BarbaraEllenBrinkBarbara Ellen Brink is an author, wife, mother, and dog walker. She grew up on a small farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota with her husband and their dogs, Rugby & Willow. In her spare time – when she’s not reading – she likes to ride motorcycles, visit local wineries, and catch up on the latest movies. She is the author of The Fredrickson Winery Novels, Entangled, Crushed and Savor, as well as the young adult Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy series, inspirational suspense novels Running Home and Alias Raven Black, and speculative thriller Split Sense.

Time to chat with Barbara!

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Savor, the 3rd book in my Fredrickson Winery series, was just released into the world! It has actually been 2 ½ years since book two, Crushed, debuted. Since then, I have been bombarded by fans of the series asking when the next book would be available. And here it is!

Savor continues the saga of the Fredricksons and Parkers as they run a small California winery and find love and mystery in the Napa Valley. Savor celebrates the joy of romance, laughter, and family.


Here is a brief blurb:

Savor the moment, cause it just might be your last…

Newly married, Billie and Handel find themselves knee-deep in another mystery. Defending a wealthy San Francisco businessman against capital murder charges, Handel soon discovers that media attention brings more than fame and fortune. When Billie’s life is threatened, he believes it’s connected to the case, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

Across the vineyard, Margaret has problems of her own. Davy’s Italian grandfather is in town and starts right in where his son left off. Throwing the weight of his money around, he intends to prove that Davy would be better off living with him in Italy. To complicate things further, Billie and Adam’s mom flies in from Minnesota and starts dating the man who is making Margaret’s life miserable.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

For me the challenge was learning enough about the wine industry to sound like I know what I’m talking about, without boring people silly with too many facts. Also, I needed to keep the characters fresh, give them some new adventures, new interests, and of course new hurdles to jump.Entangled

What else have you written?

This past year I published a young adult series called, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy. Chosen, Shunned, and Reckoning. It was a ton of fun to write, filled with humor, romance, teenaged angst, and of course lots of vampire slaying. Sort of like Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets the Amish Mafia. Or something like that. Of course, my slayer’s name is Jael and her ancestor is actually from the Bible, in the book of Judges. She was the character who killed an evil general by pounding a tent peg into his head while he slept. She was the very first vampire slayer. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

Indie authors are often lumped all together – writers who just don’t have what it takes or aren’t good enough to get published the traditional route. Because of the ease of putting stuff up online these days, there are many self-published writers who haven’t taken the time to learn the craft, don’t bother to edit, and probably shouldn’t be sharing their work until they put a few thousand more hours of learning in. I’m sorry to say, I’ve read a few of those myself.

But as in any occupation, there are those who just want to get by and those who really care about what they do. There are many more wonderful self-published authors who are dedicated to their craft, striving to improve and make their work the best it can be. I prefer to be in that camp.


Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I do tend to go back after every few pages and rewrite and edit as I go along. Of course I still do multiple edits afterwards, my editor has a go at it, and I usually have trusted people read and critique before I feel comfortable releasing it into the wild.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Actually the thing I have the most problem with when I begin a novel is giving all my characters names that begin with the same first letter. I get halfway through a book and suddenly realize I have a Sam, Stan, Stacy, and Sheila. Confusing, right? It’s a crazy problem but has happened to me more than once. So, I usually rename half the characters well into my writing.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, in fact, one of the characters that showed up in both Entangled and Crushed was a horrible man. I won’t go into any details because I wouldn’t want to ruin the story for anyone, but he is despicable and I just wanted to throw him under a train.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I have always been shy about showing my unfinished work to anyone. Even my husband. I only hand it out when it’s complete and then wait on pins and needles for him to read it (pretending all the while that I really don’t care that much), and hoping for lavish praise. *That’s why you should never rely on people you feed for an honest and trustworthy opinion. 🙂

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

Yes, I hate writing synopsis. Condensing a four-hundred-page book into two to five pages is nothing short of water-boarding. I think the birth of the synopsis came about during the Middle ages as a form of torture for fools in the king’s court, or something like that. The fool was probably a profound and deep orator before he was forced to condense his words into a high-pitched laugh of madness.

If you were to write non-fiction, what might it be about?

I have actually been doing some family research and found ancestors with stories just begging to be told, so IF I were to follow that lead, I would write some type of historical family history probably set in the early 1800’s.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

I’ve seen many new writers get totally thrown by one bad review. They can’t believe someone would be so unkind as to say something negative about their perfect, awe-inspiring, totally amazing story. I think they may have grown up in one of those bubbles where their parents, friends and teachers all said how wonderful they were and they could be anything they wanted to be, even a fairy princess, with or without hard work. So, they believe a lie and refuse to believe they are fallible. Therefore, the reviewer must be crazy, or mean, or a horrible person who is personally trying to destroy their career.

First of all, I don’t think most reviewers are out to destroy anyone’s career. I think most are just giving their honest opinion about what they’ve read. The thing about opinions is, everyone has one and they don’t all have to be the same. As writers, we can learn from bad reviews much more than we will from the good. We agree with all the lavish praise but when someone points out negative aspects of our book, we cringe. What we should do is take an honest look at what they say and see if there is something there that actually rings true. Something we can change, improve upon, or watch out for.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

As a self-published author I want to have a very professional looking cover. Books are certainly judged by their covers. Humans are prone to judge everything by the outward appearance first. So that cover is their first look at my work and if it doesn’t attract, they pass on by and go to the next cover that does. Sort of like speed dating. I want them to stop long enough to read the blurb and get sucked in, so a great cover is very important.

I’ve been lucky because my daughter is a graphic designer and after helping her through college, she owes me more than she can ever repay. I’m like the Godfather. I keep asking her for just one more cover… She has actually done a fantastic job on all of my covers and I couldn’t do it without her. You should check out the Amish Bloodsuckers covers. She drew them all out by hand first. I think they’re amazing. They give just the right feel to the story.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Minnesota, but I would love to live further west. I grew up on the West coast and still prefer the dry desert air to Midwest humidity. Western Wyoming, where tornadoes are no longer an issue, would be about perfect.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

Wine makes me dizzy.

What makes you angry?

Slow drivers clogging the fast lane.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

Study hall. I had plenty of time to read lots and lots of books.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

Right now I would say my favorites are Longmire, Blue Bloods, Foyle’s War (a British series), and Red Widow (which I just heard was cancelled).

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Get out of the fast lane if you’re going slower than the other traffic.

Write letters to the networks and complain about them cancelling decent shows while horrible reality TV is force-fed to us day after day.

Write a review for every book you read.


Links to buy Savor



Donna Cummings has worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but she admits nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances. She resides in New England, although she fantasizes about spending the rest of her days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton. She can usually be found on Twitter talking about writing and coffee, and on Facebook talking about coffee and writing.

Time to chat with Donna!

What is your latest book?

My latest is a Regency romance titled Lord Rakehell’s Love. It’s a humorous novella which commences The Curse of True Love series, where Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, decides to relieve her boredom by playing matchmaker in Regency London. Unfortunately, she manages to curse the lovers she’s trying to bring together, with the hero showing up late to his own wedding, causing heartbreak and scandal for the heroine since he’s also accompanied by ladies of the evening.


What else have you written?

I’ve become a hybrid author this past year. I originally self-published a romantic comedy novella, and a full-length Regency historical in 2011. And then last December I published a full-length romantic comedy with Crimson Romance, and last April a humorous contemporary novella with Samhain. So my latest is the first self-pub I’ve done for a little while, and I’m excited I’m able to do both things.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Every. Single. Day. LOL I recently had a character come back from the dead, and she’s not a zombie. The good thing is she was right, and I like where the story headed as a result.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I love the dialogue. Since I write humorously-ever-after romance, the dialogue is usually witty banter, and it makes me laugh while I’m watching the characters flirt and fall in love with each other. I find description a little more challenging, because I have to fit it in without stopping the flow of conversation!

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I do most of the editing once I’ve finished the first draft, because I can’t really see the story until I’m done writing it. However, I think I kind of edit along the way too, because often a scene will pop into my head and I’ll think, “Aha! That’s why this section wasn’t working the way I wanted it to.” So I add that in, and rework something else. And as soon as I think I’ve figured out my “process”, it changes radically with the next book. LOL

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I’ve done this a couple of times! It’s like the character knows they’ve been put in the wrong story, so they won’t talk to the other characters, or interact with them. As soon as I find the name that works, they perk up and start showing their personality. It’s funny how having the wrong name is like miscasting a character.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

I haven’t. Although there are a couple that I think *other* characters despise. LOL But since that’s their role, to be despised, it all works out. I have a villain in Lord Midnight, another one of my Regency historicals, and he fascinates me because he truly believes he’s doing what’s right–for him, of course. And he’s frustrated at being thwarted by everyone around him. So he’s despicable, and does awful things to reach his goals, but I’m intrigued by his skewed world view.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Write what makes you happy. There’s nothing more exhilarating than diving into your story, and playing with the characters, and seeing this creation come to life. So do that. Enjoy it without worrying about whether people will like it, or whether it’s publishable, or anything else. Doubt is always hanging around the corner, trying to get you to stop what you’re working on, but just keep having fun. You’ll also discover your writing style, and your voice, and that’s the most valuable tool you’ll have as a writer.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I am a Twitter fiend! I’m thrilled it was invented, and I wish they’d quit tinkering with it, because the latest update seems to impede conversation rather than aid it. Still, I have found a lot of fun writer friends there, and it’s always a thrill when readers come looking for me on Twitter after reading one of my books. I love chatting with them, probably too much because sometimes they kick me off so I’ll go write!

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

I’ve actually compiled my blog posts from the past few years, which are filled with what I hope is inspiration and motivation for other writers, and I’ll be self-publishing the book in the near future. It’s called An Encouraging Word.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I’m in New England right now, and I love it most of the time. There’s nothing more spectacular than autumn in this part of the country. But winter is getting tougher each year. In fact, I think it’s trying to start in September this year! Which wouldn’t be so bad except it never can be considered “gone” until Memorial Day. I’d love to live in a tropical locale. I’m sure I lived in one in a previous life.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Does coffee count as food? I count it as a necessity, since it’s the foundation of my personality. LOL I guess my fave comfort food is mashed potatoes. My least favorite food is liver. Or Brussels sprouts. Ack. I don’t even like typing the words!

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Laugh. Laugh at ourselves. And help others find something to laugh about each day.








A Winning e-Strategy for Authors


A Guest Post

by Deborah Nam-Krane

As writers our primary job is to write, and every credible marketing expert I have spoken to says that content is much more important than any Search Engine Optimization tweaking we can do. But self-publishing is just like any other new job or new business—networking is important if we want to find new opportunities.

There are three places we all must be, and surprisingly those have been constant for about three years (an eternity in web-years): a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a blog. As far as I’m concerned, all other platforms are gravy. But simply setting up those accounts isn’t enough. You have to tweet on Twitter, update your status on Facebook and write posts on your blog.

And then you’re done?

No. Because you can write the most brilliant content the internet has ever seen, but if you’re not interacting with anyone else, the chances are small that anyone is going to find it.

If you’ve been on Twitter for any amount of time, you’ve run into at least one person who tweets several times per hour about how great his or her product or book is. “My book is so awesome!” “Check out my five-star review!” “Look at how great I am!” I always cringe when I see this, because it’s exactly the wrong approach and doesn’t convince anyone of anything except that you really want to sell something—and that can just come off as desperate if you and I don’t already have a relationship.

A better approach on Twitter? Find people with similar interests and start reading what they have to say. Don’t jump in with a reply or to start a conversation until you can say something relevant to something they’ve put out there. I guarantee, that person will be much more receptive to your thoughtful, personalized approach than they would to your advertising blast.

Facebook has been compared to the mall on more than one occasion, and not in a flattering way. It’s bad enough that they sting us with advertisements and selectively decide what we can see; don’t make it worse by trying to turn your page into a billboard. Don’t just post links to your book or blog; talk about what you’ve been doing that day (as it relates to your writing); share news and information that might be relevant to your fans; and finally, share information for other people. Even better? Comment on other people’s pages and have a genuine conversation.

Finally, your blog. This is where the c-word (that would be content, in case you’re wondering) is most important, if only because it’s easier for people to skate through your blog archives than it is your Twitter and Facebook accounts. But even on blogs, it’s not enough to write great content: you need to interact. Want people to comment on your blog? Then start commenting on theirs, and not simply, “wow, great post!” but something that shows you read and were paying attention.  But please, I beg you, don’t comment with something along the lines of “How are you doing?” I talked about exactly this on my blog, “” Because in addition to irritating everyone else who reads the comments, you’re also not going to convince anyone that you are all that and a slice of toast.

Want to take it to the next level? Then start thinking like a small business person again and figure out what your value proposition is. In other words, what do you have that most other people on the internet don’t, and why should anyone care about your opinion? How can you be useful to the people you’re trying to talk to? Do you have a collection of helpful writing prompts? Have you been following a certain aspect of publishing? Do you have a collection of articles on editing or formatting? Tips on how to break through writer’s block? Then share them—and your thoughts on them. Do it consistently and people will start to think of you as a trusted resource that they’ll be on the lookout for—and eventually may seek out.

In some ways, social media is a lot like real networking: be polite, pleasant and useful, and people will want to be around you. And the more people are around you, the more likely they are to offer you help, whether it’s being hosted on their blogs, sharing information about your work (the best advertising is still word of mouth) or letting you know about opportunities to publish. And if you should happen to make some genuine friends? The possibilities are endless.



Deborah Nam-Krane was born in New York, raised in Cambridge and educated in Boston. Her series The New Pioneers debuted in March of 2013 with the release of her first book,  The Smartest Girl in the Room. The sequel The Family You Choose will be released in late September.



Nineteen-year-old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she’s going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily’s ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She’s going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn’t the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she’d cross the line for would do the same for her?



Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian, Alex Sheldon, since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough?


Please join her mail list to find out first about new releases and connect with Deborah on any of the following sites:

Written By Deb

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords Author Page






CarlyleLCarlyle Labuschagne is a South African Debut Author working her way into the hearts of international readers with her First Young Adult Dystopian Novel The Broken Destiny. She is not only an author but works as a Sales Rep and Marketing Manager by day. She holds a diploma in creative writing through the writing school at Collage SA. Loves to swim, fights for the trees, food lover who is driven by her passion for life. Carlyle writes for IU e-magazine India, an inspirational non-profit magazine that aims at inspiring the world through words. The drive behind her author career is healing through words. Carlyle is also the founder of the first annual book drive – Help build a library in Africa project.

“My goal as an Author is to touch people’s lives and help others love their differences and one another.”

Time to chat with Carlyle!

What is your latest book?

Upcoming release this November is Evanescent ~ A Broken Novel – book two in the trilogy.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

I have so much news to share I don’t know where to begin.

Recently I made front page headlines of City Press in Johannesburg I also have a great interview double spread in Get It magazine September 13 Issue. But more exciting than that is my new release and me heading to UtopYA 2014 next year!!! USA here I come. 🙂 Yesterday I got to hang out with my favorite rockstars Prime Circle who each got a signed copy of the book. Prime Circle is quoted in both The Broken Destiny and in Evanescent. I posted pics on my fan page. This was by far one of the highlights of being an author!


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Tying all the elements together, making sure you don’t leave too much out, but not reveal too much either. The middle book of a trilogy has to be compared the middle child – the in between. Overwhelmed by the first child growing up so fast, and overwhelmed by the fact that the last child still needs so much, yet trying not to neglect the middle baby.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

My all-time favorite slogan – summing up the entire trilogy.

Her Destiny is to rise above the fall.


What else have you written?

I have started on a duolgy (two book set); this duo is more the supernatural genre.

I have plans for a Broken spin off – The Broken Diaries, from each characters point of view.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That we are lazy! Really we have to do everything ourselves, and sometimes yes we might overlook a few things and get slaughtered for it.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Umm, all the time! With my latest release coming up – Evanescent was written 6 times over with a full word count of 130K. I just could not force my main character to do what I wanted her to do. We have made piece now I had to let her be, no matter how much she annoyed me.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

The most would have to be the creating of scenes and stories. The least would have to be the stress that nothing is guaranteed and anything can go wrong, pre, post publishing there will always be ups and downs.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I start from word one and go until the draft is done – no planning – just go!

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

The ending is just as a big surprise to my readers as to me – I have limited control. The title yes that is my first thing I need. I have no title, I have no theme to build around.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I try to keep it as clean as possible, but the bulk gets done by working with a very great editor!

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

Yes and no. I write what Id like to read, sometimes I am wow what a genius, others times I write thing I don’t want to, but is important to the book and I think “wow what nonsense is this?”

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Yes I have changed a name, but mostly it has to work for me from the beginning, or I will be haunted until it feels right.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

I cannot answer that I might not live to see another day.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Never give up. Always be true to who you are, there is no one worth impressing but yourself. Edit, edit, edit, edit, edit…

Don’t ever give up, take your time, let it flow and be happy 🙂

Get a website, build a biography, and start networking.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I decided to go through a company who assist in all the resources as an indie publisher. To keep my creative control. It hasn’t been easy, nor has it been very affordable, but I never quit – I make a plan, I push through all the times I wanted to break down and cry. Every author will find a fit.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I have no least favorite parts – I am totally addicted and in awe of what it had given me. A means to reach everyone, a gift to connect with my fans/reads/friends all day every day. If not for them or social media I would not be where I am right now.

Do you have any grammatical pet peeves to share?

How much time do we have?

My first language is Afrikaans, so the English written word – I cannot begin to tell you, you should ask my editor – some words drive me insane! Affect and effect was one of them,  but I got it – eventually!

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I love fantasy, Dystopian novels. I love intensity, uncertainty, thrilling fast-paced action.  I don’t like predictability. Girl meets boy, boy is a monster, blah blah blah.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Well I write about science, so some things I had to look up. I also write about Zulu Tribes and Ancient races – I use my friend Google! Sometimes it can take hours to get what I want, then I learn some pretty awesome things and I have to find a way to write it in, then I get mad because it takes away my story. And such is the life of a writer.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

OOH no one but my editor reads it. Then it is published and then I wait for feedback. It works for me. I get too influenced by the thoughts and ideas of others. Perhaps I am too much of a control freak – MINE, She is all Mine! My precious.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Just about every review surprises me. Some will pick up things I had no idea I relayed, others are so intuitive it scares me. Some reviews make me feel sad. But I take all and make good with it! So thank you for each and every review and thought.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I write for IUe magazine india – an inspirational magazine.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

Born for it! I have been living in my head since a very young age. I know it used to bother my family and now it bugs my husband. LOL

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

So much to say so little space!

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

Teenage struggles.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

Go where your heart takes you. Each has its good and bad points. Most importantly you will learn from both routes, more than you ever thought possible.

What have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?

Market everywhere you possibly can. Nothing goes unseen.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

I really do love the new release I love it a lot.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

Get over it! It hurts I know this, but it’s something you can work with. Its critique, use it.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

One of the most effective ways yes!

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

I have not actually. I have really no time in my day right now to explore and this is why I had to go through a small press company. I work, have young kids, a husband and I really do love my sleep! But I am sure as I figure out the ins and outs of time management there will be plenty I need to still do, until then Lisette I will keep you on my have to contact list!

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

The most importance! We shouldn’t but we do judge by the cover and title. In today’s world with so many resources at a stroke of a key – there is no reason to neglect a gorgeous cover, we all deserve one.

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing. Any predictions about the future?

There is nowhere but up from here!

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

I do not control them as much as I’d like to. Especially Ava, but I got a way around that in book two! *winks*

How would you define your style of writing?

Intense, poetic and risk taking.

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

Not always. I have my family to keep me well balanced!

Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?

Do I really have to choose? All of them, not so much the Villain we don’t need more of those.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

I t matter more than you think, its not about popularity. An author learns and grows from the readers opinion. It helps that it assists in some publicity and sales too. We would not be if not for our readers and reviewers.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

Yup. I simply walk away, take a drive. Go for a swim. If all else fails I take a day to just be without the clutter and it comes to me. If I am still stuck I force myself to get over it.

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

I have not written romance, I’d like to try it out – someday.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

All the time!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

More research. Before you choose a publisher, investigate the types of books, and their pricing. It all depends where you as an author wants to be.

Would you like to write a short poem for us?

How about a snippet from Evanescent?


Where you are not,

there you are bound to be found.

Be all of the not, until it is enough.

Live it all, lay yourself before it.

Taste what is not you.

Purge yourself, and let that be your alter;

your cross to bear,

find the love that becomes you in that truth.

When lost,

change all that you are.

And within those moments,

you will find who you are not.

Once you let it take you,

embrace all you do not want to be,

and never let go of who you found there.












Hello, Friends:


Great to see you here. Let’s see. Where do I start?

First, I’m really excited to present the new cover for my 1970s coming-of-age novel, Squalor, New Mexico. I’d like to thank the super-talented Lisa McCallum for designing such a perfect cover. (You are the best, Lis!)


To celebrate the new cover, I will be selling the Kindle edition for only .99 on until the end of September, 2013. (While this is just the link for the US store, the book is discounted in all Amazon stores all over the world.)

Now, let’s get down to business. Why does my Young Adult novel have such a downright bizarre title, especially since it’s only peripherally about squalor and not at all about New Mexico?

The seed for the title/book began in my childhood. Every time I heard it said that someone lived in squalor, it sounded like a place to me. For years, I had the identical notion every time I heard the word: “Is Squalor a town?” “Is it a city?” “Where is it?” The word “squalor” nagged at me. The universe and the word were trying to tell me something. (“Write a novel! Write a novel!”)

It was then that I decided that I wanted to begin a novel with the sentence: “My aunt lived in Squalor.” I had no idea who the main character would be, who her aunt would be and why said aunt would live in Squalor, but it all began from there. I built a 159,000-word book (445-pages) completely around my desire to use that opening sentence. Though it is not specifically stated, the book is set in the 1970s in an east coast suburb.

The first page of the book explains the unusual title:

My aunt Rebecca lived in Squalor. I first heard my mother and my aunt Didi discussing this one day when I was nine. I was supposed to be in my bedroom doing homework, but I snuck down the back stairs into the kitchen for a McIntosh apple and an Oreo cookie. Mom and Aunt Didi were close by in the dining room, huddled together at the corner of the table, as they often were, and they were talking about Aunt Rebecca. To me, the most curious thing about Aunt Rebecca, whom I had never met, was that Mom and Aunt Didi only brought her up when they thought no one was listening.

“I’m sure she’s still living in squalor,” Aunt Didi told Mom authoritatively. “Unless she’s screwed her way out!”

I had no idea what all that meant, but it seemed like such an odd thing to say that I was willing to take the risk of letting my presence be known and ask.

“What’s squalor, Mom?” I said, walking into the dining room.

“Goodness, Darla!” Mom said putting her hand to her throat. “How long have you been listening?”

“Not long. I just came down for an apple.” (I thought it best not to mention the cookie.) “What’s squalor, Mom?” I repeated.

Aunt Didi, knowing Mom would be loath to answer my question, took hold of the reins for her. “It’s a town in New Mexico, Darla. It’s an Indian name.”

Mom looked at Aunt Didi in amazement. I figured she hadn’t known what it meant, either.

“Oh,” I said. And then I took a bite out of my apple.

“You have a book report due tomorrow,” Mom said.

“I know,” I said, taking another bite.

“Well, you’re not going to get it done standing here, are you?”

“I guess not,” I replied reluctantly. “All right, I’m going. Mom?”

“Yes, Darla?” she asked impatiently.

“What did Aunt Didi mean about—”

“Please dear,” Mom pleaded softly. “Go upstairs and finish your—”

“But Mom, I really want to know what—”

“Darla!” Aunt Didi screamed. “Listen to your mother. Go upstairs, now, and finish your book report!”

“All right. Forget it!” I said indignantly. “How am I supposed to learn stuff if I don’t ask?”

So, friends, now you know. Squalor, New Mexico began as a lie told to a child to quell her curiosity and ended up being the unlikely symbol for all of the lies, secrets and twisted truths that can destroy a family. It is a coming-of-age story shrouded in family mystery, and yes, I’ll admit it: it has a very strange title.

Note: In the not-too-distant future, the paperback edition of Squalor, New Mexico will be republished with a new cover, too.



.99 on Kindle throughout September 2013






I originally posted this essay on September 10, 2010, on my Goodreads blog.

On December 3, 2001, I visited Ground Zero at night time. That evening, when I got home, I quickly typed out my thoughts. Being a writer, it is my habit to try and polish my words so that they shine. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to put my impressions of Ground Zero down, immediately, because I knew that I would always want to remember what I saw…as painful as it was.

Here is what I wrote that day in 2001:

We got down to the World Trade Towers about 8 p.m. Ground Zero is blocked off for about five blocks or so with wooden fences so you can’t really see it at street level except for one break in the wall. The fences or “temporary walls” are covered with all kinds of tributes. People are still putting up fresh bouquets of flowers on a regular basis; we were both surprised at how fresh and pretty the flowers were. There were several wreaths with Teddy Bears inside, letters from children and adults, and in one spot I noticed a policeman’s badge — which really hit me in the gut.

On a telephone pole, someone had written a letter to NY saying something like, “I’m very very sorry that you are so hurt. I love you so much and I feel so bad for your pain and your loss. I know I am only one voice, but I am praying for you. I love you New York.”

There were letters from children in the windows of local stores. At one spot on the sidewalk, I noticed a grouping of about 12 small candles. Only one was still burning. There were all kinds of shrines. Photos are always the most difficult to look at because you’re seeing just one person; one person who was real and now is gone. But there’s something about that policeman’s badge that really struck me. I just expected someone would have taken it because despite all the very good people around, there are still the nuts. But nobody had.

All of this, was right at the base of where you were allowed to stand. What we did see ahead, looming down the street was horrid and grotesque — the kind of sight that forces you into deep introspection and silence. I remember feeling very much the same way when I stood alone in Anne Frank’s bedroom, looking at her movie star photos on the wall, and it was also the same kind of quiet that comes over you when visiting the Holocaust museum.

Anyway, you can see GZ from many vantage points (even in NJ) because it is SO very lit up. It IS surreal, just as you’ve heard many say. There are these huge and hideous piles of twisted wreckage that looked as if they had been there for hundreds of years. It was hard to imagine the World Trade Towers and other buildings in their place. It looked exactly like the footage you see on TV of the war torn villages in the Middle East. To look at this devastation, one couldn’t help but translate the images into thoughts of hate and ignorance that brought this to be, of the lives lost, and of the way the world will be changed forever. Everything looked chillingly quiet. The entire area was in a sepia-like color, which made it seem like you were looking at old war photos in a dusty old book that you’d just found in the attic. Only the image had come to life; but at the same time, it was dead. It was all so dead.


To the left of where the towers had stood, was a Liberty Place building that had a huge hole in it but is going to be fixed. It is draped in a black cloth with a large American flag at the top. That flag, and the large red and the large yellow cranes at the sight are the only real splashes of color. The entire scene is lit up like a movie set, but there is eerily little action that one can see from such a distance.

At one place in the makeshift walls, there is a break where you can see the ground level. I could see lights placed in different parts of the wreckage and maybe a few figures in bright yellow coats moving about. I knew there were many, many people down there working, but I could not see them. The entire site seemed to have been abandoned. The entire scene rather transfixes you. You go into another zone and just find yourself staring and staring, almost as if you’re going to keep on staring until it starts to make sense to you. Only that doesn’t happen and so eventually you have to walk away. I did take a deep breath and could smell the smoke, but luckily, I was too far away to smell that “smell of death” that so many talked about.

This is what I saw on December 2, 2001. To see this, and then imagine this same site two and a half months ago, well, that literally defies comprehension. I had not been in downtown Manhattan for 15-20 years, and incongruous to Ground Zero and in shocking contrast to the site, I was amazed by how built up lower Manhattan was. Very close to the site were so many absolutely gorgeous buildings that I’d never seen before.

When you look at it, the one thing you are amazed and grateful for is that such an amazing number of people (something like 25,000) managed to escape. There was a man there with his family who was a rescue worker of some kind. He said that all of the wreckage was supposedly to be down by January 1. Hard to imagine, esp. as they are taking it all down piece by piece. It seems as if that chore alone could take years. I also heard the man say that the mayor didn’t want people to stop working on Christmas.

As you walk away,
you can’t help but keep turning back to take one last look, to burn it all into your brain, to make it real in one sense because in another it will never be real.

Note: 9/11/2013: Every time I have driven into New York since 9/11/2001, not seeing the World Trade towers in the lower Manhattan skyline has never gotten easier. And I don’t want it to be so.

Please share your own memories of 9/11. I would love to hear them.


A Guest Blog

by M. S. Kaye

Fight Princess blog tour September 2nd – 9th: on an adventure to meet fun bloggers and readers!

Staying out of the characters’ heads is the most momentously important thing I’ve learned about how to “show, not tell.”

Obviously, sometimes offering a morsel of a character’s thoughts is instrumental in helping the reader understand, but it should be limited to one morsel. If you have to write a paragraph of explanation, you need to find a better way to show the information in action or dialogue.

Or simply cut the information—oftentimes, leaving something unsaid is more powerful. Ask yourself if the information is invaluable, if it truly impacts the story. If it’s not essential, CUT IT.

And even better: keeping to only morsels of thoughts can be intriguing. People think in segments naturally, so choose to offer intriguing bits, just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity, without explaining too much. This is what keeps readers flipping pages. See the below opening to Fight Princess:

“What if I told you I loved you?” Floyd the bartender asked as he rested his elbows on the ring-stained mahogany.

Celisse was standing across the bar from him. “You love sex, Floyd.”

“There’s a difference?” Floyd grinned.

Celisse rolled her eyes. She really didn’t know if there was a difference. “Blackberry—” she started.

“Whiskey,” Floyd finished. He stood straight and poured her usual shot.

In these five paragraphs, only one sentence expresses a thought. She really didn’t know if there was a difference. Now you know something about Celisse’s love life, something powerful and interesting—and only that one sentence hinted to it. Also, notice the sentence does not go on, does not continue with that evil word “because.” I would say “because” is as dirty as a four-letter word, but four-letter words are generally more impactful. It is almost always better to cut the sentence short. “Because” takes away the intrigue. Let the reader wonder, leave them feeling curious.

And speaking of “show, not tell,” what else do you learn about Celisse? She can brush a man off with ease, and without being a bitch. That shows the kind of person she is. It also shows she’s likely attractive. We find out she’s discriminating, not slutty. And, of course, her usual shot is whiskey: she’s a tough-ass. All of this was conveyed without diving into the character’s thoughts.

Notice the overlapping of information. We hear so much today about multitasking—people are used to several things going on at once, and they can be impatient if not much is happening. If you have information you want to convey, try to find a way to give the information while other necessary events are going on.

If you choose to show strong details, your writing will be impactful and addicting. Hearing soliloquies about a character’s childhood, and how she feels about herself, and how she adores the guy down the hall is not impactful. If your character is gazing out a window THINKING, cut the scene, decide if the information is necessary, and if it is, find a way to show it.

Read my latest book to see how my method works…


Fight Princess – Published by Liquid Silver Books

Things aren’t what they seem. Don’t get involved.

Celisse is too headstrong to listen. Her best friend’s boyfriend is dead, and she does not heed Cullen’s warning, slipped to her in a note as he’s being arrested for the murder.

Cullen tries to keep Celisse out of danger and also tries to avoid her, both unsuccessfully. He can’t deny his feelings for her anymore, but he knows if she ever discovered the truth about his past, she’d surely hate him.

While struggling with her intense feelings for Cullen, Celisse uses her skills as an ex-prosecutor to investigate, all while continuing to fight for Ogden, the organizer of an underground fight ring. She eventually realizes things are connected—the ring, Ogden, Cullen, the murder, and herself. She races to uncover the truth before she’s arrested or becomes the next victim—or perhaps, the next culprit.


Through the peephole she saw Cullen staring her down, as if he could see through the door. “I know you’re in there, Celisse. Your car’s outside.”

Celisse grumbled under her breath. Then she spoke loud enough for him to hear. “How do you know where I live?”

“It’s not that hard to get a person’s address—as you damn well know.”

Crap. How did he know? “What are you talking about?”

“You made it downtown so quickly because you were already in my apartment.” His jaw flexed as he continued to glare at the door. She was almost impressed he was able to maintain that intense, pissed-off posture and expression when she saw in his eyes that he was barely hanging on through the exhaustion. Like riding a bike, if he stopped, he would probably fall down.

She turned the bolt and opened the door. “How would I have gotten in your apartment—and why would I want to?”

“You flashed a beautiful smile at Alfie. Don’t tell me you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.”

Celisse hesitated. Hearing him say that… She wasn’t sure how to react.

He pushed the door open a bit further and slid past her into the apartment. She didn’t think to stop him until he was already past her. She turned and looked at him standing in the middle of her little living room, like a storm cloud in her usually calm and cloudless space. This small, cheap apartment was the first place she had ever lived where she felt completely comfortable.

She realized he was looking at her, not at her eyes. She crossed her arms over her chest. “What do you want?”

His jaw tightened again, and he met her eyes like lightning flashing across the sky. “Don’t ask me why in the hell you’d want to be in my apartment.”

It took her a second to realize he was answering her previous question.

“What did you think you’d find?” he asked.

“Certainly not stacks of hundred-dollar bills.”

“It’s none of your goddamn concern how much money I have and why. Stay out of my business.”


“Excuse me?”

“My best friend’s boyfriend was murdered, and then the accused slips me a note that says things aren’t what they seem. What did you think I was going to do?”

He paused, and the glare in his expression that had about blinded her a few seconds ago dulled to the glower of the moon in a clouded sky. He turned and looked around her apartment—her TV stand with a couple movies on top, the potted plant next to the sliding glass doors, her one pathetic attempt at gardening, and then over to the bookshelf where he started reading titles.

She stood next to him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Does it annoy you?” He took a book from the shelf and flipped through its pages. “Someone going through your things, invading your privacy?”

Celisse snatched the book out of his hand, before he realized what it was.

“Are you pissed yet?” he asked.

“I wonder how it would look to the court if the police were called on you the same day you posted bail.”

He took a step toward her, and she backed up with her hands in guard position.

He stopped, and his voice was inside out from what it had been. “I would never hurt you.”

“You were arrested for murder today.”

His expression sobered, like fog pulling across a jagged cliff face. “I’m sorry. I never meant to scare you.” He walked across her living room, out the door, and down the stairs.


M. S. Kaye has won several writing awards and has been published in literary journals. She is a 4th-degree black belt and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. A transplant from Ohio, she resides in Jacksonville, FL with her husband, Corey, where she does her best not to melt in the sun.








Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, writing teacher, lecturer, and Marvel Comics writer. He is the author of many novels and nonfiction books. Jonathan is a frequent keynote speaker and guest of honor at writers’ conferences and genre conventions around the country.

Time to chat with Jonathan!

What is your latest book?

My latest novel is FIRE & ASH, a series of post-apocalyptic adventure for teens.

Is your recent book part of a series?

FIRE & ASH is the fourth and (possibly) final book of the ROT & RUIN series, which has won quite a few awards, including two Bram Stoker Awards and many reading awards for teens.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

The ROT & RUIN series has been optioned for film, and the producers plan to do all four books. I also have one of my adult novels, DEAD OF NIGHT, in development for film.


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

The biggest challenges in a series is providing for growth for each character. That’s crucial because a character’s growth is far more important than any high-concept plot point. The Rot & Ruin series has a moderately large cast, with six teenagers as central characters. Each of them has to grow in each book, and at the end they need to have completed a kind of emotional or psychological journey.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?


What else have you written?

I write fast and I write in different genres. My first three novels were the Pine Deep Trilogy set in the fictional Bucks County town of Pine Deep (GHOST ROAD BLUES, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING). Then I moved to weird-science thrillers featuring psychologically damaged hero Joe Ledger (PATIENT ZERO, THE DRAGON FACTORY, THE KING OF PLAGUES, ASSASSIN’S CODE, EXTINCTION MACHINE, and the forthcoming CODE ZERO and PREDATOR ONE). I wrote two books (so far) in an adult zombie apocalypse series (DEAD OF NIGHT and FALL OF NIGHT). I did a movie adaptation (THE WOLFMAN). And I have two new series debuting next year: a mystery-thriller series for older teens (WATCH OVER ME) and a middle-grade action-science fiction about aliens and monsters (THE NIGHTSIDERS).


How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Even though I plot my books and often writing the endings first, along the way characters transform from ideas to real people. They become three-dimensional, and subtle aspects of their personalities emerge. That’s always surprising and always welcome. When a character does not do this it’s a danger sign.


What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I love the whole process from chewing on a raw idea all the way through the draft and revision phases.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I typically write the first chapter, then the last scenes, then I back up and aim at that ending. But, since I have an outline, I’m not restricted to linear writing. If I wanted to spice things up I’ll write whatever kind of scene appeals to me and then plug it into the manuscript. And, sometimes I’ll write out an entire subplot, end to end, then break it up and puzzle it into the larger manuscript.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Always. Without that how can you plan for nuance, subtlety, and foreshadowing? How could you lay clues?

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I do not edit until I’ve finished a first draft. Then I edit in waves, picking different elements to focus on—voice, pace, chronology, dialogue, character relationships, etc.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I soldier through those phases. If I have to I’ll write something bland and crappy just to get something down, then when I’m in a different headspace I go back and fix it.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I pick my character names carefully. Though…there are times I’ve had contests to name characters. I also include some real-world people in my books.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

I tend not to like my villains. They’re reprehensible.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I began pitching magazine articles while studying journalism at Temple University and was sold pretty regularly all the way into the late 1990s. Features, how-to stuff, columns, the works. In the early 90s I was approached to write some textbooks for the courses I was teaching at Temple, and for courses taught by a few colleagues. I did that and got a taste for writing books. In 2000 I went the small press route for some mass-market nonfiction books—three on martial arts, one on the folklore of vampires. Then in 2004 I started writing my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, set in Bucks County. As soon as it was finished I went hunting for a literary agent, landed a good one, and that sent me sailing into the waters of mainstream publishing with major houses. I hit the New York Times bestseller list for the first time in 2010. Like all writers I racked up my share of rejections. I believe I could paper the entire state of North Dakota with rejection letters, but I don’t give up very easily. Or at all. I kept at it and now I’m in the wonderful position of being able to pick and choose projects. Fiction isn’t what I thought I’ve ever be writing, but it’s where I live now, and I couldn’t be happier.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I’m all over social media. It drives the publishing world and any writer not invested in it is nuts. It not only allows the writer a measure of actual, useful control over the buzz and marketing of their projects, but allows for meaningful contact with peers and with readers. I write for fifty minutes out of each hour and then do ten minutes of social media. All day long. My favorite go-to places are Facebook (personal and group pages), Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Pinterest. But I’m on a bunch of others as well. If you budget your time it enhances your writing life rather than consumes it.

How much research is involved in writing your books? How do you go about it?

I was trained as a newspaper writer and spend decades writing features. That pretty much turned me into a research junkie. My thrillers, teen fiction and even my horror all have an enormous amount of research behind them. And all of my thrillers have a science theme—genetics, pandemics, etc. I do a lot of email interviews with experts all over the world, I read scads of scientific journals, and I cruise online sources. Usually I do a block of research before I start a project and then do ‘spot’ research along the way.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

After my first teen novel—ROT & RUIN—debuted, I had a parent contact me to say that it was the first book his son read. Until then, his kid had been a reluctant reader. Now he wants to read and has become a “reader.” Since then I’ve heard similar stories from parents, educators, and librarians. The books in the series have won a number of awards, including several statewide awards where they were cited as “gateway” books. Books that open the door to reading for kids who might otherwise not crack a book. It’s staggering. It makes me want to cry. I don’t think anything in my writing career has had so profound an impact on me.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I’ve been an active writer since my college days. I’ve sold 22 novels, 28 nonfiction books (on subjects ranging from women’s self-defense to the folklore of vampire legends), two plays, 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, as well as greeting cards, TV shows, dozens of short stories, and twelve collections of comic books. I also co-created a show for ABC Disney (ON THE SLAB), which, sadly, remains in development limbo. Currently I’m writing four novels per year in difference genre.


Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I was born for it. Even before I could read or write I was telling stories using toys or drawings. I wrote for school papers, I wrote for fun, and now I write for a living. Writing is a defining characteristic. Everything else I’ve ever done, every job I worked at while building my career (bouncer, bodyguard, martial arts instructor, graphic artist, etc.) were side-effects; they were a means to—what is for me—the only acceptable end.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I’m a nine-to-fiver. I get up and get to work. It’s my day job. I usually spend my mornings at a Starbucks and I write until about noon. Then I wander home and write through the afternoon in my home office. I take nights off to spend time with my family. I write part-time on weekends. I don’t ever take a full day off.

How would you define your style of writing?

I’m a humanist writer. Even in the midst of high-concept and big action, my writing is all about the personal experience. Although my subject matter is often very serious I include a lot of humor. And I don’t go in for emotional cheap shots.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I don’t believe writers block exists.  Writers who say that they encounter it most often are those who are trying too hard to make their first draft read like a polished final draft. They are imposing unrealistic expectations on themselves.  First drafts should be done quick and dirty—get the story out of your head and onto the page. That process taps into the part of us that is instinctive—we’re either storytellers or we’re not. Once the essential story is down, no matter how flawed and clunky, we then shift mental gears and approach the revision with an entirely different process. Craft.  That’s something we learn. The skills of craft include figurative and descriptive language, point of view, person, pace, timing, dialogue, metaphor, and so on.  These are things we learn in order to refine our stories.  Writers who understand that these are separate stages of the writing process never get writers block.

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

I don’t know. Maybe romance from a guys’ perspective. Maybe a straight military story. Or a classic western. However I genre jump all the time. Not just in novels but in short stories. I’ve become a go-to guy for anthology editors because they know that I’ll try damn near anything. Over the last eight years I’ve written in a crazy number of genres. I did a Sherlock Holmes story (“The Adventure of the Greenbrier Ghost”); a children’s tale set in the land of Oz (“The Cobbler of Oz”); military science fiction (“Clean Sweeps”), historical horror (“The Death Poem of Sensei Otoro”), ghost stories (“Property Condemned”), apocalyptic science fiction (“Chokepoint”), dystopian existentialism (“The Wind Through the Fence”), psychological thriller (“Doctor Nine”), a serial killer story (“Saint John”), a story about Edgar Allan Poe’s character Auguste DuPin (“The Vanishing Assassin”), an Edgar Rice Burroughs tale (“The Death Song of Dwar Guntha”), a GI Joe techno-thriller (“Flint and Steel”), a western (“Red Dreams”), a noir urban fantasy (“Strip Search”), and others.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

I wish I knew how much I’d enjoy writing for teens. I would have jumped into that swimming pool sooner.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

My wife, Sara Jo, and I live in Warrington, but we’re packing up to move across country to La Jolla in San Diego. It’s where I’ve wanted to live for a long time. The move is partly motivated by the weather out there (it’s always perfect), partly because our son, Sam, lives there; and partly because I have two films in development and it’s only a two-hour drive to L.A.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Coffee revs me up, chocolate soothes my soul. Spinach is my kryptonite.

Care to brag about your family?

I’m the black sheep of the family, so I’m not much a cheerleader for our clan. However my great grandfather—who I’m named after—was a great guy. John B. Maberry fought at the Battle of Gettysburg, captured the Southern flag, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Now, here’s the kicker. At that battle he captured a southern soldier named Dooley…who is my wife’s great grandfather. We learned this recently and it’s a weirdly stunning coincidence.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

Rhythm. On the dance floor I am Whitey McWhitelson. I am, quite possibly, the worst dancer in the history of carbon-based life forms.

What was your favorite year of school? Why?

My favorite year was 1974 at Frankford High. Tenth grade. I made a slew of new friends, I fell in love for the first time, I joined a band, I did musical theater, I won several martial arts championships, I got my black belt, I grew my hair and beard long, I ran with a cool crowd of artists and singers, and I finally began to understand politics and art. It was the first of a lot of good years, and I remember every single day of it.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I used to do musical theater. I was in productions of Camelot, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof, How to Succeed in Business, 1776, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and others. And I was in the traveling company for Godspell. That all ended when I got hit across the throat with a pool cue while working as a bouncer. I survived the hit, but my vocal chords were never quite the same. There are some who believe this was a good thing for the world of musical comedy.

What makes you angry?

Rude behavior. Pushes every last one of my buttons.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

I vary between classics (Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, I Spy, Star Trek), modern comedies (Friends, Mad About You, Modern Family), and dramas (The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Orphan Black, Justified, Dexter, etc.).

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

Favorite movies are THE WIZARD OF OZ, SINGING IN THE RAIN, and THE HAUNTING. Favorite books are SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury, I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson, PALE GRAY FOR GUILT by John D. MacDonald, FLETCH by Gregory McDonald, BLACK CHERRY BLUES by James Lee Burke and THE DANCERS AT THE END OF TIME by Michael Moorcock.


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