An interview with ‘One More Day’ author Jenny Keller Ford

Today, I am talking with Jenny Keller Ford. For anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time, her name will sound familiar, I’m sure. Last year, she launched a story in J. Taylor Publishing‘s anthology, Make Believe. At that time, she took over my blog and, for those who haven’t read it or have forgotten what she talked about, you can go back here and read (or re-read) it. She was also one of the first people I interviewed when I started blogging at the beginning of last year. You can find her interview here. Anyway, interviewing her this time was like chatting with a long-time friend. 🙂

J. Keller Ford

Hi, Jenny! I am so glad you’ve dropped by, again.
May I offer you a cup of coffee or tea? Black, cream, sugar?

Oooo, thank you.  I’d love some coffee please, with a little cream and sugar. 

How about a little banana bread or a homemade chocolate chip cookie?

Oh, chocolate chip cookies please.  From the glorious smell in the house, you must have just brought them out of the oven, didn’t you?  Mmmmm, nothing better than a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie.

Would you prefer to do the interview at the dining table or in the living room where the couch & chairs are a little softer?

If you don’t mind, I’d rather sit in the living room.  It’s much more informal and cozy don’t you think?

Definitely! 🙂
Now, let’s get down to business. A little bird told me you’ve written another story for J. Taylor Publishing for their anthology One More Day. Please tell us a little about your main character.

{Novel News} It’s time for One More Day by L.S. Murphy

Amanda Jenkins is a 17-year-old book nerd extraordinaire.  She’s also an acrophobic, meaning she’s absolutely terrified of heights.

I think I’m getting a sense of what the story might be about but have to ask, what is her predicament?

Amanda likes this guy, Dean McCall.  I would, too, if he really existed and I was her age.  So hot.  Anyway, she’s had a crush on him for years and she never thought he’d ever ask her out.  But on Grad Night at Granbury Park (the local theme park), Dean corners her by the popcorn stand and asks her to ride the tallest roller coaster in the park, Dragon Flight, with him.  Her insides tell her no, but it’s Dean McCall, right?  What else can she say but yes.  It doesn’t take her long to question that decision when her biggest fear happens.  Time halts, I mean, it literally freezes, with Dragon Flight stranded at the top of the first hill, 300 feet in the air and her in the front row.  As she is the only one who is not frozen in time, she has to figure out a way to get down from the beast and restart time.

As much as I love the thrill of a coaster ride, I, myself, am afraid of heights, so I would find that terrifying, too!
Did Amanda whisper in your ear about her problem or did the story line come to you first because of the publisher’s prompt?

I have to admit, I never really thought about this until I read the prompt. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t going to submit anything, but then this story came to me in a dream and I had one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments and had to go with it.  I tossed it off my teen son one morning before school and he gave me one of those ‘Yeah, okay, Mom’ looks, but I had to go for it.  At that point, I HAD to write the story as it wouldn’t leave me alone.

Ah, the muse that cannot be silenced. 🙂
Why did you decide on this particular setting for the story?

I love theme parks and I love roller coasters.  My biggest fear is getting stranded on one.  As I could relate to Amber Jenkins (because she is a lot like me), I thought the theme park idea would be perfect.  Also, what teen doesn’t like theme parks, especially on Grad Night?

I know you have a penchant for dragons, will we be seeing any in this story?

Only in name.  When I thought about what kind of coaster would freak me out, it would be one like Dragon Flight.  One that flies high and then dives low and twists and turns and corkscrews.  When the story came to me, I was a bit baffled that it didn’t have a dragon in it because almost all of my stories do, but then I realized the coaster WAS my dragon.  It was a feared beast that needed to be conquered, and Amanda Jenkins was just the perfect knight to save the day.

Back in 2000, our family visited Florida. One of the kids’ favourite ride was one called Dueling Dragons at Universal Studios. Is the coaster in your story based on one that really exists or is it your fantasy coaster?

Ohh, Dueling Dragons, now Dragon Challenge in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter, was one of my favorite coasters, but not the basis for my coaster.  Dragon Flight would be more like Millennium Force at Cedar Point, fused with Kumba and Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida:  tall, fast, twisting, with lots of corkscrews. 

Sounds like one I’d like to ride! 🙂
Okay, final question: What is the title of your story?

Dragon Flight

Of course! lol Well, I guess that’s it, for now. Good luck with your story. ‘Talk’ to you soon!

Thank you so much for inviting me in your home, Susan.  The coffee was perfect and the company even better.  Oh, and you should market those cookies.  Fantastic!

Thanks! 🙂
For those of you who want to learn a little more about this exciting new anthology from  J. Taylor Publishing, here’s the blurb about the premise for One More Day:

What if today never ends? 

What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens? 

Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying … that’s where you’d be … forever. 

Unless …

How do we restart time? 

How do we make everything go back to normal? 

The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today. 

Right now. 

What would you do if this happened … to you?

About Jenny:

J. Keller Ford is a quirky mother of four, grand-mother and scribbler of young adult fantasy tales. She has an insatiable appetite for magic, dragons, knights and faeries, and weaves at least one into every story she conceives. Her muse is a cranky old meadow gnome that follows her everywhere she goes and talks incessantly, feeding her ideas for stories 24/7.

When she’s not writing or blogging, the former Corporate Paralegal enjoys listening to smooth jazz, collecting seashells, swimming, bowling, riding roller coasters and reading. Jenny lives minutes from the beaches of the west coast of Florida with her husband of twenty years, her two sons and a pair of wacky cats and three silly dogs. The pets have trained her well.

If you hurry up and head over to Jenny’s website, you might still be able to take part in the J. Taylor Publishing Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt, which ends at midnight today. Good luck! 🙂


Sunday Interview – actually, more of a guest post

Christy Birmingham


Welcome, Everyone!

Many of you may know Christy, follow her blog, or remember my previous interview of her. Today, she will be taking over my blog to talk about poetry. I have, on occasion, written a poem or two, but only when divine inspiration strikes. Maybe you and I can learn how to be more poetically inspired after reading this post.

Please welcome Christy Birmingham from Poetic Parfait!


3 Ways to Get Inspiration for Writing Poetry

Ah yes, poetry. I love to write it. Do you? If so, you may find that while the craving is there, you sometimes run out of ideas for new poems. Here are three tips for how to get inspiration to write poetry.

Connect with Nature

This technique for gaining inspiration is my favorite one. Try heading outside to a trail, park or local gardening store. Take time to breathe in the fresh air of the trees, bushes and flowers. Take time to appreciate your natural surroundings.

I often smile as I head outside for a walk, whether it is a sunny day or not. I gain an appreciation for what the earth around me has to offer me. For free. Pay attention to your senses. Listen to the birds, smell the rose at your left side and notice the way the way the trimmed hedge curves.

Upon returning to your workspace, write about what invoked your senses. What caught your eye? Was there a cyclist that intrigued you? If so, perhaps he or she is the next subject of a poem. Well, what are you waiting for? Start typing!

Enjoy Break Time

An addition reason why the nature method works for inspiration is that it encourages you to take a break from your work area. You change up your surroundings, by heading outdoors rather than staying cooped up in the office. You need breaks, even from your favorite writing desk or the couch where you wrote that brilliant Haiku two weeks ago (note to self: write a Haiku later).

When you change your surroundings, your brain forces itself to understand your new environment. It could be your friend’s house, church or a short walk on the local trail. Mix up the routine for your brain and it will thank you. Your brain also has time to relax from the strain of trying to be creative! You return refreshed to your work area and find that you write that new Haiku quickly. Perhaps your mind and body simply needed a well-deserved rest.

The break need not be a long one as you likely have a busy schedule. Even 10 minutes works well. Breaks are beneficial. Now why do I suddenly want a Kit Kat bar?

Browse Online Networks

You likely belong to at least one social media network. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or another one of the many platforms available, it’s a potential source of inspiration for your poetry writing. Here, let’s investigate this method together. Log onto Facebook, for example, and look at your network feed. There, you will see photos, artwork, quotes and status updates that your friends have recently posted.

Those posts are gems for writers. Take that post that contains a quote and use it as a poetry prompt. Gain your inspiration from the words of Shakespeare, Keats or whoever happens to show up on your network feed that day.

Photos and artwork also make for terrific prompts. Enlarge the photo on your computer screen and free write onto paper as you look at the screen. Revise the free write or simply enjoy it, as is, for the burst of inspiration it contains!

The style of poetry that you write is not relevant here. What is crucial is getting your creative thoughts flowing. Whether you head out into nature, enjoy a break, or check in on your social networking buddies, I hope your inspiration flows and your words lap the poetic shores for many days to come.


Cover of Pathways to Illumination Book

Christy Birmingham is a poet, author and freelance writer in British Columbia, Canada. Her debut poetry collection Pathways to Illumination is available exclusively at Redmund Productions. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter too. If you haven’t been by her blog, yet, check it out here. She recently posted a review of Pathways to Illumination – 5-stars!

Congratulations, Christy, & thanks for sharing your poetic insight! 🙂

Sunday Interview – S. M. Beiko

Hello, everyone! I hope those in this fair city are hunkered down and weathering this summer storm! Man, the rain pelted down for quite some time, this morning, mixed with a bit of hail and those thunder-boomers are enough to make you want to jump out of your seat!

Anyway, I’d like to introduce Samantha Beiko author of The Lake and the Library. If you haven’t had a chance to read my review of it you can check it out here.

Samantha and I met at the C4 Lit Fest in April and the cover art of her novel enticed me to buy a copy. I know they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, the story was even better than the cover, if that’s possible! So, please say hello to Samantha Beiko. 🙂

Would you please begin by telling my readers a little bit about S. M. Beiko?

Well! I’m 4’10”, I’m a red head, and I love books! I mean, I know it’s difficult to tell, what with being an author, working in book publishing, and making the power of books a big part of my first novel . . . you’d never know, huh? 😉

The Lake and the Library

I am always intrigued by the things that inspire wonderful stories, so what sparked the idea for The Lake and the Library?

Someone asked me this once before, and the memory is pretty fuzzy now. I was in high school at the time, and I think I was wandering around a library in St. James, looking for old editions of Coleridge poetry. As I searched, my brain conjured an image of a teenaged boy appearing out of nowhere, doing magic tricks with books and vanishing around shelves. He walked into my head fully formed, grinning and silent. He had a story but he was going to make me chase him through the stacks to figure it out.

Wow! That’s wonderful!

Who created your book trailer? It gave me chills! Also, who designed the backdrop for your web page? It is fabulous!

The amazing Helen and Laura Marshall did my book trailer for me! They are sort of experts at it. They are two very good friends and former ChiZine co-workers, and they were so excited to work on my trailer. They got it together in less than a day, and I still sometimes sit and watch it over and over, not really believing that it’s mine. You can check it out here:

(Or watch it now) 🙂


As for the backdrop on my site, it’s a photograph of the library inside The House on the Rock, which is located in Spring Green, Wisconsin. It appeared, most notably, in American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and was represented as a gateway into the minds of the gods. You can learn more about this incredible piece of American architecture here:

What was the process you went through to get The Lake and the Library published?

First of all, I wrote a solid draft, something clean that I was proud to submit. I also made sure I had a solid cover/query letter to go along with it.

You have a new book that just came out, but this is one in which you were co-editor. Please tell us what Imaginarium 2013 is all about and how you came to be involved with it.

Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (ChiZine Publications), is an annual reprint anthology that ChiZine puts out each year. Authors submit their work that was published in the previous year (short fiction and poetry), and we collect it in Imaginarium. It was a lot of fun, being exposed to a lot of new Canadian writers in the genre, but it was a lot of reading! And out of some 400 submissions, you can only realistically take 20 or so, or else the book would just be thousands of pages long. We have an Honourable Mentions list, though, for those authors whose work we loved but didn’t include. I was asked to co-edit it by Sandra Kasturi, co-publisher at ChiZine, because I worked on and loved the first Imaginarium we did, and I was excited to help out with this year’s in any capacity. Co-editing was a new challenge for me, because, like I said, you can’t pick ‘em all, but it’s a great experience.

After being a judge for a writing contest, I know how tough it can be to choose ONLY the number of entries required! 🙂

Not only are you a writer and editor, you are also an illustrator. In addition to a natural talent, have you taken any formal training? How has this helped you in your career?

Nope, no formal training per se. With all of my digital artwork, I learned the Adobe Suite, and programs like it, by just playing around in them and making myself use them whenever I could. I think I started around age 12, and I’ve been using them ever since. A lot of my work in publishing has also forced me to crash-course learn certain programs, like Adobe InDesign for book layout purposes, which had a steep learning curve to be sure, but was the best thing for me. I use it all the time now, and I feel crippled without it! I looked into taking professional courses in graphic design, but found that I probably wasn’t going to learn anything that was new or innovative from what I already knew.

As for traditional art (drawing, painting, sculpting), again, I’ve been playing around with different mediums since I was a kid. I painted murals on my walls and filled paper after paper with drawings until I ran out of space. I did, however, start off in University in the Fine Arts stream, and my first year was filled with some amazing studio courses that I learned a lot from. Though I didn’t stay in Fine Arts, I do still use a lot of the principles of art and design that I learned there in my day-to-day work.

What a talented young lady you are! 🙂

Now for some fun questions: What is your favorite comfort food?

CAKE. Any kind of cake, but mostly Red Velvet from Baked Expectations. Or vegetarian poutine from Smoke’s Poutinerie, which is right next to my day-job. Oh woe betide me!

Oh, you poor thing! lol

What does your writing space look like? Are there any special items in it that inspire your writing?

My writing desk is my Baba’s old 1911 Treadle Sewing Machine cabinet, which I converted into a writing space. It still has the wrought iron pedal, in working condition, so while I’m working I pump away at it, imagining that there’s a like-pedal churning away inside my head. But my writing space is always in flux. Sometimes I’ll end up doing my best writing in the kitchen, in the coffee shop down the street, outside, on an airplane, etc. Anywhere that can allow me to focus and get into the zone is fair game.

Cool! My best friend’s Dad had MS and used an old treadle sewing machine to keep his legs strong. I love them!

Do you have any social media sites you’d like to share with us?

My Twitter is @SMBeiko, website is, and my Tumblr is Sensing a pattern?


Do you have any parting words?

If you have a dream you are reaching for, or a goal you’ve set, don’t stop moving towards it! Even if things get bumpy, just remember that the path to success or achievement is a squiggly line, not a straight one. And if you don’t know how to achieve your dreams, talk to the people who you admire, get a dialogue going and investigate. If you’re a writer, go to conferences, conventions, or readings, and ask questions. If you don’t know how to get started in writing, maybe read more of what you love. Always ask, always investigate, and always keep moving.

Good advice! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Samantha, and I wish you great success.

My dear followers, I hope you take the time to check out the backdrop for her web page and browse through all her tabs. Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, despite inclement weather! 🙂

Sunday Interview – Jodi Carmichael

Spaghetti has Arrived!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Jodi Carmichael, author of Spaghetti is NOT a finger food (and other life lessons). If you haven’t read my review of Spaghetti, yet, you can read it here. I’ve run into Jodi on many writing-related occasions and enjoyed every encounter. I hope you will enjoy meeting her, too. Please welcome Jodi Carmichael.

Hi, Jodi! Glad you could join us, today!

To begin, would you please introduce yourself and tell us what makes Jodi Carmichael tick?

I am a children’s writer, a mother of two wildly imaginative daughters, and a very part time school secretary. I am incredibly curious about people and what motivates them to do the things they do and act the way they do. I am constantly asking, “Why?” followed by wondering, “And what if this happened…”

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Pretty much. I knew in 7th grade I wanted to be a writer but was too scared of failure to follow my writing dreams. It took my mom enrolling me in an online writing course that got me hooked. That was 7 years ago and I’ve been writing since.

I love that you are an advocate for Asperger’s Syndrome and I really enjoyed your character, Connor. What prompted you to write his story?

Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons

When I wrote the first draft, Connor’s voice was very clear in my head. Once I finished it became obvious to me, that he was quite unique. I explored the possibility that he had ADHD, but it didn’t fit. I was somewhat knowledgeable of Asperger’s Syndrome, and that seemed a better fit. I then had two child psychologists review the manuscript to ensure his character traits were accurate.

How difficult was it to find a publisher and what was the process like for you?

I sent it to 6 publishers in Canada and the States prior to Little Pickle Press. One small Canadian publisher asked to read the entire manuscript after I queried with the first chapter, which was very exciting. Funny enough, I received their rejection long after I’d signed my contract with Little Pickle.

Glad it worked out so well for you! 🙂

What sorts of things have you done to promote Spaghetti?

I’ve done newspaper, TV, and Radio interviews, which were so much fun! Our local journalistic community embraced Spaghetti, which was thrilling. Early on, my publisher arranged a Twitter Spaghetti Party, which was a blast as well.

Spaghetti posters, taken at the C4 Literary Festival where we were both guests.

This past March, we ran a Spaghetti Potluck Dinner for Asperger Manitoba, which was really well attended. We expected 80 and served over 150 people. We were fortunate that DeLuca’s donated the pasta and Little Pickle Press donated book posters which we sold at the event, with all proceeds benefiting AMI. I tweet and facebook quite a lot, although as I get to the final revisions of my next book, that is falling off.

And, of course, the book launch at McNally Robinson, which is every Winnipeg author’s dream come true. We sold all but 5 copies of Spaghetti, which was totally awesome.

I do have one more promotional event coming up on Saturday, August 10th. I am reading 3 to 4 chapters of Spaghetti on MagicBlox Radio, which is an online radio show. You can follow along here:

That spaghetti party sounds awesome! Good luck with the radio interview, That sounds very exciting! 🙂

Do you only write stories for younger children or do you write for other age groups/genres?

I write the story that comes to me, regardless of age group or genre. I have a picture book that I am shopping around, a Young Adult story in revision and my next novel is an older middle grade.

Sounds like a typical writer to me! 🙂

Are you working on anything new at the moment that you would like to share with us?

Yes! My current work in progress is a Young Adult story about a 16 year old girl who is struggling with depression and a verbally abusive boyfriend. It is both funny and poignant and I absolutely adore the main character, Julia. She’s working hard to find the strength to become the young woman she’s meant to be.

Sounds like a great story! I can’t wait to read it! 🙂

And now for the fun stuff! What is your favourite comfort food?

Chocolate. Chewy caramel en-robed in chocolate. Strawberries dipped in chocolate. And cookies, as long as they are soft and as large as your face.

Please describe what your writing workspace looks like. Feel free to include a picture, if you like.

My writing space changes based on where I am. As I type this I am sitting at my dining room table at the cottage, staring out the screen door to sparkling Lake Winnipeg. In my big yellow house in Wildwood Park, I either sit at the dining room table among the kids’ homework or in my office/spare bed room upstairs next to Pink and Floyd, our gerbils.

I love the names of your gerbils! And writing at the cottage must be wonderful! 🙂

Do you have any rituals or objects that help you bring out your muse?

I sign off all internet. No facebook, twitter or email. I am VERY easily distracted, so I have to eliminate those distractions.

Yes, I know what a HUGE distraction the internet is! 🙂

Are there any social media sites you would like to share with my readers?



Twitter: @Jodi_Carmichael


Thanks for joining us, today, Jodi. Hope all my readers enjoyed our little chat. 🙂

Sunday Review – Jan Andrews

storytellers - cupids_brigus - 77

Good morning, dear Readers!

Today, I’d like to introduce to you, Jan Andrews, a well-known Canadian author who has penned many children’s books (Ella: An Elephant–Un ElephantVery Last First Time, Out of Everywhere, The Auction, Twelve Days of Summer, Stories at the Door, Rude Stories, When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew: Tales of Ti-Jean), as well as a Dear Canada story called Winter of Peril: Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge, and she has, most recently, published The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley. (If you haven’t read my review of it, yet, you can find it here). In addition to the written word, Jan is also a storyteller, sharing stories in the most original way much like our earliest ancestors did around a campfire. She is a fascinating, adventurous woman with a sense of humour, as you will see. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi, Jan! Thank-you for joining us today!

That’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

To begin, would you please tell my readers a little about yourself?

I was born in 1942 and came to Canada from the UK in 1963. I went first to Saskatoon and that was a major culture shock. Nonetheless, I knew I didn’t want to go back to Britain. I wanted to make Canada my home. I’ve done that – completely and utterly. 


Right now I live down the end of a road on a lake about 50 minutes drive from Ottawa. I’m stunned by the beauty of the place — all day and every day. I never take it for granted. The same goes for my partner, Jennifer Cayley. Coming home is always sweet, sweet, sweet.

I’m eternally too busy as the pair of us are prone to altogether too many “good ideas.” The latest is a small company called 2 Women Productions, dedicated to getting storytelling for adults more out there in the world. You can check it out at

A majority of my readers consist of writers who are looking for that big break. How difficult was it for you to get your first book published?

The first one just sort of happened. It was in 1972 and you have to remember there were very few Canadian children’s books being published back then. I had a story I sent to Tundra Books. Tundra was a very new publishing house and May Cutler was very much in charge. They had plans for a series of what they called “mini-books for mini-hands.” Material for three books had been collected and the search was on for a fourth. Ella, An Elephant–Un Elephant was it. It seems to me the paperback version sold for 69 cents and the hardcover for $1.95. 

I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had what you’d call “a big break” although Very Last First Time, which came out in 1985, really did make an impact and is now considered an on-going classic. Mostly though I simply keep chugging along. My books have been shortlisted for most of the big awards, including the GGs (Governor General Awards) but that’s never guaranteed acceptance for the next submission. I have a number of manuscripts sitting in my files for which I’d love to find a home.

One of the problems is that I’m a tremendously slow writer so there are often substantial gaps between one book and the next. I’ve also produced books for all ages so it’s hard to keep readers on the edge of their seats looking for the next book out.

silver birch_2

Accepting the Silver Birch Express Award, 2012

Success comes in such strange ways too. I was flabbergasted that When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew: Tales of Ti-Jean was even nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award in 2012. It never entered my head that a folktale collection could actually win!

Added to all this is the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the world of arts administration. Jennifer and I founded an arts education organization called MASC for having artists go into schools. This work led to the founding of a Young Authors and Illustrators Conference. Both MASC and the conference are still running although we’re no longer involved. I was the first president of Storytellers of Canada-Conteurs du Canada and ran its StorySave project for the recording of elder storytellers through the production of six CD sets. I produced a series of epic tellings every winter for thirteen years and this led to a number of complete tellings of such works as The Iliad and The Odyssey. I directed Ottawa Storytellers concert series at the Fourth Stage of the National Arts Centre – this for six years, also. It’s been fascinating and exciting but has, of course, taken up a considerable amount of my time.

I can imagine! 🙂

Once you’ve been past president of Storytellers of Canada you get inducted into the Loyal Order of Silly Old Persons (which I’m proud to say I instituted) - Jan

Once you’ve been past president of Storytellers of Canada you get inducted into the Loyal Order of Silly Old Persons (which I’m proud to say I instituted) – Jan

(Thanks for the giggle, Jan!)

How does the process of storytelling differ from writing?

Storytelling is much more fluid. With the traditional folktales I learn what’s happening in the story and tell out of its images. There are constant surprises, growing out of the interaction between teller and listeners. I don’t change the main events, of course, but the story does come out of my mouth somewhat differently each time. As a writer, I’m very precise. That’s why I’m so slow. The story seems to rise up out of the words. There are no really “rough drafts.” Tons will get altered/re-shaped/discarded but it still has to “feel right” with each go through.

That seems like a good way to work out any kinks in a story. 🙂

You’ve had several children’s books published. What was it like working with illustrators? Did the publisher assign them to you or did you get to choose your own? 

Mostly the publisher has chosen the illustrator, mostly I’ve had different illustrators for each new book. The thing you have to know is that it’s the illustrator’s job to take the words you’ve written and create the images out of their own response and vision; it is not the illustrator’s job to ask you what you want. You’re a team, each one of you doing what’s yours to do. Respect is crucial. Mostly picture books work through making the text as tight as possible. I sometimes make cuts when the illustrations are done because if something’s in the pictures it doesn’t need to be in the words. I’ve had wonderful illustrators. Their work has often revealed new levels of meaning and emotion to me. Each and every time the collaboration has led to the eventual production of a book that is far greater than the sum of its respective parts. 


Nice! 🙂

Now, on to your most recent work, The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley – what inspired you to write about a foster child who doesn’t speak?

Who knows exactly where what comes from? It’s often very much a mystery to me. I did have three teenage foster kids in my life when my own kids were teenagers. I learned a lot from them and did, I think, gain some insight into their ways and needs. One of the things I realized was that each of these young women had developed some technique which was utterly crucial to her own survival but would also prove a significant block if it couldn’t be let go of when the time came.

I really can’t remember when I decided that Kyle would be silent. I do remember being absolutely amazed when he started painting. I hadn’t expected that at all. I’m hugely admiring of him — of his resiliency and strength. I believe very strongly that we, all of us, have within us whatever it is we need to manage. I believe too we always have choices as to how we will respond and act. Those themes inform all of my work both as writer and storyteller. Whatever I’m producing, they’re always at the heart. I’m sure readers will be able to see the effect that has on Silent Summer.

I started writing the book in 2007 so you can see what I mean by slow. Inevitably, there were times when I thought I should quit but I was always so attached to this kid. There’s a scene in the book where his current foster parent speaks of all she likes about him. I love those things as well. And there’s so much more she doesn’t know about – how through thick and thin he’s stuck to a sense of how he should be in the world, he’s made a commitment. Always and always, Kyle called me back.

There is, of course, also the crow that sounds like a chicken. How delicious is that?

That part was wonderful and I truly believe it’s possible! I have a cat who sometimes ‘twitters’ like a bird! I think it’s a ploy to lure the birds closer. 🙂

What was the most challenging part of writing Kyle’s story?

Finding the voice. I knew everything had to come through Kyle’s perception. This had its own innate challenges – especially as Kyle doesn’t speak till almost the end of the book AND he has a couple of voices in his head as a kind of backdrop to events. One voice belongs to his father – the ultimate put-down creep; the other to a strange sort of personage who appears to him as “an imaginary figment” but who functions as supporter and guide.

I developed a kind of stream of consciousness approach but there was always something missing. Heavens be praised for Anita Daher, my outstanding Great Plains editor. She suggested I try first person present. The results were immediate. Everything was freer, more immediate and alive.

I love Anita! She certainly has a way of helping us dig deeper to make our stories the best they can be. 🙂

Was the publishing/editing process different this time, writing for Young Adults rather than children?

Editing is editing. It’s there to bring out the best in any given work. No matter the genre, the good editor is the one who asks the right questions; notes the weaknesses; celebrates the strengths; respects the author’s vision and abilities; is clear about what he/she thinks. I’ve worked with outstanding exponents of the art/profession and I’m hugely grateful for that. (I should mention that I’ve had great publishers too!)

Are there any media sites you’d like to share? my website recordings I make of traditional folktales. thoughts on literature and life

Having made the list, I should note that my website needs updating and contributions to both my written and audio blogs have been lagging of late. That’s because I’ve been wrestling with cancer and the resulting chemo. I was, in fact, in the middle to the huge re-write of Silent Summer occasioned by the change in voice when I got the diagnosis. Great Plains was wondrously supportive through this, relaxing all deadlines and letting me soldier on as best I could. I lost lots of energy but am recovering that nicely and am definitely planning to do what’s necessary to catch up on what needs doing in the media line. 

I was sorry to learn about your illness, but I’m so glad you’re feeling better. 🙂


Do you have any parting words or advice for my readers?

  • Being a writer isn’t easy. There’s a level of risk involved in everything you do. You have to live with that.
  • Know that the book you’re creating is way more important than you are. Do whatever it takes to make that book as good as it can be.
  • Have a certain amount of faith in yourself, the universe, the world around you but not so much it makes you self-satisfied.

Great words of wisdom, Jan – and speaking of risk, look at you rock climbing! I am very impressed! 🙂

Thanks you so much for joining us, today, Jan. It’s been such a pleasure. 🙂

Thanks to readers everywhere. As you can see above, I’m on Goodreads and would love to know what you think about Silent Summer or any of my other books.

I hope my followers will check out your books and give you glowing reviews! 🙂

Sunday Interview – Kourtney Heintz

This week, I’d like to introduce to you one determined young lady. She’s been all over the web with a blog tour to promote her first book, so I’m glad she had time to squeeze us into her busy schedule. Kourtney responded to my call for interviewees a few months ago and while I was looking into her story and checking out some of the other blogs she’s been on, I was fascinated by her story. She has come up with some of the most interesting characters and unique plot line that I’m sure you will be as intrigued as me.


Have you ever thought it would be fun to read people’s minds? Kourtney explores this in her story The Six Train to Wisconsin. As it turns out, telepathy isn’t all fun and games! Please give Kourtney a great, big HELLO! 🙂

Hi, Kourtney! Welcome to my blog!

Hi Susan! Thanks for having me here as a guest!

Writers can be divided into several categories: pantsers, plotters and those who do a little of both. What do you consider yourself to be and why?

Great question! I actually devoted an entire guest post to it. I’m a plantser and you can find out why at:

‘Plantser’ – I love that term! 🙂

Writers often have favourite times at which they write. What does your writing schedule look like?

To start my day, I check email, Facebook, my blog comments, and Twitter. I have a to-do list next to my laptop (I write it at midnight the night before) and that pretty much lays out my day. Except for the email or phone call that might change the course of things.

When I’m drafting, it’s 1000 words a day for 5 days a week. There is no set time of day that I prefer to draft at. Can be afternoon or evening. When I’m revising, it’s a certain number of chapters or pages to be worked on. When I’m promoting, it’s contacting venues, responding to requests for information, and social media.

I work until most of the list is completed, exhaustion sets in, or it’s bedtime. Most days are 8-10 hours of work. Around the book launch, they went a lot longer.

That’s a longer work schedule than most people with ‘day jobs’! 

Beta readers, critique partners, writing groups and feedback from rejection letters all give writers insight into how to improve their writing. What have you most relied on to help you perfect your own writing?

I think it’s important to try them all. It’s the only way you can learn what works best for you. I’ve received feedback from all these methods with my YA manuscript. That’s where I tried everything out.

As for what I relied on most, it’s differed for each manuscript. For Six Train, it was feedback from rejection letters, charity auctions, and beta readers that really shaped the novel. For my YA novel, it was my critique partner, Kat Bender, and agent rejection letters.

What is some advice you could give other authors who want to self-publish or take the indie route? 

Make sure you are ready to make the time and monetary commitment.

You have to be your own publishing house, your own marketing team, and your own assistant. You have to manage the entire publication process from editing to layout to cover design. Even if you hire freelancers, you are the final check on everything. You have to create a marketing plan. You have to set up signings and blog tour events. It’s all on your shoulders.


You definitely have to have confidence in your work and determination, in order to make it all work!

Since I’ve been married, I’ve had an aversion to romance novels, but your story, The Six Train to Wisconsin has really intrigued me. What makes its romance different than most other romances out there?

I wrote this story for women who don’t like traditional romances. They want a love story that fits their lifestyle. They don’t believe in happily ever after. They do believe in the peaks and valleys that come with any relationship. And they like reading about the journey of love and don’t think of it as a destination. 

Your stories seem to be mostly character-driven. I think that’s why I really like speculative fiction. Please tell us how you develop your characters? Are they based on people you know?

I take the emotions or situations I’ve experienced and filter them into my fiction. My characters are completely fictional. I might steal some aspects from my real life, but they get blended together to form each character. I once had a boss who talked in percentages. I thought that was the perfect quirk for Oliver and incorporated that into his character.

I develop my characters over time. I do something I call storystorming to bring them to life before I start writing. Then I deepen them as I go.

Your description of how you ‘storystorm’ was fascinating. I find a do a version of this, but not always in the beginning. (Click on the red highlighted word above to read all about how Kourtney ‘storystorms’) Thanks for sharing that bit of insight, Kourtney! 🙂

Varying points of view in a story can be complicated. I have one on the back burner that I’m still struggling with in this regard. How did you solve the problem of your two characters’ perspectives in The Six Train To Wisconsin? 

I actually intended to write the whole story from the husband’s perspective. Then the story took a turn that required the wife’s POV half way through. Then another turn where it alternated POV to the end. That was my original version.

Agents told me it was unsellable and I had to alternate the POV from the start. So I went back and did massive revisions. By that time, I’d already spent a couple years with the story and I knew my characters so well, it was a challenge but one I was up to.

I’m not sure how people start out alternating point of view from the get-go. It’s hard enough to develop one voice at a time, let alone two simultaneously.

It sure is! Glad you managed to work out the kinks. 🙂

One last question, please tell us about your ‘warrior lapdog, Emerson’. I’m sure the dog-lovers out there would love to ‘meet’ him. 🙂


Emerson is my bubby–my baby boy and my puppy. He’s half Shih-tzu, half Lhasa Apso, and looks like an Ewok. The Shih-tzu in him is the lapdog that lays in my lap for hours while I type. The Lhasa Apso is the guard dog who sleeps facing my door to protect me. His cuddling got me over many rejections.

He’s adorable! I love Ewoks! 🙂

Where in cyberspace can my readers connect with you? 

They can find me here:



Facebook Page:


Thanks for dropping by and talking to us, today, Kourtney. Best of luck with the rest of your blog tour and book sales. Oh, and congratulations on being a semifinalist for Amazon’s 2012 Breakthrough Novel Award! 🙂

I hope you, my readers, will check out the blog posts Kourtney mentioned above, as well as the social media sites so you can keep apprised of her successes – and definitely check out her book! 🙂

 Six Train to Wisconsin – book blurb:

Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything. 

There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened. 

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

Kourtney’s Bio on Amazon:

Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working in financial services provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

Buy Links:

Paperback available from:


Barnes and Noble 

Ebook available from:


Barnes and Noble





Sunday Interview – Belle Jarniewski

Today’s guest is a wonderful woman I have known since Junior High. I am very proud to call Belle my friend. Although she is an extremely busy woman, she was gracious enough to spend some time with us talking about a cause near and dear to her heart. Along with her work with the Manitoba Holocaust Heritage Project and the Freeman Family Holocaust Education Centre of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, she compiled and edited documents and personal histories in a book called Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors (under her married name of Millo) If you didn’t see Friday’s Review, you can check it out here). Without further ado, please welcome her to my blog.

Belle Jarniewski

Hi, Belle! I am so glad you found the time to talk to us, today. To begin with, since my readers don’t know you as well as I do, would you please tell them a little about yourself?

Well… I was born and raised in Winnipeg, the child of two Holocaust survivors. That in particular was the reason I became involved in all of this. My own parents both lived through such tremendous tragedy and trauma and yet had the courage to start life anew. Both of their stories are in the book. My father was the only survivor of his entire family, including his first wife and child – whom he never saw, as his wife was pregnant when he was mobilized into the Polish Army. All were murdered by the Nazis. My mother was a survivor of Auschwitz. When I was growing up, people didn’t really talk about this. For one thing, growing up in River Heights, I didn’t know any other kids whose parents were survivors – for whom this reality was their family history. The survivors themselves didn’t really begin to speak publicly in large part until the 1980s. By then, my mother had already passed away. My father died in 1983. However, they had both spoken about their experiences ever since I could remember. My father wrote his wartime memoirs in 1946. I felt that somehow I owed them a debt for having been brave enough to have had children after having actually witnessed children murdered in front of their eyes.

I attended Ramah Hebrew School for elementary school, then JB Mitchell, Grant Park and Vincent Massey. I have a B. Ed and a Cert. Traduction. I have taught French and been a translator from English to French. Since I became involved in the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, and took over as Chair in 2009, that has pretty much taken over most of my time and I have not been working as a translator, anymore. We have been involved in some fascinating programmes, that I will mention further, below. I have just been accepted as a candidate in the Master’s programme at the University of Winnipeg in the MA Theology. I’m very excited to go back to school – part time, of course!

I don’t know how you’ll find the time, but good luck with your courses! 🙂

When and how did you first get involved in the Manitoba Holocaust Heritage Program?

Originally, I was asked to transcribe some questionnaires. You see, the MHHP was a project that began about 20 years ago. Questionnaires were sent out to survivors or their descendants to fill out. Now, the project was originally to be a data base for researchers. For some reason, nothing was done with these questionnaires and photos (which some of the respondents had sent in) and they just sat around collecting dust. That’s when I joined the committee. The DVD also then sat around. So…

They decided to create a book like Voices? 🙂

One day, one of the survivors said to me – “The DVD is sitting around. Nothing has been done.”  He also indicated that he had participated in Steven Spielberg’s Shoah project but felt that not enough people could see these tapes. Even his own family watched it once and that was it. The tapes – there are several thousand of them – are a very important video recording of survivors’ stories. However, he was right – they are expensive to acquire – so students, for instance, would not have access to them. He asked me, “What if you took those questionnaires and turned them into a book?” Without really thinking it through, I said yes.

That was quite the undertaking! How long did it take to acquire the information and compile it all?

From that moment on, it took about two years. The first thing I did was send out a letter to about 150 people – all the people who had originally completed the questionnaires as well as others in the community of whom we knew were survivors. We published ads as well, indicating that I was going to write this book. I wanted everyone to have a chance at giving me their complete story as opposed to just the questionnaire. There were some who had already, sadly, passed away and so, if I couldn’t find someone in their family to help me, then I included the questionnaire only. In the end, I had 73 stories – some of which had never been told to anyone before – even family members. There were also wonderful photographs, which truly portrayed a world lost. I really worked night and day on this for two years. It consumed my life. Many times, I was working with people who were dealing with a story that was several decades old. They needed to remember dates, places, etc. so I often had to do a lot of research – with databases, or even calling the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem in Israel for help. I also hoped from the beginning, to get the book into Manitoba schools. Therefore, I made sure to add footnotes that would explain historical and Judaic terms.

When it was launched, there was extensive media coverage and you were right in the middle of it. What was it like to present this tome to the world?

It was an extraordinary experience. It is really only as time goes by, as well, that I am realizing that I was lucky enough to have had the honour to have completed this project. When I receive letters from as far away as Poland and Holland, it’s truly gratifying. When I hear the book mentioned at the funeral of one of the people of whom I wrote – that means so much to me. The book was placed in each and every high school in Manitoba. That means that students will have access to all these very important stories which took place all across Eastern and Western Europe. The stories are all so different – some of the survivors were in concentration camps, others were hidden, others still were partisans. Many of the survivors in question were the same age as the students. In fact, some of our survivors were among the 1000 orphans that Canada accepted after the end of the war. They were all teenagers. I can only imagine how this must affect a student when he or she is reading it and imagining the same experience.

I know there are more holocaust survivors in Winnipeg than the over 70 individuals & families represented in this book. Have more people come forward to talk about their experiences since the book came out? If so, will there be a second volume to include them, too?

There are some who have come to me to say that they would have liked their or their parents’ stories in the book but for some reason didn’t know about the project. We will have to see about adding stories if we go for a second printing.

What have you done in this field since the book came out?

What our organization does on an ongoing basis is to bring students to our Centre (The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre at the Asper Campus) to hear firsthand presentations from survivors. These presentations are absolutely free of charge. We also hold a symposium once a year at the University of Winnipeg for grades 9-12 where we welcome up to 2000 students from all over Manitoba. We have a guest speaker in the morning and different programmes each year in the afternoon. Often, the morning speaker is a survivor from outside of Winnipeg who is used to speaking to large groups. However this year, we brought in Father Patrick Desbois from Paris, France who together with his organization Yahad-In Unum, has been identifying the locations of mass graves of Jews and Roma in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union since 2004. He is able to do this by interviewing the remaining witnesses. He was a tremendously powerful speaker. This year, we recorded the symposium and uploaded it onto Youtube at

And part two at

The following day, both Father Desbois and Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire spoke to the greater community on the subject of indifference. That was an incredible experience! 

Last year, together with the Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy of the Global College, UW, we brought in an exhibit from Dachau called Names Instead of Numbers which told the individual stories of inmates of Dachau concentration camp. The exhibit took place at Westminster United Church. It was a wonderful interfaith project. Docents from both communities participated. My father, incidentally, was liberated from Dachau at the end of the war.

If someone wanted to learn more about the Holocaust and its survivors, what are some resources you would recommend?

If you go to our website at and go to the Symposium Guide – there is an extensive suggested list of books and videos that I have compiled – as well as great information for any educators out there.

Are there any media sites you would like to share?

Same as above – but especially the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site:
And Yad Vashem’s site:

Do you have anything else to say before we say goodbye?

The Shoah is a narrative of individual human stories and it must become part of our entire human narrative. The tragedy of the Shoah must become a narrative belonging to all of humanity. For if not, we take the terrible risk that one day far off into the future when the survivors, the second generation and even the third generation are gone, the Shoah will become but an anomaly of history. We cannot allow that to happen. The Shoah most tragically is a human story. If we don’t hear that it IS a human story, then we will not have learned.

Thanks, Belle, for doing this. BTW, how have book sales been, so far?

Terrific! We printed 1600 books and have about 300 copies left!

That’s wonderful! For anyone who is interested in purchasing Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors, it can be found at McNally Robinson Booksellers,, or in person at the Jewish Heritage Centre (143 Doncaster Street, Winnipeg, open Mon. – Thurs. between 9:00-4:00) All proceeds from the purchase of the book go towards Holocaust Education.   

I would also like to encourage you to check out the Youtube videos of this year’s symposium that Belle mentioned above. Although both parts are fairly long, the stories Father Patrick Desbois has to tell about his research is definitely worth the time and you’ll get to hear Belle’s introduction, too. 🙂

Sunday Interview – Colleen Nelson

Happy Sunday, Everyone! I’d like you all to welcome, again, the lovely and talented Colleen Nelson. She is a YA author and fellow Great Plains writer, among other things. You may recall my review of her first novel, Tori By Design and previous interview with her, as well as my review of her latest novel, The Fall.


Hi, Colleen! Would you like to begin by telling my readers a little bit about yourself?

Of course! I live in Winnipeg and have two boys, ages 6 and 8, and three grown step-children. I was a teacher for about ten years before I had my kids and now I teach preschool, do a lot of volunteer work and write, write, write!

We know you now have two young adult novels published. Please describe what it was like to get them each out in print.

Tori by Design was a long, labour-intensive project because it was my first novel. I was lucky to have an amazing editor, Ms. Anita Daher, to coach me through the process.  I started writing The Fall soon after I found out Tori was going to be published, because I knew I wanted to write a book my sons would read one day (Tori is a bit girly!).

I learned so much from the writing and editing process with my first book, that writing The Fall was much faster. I still learned a lot working with Anita, but it wasn’t as grueling as with Tori. I equate an editor to a diamond cutter, bringing out the best and chipping off what detracts from the book. Anita is a master diamond cutter!


How did the process differ between each project? How were they the same?

With Tori, I sort of stumbled along, losing my way a few times and doing massive re-writes. With The Fall, I wrote with intention. I knew the story I wanted to tell and who the characters were, which is why I was able to write it in about a year (Tori took four years). One of the main things Anita taught me when I was editing my first book, was that there has to be an emotional connection between the reader and the main character. I was conscious of creating that in The Fall from the beginning.

As for similarities in the process, working with the same team at Great Plains was a bonus. I had another wonderful launch at McNally Robinson and the staff was as supportive as always.


The Fall is a very different book than Tori By Design. What sparked the idea for it?

Writing for boys required a different point of view than with Tori. Luckily, Ben, one of the main characters’ voices, came to me right away. He was a skater and had a best friend, Tessa. (Her voice also came to me clearly. In fact, she’s my favourite character.) But, of course, something has to happen to Ben, which is when I dug into my past experiences as a teacher.

When I was teaching junior high, a boy died suddenly. Watching how the other students dealt with his death was heart breaking. I say in my Author’s Note that ‘Grieving is difficult at any age, but being an adolescent complicates the situation’. I wanted to convey the confusing emotions that come along with grief and how each person handles them differently.

I thought you did a marvelous job portraying each of them – and that’s coming from a mom who had to watch her daughter & her friends go through a similar tragedy. 🙂

I found the POVs for The Fall to be presented a little differently, with Ben being in first person and the other two boys in third person. What was your reasoning for this? (not a criticism, just curious)

No criticism taken! At first, I wrote all three in first person. Ben was the main character and the other two characters didn’t speak until after the accident. As I was re-reading, I didn’t think Cory and Taz’ voices were different enough, so I switched them to third person to see if it worked better.

It was during the editing process that Anita suggested I make all three characters equal. I’d already come to know Cory and Taz as being in third person, so I kept their sections in that narrative.

Besides the obvious research into the sport of skateboarding, what other research did you need to do?

Surprisingly, I don’t know a lot about gang initiations, so that required some research. I also read some books, most notably ‘Raising Cain’ to get deeper into the adolescent male psyche. Boys don’t communicate or relate to others the same way girls do. I feel that society stifles their emotionality. I wanted the characters in The Fall  to present an honest portrayal of how males grieve.

But, as a writer, every day is research. I am always paying attention to how things look, smell, taste, what sounds I hear, anything that will add depth to my writing. Just driving through a new neighborhood provides research. I never know what will appear from my subconscious as I write!

Now for some fun questions . . .

Do you prefer chocolate or ice cream?


What is your writing workspace like? (I’m in the process of redesigning mine and could use some pointers!) Feel free to attach pictures, if you like!

Lately, I’ve been relocating to the dining room table. I usually have papers, notes, calendars and coffee cups strewn around me. I’m a messy writer!

Me, too! That’s why I need a space with a door I can close when company comes over! lol

Do you have any rituals or items that help your muse speak to you as you sit down to write?

I read out loud a lot, to make sure the voice of the character is authentic, but that’s it.

Are there social media sites you’d like to share with us? (Facebook, twitter, blog, website, etc)

I have a website at, a blog at and am on facebook , Colleennelson.547 and twitter @colleennelson14. Phew. That’s a lot of places to find me!

Are there any final words before we say goodbye?

Thank you so much for the opportunity to tell you about my writing. This book, The Fall, means a lot to me and I’m excited for people to read it!

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Colleen! 🙂

A Father’s Day Interview for YOU!

Okay, so it’s more of a quiz for you. Since today is Father’s Day, I want to interview YOU regarding this special occasion. I have devised some questions for fathers as well as their children. I’ll leave it open to whoever would like to answer them in the comments section. Hope you all decide to play along. 🙂

Swimming with Dad

Swimming with Dad

Addressed to the Fathers:

1. How did you feel about the birth of your first child?

2. For those who have more than one child, how did the second (third, fourth, etc) birth compare with the first?

3. What is your favourite part about being a dad?

4. What part about being a dad has been the most difficult?

5. What is the best piece of advice you could give your children?

My most memorable moment with my Dad as a grown-up

My most memorable moment with my Dad
as a grown-up


Okay, kids (even if you’re grown-ups), here are your questions:

1. What is your most memorable childhood moment you’ve had with your dad?

2. What is the best time you’ve had with your dad since you became an adult?

3. If you’re like me and your father is no longer among the living, what is the one thing you wish you’d said to him before he passed?

4. What is the worst present you think you ever gave your dad for Father’s Day?

5. What is the best present you gave him?

And now, a question for anyone to answer:

What will you be doing to celebrate this Father’s Day?

Whatever it is, I hope you all have a fantastic day! 🙂

Sunday Interview – Steve Wiegenstein


Happy Sunday, Everyone! Today, I have another interview with Steve Wiegenstein. You may remember the last time we spoke, but if you are a recent follower or would like to read it again to refresh your memory, you can find it here (July 22, 2012). Before we begin, if you’d like to read an excerpt from his first book, Slant of Light, to familiarize yourself with the story,  you can find it here.

Hi, Steve! Thanks for joining me again! Before we talk about your sequel, please tell us how Slant of Light has been received. Of all the reviews you’ve received, which one is your favorite?

The reviews have been so gratifying! Not a negative one in the bunch, and only a couple that I would even describe as lukewarm. I have two favorites. One was from Sarah Johnson, whose work with the Historical Novel Society is something I admire greatly. She’s the book review editor for Historical Novels Review and maintains her own blog, Reading the Past. She wrote, “A thoroughly American story with more than regional appeal, Slant of Light is intellectually involving from the outset, and its flawed characters have a way of latching onto readers’ emotions.” I loved that description. My other favorite was from a historian, Stephen Rockenbach, who reviewed it in Nola Diaspora. He praised the book’s “flawless research and relentless attention to detail.” And coming from a historian, that’s high praise! Here are links to those reviews:

That’s high praise indeed! Congratulations! 🙂

Slant of Light

How has life changed for you since Slant of Light was published?

Well, I’ve been going to a lot more fairs and festivals! I believe in this book so much that I spend lots of weekends doing speaking appearances and promotional gigs of one sort or another. Thank goodness, my wife has been a trouper and accompanied me on most of them. 

What was your most thrilling moment since having Slant of Light published?

Two moments come to mind. First is the launch event, when we completely packed Subterranean Books in St. Louis and sold the place out. The clerks had to take names and promise to send people books as soon as they got in a new shipment! The second was when I came home one day and found a letter telling me that the book had come in second for the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction.

Fantastic! 🙂

I noticed a new section on your website –For Teachers’. Please tell us about it.

Some university instructors have started using the book in their English classes and I’ve had comments from secondary school teachers that they’d like to add it as an option to their students’ reading lists. So I asked a friend to create a teachers’ guide to the novel, and she did a marvelous job! It’s freely available for teachers to use in their lesson planning.

I’m glad they are studying it in the schools. 🙂

Do you know, yet, when the sequel to Slant of Light will be coming out in print?

I’m hoping for a fall release. The manuscript is at the publisher’s, now, and I’m waiting to hear if there are any changes requested. I’m eager for people to get their hands on it.

Would you like to tell us a little about it?

The working title is This Old World, from a hymn of the same name. Slant of Light ended with the dispersal of the men of the community with the outbreak of the American Civil War. This Old World begins with the end of that war and the return of the surviving men. In the interim, the women have been running the community for four years, so some tension will be evident. And in actuality, all of American society changed during that period. Pre-war beliefs and attitudes vanished forever, and everyone had to face a new reality of life in a society that was more mechanized, more impersonal, and in many ways harsher. This Old World explores those themes. A lot of readers’ favorite characters are back, but there’s a whole new crew as well.

I love anything historical. This sounds wonderful! 🙂

Are there any links you’d like to share?

You bet! 
My publisher’s website:
My own website:
Links to some reviews and a radio interview:
I really enjoyed hearing your radio interview, Steve. I hope my readers pop over to give it a listen, too!
Thanks for joining us, today, and best of luck with This Old World. I hope we’ll hear from you again when it comes out in the fall. 🙂
* * * * *
Book blurb for A Slant of Light:
Set during the brink of the Civil War, this beautifully written novel traces James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer; Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride; and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist as they are drawn together in a social experiment deep in the Missouri Ozarks. Inspired by utopian dreams of building a new society, Turner is given a tract of land to found the community of Daybreak: but not everyone involved in the project is a willing partner, and being the leader of a remote farming community isn’t the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature quickly to deal with the challenges of building the community while facing her husband’s betrayals and her growing attraction to Cabot. In turn, Cabot struggles to reconcile his need to leave Daybreak and join the fight against slavery with his desire to stay near the woman he loves. As the war draws ever closer, the utopians try to remain neutral and friendly to all but soon find neutrality is not an option. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand—both in their political and personal lives.
Steve Wiegenstein holds a PhD in English from the University of Missouri and has taught at Centenary College of Louisiana, Culver-Stockton College, Drury University, and Western Kentucky University. He is currently the associate dean for graduate students at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri, and is a board member of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.