Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trek Nation

I loved--still love--Star Trek. So today, when I learned that in celebration of Star Trek's 45th Anniversary, the Science Channel will broadcast Trek Nation, a tribute to Gene Roddenberry by his son, Rod, you could have beamed me to Trekkie heaven.

The two-hour documentary explores the impact of Roddenberry's unique vision for the future and will be broadcast at 7:00 p.m. CST.

As a child, I looked forward to it every week, ready to leave my house on Coolidge Street for space, the final frontier; excited to see what strange creatures might enter my living room. I'll even admit to some sort of subliminal attraction to Captain James T. Kirk, though as a little girl, I didn't really understand why. And perhaps because I was often discouraged from showing too much emotion, I also liked Spock, figuring if the always logical Spock could show emotion, certainly so could I.

As an adult, I looked forward to nightly reruns of Star Trek, and came to understand that my attraction to Kirk was based in large part on his "other side," his human, imperfect, "non-captain" side. Oh, okay, he also exuded sexuality, whether implied or not. I realize my fondness for Star Trek is quite different from other Trekkies, but for me, beyond the sci-fi magic of the series, the multi-faceted characters were the appeal.

Now that I write, I look back and can see several techniques that made Star Trek a success. Each episode revolved around the conflict of one or more characters. The protagonists and antagonists were three-dimensional -- not all good and not all bad. The settings were unique and interesting.

My favorite eposides? It's a toss-up between The Trouble with Tribbles and The Menagerie. How could anyone resist the cute, fuzzy, purring creatures called Tribbles? As a child, I slipped on my fuzzy slippers and pretended I had Tribbles following me around.

Though I haven't seen The Menagerie for many years, I remember being saddened by the image of the burned Christopher Pike, touched by Spock's loyalty, and teary-eyed at the conclusion, when Pike is finally beamed to Talos.

Who was your favorite character? Favorite episode? Will you be watching the Science Channel at 7:00 tonight?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Telling Tuesdays 11/29/11

Tuesday was show-and-tell-day at school, and though I remember the excitement of trying to decide what to bring, what I liked best was seeing what everyone else brought to show.

Yesterday, I found a great article on a website called, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre." It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.

" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

This inspired me to start a new feature on my blog, Telling Tuesdays. Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

This week's prompt:

The coffee was good.

I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours:

     The scent grew stronger, richer, with every step she took down the stairway. Rubbing her eyes, she shuffled into the kitchen and heard the rhythmic gurgle of percolating coffee.
     She flipped on the light, then stifled a yawn as she stared at the mugs hanging over the counter. Picking one at random, she smiled at her choice. "Happy Boss's Day," it said.
     As she poured, steam rose from the dark brew and she took a deep breath. To her mouth she drew it, closer, closer, blowing to cool it, anticipating.
     Then, a sip.
     Ah. A morning to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee. The first time in years. For now, she didn't care that she'd been fired the day before.

Okay. I'm sitting at my desk now, hands folded in front of me, and I'm almost as excited to see what you'll "show" as I was back in elementary school. Only difference is, Johnny Winklebuns is not sitting behind me, pulling my hair.

Addendum: 11/30/11

I had to add this picture of coffee in my grandmother's rosebud cup, after reading Keli's comment. Thanks for the memories, Keli!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 11/28/11


creative combination
or mixing of content
from different sources.

Since this is Cyber Monday, I'll start my mashup with a link for all you Christmas shopaholics. This site pulls together lots of bargain shopping so you don't have to go surfing for sales!

And now, on to my writerly mashup:

Do you have Klout? No, not clout, but Klout. Have you heard of it yet? Klout measures a user's influence across the social network. I'm not sure if I should admit my score any more than I should tell you my age, weight or bra size, especially since none are anything to brag about. But I will say that since tracking it in October, and reading Kristen Lamb's book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media, it has gone up almost ten points! Here's a link to Social Media Today, which gives a good overview of Klout scores, and why many consider it important today:

However! My next mashup link is posted on Jane Friedman's website. Guest blogger, Christina Katz, cautions us not to spend so much time on branding that we lose the "expressive, evolving pleasure of our natural dynamic."

So, the challenge is to balance our creative branding with our creative writing. As writers, we need to remember where our emphasis should be and write. In the last two weeks, my Klout score has gone up, but don't ask me how many new pages I've written.

Therefore, my last mashup for the week is full of prompts to get your creative juices flowing, posted on a blog by Marelisa Fabrega. It's a mashup within a mashup, with eighteen links to stimulate you to write:

I hope these links are helpful. Now all you need to do is decide whether to shop, brand yourself, or create a written masterpiece.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I get many of my blogging ideas on my morning commute from the farm into town: forty solitary, quiet minutes when I think about my writing, tasks of the day, the quandaries of life. Sometimes, like yesterday, an idea comes while listening to the radio.

Once again, I was listening to the Gayle King Show. Gayle's guest was Neil Pasricha, creator of the Webby Award-winning blog, 1000 Awesome Things and author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Book of Awesome. Pasricha spoke of beginning the website at a dark and sad time in his life, right after his wife told him she didn't love him anymore, right after his best friend committed suicide. And in his words, "If you flipped open a newspaper, it was filled with the same stuff every day. The polar ice caps were melting, there were pirates storming the seas, the economy was on the verge of collapse, and there were wars going on all over the world." So, he created the blog to bring its readers a little of the awesomeness of life: "Sunny without being saccharine." (The Vancouver Sun)

After winning the Webby Award, Pasricha signed with William Morris Agency, which represents other blog-to-books, such as In 2010, The Book of Awesome was published.

Here are a few "awesomes" from the book:

* Popping bubble wrap
* Wearing warm underwear, fresh out of the dryer
* Taking your bra off after wearing it for hours

Of course, the interview prompted me to think of my own "awesomes." Here are a few:

* The smell of a shoe repair shop
* Waking to the sound of a tail wagging next to me
* The whisper of wind and water when you turn off the engine of a sailboat

Of course, after all of this, I'd have to say my drive into town is pretty awesome, too.

What about you? Come on . . . share a little of your awesomeness with us.

Here's a great video on Neil Pasricha's TED dicussion: "The 3 As of Awesome:"

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Creative Non-Fiction Murder Mystery

What is a creative non-fiction murder mystery, you ask? It's a true story with pieces of (very) stretched truth. And that's exactly what I'd call "Murder on Starr Mountain" --stretched truth.

I wrote the story after hearing Stephen talk about a murder that occurred on our property, around the time he purchased it, approximately three decades ago. That's the truth part. The stretched truth (that's the creative part) starts when we flash forward about twenty-five years. That's when Stephen's German shepherd, Duke, always barked at this one particular tree. We never could figure out what he was barking at. Of course, as a writer, I asked myself why, then wrote a story.

Duke's Memorial, at the tree where he used to bark.
Here's an excerpt:

I was just passing by the shack of old Billy Starr – homesteader they named the mountain after – when something moving in the rearview mirror caught my eye. It was Billy, hobbling after me, waving me down.
Sitting next to me, Duke panted.
“Hold on, boy.” I pulled over and rolled down the window.
“Howdy,” Billy said, wiping dust from his eyes with his hanky.
“Howdy, Billy. Everything okay?”
The scent of a hard day’s work drifted into my truck on a hot breeze. When he spoke, the cigarette smell on his breath blasted in, too. “Yeah, everything’s okay. Right now, anyhows. So, how do you like that place you bought up there?”
“Just fine, for all the time I get to spend there. Seems like I’m on the road more than I’m home. Folks aren’t too interested in buying encyclopedias no more.” I shifted in my seat, not sure what hurt more, my butt or my back. All I knew was I wanted to get home and get out of that truck. Yep. It was time to end the small talk. “You take care, now. Good seeing you.”
Old Billy grabbed my arm with tanned, leathery hands. “Wait a minute!”
His grip startled me. “What is it? Something wrong?”
“Well, it’s just that there’s a secret’s been weighing on my mind. Big secret. Figured it was time to let you in on it.”
All I wanted was to feel a hot shower running down my aching back and an ice cold beer cooling my parched throat. I wasn’t in the mood to sit and banter with Old Billy. But the obligation to be neighborly — and a slight curiosity about the big secret — kept my foot on the brake pedal a while longer. “What secret, Billy?”
“Anyone ever tell you about what happened on your property before you moved there?”
 “No, what?” All kinds of images filled my head. Fire? Poachers?
“Well, you see . . .” He blew his nose, then wiped the back of his neck. “There was a murder up there.”

If you'd like to know more about that murder, and just what it was that kept Duke barking up that tree, you can purchase Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume IV (High Hill Press, 10/11) one of three ways:

Contact me: jymorrill(at) --use @ for "at"-- to purchase an autographed copy for $15.00 (Plus shipping)

Click here to purchase for $15.00 from Ozark Writers, Inc.

Click here to purchase from Amazon for $16.95

This anthology is full of dozens of mysteries set in the Ozarks, written by award-winning authors. It's perfect reading for sitting in front of a warm fire on a cold, wintry day.


Contact me at jymorrill(at) @ for "at"-- to purchase an autographed copy Echoes of the Ozarks, Volume VII (High Hill Press, 11/11) for $15.00, plus shipping.

My story, "Crossing Crystal Bridges" is about one wife's attempt to "sophisticate" her husband by introducing him to the finer side of life at the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Was she successful?
Here's an excerpt:

“Fred, get off that tractor and come inside this minute. You promised you’d take me to Bentonville for the Crystal Bridges opening this afternoon.”
He rolled his eyes and pretended not to hear his wife over the rumble of Old Bessie’s engine.
Winnie ran toward him, waving a fresh-pressed shirt. “Did you hear me? You need to come in and shower. We’re supposed to pick up Henry and Ella Sue in an hour.”
He shifted into neutral and, feeling a panic attack coming on, took a deep breath of brisk air. “Oh, for god sakes, Winnie May Caldwell.” He always called her that when he got excited—kind of like counting to ten. Huffing, he continued. “I got to get this field tilled before the first frost.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Interview with Author, Claire Croxton

Nobody is better at mixing batches of snarky humor with dashes of poignancy than Claire Croxton, aka Patty Stith. Her stories and novels are full of three-dimensional characters who are funny, even snarky, on the outside. Yet, she teases the reader by subtly exposing the characters' internal pain. Claire's perfect blend of highs and lows captures every spectrum of emotion, drawing the reader in, page by page.

As she prepares for the release of two books in early 2012 by The Wild Rose Press, I am happy to introduce you to this talented author.

1) You are an artist in a variety of ways--in your writing, quilt-making and cooking. Many people have enjoyed both your writing and your cooking. Both are superb! I'm curious. How would you say writing is like cooking?

How is writing like cooking? That’s a good question. I approach both with the same methodology—total abandon. I’ll glance at a recipe to see what it suggests and then do it my way. Most of the time, the results are edible. I’ve learned to curtail that free-spirited approach with writing. There are guidelines for every genre and if you don’t pay attention to those you end up with a book that isn’t marketable. Of course, I keep telling myself that I’ve created the newest, hottest, bestselling genre,(soul-searching snark) but most likely authors need to get established before they can start breaking rules.

For me, cooking is a mindless outlet for creative energy. I love the challenge of cooking a meal for 10 on short notice—investigating the contents of my pantry and freezer in order to whip up a delectable meal. Writing offers a similar challenge. For example, a scene that needs to convey a certain emotion. I sit before a blank computer screen and let my fingers fly. No real thought to it. Unlike cooking though, the results aren’t always readable.

2) Was becoming a writer an inevitability for you? What was your path to becoming a writer?

Yep. It was destined. My brother taught me how to read when I was four. Both of my grandmothers lived within 2 blocks of the public library and I spent most of my childhood there. I still have my first library card. I got it when I was 6. By the time I was 8, I was writing stories in notebooks and I always kept a journal.

It never occurred to me that I could be a “writer.” I always thought I had to have a real job. So, I taught high school, English and History. When I moved to Alaska, I worked as a grant writer/administrator for years. I loved the job because it combined my two favorite things, writing and project management (I get a perverse pleasure from getting things done ahead of schedule.) It was a very stressful job though and the writing was strictly technical.

One day at lunch with a friend in Anchorage, I was bemoaning the fact that I never got to write fun stuff anymore. He encouraged me to write a book. The thought had been running around in my mostly empty brain for years. He was the right person at the right time to encourage me and boom! Three years later my first books are being released.

3) Your book, The Redneck Ex, will be released by Wild Rose Press on January 20, 2012. Is it true you wrote your first draft during NaNoWriMo? Give us the pitch that hooked The Wild Rose Press editor, Rhonda Penders.
I did write the first draft of Redneck Ex during the 2009 NaNoWriMo. I have the chiropractor bills to prove it. I was writing so much that I lost feeling in my right arm. I was having too much fun to stop. The final version of the story is vastly different from the frenzied first draft, but I loved process.

I started my current WIP, Ex-Ray, during the 2010 NaNoWriMo. I was busy editing this year, so I wasn’t able to participate, but I really appreciate the idea behind NaNoWriMo—setting aside time to give yourself permission to write garbage. Don’t stop. Don’t edit as you go. Get it out there.  Then go back and perfect it.

I described Redneck Ex to Rhonda Penders as: Northern Exposure meets Sweet Home Alabama. I’m not sure if that sold the book or if it was going to dinner with her. It didn’t take her long to realize that the voice in Redneck was authentic. It was either the story of my cousin the rodeo queen or my tale of cooking up a snapping turtle that convinced her I was writing from the redneck experience.

4) Many of your stories take place in Alaska and Arkansas. You've lived in or visited many other places in the world. Santorini Sunset, which will also be released by The Wild Rose Press early next year, takes place in Greece. Any other plans for stories with worldly setting?

Oh, do I ever have worldly plans! The hero in Santorini Sunset, Raul Sobrevilla, is from Peru. I want to do a sequel to Santorini set on Raul’s family’s ranch in Peru. I’m also working on a story, Loch Lonnie, that takes place in Scotland and Arkansas.

And I’m working on two short stories—one set in Japan, the other set in Dubai. The bulk of my stories are set in Arkansas and Alaska simply because I know those places so well. There’s still a lot of research involved to get facts correct, but I can close my eyes and see the settings. That helps speed things along when I’m writing scenes.

5) What's the best piece of advice on writing you've ever received?

I can’t narrow it down to one piece of advice. There have been so many people involved in my writing career who have taught me valuable lessons.

My parents: You can do anything you set your mind to, sugar dumpling. Just do it.

Dusty Richards: If you edit while you write, you’ll never get the damn book finished.

Velda Brotherton: Sense of place…make the reader feel, see, smell, touch everything the character is.

Jodi Thomas: Triumph Comes Through Perseverance

The best writing tip came from my mother. We both make quilts. When you’re working on a sewing project, you stop mid seam so that when you return you know where you are and you can start right back up again with no problem.  One time when I was fussing because I could remember where I was in a story that I’d set aside for a few weeks, she recommended I stop writing mid-sentence.  That little tip has helped me tremendously. No matter how long I’m away from a story, I’m able to resume writing quickly and relatively pain-free.

6)  You recently created Trailer Trash Productions, a resource for writers who would like to create a book trailer. You've produced several beautiful trailers, some of which are shown in this blog. Please tell us about Trailer Trash Productions and the services you provide for authors.

Trailer Trash Productions works with authors to create book trailers that reflect the voice, setting and tone of their books. There are several different ways to approach a book trailer and many different elements that can be incorporated. You can go with a simple slide show with text set to music or you can be as elaborate as making video, composing your own music and narrating the trailer.

Anyone can do her own book trailer. It’s fairly simple, but the problem lies with copyright issues. Going online and downloading pictures from Google Images just won’t work. It’s impossible to know if the pictures you select are copyrighted or not. Same goes for music. Lots of people download the karaoke version of their favorite song, but even that is copyrighted.  Most people don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but if you’re using your book trailer to promote your book you’ll be making money from the end product. That’s going to get those folks whose copyright might be infringed upset.  That’s one reason why hiring a book trailer professional is a good idea. The other reason is producing a trailer takes a lot of time. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that time writing?

Here's an example of a Trailer Trash Productions:

7) What's next for Claire Croxton?

New York Times Bestseller, novels to screenplays to Hollywood-A-list blockbuster movies, vacation home in Tuscany.  Or…I’m getting another batch of feeder pigs whose care will cut into my writing time.  Either way, I’m happy.

Thank you, Claire, for some great insight into you and your writing. It's cold outside and I have a cozy fire and  a glass of wine. Now all I need is the release of your books!

Have a peek at Claire's book trailers by Trailer Trash Productions:

Visit Claire Croxton's blog, Claire Croxton, Romance Author

Monday, November 21, 2011

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 11/21/11

Welcome to my Monday morning mashup, where I post links to information I found interesting or useful in the previous week. Below, I've listed a few appetizers to whet your writerly appetite for the coming Thanksgiving week:

Kristen Lamb posts some of the most useful advice and information I've seen yet on social media. I recently purchased her book, We Are Not Alone - The Writer's Guide to Social Media. I am still in the process of reading it. (watch for a review!) but so far, it's full of practical, easy-to-follow information about how to establish an online presence.

The link below is on PLATFORM. According to Kristen, it's not just for non-fiction writers anymore.


This is a blog by author and teacher, Suzannah Windsor Freeman. I subscribe and I look forward to its emails that are always full of helpful information for writers. Here's a mashup within a mashup -- a list of 23 websites that will make your writing stronger:


This award-winning blog by Elizabeth Spann Craig regularly posts information that is useful to all writers - not only those who write in the mystery genre. I especially liked this post about what NOT to listen to in a critique. The guest blogger, Anne R. Allen, states:

"A critiquer should tell you what's right with a work as well as what's wrong."

This is something we as critiquers too often don't remember. Here's the link to the post:


Happy Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, browsing the Internet for interesting tidbits probably won't burn any calories, but I'll see you next week anyway, with a new mashup!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mashed What?

Have you ever heard the term "mash-up?" Well, I've been hearing it a lot lately, and in the context it's been used, I've deduced it has nothing to do with potatoes.

Here's a definition provided by Small Business Mavericks:

A mashup, simply put, is the aggregation of content from two or more sources. It usually exists on a single web page, but it can also exist within an application such as a widget or through an RSS feed.

To put it in simpler terms, a mashup is a collection of useful--or at least interesting--links. It gives blog readers quick and localized access to information. And the more often we post content, the stronger our internet presence becomes.

So watch for my new feature, coming this Monday:


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Guest Appearance on M.G. Miller's Blog

After reading M.G. Miller's book, Bayou Jesus, I was honored to be a guest on his blog. Throughout the book, Mike's skillful writing draws the reader deep into the psyche of his characters. I read and re-read many of his passages, first for the pure enjoyment, and second, in hopes of learning ways to improve my own writing.

Please stop by and visit Mike's blog. And watch for his of new releases!

Also, stay tuned for my interview with Mike in December!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall #fridayflash #fridayfictioneers #100words

Once again, Madison Woods has given us a beautiful and challenging photograph for this week's Friday Fictioneers prompt. I love how she exercises our creative muscles. Thanks again, Madison!


     Her mind was ablaze with what she’d just seen—another woman in his arms. Slamming the door, she stood outside in icy silence, huge as her emptiness, until she erupted and ran from the house—their house. Leaves crunched in a staccato beat beneath her feet.
     Gray skies. Colorless as life without him. Cold mist stung her face like a slap.
     Running anywhere, nowhere, she fell. Dead leaves swirled, falling, falling, until they came to a final rest beside her.
     Fallen. Life was over.
     Then she saw it. A tiny, pink bud. Struggling, yes. But new life, nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

OMG Moments

This morning I was listening to the Gayle King Show. Her guest was Philip Galanes, author of the book, Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today.

Their discussion centered around the question, "Did you ever have an embarrassing moment when you wished you had a social expert on speed dial?"

Of course, that sent my mind whirling to the past, remembering my embarrassing moments. The first one that always comes to mind?

Had I still been a child, it might have been funny. But, as a teenager, it was the most horrible thing that could have happened. There I was, sitting across the table from the man (okay, boy) of my dreams. Though I'd been suffering with a cold, I certainly wasn't going to turn down his invitation to have ice cream. After all, he was my soul mate. I stared into his hazel eyes as he licked his Rocky Road ice cream cone. Life was good.

Then, he told a funny joke and I laughed -- snorted, really. And with that snort came snot. Yes, snot. Gobs of it, too. And though I tried to recover with a quick inhale--tried to hide behind my strawberry cone--I knew he'd seen it.

Even today, I wonder how that snort changed history.

And what about the lesser quandaries? We've all experienced those awkward moments when we notice someone's zipper was down. To tell, or not to tell?

What about when you accidentally sent a text or email?

Ever walk into the wrong sex bathroom?

Enough of my explicit and implicit true confessions. Are YOU brave enough to share an embarrassing moment or a quandary?

Monday, November 7, 2011

What is Your Life Sentence?

Several days ago, I was listening to Daniel H. Pink, on the radio. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. I'm lucky enough to have an autographed copy, given to me by my husband after he attended a convention where Pink spoke. It was signed:

Good luck on your book!

I was thrilled to see his good wishes for Broken Dolls. Heaven knows, I'm always looking for new sources of motivation!
The part of his discussion that most grabbed my attention was his question, "What's your sentence?" He told the story of a conversation Clare Boothe Luce once had with John F. Kennedy:

"A great man is one sentence. Abraham Lincoln's was 'He preserved the Union and freed the slaves.' Franklin D. Roosevelt's was, 'He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.' What's yours?"

In Drive, Mr. Pink states that Luce feared Kennedy's attention was so splintered among different priorities that his sentence risked becoming a muddled paragraph. How many of us are living "muddled paragraph" lives?

I was so intrigued with the concept of a "life" sentence that I hardly heard the rest of Pink's discussion as I began to ponder my own life sentence. It was tough, but here's the sentence I came up with:

I seek understanding--of others, between others and by others.

Once I came up with my sentence, I found it interesting that much of my writing reflects my sentence. I've found it very interesting how the simple act of defining my "life" sentence sentence has added focus to my life and to my writing.

What is your "life" sentence?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Obsession #fridayflash #fridayfictioneers #100words

Here's the photo prompt provided by Madison Woods for this week's Friday Flash Fiction. Boy, does it bring back some less-than-pleasant memories of last year!

It inspired me to write "Obsession."


Again, I have strayed too far from my Sun. My hair, once flaming red, is brittle and broken. The whisper of my leaves has turned to a cold, howling wind; crying for what, I know not.

Animals used to revel in my warmth. But even they have been chased away by my windy wail.

What is it that pulls me away from my Sun like clockwork? If it is some obsession that draws me, why does it leave me cold and lonely?

I have no answers.

But it is time to sleep. And I will dream again of Spring.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Unhyphenated Patriots

While in Los Angeles last week, I visited the Japanese American National Museum, something I've wanted to do since beginning to write Broken Dolls.
Japanese American National Museum
Before going inside, we walked around taking pictures. Thankfully, we noticed a sign that said "Go For Broke," with an arrow pointing away from the museum. Knowing my Uncle Yoshio served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, (Uncle Yoshio's Honor) I wanted to see the memorial. So we turned in the direction of the arrow and headed about a block away, toward a large, black semi-circle monument.
Uncle Yoshio

On the front of that monument, the first thing I read was what President Truman said to the Japanese-American veterans upon their return from war:

"You not only fought the enemy--you fought prejudice and won."

The curved back of the monument is covered with over 16,000 Japanese-Americans who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the lesser-known Military Intelligence Service.

As I searched through the names for my uncle's, a Japanese man approached me and asked if he could help. He gave us a brief history of the monument and pointed me in the direction of a computer that would help me locate Uncle Yoshio's name.

Then, I found it.

I stared at his name, Yoshio Sasaki, thinking about what it must have been like to fight for a country that had "relocated" his family (my mother included) to internment camps surrounded by barbed wire.

Following is an excerpt from an article in the November 2, 2011 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle:
While undergoing training, Susumu Ito would visit his parents and two sisters 200 miles away at the Rohwer Internment Camp in Arkansas. Despite the injustice of being forced to relocate from Stockton, Calif., Ito said, his parents took great pride in their son fighting for the U.S. military. However, he ignored his mother's request in her weekly letters to avoid hazardous duty. He said he wanted to be on the front lines, as did his peers. The motto of the 442nd was "go for broke."
After reflecting at the site of the monument, we went into the Japanese American National Museum. There, I came upon a barrack that had been relocated to the museum. I stared through gaps and knotholes in the boards that left little privacy for the families that had lived in the tiny, primitive spaces. I imagined my mother as an eight-year old, peeking through those spaces as she searched for any source of entertainment. Then, I imagined her mother scolding her, trying to explain that each family deserved privacy.

As we walked around looking at fascinating memorabilia, an elderly Japanese man approached us. He introduced himself as Frank Omatsu, and asked if we'd be interested in hearing more about the displays.

Mr. Omatsu told us he had been in the Military Intelligence Service and had served in Burma, translating and interrogating. His family had been interned in Arkansas, where my character, Sachi, and her family were interned. (Click here for a blog on Rohwer, Arkansas.) I had not heard of the Military Intelligence Service before then, and was fascinated by his story. I imagined what it must have been like to interrogate "the enemy" while his family at home was considered "the enemy."

Mr. Omatsu told me other things I had not known before: that the 442nd rescued the Lost Battalion, suffering over 1,000 casualties (200+ dead, 800+ injured) to rescue 216 men trapped behind German lines; that attachments to the 442nd liberated several of the concentration camps near Dachau; that over 300 Nisei (second generation) women served in the Women's Army Corp.

How lucky we were to be approached by this proud and humble man who so generously shared the history of this time with us. I have done much research in writing Broken Dolls, but reading words does not compare to hearing stories in the voices of those who experienced history.
Mr. Frank Omatsu
Yesterday, November 2, 2011, Congress held a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony to honor the Japanese American veterans of World War II. At last, the men who fought not only the enemy, but prejudice, have been honored.

C-SPAN video of the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Interview with Author, K.D. McCrite

I first met K.D. McCrite when she offered to critique the manuscripts of five lucky Ozarks Writers League members. I submitted the first chapter of Broken Dolls, and met with her one-on-one for a detailed critique. I remember being impressed, not only with the comprehensive and thoughtful review she gave me, but also that she volunteered her time to help new writers to become the best they can be.

In the year and a half since then, I've seen many instances where she has offered her advice and support to writers, all while being prolific at both writing and marketing.

After enough wondering "How does she do it?" I decided to interview her to see if I could discover her secret. I hope you discover it too!

Q. With all of the time authors must spend promoting themselves and their books via social media, how do you balance your promotion time with your writing time? Do you have a structured schedule? What forms of promotion do you find most useful?

These are tough questions. I don't have a balance right now, but I'm trying to figure one out.The first few weeks after a book comes out can be hectic, with invitations to speak, to sign books, to attend parties.

In spite of all the hype and chatter I hear, I'm still not completely convinced social media actually is the great "be-all" marketing tool we're told it is. Does Twitter really help you sell more books? Do people actually follow the multitude of hash tags and links, looking for good books? Does blogging entice readers to want to read your books, or is it vice versa? Would time spent promoting yourself be better served at your desk, writing the best story you possibly can?

Maybe I'm just old school, but I continue to believe word of mouth is superior to all marketing tools. It creates best sellers.  If you like my book, for goodness sake, tell someone about it! And in that case, Twitter and Facebook, et al is an invaluable resource. 

Q. K.D., in your book, In Front of God and Everybody, you created a series of funny, “relatable” characters. But my favorite, of course, is April Grace, your teenage main character. Who was the inspiration for April Grace? How is she different and how is she the same from that person?

Much of April Grace is based on my younger daughter, Joy, who as a child had a big heart, but often spoke before she thought. And my older daughter, Holly, could come up with some of the funniest observations about people and events.

April Grace is also a little bit based on my own inner sassy self and what I've thought, felt and seen through the years.  I would hope all three of us can keep our feet out of our mouths better than April Grace does!

Click here to read an excerpt.

Q. Can you describe what your writing path has been? For instance, did you start with short stories? Contests?

As a young girl, I wrote stories. Lots of stories. But, as an adult, when I started writing with serious, professional intent, I jumped right in with writing novels, because I wanted to write books not stories. That's a hard way to go, and it's the slow way to see your work in print. When I finally began doing articles and short stories and seeing them published, it helped to build my confidence. Plus, when I wrote queries or pitched ideas to book editors, I had some credits behind me. 

Q. What three things have you learned in your writing career that you wish you would have known from the start?

1) I wish I'd known my early works were not golden and that I needed a LOT of practice and learning.

2) I wish I'd known it's better to start small and work my way forward. I'd have written and submitted more articles and short stories sooner to get my feet wet, rather than starting out by novel writing.

3) I wish I'd known you can't write your true voice if you're worried about offending someone.

Q. Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha, says his greatest “writer-sin” is debilitating perfection. What would you say is your greatest “writer-sin” and what do you do for redemption?

Seeing a story in absolutely everything, no matter where I am or who I'm with can be a great transgression.  (It was murderously tough in school to pay attention when my head was spinning stories.)

Today, I had lunch with a lovely friend, and was completely distracted by an unrelated event going on outside in the parking lot. I immediately began to build a story around what I saw. It was rather hard to pull myself back into the real world and listen to my friend's comment.

I drive my long-suffering husband crazy with my excess imagination. To redeem myself, I apologize, apologize, apologize. Those who know and love me, understand and forgive.

Q. What's next?

Cliques, Hicks and Ugly Sticks, the sequel to In Front of God and Everybody, will be out December 6. However, it can be pre-ordered on Amazon now! (Click here to pre-order.)

Also, I'm excited about two new books that will be coming out under the name Sidney Archer. (That's a combo of my grandfather's first name and my grandmother's last name.) These are both dark, serious novels for adults, nothing like the funny, light reads of Confessions of April GraceThe first book, Redemption, will be out in December of 2012, and Whited Sepulchres will be out February 2013. (To read more about these books, click here.)

See what I mean? K.D. is downright prolific! After interviewing her, I see there is no magic solution to it -- though I expect her "writer-sin" of seeing a story in everything is actually a gift. But, there's no doubt that her greatest gift is her ability to just SIT DOWN AND WRITE!

Thank you for your insights, K.D., and best wishes for continued writing success!

K.D. has a great book trailer for In Front of God and Everybody. Have a look:

You TOO can be Facebook friends with April Grace:

And you can "like" the real K.D. McCrite, too! Here's her Author Page on Facebook:

If you don't find K.D. sitting on her porch writing in front of a fan, you can find her in these places:

Leave a comment by Wednesday, November 16 to be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of
In Front of God and Everybody!