Author Wednesday – Lori Crane

bluebird_small web

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Lori Crane, the author of several books of historical southern fiction. Lori visited Author Wednesday last year and I reviewed her novel, Elly Hays for Book Review Friday. I’m so happy she returned today to tell us a bit about her new release, Savannah’s Bluebird.

Welcome, dear friend. I’m thrilled you’ve come to talk about Savannah’s Bluebird. Give us your one sentence pitch for the new novel.

Savannah’s Bluebird is a tragic love story that transcends the boundaries of this world.

It’s a beautiful title so I’m wondering how you chose it.

It took a long time to decide on a title. I knew I wanted the female character’s name to be “southern,” and I originally thought the setting would be Savannah, Georgia. I had the rough draft finished before I changed the location to Biloxi and gave the name Savannah to my heroine.

That’s interesting. I love the name Savannah for a female so it all fit together. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to finished, published?

I wrote the outline and rough draft a couple years ago over a period of a month or so, and it’s been collecting dust in my computer ever since. I re-opened it December 1, sent it to my editor in January, and published in February, so a couple months, but it’s only a novella, not a full-length epic saga.

I know you’re an Indie Author, but how did you make the decision to self-publish?

I like having total control over every aspect of my work. I like to choose the timeline for writing and release, and even the cover design. If I published traditionally, those choices would all be taken away from me.

That’s true. I’ve gone both routes, and I love the independence of being an Indie Author. What message did you try to convey in Savannah’s Bluebird?

The obvious message is “Love is Eternal,” but an underlying layer shows how destiny and fate may have more important plans for you than you imagine. Everything happens for a reason.

I love it! It’s good to be reminded of that message. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

“I didn’t see the end coming and had to read the book a second time from a different perspective.”

You did accomplish that, but I’ll save any more comments for my review on Book Review Friday. Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

I dreamt Savannah’s Bluebird a couple years ago and awoke at 4 a.m. in a cold sweat with my heart pounding. I had to write it down immediately and did so until the sun rose.

You were getting a message from somewhere! So happy you followed the muse.What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?

Once I decided on the setting and era, which didn’t happen until I had already finished the first re-write, I Googled every aspect of the 1930s from maps of Biloxi and New Orleans to railroads, from clothing and household appliances to automobiles.

Who or what is the antagonist in your book? 

In this book, there are two—the ticking clock and a gunman named Bernard. I found both to be very frustrating.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

My favorite scene is when Savannah is approached by a gypsy woman on the beach. The woman tells Savannah a bunch of cryptic things about the future and gives her a mulevi—an item to reach the dead.

That’s a good scene, with vivid characterization of the gypsy woman.What else do you want readers to know about this book?

This is the story that started my writing career. After I woke from dreaming it, I told my husband about it, and he said I should write a book. The next day, I told my daughter the story, and she said the same thing. That evening, I told my son, and got the same response. On the way home that night, we passed a billboard on the freeway that advertised “Publish Your Book.” Listen to the universe when it talks to you!

You are so very right (write), Lori. I’m glad you did because it’s a treasure of a story and came to you for a reason. Thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing the creative process for your latest work.

1394868_10201454031930551_434799525_nFrom Lori Crane: I started writing novels professionally in 2012, although before that, I wrote songs and television/radio commercials for a living. Since 2012, I’ve released five novels and have two more slated for release in 2014. During the day, I write; at night, I work on Norwegian Cruise Lines as a dueling piano player. When I’m not playing bawdy songs on a cruise ship, I reside in Tennessee with my trophy husband and a menagerie of critters, including a four-foot ball python.

Links to Lori Crane



Twitter: @LoriCraneHess



Book Review Friday – Anne Rivers Siddons

“Trails in the Sand is Southern drama on the scale of Anne Rivers Siddons, where family secrets lie as deep as a mangrove swamp, skeletons molder in the woodwork, and the honeyed smiles of Southern belles mask seething resentment. -Clare Chu, Amazon top 100 reviewer”

When I received this review for my novel, I beamed for days because Anne Rivers Siddons sits at the top of my list of favorite Southern authors with Downtown and Outer Banks holding status as my favorites. However, several years ago, after reading five books of her books in a row, I reached my saturation point for her fiction steeped in Georgia and South Carolina sweet tea, so I took a break. In the meantime, she continued writing. After I received the review, I decided to go back and catch up with Siddons. She’s still producing books—nearly twenty.

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

Homeplace, published in 2009, is available for the unbelievably low price of .99 cents on Kindle. I just checked, and it’s still at that price. Set in the fictional town of Lytton, Georgia, Homeplace hits on some very controversial subjects for Siddons. She goes back to the Civil Rights era where the main character Mike meets the wrath of her father when she skips school to attend a rally in Atlanta. This turning point in the novel becomes the pivoting event. Mike leaves home and attempts to find her way on her own, and she’s a successful journalist. But, as all things that are swept under carpets, the dust eventually rises and must be banished.

Siddons still has the remarkable ability to use language in a way that loses me in the writing. I find myself settling in with the characters, despite much of the predictability of the story. As Mike (Micah) begins her first foray into the center of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, Siddons describes the surroundings many of the white young college students experienced.

“What they did encounter was a wet, relentless, juggernaut heat, a vast and feral army of mosquitoes, and empty, sleepy, one-gas-pump towns where they alit stickily from the buses long after dark and trudge wearily into identical rural Negro shanties at the end of dirt roads in cotton fields and pasture, to sleep on pallets and quilts in the endless heat, wash at hand pumps, use privies, and eat greens and grits and pork gravy for days on end.”

Whew—that’s all one sentence. Siddons’ dramatic flair in her prose creates the sense of the long and oppressive sense of the experience by the use of a long and almost oppressive sentence. But once the reader allows the words to wash over and around, the experience of reading Siddons becomes a journey into the world of the South. Sometimes a harsh place to be; sometimes a fake place to be; but sometimes a heavenly place to be.

I enjoyed the story for Siddons’ ability to create a sense of poetry in her fiction although I expect more from her in the plot she contrives in Homeplace. All the bad guys are easy to spot even when disguised with a fancy house. And all the confused folks are similar to other characters in her other novels. Perhaps this is the reason I took a hiatus from reading her books.

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

Burnt Mountain, published in 2011, is another enjoyable read. It captured me, although again the characters are somewhat predictable. The main character holds a place of disfavor with the mother, and ends up exacting a revenge of sorts by living the life her mother wanted. Set outside Atlanta in the fictional Lython, Georgia, Burnt Mountain is once again a vehicle for Siddons’ prose to shine on the pages. Here’s a passage as she describes the book’s namesake, Burnt Mountain.

“These are old mountains, among the oldest on earth, and they have been gentled by aeons of weather so that their peaks, though high, are rounded, voluptuous, instead of jagged like the newer, more savage, and often still-smoking mountains of the West. You will not drive long before you come to Burnt Mountain, the last of that dying chain, a great, wild excrescence that did not go gentle into the good night as its sister hills did but raged against the dying of the light.”

I simply love her prose even though again, I was slightly perturbed by the sameness of the Southern mother and Good Old Boy men. The main character Thayer has two major relationships during the course of the novel and in each of those relationships, the men give her a shower when she’s too depressed or distraught to do it for herself. They both scrub her down lovingly and wash her hair. How can one woman be so fortunate to have this kind of care twice in her life? Maybe I’m just jealous that it’s never happened to me. One time would have been sufficient in the novel. In fact, I found it endearing. But when it happened the second time with a different man, I found myself rolling my eyes.

I was also bothered by the mention of a cell phone being readily available in 1994. That seems rather early to have a cell phone. We might have had those big shoe-size car phones in 1994, but a regular old cell phone? That’s something an editor should have caught at her big publishing house. These may be picky things, but when an author is published by a big house with editors at the ready, more attention should be paid to the details and to the plot devices.

Both of these books are worth reading. Siddons is right up there with Pat Conroy in creating the troubled families of the modern South. I can only aspire to their stature. I also can learn from both of them. Repetitive characterizations and personality quirks can become annoying. Along with the poetry of prose created by Siddons in all her books, diverse plot and characterizations would keep me riveted to her writing and asking for more. For now, I’ve had my fix, even though I haven’t read all of her books yet.

Who are your favorite authors? Does it bother you when you start to see them writing in a formulaic way?

Author Wednesday – Marisella Veiga

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today, I welcome a dear friend. Marisella Veiga and I met in 2005 at a luncheon for networking women. There was only one spot left in the large room when I arrived. I sat down to a beautiful, dark-haired woman with a welcoming smile.

“I’m Marisella Veiga, and I’m a writer,” the woman said.

“I’m a writer, too,” I answered. Out of all the people in the room, we were the only writers, and I’m certain something other than ourselves created that one empty chair next to Marisella that day.

I knew we’d be great friends. But what sealed our friendship that day was when she told me she’d just joined a group of women called Vintage Surfers, and she invited me to join as well.

“But I don’t surf,” I said.

“I don’t either, but it’s a blast to watch the others try,” she answered. “I use a boogie board.”

I joined her, and we’ve “boogied” together ever since by the bonds of mutual respect and a weird sense of humor at life’s sometimes funny and sometimes bitter ironies.

Cuban Rice ClassicsI’m proud to introduce my friend Marisella Veiga who is an accomplished author, journalist, and professor. She recently published a cookbook, Cuban Rice Classics, and today she stops by to tell us how she decided to publish this fun and informative cookbook.

Let me start with my vision of myself as writer:  I decided to be a writer while running across the side lawn of our family’s house in Roseville, Minnesota. Something brought me to a halt. I paused and understood I wanted to be a writer. I was nine or ten years old. I was on my way to the little wooden fort three girls and I had hammered together beside a large tree.

When I graduated from Macalester College, also in Minnesota, I made a conscious decision to become the sort of writer who could write in any genre. This was a Latin American model, where writers worked on newspapers, had radio shows, worked as ambassadors. Meanwhile, they also produced fine literature. I knew finding work would be difficult and this model seemed to make sense.

At the time, most of the literary writers I had studied or met worked as academics in order to obtain the time to write. I did go on to graduate school for an MFA for the credentials and training in both writing and teaching. The safety net of being able to teach at a college was helpful. It still is.

As far as subject matter, over the years the topics that have caught my attention are connected to the Hispanic experience in the United States and those same Hispanics in their country of origin. Of course, Cuba and the Cuban exile experience are key. So in that sense, I would say the subject did choose me. But I am also tuned into Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic; I am interested in Haiti. I have traveled to many Caribbean islands for various reasons.

Now, I am keen on finding cultural links between Florida and Cuba. The process of cultural assimilation among people also interests me.

For example, last summer my sister, niece and I rented a skiff to spend the day on Salt Run on the way to the St. Johns River in northeastern Florida. With the help of two very Southern, Central Florida men who were relaxing in the water near their boats, we got the skiff onto the bank. We sat in the waist deep water and talked with them while we cooled off.

Eventually, one man asked if we were Greek.

“No,” I said.

“He’s trying to find out where you’re from,” said another.

“Hang on to your hats, guys. It’s your lucky day!” I said. “We’re Cuban.”

“Cuban! Do you have some Cuban sandwiches there? I love those! What about Cuban coffee? Just love that stuff!”

We were glad for the positive response to what some of our immigrant culture had brought their way. Not everyone is welcoming.

My latest project has been to publish, as a joint venture with Rubber Tree Press in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a little cookbook called Cuban Rice Classics. I never planned on writing a cookbook, as cooking was not something I enjoyed. My mother was expected to study in order to become a professional woman and so she did: she was a pharmacist and optometrist. She could make simple meals. I was raised to be a good student; my grandmother and great-aunt did most of the cooking. They eventually taught me a few basics of Cuban cuisine.

But my friend the folklorist Tina Bucuvalas is the Godmother of this fertile project. She needed a Latin American home cook for the community cooking classes in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and she asked if I would do one. I was reluctant but agreed to it.

The first class sold out! When I learned this, I laughed and laughed at the irony of it. Sold out! If only I had tapped into this earlier! I had a great time teaching that class and bringing in pieces of Cuban history as well as family history. And since the students liked to cook, they were helpful in the kitchen. What could be better? Storytelling with food. It’s a great way to increase understanding about a culture. The students at Tarpon Springs have been delightful.

After this class I was invited to submit an encyclopedia entry on Cuban food in the United States for a book called Ethnic American Food Today that is forthcoming from Alta Mira Press. The research for that project—food histories—was a help as I could assemble a framework for what later emerged as Cuban traditional meals. What a great way to teach history!

I was happy when my friend Holly Iglesias, a poet, professor and master of Cuban cooking compared the cookbook to poetry. “It is small,” she said, “but has it all.”

If you go through and make the recipes in it, you will master a few basics in Cuban cooking. These include the basic saute called a sofrito, and of course, how to make rice. The book doesn’t go into more complex dishes like paella because I’ve never made one. I don’t want to make one.

Furthermore, I’ve included some cultural notes so readers will get a sense of how many different peoples contributed to the fusion of tastes that have formed Cuban cuisine.

I do plan to publish another cookbook. I have one in mind. For many people, the smaller book is attractive. It takes time to page through a larger cookbook in order to find a recipe that both appeals to you and matches your skill level in the kitchen.

A cookbook can bring so much pleasure—good food along with good stories. They are natural partners and, if readers allow me, I will continue to tell stories in this way.

Photo by Louis Veiga

Photo by Louis Veiga

About Marisella Veiga: Writer and home cook Marisella Veiga was born in Havana, Cuba. She was raised both in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Miami, Florida. Her writings have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Poets & Writers and Art in America. In 2004, she was given the Evelyn La Pierre Award in Journalism by Empowered Women International. She is a nationally syndicated columnist with Hispanic Link News Service. Many of these are recorded on a spoken word CD, Square Watermelons: Ten Essays on Living with Two Cultures. Many of her short stories, one of which won The Pushcart Prize Special Mention in Fiction, are in literary anthologies. Veiga’s essays also appear in Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education and Our Town magazines. Besides teaching part-time at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, she has been giving Cuban cooking demonstrations at the City of Tarpon Spring’s Gulf Coast Folklife Center.

To purchase Cuban Rice Classics, click on the cover below.

Cuban Rice ClassicsTo contact Marisella Veiga, fill out contact form on this page.






Real Life Seeps into #Fiction

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

I’m often asked if real life seeps into my novels. As we head into the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, I’ve thought about how much of my life seeped into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

During April 2010, two significant manmade disasters occurred in the United States. Both of the tragedies became a part of my life for the remainder of the year and led me to question how we live our lives. It took me some months to make the connection between the two events, but when I did, they both found a home in Trails in the Sand, the novel I began writing in late 2010.

The first tragedy occurred on April 5, when a coal mine exploded in West Virginia, several hours away from my new home in western Pennsylvania. Twenty-nine miners, trapped inside the mine, died that day. The local Pittsburgh news carried very little else as hope ebbed and flowed on the first days after the explosion. But finally, on April 9, the governor of West Virginia made a tragic announcement. All twenty-nine miners were dead and had not made it to the safety room as hoped. My husband works with the mining industry in his job as an engineer with a water solutions company. He knows the coal mining industry very well so we kept our eyes and ears tuned to the news, first hopeful as everyone else, and then, more than curious about how and why the explosion occurred in the first place. The answers became clear in the months following the deaths. The company, Massey Energy, had cut corners in safety procedures. The resulting reports are gruesome and indictments are still coming down for the highest echelon in a company that for a long time flagrantly disregarded the safety standards for coal mining.

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Two weeks later, all eyes turned to the southeast of West Virginia when another explosion caused an oil rig to catch on fire and fall to the ground, exposing a deep well in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill explosion killed eleven workers. For months, oil gushed out of the well unabated. Petroleum headed for the Gulf beaches. Within a few weeks, wildlife began appearing on the barrier islands covered and smothered in oil. The photos of birds immersed in a wet suit of petroleum played continuously on the news and horrified the world.

Even though I’d moved in Pittsburgh in April 2010, I was still working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a public/media relations director until they found my replacement. The oil spill and the threat to Florida’s wildlife put my departure on hold for months. As I watched the news unfold about what caused the mine explosion from my home in Pittsburgh, I was fielding media calls, writing news releases, and pulling together facts sheets on oiled wildlife. By June, I was appointed to handle all the media during the sea turtle nest relocation project where 250 nests were dug up on the Panhandle beaches of Florida and eggs were transported to the Atlantic side of Florida for hatching and release. The project was unprecedented and received the attention of national and international media.

It didn’t take long for a culprit in the oil spill to have a name: BP. Once again, a large corporation sacrificed human and environmental safety in the pursuit of profit. My mind was churning and mulling over the connection between the two events.

In my spare time, I began writing a love story called In the Garden about two people reunited after a long separation. The subject began to have a life of its own. I wanted to write about my mother who died in 1998. Through various tidbits I’d gleaned over the years, I suspected that my mother gave birth when she was a teenager back in 1933 or ’34. I researched as best I could. I interviewed her only living sibling in 2011 and went through writings left by my mother and her father, my grandfather. My grandfather had been a miner in Cornwall until he came to the United States in 1900. When he arrived, he went to work in the copper mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before giving his life to God and entering the ministry of the Methodist Church. Yes, my mother most likely became pregnant in a small Michigan town at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and she was the daughter of the Methodist minister. It scarred my mother for life, and in turn, it left its mark on her five children. I’ve spent my life recovering as I attempted to piece together my mother’s story.

female loggerhead

female loggerhead

With all of these events and life histories swirling in my head, I changed the course of my novel and renamed it Trails in the Sand. I wanted to write a book about how we destroy things and then attempt to recover and restore, if possible. It begins with a teenager on a beach watching a sea turtle lay a nest on St. George Island, Florida.

The chapters on the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster are from actual news clips and press releases. I used a description from my grandfather’s journal to describe the early years of the patriarch in the story. My mother’s story is weaved into the story as well. The main character, Caroline Carlisle is an environmental writer who sets out to write about the sea turtle project.

That’s how my novel came to life. I wrote Trails in the Sand to show it’s never too late to restore and recover from tragedy, and it’s never too late to find love.

How about you? Does real life seep into your fiction?


Book Review Friday – The Aviator’s Wife

Last week, I reviewed Underground Angel by Dr. Sheryl White, which is an historical novel about the very real and heroic figure Laura Smith Haviland.  I recently read another historical novel about a real person, which again brought someone who seemed fictional into focus as an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin takes the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and brings us right into the living room and heart of this woman who married the world’s hero, Charles Lindbergh. They married in the heady years right after Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927.

From the start, this couple became the darling of the media, until it turned ugly. The Lindberghs were hounded by the press and the public. We think of the paparazzi and their ugly pursuit of the rich and famous as a modern evil. Through the fictionalized personal relationships of Anne and Charles and the use of very real factual accounts of their life, Melanie Benjamin creates a horrific tale of the dangers of turning people into icons.

Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh – Courtesy of SDAM

Benjamin paints a sympathetic portrait of Anne Morrow Lindbergh as she delves into her personal life using biographies, Anne’s own books, and her letters. The novel shows Anne struggling to keep her family together and to keep her restless and self-absorbed husband happy. It’s an impossible job, particularly after she becomes a mother. Even in the first months of baby Charlie’s life, the couple knew they needed to shield their son from media exposure. Charles even limited the number of photographs taken of him for fear of someone in the household or their employ of selling them to the media. When Charlie is abducted, the worst side of humanity is exposed, as the Lindberghs deal very publicly with their very private death.

This time in Anne’s life is heartbreaking in its telling. This happened long before I was born, but still I knew of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. It remains a well known story in the archives of American history. But to actually go inside the home and heart of Anne to feel her grieve and anguish at the loss of her son, is something else. Benjamin’s portrayal of the months of mourning cut through the black and white photographs of newsreels to the full on color of pain at the loss of a child. The outside world beyond the kidnapper himself was as scary as the actual event. People tried to give their own babies to Anne to make up for it. Even forty years after the event, people showed up on her doorstep to tell her they were her son, Charlie.

The personal story of this very public family gave me insight into the reasons we turn people into heroes. Many times it’s because of one thing they’ve done. Just because Charles Lindbergh could fly a plane and advise governments about air routes and airplane construction, doesn’t mean he was a good person in other areas of his life. Yet, we seek our heroes in those who hit home runs, throw touchdown passes, and sink three-pointers and seem surprised when they turn out to be only human.

Melanie Benjamin shows in her personal glimpse into a very public family, that the real heroes are the ordinary folks, such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who stay and take care of the family and tend to small, yet more important, elements of living a life of integrity and compassion. Mrs. Lindbergh had no idea what her life would be like married to someone whose fame made the world bow down in front of him. She soon found out, it required her to bow down as well.

Anne’s strength and wisdom soon brought her up to a standing position. I felt as if I was snooping behind the curtain in reading this book that exposes both Anne and Charles as very real human beings with all the foibles and eccentricities that implies.

I was slightly disappointed in the ending. Without giving a spoiler, I’ll simply say, the author was so detailed throughout the novel, until the end.

I recommend reading this book for a greater understanding of human nature and for a lesson in where we place our adoration and for what reasons. It’s also another view of an important piece of U.S. and World history as the novel takes place from 1927-1974, with a great emphasis on the pre-World War II years. Charles Lindbergh lost some of his stature in his loyalties, and it’s also a turning point in the marriage because of his beliefs.

Author Wednesday – Albert Isaac

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome author Albert Isaac who writes science fiction as well as humorous essays on life. His novels are Endless and its follow-up Utopia Revisited, which he recently published.

Click on cover

Click on cover

In this novel, Astronaut Kyle Lucas Metheny becomes an unlikely savior when his experimental flight goes terribly wrong. He awakes in a strange and unfamiliar future and learns he is there to fulfill a prophecy.

I must make full disclosure here. Back in 2005, Albert and I both lived in the same north Florida town and both were in transitions in our life. Albert had lost his job to downsizing and had just written his first novel. I was in the process of a divorce and starting a new job as editor of two magazines. We didn’t know one another until Albert showed up at one of my book signings. I tell him he came and never left. I hired him as a reporter and columnist for the magazines. Later, when I left to take another job, he replaced me as editor at Tower Publications in Gainesville. He’s still there, and thankfully, he’s still writing. He’s recently compiled some of his columns in the book Life So Far. 

Click on cover

Click on cover

Hello, Albert. It’s wonderful you could visit today and talk about your life as a writer. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I was very young, maybe seven, when I wrote my first ‘book,’ Billy and his Bellybutton. It was a great hit with my parents and grandparents. I believe I made three issues (still have one!). Truth be told, my voice has changed since then.

That’s great, and I’m happy to hear you still have a copy. You wrote that book, but most of us take longer to actually call ourselves a “writer” or author. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

Fast-forward about forty years, and I could finally officially call myself an author, after publishing my first novel, Endless, in 2005. The book isn’t a bestseller (yet!), but it launched my writing career and led to many great things.

I remember that day you showed up at the book signing. You seemed a little baffled by what to do next. I remember that feeling after publishing my first novel. I’m glad you’ve continued. Let’s talk about writing rituals? Do you have any you’d like to share?

Some people listen to loud music while they write. Some people need absolute silence. My needs are somewhere in the middle. I’ve written comfortably in coffee shops or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office; early in morning or late at night. A lot of the writing occurs in my head as I’m driving the car, or (not) watching TV or lying in bed at night before falling asleep. I don’t have a specific ritual other than when I feel the urge to write, I jump on it. I’ve almost always had full-time work, so carving out writing time can be challenging. But when I’m in the zone, I become hyper-focused, and can produce a remarkable amount of work.

It’s amazing what can be done when the “zone” strikes. What is your vision of yourself as a writer?

I see myself as a novelist and columnist. I enjoy writing about the silly things I’ve done as a kid (and the lessons learned) as well as my life experiences as a husband, father (and now grandfather). My third book, Life So Far is a compilation of some of the columns I have written for local publications during the last five or six years.

It’s a delightful collection of essays, Albert. I found myself laughing out loud sometimes because you capture those silly little things we all do in life and then you turn it around into something positive. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

My first and second science fiction novels chose me. After losing my younger brother in an automobile accident, I began imagining a world without death. Endless sprang from that experience, back around 1978. Over the next several decades, I would go back and improve upon the original work. While I was re-working the final version, the sequel came to life. When Endless was published, I was already halfway through writing its follow-up, Utopia Revisited.

That’s an awful tragedy to endure, yet you were able to make something positive out of it. I’m sure your brother would be proud of you. Do you have particular messages or themes that you try to convey to your readers?

Hope. Humor. Positive thinking. I plan to one day write a book about the remarkable things that happen when we think (and act) in a positive manner. It is really quite remarkable. I very much look forward to writing my success story.

And I’ll look forward to reading it and applauding your success. Since you’re also a journalist, write a paragraph as a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.

“Albert Isaac knows a thing or two about death. After all, he spent five years working in a busy emergency room and another twenty working in the medical examiner’s office. But during his days dealing with the dead and dying – indeed, even years before entering these challenging occupations – he imagined a world without suffering. A world without fear. A world without death.”

Excellent. Your journalistic skills shine through! What’s next for you?

Currently in the works (available late 2014) is Life So Far, Volume II. However, for the past several years I’ve been contemplating a novel about my years working for the medical examiner’s office. Other projects have kept me occupied, but the time has come for Life in the Morgue to see the light of day, especially since there is such a great interest in this genre. Perhaps it’s also time to adopt some writing rituals!

I think you’re doing just fine without them. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?

Write what you know. Write first, edit second. I’ve known several writers who spend so much time re-writing their first chapter that they never finish the book. It’s easier to fix your completed story than to write a brilliant first draft.

I can’t help but edit as I go, but I don’t continue to rewrite until I’m all done. That’s good advice. Do all your books have a common theme or thread?

Life. I didn’t plan it that way, but the first two books are about the consequences of living forever, and my collection of columns is entitled Life So Far. Of course, the first two are science fiction books, and the most recent is about things that have actually happened to me. Life. My life.

We’ve talked about your messages, but what kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing?

One night when I was stuck on a chapter, I jumped on to the middle of the story. On another occasion I decided to write the ending. Both of these techniques were useful because now I knew where the story was going. I could foreshadow upcoming events. I could pace my writing. I’ve also made outlines and sketched out timelines to be sure I stayed consistent. Sometimes the story flows so fast I can barely keep up with the inner dialogue; a character appears from thin air, complete with a name and a face, and takes the story in a completely unexpected direction. I have to ask myself, “Who’s writing this thing?” And you’d best not stop to edit – you just need to keep on transcribing.

You’re right(write) about that. We never quite know where we’re going to be taken. I’m amazed at authors that spend so much time outlining before writing. I never do that. Let’s talk about reviews. We all get them, but what’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“This science fiction novel truly validates the human soul. Readers quickly escape into a world where people of the twenty-sixth century live beyond 500 years but in doing so have surrendered to the siren song of technology (the grand elixir).”

What’s your one sentence pitch for Utopia Revisited?

An exciting peak into the future where everybody lives forever – almost everybody – and a stark reminder of the consequences of surrendering one’s freedom to technology.

How did you choose the title of Utopia Revisited? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

I tried to find a title that hasn’t been used too much. This was not the original title by any means, and I went through a dozen or more different ideas before finally settling on Utopia Revisited.

How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published?

Eight years. Which seems crazy because I had written well over half of it by 2005. But life gets hectic. I never expected to take so long but I had a lot of new ideas that would have not been included had I rushed through just to hit one of my many self-imposed deadlines.

Sometimes that happens. My work in progress was started in 2006, and then, life happened. Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

Self-published. Part of the delay in publication was waiting to hear from a traditional publisher. When it was turned down (which, while disappointing, was not surprising) it took the wind out of my sails for about a year. I didn’t want to wait any longer and self-publishing put a book in my hand (and in online bookstores) within a matter of days.

Been there, buddy. I dropped out for awhile, too. Then I saw the revolution in publishing and decided to become a part of it. I’m glad you have, too. What is the message conveyed in Utopia Revisited?

The importance of individuality, free thinking and fully experiencing all that life has to offer – even the bad.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

Exciting. Thrilling. Imaginative. Story telling at its best!

Those are great comments. Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

While finishing Endless, the floodgates to my imagination flew open. As a follow-up, I wanted a novel that could address some unanswered questions, but that would also stand on its own. I was able to tell the back story through the eyes of a stranger from the past. You don’t have to read the first book to understand the second.

What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?

Not much. I fact checked some concepts but, being a work of science fiction, I had the luxury of using my crazy imagination.

Who or what is the antagonist in Utopia Revisited? Did you enjoy creating this character?

There were several antagonists – including a machine – and it was fun creating them. I even brought back the primary antagonist from the first novel.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Utopia Revisited.

My second favorite scene (can’t tell you the first) is a sequence of events where our antagonists catch up with our heroes and some serious conflict ensues. I had to switch back and forth between many simultaneous scenes – often very short – to tell the story in a fast-paced, exciting manner. I think it works. It does for me, anyway. But I’m biased.

Where do you write?

Typically in my home office on a desktop computer. However, I’ve been known to write anywhere on my laptop, from the recliner in front of TV to a cabin in the mountains.

What do you do during your down time?

Vacation with my family. Listen to music. Ride my motorcycle. Daydream. Bicycle with my boy. And watch WAY too much TV.

What book are you reading right now?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – an Inquiry Into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig.

That’s a great book. Do you set your books in the place you live?

Part of Utopia Revisited takes place in my hometown of Miami. Naturally, all of my columns are set where I’ve lived (or vacationed).

Albert Isaac SigningAbout Albert: Albert Isaac is a writer and editor living in north central Florida. Albert studied English, journalism, music and film at the University of Florida, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He then followed the next most logical career path of any well-intentioned English graduate and went to work for the Medical Examiner’s Office and stayed twenty years. However, within him the writer remained and in his spare time he re-wrote a story he had started years before. In 2005, he published Endless. Albert is editor-in-chief for Tower Publications.

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Book Review Friday – Underground Angel

Dr. Sheryl White with her historical novel, Underground Angel

Dr. Sheryl White with her historical novel, Underground Angel

Underground Angel by Sheryl D. White, Ph.D., touched my heart so many ways that I’m finding it difficult to begin this review. Dr. White deftly takes the historical figure, Laura Smith Haviland, and lovingly creates a novel depicting the life and times of a woman noted for her unwavering dedication to the abolition of slavery. For me, the reading of this novel was a personal journey as well. (Click here to read interview with Dr. White on Author Wednesday).

I grew up in southeastern Michigan, calling Laura Smith Haviland “Aunt Laura,” even though she died more than fifty years before my birth. I knew very little about her except for a statute of her in Adrian, Michigan, heralding her work with the Underground LauraSmithHavilandStatueRailroad. Last year when I began pulling together my own great grandfather’s memoir Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier, I learned more about this heroic woman.

Only upon researching her did I discover that everyone called her Aunt Laura because of her dedication to humanity. She worked tirelessly to ensure young women and African Americans received an education. She advocated for the abolition of slavery and became a leader in the Underground Railroad. She also fought for women’s suffrage although she died two decades too soon to see women receive the vote. Her Quaker upbringing created in her the quest to help all those who suffered at the hands of inequality. She worked tirelessly for the Freedmen’s Board in several states, including Kansas, which is how Dr. White became familiar with Aunt Laura’s work in her studies and her work in Haviland, KS, a town named for the tireless Laura Haviland.

I attempted to read Aunt Laura’s autobiography Laura S. Haviland: Woman’s Labor and Lifework, but found the recounting of her life as dull as the title of the book. When Dr. White contacted me after discovering Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier, I was very excited to discover her newly released novel, Underground Angel. This is the story of a woman of God who worked tirelessly under one simple creed: In God’s eyes we are all created equal and deserve equal access and respect as humans simply “being.”

Dr. White points out the absurdity of the notion of slavery and all its inherent cruelties of “owning” another person as property. Aunt Laura’s faith remains strong throughout, even when the laws of the land do not support her conviction that no one may own another.

Through most of the years of the Underground Railroad and Aunt Laura’s association with it, she appeared on countless “Wanted dead or alive” posters with a $3,000 bounty on her head for her “illegal” and “dangerous” activities. The criminalization of Laura Haviland probably aided her in her work and her ability to pass in and out of slave states unnoticed. This highly wanted criminal was less than five feet tall and may have weighed no more than ninety pounds, only after swimming in her Quaker clothing.

Laura S. Haviland - Wanted Dead or Alive

Laura S. Haviland – Wanted Dead or Alive

Dr. White chronicles Ms. Haviland’s encounters with figures from the history pages, such as Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Comstock, and Susan B. Anthony. The story of George and Eliza Harris is recounted in this novel as well. These names may not sound familiar, but they are a part of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the Mrs. Smyth who helps them escape is none other than “my very own Aunt Laura.”

The novel form brings Aunt Laura’s life and words into focus in the deft hands of Dr. White. The author is a skilled writer and a storyteller with a vision of using the life of Laura Haviland as an example for young Christian children today.

I believe Dr. White has painted a portrait on a much larger canvas. Laura Smith Haviland’s story is an example for all people of all religious persuasions. Dr. White shows us a woman whose faith is so strong she fears nothing except that her fellow men might be diminished by the lack of character and morality in others. She stands strong in her beliefs even when life brings her down roads of unbelievable sorrow. In 1845, in a horrifyingly short time, she lost her husband Charles, her youngest child, her mother, father, and her sister to an epidemic sweeping Michigan.

She carried onward with the faith she would see her loved ones one day again. She fought the prejudice of the time against her as a single mother of seven children, and then she began her work in helping slaves escape to freedom in Canada.

Dr. White showed the irony that Aunt Laura herself must have felt when she went from being a criminal breaking the laws of the slave states, to watching slave owners become the ones breaking the law after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Underground Angel also depicts the work Aunt Laura did during and after the war as she continued in her fight to see that all people received equal treatment under God’s law that guided her every breathing moment.

I thank Sheryl White for writing this beautiful novel of faith, love, and equality. She’s given us a hero for which we all should strive to emulate.

Note: I found during the reading of Underground Angel that I am related by marriage to Laura Smith Haviland, a relationship of which I’m extremely proud. Laura and Charles Haviland had eight children: Harvey, Daniel, Esther, Anna, Joseph, Jane, Almira, and Lavina (the baby who died in 1845). My great grandfather, Harmon Camburn, whose memoir I published as Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier, grew up in Adrian, Michigan, and had many older brothers and sisters, three of whom married three of Aunt Laura’s children. Daniel Haviland married my great, great aunt Mary Jane Camburn. Esther Haviland married my great, great uncle Almond Camburn, and Anna Haviland married my great, great uncle Levi Camburn. Levi is referenced in Underground Angel as Aunt Laura’s son-in-law, who had to be convinced that the cruelty of slave owners could not be tolerated. When Aunt Laura died in 1898, her body was brought home to Adrian and rested for viewings in the home of my great grandfather. After reading Underground Angel, I feel even prouder and more entitled to call her by the loving name of Aunt Laura.

To purchase Underground Angel:

Please visit Dr. White’s website: Underground Angel

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Click on cover to purchase

Click on cover to purchase





Author Wednesday – Sheryl White


Welcome to Author Wednesday. It is with great pleasure that I introduce today’s author, Sheryl White. The subject of her work of historical fiction, Underground Angel, is close to my heart. Dr. White writes about the very real Laura Haviland who worked tirelessly in the 1800s for abolition, suffrage for women, and education for all people regardless of race and sex. I’ve written about Mrs. Haviland, or “Aunt Laura” as I grew up calling her, on my blog Living LightlyEveryone who knew her called her that because of her loving care of all human beings.

Dr. White published her book a month after I published my great grandfather’s Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. She contacted me through the Facebook page for Civil War Journal, and I’m so glad that she did.

She’s created a portrait of a woman in her work of fiction that deserves its title: Underground Angel.

Welcome Sheryl. I’m so happy to have you drop by today. You’ve written quite a piece of historical fiction in Underground Angel. Do you remember when you first discovered your voice as a writer?
I wrote my first book at age eleven. It was a group of pages stapled together entitled, “My first book!” As a child, I read a lot and envisioned myself as a writer one day. Writing my book Underground Angel has given me a voice, and it’s very satisfying.

That’s a great title for your first book. I always love to hear about the moment when a writer is finally able to call herself a writer. It took me many years. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”
There is a powerful image in the term “author.” The week my book was published, my friends started calling me an “author.” That was very meaningful to me.

That’s wonderful that your friends recognized it for you. What are your writing rituals?
I approach writing as a student. In my course of study, many papers were required. I actually have always enjoyed the writing (not always the research) so I just set a goal and keep flowing.

I’ve always enjoyed researching, but putting it all together is certainly more fun. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Did this happen for you?
Certainly Underground Angel found me. The thought of writing such a book came after I saw there was a need to inform others about her great sacrifice and achievement.

Yes, Mrs. Haviland’s story is certainly one that needs to be heard. What messages or themes did you try to convey to your readers in Underground Angel?
I approach life from a faith perspective, which I project in my writing, and in particular, the message of living out our convictions in serving and caring for others as Mrs. Haviland so courageously did. I want Christian young people of our current generation to understand the sufferings of race due to bigotry and greed. I also want them to recognize the difficult sacrifices made by people of faith living out their convictions and principles. (Jn 15:13).

I love the title. How did you choose it and has it always been the title even through the first drafts?
It was just an obvious, easy title. It fit. Yes, Underground Angel was the first name I chose.

How long do you estimate it took you to take this book from an idea to its final published version?
The idea was planted in 2003, some ten years before it was completed. I had read Mrs. Haviland’s autobiography (A Woman’s Life Work: Labors and Experiences), several times, and 2009, I read it again to refresh my memory. I started writing in February 2010, and it was published November 2013.

When I was putting together my great grandfather’s memoir, I tried reading her autobiography, but the language was very difficult to follow. I was so happy when you told me about your book. It’s much more understandable and dialogue helps tremendously. Is the book traditionally or self-published?
I self-published with Xulon. I felt I had an important message to get out that was time sensitive. Authors I visited with assured me that this was a good way to go to get my work out.

I’m glad you made that decision. You mention the message of the book. What is the message you tried to convey?
True meaningfulness comes in serving others rather than a self-serving mentality that is prevalent today.

That’s a very important message, and I hope your book is read by many young folks. What is one the best things that’s been said about Underground Angel?
“Sheryl White’s narrative is an immersive, emotionally charged experience, one from which no reader will emerge unchanged.” This is what Eddie Cruz, my Xulon editor, shared, and it certainly is the best I could ever hope for out of my work. Several friends told me that when they watched the Oscar award-winning movie 12 Years a Slave, they punched the person next to them and said, “This is just like Sheryl’s book.” But, this statement really impacted me as well, as it carries significant meaning:
“Dr. White brings such a richness to Aunt Laura Haviland and her faith and untiring work to help those less fortunate. Thank you for publishing this important book, and thank you, Dr. White, for writing it.” – Patricia Zick

Yes, I did leave that comment on an article about your book. I’m glad you liked it. That’s also very high praise to be compared to that powerful movie. Taking a real person and turning their life into a fictional piece is quite tricky. How did you conceive of doing it this way?
My historical fiction book was based on Mrs. Haviland’s life story, but the fiction sections were those I created projecting what her life must have been like given the nineteenth century socio-political realities. I tried to make her home and family life “real” and believable with all of the emotions that would be involved in today’s everyday life.

It worked. It takes her off the pedestal and makes her real, yet after reading it, it’s clear she deserves to be up on that pedestal. What type of research was required to write Underground Angel?
I read Laura Haviland’s autobiography several times, along with Mildred Danforth’s biography on her life-A Pioneer Woman. I traveled to Adrian, Michigan, her hometown, for a tour of her stomping grounds. I visited some underground sites, her home place where the Raisin Institute historic marker stands, the Raisin Valley Friends Church where there is a designated historical marker, and the Lenawee County Historical museum. The museum has a Laura Haviland designated room, and the statue of her stands in front of the museum.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Sheryl. I hope one day we can meet in Adrian and explore Aunt Laura’s and my great grandfather’s “stomping ground.”



Blue Moon BS photoAbout Dr. White: Dr. Sheryl White has served as the Director of Lay Ministries at the First United Methodist Church in Pratt, Kansas for eight years. Sheryl received her Doctorate of Ministry Degree in 2004 from Houston Graduate School of Theology.The dream to create Underground Angel arose from her doctoral dissertation, The Haviland Heritage Foundation: Extending the Life of Laura S. Haviland in 21st Century Haviland and Beyond. Sheryl lived and served the community of Haviland, Kansas for twelve and a half years serving as an instructor at Barclay College and Minister of Christian Education at the Haviland Friends Church. She is a graduate from Anderson University School of Theology, Anderson, Indiana earning two degrees, a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theology and Ethics.

To purchase Underground Angel:

Please visit Dr. White’s website: Underground Angel

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Book Review Friday – Unthinkable Consequences


Unthinkable ConsequencesUnthinkable Consequences by Bob Rector

Any book that begins in the Florida Keys with the main character as raw and organic as the landscape, captures my attention quickly.

“The flora here was wanton, shamelessly beckoning to be pollinated.
Like me, Paula thought, I need pollinating bad.”

And so begins Unthinkable Consequences by Bob Rector.

Rector has created a fast-paced romantic thriller, filled with a lush setting, despicable villains, sex-crazed creeps, and love-seeking heroes.

Kurt and Paula as the protagonists of the story match each other in stature, desirability, and thirst for love. As in any good novel, there’s a catch. She’s married, and he’s involved in the heist of emeralds. It makes starting a life together a bit complicated no matter how many sparks fly when they are in the presence of one another.

Paula prepares for her new life as if getting ready to attend a garden party, while Kurt secretly plots their escape. It makes for some thrilling mishaps.

While this novel is plot-driven, Rector manages to create some powerful characters. Of course, Paul and Kurt dominate the plot landscape, but other minor characters play major roles in the movement of the plot toward its drawn out climax.

The mother-in-law is a portrait of a woman who sees herself in Paula, and so projects her shortcomings onto her daughter-in-law. The two chiefs in this household create such a tension, the reader wonders why Paula didn’t leave years ago. Paula’s son is every parent’s worst narcissistic nightmare. And the husband? He’s so unsympathetic that even the staunchest proponent of marriage couldn’t possibly be rooting for Paula to fail in her attempts to leave.

Kurt is such a hunk of a bad boy that it’s easy to imagine why Paula’s hormones take her right into his arms, despite the lies, deceit, and danger. It’s through her revelations and reactions that the real romance of this story is revealed. Paula is able to come into her own as an independent woman, which may not seem a big deal, until it’s taken into account that the story takes place in the 1950s of Palm Beach, Florida.

Unthinkable Consequences is breathtaking in its descriptions of the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, and the Everglades. Rector paints a majestic view of the setting. But even more intriguing is the step into the past. The story occurs in 1959 when women didn’t leave their despicable husbands, when convertibles were the height of sophistication, and when cigarettes were romantic accouterments for every tryst. I enjoyed reading a novel without cell phones to rescue stranded boaters, a GPS to guide lost vehicles, and the Internet to search for the answer to every puzzle.

Unthinkable Consequences provided me with everything I love about reading: a fast-paced plot with thrills, main characters seriously flawed, yet with hope for redemption, and a landscape lush with sandy beaches, laughing dolphins, and mangrove-lined streams leading to a mysterious and sensuous home.

Rector is an author who knows and loves Florida. He also understands love and all its intricacies. It’s a pleasure to read a story written by a man who has the rare capability to understand the nuances of a woman’s mind and the single-minded focus of a man’s determination.

Click here to see my interview with Bob Rector on Author Wednesday.

Author Wednesday – Bob Rector

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m pleased to introduce, Bob Rector, whose book Unthinkable Consequences is a fast-paced thriller with lots of sensual romance. I’ll be reviewing the book on Book Review Friday so I won’t say much more than the book was a wonderful surprise. Unthinkable Consequences

Welcome, Bob. It’s pleasure to interview you today. Let’s start with my favorite question for my favorite authors. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

From the first day I started working in TV in March of 1970. I was hired to write, direct, shoot and edit music film shorts (they weren’t called videos back then) for pop artists of the time – a one-man band. I had to deliver a finished 2-12/ to 3-1/2 minute film every day so I learned how to formulate plots and characters fast. Usually the scripts were hand written on notebook paper. I made approximately 100 films for the shows “Now Explosion,” and “Music Connection,” and learned more about storytelling during that time than if I’d taken a college writing course.

You learn quickly on that type of deadline. I know I did as a reporter, and it wasn’t nearly as demanding as writing shows. Do you have a particular theme in your writing?

If I gave thought to messages or themes before I started writing, I’d never get anything written. Most of my writing has been assignment based, but when it’s not, it comes from a story on the news, or an incident I personally witnessed, or a comment somebody made. It plants a seed in my imagination and I’m off and running. As the work develops, messages and themes occur naturally.

Who has most influenced your writing ?

In my genre, Raymond Chandler and his disciple John D. MacDonald. Their dialogue sparkled, their writing style was clean and sparse, and their characters not only had muscles and beauty, but heart too. You could also throw in Erle Stanley Garner.

Do all your books have a common theme or thread? 

I guess the most common theme in my work is redemption. Stories are usually about conflict and that usually arises from people not being very nice to each other. At a certain point in the story, they have to become aware of that then seek, and hopefully achieve, redemption. It makes us root for them. If they don’t make an attempt, they’re pretty shallow characters.

That’s always a favorite of mine. Do you have a favorite character that you created?

Paula, the main character in Unthinkable Consequences, is my favorite. I didn’t know If I could immerse myself into a female character to the extent required. This is not meant to be derogatory in any way. To state the obvious, men and women think and act differently. I wanted Paula to be completely believable, especially to female readers. It was scary, but also fun, getting into her head. Luckily I had many close gal friends, my wife first and foremost, who were willing to drop the veil and help me keep Paula honest in her femaleness.

I’m sure she was fun to create. You did a remarkable job of portraying this trapped canary in the world of the 1950s of Palm Beach. Now that I’ve mentioned Florida, how does setting play a role in your books? 

Having worked in visual mediums most of my life, setting, or location, is extremely important to me. Unthinkable Consequences takes place in South Florida in the late 1950s, and it literally could not have taken place anywhere else. I know, I tried. I think setting should visually (even if it’s in the mind) reflect, and often amplify, the action, mood, and passions of the story. I needed a place that was still somewhat wild and primitive, hot and sultry. The Keys provided that.

Yes, I agree. What kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing? 

I’m big on pacing and narrative thrust, probably because of my years working in film. And I work hard not to let the reader get ahead of me. In TV, we were always aware of the viewer sitting there with the remote in his/her hand. Lose their interest and their off to another channel. I never forgot that and I think writers should keep it in mind too. Imagine that your reader has a remote in their hand.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

When Claude Nougat reviewed my book, she said, “He has produced a thriller-romance that is not merely an unusual love story but a deep excursion into the psyche of one very tormented woman – something of an exploit for a male writer. The only other writer who manages to portray a woman’s anxieties as brilliantly (that I know of) is Flaubert. But what Bob Rector has done, is give us a thoroughly modern version of Madame Bovary. His Paula is a fascinating character – and equally explosive.”

Wow – I can see why that would bring some cheer to the writer’s heart. How did you choose the title and has it been the title from the beginning?

No. The only project I’ve ever worked on that the title never changed is my play “Letters From The Front” – and if I could change it, I would, but it’s been out there too long. Before my book became Unthinkable Consequences, it was “Pathetique,” “Wages of Love,” “Into the Fire,” and “The Woman Who Did Just As She Pleased.” As the manuscript developed, none of these seemed exactly right. It was my wife, Marsha Roberts, who came up with Unthinkable Consequences, and I knew itwas right the minute she said it.

It’s a great title and very appropriate. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published?

About twenty years. Seriously. It started as a film project but it was during a very busy time in our lives. We were building a business and raising a family, so the project kept getting shoved onto the back burner. Plus finding the money to produce it was out of our reach. At a certain point I decided to convert it into a novel and finally about 8 months ago I found time to attack it full time.

I think only another writer can understand how a book can be in the musing and fuming stage for years. I’m glad you found the time to get this one down on paper. Is the book traditionally or self-published?

It’s self published. If that option wasn’t available, I probably wouldn’t have spent the time completing it. Having been in the entertainment business all my life, I know all about ‘gate keepers.’ My wife had self published Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer a little earlier and had significant success.

Two writers in one family? That’s quite an accomplishment. What is the message conveyed in your book? 

Be careful what you wish for.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

That they thoroughly enjoyed reading it and loved the characters. That’s the equivalent of a ‘standing-o’ in theater.

Let’s go back twenty years. How was it conceived in your imagination? 

It was an observation brought about by sexual awareness. I was twelve in 1959, the same year that Unthinkable Consequences takes place, living in hot, sultry Florida. I began to notice an undercurrent among women in the their late thirties, early forties, mostly mothers of my friends who were wives of successful businessmen, professionals, professors, etc. They had everything – nice homes, clothes, all the latest household gadgets, because it said their husbands were doing very well. But many of these women were restless and seemed (to me) to be pacing about like lionesses in gilded cages. There was a sexual tension to it that I was just starting to pick up on. But this was 1959, a very different America, especially for women. My imagination went to work and I wondered what would happen to one of these women if they made a break for it. It percolated in my mind for many years and finally started finding its way onto paper, as a script at first, than as a book.

You captured that time and feeling and setting very well. What other type of research did you do in the writing of this book? 

Extensive. I packed up the family and drove down to Palm Beach and Key Largo. I took tons of photos, visited with Chambers of Commerce and Visitor Centers, scouted locations even to determining where Paula would shop for groceries, and just talked to locals, trying to pick up their colloquialisms. And of course, I spent hundreds of hours in libraries and doing internet searches. I wanted every detail to be right. To me, that’s what brings a story to life.

Who or what is the antagonist in your book?

A thug named Red, a former fighting partner of the lead male character, Kurt. Bad guys are the most fun to write because you can pull out all the stops.

Yes, they are. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

Paula, the main character, has a major confrontation with her son Billie who has just started college and is spoiled and self centered as only a teenager can be. Paula goes into the meeting with high hopes of reestablishing a bond with her son, but it quickly falls apart, leaving her devastated. What Paula does to redeem herself with him is so sacrificial that readers can only yell, “No! No! Don’t do it.”

I agree. In some ways, I hated that scene because I surmised what he might do, and I just wanted her to drive away (in her own car!). What else do you want readers to know about your book? 

That it’s for you, not me. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Then I thank you. You accomplished your goal. Do you listen to music while you’re writing?

I’ve never been able to listen to music and write. Too distracting.

Where do you write? 

As long as I have access to a keyboard attached to a computer, I don’t much care where I write. Marsha and I spent many decades on the road so I learned to crank out scripts wherever we were. When battery operated laptop computers arrived, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Now I could even write in the car during those long, five or six hundred mile days.

How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

They’re very supportive. It’s all they’ve ever known me to do.

What do you do during your down time?

I don’t have down time because I don’t work. I’ve never worked. I don’t understand the concept.

That’s good! I heard someone say it’s only work when you’d rather be doing something else.  What book are you reading right now?

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart – for perhaps the 4th or 5th time. It makes me aware of the magic that is always around us, if we just know how to get in touch with it.

I love that book, but haven’t read it in many years. Do you set your books in the place you live?

I did once, for a screenplay that was never produced, but it was more for expediency than anything else.

One last question, if a movie was made about your success as a writer, who would play you?

Well it would have to be George Clooney, wouldn’t it?

Certainly. I don’t know why I asked! It’s been delightful having you here today, Bob. I hope you’re working on something else these days.

About Bob Rector from Bob:  My background is primarily in film, video, and stage work as writer and director. My play Letters From the Front entertained America’s troops around the world for fifteen years and is in the process of being revived.

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