northwest, back to the unique geographical location of the Adirondack Mountains, and the big finale taking place in a secret underground complex deep in the heart of Manhattan. I like to take my readers to places that they may not get to see on a regular basis and, since my book dealt with an attempt to gain control of the government of the United States, I felt that the story needed to encompass the entire geographical space of the nation.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: I like to have my characters travel as they change. The setting helps me identify where they are in their personal growth as well as giving me something that I can take away and make their lives even harder; pushing them to change if they want to stay alive. As a writer, I am a firm believer that without conflict, there is no story.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Melissa and Nick are debating about whether her small-town boyfriend is able to help them infiltrate a top secret government building. Melissa says that not only is he still injured from the assassin’s attempt on her life, but he is a civilian. Nick reminds her that he is not technically a civilian and is actually very qualified for the job. To this Melissa responds, “He was in the Navy fifteen years ago. He might as well have watched Top Gun four hundred times with what he still remembers about those days.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: This is from early on in the book when the double for the Vice President has second thoughts about “taking the bullet” for him.

Andrew perched on the edge of the back seat and watched as the dimly lit buildings of Washington, DC at night blurred past the limousine window. He felt like he was standing still, and the rest of the world was streaming by. When that first egg hit the top of the car he almost jumped out of his skin. It had sounded so loud; like a gunshot. Then more followed, hitting the sides and the top. Andrew was immediately pressed backward into the soft leather seat by the sudden acceleration as the motorcade sped away from the scene.

Well, they got that part right. This meant that the rest, no matter how incredible it sounded, was most likely true. It was probably the most overused plot in low-budget sci-fi movies, but Andrew knew that somewhere, out there in the night, there was an intelligent robotic killing machine looking for him. There was nothing left for him to do but sit back and wait.

Knowing the end was drawing near, Andrew naturally reflected on his life. But all he could focus on was the whirlwind year he was about to complete. Ten months ago, after the surgery, Andrew learned the informal medical term “new lease on life”. He set out to make his bucket list, the list of things he always wanted to do but never took the time. And now he finally had the time.

But when a sharp stabbing pain forced an emergency evacuation by helicopter from the peak of Half Dome in Yosemite, Andrew learned a new medical term only six months into his “new life”. Metastatic cancer. What this meant for him was that not only had the cancer come back; it came back in more places than it had started.

And now, four months later, here he was.

Sitting in a limousine posing as the Vice President of the United States.

Waiting to die.

He reflexively winced through every intersection as the convoy of vehicles screamed through at high speed. At this hour there was almost no traffic, and every cross street provided ample opportunity for a high-speed side-impact collision.

This was taking way too damn long.

Andrew suddenly glanced up at the roof of the limousine. An overpowering desire to live washed over him. He knew why that first egg sounded so loud. Maybe he could reach it? Pull it off and throw it out into the street? There were other treatments he could try. He didn’t have to die right now, did he?

Andrew shook his head as his vision blurred slightly. He knew that this euphoric thinking was a direct result of the opiates in his system caused by the breakthrough pain medication.

Still, he had a lot to live for, didn’t he?

Of course he did.

That settled it.

Andrew leaned to his left and fingered the controls to roll down the back window. A strong wind immediately blew around inside the cabin of the limousine. They must’ve been traveling at least seventy miles an hour.

With the window rolled down all the way, Andrew sat with his back to the window and reached up behind him to grip the door frame where it met the roof. With a single motion he lifted himself up and out and sat down on the edge of the closed door. The wind threatened to pull him the rest of the way out of the limousine, and he splayed his legs on opposite sides of the door’s interior to create an anchor for himself.

The wind buffeted him fiercely.

He squinted against the harsh conditions and scanned the roof of the limousine for what he knew must be there. And then he saw it. The tiny magnetic transponder sat just this side of dead center on the roof.

If he could just reach it.

Clamping his legs to the frame of the car he pushed a little higher, to give himself a longer reach. Flashing lights from his right drew his attention away from the tiny device. He glanced over at the Chevy Suburban filled with Secret Service agents. They were frantically flashing their headlights at him.

What did they think that would achieve?

Did they think that he didn’t know what he was doing?

He returned his full attention back to the device that sat, mockingly, just out of his reach. Losing leverage but gaining more reach Andrew pushed up ever so slightly with his legs.

Just a little further.

He almost toppled out of the limousine when a motorcycle officer appeared on the opposite side right into his field of view. The loud roar of the wind rushing past at over seventy miles an hour made it almost impossible to hear the officer, but not quite. “Get back in the car!”

With his left arm splayed forward on the roof to provide additional stability Andrew made one final push and gripped the tiny object with his fingertips. A second motorcycle officer joined the first, and they took turns hollering questions and commands at him. Andrew tugged at the device. It resisted slightly before releasing its magnetic grip and came free into his fingers.

He had done it!

He waved the device in front of him showing it to the two motorcycle officers with a big smile on his face. “I got it!”

And then his face fell as he looked past the two motorcycle officers to see the blurred grill of an SUV heading straight for them at impossible speed.

As soon as the Audi Q7’s bumper made contact with the second motorcycle, the collision detectors triggered the shaped C-4 charges, which focused all of their explosive power directly at the limousine right in front of it.

It happened so quickly that Andrew never even felt the end of his life.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Steve. We wish you much success!

A: And thanks again for having me on today. I enjoyed this interview very much.

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Interview with Nzingha West, author of “Is My Kid Stupid?”

Nzingha West is a special education specialist working in New York City. As an instructor Nzingha’s expertise has been featured onRadio Disney, 106.7 Lite Fm in New York, News 12 Connecticut, NPR Radio and several parenting magazines. Before starting her education career Nzingha worked in several labs as chemist. Nzingha has honed her education expertise over 10 years in New York City schools and private companies. Nzingha has worked with several prestigous schools such as The Harlem Children’s Zone, University Settlement, The New York Foundling, The American Museum of Natural History and The City College of New York among others.

Nzingha is also the owner of Urbane Academics where she provides Special Education Advocacy, Educational Testing and Private and Small group instruction from her office. Because of her vast level of knowledge and expertise, Nzingha has worked with students in some of the most prestigious schools in New York such as the Brearley School, The Dalton School, The United Nations International School, The British International School as well as several public and parochial schools.

Nzingha firmly believes in the fair education of all students and their families no matter their economic status.

You can visit Nzingha West’s website at www.ismykidstupid.com or www.urbane-academics.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Nzingha. Can you tell us what your latest book, Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, is all about?

A: Thank you for having me. Is My Kid Stupid? Is basically an informational book that teaches parents how to navigate the education system and get the services needed for their child(ren) for free. It discusses how to advocate for your special/execptional needs child, how to assist during IEP and 504 meetings. It also discusses different therapies, how your child can earn 8 college credits for less than $100.00 and how to get free private school tuition and free in home tutoring.

It really is a good read for any parent in any stage of parenting. It’s not just for parents who have children with special needs.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Because my book is a non-fictional informational book, I didn’t use characters persay, what I did do, is use my past experiences with my students and their parents working as an instructor and advocate, and I used those people as the basis of the stories told and the scenarios used. I also used the questions that I was asked as an advocate to provide the information and letter templates found in the book.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My “characters” are all real people, I’ve neglected to use names, but the point has still been made in the scenarios and stories told. You have to be proactive.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: With my book, because it is a non-fiction book, I already knew what I would write about. I procrastinated a lot when writing it, but for the most part I knew what I wanted to say. I knew that I didn’t want to write another book that explained what learning disabilities are, and who/what/when/how they were caused. There is tons of information out there that explains that, what wasn’t available, in one place, is what to do after the diagnosis, what to say, who to speak to, what to write, what your rights are as a parent etc. It was important that my book express what is most important, what do you do after the diagnosis and how to get it done for free.

Q: Your book is set in Everywhere, USA. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: Ha! I love this question. I chose Everywhere, USA because I work with families from all of the states and a culmination of cities. This book doesn’t a regional story, it affects so many people in several different ways. I wanted to make sure that no one was alienated, that whoever read this book, whether your child has a learning disability or not found something helpful.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Not really, there really is no setting. The book is purely informational and super short. Perfect for today’s reader who wants to get right to the meat and potatoes of the book.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: On page 69 of my book Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, I am discussing how to choose extracurricular activities for your child if he/she has a learning disability. I am explaining several activities such as engineering classes, drumming and DJ classes; as well as how to choose which activity is best for your child.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: One of the excerpts I like the best is located on pages 36&37.
1. Waiting too long to act
Can you imagine a doctor (God forbid) coming to you and saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, little Johnny has cancer and we need to operate.” Would you wait around and see what happens, chock it up to little Johnny being lazy or punish little Johnny? No! You’d do whatever it took to fix little Johnny’s problem. Get my drift?

Obviously, cancer is life threatening and scary, and in no way is it equivalent to hiring a tutor. However, when your child has a problem, waiting for it to fix itself won’t happen. Think about all the other problems in your life that magically fix themselves with no assistance from anyone or anything… Have you found one yet?

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Nzingha. We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I was happy to do it.

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As The Pages Turn Chats with Vila Spider Hawk author of Hidden Passages

click on the book cover to purchase


Vila SpiderHawk and her husband share a log home of their design in the woods of Pennsylvania where they live with their five cats and enjoy frequent visits with their many woodland friends.  SpiderHawk, a retired teacher, is an avid gardener and a gourmet vegan cook.

About Hidden Passages

Brimming with hope and beautifully written, these eight stories of women helping women and girls through the challenges and transitions of life will surprise you with every turn of the page.

In Passages, a girl moves through a rites of passage into womanhood, both symbolic and literal, among her tribe of watching women, bonding with the other women as well as with the feminine in nature, bonding with the divine, and erasing boundaries between all.

Lavinia is something of a ghost story of women, where the reader wonders at times who is living and who is not.

Vila SpiderHawk is taking a different view on the aging of womankind. Hidden Passages is a collection of tales, some of which are interconnected, others which stand alone, all of which deal with women who are finding or already using the wisdom acquired from years of life experience.

These are women as women should be: unafraid of living, unafraid of expressing their femininity, unafraid of aging, unafraid of facing up to their own fears and weaknesses and transforming them into strengths, unafraid to confront those who would deny them their place, simply – unafraid. We should all wish to be such terrific crones.




Q: Thank you for this interview, Vila. Can you tell us what your latest book, Forest Song: Letting Go, is all about?

A: Thank you for having me.  Forest Song: Letting Go is the third book of the Forest Song series. In this episode Judy Baumann and her friends survive death-defying exploits along the Polish-German corridor during World War II, rescuing a family from Auschwitz and carrying out another rescue from the Warsaw ghetto.  In the process they overcome betrayal and loss with courage, cleverness and humor.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A:  Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones is my first book, though it is not a novel.  It is a collection of eight stories about women helping women and girls to overcome the challenges of life. 

          Forest Song: Letting Go is my third novel.  It’s different from Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones in several ways.  For one thing, it is a novel, not a book of stories.  In the Forest Song series, I have three books (thus far) in which to develop the characters and to describe the surroundings.  The writing in Hidden Passages is much denser, since I had much less space in which to describe the people, the action, and the surroundings.  I approached Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones more as I would poetry. 

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?


A:  It’s not the act of writing that is difficult for me.  It’s making time to sit down and write that I find challenging.  I have very little time to devote to it.  Therefore, my writing tends to proceed very slowly.  Mercifully, I have never experienced writer’s block. 

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A:  Actually, Forest Song: Letting Go is newly out.  It hasn’t even come out in paperback form yet.  Many of my readers have gladly embraced the Kindle version of it, especially now that they know they don’t have to own a Kindle device to read it.  They’ve been downloading the free Kindle for PC program Amazon offers and reading the book from their computer screens.  Others, however, are waiting for the paperback to come out.  Thus far, however, the reception has been very warm.  Those who have read it tell me it’s my best book yet.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?


A: I usually can’t sit down to write until eight or nine PM, and so I work until about one or two AM. 

I am a retired teacher, and so I approach my writing as I did my teaching: with a review of the previous work each night and, once I’m satisfied with that, moving on to the new material.  That seems to work well for me.  Then, once I’ve finished a chapter, I do the same thing.  I review the entire chapter, make whatever changes I feel need to be made, and then move on to the new chapter.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?


A: I brush my teeth and go to bed.

Q: What book changed your life?

A: A book of poems called The World Split Open.  This is an anthology of poems written by women from all over the world and from the very early days of literature to contemporary times.  It chronicles women’s struggles and triumphs, hopes, and disappointments in a variety of cultures and eras.  I don’t know if it’s still in print, but if it is, I highly recommend it.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?


A:  Sheer Pigheaded Stubbornness

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”


A: I am not Wonder Woman.

Thank you for this interview Vila.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Forest Song: Letting Go!


Thank you very much.  It was a true pleasure to do this interview.

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Interview with Author Monica Brinkman, “What goes around comes around.”

Monica M. Brinkman lived in the Philadelphia, PA area, relocated to the California Bay, where she resided for thirty years and now resides in the St. Louis, MO area, which was the inspiration of her newest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel.

She views herself as a citizen of all the States, finding that people throughout the country are warm, caring and most want the same things in life, to enjoy their passions, make a living and be surrounded by those they love. In her own words, “Life is truly an adventure. I believe in giving everyone the opportunity to go after their passions in life. To not do so, creates hostility, depression and emptiness.”

A free-lance author and poet, she embraces stories that have meaning and purpose. Though a bit of a rebel, when some authors told her that no one would ever read a story set in the Missouri Ozarks, nor would they wish to read a mixed genre, that was all it took. “How dare they insult the intelligence of our readers by placing them in a box”. Off she went, and wrote this exact type of story, set in the small rural college town of Raleigh, MO. It is a mixed genre of suspense, horror, spiritutality and a touch of the paranormal. Monica is working on the sequel, The Wheels Final Turn, set in the State of California.

You can find out more about Monica and her work athttp://monicabrinkmanbooks.webs.com/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Monica. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, is all about?

A: My book intentionally written using a mixture of genres has created quite a few discussions of the real conception. The reviewers seem to have their own idea of the meaning of the tale. The good news is this is exactly what I intended when creating the idea of the story.

The best description I can provide, without giving away the suspense, is this brief synopsis.

“What goes around comes around.”
Truer words were never spoken, as evidenced by the complex interactions and fates of the characters in “The Turn of The Karmic Wheel.”
When the residents of Raleigh begin to hear music and voices that aren’t “there”, and to receive frightening messages from no discernable source, it soon becomes apparent that changes must – and will – be made: to their everyday lives, to their relationships, to their bodies, and, most importantly, to their souls.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Would love to and thank you for asking. I’ll touch on a few as I have many characters within the tale.

• Angela Frank is the main character and driving force within the story. A beautiful young mother, wife, psychiatrist and reluctant psychic, embraces the goodness within people and the world. Ms. Frank lives her life assisting the mentally ill, performing charitable acts within her town and tending to her family, husband Monty Frank and two twin girls Alesha and Alexis. Lately, she has been unable to avoid or repress ‘voices’ and ‘visions’ occurring at an increasing rate. Thus begins her journey and participation in the karmic wheels turn.

• Euclid Hannigan, on the other side of middle age, speaks simply with an Ozark twang and is a firm God-fearing, compassionate man whose life has been in turmoil since the death of his wife Gina and the loss of his life-long job at the car factory. He soon finds himself perplexed by his inability to resist the force calling him to perform uncharacteristic acts.

• Karmen Shelton, in her early 50’s, is a loving, giving, caring nurse working in the local hospitals psychiatric ward. Her life is the definition of being charitable in both her work and outside activities. Unmarried, a bit overweight with short, tight, curly hair and what people call ‘coke bottle glasses,’ she yearns to find a man who will love her for her heart and not her outward appearance.

• Joshua Allen, tall, a mid thirties Financial Advisor with a model physique, black hair and piercing blue eyes is a woman’s picture of perfection. Females seem drawn to his animal magnetism until they realize he possesses qualities of self-absorption, greed, arrogance and pretentiousness.

• Rosie Richards, unmarried, 60 years of age, is a successful real estate agent with flame red hair, loud, overbearing, grossly overweight, and flamboyant in dress and appearance. Ms. Richards’s business practices place her own financial needs above those of her clients.

• Monty Frank, a Debt Eliminator in his late 20’s, pudgy around the mid-section, a marvelous husband and father is married to Angela Frank. From outward appearance, life within the Frank household seems idyllic, two young successful parents, blonde beautiful twin girls surrounded by deep love. Soon, Angela confronted with a taste of reality, must re-think her entire married life as Monty’s deep secrets are exposed.

There are a few small characters, whom we meet throughout the story as they get a taste of the karmic wheels turn.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: I must confess that I do both. Many times I will combine both the real person I have met and add to their personality from my imagination. The characters appear in dreams many times and seem to ‘call me’ to bring them to life. With the diversity of individuals we meet in life, I believe, if an author is honest, they will tell you that all characters hold some truth with people they have met in life. We take them and tweak them a bit.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: The plot comes first. It is the actual idea of the entire story. The fun is adding the characters and watching them come alive before your eyes. The bond of intimacy between an author and their characters is perhaps the most exciting aspect of being a writer. The feeling is much as giving birth. First, an idea appears and you mold it into becoming a real, breathing individual that you hope readers will embrace.

Q: Your book is set in Raleigh, Missouri. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: Allow me a bit of local history. When the town of Rolla, MO was being named, legend has it, that new settlers from North Carolina voted to name the town after their hometown of Raleigh but chose to spell the Missouri version phonetically. I chose to use the original spelling and intention of the towns’ name.

I set the book in this setting when some very pompous authors told me no one would wish to read a story set in the Missouri Ozarks or any small town. They went on to say, to be successful, you must set your story in a large city. It didn’t set well with me, as I believe they had no right to place readers in some ‘readers’ box’, telling them what they prefer to read. Many excellent stories have been set in small towns. To me, they were insulting the readers of the worlds’ intelligence.

The sequel, The Wheels Final Turn, will be set in California but reach the world.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Definitely. In this case, I drew on the diversity of the people living in Rolla, MO. They are not merely ‘simple country folks’ but a blend of many different dialects, beliefs, ethnicities, and walks of life. Yes, you will find the Ozark accent, but the majority of the people have no accent whatsoever, or only a touch of it.

Also, the fact that a small, rural, college town would hold the beginning to a major shift in peoples’ perception of being held accountable for their own actions in life, intrigued me. How ideal, a sleepy little town awakening a universal force that would change humankind. It would not have been the same story had I set it in metropolis.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Joshua Allen has awakened and is preparing his morning meal, reflecting on the strange occurrences from the previous evening. He contemplates visiting Joansie, his female counterpart. As he reaches for his cell phone, he is jolted by electricity and sent reeling across the room, shocked (literally) and dazed.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: This one is my favorite as it awakens peoples’ eyes to a rare, incurable, genetic disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB, for short.

I wanted to let the readers know, also, that every sale of my novel will create a donation to EBMRF, the only research foundation that uses 97% of their funding on actual research. They are starting to come up with promising research results. I can only hope and pray we will see significant results in the near future.

Miriam gazed at her daughter and saw pure beauty where others would see only the gauze bandages covering her thin, tiny arms, legs, feet and hands. Most people who saw her believed the lovely little girl was a burn victim. If only that were so, Miriam thought to herself. Yes, that she could live with, knowing her Tessa would get better and grow to a ripe old age. Often she wondered why such a disease as Epidermolysis bullosa, E.B. for short, existed. For what purpose were these children born into this world? Their reality was constant pain and misery. E.B. was a cruel trick of nature indeed. The doctors had explained that it had to do with genes that she and her late husband carried. Rather like Russian roulette. No one knew when, or if, a child would be born with E.B. There were no tests to find out if an adult had the gene, they’d told her—well, not until a child was born with E.B. Then the medical field was able to take DNA from the child and compare it against the parents’. Even then, she’d been told, the disease could simply be the result of a mutant gene that popped up out of nowhere. In truth, the doctors knew very little about this genetic disease and as much as admitted that each afflicted child was, more or less, a training tool for the medical field. The extent of the disease varied from mild to extreme cases.

Miriam knew that to the world, her daughter was a freak. Moreover, she knew that Tessa was growing weary of the long stares, rude questions, and out and out gawking whenever she went out in public. Miriam felt like telling Tessa to give ’em the finger the next time an adult stood next to her gawking openly. That would serve ’em right, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and it was better for Tessa to ignore them and not buy into their discourteousness. Miriam laughed to herself just thinking of Tessa lifting up that finger at some moron.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Monica. We wish you much success!

A: You are very welcome. I am humbled to provide a bit of information on my book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, my views and inspirations.

I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me about a story written to make people think and bring meaning to the world as it was conceived from the point of care and concern for our world.

Thank you!

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West Oversea: Interview with Lars Walker

We are honored to welcome Lars Walker here today at As the Pages Turn!

Lars is a native of Kenyon, Minnesota, and  lives in Minneapolis. He has worked as a crabmeat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a church secretary and an administrative assistant, and is presently librarian and bookstore manager for the schools of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in Plymouth, Minnesota.

He is the author of four previously published novels, and is the editor of the journal of the Georg Sverdrup Society. Walker says, “I never believed that God gave me whatever gifts I have in order to entertain fellow Christians. I want to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ.” His latest release is West Oversea: A Norse Saga of Mystery, Adventure and Faith.

Visit Lars online at www.larswalker.com/ and his blog at www.brandywinebooks.net/ .


Q: Thank you for this interview, Lars. Can you tell us what your latest book, West Oversea, is all about?

West Oversea is a historical fantasy, based on actual characters, which begins in Norway a little after 1000 A.D. Erling Skjalgsson, the hero, is the most powerful man in Norway until a question of honor forces him to give up his property and power. He sets out on a voyage to trade with Leif Eriksson in Greenland (he probably did actually know Leif). A storm at sea, plus supernatural forces, take them to unplanned destinations (such as America) and daunting adventures. 

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

My hero is Erling Skjalgsson, as I said. He’s a saga character with a lot of appeal to the modern reader, because we’re told he had a system for helping his slaves buy their freedom. My own reading of his story (and I know a Norwegian historian who agrees with me) is that he spent his life fighting for the traditional Norwegian democratic system against kings who wanted to institute a foreign-style, autocratic monarchy. The narrator is his Irish priest, Father Aillil, an entirely fictional character I enjoy writing very much. He’s my hobbit—the bridge character who helps the modern reader relate to Erling’s heroic ethic. There are also various saga characters, including Leif Eriksson, and a vicious, shape-changing enemy. 

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

Characters are an amalgam. I patterned Erling’s appearance on a friend of mine, who’s rather striking-looking. Otherwise he’s kind of my ideal of what a hero should be, largely based on a kid who once defended me on a playground when I was in first grade. Father Aillil is me, if I were braver and more fun. 

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? 

I collect ideas for a story until I feel I have the basic points of a narrative. Then I jump-start it, and see whether it goes where I plan or not. 

Q: Your book is set in Norway, Iceland, America, and Greenland.  Can you tell us why you chose these locations in particular? 

I wanted to deal with the whole sweep of the Norse exploration of the North Atlantic. The Norwegian historian I mentioned, Torgrim Titlestad of the University of Stavanger, suggested in one of his books that Erling might have taken a voyage to Greenland. I’d hit a point in Erling’s career (this is actually the second book in the Erling series) where the saga doesn’t tell us what he did for a while. I figured it was a good time to open the story out. 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

A voyage story is all about the journey. When we travel in real life, we travel to meet new people, among whom are ourselves. We travel to discover new places, among which are our homes.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Our characters are in Iceland. Snorri the Chieftain, a character familiar to Icelandic saga readers, is telling the story of his part in the conversion of Iceland to Christianity (according to historians, the only instance of such a conversion being accomplished by parliamentary action).

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?


We rode into the steading as shadows stretched across it. We dismounted outside the hall. We could hear voices inside, wailing like Rachel in Ramah. 

“They’ll be in there now,” said Kjartan. “Who’ll come in with me?” 

“Everyone looked at me. 

“I suppose I’d best have a look,” I said. 

Houses in Iceland are thick-walled, and the screaming I’d heard from outside was as silence to the calamity of shrieks that outraged my ears as I passed through the entry and into the hall. Judging by the sound, I looked to see swarms of spirits damned being savaged by spear-wielding Azazels. What I saw was at once commoner and stranger. 

The house was walled into two rooms, besides the entry. The first room we entered (the smaller of the two) was filled with the members of the household, those who yet lived. There were only a handful, and they looked as if they’d eaten little and slept not at all for days. 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Lars.  We wish you much success! 

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

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Interview with Carolyn Wofe, author of The Bedtime of the Sky

 Carolyn Wolfe is a free- lance writer and author of five books. In this, her fifth book, The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories, she has returned to her roots. Ms. Wolfe started writing children’s stories in verse in the early 80’s in order to have her nephew and nieces enjoy them. Now, she has compiled them into a short collection to be enjoyed by everyone! This book was specifically written for reading at Bedtime. From Dragons hiding in the sock drawer, to a Mom designing the universe, these stories are full of magical imagery and beautifully colored illustrations that are designed to delight any young heart! Happy reading! For more info please contact her website at www.whenthemoonspeaks.com.

 Q: Thank you for this interview, Carolyn. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories is all about?

 A: Thank you for the warm welcome! This book is an illustrated children’s book of five of my original stories in verse. It is illustrated by a wonderful artist, Leslie Mathis, who makes the stories come alive. As you can probably tell, it is written for the stories to be read at bedtime.

 Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

 A: This is actually my fifth book. I have one other children’s story, The Unhappy Little Dragon Lessons Learned and two books of poetry for a general readership, and also one collection of my short stories, also intended for a general audience. My first book was a collection of my poetry dating from my college years until 2001.

It was a daunting task. The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories was actually written for my nieces and nephews when they were young and I had re-organized them for my newest niece

who is just turning five this May. I decided as I was putting them together that I would love to create it as children’s book. So

I sent it off to my Illustrator and she drew the perfect images for it!

It was published about six months later!

 Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

 A: Well, this book was easy. I did re-write some of the verses

and Leslie Mathis Illustrated and formatted it, and we went back and forth a bit with that. She has a happy talent for reading my mind so I was very pleased with how it all turned out! I did not have writer’s block with this book but have experienced it with my other work. I read, I just start to read my favorite author’s books and do a lot of journaling. By reading and journaling I get back the imagination to write.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

 A: I am very lucky because I have a wide circle of friends with children and even grandchildren so the word has spread about my book. I am also a Substitute Teacher and have been asked to have my book in some of the local Elementary school libraries. I do not have any funny stories quite yet. I am looking forward to that though!

 Q: What is your daily writing routine?

 A: On my days off, I also work at a bookstore, I sit at my desk in the living room and pick up where I left off on any given project. I also edit other people’s work and love to free-lance, so it all depends on how far I have gotten on any particular piece I am working on, how long I will be on the computer. If it is my own work, I could be writing all day and into the evening.

 Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

 A: Well, I love to watch Sci Fi on TV, play with my animals, I have a menagerie, and on weekends I go out with my husband and sing Karaoke!

 Q: What book changed your life?

 A: The First one, after that I was simply addicted to the whole process and to enjoying storytelling. I also started to coordinate writing events and workshops. So it made a huge difference, getting that first book out!

 Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

 A: Magic Happens!

I truly believe that life is magical and I have been blessed with having one adventure after another. I love the journey.

 Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: That I love writing for children and hope they get a positive, upbeat message from all of my stories.

Thank you for this interview Carolyn I wish you much success on your latest release, The Bedtime of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories!

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