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March 2023 interview

Helen Erwin

Question: Helen, let’s start with telling my readers a little bit about yourself. How long have you been writing, and what do you like most about historical fiction?


I’ve been writing my whole life really, short stories, children’s books, and collaborative projects with friends just for fun. But it wasn’t until I was in my mid 40’s that I took it seriously enough to do it professionally. My first historical novel, James’ Journey, was published in 2015.


What I like the most about historical fiction is getting into my characters’ heads and having them think about the social and political discourse of the times they live in. Their values and social norms were very different from ours, usually because of the information that was available to them and their circumstances. I love elaborating on that and delve into all those complexities, you get a very rich glimpse into the past that way. For example, in Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool, my characters are having a debate about what it is that causes rickets. They don’t agree. Some are sure it’s because the baby in question had been near an unwed mother, others are sure it’s because the baby wasn’t swaddled properly. Today, we know of course that it’s neither. It’s vitamin D deficiency, or an absorption anomaly but my characters can’t know that. It's a fun challenge to get into their heads that way and make sure my characters think like a person from the past would actually think.


Question: Your novel, Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool sounds fascinating. What compelled you to write on this topic.  Please tell us about the role research played in writing this novel.


Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool is about women’s rights – or the lack thereof, at the turn of the 20th century Sweden. One of my two main characters, Anette, is based on my great grandmother who was an unwed mother of several children. This was incredibly stigmatized during her time and for a long time after wards. People are very quick to judge, but there must have been circumstances that affected her decisions, and I wanted to give her a voice.


I also wanted to write about the women who took a stand against the patriarchy of that time, the ones who lobbied and petitioned for their right to vote and to become active participants in their government. It was this which in turn helped change things for women like Anette.


Hanna, my second main character, is an early businesswoman who forms a women’s temperance group which then evolves into a suffrage group. Hanna is a relation to me as well, but I can’t say how because it would spoil the plot. I did a lot of genealogy research, historical and social research for this book. I love doing research, it’s what inspires my writing.

Question: You’ve won awards and special honors for your writing. Please describe for us how your books caught the eye of the Foundations who honored you with your awards. Had you entered a contest?


SWEA: Swedish Women’s Educational Association, which is an organization for Swedish women living outside of Sweden, heard of me and my work and got in touch. After that, I learned about their scholarships and applied. I was granted the SWEA New York Mona Johnson Scholarship for my upcoming novel and for The Foremothers’ Café, which is a Virtual World in the Metaverse inspired by Hanna’s café in Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool.


I learned about The Puffin Foundation from googling and applied, then was very fortunate to receive a grant for my Foremothers Café community.


Question: What project are you currently working on?


I’m finishing a historical fantasy novel set in Sweden in the 17th and 18th century. It’s based on court cases involving two mythological beings who people believed were real during that time. It was very serious, people were jailed or executed when it was thought they had spent time with these beings. It’s a fascinating time in history.


The reason this book falls under the historical fantasy genre is that I’m writing from the mythological creatures’ perspectives. It’s a very interesting way of writing that I’ve never done before, and I have a lot of freedom to add things that would never work in a “pure” historical fiction novel.

Question:  Now that you’re an experienced author, what advice can you provide to beginning writers about how to navigate the complexities of bringing a book to publication?  In other words, is there anything you would do differently with your first novel, looking back, now that you have acquired publishing experience?


There are several different ways to get your book published these days. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a publisher or an agent, there are many options out there, not just traditional publishing houses. Claim your art! You deserve to get your work out there, writing is an art form and it doesn’t have to be perfect for people to love it.


Question:  Do you have any unusual writing habits?


I don’t think so. I write on my laptop, usually with an external mouse and an ergonomic keyboard.


Question:  What marketing efforts have been most beneficial to you that have increased sales for you?


Social media with a mix of art, historical details relevant to my stories, and more personal details about me. It really helps to share something more personal about my daily life. I didn’t use to do that the first few years, but I’ve noticed an uptake in engagement when I do. Holding author events and outreach to organizations interested in my subjects is also a great way to get more sales. Advertising is good as well, just spending a little money on it off and on, makes a difference.


Question:  Please tell my readers how they can follow you. Please provide us with your web address, and all of your contacts on social media.


Sure, and thank you so much for having me, Colleen!                                                                    



February 2023 interview

Friday, February 3, 2023


Consider your Manuscript Like an Architect's Blueprints: Author Interview with Kaya McLaren

What inspired you to write that first novel? Did it get published?


In 1998, I was teaching in a small, isolated wheat-farming town. Since I was paying off student loans, I didn't have two dimes to rub together. When my television broke and I couldn't afford to replace it or fix it, I started writing to entertain myself...mostly imagining what my life would look like if I wasn't lonely and if I had supernatural powers to fix the things in life that I wanted to fix.


I began during a cold snap when I had to stay right next to my woodstove, but I had so much fun in my imaginary world that I wrote for about an hour each night while I took a bath! Isn't that funny? Yes, I wrote my first novel by hand on notebook paper in a three-ring binder. Initially it was published by DayBue Publishing, Ink and I couldn't tell you how many revisions we did except that I was grateful in the end for each one. Several years later, Penguin picked it up and we did a few more revisions. I blocked most of it out of my memory.


What is the hardest part of writing for you?


The hardest part of writing for me is coming up with a plot because I don't like problems. This always makes me laugh to say aloud. Other people are fascinated by problems. I'm exhausted from real problems, so I'd really rather not create imaginary ones to solve in addition, you know? But since problems are central to a plot, I really have to force myself. My grandmother taught me that what I give my attention to grows, so I'm always afraid that by giving my attention to these imaginary problems, I'm going to create them in my real life. It's okay to laugh at all of that.


What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?


I always loved writing letters. There was a time in my life when I could no longer write individual letters to all of the people I had met along the way-- friends from summer camp, friends from archaeology projects, friends from college, extended family, etc...


and the Internet wasn't a thing yet, so I wrote these Xerox letters (sometimes illustrated) and mailed them out. I heard that two different recipients read them at dinner parties at their homes and that people who didn't know me looked forward to the next one. That was the moment that I realized that I might be able to make a little money at this-- at least enough to cover Xeroxing costs and postage stamps.


Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks?


Oh, girl, that is the million-dollar question right now. It feels like such a moving target. I've watched this business change so much in the last twenty years and truly, I do not know what the rules are. I've decided not to worry about it and just do what I like doing. I like making friends with bookstore owners. Bookstore owners and managers are always really interesting, intelligent, compassionate, insightful people.


I like road trips, and I like stopping in and introducing myself. There are some stores where I've enjoyed having events, though I haven't in a long time. I think events need to be more than book signings, though. Book club meetings are more interesting to me. I like discussions more than speeches. I appreciate that feedback from readers. I especially love it when they share a passage that was meaningful to them. Social media isn't a comfortable way for me to promote, though I do some. It's just that I'm an elementary teacher, and I don't want parents making judgments about the content of my stories and bringing any controversy around that into my teacher-life.


What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? When I wrote CHURCH OF THE DOG, I really didn't understand the fundamentals of plot. At some point after it was out, I met an award-winning screenwriter in the Methow Valley who read it and told me that my main character wasn't who I thought it was because she didn't change; my main character was the one who changed. I read books about screenwriting that I checked out from the library there and that really helped me grow in ways I wanted to grow.


What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? Write about what you know. Classic.


I tell people to go out and live an interesting life instead of holing up and writing in solitude all the time. HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN was my biggest commercial success and I wrote it after spending a few winters skiing with a very animated group of friends from different walks of life. Go live. Live big. Let life feed you book material.


Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?

I'd like to thank the librarian in Heppner, Oregon, who in 1998 saw me looking to see who published my favorite books and asked how she might help me. I told her about my manuscript and how I didn't know what to do with it, and she put a copy of THE WRITERS' MARKET and a copy of HOW TO GET HAPPILY PUBLISHED in my hand. In doing so, she forever changed my life. Libraries are the great equalizer. When I didn't have enough money for food and sure couldn't afford a fat book like THE WRITERS' MARKET, the library gave me access to it. Libraries are a beautiful thing.


I also want to say that being an archaeologist helped prepare me for the publishing process. In archaeology, there weren't a lot of opportunities. Back in the '90's, I'd send my resume to fifty or a hundred archaeology or environmental consulting firms and hear back from one or two. I understood that there just weren't many availabilities and that it wasn't personal. In the publishing world, publishing houses only publish a certain number of each kind of genre a year. Maybe they're looking for what you've got, or maybe that spot has been filled. Keep trying. Don't get discouraged. Most of all, be willing to rewrite.


The first draft is for you. Enjoy the process of writing it. If you don't want to change it, self-publish. But if you want commercial success, be humble and open-minded. Allow your manuscript to become something entirely different if that is what's going to happen. I see it like being an architect. Ultimately, I'm creating a product for a customer and I want that customer to be satisfied and come back for more. I see my editor/publisher as that customer, and as a representative of their customers. But that first draft, oh, enjoy writing it like you would enjoy falling in love during a vacation romance. Then, get back to work.


What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?


I don't know when my next book is coming out. I sent a manuscript to my agents last month.


I would like to plug my last book though, because I think it's the best one I've written so far. It's not the cheeriest. It's heavy, and it's not for everyone. I wrote WHAT'S WORTH KEEPING after my own experience with breast cancer, which left me reeling from trauma and feeling extremely disoriented in my own body and in my own life. I had to find a way to make peace with the uncertainty and absolute certainty of life and I really struggled to do so.


So, I changed the manuscript I had been working on and put Amy, one of the main characters, in the place that I was--the place where everything seemed like bullshit except nature and all I wanted to do was be with the big trees in the kindest forest I knew. Amy sets off from Oklahoma City on her way to Mt. Rainier National Park, visiting a few national parks and monuments along the way. Unlike me, Amy had a husband. Paul, a cop in Oklahoma City, had his own trauma from being a first responder to the Oklahoma City Bombing years ago, and had grown increasingly more distant ever since.


Their daughter, Carly, had always been the model of perfection until after Amy's cancer, when she learned of the genetic aspect to her mom's disease. After that, she saw little point in delaying gratification and went off the rails. Through no agreement of her own, she finds herself at Great Aunt Rae's in Chama, New Mexico, where she works with Clydesdales in her aunt's outfitting business. Amy, Paul, and Carly, all find their way out of trauma through different means-- nature, music, a project, the comfort of horses, and miraculously find their way back to one another.


While intense at times, it's ultimately hopeful. It turns out that medical trauma is a thing, and it's hard to talk about when we know many people weren't lucky enough to get the gift of more time. We know we should be grateful and we are-- but we also grieve the way our lives and our bodies were before everything changed. I think this book will help many people know they're not alone in those moments, and really help those who are close to someone going through it understand what is happening and why.


That's all for today's interview. Lot to absorb here. If you'd like to learn more about Kaya's books, here's the link to her website:

Posted by Christine L.Henderson at Friday, February 03, 2023


January 2023 interviews



Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I retired from the counseling field 8 years ago but even 3 years before that I started editing fiction, mostly. To date I have edited over 70 manuscripts, of which half have been published. Five of my writers (that I am aware of) have won either gold, silver or bronze medals for outstanding fiction.

I wrote my first book last summer over a 60 day period, 65,000 mwords entitled Bristlecone Magic, a YA Christian fantasy spurred along by a photo I saw in linkedIn. The words tumbled out of me but I took a year to fine tune the writing.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest is my only book as I mentioned above. However, during the last two years I have also written 5 short stories, a few of which are still ongoing.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really, I write as the spirit moves me but I have never suffered from writer’s block or the dreaded what-ifs that can stop you in your tracks.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
Books have not really influenced me, even though I have gladly read hundreds, but my writers have made a huge impact on me, especially those I have befriended over the years.

What are you working on now?
Currently publishing and marketing Bristlecone Magic.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I haven’t decided you but I have many solid contacts I can rely on to point me in the right direction.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Do write but please write right, right?
Do NOT rush the process, anything rushed usually is sub par.
Do NOT take shortcut, if you do, your readers will see through them.
Never give up on your dreams.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Do the right thing especially when no one is looking.

What are you reading now?
Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey
To Honour the Dead by John Dean

What’s next for you as a writer?
To continue writing short stories for an anthology in the future.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
9/22/63 by Steven King
Large print Bible
H G Wells Time machine

Author Websites and Profiles
DENNIS DE ROSE Amazon Profile
DENNIS DE ROSE Author Profile on Smashwords

DENNIS DE ROSE’s Social Media Links
Goodreads Profile


Cozette Zimmerman 

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a forever college student always wanting to get more and more degrees and more knowledge. I love to read, crochet, writing, and taking naps. At this point, I have published one book and I am working on two more simultaneously.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called A Call Girl With Her Clothes On and it was inspired by my true phone conversations that I had with patients while I worked at a hospital call center.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I like to work on multiple projects at the same time and I don’t like jumping around chapters while I write.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
I love Karin Slaughter and her creative twists, as well as Gillian Flynn.

What are you working on now?
It is a horror fiction book called The Boat of Dreams.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have had quite a bit of success with Facebook targeted ads, as well as talking about my book to everyone that I meet.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write the book, tell everyone, build up hype.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t be afraid to edit!

What are you reading now?
I am reading Billy Jensen’s Chase Darkness With Me.

What’s next for you as a writer?
As a writer, I am working on finding a literary agent and shopping film/tv rights for my book.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I would bring All the Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, Inkheart, and Harry Potter.

Author Websites and Profiles
Cozette Zimmerman Website
Cozette Zimmerman Amazon Profile

Cozette Zimmerman’s Social Media Links
Facebook Profile
Twitter Account


​​December 2022 interview

Author Interview, About: Marketing

Taken with permission from Christine’s blog spot, who conducted the actual interview.

Don’t get stuck in Analysis Paralysis: Author Interview with Marina J. Bowman

Question: In reviewing your publishing history, I see you’ve published 10 books so far. What drew you to write children’s chapter books? 

When I was a child, I struggled to focus on books because I preferred to be outside, exploring magical new worlds. With help from my parents and teachers, eventually I realized that there are new worlds to explore and adventures to be had on the page as well as off the page. I was drawn to write children's chapter books because I wanted to help young readers (especially reluctant readers) fall in love with reading and become lifelong learners. And the most critical time for kids is the gap between picture books and full-length novels. 


Question: When I’ve attended writing conferences or webinars, I’ve often heard that this level chapter books are small niches, and many publishers and agents don’t want to deal with the genre. Is it as hard as I’ve been told it is to find sales?

It's true that it's one of the most difficult genres to sell, but I'm fortunate to be able to work with Devin and Don at Code Pineapple publishing, who share my values. Plus it's incredibly rewarding to hear from parents and grandparents that their child has discovered a newfound love of reading because of my stories.


Question: How much of the non-writing (formatting, cover design, website design, etc.) do you personally do? 

Starting out I had very little experience with marketing and publishing. But I've learned a lot along the way. Almost all of the non-writing activities are outsourced to freelancers, which Devin and Don help take care of. 


Question: What’s the hardest part of publishing and marketing your own books?

The hardest part about it is that we aren't able to speak directly to our readers - kids ages 6-12. We market to the parents, grandparents, teachers, and librarians who care for those kids. Furthermore, I am forced to stay out of the spotlight to ensure the more unpleasant supernatural secrets I uncover don’t catch up with me. This makes it even more difficult to connect with my readers.


Question: Marketing is a big part of increasing book sales. What venue have you found most successful in not only getting clicks but sales as well?

Currently our biggest driver for sales is Amazon Ads. We've had little luck with Book Bub and Facebook ads. We also distribute off-Amazon through Ingram Spark and are looking to do much more to try to reach schools, libraries, and bookstores in the coming months.


What is the hardest part of writing for you? 

One of the hardest and most important parts about writing for me is coming up with a fully fleshed out character with a core desire that drives the story. I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of letting the story world run out of control to the point that the character is passively experiencing it. Another trap that's difficult to avoid is 'telling' rather than 'showing.' 


The more obvious and easier way to include a character’s thoughts and feelings is simply by stating what they are. For example: Michael was very afraid of the dark. But showing is much more interesting. For instance: As his mother switched off the light and left the room, Michael tensed. He huddled under the covers, gripped the sheets, and held his breath as the wind brushed past the curtain.


Question: What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

The best encouragement comes from reader feedback. Whether via emails or online reviews, it's the stories of how my books are positively impacting kids and families that keeps me going. Comments like "It helped me get her excited for bed for a whole week." Or "My grandson and I started reading it and he is anxious to keep reading - that's a new thing for him." And especially "I like that she faced her own fears at the end... It proves to always face your fears and overcome them... I'm trying to face my own fear of the dark and it's kind of working." 


Of course, it also helps to get positive editorial reviews! We recently received a Notable Book Starred Review from Blue Ink and an Editor's Pick from Book Life, which is great validation.

Question: What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

I wish I had understood writing to market sooner. It makes it a lot easier to market and sell your book. Then again, if I had focused on writing to market for my very first book, I may have become intimidated and never gotten started. So, I don't really regret the way any of this has played out. I've realized that you really just need to get started and learn as you go. Otherwise, you can end up analysis paralysis.


Question: What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?

The best advice I have received and would like to pass on is this: done beats perfect. I like to say that I am a recovering perfectionist. Whether you are a pantser, plotter, or something in between - just do what you need to do to move forward. Start with whatever you know in the moment - the character, the world, the beginning, the end - and the rest will follow.


Question: Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?

Writers write. That's what they do. But that doesn't mean it's easy. The blank page can be scary. Debilitating even. I find that having a notepad to jot down ideas as they come to me is helpful. Flipping through a notebook of ideas is a great place to find motivation and your next story. Most writers, myself included, find that the more they write down their ideas, the more they can find ideas inspired by everyday life. 


For example, your sister eating 3 oranges because she loves them so much might not be anything special. But when your imagination takes over, you suddenly start thinking, “What if aliens wanted to come to earth to try oranges because they’ve heard good things? But they don’t know what they look like, except that they are round. So the aliens come down and start tasting everything shaped like a sphere that they can find, from taking a bite out of baseballs to licking bowling balls.” So if you're stuck, go live life and you'll find writing inspiration.

Question: What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?

The next book coming out is in a brand new series! The working title is Misfit Magic School. Here's a short blurb: 13-year-old Ember Pearson failed her mandatory magic exam, and now there is only one place she can go - the school for magical misfits. All she wants is to transfer to a school for real witches, like her celebrity parents and perfect sister. When the only teacher that believes in her vanishes, Ember and her fellow misfits must find a way to bring her home. But with a mix of chaotic powers that include spotty invisibility, baffling psychic visions, and unruly fire manipulation, it won't be easy.


Sounds like an intriguing plot set-up. If you'd like to learn more about Marina's stories, here are some links to get you started.


Amazon Author Page:

Facebook: and

Posted by Christine L.Henderson at Tuesday, September 06, 2022

November 2022 interview

My interview this month is with my neighbor, Raj, about the Indian celebration of Dewali. The celebration of Dewali in my community is our annual event that is the most popular with tickets selling out within a half hour.

Diwali or Deepawali, known as the “festival of lights,” is usually celebrated in October or November. Lasting over five days, the holiday is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs worldwide. Dewali, also spelled Divali, is one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Dipavali, meaning “row of lights.” The festival generally symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.


Dewali, which is a national holiday across India, is typically celebrated by socializing and exchanging gifts with family and friends. Many light earthen oil lamps or candles, and fireworks are set off as part of the celebrations.

There's cleaning and decorating the house, buying new clothes, visiting friends and family — and of course preparing and sharing food. And although the foods associated with Diwali vary from culture to culture, one central theme is snacks and sweets.

Raj and his wife are from Punjab. Punjab, a state bordering Pakistan, is the heart of India’s Sikh community. The city of Amritsar, founded in the 1570s by Sikh Guru Ram Das, is the site of Harmandir Sahib, the holiest gurdwara (Sikh place of worship). Known in English as the Golden Temple, and surrounded by the Pool of Nectar, it's a major pilgrimage site. Also in Amritsar is Durgiana Temple, a Hindu shrine famed for its engraved silver doors.

Question: Raj, tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

     I am married and met my wife forty years ago while at college in India. I have two Masters Degrees. I obtained my first Master’s degree in Finance while in India, and after moving to the United States, I obtained my 2nd Master’s degree from the Pratt Institute in New York City in Computer Science. My occupation was mainly in management with a focus on Finance and Information Systems which required me to traveled globally. I moved to the Research Triangle in North Carolina in 2020 to be near my children and grandchildren.

Question: Raj, what is your childhood memory of Dewali and how did your family celebrate it?

     Dewali was the most important festival during my childhood. As children, we prepared for Dewali for two months by buying fireworks and accumulating all of the supplies for fireworks. I used all of my allowance to buy fireworks. The adult family members prepared special sweets and food to be distributed among neighbors and friends. Then we gathered together as a community to enjoy our tasty treats while watching the fireworks display.

Question: Does Dewali also involve a religious celebration?

     Yes, typically our religious ceremonies were brief and consisted of our asking the Lord to give us wisdom to do good deeds and live happily. Three pillars guided us in the name of the Lord that were preached in our prayers.  The three pillars are:  Honesty, selfless service to community and meditation. The meaning of Dewali for us is to enlighten the soul by the practice of the three pillars.

Question: Raj, do you have a favorite Dewali dish?

     Many of our dishes are vegetarian. My wife and I love the variety of sweet dishes that are offered, such as:  Barfi, Jalebi, Laddus, Balu-shahi, Ras Gulas, and Gulab Jamans.


Thank you for enlightening us about this most joyful and memorable celebration, Raj.

**To obtain the recipes to some of these delectable dishes, just click on the RECIPES tab on my HOME page.


Below is my interview with children’s book author, Gretchen Romanowski, conducted September 2022.  You can reach Gretchen here:;

Thank you, Gretchen, and Welcome to my feature titled ‘Look Who’s Talking.’  Let’s start with learning a little bit about you.  Can you tell my readers about your background and how you decided to write your debut children’s book; Maddie and the Virus?

     Thanks, Colleen. I’m a semi-retired dance educator with a background as a performer, teacher, choreographer, and director.  I decided to write Maddie and the Virus because, when the pandemic first emerged, I felt compelled to do something, anything, to be a calming voice, an encouraging voice, a voice of hope.  So, every day, as my dog and I were taking our walks, the ideas emerged and actually bombarded me – in my mind’s eye, from the very the beginning, I visualized the cover, the introductory pages, Maddie’s name and interests, and I knew that the characters and events in the story would be based upon my life and my family.   

You have several creative ideas in your book for children living and coping with the pandemic. Did you have all of these ideas in mind before beginning to write, or did your ideas evolve over time?

     As a dance educator, I have taught Brain Dance for many years to my students of all ages.  And, the other dances that Maddie and her Gram share together are ones I’ve also introduced to my granddaughter and my students over the years.  I also knew I wanted to include my graduate research and training with “Dancing Wheels,” a wonderful dance school and company in Cleveland, Ohio which serves dancers of all abilities.   So, in thinking about writing my book, I knew from the beginning that I would share these many dance ideas with my readers because dance has been such an enriching part of my life.   

Do you have any particular writing habits?

     No, except I do a great deal of thinking and writing and sorting through ideas while I’m walking.  The ideas brew for a while and, when inspiration strikes, I sit down at the computer and do my writing.  Once I’ve begun a project, it lives with me all the time.  I imagine that’s true for anyone embarking on a new creative project. 

What advice would you give beginning authors?

     Great question.  Walk.  Take time to create a space for yourself.  Let the ideas flow.  Enjoy the process.  Ask for feedback (but make the final decisions yourself) from valued family and friends.  Let your writing live and breathe and keep re-reading what you’ve written so new perspectives can emerge.  Keep your writing succinct.  Let your words move with rhythm and color. 

What books / authors do you like to read? 

     I’m currently reading Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez, a historical romance novel set in 1930’s Texas.  I recently finished Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and An Elephant in My Kitchen, by his wife Francoise Malby Anthony about life on an African game reserve which reveals the extraordinary relationships between wild animals and their human caretakers.  I’ve also enjoyed two books by Jeanine Cummins – American Dirt about Mexican migrants fleeing to the United States and The Outside Boy about an Irish gypsy boy’s childhood in the 1950’s.   

The illustrations in your book are a very well done and serve to keep young readers engaged. How did you find your illustrator?  If you’d like to give a shout out to him, tell us about his service and how he helped you.

     When I first decided to explore writing a children’s book, I contacted my niece, who is a teacher, to see if she might know of an illustrator.  She gave me Mike’s name and the next day we were on a zoom call together and, as they say, the rest is history.  I feel so fortunate to have worked with Mike whose artistry brought my story to life.  Mike was always patient, an earnest listener, asked relevant questions that helped me think more deeply about my story, was open to my suggestions and my multitude of revisions, even at the last minute, and provided me with guidance for book completion, website, and publishing.

     Mike is a musician, an artist, and owner of MRC, a branding company in downtown Raleigh.  He’s also the host of The Pencil Pushers Podcast which focuses on the love of the hand-drawn arts.  Mike may be contacted at        

What are you currently working on?

     I’m just beginning to work on a second Maddie book.  Mike and his team always said to me that I had to write a Maddie and the Virus sequel!  My six-year-old granddaughter (the inspiration for Maddie) asked me to write my second book “this weekend” because she’s excited to read it!

Thanks Gretchen.  Your book is an inspiration for young readers and adults alike. I’ve posted Gretchen’s interview on my website under the tab: ‘Look Who’s Talking.’  Please send Gretchen a hello, or if you’ve read Maddie and the Virus and like it, consider writing a review for her on Amazon.



Below is an interview with Linda Wood Rondeau, conducted October 2022.

You've now written multiple books, but what got you started to complete the first one? 

     My very first book started out as Proverbs for Moms. The title changed over the years to Abundant Living for Moms, Daisy's Lessons for Moms, and a number of other titles. It was finally published as I Prayed For Patience God Gave Me Children.

How did you go about finding a publisher? Did you have an agent? 

     I had an agent for several years before I finally published my first book, The Other Side of Darkness. I met the agent at a writer's conference. We corresponded for a year and then I was offered a contract. Getting a contract for that first book took 11 years to the date I decided to become a writer.

Your publisher’s guidelines for submissions include requests for the numbers of social media followers and e-mail lists, as well as the many ways the author plans on promoting their book. Those requests are not unusual, and I've seen them with numerous publishers. To me that sounds like they only want established writers who probably could indie publish on their own. Did you already have a strong following when you got a contract with them?

     I did work hard to establish a website and social media platforms. From the work I did, I evidenced a willingness to "get out there" and do the best I could to help market my book. I think many publishers are willing to work with a promising author who is willing to work hard and who has a great book. 

     Ultimately, the craft is most important to publishers. Yes, they may take an established author before taking on many pre-published authors. If you have an outstanding product, publishers will take an interest. The hard part is pitching that product in a way to show how outstanding it is!

Marketing is a big part of increasing book sales. What marketing venue have you found most successful in not only getting clicks but sales as well?

     My newsletter seems to generate the most "clicks," and I see a definite rise in sales. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. I belong to Christian Authors Network, a marketing group, and found their services to be helpful. I don't see much result from Social Media other than name recognition. 

     Blog tours have been beneficial and I intend to do one soon for my newest release due in October, a devotional book, Lessons Along the Way, based on my newspaper column spanning over ten years. I have found I need to invest money in paid groups such as Bookbub. However, as a retired person, I do have a very limited marketing budget so I must choose wisely. Trying to do all my marketing for "free" doesn't work well.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

     I find balancing marketing, editing, and other "related" writing responsibilities such as managing my blog, appearances, etc., with my personal life to be the utmost challenge. Finding the best time to write before my brain goes to sleep at night is also a challenge. The actual craft is not as difficult for me. I love to write. As for starting ... I just start someplace. Your first few drafts are "rehearsals." I find getting the framework down first is important. Too many writers think they have to get it perfect the first time. This can produce a sort of writing anxiety. Just let go and let the words flow. Plenty of time to tweak your work afterward.

Linda, what’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

     When a reader lets me know a book helped them with a problem in their lives. As a former social worker, I write to encourage others that life does give us U-turns. My writing slogan is, "Our worst past, given to God, can become our best future."

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

     Marketing tricks! The business of writing and how to balance writing with your personal life.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?

     Revise, revise, revise! When you think it's perfect, go over it again. Learn the craft. Go to writers' conferences and take online courses.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?

     Don't be in a hurry. Like a good stew, let your work simmer for a while to let the flavors of your composition permeate!

Tell me about your latest book? What inspired you to create this story? Could you give my readers a short blurb about it?

     I'd like to talk about Ghosts of Trumball Mansion, released in May 2022. (I also have a new devotional book set for release in October). I was inspired to write a book about a troubled marriage and how Satan will use whatever tool he can devise to ruin a marriage. Henry and Sylvia have been separated for fifteen years, staying married in name only for business reasons.

Why do the ghosts in his wife’s ballroom attack only him? Or is publishing tycoon Henry Fitzgibbons insane?

    Sylvia Fitzgibbons, his informally estranged wife, is his star author who writes under the name, Lana Longstreet. Now that the children are grown, maybe the time has come to officially end any obligation to his wife’s Connecticut estate and be free of their torment.

     Sylvia would ask Henry for a divorce if the children weren’t planning a lavish anniversary party in August, and she didn't have a deadline for her Johnny Gallant suspense series in the same month. She insists Henry spend the summer tending to estate matters, and Henry reluctantly agrees. Hoping for an early escape, he hires a gangly landscape artist who eerily resembles a washed-out country singer. But when Sylvia’s housekeeper must retire due to an auto accident, she begs for his help. Unable to resist her femme fatale pleas, Henry is trapped for the duration.

     Forced closeness draws them closer. As a reconciliation proves possible, Sylvia/Lana is charged with plagiarism threatening their publishing empire and the malignant forces within the estate become increasingly aggressive.

     Something evil seems to conspire against them that only Faith can conquer.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Linda's books, here are some links to get you started. 


Social Media Sites: InstagramFacebook Author page, Facebook Writing Coach, YoutubeTwitter


**Special thanks to Christine L. Henderson at:



Future interviews will cover a multitude of topics, including: Talks with musicians, costume designers, fellow friends and authors, and infectious disease control specialists.

Stay tuned, and … please join my email list (see "SUBSCRIBE" panel on HOME page).

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