Book signing and reception, 2 p.m., May 4
Paper Trail, 158 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM
Tune in to KFUN May 1, 9 a.m., for a preview.
Author Sharon Vander Meer: I love sci fi and I love contemporary fiction and I love mystery/adventure and I love poetry. As a writer, I’m told I should stick with one thing or the other, but if a story or poem pops into my head, it will end up getting written. Not everything gets published, but the work of creation is my heartbeat. A writer is what I am; writing is what I do. My dream is that you will enjoy the results of my labor of love.
Character and plot development are like 1000-piece puzzles: you start with the edges and work toward the heart. You don’t get the full impact of the image until the last piece is in. Therein lies the secret of storytelling.
My latest novel – Thunder Prime, Hunter’s Light – is now published. The last piece of the puzzle is in place. The book is available as an e-book ($2.99), or as a paperback ($15). I will have copies available by April 5 if you would like to buy directly from me and get a signed copy.
Sci-fi action and futuristic politics combine in this story of a young woman who is on a quest to find her mother. Pella Soames will allow nothing to stand in the way of her search for Trish Soames, taken from Earth by a known galactic trader in slaves. Not a downed transport, attempts to abduct her and well-meaning friends who want to stop her mad and dangerous search for a woman who may not even be alive will stay her resolve. Fate, unexpected help and Pella’s wily sense of self-preservation keep her out of the hands of abductors… mostly.
When events conspire to bring her closer to reaching Chandor, a planet at the edge of the galaxy, Pella is faced with the difficult choice of protecting the children who have come into her care or using them as a means of reaching the holding of the hated Chandorian chieftain who took Pella’s childhood away.
This is my fifth novel. If you are looking for genre fiction from me, you will be disappointed. If you’re looking for stories about independent female protagonists, then I have great tales to tell.
Other works include Blind Curve, Finding Family, Future Imperfect, and The Ballad of Bawdy McClure, two chap books of poetry and a book of daily inspirational readings.
Prairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union
Author: Edwina Romero
Publisher: Random Horse Press
Cost: Paperback $18.81, Kindle e-book, $3.99
Available at: Amazon
If you like historical novels, you will thoroughly enjoy Prairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union, by Edwina Romero. If you like a plain old good read, you are in for a treat.
Romero has blended history and mystery to write an intriguing puzzle surrounding the death of personable Sean Flannery, a first sergeant at Fort Union in the late 1800s. The story involves the complex social structure of fort life with its military personnel, civilian workers, and privately-owned trader’s store. The ever-present winds sigh and bluster across the barren landscape, lending a haunting backdrop to this story of two women and the men in their lives.
Forget stereotypes, with washer women being the low rung on the social ladder, and think instead of the hardy women who ended up at the edges of the wild west. Their resilience is the true story behind this window on the past.
When army laundress Mary Margaret O’Keenan learns Sean is dead, she is convinced from the get-go that it was no accident. Who took the life of the man she had come to love? Mary Margaret intends to find out, ready to confront authority and bring to light clues she comes upon in her determined investigation.
Despite threats and pushback from military officials, she forges ahead with the unlikely but welcome help of Olivia Foote, wife of the post’s contract trader, a man whose motives appear to be less than honorable.
Mary Margaret and Olivia form a bond of trust and friendship that helps them in their pursuit of truth. The historical facts and setting take the reader back to an era when changes were underway for forts across the country. Howling winds batter at adobe walls and trickle through the mind, perhaps scouring away sober judgment and replacing it with the bare bones of greed and self-interest.
Place and character define a good story. In Prairie Madness, these elements are woven together beautifully. The tale moves apace revealing a conspiracy that reaches right into the office of the fort’s commanding officer and beyond.
Mary Margaret has good instincts, but deciding whom to trust isn’t easy. All she knows for sure is that the facts of Sean Flannery’s death must be revealed and the culprit brought to justice.
Paper Trail in Las Vegas, NM, will host a book signing on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m., featuring Romero and Prairie Madness – Conspiracy at Fort Union. The book is also available online in paperback and Kindle format.
A good story is made up of a collection of elements, the most powerful is that magical thing called voice. Who is speaking and what is the storyteller saying from the heart to engage the reader? In The Death of Bernadette Lefthand, author Ron Querry nailed it with Gracie. As the primary source of insight into Bernadette’s life and tragic death, Gracie can’t know everything, so we get to hear from a few other perspectives. But at the core, this is as much Gracie’s story as it is Bernadette’s.
Through Gracie’s eyes we get to see her sister’s world falling apart, attributable to human foible as much as anything, but assigned to fable and witchcraft Native American style, with Singers/medicine men making chilling appearances that portend no good thing.
Gracie reveals the meanness of living on a reservation with little to rely on other than family and tradition. She is not described, but you get the sense of a young woman whose appeal lies in the heart, not in outward appearance. Without guile or jealousy, she concedes to her lovely sister all the attributes she does not have. Her admiration of Bernadette’s spirit, her beauty, her charm, her talent dancing to the music of the drums, all serve to create the love story between sisters. Gracie seems content in Bernadette’s shadow, as though it is the perfectly logical place for her to be. In this shadowland, perhaps she sees what’s coming before anyone else can as Bernadette’s handsome Navajo husband’s life takes a nosedive into the bottle.
The bittersweet truth of the novel is the unanswered question of whether the bad buy gets his comeuppance. It’s left to the reader to decide, but I like to believe that in this good-vs-evil story, evil met his doom in fitting Native American fashion.
The Death of Bernadette Lefthand was first published in 1993 and won the Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award and the 1994 Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association Book Award. It has since received critical acclaim for the author’s ability to depict the intersection between white and native worlds.
Regarding this 25th anniversary edition of The Death of Bernadette Lefthand, Kirkus Reviews wrote: This…beautiful story deserves to be back on the bookshelves of American readers with its innovative, organic use of Indigenous prose form and strong, lovely personalities.
The Death of Bernadette Lefthand is published by Cinco Puntos Press and is available online and in bookstores.
Querry lives in Northern New Mexico in a century-old Queen Anne Victorian house, with his wife, fine art photographer Elaine Querry, and their three cow dogs.
Cover image from Cinco Puntos Press
Gate 76, by Andrew Diamond, is about loss and redemption. The characters are stark, and for the most part – it seems – soulless. But are they? Gate 76 explores the dark side of life with a man who finds no good in the world. He’s seen it all. Lived it all, and he is not impressed. Well-meaning do-gooders who don’t have a clue, really push his hot button.
He most certainly doesn’t see his own goodness, the spark of caring that sets him apart from his brutal upbringing. Ex-boxer Freddy Ferguson has been betrayed too many times by people who should have been looking out for him.
And then he sees a woman in line at an airport, ready to board a plane. She appears to be under duress. He keeps watching. Something isn’t right. It’s her eyes, maybe, wide with fear, yet determined. She’s terrified, he can sense it.
That’s the beginning of a heart-pumping tale involving the bombing of an airplane, political corruption, prostitution, drugs and dirty lawmen.
In his role as a PI, Freddy is tasked with sorting through the passenger list of the downed plane, looking for clues, but he can’t get the woman out of his mind. She wasn’t on the plane that exploded, he knows that, but where did she go? Why was she afraid? Freddy doesn’t believe in much of anything not even justice. He does believe in following his instincts and doing the right thing, even when it may lead to his destruction.
Andrew Diamond’s novel Impala won the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Award for genre fiction and the Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for mystery. Amazon.com editors picked it as a best mystery/thriller of the month upon its release in September, 2016, and IndieReader chose it as one of the best indie novels of the year.
About the book
Title: Gate 76
Author: Andrew Diamond
Publisher: Stolen Time Press
Release Date: June 1, 2018
My rating: Thumbs Up x 4
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When loyalists quelled an insurgent plan to take over earth nearly 20 years ago, they found Pella Soames and Bartholomew Casey among the captives destined for slave transports. Fog Island was intended to be the first stop on a long journey to hell. Just as Pella escapes her captors, she discovers her mother is slave to Brutus Tauk, a brutal Chandorian overlord. Pella believes her mother is alive. She will risk anything to find her.
Episode 2 of Hunter’s Light, The Quest, will post on Friday. You may read Episode 1 here, free. Access to future episodes are by subscription. Thank you for subscribing.
Access to all episodes of Hunter’s Light, The Quest. When the book is complete, you will receive a signed print copy. Episodes will post weekly on Friday.
I’ve done several readings at Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, NM, featuring my books. Every time I do one, I’m a wreck and second-guess whether I said the right things and whether people received my reading well. On Saturday at my most recent reading and signing, my friend Jim Terr recorded portions of the readings and the following is one clip of three he will be posting. I thank those who could make it on Saturday, and to those who couldn’t, I hope you enjoy this clip. And by the way, buy the books! You can find Finding Family at Tito’s Gallery or Tome on the Range. The poetry books you may buy directly from me. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or order through the click buttons in the right column.
Video: Jim Terr
Q. In one sentence, who is Kathleen Rodgers?
A. I am a seeker of truth, and I use storytelling to try and find it.
Q. What do you wish people knew about you?
A. I am empathetic to those who struggle. Because I’ve overcome many obstacles in life, I try and encourage others not to give up. I joke that “HOPE” is my middle name. I try and offer hope in my stories.
Q. In writing Johnnie Come Lately you use grim themes about bulimia, addiction, and betrayal. Talk about how the complex story line developed?
A. My protagonist, Johnnie Kitchen, came to me many years ago while I was working on my first novel. At the time, I knew she was a woman who had overcome eating issues that developed from neglect she suffered as a child. Raised by loving grandparents who lost a son in a tragedy that stunned them to silence, Johnnie must find her way in the world while also dealing with an absentee mother. As a young wife, she carried these issues of abandonment and neglect into her early marriage, and years later her loyal and hardworking husband learns about an old betrayal. I also address the issue of military service during a time when our nation is at war. My challenge was to write about how the trauma of war can affect generation after generation. I’m continuing this theme in the sequel, Seven Wings to Glory.
Q. Your characters are down-to-earth. You don’t take the easy way and make some inherently good and others identifiably bad. Where did you get the inspiration for these very relatable people?
A. Nobody is all bad or all good. Every human being is flawed, and I work hard to remember that when I create characters. In all of my fiction, my characters are sometimes composites of real people and other times they come fully formed in my imagination. For instance, Aunt Beryl in Johnnie Come Lately might be considered an antagonist. She’s a bossy busybody, and yet, she is also the truthsayer and the person in Johnnie’s life who finally tells the truth about who her father was. I also think about Johnnie’s husband, Dale. Dale is tasked with the job of trying to figure out how to forgive his wife. The fact that Dale initially withholds forgiveness from Johnnie makes him human. This character flaw intrigued me and helped propel the story forward. Even Granny Opal and Grandpa Grubb, as good as they were, had their own flaws and secrets, and Johnnie suffered because of it.
Q. This family has some obstacles to overcome. Without giving away the plot, talk about your journey to get from the telling moment of betrayal to resolution.
A. As I stated in the last question, Dale is such a good man. But even good men can hold grudges. The challenge for both Johnnie and Dale is how to move forward in their marriage and heal a hurt that cuts deep and affects every member of the family, even Brother Dog. And Dale, despite being a hard worker, has been holding Johnnie back from wanting to return to college. He uses money or lack of money as an excuse for his wife to pursue her dreams. There’s a scene in a restaurant when Johnnie discovers the truth about why Dale resists the idea of her going back to college. I cried when I wrote this scene because I hurt for Dale and the pain that followed him through life, no matter how successful he became. That’s a theme I write about a lot, how our past still affects our present and our future.
Q. Who do you identify most with in the story?
A. Johnnie’s two sons, D.J. and Cade. One is an artist and pacifist and the other is hell-bent on joining the military and going to war. (I continue this theme in the sequel.) Brother Dog, the family pet, is the glue that keeps this family together, and I relied on him to guide me through the story. And then there’s Mr. Marvel, the portly airline pilot who is Johnnie’s mysterious neighbor. I identify with Mr. Marvel because no matter how successful he became professionally, he still suffers from a childhood tragedy and the guilt that follows him. Mr. Marvel is every misunderstood person that gets marginalized or profiled or labeled. I have a deep abiding love and respect for this character. He taught Johnnie many lessons, and he lives on in both of our hearts. (And yes, I think of Johnnie as a real person.)
Q. You use journaling and writing letters to people you want to “speak to” but, for various reasons can’t. How does this method advance your story?
A. I have always loved the letter form. I used a series of letters in my first novel, The Final Salute, to cover a period when some of my characters went off to war and others stayed home. Letters and journal entries in fiction have the opportunity to pull readers deep into the story because they feel a personal and emotional investment with the characters. Because I received so much positive feedback from readers who loved that section of the novel, I decided to make Johnnie Kitchen a “closet writer” in Johnnie Come Lately. When she can’t share her deepest thoughts with the living and the dead, she turns to her journal and pours her heart out on paper. The reader discovers many secrets about beloved family members, old lovers, and Johnnie’s deepest fears and dreams for her future and that of her family. By parceling out tidbits of information here and there in the journal entries and in class papers Johnnie writes when she returns to college, we are able to piece together the missing pieces of the puzzle that makes up Johnnie’s life and the lives of the other story people (both the living and the dead).
Q. You’ve done quite a lot of writing and been published in various magazines. What challenges you about writing fiction?
A. I reached a point as a freelance writer when the subject matter stopped feeding my soul. Plus, I was limited by the confines of nonfiction and I wanted to explore so many more themes and subjects. And the only way to do that was to turn to fiction.
Q. How is writing fiction different from writing nonfiction?
A. With fiction, I can “write outside the lines.” I can use real life experiences and give them to my characters without letting actual events dictate how the story is told. My stories are full of emotional truths and themes that are dear to my heart, and my characters take on the issues and themes that I might not feel comfortable writing about in a nonfiction book or magazine article. Plus, I love to incorporate a touch of magical realism into my stories, and I’m not brave enough to deal with that in nonfiction. Writing fiction teaches me to be brave. I find courage by exploring deep and serious issues through my story people.
Q. What do you hope people get from reading Johnnie Come Lately, which by the way I thought was a wonderful story from beginning to end?
A. Thank you, Sharon. I hope my readers are able to apply some of the story lessons from the novel and apply them to their own lives. Most of all, I hope they are entertained and finish the book feeling hopeful for their own lives and the lives of their families.
In any of my novels, I want my readers to laugh and cry with my characters. I want fiction and reality to blend into a seamless dimension where my characters know they are real people and my readers think they are my characters.
Current news about Kathleen
Kathleen is working on Seven Wings to Glory, the sequel to Johnnie Come Lately.
Sequel concept: After sending her youngest son to war in Afghanistan in 2009, Johnnie Kitchen finds herself battling a war of racial injustice in her small hometown of Portion, Texas. Will she back down after being threatened for speaking out? Or will she do the right thing and pursue justice? And will her Army son, who took an oath to protect ALL Americans, return home safely to Portion?
Click here to read Kathleen’s blog.
More about Kathleen from her website: Texas based author Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. Her work has also appeared in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. In 2014, Kathleen was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus. Three of her aviation poems were featured in a new exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, NY. More…