A RARE WRITER

I became acquainted with Richard Schwindt a couple of years ago when I joined a band of novelists called the Underground Writers. We are all mystery writers and decided to meld together for marketing support. Most of the group hails from Texas while Richard, myself, and Cindy Davis work from different, far-flung locations. Richard is the international dude who lives in Ontario, Canada.

He is a learned, multi-faceted man who wears many hats. He has a Master’s in social work and still has a private practice in psychotherapy. He’s held clinical positions in Toronto, Sioux Lookout, and Kingston. He has a rare specialty in emotional recovery from workplace mobbing and has penned several books on the subject.

Author Richard Schwindt

Richard is that unique writer who can captivate in multi-genres. The first book I read by him was a hoot. Fifty-Seven Years and Fifty-Seven More was a humorous romp about a man who magically wakes up as a woman and his/her adventures discovering his female side. Somewhat au courant given the public’s taste for merging sexual identities. My review called it “kooky, crazy, offbeat, and just delightful.”

It was later when I read his more serious prose that my admiration for his literary excellence blossomed. Death In Sioux Lookout is a book rich in literary prose and the subtle undercurrents of human behavior. His background in psychology weaves a tapestry of flawed human behavior.

THE SHINE FROM THE GIRL IN THE LAKE is Richard’s latest fictional foray and the pages are filled with his colorful and intense writing. Here’s an example from page one.

“I knew what a Walker Coonhound could do, but my experience with Butch mostly
involved watching him roll over, and invite me to rub his belly on the days I wandered
next door to drink with Jack Rice.

This didn’t prepare me for the furious restraint of the animal now stalking beside me in
the hot brush, ten miles outside of Magnolia Bluff. His hackles rose stiff as knives, and his
mouth curled in a rictus of canine rage and anticipation.”

I’m hooked and I can’t wait to dig into the rest of the book. The Shine From The Girl In The Lake debuts on Amazon on September 20th. Special-priced for a limited time at $.99 starting September 20th at Amazon.com.

This didn’t prepare me for the furious restraint of the animal now stalking beside me in
the hot brush, ten miles outside of Magnolia Bluff. His hackles rose stiff as knives, and his
mouth curled in a rictus of canine rage and anticipation."

DYNAMIC DUO

Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey have co-authored white papers and fiction for many years. As professionals in the Internet technology field, many might consider them to be straight-laced “nerds”. Nothing could be further from the truth. After a day of pounding out technical documents and putting out complex IT fires, the two slip out of their Clark Kent personas and step into the world of high-tech thrillers. They found their passion for fiction about ten years ago, and have amassed an impressive list of successful books including their well-known Enigma series. To date, they have written twelve Enigma Series novels and one prequel to the series called Out of Poland. They’ve penned a script and are shopping the screenplay to interested parties. Who knows? Breakfield and Burkey might become part of the Hollywood screenwriter’s set!

The two have a unique collaboration process. They call it Literary Badminton. Charles says, “Rox will write something then bat it over to me. I’ll chew on it, make changes and then return it. It works in both directions as we work through a story. This process allows us to smooth the characters and the story into a single voice. We typically trace out a few chapters at a time. We get together in person or via conference to discuss the progress of the project and our next steps. It works well for us.”

Their most recent project includes a novella called The Flower Enigma, book five of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles. This is a unique collaboration of nine authors from around the country and Canada writing about Magnolia Bluff, a small town in the picturesque Texas hill country. The town folk has to be frightened because murder and mayhem are exploding everywhere.

I just finished reading The Flower Enigma, Let me share my thoughts with you.

Globe-trotting lovers JJ and Jo find themselves in the sleepy, southern town of Magnolia Bluff, Texas. The two just want to be left alone to explore each other and enjoy a respite from their busy, glamorous work lives. Well, that was the plan anyway. But when a group of women in the small town is stymied from doing a podcast about a pressing local issue, the couple is drawn into their drama. Someone with malicious intentions is sabotaging the podcast and threatening the ladies. But it’s not just the podcast. Under the surface lurks a darker, more evil secret. The Flower Enigma is engaging, charming and a terrific read. If you’d like a copy, here’s where to find it.

https://www.amazon.com/Flower-Enigma-Charles-Breakfield-ebook/dp/B0B6QK4FGK

THE MASTER

Like many successful people, author Caleb Pirtle III has earned his stripes with hard work and years of pounding the keyboard, writing about the fragility and complexity of human behavior. His characters are unique and unforgettable. One woman easily comes to mind. Eudora Durant from Caleb’s Moon series. We are introduced to her in Backside of a Blue Moon. Here’s what I wrote about Caleb’s character: “Eudora Durant is dying too—not from disease, but from the slow drip, drip of a miserable marriage to a cheating, no-good, alcoholic S.O.B. named Washburn Durant. Her days are filled with back-breaking physical labor and her nights are full of Washburn’s drunken abuse. One night, Washburn hits her one time too many, and he finds himself facing the business end of his own shotgun. He runs, but Eudora and the shotgun are faster.” See what I mean. She’s relatable and morphs from weak and victimized to a powerful woman who decides to take matters into her own hands.

Fast Forward to 2022. In Caleb’s new book, Eulogy in Black and White, we meet another one of Caleb’s unusual and memorable characters. Graham Huston is a veteran of the wars in the Mid-East sandbox. After eight post-injury surgeries, Huston promptly returns the Purple Heart he earned and becomes a vagabond traveling down lonesome highways in America until he lights in Magnolia Bluff, a small town in the hill country of Central Texas. Every day, Huston walks miles to the local cemetery carrying a fistful of flowers, sits down, and has a conversation with PFC Freddy Millstone who died in a sweltering jungle in Vietnam. Huston didn’t know Freddy, but he thinks someone should remember the soldier’s ultimate sacrifice.

Magnolia Bluff town folk are having one massive, hysterical anxiety attack. Every year for the past eight years, someone has been murdered on May 23rd. As the day approaches, some even scedaddle out of town to avoid their own murder. Who will be next? My lips are sealed. You’ll have to buy the book to find out. It’s one of Caleb Pirtle’s finest and here’s how to get your copy.https://www.amazon.com/Eulogy-Black-White-Magnolia-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B09Z9VPJYH

Divine Intervention

Successful mystery writer James Callan decided early on that writing was not going to feed his family. I think most writers ultimately come to that conclusion sooner or later. Personally, I am still juggling a full-time job with the government and writing murder mysteries when I can wedge time in my busy schedule. After getting a degree in English, Callan went back to graduate school and got a degree in mathematics and taught math and computer science for thirty years. Perhaps, it was divine intervention when someone put a book by mistake in Callan’s car. His interest piqued, Jim dove into the book and didn’t put it down until he finished it at two am. That unique event and the fact that his children were now grown and well-established on their own helped Callan make the decision to shake off academia and return to his first love-writing.

To date, James Callan has written seven novels, and four non-fiction books. He admits that he felt like a novice as a fictional writer after years of technical writing in the math and science arena. But James  Callan has succeeded wonderfully in his new career with several awards including the one he is most proud of, the Reader's Favorite Award. He spends considerable time thinking about a book before he sits down to write. Jim writes daily, but admits life sometimes intrudes and he has to adjust his schedule. A recent illness stalled his writing momentum. He spent months in the hospital and further recovery required bedrest for yet another month after three surgeries. Now fully recovered he's back on track. For more information, check out Jim's website:
https://www.jamesrcallan.com/

Callan’s most recent mystery venture has been the Father Frank Mystery series. His stories are very unique to the genre because the chief protagonist is a priest. Father Frank is a cleric at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Pine Tree, Texas. His astute understanding of human behavior and common sense has been able to help local law enforcement catch the bad guy. But in A Plot For Murder, the case takes a personal turn when Father Frank’s sister Maggie becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a well-known author who was the chief speaker at the Pine Woods Writers Conference. Determined to keep his innocent sister out of jail, Father Frank works with the Texas Rangers to find the real villain. https://www.amazon.com/Plot-Murder-Father-Frank-Mystery-ebook/dp/B08T8QVXV8

I must give considerable credit to fellow author and blogger Rox Burkey who gave me unlimited access to her interview with James Callan. If you'd like to see the whole interview, it's available here. https://roxburkey.com/my-chance-to-speak-to-james-callan/


Do You Read Anymore?

It’s a valid question. I’m a writer and I want people to read my books. Writing is hard. There are so many steps between an idea in my brain to holding the finished book in my hands. It’s a long, tedious, exacting process that can be exhausting and expensive.

But if I am to be completely honest with you, when I’m lying in bed at night, Kindle in my hands, I will peruse through the many books I have downloaded, and quite often, I will opt for a video instead. What? A writer choosing a video over a book! I feel like a traitor to my fans and fellow writers. When I analyze myself honestly, I chalk it up to laziness. When I’m tired and just want to be entertained, I choose a movie. My brain isn’t necessarily engaged. I am just passively watching the story unfold in front of me. When I read, I want to be totally engrossed, transforming the words I am reading into images in my head. It’s a different process where I am more present, more committed.

There is a certain amount of shame in my confession, but I don’t think I am alone in the process. Netflix, Hulu, Prime Movies. Roku TV, VUDU, tubi are all doing quite well. It used to be after a long hard day at work, after dinner, after the dishes were done, it was common for me to pull out a J.A. Jance mystery and read until bedtime. I’ve been a life-long reader, but not anymore. Instead, I’m mad for Starz and the latest Outlander episode. I frankly, can’t get enough of that Jamie. God bless author Diana Gabaldon for writing such an endearing character. I recently read her book, I Give You My Body (How I Write Sex Scenes.) I learned a lot from that book! Continue reading

Ch-Ch-Changes

Hello friends,

I owe you an apology. I committed the cardinal sin of being inconsistent with my blog. I promised monthly conversations, but that didn’t happen. I admit last year, I was floundering with the direction of my writing career.

Part of me had always wanted a publisher. There was something credible about having a publisher’s logo on the spine of my books. I’ve had two publishers, one was successful, the other, well not so much. A few years ago, California Times Publishing, an Internet publishing website, contacted me and requested to represent me.  I admit to being flattered. I had not sought their support; Jeff Napolitano of California Times Publishing had found me. It was like being invited to the prom. I said yes. Continue reading

SOON…VERY SOON

One of the biggest highlights for an author is when she can write THE END at the bottom of the last page. Friday night, I did just that. It’s like having a baby only your friends don’t give you showers.

BookdesignBetiBup33_4554A charismatic and popular priest, Father Michael Dunne is brutally stabbed to death in the confessional. The Seattle Catholic Community is stunned and in mourning for a cleric who served not only the people in his parish but many in the Northwest’s burgeoning homeless and drug-addicted communities. Continue reading

You Too Can Be A Media Darling

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Joanne McCall and I have been friends since the mid-eighties. We were broadcasters on sister stations in Portland, Oregon all those years ago. Because we were a minority, we banded together in a social organization we formed called Broads in Broadcasting. It was a way for us to network and support each other. But mostly, we just had a ton of fun.

We took diverse roads after broadcasting. I split my time between a job with the government and pursued my real love-writing dark murder mysteries in my free time. Joanne became a publicist and started her own company called McCall Media Group. 

I asked Joanne about her evolution from broadcasting to public relations. “That transition began in 1994 when I left broadcasting and went to work for a conference and retreat center as their PR director and special events manager. After I was there about a year, during which I was handling PR events and local media book tours for the likes of Kenny Loggins, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, and others, the CEO landed a book deal with a major publisher, Bantam Double Day Dell. They asked if I would like to head up the 25-city book tour and work with the publisher to do so, and I very excitedly said, “Yes! of course!”

The word publicist conjures up a number of images for me. What exactly do you do for authors who are interested in your services? “I work as a media trainer and publicist for nonfiction authors who specialize in business,
health, and some mindful/spirituality topics. I also work with fiction authors, business owners and others who want help positioning their work and delivering their messages in a compelling way. This is in the form of strategy sessions and media training. We discuss their goals, objectives, dreams, and desires, and then go about figuring the strategies that are the best way to make them happen.”Headshot, formal

For me, the hardest part of the publishing business is marketing. Any suggestions? “I have a couple of handouts I can share with anyone interested. One is a Publicity Cheat Sheet and the other is How to Become a Media Darling.”

I know that you have a program to help authors get ready for media interviews. Would you tell us about the program and what advice you give authors to get ready for radio and television interviews?
“I am launching a new beta program and event called McCalls
Media Finishing School this fall. We will do a full launch in the
spring of 2020. In addition to learning how to position your book or business, it also teaches you how to create sound bites, media training, and adding creative visualization and NLP to the mix.”

How does someone prepare for radio and television interviews? You and I had plenty of practice as broadcasters, but most authors don’t. How can they get prepared? Listen and watch other interviews. Who does it well and who doesn’t? The secret is to learn why and then do better. Make sure you create a list of key messages about your book. 8 to 15 will be enough. Key messages are those points that you will get across in any interview you do. It helps you to keep on track. Then create a list of interview questions. Have someone help you and do some mock interviews. Invite them to ask the questions and you practice answering.”

Just one final question. How do my readers get in touch with you? “They can
email me at joanne@joannemccall.com or they can go to joannemccall.com and fill out a form that comes right to me. Thanks, Kelly for all these fabulous questions. It’s really delightful and I hope your audience has found some of this helpful.” 

Thank you, my friend, for sharing your PR secrets with us. Loved chatting with you!

FOLLOW YOUR DREAM

I have numerous friends who love to write. They’re not on the New York Times Best Seller list yet, but they’re working on it. I’d like to share the story of one of my good friends who plows through an impossibly busy life to find time to follow her passion to write.

Kathy MacKenzie is truly a renaissance woman. She is a real estate broker and owner of Mackenzie Realty in California and Texas. She is a social media marketing specialist, a publicist, a web designer, and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Valley Center California Parks and Recreation Department. She is also a member of the Valley Center Planning Group, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Whew! On top of that she gives piano lessons once a week, and participates in a Kiwanis program called Rolling Readers that assists young children at their elementary school who need help with reading. Oh, yeah, she also plays tennis twice a week. In addition to this crazy, busy schedule, she has written two award-winning novels under the pen name of Bonny Brookes: Linked Lives and Darkest Dawn.

The 2014 winner of the Beverly Hills International Book Award in the relationships category, LINKED LIVES details the story of two women who cement a bond early in their childhood and develop a life-long support system for each other through poverty, unemployment, family struggles, betrayals in love, illness and death. Their linked lives created a rock solid friendship and love that spanned decades.

 

In Darkest Dawn Kathy writes about a woman named Linda who is unemployed, alone and facing an unplanned pregnancy. Abortion or adoption? The woman wonders if she can raise the child by herself after the father abandons her. In addition to this heart-wrenching decision, she is attacked by vicious dogs and stunned by a cruel death that leaves her inconsolable. Loving hands reach out to help her out of the depths of despair into peace and joy.

Like Kathy, my life is busier than I’d like. My dream is to retire from my full-time job and write every day, but someone has to pay the mortgage, and that would be me. I am working on my sixth novel, the fourth one in my Winston and Strom murder mystery series. Seattle homicide detectives, Nick Winston and Pat Strom are called to investigate the murder of Father Michael Dunne who has been tragically stabbed to death in the confessional. Who would want to kill the popular priest? BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED will be published in the Spring of 2019