Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interview with Author Connie Spittler

Interview with Connie Spittler. Nebraska Author

Connie is an extremely accomplished author, presenter, and friend of nature. Along with her husband Bob, a talented photographer, they have captured stories from the beauty of their environment. I think of how often I have complained about a weed, forgetting the beautiful plant standing tall beside it. Connie and Bob capture the beauty of the earth as it touches their lives. They involve their children who have grown to become professionals in their own fields and remember the training from growing up with parents who taught them to love their world.

The Spittler’s books THE DESERT ETERNAL and THE LEGEND OF BROOK HOLLOW reveal their exciting and picturesque world. I feel privileged that Connie and Bob generously shared them with me.

The other gift to me was an anthology called The Story Teller: A Publication of The Society of Southwestern Authors. Connie's award-winning story, A Universal Language, featured in the publication tells how music and surroundings can communicate with not only other humans, but with a beloved pet.

Husband Bob, a phenomenal photographer, captures near impossible pictures of a quality I have seen in National Geographic magazine. Pictorial artist that he is, he prefers to let Connie be the spokesperson.

Note to Connie: Before I start your interview, I must express judgment about you personally. You are a romantic. You do not hide it, but let it free through all of your poetic prose and memoirs. Reading your books has been a personal pleasure, and I got them free. It is great to do interviews.


Q. Connie, as I read some of the stories from THE DESERT ETERNAL, it was difficult to make out whether Bob took photographs to fit the story, or if you wrote the story about Bob’s photographs. It did not take long for me to realize the two of you are so simpatico, both story and photograph meld as you write and he shoots.
Would you say that is an accurate assessment?

A. There’s a story about which came first the writing or the photos. When Bob and I moved from Omaha to Tucson, AZ, we left our film/AV business behind. In our production company, Bob was videographer/cinematographer and editor. I wrote, produced, and put together the editing drafts. We both did post production (directed announcers, picked music, did sound mixes, supervised cuts, fades, dissolves down to a hundredth of a second at a postproduction house). We worked together on projects through the years, ever since communication classes at Creighton U. After the AZ move, without business demands, we grabbed the opportunity to follow our own creative inclinations. Bob changed from moving to still photographs. I wrote, not for clients, but on subjects I chose. In a new and fascinating location, we happily danced down our own Southwestern paths. A few years later, after a lumpectomy for breast cancer, I lay in bed, groggy on appropriate meds, looking at the cactus and mountains out the bedroom window. A random thought scrolled by. Yes, Bob and I were “doing our own thing,” but actually, we were doing the same thing in individual ways. Once on my feet, I printed copies of my nature essays. Each morning, during the seven-week course of radiation, Bob and I explored his photo archives to see how many things matched. By the end, we found over 100 word/image connections, and created the book, The Desert Eternal. That treasured time together during post surgery, gave us a special, healing experience, a continuation of our like minds. By the last treatment, I carried along our Blurb self-published book to show the wonderful technicians who’d cared for me. They received the first book. Neighbors ordered copies and word of mouth spread. The library purchased several, which led to its selection as one of the Southwest Books of the Year 2008, and it later received a Glyph award from Arizona Publishers. For all these personal memories, I love that book.

Q. Each story is a joy to read, but I must say the story of the quail and your granddaughter in THE DESERT ETERNAL, I found enchanting. I am enthralled with the way each memoir melds your love of nature and family. As an author, I must ask how you honed your writing style. Does the ability to stitch photography, nature, and family together come naturally to you and Bob?

A. As far as nature affecting my writing style, I trace it back to growing up in South Dakota. I remember washing the supper dishes, work I didn’t like. Does any kid like the jobs they’re required to do? However, after a while, I concentrated on the sunset. Hands in soapy water, I gazed out the kitchen window, to watch an ever-changing view of day’s ending on the flat plains. I studied the colors, shapes, weather, different aspects available through one piece of glass, a bird, or nest, storm brewing, snow falling, leaves unfurling on the trees. Now, when I look out the window or take a walk, I concentrate on appreciating the marvels that await.

My other nature memory centers on my escape to our big mulberry tree as a girl. I’d nestle in its comfy trunk crotch, and read, stopping to eavesdrop on birds that flew in to eat ripe berries. I’d reach out to do the same. It was the best reading room I’ve ever had, as I let nature envelope me. Later, married, with kids, our family stopped to appreciate nature, the sunsets, starry nights, and nature’s revolving patterns. When the kids moved away (still in town), we’d get or make calls. “Rainbow to the east,” or “lightning exploding in the west.” It came naturally to both Bob and me, and we encouraged it in our family. As a girl and as an adult, I wrote stories and poems, often related to nature in some way.

Q. The LEGEND OF BROOK HOLLOW tells the story of an idyllic area that the public discovered and used as a park. Later a developer encompassed the land into a private park-like setting for people living in his created neighborhood. Did the residents of the development seem to feel more protected, or did they express much nostalgia for the openness of the park?

A. Most folks like the fact that it’s a somewhat secret place. A couple of elderly residents were unhappy I was writing the book. They feared too many others would find out about it. True, unless you know someone who lives here, you probably haven’t heard about Brook Hollow, and the sign at the entrance clearly states, “Private Property. I found it curious that some residents don’t care for the natural part at all, the trees, wild animals, and ponds. I can’t figure out why they moved to a place so attractive to wildlife. Maybe they moved here for convenience to employment, shopping, the Interstate, etc., but others, like me, are always on the lookout for creatures that live close or pass through, wild turkeys, mink, snapping turtles, beaver, badger, a deer or two, and an illusive fox. Of course, raccoon, opossum, squirrels, rabbits and birds, birds, birds.

Since the book just came out, not much feedback yet, although one neighbor couple came to the door to report that now they feel they’re living in Shangri La. “I get to be Ronald Coleman,” the husband said. An email from the family of a woman who’d had a stroke and just returned from the special care said, “She is so enjoying the photographs and the stories that we read to her.” I used literary quotes throughout as photo captions, and a neighbor called me yesterday to find out how I found words of the famous that matched the pictures so precisely. I confessed that I Googled literary quotes, then added the subject matter” which made it less about my extensive liberal arts background, and more about my computer that could blink out wisdom from Chinese philosophers, African, or Indian proverbs. Wary of copyrights, I selected only authors from olden times. Hurrah for technology.

Q. As I looked at the photographs of Brook Hollows wildlife, plants, and ponds, I felt I was sneaking a peek into a kind of sanctuary. You have walked Brook Hollow communing with all of its wonders. How does that make you feel?

A. We moved back to Nebraska about a year and a half ago. We lived on an acre of lush desert in Tucson, AZ. It spoiled us. In that development, rules forbade residents from changing the natural desert on their property. No additions to the landscape without permission and then, only from the list of Sonoran desert plants. This meant residents lived surrounded by a setting developed by nature through the years. We did have walled back yards, because coyotes, javelina, tarantulas, all kinds of lizards and snakes roamed the neighborhood. Does it sound terrible? It was great. The creatures did not hurt us, and we did not hurt them. By walking out the door, we entered this other world. I feel the same way about Brook Hollow. We chose our home because of the habitat with animals and water. Last night, three huge wild turkeys roosted high in the leafless elm tree outside our deck. Such experiences ground us and lead me gently to philosophical thoughts and then, essays. As I said in the book, we can’t decide if we’re walking through The Wind in the Willows or in the tiniest, tiniest of ways, emulating Henry David Thoreau.

Q. Your award-winning memoir A Universal Language published in The Story Teller: A Publication of the Society of Southwestern Authors reminded me of my Shelty, Duchess who died a few years ago. She was my companion for over ten years, and we developed a kind of communication between us. Have you had other such reactions from pet lovers? Do you think you may someday be able to publish that in a collection of memoirs by you?

A. I’ve heard from lots of pet lovers. The story about my sick cat ended up in Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers. Once, someone read that story, wrote a small pamphlet about their special pet, and sent me a copy. I appreciated that beautiful gesture.

I read my cat story at an AZ Humane Society fundraiser. A little girl thanked me, and then left. In five minutes, she sneaked back. “I love our cat. Would you read your story to me again?” Moreover, I did. Her wide-eyed attentions all the way through made me wonder if anyone in her family ever read aloud to her. Before I could talk to her afterward, she’d disappeared.

Our present cat, Marbles, arrived from a faraway street, picked up by my granddaughter’s friend. A fantastic animal, she curls up on my desk when I’m working. One of her quirks is to push all my stray pencils to the floor. I hope that’s not an editorial comment on my writing, or maybe she’s telling me to pick up the darn pencil and write. Will there ever be a book of my memoir pieces? I’d love to do it, but I need more stories. Wait, the message from my cat comes through. Get to work.

(I like to ask the people I interview to add anything they feel relevant about their writing. I cannot think of everything, so I let them help. It is their interview.)

One of my best writing experiences involved the acceptance of a piece about lint. Some of my essays began as holiday letters. After our move, most Christmas notes from Arizona friends described people I didn’t know, folks who’d visited, fellow trip takers, relatives and names that held no meaning to me. As a change of pace, I wrote philosophical letters to celebrate the season. Some folks copied them and sent them to other people. One lawyer sent them to 46 other attorneys in his office. Someone in California sent one to a British editor-friend working in Spain, who asked me to submit an essay for her anthology in progress with Editorial Kairos, entitled The Art of Living, A Practical Guide to Being Alive. One day, an email arrived about the book, “I thought the authors I’ve chosen might be interested in hearing the names of the other writers in the book” She sent the list and I almost fell out of my desk chair. The Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jean S. Bolen, Sir Richard Branson, and there it was, my name included. Kairos distributed the book internationally with English and Spanish versions. Before this, an essay highpoint was publication in a nature book called What Wildness is This. From U of Texas Press that included Barbara Kingsolver and Terry Tempest Williams. The Spanish book, however, was global and humbling. Afterward, I wondered briefly if I should quit writing. I’d never be able to match the names of that company of famous people. Nevertheless, of course, I keep at it. Our words do not depend on the proximity of neighboring authors, no matter how well known. Still, it was a thrill and I love thinking about it, especially on days when I get a rejection letter.

My works appear in over a dozen anthologies and I count it a blessing when I hear from readers. A letter from California said, “Someone gave me your book. Alone in my backyard, I read your nature essays aloud to the plants. The words bring me close to the earth and calm me. Thanks.” I visualized the plants listening to my words and smiled. Yea, a new audience.

At a bookstore, a sparse group gathered as I read my story in Chicken Soup for the Grandparents’ Soul. I packed up afterwards, a glum and disappointed author. Then, an old woman approached. “Would you autograph this copy for our neighbor boy to give to his grandparents? His mother deserted him and his dad’s in jail. His grandparents are adopting him and the book’s a surprise for his Nana and Popi. I confess I blinked away a tear as I signed that book. As authors, we send our words into the unknown, and it’s gratifying to know about the homes they find.

When I wrote the interview questions to explore Connie’s world, I had no idea how expanded her world had become. I’m gratified she willingly shared her life, loves, and career with us. Connie your career as an essayist and speaker will continue. Your fingers are, like many authors, the kind that will itch with anticipation when you are near a keyboard. You and Bob are gifts that keep giving back to the earth by calling our attention to it.

Dear readers you may wish to know that Connie has also done writing workshops for women at the University of Arizona Writing Works Center. Therefore, we add educator to her resume. Connie also reveals to me another area of her career that may have slipped past this interview

“I forgot to mention the "Wise Women Video Series,” four videotapes, later DVD's, from interviews with women over 50 who'd contributed in unusual ways to their community, neighborhood, family. They selected the series to be in Harvard University's Library on the History of Women in America. I was surprised when Medical Schools and Nursing Schools ordered the tapes. The schools used them as examples of positive aging and showed them to students after they finished studies on heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Actually several of the women in the tapes had medical problems, but rose above them with messages of hope and continued service.”

I for one am encouraged by Connie’s story. If she had not offered up the last bit of information, I would have missed the gratification of being a woman over 50 who hopes that I have and will contribute to my community and family. It nice to see the efforts of anybody appreciated publicly. I cannot think of anything more I can add to this interview. So dear readers go to a library, bookstore, or Internet and look for Connie and Bob Spittler’s book titles THE DESERT ETERNAL, The LEGEND OF BROOK HOLLOW, and the anthologies that contain her work. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New dot com Web Site

I have an exciting announcement this morning. I am opening up my own dot com web site. It is currently under construction and will be up when I get that all figured out.

Wordsprings will continue for interviews of other authors. The interviews are a labor of love and interest in my fellow authors. I will continue to strive to put the writer up front and their books as a product of who they are.

Please continue to enjoy Wordsprings. A link to my dot com will be added when I have it up and running.

Thank you dear readers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interview with Author G. K. Fralin by G. M. Stevens

Interview With Author G. K. Fralin

A rich, red background greets you when you visit G. K. (Glenda) Fralin’s blog at The background is as warm and inviting as her passion for writing. Her site includes short film clips about her book THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN, as well as videos of a poem she’s written, The Monster’s Dinner. Since 2006, Glenda has been sharing her poetry, thoughts and writing adventure with those who drop by, but her love for writing began as a child.

Glenda is a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild and is a fine interviewer in her own right. Originally from Kansas, which I’ve learned gives her the right to say “ain’t”, Glenda is a Nebraska writer who pays it forward – an important thing to do in any endeavor we take. It is most obvious to me by her work and her blog, that Glenda is a Christian, which you’ll see by the first paragraph on her blog or in her full profile. I admire her faith and zest for life.

* * *
Gina: I was intrigued when Kristopher Miller’s review of your book, Book Review THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN, compared your book to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Did Lewis’s novel influence your work at all, and do you agree with Miller?

G. K. Fralin: How do I respond to this question? I’m glad he compared it to the spirit of C. S. Lewis. I don’t know that I will ever reach the level of skill C. S. Lewis possessed to grasp the imagination in fantasy. Lewis was like an architect with a story. The lands of Narnia and its character’s make for his epic chronicles.

I wish I could say I studied his writing, but I have only read a portion. I do love his style. Reading the full series of chronicles is a goal of mine.

My parents subscribed to Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Their condensed version of GREEN MANSIONS by William H. Hudson introduced me to the world of grown up fantasy. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS by Jonathan Swift with the Lilliputians also helped me move beyond the childhood fantasies of Mother Goose.

I can agree with Kristopher that like C. S. Lewis, I try to set out Biblical teachings in fantasy to engage the mind of the reader instead of preaching.

Gina: I read the first chapter and loved the setting, which seemed almost heaven-like to me. Was this your intent?

G. K. Fralin: Hidden is deceptively peaceful. There is that initial impression of finding a jewel of a town buried on the back road off Nebraska’s I-80. Be careful of what you trust. Have you ever visited a resort whose brochure promised luxurious lodging, and tours of historic sites including photos of how they deliver on their promise? Then when you’ve been there more than five minutes, you get a big let down. That is the first chapter of Hidden.

Would heaven have one old street? Will Catch and his barbed remarks be as cute when Sheridan catches him off guard? Oh, ho ho be ye careful of that one.

Gina: How did you come up with the name of the town, Hidden?

G. K. Fralin: I was trying to figure out a place forSheridan to be trapped. The idea of a town tucked away from the eyes and knowledge of the world implies Hidden. It fit my ‘what if’ premise. I simply could not think of a more appropriate name than Hidden. The citizen’s of Hidden prefer similarly direct names. They seem obsessed with name meanings.

Gina: How long did it take you to write the book and when did you start writing it?

G. K. Fralin: Now that is a story in itself. THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN began years ago as an interactive story with my daughter Nina at bedtime. It bears many of the same elements. The name of that story was The Lunis Flower and the main character was Lucinda.

I rewrote it as an 8000 word grown up version and it turned in a different direction. Nina is now in her late twenties, but the story still contains elements of her influence.

I was having trouble in the new version connecting with my main character in a way that my readers could relate to her.

What I ended up doing was writing a life for Sheridan that became an unpublished novel length story of its own. That set a background for her and developed her personality and life events. THE SEARCH: LIVING BEDOUIN is mentioned in THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN. I haven’t published THE SEARCH: LIVING BEDOUIN.

Gina: What genre would you say THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN, is?

G. K. Fralin: THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN is a Christian fantasy full of adventure, suspense, and mystery.

Gina: Tell me about the sketch for the poem The Monster’s Dinner (which is adorable. I’m thinking I’d entertain more if I could lay out dust and decorate with cobwebs!)

G. K. Fralin: I’ll warn you, this story is not for the faint of heart.

I wrote The Monster’s Dinner several years ago. When I wanted to publish it, I wanted a picture to go with it.

When I decided on a sketch, I asked my daughter Angie to draw it. She thought I was nuts. Angela’s talent for painting, design and photography took a huge hit when she was cutting the zip tie off of a toy for her son. The knife she was using slipped and her left eye permanently injured. The doctors did surgery, but the cornea is still scared. The accident would have knocked me off my feet. She is one resilient woman. I can’t help but be in awe of her ability to bounce back and take life on.

She learned how to drive by using intuition and memory to gauge depth and distance. She started working on clothing for her doll collection again. However, she resolved that she was not going to have the chance to draw or paint again. She covers the bad eye just to read.

I didn’t ask her as a therapeutic exercise, I hoped it would be, but I really wanted her to do it. Questions hit me like, am I pushing too hard for something she has accepted is gone? Was I going to ask her to break her heart all over again?

Her husband James, bless him, is the perfect match for her. He took the time to stand by and let her know when something wasn’t looking right, and he encouraged her. I’d asked for it to be childlike because of the poem. The detail and elements she put in that sketch made it the perfect search and find for kids and adults.

She has since done other projects including the drawing of the Lunis Flower on the cover of my book The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden.

* * *
In closing, I hope you will all stop by Glenda's rich red blogsite. From that point, you can find out where to buy her book and even read the first chapter of her novel, THE SEARCH: LUNIS FLOWER OF HIDDEN. Thank you Glenda for the great responses.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Interview with author G. M. Stevens.

Interview with Gina Barlean AKA G. M. Stevens
By G. K. Fralin

G. M. Stevens is a shocking double personality. What, did I just accuse the writer I am interviewing of being psychotic? No, I do not think so. Authors have the ability to have multiple personalities they can portray on paper. G. M. Stevens the author eclipses Gina’s sweet nature in her stories. However, on her blog Gina Barlean opens up unashamedly portraying her love of cooking, travel, being a farm wife, and having a family.

Gina may well be that sweet innocent woman of the plains. However, G. M. Stevens breaks free from the bonds of a simple life and into a world of crime, the darkness of an overbearing religious family patron, then breaking back into the humorous side of life with a story about a man named Barney Pfeiffer.

Q. Gina from what I have related to the reader so far, do you feel I have portrayed you with any accuracy?

A. You are very close, I think. I do live a simple life on a farm, near a small, rural community. I'm fairly typical and blend in quite nicely with the locals - but little do they know.... mwahahahaha.

Although I love teaching Bible stories to a Confirmation class at my church, and I always volunteer to work the canteen at the blood drives, I also love to read Stephen King and watch horror movies. Like the characters I try to create, I like most people have layers of personality that make me who I am. One can't run around acting out the horror movies we watch now, can we? I don't though, write what I consider horror. I like a deep topic and a good moral at the end with some of my writing and I enjoy using dramatic situations to achieve that. The book I hope to publish within the next six months is such a story. The tentative title is CASTING STONES: SAVING JAMES RAVEN. This dramatic, single title work should leave the reader pondering things for a day or two, if not longer.

Q. G. M. Stevens sent me a chapter of a story in progress about a man who sees himself as the hand of God over a family cringing in fear of his violent teachings. I must say, I wanted to shoot the guy from the beginning, and I am not violent. How did you come up with this character?

A. Something that has been in the news for a while is the picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas. Their leader Fred Phelps is certainly the type of person who looms heavily in my concerns for how people can negatively perceive Christians. The character in the book I am working on is the epitome of how not to see all Christians. I've also had family members who have border-lined on this type of zealous, judgmental example. Hypocrisy is at the heart of the "moral to the story" that I am trying to achieve. I want the reader to hate that character. He is one of the stories villains.

Q. I want to ask one more question about the voices of THE BARTON FAMILY. You give a voice to each character in the book. Each character intrigued me. As an author myself, I must ask how you keep these voices separated?

A. I am an aspiring author. I started seriously writing in 2009 and I'm on a mission to learn the craft. I'm still in the process. Of course, I don't think I'll ever be done learning, but I make huge strides every day. There is so much more to writing than I would have ever expected. Writing the story is the easy part by far. Marketing, creating a platform, learning how to submit, being involved with writing groups and critique groups... the list goes on and on. Yet, the most important thing to me at this point, is learning the proper skills to honor the art of writing itself. One thing I'm learning through a critique partner I've found, is how to avoid "head hopping". I so love to be the omniscient observer and slide in and out of every character's thoughts. I'm doing my level best to resolve this bad writing habit. I am hoping by the time I publish any of my books, I will have them fine tuned and easy to read. I love to read old books, not necessarily classics, but more just things written in the past. I was just reading some short stories by Flannery O'Connor. I love her wording and style. I also love that narrative style and yes, her work kind of head-hops. I suppose it's all of these things that lead me to write this way, yet, I realize today's readers, particularly genre readers, prefer point of view to be clearer.

Q. Your crime novel DEAD BLOW meets sledgehammer to head. My minds eye immediately saw a shed with walls splattered with blood and a menacing figure standing in the darkest corner with a giant sledgehammer. I felt chills and that was from the synopsis. Do you have a shed on your farm that inspired this story? Where does the peaceful Gina go when G. M. Stevens crawls into your mind to relate to these violent fiends?

A. Ha. Well, maybe the fiend-creating GM Stevens keeps Gina so peaceful. Yes, I have this exact shed on our farm. It's funny because when I was writing this murder scene I wasn't sure what farm tool I wanted to use as the murder weapon. I wandered out to my husband's machine shed in which he also has a machine shop. It didn't take me long to find a Dead Blow sledge hammer leaning beside a table, just begging to be written about. I'll enclose the picture I took of it. Then I proceeded to handle the hammer and feel what it would be like to swing it. It was a good experiment and helped me write the murder scene and ultimately title the book. I also spent time talking to my husband about how the hammer is made and used and why it's different than a regular hammer.

Q. Your biography lists other accomplishments from you life. Careers, family, and many other factors influence many authors. You have owned and run a photography studio, been the Director of the David City Chamber of Commerce, and most recently you joined and participated in the events of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild. What drives you as a person and a writer?

A. I think above all else, I'm a curious person. I am a creative soul I suppose. I've been a painter, a singer, a jewelry maker. I sew, crochet, cook, garden... and who knows what will drive me next. I pursue the things that interest me, and let's face it... the world is a very interesting place!

I hope you'll all be watching for me. You can follow me on twitter. Look for @thegmstevens. I have a blog called, and website, I have an author page on Face Book too. I currently belong to the Nebraska Writers Guild and a new founded group in Seward, Nebraska called The Local Muse. I hope to publish both DEAD BLOW and CASTING STONES: SAVING JAMES RAVEN, by the spring of 2012. CASTING STONES may very well end up becoming a series.

I'm also working on a mother/daughter mystery series, which I think will prove I can let my silly side out. This will be a quirky jaunt with fun characters. The main character is Cyd Cherise DeGraffe, the bumbling middle-aged gal whose daughter has to get her out of all the trouble she finds. (Maybe that's the real me after all!)

Welcome readers, to the school of writing that all authors join from the first snippet of a poem or story. Gina, aka G. M. Stevens chose to add a new career to her repertoire of successes. She chose to write. I look forward to reading her books and encourage you to be looking for them soon.

I found it refreshing to interview an individual coming into the world of words from a fresh point of view. The mistakes we make in the beginning can become the builders that help our characters evolve. Constructive criticism will always help a writer grow.

G. M. Stevens is breaking out in a big way. She seems to be unafraid of a challenge. She encourages me, as an author, to jump into the deep water of ‘what if’ without reservation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Print version of The Monster's Dinner

The Monster’s Dinner

All monsters and ghouls
had RSVP’d they would
all be to dinner
on All Hallows Eve.
In formal attire they would
attend this affair. The ghosts
in fresh linens of ghastly repair,
the goblins with grandiose garb
would appear and vampires
in new tatters and tales
topped off the list of regales .
The children excited to meet
their new friends, in the old
haunted house at the end
of the bend. What fanciful
fun this fantastical night,
all would be honored with
harrowing fright.
So, the cobwebs were spun
the dust newly lain
Skeleton Catering served
spider egg salad with
bat wing entrees.
With appalling appetite
the blood pudding was slurped.
Then all jumped to their toes
for a dizzying twirl
of the wing-a-ding whirl.
The monsters and ghouls
voted to add their young hosts
to their hideous guild
of gruesome goblins and ghosts.
The children now live
in the old haunted house
at the end of the bend,
prefer tricks with their treats
and their ghastly new friends.

Monster's Dinner.wmv


Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview with Children's Author Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson has awards and recognitions from Nebraska schools and organizations including the 2003 Literary Award from Moonshell Arts and Humanities of Hall County, Nebraska. She has written articles for upwards of 80 periodicals over the past 15 years. She writes children’s books that deal with issues that kids deal with on a daily basis.

Her book GRACIE GANNON MIDDLE SCHOOL ZERO focuses on a girl who experiences family loss of income and reduction of lifestyle and loss of status at school leading to bullying by her former best friends.

Other books in Mary Anderson’s portfolio include:






Mary Anderson’s educational history includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, 30 Plus Graduate hours in the education field and a list of conferences and workshops for writing

Q. Mary, I’m impressed that your children’s books deal with issues children face today. As an educator, what can you tell us about your own experiences that led you to focus on these topics?

A. Yes, many of my books and stories deal with issues children face today. That's really, where my passion lies, in the hope of helping some of these children through the bumps in the road of life. I always wanted to write a book about the subject of school bullying, because of one classmate I went through all the school years with. This child was verbally teased (we called it teasing, but he was verbally abused), throughout his twelve years of school. My classmates weren't actually mean, but they could see this child was an easy target. Fortunately, I didn't enter into a lot of this, because his mother was a friend of my mother. However, I don't think I ever helped him out of any of the situations. I was a so-called "innocent" bystander. My classmates and I have talked about this in later years, feel badly about the situation, and wish it had never happened. I vowed a long time ago to try to write books that would speak to schoolchildren about the long-term results of treating someone in this manner. So that is how the book "Gracie Gannon: Middle School Zero" evolved.

Q. Personally, I have worked with people with special needs. Do you believe in mainstreaming students with special needs such as cerebral palsy, autism and other openly apparent differences?

A. My granddaughter's class has a child with severe CP problems. He has a wonderful aid who accompanies him every minute of the day. If aids like this are available to help in the classrooms, I think it is a win-win situation. If the school budget doesn't cover this, I am not in favor of mainstreaming the children with severe handicaps. The teacher has to spend too much time focusing on the child with the disability. Many times the other children don't receive the attention they deserve.

Q. What do you want teachers to take away from your handling of often delicate but very real issues with children?

A. I want not only teachers, but parents as well to take time to listen to children who obviously and sometimes not so obviously are unhappy, sad and depressed due to problems. I am a mentor in Tom Osborne's Teammate Mentoring Service. I have a sixth grade child who benefits so much from just talking to me. All I basically do is listen. Neither her mother nor her father takes enough time to listen to her many problems. She gets lost in the shuffle. All children will usually open up and talk about their problems on a one-to-one basis.

Q. You've written about other topics in your articles and magazines that don't particularly deal with education. What drew you to these other subjects?

A. I first started writing greeting card sentiments for Blue Mountain Arts greeting cards. That was fun. I then got interested in interviewing people with unusual and unique hobbies, etc. That, too, was fun. I had lots of material with my three children and their friends, so tried my hand at writing personal experience articles about them. (Never revealing their names, of course) They didn't care, and I don't believe they even read many of the articles.

I wrote "Ever Wonder What to Do: All About Manners," because I couldn't find a good manners book for my first grandchild. She's now 18, in college and has good manners!

"It's Me Again, God" evolved due to writing stories for "My Friend" magazine. I wrote according to what the magazine requested and then realized I had almost enough stories for a book. I delved into some other topics of interest to children, and then wrote enough stories to fill this story devotional book. Each story is prefaced by questions kids wonder about. The story answers the questions and then ends with a Bible verse and a prayer.

Q. What drove me to write about the Lincoln Highway?

A. Our good friends in Iowa were president and vice-president of the Lincoln Highway Association in the early 1990s. That subject is all they seemed interested in discussing. Pretty soon, I became interested in the subject, too. My husband and I traveled the complete route of the highway from Times Square to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. We took many photos for the book, which came out in 1997. There seems to be additional interest in the Lincoln Highway all the time. I recently placed another book order with my publishers this past week.

Q. What subjects do you suggest young writers start to write?

A. I suggest young writers start writing about whatever interests them the most. I ask questions such as: What are their favorite things to do? What hobbies do they have? Do they have any animals? If they could go anywhere in the world, where would they choose to visit? Usually they like to start writing short stories based on their own experiences.

Q. What are you most proud of in my career as a writer?

A. I am proud when I go into a library and see my book on the shelf. What a thrill. It's fun to see it on the shelf in bookstores, too. Nevertheless, what sometimes brings a tear to my eye is when a child comes up to me to say they have read my book and really liked it. Then ask me to tell them about the next books I'm planning to write. Sometimes I receive letters from children. That totally makes me proud.

Dear Readers, It is apparent that Mary Anderson writes with a purpose. From this interview, I have learned her books are not only important for children to read, but for parents, teachers, and even grandparents. We affect the world of our children, as do their peers.

Mary Anderson is one of our Nebraska authors and we are proud to count her in our ranks. Her strength of character and expertise make her a writer who walks it as well as writes it. I’m honored that she took time from her busy schedule for this interview.

Please read this interview on my blog at and on Mary’s blog/site at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview with Best Selling Author Marilyn June Coffey

Interview with Marilyn June Coffey
By G.K. Fralin

“As we call your numbers,” Sister Ursula said, “please step forward to claim your child. Examine the child we selected for you. If it’s satisfactory take it to your home and treat it as you would your own flesh and blood.” Marilyn June Coffey reading from Mail-Order Kid.

What a glimpse into the eyes and emotions of a child in flux. The coldness of the nun comes through Marilyn’s voice as I listened to her read. Marilyn wrote this honest biography of a girl displaced from New York to Kansas on the Orphan Train.

Marilyn’s works have won awards and recognition as she pioneered her career as a female author refusing to bow to the acceptable gentility expected of women.

This is an interview with bestselling author, educator, poet and fellow member of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild: Marilyn June Coffey. I ask Marilyn about her latest bestselling book

I’m so pleased with the acceptance of my MAIL-ORDER KID, Glenda. Book clubs, in particular, seem to love it. And the National Orphan Train Complex gave me its Special President’s Award.

Marilyn, I am bouncing in my seat with excitement that you have agreed to this interview. There are many reasons including all your awards and accomplishments. Although, for me it’s because I listened to you read from your book MAIL-ORDER KID. You made me feel like I was sitting in a group around your feet on the floor engrossed in your story. All I had to do was close my eyes and listen.

Glenda, I’m so pleased with your response to my reading. I love to read. I studied how to do it when I was in New York City in the mid-1970s reading my poetry. I took lessons in diaphragmatic breathing so I could control my voice.

I did ask for an interview, so I should ask some
questions. I am anxious to ask questions, but I cannot deny my joy that I know you even if only through the banter of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild forum, and it’s events.

I’ve noticed others have written about the Orphan Trains, but your book does not focus on the Orphan Trains. You chose to do a biography of someone who lived it. What prompted you to focus on the girl Theresa Martin?

Other writers, including Marilyn Holt, had written so well about the orphan train movement that I didn’t see the need. Teresa Martin, an orphan train rider, asked me to help her write her story. I hesitated, but she was bright and eager. A librarian, she had saved and dated much of the information we would need. So I chose to write about her primarily for personal reasons. Politically, I looked forward to writing a biography about a common person rather than a celebrity. I liked the challenge.

I watched an interview of Theresa Martin from YouTube. In the clip, I noticed immediately her ease as she spoke about that time of her life and the humor she brought to it. I could imagine the two of you chatting, sharing coffee or tea and getting off subject with your bubbly personalities.

Our collaboration was much like that. We talked a lot about dogs. We both loved to research, so one of us was always following the other into some library or museum.

What kind of kinship have you developed with Theresa after delving so deeply into her life?

I grew to love Theresa. I probably know more about her than anyone, even her daughters, so I feel like a familial appendage, a niece, perhaps.

What is it about MAIL-ORDER KID that you want me, as the reader, to glean from Theresa’s life or her view of life as a Mail-Order Kid?

I want you and every reader to glean what she/he will from reading this book. And I hope readers are left with a bit of awe for the life Teresa led and the adjustment she made to it.

I want to change direction for a bit here and ask about some of your other works such as the poem “Pricksong,” which won a Pushcart Prize, and your novel Marcella.

Why have you taken the hard road as a female author and chosen to reveal graphically honest views of atrocities in your stories and poems?

Mari Sandoz, author of OLD JULES, and Henry Miller, in many books, taught me through their pages that no subject is forbidden to the serious writer.

Let me speak to you of MARCELLA.

I wrote this controversial novel after a successful psychoanalysis that unearthed a suicide attempt I had made when I was about sixteen. I decided to write about that experience. MARCELLA started as a memoir but morphed into a novel, albeit an autographically based novel.

I was shaking in my boots to be writing MARCELLA, but a close writer friend, now Kate Yarrow, said to me, “Marilyn, this is the most important thing you’ve ever written.” She became my first reader, lovingly editing each rewrite of the entire book twelve times.

Today I consider Marcella the most daring book I ever wrote. It also reaped me the most rewards. I was published by a major New York publisher, distributed overseas with a paperback in England and with published excerpts in Danish and Australian publications.

Here in the states, MS. excerpted my chapter on menstruation and Gloria Steinem called my novel "an important part of the truth telling by and for women."

To my astonishment, MARCELLA made literary history. It is the first novel written in English to use female autoeroticism as a main theme. Autoeroticism. That’s fancy language for masturbation.

I believe the masturbation described in my novel is lyrical and sometimes funny. But of course my views don’t match everyone’s. MARCELLA has been censored in Nebraska libraries. Even my publisher told me he didn’t want to take on the book; however, he’d promised his editor that he’d publish the next book she selected. She selected MARCELLA and didn’t back down.

Thank you Marilyn June Coffey for taking your time to do this interview. I owe you big time as now you have become a huge inspiration to me as a person and a writer.

Dear readers, I hope you appreciate as much as I the unassuming way in which Marilyn has opened herself up to us in this interview. She has graced us with her unabridged honest approach to life through her writing. I feel honored that she not only agreed to this interview, but seemed to relish in it.

Visit her web site about MAIL-ORDER KID at where you can listen to her reading from the book.

When I listened to her voice during her reading, I ended up with tears in my eyes.

At is a complete listing of her works, biography, and find where to purchase her books.

Now, to Great Plains Writer - Marilyn June Coffey, thank you and of course, we want more.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


*NewContest for Lunis Flower:

Dear readers,

We are hosting a contest for amateur artists to submit their vision of the Lunis Flower. Since the Lunis Flower is a large part of the mystery in the story, it is only fitting to give it the distinction of being a character rather than a prop.

My book The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden has been out for a few weeks now. For those of you who have not read it yet, I will list places where you can purchase it, or check it out, below this announcement.

The contest is as follows:

1. Entry must be an image of the entrant’s own making. It must not be a photograph or an image from the internet. The only true way to portray an image of the Lunis Flower is to read the book as there is no Lunis Flower to photograph. (We will accept photographs of images of your version, as certain kinds of art are difficult to scan for upload.)

2. Entrants must send entries via email to an address for upload to a site available to all involved.

3. No staff member of or of will be awarded any prize.

4. No family members of the author or other judges or their extended families will be awarded prizes for entries.
5. No judge of the contest is eligible to enter.

6. Anyone not able to receive an award or win may still send an entry to be displayed on the web page.

The criteria for judging will be as follows.

1. 20% for demonstration of artist’s attention to image.

2. 50% interpretation of the elements of the Lunis Flower as described in the book The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden.

3. 30% demonstration of characteristics (i.e. Emotional impact on reader) by the Lunis Flower. A short explanation from the artist of their vision will help us understand and appreciate your interpretation.

4. Entries must be emailed by: November 15, 2011 to

First Place = $25

Second Place = $10

Third Place = $5

The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden is available in print and ePub format at:

Amazon Kindle:

Available at Wymore Public Library, Tecumseh Public Library and Peru State College Library

E-mail all entries to

I will try to post entries as they come in. The order of the portrayal will not reflect status in the contest until after the contest is complete.

Have fun reading, and good luck with the contest.

All entrants must be of amateur status meaning they have not been paid professionally for their art. If you do not have a scanner and need to use one, you will need to search your library or other’s who may help you with that task.

Photographs of the artist’s entry will be accepted. Please make a note of the fact that it is indeed a photograph of your work.

Name of artist should not be attached to the work, but must be included in the body of the email along with mailing address.

For your own sake, back up your work and keep a the original for your own records and display.

Thank You reader,
GK Fralin

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 15, 2011 Newsletter

G. K. Fralin Short Read


Dear Friends,

I am so happy to be at a level with marketing that I have worked out a plan. Thus, the business end of my writing is keeping me busy, but not so much that I can’t spend much more time writing.

Who Be Charlie B is a long awaited project that I’m now devoting a large block of my writing efforts to. It’s been years of researching the life of a man who once lived in our home here in Wymore. His story is fascinating. As I work through the writing, I’ll give you little blurbs of the upcoming book. The working title is just that, a working title. It may end up being the final title, but we are a bit away from that decision.

I am also working on a premise for another Christian fantasy.

I’m happy to announce that the cover for The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden is now fixed and for sale at A full length review of the story may be found at Thank you Kristopher for your wonderful comments. I posted an excerpt of the review with my book at

We set up a display and handed out free first chapters during Sam Wymore Days at the Community Center. All copies of the chapter were gone before 1 ½ hours passed. I was thankful to have plenty of cards, copies of Kristopher’s review, and a copy of the print version. Many people were curious about the book including the school librarian. She may not be able to buy it for the school, but she loves to read and I hope she will enjoy it.

Right now, there is a news story about the families affected by the spring tornados. My prayers go out to all of them and other’s who have been affecting by the flooding. If you have family or friends in the area, they are included in my prayers with all others. Add your own to mine and you can add the names. Hey, it works. God knows what’s going on.

I leave you with a short excerpt from The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden:

From Chapter 4: Things:

Catch’s tone changed quickly from a disturbing; almost whisper to an easily audible instructor. “As to your question, this room is like a museum of previous guests. They all come in with things they think they can’t do without and they all leave them behind when they go, just as you will.”

“Catch, you and Tailor are beginning to scare me. What have I walked into here?”

“It’s just a place, Sheridan, nothing here for you to concern yourself about.”

Sheridan shrugged and walked around the room looking at tables full of electronics that could tell a story of the history and progression of technology. From the end of a table set a small abacus and, other tables full of watches, laptops, PDA’s, and all sorts of paraphernalia.

A cabinet held items that had probably been very dear to the previous owners. She saw small teacups and saucers hand painted with family crests, antique bronzes, gold encrusted statuettes and busts likely of some family’s member. Some of the items that set around the floor of the room were so large that Sheridan questioned how people managed to carry them into the town including: a marble statue of Grecian design, an old Hollywood camera standing like a monolith of the age, even the tables, bureaus and display cabinets were left behind by one visitor or another.

“Very funny Catch, truthfully, where did you get all this stuff? There are some valuable and ancient items here. Nobody is going to carry a giant Chinese urn around with them. Does one of those books of yours teach you how to steal riches of the world?” Sheridan laughed.

“Sheridan, I can’t answer your questions. I didn’t lie to you. I can’t explain people’s behavior. Some people carry so much on their backs just trying to protect things like this. Then when they leave, they leave it all behind.”

“So you are into some kind of acquisitions?”

“In a fashion, I suppose you could say that. This is a lot of stuff here. I wish I could get rid of it, but it seems to have its purpose because Shepherd won’t allow me to dispose of any of it. He says it serves to tell a story to those who enter here about the lack of importance of the items they carry. None of those who visit this room gets the idea until they go on their way to the next stop.”

“Next stop, what do you mean, next stop?”

“Sheridan, I am an old man. I say things wrong sometimes. I guess I should have said when you leave here.”

Catch was old but Sheridan had the feeling he definitely said what he meant. “Ah,” was all she said, nodding her head. She’d heard Shepherd mentioned before, and remembered the Shepherd’s Closet in the front hall.

Bless all,
G. K. Fralin

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kristopher Miller review of The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden

Kris Miller did a review of my book The Search: Lunis Flower of HIdden on his web site. The link is below. I thank Kris for his positive review.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Price Slashed on The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden

I have drastically reduced the price of The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden. This is to allow for the lack of paper on my end. It is in ePub for readers. Check for you particular reader to make sure it uses this format.

If you are using a computer and do not have a reader, scroll down on the buy page and download the Adobe Digital option.

Thank you and enjoy this modern day spiritual fantasy inspired by Psalm 23.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Search: Lunis Flower of Hidden (Chapter 1)

*NewChapter 1: The Inn

Sheridan woke up alongside a country road where a thick late afternoon fog forced her off the highway the evening before. The unseasonable blinding whiteness was eerie, but not unheard of in Nebraska.

She had been on her way to Omaha for a book signing to promote her first book Living Bedouin.

She wiped the sleep from her eyes. Every muscle seemed stiff and sore. Even with her slight five-foot-four inch frame, curling up in the back seat of her minivan made her feel cramped like a pretzel.

She’d dreamed, but couldn’t remember what she’d dreamed. Peeling her sticky, thick tongue from the roof of her mouth made the icky taste even more like rotten food. She fished through her bag for a bottle of water. Finding it, she swished some around in her mouth then opened the window to spit.

The map showed that she must be within fifty miles of Lincoln. The fog had not lifted. In fact, it was probably denser than the night before. She checked for a signal on her phone again, but she was in a dead zone and even the GPS wouldn’t target her position. She would have to call Michael once she was back on Interstate 80.

She smiled at the thought of Michael. After three years of mourning the death of her husband, Mark, she was finally dating again.
For over a month now, Sheridan had toured Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri promoting and doing book signings. Along the way, she stopped in small towns and found church groups and other small town meetings. She set a goal of writing a book about the local communities, from the history of their founders, to the present day remnants of those roots.

The people were hospitable and their community strength often centered on church and family. The differences that seeped into their present day were the unique ancestral histories. With more research, most of which she could do from home, she would have enough material for another book.

Sheridan loved her position with the university, and probably published enough to keep her on faculty. However, she found she enjoyed the writing and particularly the research much more than teaching. Field research was the most fun.

The glaze of fixed concentration cleared from her mind and she could see the fog lifting. Looking forward she saw a sign that said, “Hidden ½ mile.” The sign made her laugh, “Oh why not” she said aloud. It would probably take about a day to research one more town and it might put a nice ending to the new book.

First, Sheridan made a three point turn on the narrow road and pointed her car back toward I-80. The fog bank was still dense in that direction which was disconcerting. She inched slowly forward and soon felt completely lost. Her sense of direction in the fog was
non-existent. With trepidation, she repeated her three-point turn back toward the signpost and found she had not moved much at all, and the fog had dissipated in front of her. She looked behind her into an opaque white curtain. A shiver ran down her back as she drove into the small town of Hidden.

She pulled up in front of an ageless Victorian mansion. The huge double doors were wide enough for three or four men side by side to walk through. She stepped out of the car onto a wooden sidewalk. There was a sign at the corner that read simply ‘Street.’ She stood back and looked at it again trying to find the outline of faded letters or numbers in front of the word. There weren’t any. There really was not much room for anything but the word “Street.”

Oh, she thought, this town is going to be very interesting. She took a slow three hundred sixty degree turn and saw it was the only visible street. She wasn’t sure if there were any alleys, although she did see footpaths. She looked down and noticed she was standing in the middle of the street. “Hmm, guess I twirled.” She giggled.

Sheridan turned her attention back toward the Inn. From her new vantage point, she could see the long wings spreading from each side of the central section. The well-maintained, ancient building loomed imposing over the street.

Standing in front of the great walnut doors, she noticed the left door had a large bronze knocker shaped like a flower that was obviously out of some artist’s abstract mind. The other door boasted a matching bronze plaque, “Hide Inn: Come on In.” She ran her finger over the bronze flower and was shocked that it seemed softer than most bronzes. It was like bronzed baby shoes. She could feel the feathery shape of the petals and even striations of a feather. The grouping of petals was not unlike a lily. The abstract rendition reminded her of a painting she had in her living room of a rose bud in a vase that upon second look was a woman’s hand.
The stem of the bronze flower made up the knocker and clanged like a heavy weight against its back-plate. Sheridan jumped in shock as she heard the noise reverberate through the interior of the great building.

As she waited, Sheridan looked across and down the street noting all the buildings were limestone. Limestone quarries dotted the plains so it wasn’t surprising. What did puzzle her was that the buildings were all the same square design. Except, she noticed, the one across the street that was obviously a church of some kind. It had a sign standing in the yard with the words Angel Choir Chapel. The Chapel boasted a bell tower, but no visible doors

She suddenly realized there wasn’t another soul visible. Maybe she was too early and they were all still preparing for the day. She sniffed the air. It was clean, like after a rain. No, it was cleaner. There were no farm smells, no alfalfa, animal feces, or fuel odors. She slapped the back of her hand when she felt a sting and thought comically that they must have forgotten to remove the insects.

A feeling of deep calm washed over her. She didn’t know why, but she didn’t want to question it.

She stretched her arms out and took a deep breath of the fresh air. The feeling of relaxation continued down her entire body as she continued to breathe the crispness deep into her lungs. Then she tensed as she noticed something else in the air.

Sheridan felt goose bumps rise on her arms as she noticed a faint, melody. It had been there unnoticed since her arrival. It was like having the radio in her car on very low and suddenly noticing the music.

The sounds were the most beautiful harmony of voices she’d ever heard. It came from inside the Chapel across the street. It was like a combination of halleluiahs, with an undertone of humming. Her heart lifted and warmth washed through her body. She wanted to go find the singer’s but turned when she heard a movement behind her.

Methuselah opened the door of the Inn. The short, odd, little man looked like he bore the wisdom of the nearly 1000-year-old man from the Biblical comparison. Each crater-like wrinkle seemed to disappear when his smiled. “Good morning young lady. Me thinks you have a problem with reading.” His gravely, hoarse voice belied the youthful agility he displayed with a funny little jump and kick that reminded her of a leprechaun. He pointed to the sign on the door.

“I’m sorry sir, I couldn’t resist the knocker. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“He’s a curious flower, he is for sure.” His phrasing was so quaint she would have to make note of it to use in her book.
His face furrowed with deep wrinkles. His thick, wavy, gray hair nicely trimmed with a full, well-trimmed beard. The old man was somewhat stooped, but she noticed he stood erect very easily. She enjoyed his theatrics, but wondered just how much she could trust the old guy. She tried to gauge his height compared to her five foot four inch length, and she guessed him to be a few inches taller. His smile was playful. The Innkeeper didn’t seem to fit the majestic feel of the Inn.

“Well I can see you are going to be an interesting guest.”

“Excuse me?”

As he motioned her through the door, he enlightened her. “I’ve learned two things about you already. You don’t follow instructions and you can’t fight temptation.” His smile grew from ear to ear with a sense of self-satisfaction.

As he lifted his left hand to welcome her inside, she noticed it was a child-sized hand. It looked smooth and soft. His right hand was a man’s hand, rough and calloused from hard work.

“I see you’ve discovered my gifted hands.” He held them both up.

“You sir, are a wonder.” Sheridan smiled as he was chuckling to himself.
He led Sheridan to a large bureau made of cherry wood in a foyer at the end of a long, wide corridor. She noticed doors to rooms off both sides of the passageway. One door was open revealing an office. She imagined the other doors were equally as utilitarian, except one labeled in great polished brass lettering: SHEPHERD’S CLOSET.
Once they entered the foyer, their voices echoed and Sheridan looked up to see all the way to the top of the three-story building with grand staircases curving up to each wing from the base. She felt that she must try to sketch it, however rough her talent.
As she stood at the bureau pulling out her credit card, the old man slapped a ledger on its top.

He turned the book in her direction and glanced at the card. “Take things for granted too I see. You don’t pay until you leave. The amount of your stay depends on what you do with your time here.”

“What does that mean? Do I have to clean the Inn or help paint the church?” The sarcasm seemed lost on the host. Fatigue overruled by humor. She was no longer enjoying the cat and mouse game.

“Nope, Sheridan Easterly,” was all he said. His eyes twinkled like a child playing gotcha with his mother. She could see the game was still on.

Sheridan looked down at the ledger. It lay open to a clean page. It looked brand new, as did the pen that lay on top of it. The pen was a quill and the bottle of ink sat on the desktop next to the ledger along with a clean cloth for letting the excess ink drip before signing. “It fits,” she said. “It looks perfect for the Inn. Now, I understand the lack of plastic.” She chuckled as she signed her name in the style of a calligrapher, which was odd because she didn’t remember ever studying the art.

He grabbed her bag and waved his arm like a scoop signaling her to a grand staircase. “Practical woman, you travel light.”

Nothing much escapes you does it.” Sheridan was getting weary of his banter.

“That’s why they call me Catch.”

Sheridan sighed. “I’ve traveled a lot. The road tends to teach you a few lessons. Catch, is that what you want me to call you.”

“Everybody calls me Catch.”

“Catch” She repeated.

“Did you know that your name, Sheridan, means to search? Are you a searcher, Sheridan?”

He carried her luggage up an ornate staircase. “Yes, I do know what my name means. But, how did you know my name? You called me by my name before I even signed your ledger.”

He pointed to an identity tag on her luggage.

“Oh, that works too.” A deep yawn escaped her as he opened the door to her room. “Excuse me. I guess I’m more tired than I thought.” Sheridan noticed symbols on a wall plaque beside the door. “What is this all about?” Sheridan pointed to the plaque. “It looks like some kind of ancient, symbolic script.”

She traced the symbols lightly with her fingers. The contrast of stiff, dry balsa wood against the smooth, polished wood of the door jam oddly seemed to fit. The symbols seemed familiar. “Hmm,” She became the scientist again. She remembered why she took the detour to Hidden. “These symbols look like an ancient lost language. I’ve seen something like them somewhere.”

“Well, it probably is authentic then.” Catch opened the door.

Sheridan peered into her room and gasped

The contrast overwhelmed her. The new Early American style furnishings of the suite took her by surprise. The bathroom door stood open revealing all the gadgets of the most elegant hotels. She stood in front of the bathroom door and saw a walk in tiled shower, a large vanity complete with ornate mirror, built in hair dryer and plush rug. The bathtub was large enough for two with body massaging jets. “Wow, this is something that I plan to take advantage of right away.” She turned and smiled back at Catch. There were even bottles of her favorite brands of shampoo, lavender soaps, and candles setting on top of the marble counter.

The old man smiled, “Ye didn’t think we were all backward did ye?” Catch seemed to have an endless repertoire of wisecracks to suit his chosen persona. He even added a hitch in his get-a-long to go with the old hillbilly.

Catch deposited her luggage on a bench in a spacious closet. Looking around the room, she noticed a large portrait of the same odd flower as on the doorknocker. The room was like a dream from her youth. The color scheme and design of the room were in her favorite colors and styles.

Thinking of finally getting a chance to call Michael, she noticed there was no phone, television, or even a radio.

“Mr. Catch, I was hoping for a telephone to call my friend in Lincoln. I don’t see any in the room.”

“No need to be so formal, just call me Catch.” He drew in a breath. “We live simple here. We don’t use phones, cars, or any of the things that make the world move too fast.”

“Don’t you have a telephone downstairs for emergencies?”

“I’m afraid it isn’t working, and I don’t know when it’ll be fixed. We have an old two-way radio. I’ll see if we can get that to work.” Catch replied. “You should get some rest and something to eat. You aren’t expected today are you?”

“No, not particularly, my friend is used to me not checking in for a day or two. This isn’t the first spot I’ve been in where I couldn’t get a signal.”

Catch started to leave the room then looked back. “You are here because you are supposed to be here.” He said almost in a whisper as he started out the door.
“What an odd thing to say.” Sheridan thought his statement sounded sinister.

“Enjoy your room, you will find everything you need.”

“Wait, don’t I get a key?”

“No need for them around here.” The old man turned his back to her and continued on his way. He obviously was not going to explain his odd statement.

Sheridan was alone in a lavish room, decorated as if they decorated it exclusively for her, and it puzzled her. She made a deep sigh and looked around the room.

A bath sent warm relaxation through her body. The water gently rolled over each part as she twisted and nearly swam in luxury. Stepping out on the rug her feet sank so deep her foot tops tickled by the deep threads. In the closet, a robe of pink silk slid over her body like a caress.

Sheridan forgot her fears, her anger, her frustration and fell into that welcome calm she’d felt when she first arrived.

The flower portrait on the wall detailed more of the subject. The leaves were heart shaped with red veins. The petals were feathery and white. The artist had painted a yellow-gold stamen as if it shown like burnished gold. She was curious about the designer who could have dreamed up such a beautiful theme for the Hide Inn. Without thinking, Sheridan found herself sniffing at the painting as if she’d inhale the fragrance of the flower.

She pulled her laptop out of her tote and filled two pages of her journal. Tonight she didn’t bother journaling her usual daily report. Tonight Sheridan talked to Michael though her journal, which he would never read. Knowing he was totally innocent of her journal content she allowed herself to admit her feelings for him went beyond friendship. She asked him if they could go beyond the Dean of Sciences and Anthropology instructor friends who go to dinner and a movie once a week. Their occasional lazy Sunday afternoon strolls through on of the many Lincoln parks.

She wrote how she was over her pining for a long dead husband. The explosion took more than her soul mate; it robbed her of the child she’d carried. She would never have a child of her own. Her fingers started shaking and missing keys as she spilled her feelings and doubts about Michael coping with her inability to make him a father. She typed questions to herself answering for him one way, then another. She coached both herself and Michael to move forward.

Was she making an argument to help convince Michael, or was she rationalizing her desires? She didn’t know, but it was all coming out as she tapped the keys missing some and making more typos the more frustrated she felt.

She loved Michael and she knew he loved her. Their love was companionable rather than electric, but just as heart felt and deep. She continued to journal thus until her eyes drooped.

She deleted her entry as she’d intended from the onset. Then she did her usual daily log entry before sliding between the silk sheets.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interview with Author Sally J. Walker

Interview with Sally J. Walker about Her New Book AWriter’s Year
By Glenda K. Fralin

The following is an E-interview with Sally J. Walker about her new e-book, A Writer’s Year.

Sally is an accomplished writer and educator. She has covered a number of genres through her writing career including Screenwriting, Romance books, Poetry, and more. She also does professional editing.

With all that, Sally seems to find a way to balance her life with family, community, and spirituality.

Sally has been President of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild and is ready to hand over the reins. That does not end her leadership in NWG and other organizations.

Sally has the ability and willingness to help fellow writers.

Sally I know this is supposed to be an interview about your new e-book A Writer’s Year. However, one question must come first.

How are you and how are the penguins?

Working on being thinner with only incremental accomplishment but will NOT give up. Continuing to attack my daily lists with intensity. Carpe diem! My four grandkids or “My Penguins” I have babysat since they were born are already making requests for what we will be doing this coming summer. I “ran kites” for them just last week when school was out and it took two days to recover! It was worth it.

A Writer’s Year is unique for you isn’t it? What makes it different from other books you have written?

I have written fourteen novels (two published and four more coming out later this year) that range from contemporary Young Adult fare to romantic westerns to romantic suspense. Of course, there are the “books” that are actually short stories included in the Bell Ringer literacy series for the Fiction Works, too. Those are also romance and westerns. A Writer’s Year is a collection of nonfiction essays about whatever struck me about my own writing life that particular day, though I did work to vary my topics. That was an adventure in creativity all by itself. I did a lot of self-analysis.

I devoutly apply myself to the study and practice of many forms of writing in an on-going effort to challenge myself to be the best I can be. I DO NOT want to compare and contrast myself with anyone else. I have enough to keep pushing myself in poetry, fiction, playwriting and screenwriting, as well as to be a clear, succinct writer of nonfiction for magazines, my on-line classes and when explaining myself on-line. The article word-counts and e-mail/Facebook entries have taught me to keep it simple, direct, short and relevant. When I had to translate my on-site lectures to the condensed on-line lesson format I continued to exercise restraint and selectivity of how much to explain and what examples to use. The evolution of the essays in this collection was a natural result of all that “training.”

I love that this book is a journal you wrote about writing throughout the year. What made you choose to do such a journal, and later to publish it?

Originally, it began as a challenge to myself to write something meaningful every day as a sort of personal devotional or, yes, a journal. As I discussed the idea with fellow members of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston, NE, they suggested I post each day’s musings on their list-serve. That ended up committing me to doing it for the entire year. Sometimes members would comment on what I wrote. Other times there was a dead silence that made me think “Yikes! That was a bit too much!” But I persevered, sometimes being a bit more profound, sometimes just plain silly, sometimes focusing on a pet peeve, sometimes showing vulnerability or pain . . . all those pathways any writer treads in their writing journey.

It was written throughout 2007. I periodically shared an essay here or there, even a few on the Nebraska Writers Guild blog site in 2010. Then my publisher started nudging me, so I gave it to him fall 2010. It is only in electronic formats now. He will consider a print edition after it’s been out for about six months, but may decide to just do it electronically.

23 of the essays have also been contracted to be reprinted as a column in the newsletter/magazine for an organization affiliated with AARP, the Coalition for Dementia Alternatives-America. Those essays were selected because of their relevance to activities that trigger or stimulate memories and creativity. My concepts coincide with many of CDA’s programs and give specific directions for applying the creativity. They don’t speak down nor rely on medical or intellectual jargon. I guess that’s because I wrote them from my heart and my day-to-day application.

In the January 1 entry, you outline an approach you titled How to Have a Fulfilling Year as a Writer. You describe a 3-part approach as D: Dreaming, P: Planning, and E: Executing. Please describe these elements for us.

To me, those are the three steps to taking an idea from a glimmer of an idea to words on paper (or a computer screen). No one knows for certain exactly where a creative thought or image comes from or what triggers it. When working on my degree in writing, we had to read a collection of essays written by all kinds of artists and scientists who tried to explain their own creative process, especially where the very first thought came from. The answers were as unique as the people. How does one explain thought association, I mean to the origin of the first synapse in one’s own brain? But the FACT that the image or concept happens is REAL. As a “Creative” I know when it happens. I know when something isn’t worth contemplating further . . . but the spark that jumps from one thought to another that forms into words and more images that is the “Dreaming” phase that has to be nurtured with lots of creative stimulation. Some people require wallowing in nature, others in silent darkness, others in music, others in “people watching” and others in cinematic images or books. The original thought or image blossoms into possibilities of “What if . . .” The images, the word, the characters and the stories actually POSSESS the creative mind until dreaming becomes a sort of haunting that nags at the creative to DO something more that merely toy with the thoughts.

So, the creative person begins to document and give structure to the dreaming. Yes, I have met Creatives who believe they “go with the flow” and move directly into the “Executing Phase.” But when I have questioned the serious Creative I have found they have trained their mind to do the structuring, the general outline before the project was attempted. I have also found that the trained, serious Creative is very selfish with time and effort. That means they do not want to waste either on a random, disorganized project. So, whether the creative person is an intense documentarian of plans (in Character Profiles, story research and story outlines like mine) OR a mental organizer, I have consistently found BOTH approaches in the professional artists who seriously pursue their art forms as a career. Life is too short to leave creativity to chance. More is accomplished when the Dreaming turns into the commitment of a Plan.

Many a professional writer has given the perpetual advice of applying the seat of the pants to the chair and putting down one word after another on a regular basis. All the fantastical dreams in the world with meticulously planned stories are for naught if they are not written. Here, too, I have found a variety of execution disciplines. Some people need a specific place, others specific tools and others the motivation of money. There is no one system to execute except to “git ‘r done.” It takes commitment and discipline. It takes ignoring the other demands on time and energy. The writing becomes the priority. Period. If “life” intrudes and rips the writer away the soul screams to return to the task and return one must. It matters not if the execution is imperfect or does not get published/produced. It does matter that the dream that was laid out in a plan has become a reality for the writer!

Your January 3, entry is one that I find personally interesting: Writing as Mental Therapy. The therapeutic value you describe is more than just setting down and throwing a bunch of curse words onto a page because you are angry. What you describe is an integral part of your writing process. Please describe here, why this is so important in developing your characters.

I wrote my first short story the second semester of First Grade. I remember having characters and stories drifting around in my mind since I was a toddler. I can focus and still recall some of them. No lie. (The psychology principle is that a human forgets nothing, but merely stores it away until the memory is needed.) Okay, so add to whatever my mind was evolving in childhood--fed by TV, movies, books—a lifetime of meeting people, both in passing, at work, at school, and as family and friends. I took away bits and pieces of every person I encountered. Some I liked, some I loved, some I feared, some I disliked, and a handful I truly never wanted to EVER encounter again. In truth every human impacted my self-concept and my awareness of how to relate to the world. I added them to my mental storytelling arsenal.

I think of writers as being amateur psychologists for we motivate and manipulate characters. Since the vast majority my life experiences have been imperfect, I have discovered as a writer I could change an experience for a character, inside and out . . . when I could NOT have any “do-over” my own experience. Think about how much power that gives me over “life” even though it is a fictional life. I create a fictional character from the bits and pieces I have collected in my mind and do what I want with them. The trick is to manipulate the experience so that it is credible or believed by the reader. Ah, so I can change the cause-effect to ultimately achieve the end result I want. We certainly can’t do that in REAL life, can we? And, here’s the kicker, if a writer doesn’t like a character or the events of a story, IT CAN BE CHANGED! Now, if that is not “Mental Therapy,” I don’t know what it is!

Sally, I could ask you questions until I’ve gleaned your book, but that isn’t my purpose here. Instead, I would like to go back to the beginning where I made a small effort to credit your expertise. Considering the topic A Writer’s Year, please give us a biography of Sally J. Walker and her accomplishments.

Well, there’s my website at

What isn’t there specifically, I guess is that I was born in Exira, IA, to a poor farm family and went to various schools in Iowa and Nebraska as my father worked as a farm hand. He was groundskeeper for four years at Omaha’s Peony Park with its huge pool and playgrounds, but returned to farming. When he finally left the land in 1957, my folks bought a house in LaVista. I paid for my own dance lessons, participated in every school activity I could and worked as an editor for our school paper while being a part-time receptionist at the local small town paper. With my parents discouraging thoughts of college, I graduated from high school in Papillion in 1965 and married at 18. My first husband was an unskilled worker and wanderer. My employment credits included clothing store clerk, waitress, insurance company file clerk, insurance claims secretary, and nurse’s aide.

In New Mexico, a patient honored me by making arrangements for me to attend the University of Albuquerque School of Nursing. I took a one semester writing course and won fine arts honors for a short story. At that time I also became a member of a volunteer search and rescue group, beginning my fascination for emergency medicine and earning my climbing certification with the Marine Reserves. After graduating with my Associate Degree in Nursing in 1973, I divorced and worked to be accepted in the Nurse Practitioner Program. However, I came home for my 10 year class reunion in 1975, fell in love with the incredible man I am still married to and moved back to Nebraska. We raised three daughters from our home in Ralston, while I continued to work as a full-time critical care R.N. I finally, finally retired from that part of my life in 2006 (because of a knee injury doing Scottish Highland dancing, but that’s another story).

Along with all the usual family-oriented stuff of Girl Scouts, church and community service, I started part-time work in 1977 on a degree in creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The head of the drama department got a grant from the national Endowment for the Arts for the production of the play I wrote under him in an independent study. And in 1985, one of my senior thesis stories was critiqued by visiting speaker Richard Ford (before his Pulitzer) who encouraged me to expand the work into a novel. LETTING GO OF SACRED THINGS was published in 2001 with some really nice literary reviews. My 1994 romance THE HEALING TOUCH was nominated for the best audio book of the year but was runner-up to STAR WARS. In 1998 a western screenplay THE LONELY MAN was one of the 233 quarterfinalists out of the 4,442 entries in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s annual Nicholl competition. I’ve had a smattering of obscure poetry recognitions, too. One of my favorites is one religious poem’s “Honorable Mention” by the Episcopalian Journalists. Another was when an editor of a publication of the C.S. Lewis Society compared my poetic style to the great Gerard Manley Hopkins. I’m sure that Jesuit priest was spinning in his grave. My attention to detail caught the eye of publisher Ray Hoy of The Fiction Works who moved me from copy-editing to Editorial Director in 2000 when he expanded his company. The hours have varied from part-time to over-time. I can proudly say that TFW does not practice nepotism. Every work published there has been stringently evaluated, including my own.

I am an advocate of professional writers commiserating and working with other writers as much as possible. With the sponsorship of the library in Ralston, I founded the Nebraska Writers Workshop in 1985 that continues to meet weekly to discuss and share poetry, scripting and fiction. One of my greatest joys there is mentoring some very talented teens. I joined the Nebraska Writers Guild in 1989, the same year I joined Western Writes of America. In 1991 I paid my first dues to Romance Writers of America, later serving in several local chapter positions. My literacy publications made me eligible for Active membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators in 2005. One of the honors of my life was my 2007 election to the presidency of the Nebraska Writers Guild, a prestigious organization founded in 1925 by some of Nebraska’s literary greats. My four years of responsibility have not been taken lightly especially considering NWG grew from 67 dues paid members to over 175 in 2011.

Since a lot of the Nebraska Writers Workshop required prepping continuing education material for brief discussions, I accumulated material that evolved into the constantly up-dated Write-Now classes I have taught locally, nationally and now internationally on-line. What a hoot that has been! I certainly don’t profess to know everything about writing, but the one thing I do know is that I can infect others with my addictive passion for writing. I hope I am still learning and pouring out carefully crafted writing when I’m 103! Right now I stand on the shoulders of the many fine people who have encouraged, taught and critiqued me, especially the remarkable Lew Hunter (retired UCLA Film Department head) and my team of agents. I am humbled by everyone’s belief in me!

Sally thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. As inspiring, as you are too many, I am one who hopes to inhale a modicum of your passion for the craft. I also hope to learn from your devotion and skill. I know many people, including me, whom will benefit from your book A Writer’s Year.

Dear Readers: Sally J. Walker’s electronic book A Writer’s Year may be purchased from the following sites:

The Fiction Works

Amazon for Kindle

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


I come here today from out of some weird recess of my brain. I hope to find some uninsanity. Oh, I know you think I used it wrong. I should say lack of insanity, or something to that affect. The truth is, I believe, uninsanity is that for which I grasp. Deinsanitize could be a better word. We are inundated with delusions and fantasy, misjudgments, and instability that we thrust upon ourselves through television, news reports (if you can call them news), and perpetual political mind games.

The only place where I find the precious uninsanity I seek, is a closet in my brain where I shut myself away in prayer, and meditation. Some say that is the definition of insanity and escapism. Oh what they miss. If my little brain closet is where I am most insane, it’s the best escape I know from the insanity we pour over our heads every day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Review/Temple Grandin

"Temple Grandin" is one of those movies that you may not have heard about. It stars Claire Dane as Temple Grandin a woman with autism who aspires to a PhD. This movie is a must see true story of a woman who insisted that her way to care for her autism was best for her. The revelation of seeing things through the eyes of this woman (literally) opens a new world of understanding. Her accomplishments with animals and design are uncanny. Claire Dane is one of the best actors going with wonderful versatility that once again is revealed through this movie. Find it. Watch it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Interview with Kristopher Miller on upcoming publication

The following interview with Kristopher Miller has been conducted through an e-mail exchange of information.

Kristopher Miller is a young man on a path to success not only as a writer, but as an educator. His short story "Gold Muse Sugar" will be published in the January 17th issue of Writing Raw at

Kris would you give us a brief bio about yourself. For example: Where the did Kristopher Miller come from? What are you now?
Why do you write? You know, the usual who are you stuff.

I was raised to read at a fairly young age, from a young reader’s edition of the Holy Bible and the classics, such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Moby Dick, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to different children’s books and young adult novels like Rifles for Waite, The Pigman, Forbidden City, and books by one of my favorite children's authors, Avi, who wrote Nothing But the Truth and Who Was That Masked Man Anyway?

One of the first vivid moments of reading a chapter book in the Goosebumps series of books. I read through it-it was titled Deep Trouble, I think-and then I became hooked on the series after seeing the cover of a hammerhead shark going after a boy’s legs. It also made me venture to reading other books-with the horror genre and ghost stories in particular-that my school library had but it also inspired me to look for books outside of my school library as well. And from that point, I’ve almost always had a book on my side and a book to read since.

I understand this will be your third short story to be published. I also have read your blog and know that you also study other writers and align something of yourself with them. What is it in other writers that you find most fascinating.

The first thing that I really find fascinating about other writers is not just the ideas the work with but how they execute these ideas. H.P. Lovecraft fascinated me with his weird, horrible creatures known to cause their victims to go completely mad but how he does it with various first person and third person accounts in a journalistic style really captivated me. It can be said the same with E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India where he writes in a detached yet involved narrative of mystic and troubled India by showing two sides of the story; those of the English visitors and those of the Indians who are prosecuted by British forces.
I also like studying the backgrounds of different authors, for it gives me clues to why they write they way they do. It goes along with the creative process; people say writers insert their personalities into the work, but how do they actually do it? I also enjoy looking into other authors’ influences from other authors, as it leads me to curiosity about those who influenced them. The adage “Respect your elders” really applies when you are studying other writers and working with your own craft. I really enjoy it when people of any creative medium-writing or otherwise-insert allusions and references as in-jokes to readers who may know and catch something else. There’s an esoteric thing that goes on that can be talked about in person, or in a chat room or message board there these ideas by writers can be speculated on for hours and even days at a time.
When studying the backgrounds of different authors, I enjoy some cases where authors of two completely different styles and genres have known and collaborated with one another. When people bounce ideas off of each other, the results of the written work are very interesting and in some ways, help both authors out in diversifying their styles over time.

We are very close to the publication of "Gold Muse Sugar". Would you mind just giving us a couple of juicy sentences from the story?

Certainly. This is in the beginning when an aspiring writer-a more deluded version of myself-attempts to write the great avante-garde novel and decides to become a harsh critic of other writers afterward:

Then I found a little golden box marked Gold Muse Sugar. I took the box from the shelf and read the description on the back of the box, which claimed that it was the pure source of creative energy much like ginseng or marijuana:

Experience the drug that helped Thomas Edison create his lightbulb, helped Albrecht Durer craft Melacolia and helped Ayn Rand outline Objectivism. You too can be inspired!

Wow, a box description that lists obscure names no one has ever heard of. This drug definitely had to be for me because I believed myself to be one of the future elite writers to hold total reign over other writers. So I bought the drugs, I drove home and popped in one of those gold pills. My brain felt like it was on fire. I had a vision of my dhampir heroine, afflicted with amnesia, being trapped on a space station prison. I could see it in my head:

And so the sojourner had a dream, while being chained with psychic chains that chained her to a wall. And she dreamed she was in a seventeenth century or so village and being stabbed by a thousand shadow people and then a mysterious man comes and he points a gun at her head all while she screams “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Indeed, that was the epic beginning I was thinking of. Bad news was, this is the vision that I typed as I was writing down my vision.

I am impressed with your accomplishments at such a young age. What would you say to your students or other young writers to encourage them to get back up and keep going?

If I had students in a creative writing class, I would urge them to keep reading and to keep writing. I also stress the importance of working with multiple rough drafts.

Case in point, “Gold Muse Sugar” is based on a poem titled “Object of Delusions,” which was about a narrator who finds a special golden orb that produces ideas but he just ends up squandering them. Then I decided it would be better as a prose-story. Later developments led up to making it more of a dark comedy and I used my experiences of trying to write my own novel with multiple genres, only to watch it fall flat on its face. The story itself parodies the muse in which people take the muse too seriously, and it also parodies certain aspects of the literary world. This was not in the poem, so this was stuff added to create a more sardonic tone.

I have read some of your fantasy and science fiction. You have a wonderfully unique voice. Are there other author's styles you draw from or have similarities to?

That’s a tough question. I have a hard time drawing in of whom I might be “emulating” because when I write, I usually do not focus too much on writing style first; it’s the concentration of ideas that I focus on first. Then as the redrafting process goes along, I start to experiment with how these ideas work out. I really like first-person narratives because the reader is inside the character’s head and knows nothing other than what that person knows, which creates mystery, suspense, and amusement for the reader depending on what viewpoints this character has.

I guess one style I like to draw on from time to time has to be some authors’ experimentation with reworking the text on a visual style, either by just featuring dialogue so the reader pieces together a puzzle or presenting it in a different way that really toys with the reader’s mind. Now, I believe I’m still far from that angle in most of my works but one approach I have taken is the “show, don’t tell” policy. I avoid summary and exposition as much as possible because I really want the reader to figure out what is going on. Readers are sometimes mistaken to be passive but they are active. They need to decipher the text and the language to tell what is going on. And in some ways with the current mainstream literary scene-and with most, but not all, of the mainstream media in general-I believe readers are often sold short.

Leave us with a Kristopher Miller quote.

Always try something new and go beyond expectations, even for yourself.