Category Archives: Blog

Meet the Author – Joyce T. Strand

Joyce-Strand2Joyce T. Strand writes contemporary and historical mysteries set in San Francisco, the Sonoma wine country,  or Southern California. Her most recent release, The Reporter’s Story, features a young female reporter in 1912 San Francisco drawn into murder and intrigue as she tries to get the story that will propel her to become a world-class reporter. It is Strand’s seventh published novel. When she’s not writing, she loves to attend live theatre productions, especially Broadway musicals. She lives in Southern California with her cow statuary, two cats, and her muse, the roadrunner


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About The Reporter’s Story

A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a not-so-wealthy businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?

Additional info about Emma:  Emma Matheson is a young woman determined to be a star front-page reporter despite the bias against women in her day.Her mother died when she was born. She was reared by her father who runs a newspaper in Sacramento. She grew up learning about the newspaper business. Her father valued education and insisted she attend university before starting her career. She is bright, determined, a great writer — but a bit naive.

One on One with Joyce T. Strand…

So Joyce, what genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I read mostly mysteries. My favorite authors include John Grisham, who spins a great story while showcasing some real dangers that could occur in our lives. I also enjoy Michael Connelly’s LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller; both series are compelling procedurals. And I can get easily engrossed in spy thrillers, such as those written by Tom Clancy (OK, maybe I skip some of the technical description), Robert Ludlum (I once counted 14 shootings in the first two pages), or John le Carré. And Stieg Larsson’s  tales of Lisbeth Sanders held me spellbound.

However, my most favorite novel ever is James Clavell’s historical novel about medieval Japan, Shogun.  Although a historical novel and not technically a mystery, it had many elements that I enjoy from a mystery – great puzzles along with fascinating characters and big plot.

With so many interests, what genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

I write contemporary mysteries along the lines of Mary Higgins Clark and historical mysteries similar to Eric Larson,  so I guess that might be two genres, given the amount of history I include in my mysteries set in the past. I target adult women as readers. Although there is little that would offend a younger reader, I write from who I am – an older adult woman. I don’t consider my books particularly edgy or hip..

So tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

All of my mysteries are inspired by either a real crime case for my contemporary mysteries, or a real person, for my historical mysteries.  In The Reporter’s Story, I wanted to feature a female reporter in the early 20th century because I believed she would make a compelling amateur sleuth. I discovered Marjorie C. Driscoll, a real reporter who originally worked for William Randolph Hearst and then in 1921 joined the San Francisco Chronicle, a competitive newspaper to Mr. Hearst’s. She eventually moved south to the Los Angeles Times where she became a respected front-page contributor. A graduate of Stanford University in 1913, Driscoll wrote an article in The Stanford Illustrated Review in 1920, titled “In the Newspaper Field” that describes the features of a successful reporter, including the mantra “know a little of everything. My fictional reporter, Emma Matheson, follows the approach and values of the real-life reporter Driscoll as she pursues the mystery of a house burglary that the victim denies happened, leading to some precarious situations..

And what are you working on now?

I am currently drafting the final novel in my Brynn Bancroft mystery trio.  Brynn is a spinoff character from my first three contemporary mysteries. She served as a Chief Financial Officer at a small biotech company in Silicon Valley, but departed to manage a winery in Sonoma with her ex-husband. The first two mysteries of the trio, Hilltop Sunset and Landscape for Murder are both standalone as is the one I’m currently writing, but we see familiar characters in all three. It’s fun writing about wine country and the making of wine.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your work space look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

Although I don’t outline, I definitely “plot out” my story, and the more plot points I conceive, the faster the writing process. I admit that sometimes my characters get away from me and explore ideas I haven’t considered, but on the whole when I sit down to write I know the opening scene, the puzzle part of the mystery, a sub-pot, and how it will weave together in the end. Red herrings are most likely to pop up as I write. Also, I usually do research prior to writing.

My work space is basically any chair and my lap top. I do EVERYTHING on my lap top (lightweight MacBook Air). When I’m writing a first draft, I set a goal of writing a minimum of 3,000 words a day no matter how good and no matter where they might fall in the story. I always write at least 90,000 words per first draft of a book, aware that I will want to cut.  I count on my editors to tell me how much!

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

I have two difficulties when writing a novel: the first is knowing what NOT to include. For example, I love history and enjoy finding out how people lived in the past. But as my editor tells me, I need to exclude much of it so that I can get on with the mystery. Second, I also find it difficult to write a compelling conclusion. I sometimes revert to Hercule Poirot’s get-everyone-in-the-drawing-room to make sure the reader knows the mystery’s solution.

What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?

Writing itself comes easy most of the time, so long as I know where I’m headed with the story. If I don’t have the plot points, then it can be difficult. But I’ve always found writing therapeutic. It’s fulfilling to type words on a blank page that are meaningful.


Purchase your paperback here!

Now, your debut novel is making some waves. Can you tell us about it?

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about my
contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. I’m excited about my
newest release, The Reporter’s Story, which features a young female reporter in 1912 San Francisco who, in her quest to become a world class reporter, encounters murder and intrigue.  And I hope you’ll follow my contemporary protagonist, winemaker Brynn Bancroft, in her final novel coming out in November. She’s sure to encounter a murder or two.

Thank-you Joyce, for taking the time to talk to us.


Joyce is currently on a blog tour.

To find out more, visit these links

  Webpage Blog Facebook Goodreads Twitter

  • 1st Prize: Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
  • 2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
  • 3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story




Review – Pinnacle Lust by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre

Pinnacle-Lust-Michelle-Dim-St-Pierre-webIn a Tel-Aviv hospital during Operation Desert Storm, Sharon Lapidot, a beautiful young nurse, is having an affair with a married doctor. Sharon’s colorful and exciting life is ultimately destroyed by powerful and eroding mistakes. But her courage and wisdom lead her to an unregretful commitment. Vividly told, this compelling journey of love and lust, honor and betrayal, loss and redemption, will move you — and perhaps even change you.


Purchase your copy at any of these online bookstores

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Reading Pinnacle Lust was a pleasant surprise. It followed a theme I was familiar with (medicine and romance) while introducing me to a country I’ve always wondered about, but never traveled.

Michelle does a wonderful job sharing the beauty of her homeland, while sharing Sharon and Dr. Sloan’s torrid love story. The author brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of falling in love with a married man; the lust, the lies, the betrayal – the heat. The complications that can make or destroy your life. This steamy love story will keep you breathless and begging for more.

I have to admit that I especially enjoyed the cultural undertones within the story. It’s not often that we have access to a such a sultry story that also provides the reader with the opportunity to embrace the differences of romance and relationships in different cultures.

I give this book  5 stars!

                                                        About the Author:

Michelle-Dim-St-Pierre-AuthorMichelle Dim-St. Pierre was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, where she spent more than half of her life before relocating to the United States.

She lived through four wars and served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. Unlike her first year of service in an armored division in the Golan Heights, she spent her second year serving in the medical corps where she interacted directly with the injured soldiers of the Peace of Galilee war and their families. This interaction, along with the exposure to the hospital atmosphere, fascinated Michelle and further touched her heart.

After graduating from nursing school with a BS in Nursing in Tel-Aviv, she practiced internationally for 32 years in various positions in the surgical field and quickly advanced into health care administration. During her career she worked in the Operating Room, Recovery Room, and CCU–along with many other duties.

Writing was Michelle’s outlet at first, but it soon became her passion. Recently she left nursing and became a full-time writer. Her international background, along with her military and nursing experience, is always at the tip of her pen. Her first novel, Pinnacle Lust, starts the Pinnacle trilogy. She is also currently creating a cookbook inspired by the Pinnacle trilogy featuring dishes mentioned in the books.

Michelle is a world traveler who enjoys cooking epicurean food and creating original recipes.

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Review – Reconnecting by Katalin Kennedy

Years before, the four friends had made a pact: “When we get to be older women, we’ll find a place to live together.” When Marlie finally decided to move back to Ottawa in 2012, it wasn’t because she was encouraged by Kendra to join her, Vanessa and Iris to live at the Condo Complex; but rather, it was because she felt a calling to return.

What Marlie hadn’t counted on were the endless entanglements their reconnecting would entail. They were each experiencing a period in their lives, when they were inadvertently searching to rediscover who they were, what their purpose was and where the future would direct them.

Their stories unravel and intertwine during shared dinner gatherings when each confides a little more about her fears, her hopes, her loves, her beliefs. her family and her secrets. As time goes on, their sagas gradually unveil connections through their parents, about World War II, which none of them had expected.

And overarching it all, Marlie’s dreams and waking hours mingle with mystical messages which she sacredly guards but which she wholeheartedly accepts to be from Owen, her late husband.

Purchase your copy at Chapters IndigoBaico Publishing or from Katalin Kennedy


I didn’t know what I was getting into until I actually opened the pages of this captivating read. Reconnecting will resonate with women everywhere, especially if they are evaluating the relationships in their lives.

Reconnecting is a amazing story of four friends who remain connected throughout their lives despite the challenges they face. It explores how relationships can change over the years, and how close friendships can affect lives in the process.

The author’s ability to bring insight into women’s relationships, along with her fearless exploration of the mystical side of dreams and the messages we can receive made this an enlightening read. I look forward to sharing this book with some of my friends, with whom I have similar friendships.

A wonderful addition to my collection!

About the Author:

Katalin (András) Kennedy escaped from Hungary with her parents on Christmas Eve 1956. She married Duncan Scott Kennedy in 1972 and graduated from Ottawa’s Carleton University. In the latter part of her career, she managed major national projects with Health Canada’s Family Violence Prevention Programs, until her retirement. Her beloved soul mate, the Rev. D. S.  Kennedy passed away in 2006. She now resides in Cornwall, Ontario and continues her involvement in various organizations: Canadian Federation of University Women, Probus Club of Cornwall and Area, Encore Seniors’ Education Program and the Cornwall and Regional Writers’ Society. For ten years she was a columnist for Seaway News. In 2012, Kennedy launched her first novel “The Women Gather” and in June 2015 “Reconnecting” was also released by Baico Publishing.

BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY – Click on the image to enter!

  • First prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate and autographed copy of Reconnecting
  • Second and third prize: Autographed Copy of Reconnecting

Katalin Kennedy's blog-tour graphic


Meet the Author – CJ Bolyne

CJ Bolyne - headshotPlease welcome CJ Bolyne, author of the Trinity Trilogy the most recent release being ‘Guardians – Victory or Defeat’, the third and final book of the series. The first one is called ‘Trinity’, the second is ‘Anords – Tyranny’. She comes from rural Manitoba, just outside of Steinbach.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I like to read fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal and historical. I love fiction!

 What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

I write fantasy, sci-fi, and ancient history. The age group range from mid teens-adult.

Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

My most recent release is the third book in a trilogy called ‘Guardians: Victory or Defeat. Although I have a new book soon to be released called Ancient Origins – Discovery. My inspiration comes from my imagination and my curiousness for all things mythical.

What are you working on now?

I am working on three different books right now. One is about witches and warlocks, one is a second book to Ancient Origins series and one on a subject I won’t discuss at this time………..

Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your work space look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

An idea pops into my mind and I wonder….what if? Most of the time I start a story and write a chapter or two before I begin to write notes on what I want to write next on the story just to keep things straight.

I have, however, written by the seat of my pants, so to speak. In fact, Ancient Origins, book 1 was just that.

I like to keep a fairly neat and organized work space. Anything too chaotic and I can’t concentrate very well. In fact, I need to make sure my house is presentable also. I like to have a clear mind when I write.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

I find that if writer’s block sets in, I’m very frustrated. It does pass though, but if it comes I panic a bit.

What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?

The easiest part of writing is coming up with a story. My imagination is vast and writing just feels natural itself. I am glad I didn’t put off writing any longer than I did.

Thank you to CJ for joining us today.

CJ Bolyne - books

You can find the Trinity Trilogy on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Lulu and most recently, Createspace. For more information, please visit  her website at


Meet the Author – Marianne Curtis

net sizedToday we welcome Marianne Curtis, journalist, author and publisher to the table. For the past eighteen years, Ms. Curtis has been the head writer for the Dawson Trail Dispatch, a monthly newspaper in southern Manitoba. As a freelance journalist, she has published over 7,000 articles on a variety of subjects including politics, human interest and community events.

In 2012, Curtis published her first book Finding Gloria, in which she shares heartbreaking abuse as a child, then examines the effects on her life as an adult. This inspirational memoir was named a McNally Robinson Bookstore Bestseller; and Amazon Bestseller in Canada, the US and UK several times. Since then she has added five additional titles to her portfolio, plus a dozen titles published under another name. A firm believer that sharing experiences is important to personal growth and healing, she travels across Canada encouraging others with her story.

In 2014, she founded Emerald Publications and has designed, laid out and published nine books for other authors. She became the founder and President of Authors of Manitoba in 2015. In addition, she teaches writing, marketing and publishing to other authors.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I love a great mystery story; something that keeps you guessing right until the end. I grew up devouring Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. As an adult, I went through my historical romance phase where I collected Catherine Coulter, and Heather Graham. Then I discovered Anne Rice, Anne Rule, Stephan King, Michael Crichton, John Grisham and Sue Grafton. I also enjoy a good fact based novel or memoir.

What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

As a reporter, I deal with facts on a daily basis, so as an author, most of what I write is true or based on true stories. I find it difficult to “make things up”. I recently challenged myself by writing fiction with A Discreet Betrayal; while it is fiction, there is a level of truth to it. When I first started as a journalist, I wrote to “sound smart”, but the greatest tip my editor ever told me was to assume that everyone reading my work had a grade 10 education. While my books are not written for young adult, they can be read and understood by everyone.

Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

My most recent release Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors (Stop Bullying), came out during Anti-Bullying week in 2014. This book came as a result of sharing my story of being bullied and abused while in school, with decision makers from the Province of Manitoba in 2013. My testimony, along with those of many other victims, helped the province lay out the blueprint for Bill 18, an anti-bullying bill. As a result of sharing my story, other survivors confided their similar stories, and I took them, along with a healthy dose of resources and self-help aids and put them together in this volume.

What are you working on now?

Currently I am in the process of collecting stories for Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors (Stop Sexual Violence), and Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors (Stop Domestic Violence). Since Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors (Stop Bullying) came out, people have been opening up and sharing their stories in hopes of help inspire others to take back their power. It seems that many people have similar stories, yet we all feel alone in them. I am also working on a follow up to A Discreet Betrayal; where I continue the challenge of turning real local news into a page turning fiction novel called A Political Deception.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your work space look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

I am what you classify a “weird” writer; I do not have a creative process so to speak. I sit down, open my mind, and see where my thoughts go. I have a habit of writing as if I am telling a story in person. Another thing I’ve noticed – I am ALWAYS writing, even when I am nowhere near a computer or a pen. Sometimes it makes me crazy, this inability to “turn it off” but it also helps me process. When I am confident with my idea (and the little quirks that pop into my head) I sit down and write. It is not uncommon for me to write an entire 80,000 word novel in two weeks.

Which leads me to my quirk – procrastination! As a reporter, I write 40 articles per month, usually in the last 48 hrs before we print. I used to be a heavy smoker – sometimes 3 packs a day during deadline. Smoking was heavily part of my routine – I’d get stuck, light a smoke. I quit smoking August 2014, despite my fear that I would not be able to write any more – thankfully I can still write!  Now, when I am done a book or project for myself or someone else, I celebrate with a glass of wine and a hot bath.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

For me, writing the novel is easy; publishing it is easy; the hard part is waiting for feedback. Patience is NOT my virtue. I have sent out hundreds of copies of books and I get very frustrated when people do not write reviews or tell me what they think. For example, A Discreet Betrayal ended in a way two more books could be written, but I am afraid to proceed to book two because not many people got back to me on how they felt about Discreet. Even if it sucks, ESPECIALLY if it sucks, I need to know!

 What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?

I hate to admit it, but the entire process is natural for me. Not because I am brilliant, but because as a child, writing was the only way I could speak (you would have to read Finding Gloria to fully understand). In my opinion, I express myself much better in writing than I do verbally.

Thank you Marianne, for visiting with us today!     

To find out more about Marianne Curtis, or purchase her books, visit her website  or blog 

Marianne Curtis - books


Meet the Author – Grace Brooks (aka Heather Radford)

Grace Brooks - headshot Grace Brooks writes under the pen names Heather Radford and Lynette Tamar Mark.

Books available are, The Asquinn Twins: Frontier Life, The Asquinn Twins: Where The Trail Forks and The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures.

Grace’s latest release is The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures. She also wrote A dog For Keeps(Lynette Tamar Mark)

Grace Brooks(Shortt) hails from Sesekinika, Ontario, but currently lives in The Pas, Manitoba with her husband and Papillion.

What genres do you enjoy reading?

 I enjoy Y/A, Mystery, and family type movies, and the odd romance.

What genres do you write? What age groups are your books for?

Really, my writing is without age limits. I write Christian/YA for ages twelve and up.

Tell us a little about your latest release. Where did you get the inspiration from?

My latest release is The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures. This book is a continuation of Book One in The Asquinn Twins Series. The boys, Ken Asquinn and Bradan Turehue are not living the Christian life as they did as boys. Their behaviour gets to be so unchristlike, both boys are expelled from Golden Ridge Baptist Church, the church Ken’s father, Obediah Asquinn, Pastors.The boys go onto police college and graduate.

By now Ken has married Bradan’s sister, Charlotte and Bradan has married Ken’s sister, Martha.

Ken’s behaviour gets so bad, Charlotte leaves Ken and returns to Forest Lake, their home town.

The inspiration came from an incident in my life when a little girl in Ontario. When I wrote the first book, other ideas for a series sprang into my mind.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a sequel to A Dog fro Keeps. This book was published as a grade three reader in 1987. I’m attempting to make an ebook sequel.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline, or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your workspace look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

 I used to write wherever the story took me. Since a writer in residence took me through the writing process and taught me more about plot, I outline and research and make sure I know my characters by writing descriptions of each major, minor and in between character.

 What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

I find writing the first page of the novel to be the hardest. So much has to be introduced to the reader here, especially in a series. Characters from the previous books need to be introduced early so the reader will know later on who this character is.

What about the wasiest? What part of the writing process  just feels natural for you?

If there is an easy part of writing, I’d say from Chapter Two onwards to the last chapter. Sometimes bringing the book to a believable conclusion is an art in it’s self.

Grace Brooks wants to thank you for sharing this information with others.

Grace Brooks - books


Books available are, The Asquinn Twins: Frontier Life, The Asquinn Twins: Where The Trail Forks and The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures.

Grace’s latest release is The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures. She also wrote A dog For Keeps(Lynette Tamar Mark)


Meet the Author – Geralyn Wichers

geralyn wichers - author photoPlease welcome author and blogger, Geralyn Wichers. She is celebrating the release of her second novel, Sons of Earth, a Sci-fi story about a clone discovering his humanity. She also wrote post-apocalyptic love story, We are the Living. When not writing, Geralyn can be found running down the sidewalks and trails of Steinbach, Manitoba.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I could never pin myself to one genre, but anything speculative appeals to me–particularly dystopian. Classic fantasy is what really got me started on spec fiction. Right now I’m rediscovering the Chronicles of Narnia. At work, I lug around all seven volumes in one. I get a few funny looks.

I also ready leadership and self-development books. Recently I read Leadership Lessons from the Age of Fighting Sail by Chris Brady. It was fantastic. I’d recommend it for students of leadership, or history buffs.

What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

I write under the umbrella of “speculative” for adults. My first novel, We are the Living, was post-apocalyptic (read, zombies). Sons of Earth tends more toward sci-fi. I’ve dabbled in fantasy, and hope to return to it soon.

Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

Sons of Earth was inspired by my work in Pharmaceutical manufacturing. I got this thought: “What if we were manufacturing human clones?” And then I wondered, “We work with such strict parameters. ‘Reject’ medication gets thrown out. What would happen to ‘reject’ clones?” That’s what sparked the idea–the idea of ‘garbage’ human clones.

What are you working on now?

I just released Sons of Earth, so I’m just in the pause between projects. There’s a bit of gear-grinding going on in my head. I’d put a series (started during National Novel Writing Month 2014) on hold to finish production, so I’ll be taking that up again. It will be nice to work with original material again. This will be a series about a secret society of immortals, living among us.

 Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your workspace look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

As I mentioned, I get the thought ‘What if…?’ and that thought ruminates, and turns over and over and gains size like a snowball rolling down hill. If it works out well in my head, I’ll keep building and fleshing it out into a chapter by chapter outline, which I follow loosely during the first draft.

My workspace is where ever I put my laptop down. 🙂 Generally at the kitchen table. I nearly always have noise–in fact, to concentrate I’ll take my laptop to McDonalds. Something about the buzz of people helps me do my best work.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

Self-doubt! And after that, self-discipline. Since I work full time, it can be difficult to schedule time to write, even though I desperately want to write.

What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?

I find writing dialogue the best part. I love to write out conversations, particularly ones that are snappy and full of sarcasm. I’ll read over them and laugh at my own jokes. I hope other people laugh too! I also love to lie in bed and dream up scenes in my head, hear them, picture them, and almost ‘act them out’.

Thanks to Geralyn for joining us today.

geralyn wichers - books






You can find Sons of Earth and We are the Living on Amazon. Check out Geralyn’s Blog, where she writes about adventures in relationships, running, personal-development, and general mayhem, at You can also find samples of her books and further information at that site.


Meet the Author – Doreen Pchajek

Doreen Pchajek- headshotWith us today we have Doreen Pchajek a first-time writer from Ste. Anne, Manitoba. Doreen’s book, Ultimate Tragedy tells the story of her experiences after suffering the devastating loss of her only daughter in a car accident. Besides writing the book, Doreen also established the Stacey Pchajek Memorial Foundation, a registered Canadian Charity which gives scholarships, bursaries & prizes in her daughter’s memory. Thank you for joining us today, Doreen.

 What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

 I used to really enjoy reading suspense thrillers and mystery novels. Since the accident though I find it very difficult to read as I have a great deal of difficulty with memory & concentration. There are so many great books out there right now that I’d love to read; if only I could read like I used to!  My favorite authors are Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

 So far the only book that I have written is non-fiction and it is for age 16 and up.

Tell us a little about your book. Where did you get your inspiration?

 I had always enjoyed writing and there were many people who told me that I had a talent for writing. My daughter Stacey told me often, “You should write a book mom.” The possibility of writing a book had always been somewhere in the back of my mind. However I always seemed to be so busy being a wife and mother so it was just something to think about down the road.

When Stacey died at the age of thirteen, our whole family’s lives were thrown into turmoil. After going through six very difficult years it occurred to me that by putting my experiences into a book it could help others who are going through a similar tragedy and at the same time help others to understand what bereaved parents go through.

What are you working on now?

 Right now I’ve been kept busy raising money for my daughter’s memorial foundation which is very important to me. However, I am currently contemplating writing another book. I’m just not sure if it will be another non-fiction or something else.

Tell us about your creative process.

 Since my book was based on my own actual experiences it didn’t really involve a lot of creativity. Writing non-fiction stories does involve some creativity though as you still have to tell the story in a way that captivates your audience.

Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you?

 Yes, my story was definitely outlined and since I have difficulty with memory I had to rely on help from family members. Together we put everything in point form in chronologic order and I worked from there.

What does your workspace look like?

 My workspace is usually quite messy with papers all over the place. Every so often I have to clean it up so I can find things.

Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

 As for quirks or odd habits most of the things I like to do while writing are pretty normal. Except that I like to write at night when everyone else is sleeping. Since the accident I don’t sleep well at night. I am usually ready to fall asleep about the time that everyone else is waking up. I think that I kind of like to be alone in my thoughts.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel? What about the easiest? What’s your favorite part?

 Writing Ultimate Tragedy was extremely difficult for me; especially when I was reading Stacey’s hospital chart. The easiest part was knowing that it could help so many other people. My favorite part was seeing the actual finished product.

Thank you for sharing with us today Doreen Pchajek.

You can find Doreen’s book on Amazon.

Doreen Pchajek- books




Meet the Author – Celesta Thiessen

Celesta Thiessen -  headshotWith us today we have Celesta Thiessen a writer hailing from Steinbach, Manitoba. Celesta is a published author of over 20 books. Her other achievements include currently raising two young kids and working with her husband on their iPad app creation business, Visions Encoded. Thank you for joining us today, Celesta.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

 I really enjoy reading clean science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes I read middle grade or young adult science fiction and fantasy. I also enjoy Christian speculative fiction, which is fantasy and science fiction from the Christian worldview. My favorite author is Kathy Tyers who wrote the Firebird trilogy.

 What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

 I have written books for elementary age children, middle school readers, young adults, and adults. My books are mostly science fiction and fantasy. Prince Jade, a young adult fantasy, is my favorite fantasy book that I’ve written. The Dragon Warrior and the Princess, a space opera for adults, is my favorite science fiction book that I’ve written.

 Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

 My most recent release is called, Whispers of a Faded Dreamer. I’ve had this idea in my head for a long time now. I get most of my story ideas from my daydreams and that’s where this one came from. The idea is that you can get paid to sleep because wouldn’t that be fantastic? I think I first started contemplating the story in high school or it may have even been in junior high. The story has evolved over time. Even from the time I started writing it to the completion of the story the plot changed significantly.

 What are you working on now?

 I’ve written a series for children called, The Super Seven. So far, there are five books in this series. I am now working on the next book, which doesn’t have a title yet. I want to write two more books to complete The Super Seven series.

 Tell us about your creative process.

Most people assume that because I’m a writer and a published author that I find writing easy and fun. I don’t. I love the ideas in my head. I love holding my finished book in my hand. It’s everything in between that I find difficult. So my creative process looks like trying to figure out ways to get myself to actually write the story and then to edit it.

I have found joining different writing groups or participating in writing challenges to be helpful in getting myself inspired to write the story. I wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo 2010. Now, I write a novel during this writing challenge each year. Also, participating in the 3 Day Novel Contest has been helpful for my productivity. I have written most of The Super Seven series during 3 Day Novel Contests.

Having accountability with writer friends has also been very beneficial. I meet with a local writers group in Steinbach where we read our stories to each other. It’s great hearing someone’s reaction to your story and looking at them to see their facial expression during the story. It really gives you a good idea about what kind of effect your story is having on people.

Recently I have bought the program Dragon Naturally Speaking by Nuance. This is a new part of my creative process, something that I’m starting to try out to help myself get excited about writing. With this program I can speak the story instead of having to type it. Some people say they have found Dragon Naturally Speaking to be very beneficial for their productivity. For me, that remains to be seen. So far, it is an interesting novelty. So the most important part of the creative process for me is feeling the inspiration and energy to be able to write.

 Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you?

 As for being either a pantser or a plotter, I am more of a pantser. A pantser is someone that basically flies by the seat of their pants as they write, meaning they don’t really have an outline that they’re following. I like to go where the story takes me. Most often, I do have a general idea before I start though. It’s important to have a setting and characters in mind. I also like to have a beginning for the story in my head as well the major problem and how that problem is addressed so I will know how to start and where I’m trying to go.

What does your workspace look like?

 I’m very lucky I have my own office where I do my writing. I would like to say that my office is neat and organized with a place for everything and everything in its place. However, the reality is that my office is usually a mess. Sometimes even finding a spot on my desk for my laptop can be a challenge. On the wall in front of my desk I have dozens of sticky notes, small posters and cards from friends displaying motivational notes, phrases and Bible verses. I like having these words nearby. When I am feeling tired or discouraged I read these notes and verses and then the inspiration comes back.

Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

 As for quirks or odd habits most of the things I like to do while writing are pretty normal. I like to have a cup of tea, for instance. I guess some of the things I do are a little unusual. One thing that’s a little unusual is that I prefer wearing something red when I’m writing. I find the color red inspirational. And I guess I do have a weird thing that I do during the writing process. I like bouncing while I think about the story. Before I got a knee injury, I used to jump on my trampoline while I worked out the story in my head. Since I am unable to do that now I had to find a new way to bounce. So now I have what’s called a Bounce Back Fitness chair – it’s chair where I can sit and bounce. I wrote about my Bounce Back Fitness Chair on my blog. My Bounce Back Fitness chair not only helps me think through my stories but also helps my mood a lot!

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel? What about the easiest? What’s your favorite part?

 As I mentioned earlier, I find the whole process of writing a novel difficult. I suppose the most difficult part of writing the story is the middle. At the start of the story I still have excitement and drive and also some knowledge of what will happen in the beginning. At the ending of the story I’m excited because I also usually know the ending and am excited to be almost done the story. The middle is kind of a no-man’s-land of I-don’t-know-what’s-going-to-happen and despairing of ever getting the story done. My favorite part is when I open a box and see the physical copy of my book for the first time. I just love spinning nothing into stories – stories that can light the way to a different world.

 Thank you for sharing with us today Celesta Thiessen.

Celesta Thiessen -  books

You can find Celesta’s books on Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.


Meet the Author – Robert Stermscheg

Robert Stermscheg - headshotI’m pleased to introduce Robert Stermscheg, writer and translator.

Robert was born in Maribor, Yugoslavia, at a time when the Communist regime carried a powerful influence. His father, an electrical engineer, wished no part of the communist system and moved his family, initially to West Germany, and several years later, to Canada.  Robert’s father ensured that he maintain his German language, an asset that would prove beneficial many years later.

Robert embarked on a career with the Winnipeg Police Service, spanning twenty eight years. It’s fair to say that he developed his craft writing reports, crown briefs and other documents, although his passion lay in translation and historical fiction.

Once retired, Robert took to the challenge by translating a prolific German author, Karl May, into modern English. He started with The Prussian Lieutenant, followed up with The Marabout’s Secret and just completed Buried Secrets.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

 I particularly enjoy murder mysteries, historical fiction and biographies. I’ve read PD James, Anne Perry, Dick Francis, and just recently finished Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louis Zamperini, entitled Unbroken.

What genres do you write in?

 I’m partial to historical fiction, which is where I got my start. Karl May wrote extensively in the genre of historical fiction.

Tell us about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

My most recent release (translation), Buried Secrets, is the third installment in The Hussar’s Love series by Karl May. It takes place in the 1870s, and was penned by May in the late 1880s in serial format. Although I’ve written most of my adult life, I’ve recently discovered a skill for translating.

What are you working on now?

 I’ve spent the last two years researching and writing a WWII mystery/thriller, entitled, Stealth. It takes place in the last stages of the war. Although Hitler knows he’s lost the war, he is desperate to send the Allies one final message. Using a prototype aircraft, the Horten bomber, he intends on sending a ‘special’ package to London, one that Churchill won’t soon forget. The story has elements of history, but it also has that human element, pitting a ruthless Gestapo officer against an American pilot, determined to thwart their effort.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes place? What does your work space look like?

 I’m much more organized than I used to be. For example, I used to get an idea, make a few notes, and then simply run with it. That might work for small projects, but when it comes to working on a full-length novel, say 100,000 words or more, you have to have structure. Now I spend far more time outlining the plot, developing a comprehensive list of characters, complete with physical description, bio history and psyche profile.

This doesn’t mean that I confine myself to going from start to finish, with no inclusions or changes until I’ve completed the manuscript. As a writer, you have to have the freedom to jump back to a previous setting or scene, insert a new character (if that person enhances the story) or modify a scene, even deleting one.

In terms of habits or quirks, I really work on being open to new ideas, not limiting myself to what has worked in the past, or for other writers. In many aspects, I guess you could say I’m more traditional in my writing regiment. I write at home on my lap top, rarely in a coffee shop. I also find that I’m most productive in the morning. I also know of writers who start writing late at night until the wee hours. It might work for them, but not for me.

 What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

 For me, the easiest is getting started. Once I’ve developed the story outline and list of characters, I get going with gusto. But then, when I run out of steam, or get side-tracked by the countless things around us (bills, maintaining a home, not feeling well, family commitments, not to mention work –most of us have day jobs), I find that I’ve lost the initial inspiration and it now becomes more like work. Uggh! (Robert grimaces)

What was the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?

As I’ve already mentioned, getting started on a new project carries with it the excitement of a new work, exploring characters and how the story will unfold. All the drama is just waiting to happen. That’s the part that, in my opinion, all of us look forward to.

 Any highlights?

 Of course. The first time your book is proudly displayed on a table in a bookstore. You gaze at the finished product in wonder, remembering all the hard work that went into it. But then, one or two weeks later, your pride and joy is relegated to a less prominent spot on a shelf, replaced by the latest New York Times bestseller. But at least you had your moment of fame. (laughs)

I should mention that one of my favourite accomplishments and fondest memories as a writer, was collaborating with my father on his memoir. I choose the title: POW #74324 (his actual number!) My father, John Stermscheg, was a prisoner of WWII, captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Stalag IIIC. Fortunately he survived, and I felt privileged to be able to write his biography. It was my way of honoring him. I was grinning from ear to ear when I presented him with the first copy, coinciding with his 90th birthday.

That’s great. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Robert Stermscheg - books

Robert Stermscheg lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. You can find his titles on Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo. A softcover version of his titles is available at Chapters, Indigo as well as McNally-Robinson.

For more information, visit his website.