Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ellen Parker enjoys writing romance that appeals to more than one generation

Raised in a household full of books, it was only natural that Ellen Parker grew up with a book in her hand. She turned to writing as a second career and enjoys spinning the type of story which appeals to more than one generation. She encourages readers to share her work with mother or daughter – or both. When not guiding characters to their “happily ever after,” she’s likely reading, tending her postage stamp-size garden, or walking in the neighborhood. She currently lives in St. Louis. You can find her on the web at: or on Facebook at:

What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words?
The focus of each of my stories is the characters. Since I write very traditional romance, this means I’m dealing with both a hero and heroine. I begin a new story with a few notes and as I write the first draft, these characters reveal new traits, slivers of backstory, and goals for the future. Setting also exerts a large influence as it brings along an entire cultural norm as well as methods of transportation and communication.

What do you think readers will like about your book? My goal is to have the reader able to associate with one or more of the characters. This may be seeing themselves or another reflected in a major or minor role. Or perhaps either the hero or heroine has traits which they dreamed of at some point in their life. And I want them to sigh in contentment as they close the book on a happy ending.

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? “I couldn’t put it down.” My goal is to have the reader immersed in the world on the page to the extent they ignore the real world for several hours and keep turning pages. The occasional chuckle, gasp, or sigh is a welcome bonus.

If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be and where would you meet? Of the characters in Stare Down, I’d like to meet Dianne Morgan, the heroine’s mother, for coffee and conversation. She’s kind, intelligent, and a survivor. After all, she’s managed to keep a sense of humor while raising four boys and a girl before being widowed at a relatively early age.

Is there a different genre or type of book you’d love to try to write? One of these days I’d like to write a historical romance. One branch of my family entered the United States in New Orleans and traveled up the Mississippi River in the days of steamboats. They ended up settling in Wisconsin and I think that entire adventure would make a good story. It will take time to research and do it right.

STARE DOWN: Grasping the future with both hands requires letting go of the past.

Tucking a weapon into a holster is part of getting dressed for Detective Maylee Morgan of the St. Louis Police. Her new assignment is the case of an unidentified body, and she soon discovers her new neighbor is more than a potential jogging partner.

Surgeon Dave Holmes is optimistic about his future. He has a new job, a new apartment, and an immediate attraction to a woman running in the park. He intends to discover more than her beautiful legs and unusual name. Then his boss is murdered and Dave lacks an alibi. Maylee’s questions and the handgun on her hip revive horrible memories. 

Maylee’s search for hard evidence clears Dave, but brings her to the personal attention of the killer. In a tangle of career, family, and budding relationship all their lives could unravel if the wrong thread is tugged.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Learn the Artistic Language of Horror at Guild’s Sept. 10 workshop

Join Mary Genevieve Fortier and David Schutz II, founders of the St. Louis Area Horror Writers’ Society, on Sept. 10 to learn about “Poetry/Fiction: The Artistic Language of Horror.” Held from 10 a.m. to noon at Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Rd., Kirkwood, MO, the workshop is free to St. Louis Writers Guild members; $5 for nonmembers.

They will discuss:
  • ·      What is horror?
  • ·      Blending horror with other genres
  • ·      The World of Horror and other anthologies
  • ·      Horror subgenres and tropes
  • ·      Finding the right fit for publication

The husband-and-wife team bring a wealth of experience to this how-to discussion about writing and publishing in the horror genre. Schutz, a former screenwriter and Shakespearean actor, spent many years on stage, screen and television portraying a wide range of characters. He began writing horror fiction in 2012 and has been published in several anthologies. For more information, please visit David’s page:

Fortier grew up reading, watching, loving anything horror; her dark-side so to speak. Today, she has not merely found a new voice but added an intrinsic octave to her repertoire; the genre of horror, both poetic and fiction. A widely published and award-winning poet, Fortier writes the “Nighty Nightmare” column for the horror website, Staying Scared, for which she was named “Woman in Horror” three years in a row by Blaze McRob’s Tales of Horror. For more information, visit her Facebook author’s page:  

Additionally, the YouTube channel, Fortier-Schütz/Wooden Box AudioWorks, is dedicated to their audio productions.

Learn more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Doug Jenkinson's overactive imagination leads to writing career, novels

Welcome to Doug Jenkinson, who was born into an American military family in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1954. He came close to being born in Neuschwanstein Castle, 'the fairytale castle' (the very one that inspired Walt Disney to build his Magic Kingdom), in Southern Bavaria. After a long boat trip across the Atlantic; a ride that made everyone seasick except him, he came to the United States. He studied art after high school, later earning a BA in Media and Communications at Webster University in Saint Louis, Missouri. He currently resides in Saint Louis County with two cats, a hummingbird garden, and an imagination that never seems to want to wind down. Faraway is his first completed novel; he designed the cover.

Why did you decide to start writing? I've always had an overactive imagination. 

I felt the compulsion to begin writing at an early age, before age ten. In fifth grade I wrote quirky stories that my teacher loved; to my embarrassment, she read them out loud to the class. I've never been one to enjoy the 'spotlight' (I cringe), but I do enjoy the appreciation of my creative efforts.

It was natural for me to drift into journalism when I returned to college to work on a degree in Media and Communications. I wanted to learn to write well. While there, I won first place in a short scriptwriting contest (for airplay) held at KWMU, Saint Louis Public Radio. I was really quite surprised because I didn't think it was all that great, and, it was a nice boost to my morale; I've always been very self-critical.

Over the years, I made several attempts to write novels, but ended up putting them aside, feeling that it was not the 'right time." At one point I realized that I would end up a late bloomer, yet, it didn't bother me; I knew that I had it in me, that I only needed to arrive at a point where I would be ambitious enough to begin and complete a book. When I began writing Faraway (my quirky, 640-page fantasy opus), I never once felt the desire to place it aside; I felt driven to get it done.

Now that I've completed one book, it will be easier to do it again. It was a great learning experience.

What do you think people will like about your writing? I have what is called in the industry a new, 'quirky voice'; my storytelling and stories are very different than anything out there, in much the same way that Richard Brautigan was offbeat and different, in his days. His writing wasn't mainstream, but mine is; I want to write for a large audience. I'm able to take something that is absurd, unusual, or, 'way out there,' and wrap familiarity around it; people are curious creatures and like new and different things, but they also like familiarity. It's a comfort thing.

Faraway is an epic fairy tale on steroids; it has several iconic characters, a lot of secondary characters and minor characters who flit in and out of the story like hummingbirds; a great delight to see, but gone in a flash. It has subplots, and little fairy tales inside bigger ones; there is a lot of eye candy to attract readers. There is so much going on in it that the reader never gets a chance to become bored unless they plainly don't like the concept of the book. I've read through it several times and I'm still amazed that I accomplished it.

First, and foremost, I wanted to put something in the marketplace that was innovative, fun, and entertaining. I had a lot of fun writing it and it shows; readers will quickly pick up on that when they read it. People love to be entertained. I wrote it for people to enjoy. 

Is there a different genre or type of book you'd love to try to write? Historical fiction. I love history; particularly English, American, and European. I started but never finished, a novella years ago; a true story about my great-grandfather, who ran away from home to join his brothers in the Civil War. He lost track of them, then, was discovered in the ranks of the Union army, where they used him as a messenger boy when they found out that he couldn't recall where he was from (near Pittsburg, PA). He was only 11; they couldn't rightfully allow him to fight in combat. After the war, age fourteen, he went West; in Illinois, he was sent to seminary school by an older man who was taking care of him, then he went to Chicago where he was a volunteer firefighter in the great Chicago fire of 1871. There, he married an older woman, they had four kids; he bought a Conestoga wagon and went West with them when it was discovered that she had consumption (tuberculosis). They were headed for a drier climate, but she died on progress, in Colorado. He moved to Missouri after that and remarried (my great-grandmother). He was a true pioneer. He used to bounce my mother on his knee and tell her wild stories. She, in turn, told me wild stories while I was growing up. There you have it.

Would you share a bit about your next project? I took a secondary character from Faraway, a twelve-year-old girl magician, and wrapped a story around her. Her parents, the owners, and operators of the magic steamship, The Theodora (a boat that sails up and down the Mississippi, half in and half out of the real world), have decided to enroll her in Gryndells, a magician's academy (aka Hogwarts) for children. She sends sparks flying at first, not wanting to leave her parents or her environment but finds adventure and friends there. There is a weird, funny chapter wrapped around a monthly visit to a fair in a neighboring village; it concerns an amusement park for magician kids. There's a lot of humor in the book; a trademark of mine.

FARAWAY: Augustus Todd is a quiet writer of historical fiction; all he wants to do is write books, take care of his mother, and avoid the human race. You won't find adventure on his wish list; but, one day, adventure comes to call, in the form of a strange girl surrounded by hummingbirds, who takes him far away...

In a place where the magic forest of Ardaraia draws DNA from other dimensions to create new species, where Scrying Orbs gaze out over all the land, and where airships and mechanical flying monkeys are sent to the forest to spy, magic is afoot. It's where a magical steamship rolls up and down the Mississippi River, half in and half out of the real world, where wise-cracking ghosts roam the forest and the very 'lively' ghost towns; where an angry witch sets out to do what her predecessor failed to do, and a grumpy old dragon is asleep in his lair, waiting for his calling.

This is the land of Faraway; a patchwork world pieced together from remnants of the collective imagination of humankind, where fairy tales come to life - where anything imagined can happen, and usually does.

But, Faraway is out of balance, and a daunting task lays ahead for the hundreds of humans from the 'outside' when they come to discover what has brought them here and what they must do in order to return home. Before all is over, they have an important choice to make; save the magic realm, and themselves, or face doom along with everyone and everything in Faraway. Will they succeed?

Faraway is available in ebook, at ($3.99), and ($2.99).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Historical fiction author Nicole Evelina: "It all begins with the research"

Welcome to Nicole Evelina,  a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent  novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female  Presidential candidate, was the first-place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction. 

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction.  Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huntington Post, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible.

Her website is

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? I primarily write historical fiction so for me it all begins with the research. That is where the bones of the story come from and I begin to get a sense for where the story is going and of the characters, both historical and fictional. Then that initial focus sharpens as I begin to hear the characters in my head, cast actors and actresses in their roles and then do my outlining. By the time I begin writing, I have a pretty clear vision of where I’m going. But I also know that at some point – maybe more than once – the characters will take over and do something totally unexpected that messes with my outline. It’s always right, even if I try to fight it. That moment, to me, is the essence of the creative process.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? 
It’s not easy. Obviously, the day job has to come first because it’s what enables me to write and publish.

When I’m not at work, I’ve learned to do what I can, when I can, and prioritize my writing over other things, like cleaning my house or doing laundry. As a wise friend of mine said, “If something is really important to you, you will make time for it.” She also reminded me that no one will be inspecting my house other than me and that as long as I have clean underwear and clothes that don’t smell, I’ll be fine.

I’m not a write every day kind of person due to my schedule, so I won’t tell you to do that, but definitely try to grab time when you can. I try to at least think about my book each day so that I’m advancing it in some way, even if I don’t have time to write or do a marketing thing.

I also recommend turning off your TV if you want to find extra time to write. A few years ago, I got rid of cable and now I don’t really even watch much over the air TV. I do allow myself a few favorite shows on my Kindle, but only while I’m eating. It’s more peaceful in my house now and I have more time to read, research and write.

What inspired your latest book? 
My most recent book is a historical fiction book called Madame Presidentess. It’s about Victoria Woodhull, the real life first woman to run for president in the United States in 1872.

I found out about Victoria on Pinterest, of all things. A friend of mine pinned a picture of a pretty Victorian woman who captured my attention. The caption said: “Known by her detractors as "Mrs. Satan," Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born in 1838, married at age fifteen to an alcoholic and womanizer. She became the first woman to establish a brokerage firm on Wall Street and played an active role in the woman's suffrage movement. She became the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872. Her name is largely lost in history. Few recognize her name and accomplishments.”

I knew then and there I had my next book subject. I mean, any woman called Mrs. Satan is someone I need to learn more about. And the more I learned, the more fascinated I became. I also became angry that we didn’t learn about this important, powerful, ground-breaking woman in school. As a historical fiction writer, I’m attracted more to the stories that are nearly forgotten; I view it as my mission to help bring them to life so that at least one more generation remembers them. I couldn’t stand the idea of another generation of girls being denied a role model (such as she is) just because history nearly forgot her.

Would you share a bit about your next project? 
I’m hoping to be able to turn my attention soon to re-writing the crappy first draft of Mistress of Legend, the third and final book of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy and also begin research on a WWII-era historical fiction that tells the story of a real-life unsung hero of the war and Holocaust.

How much fact is in your fiction? 
It depends on the story. There is much more fact in Madame Presidentess than you’ll find in any of my Guinevere novels, but that is mainly because there is so much more available on a public figure from the 19th century than a Celtic queen in fifth century Britain who may or may not have been real.

If I’m writing a biographic novel, as I did with Victoria and plan to do with several other near-modern era historical women, there will be a lot more history because I’m dealing with a real person and need to be true to her life. Plus, in many of those cases, I’m also educating because they aren’t well-known. However, I have other stories in mind, some of which are set in more ancient times or have fantastical elements in them, that will tip the scales in favor of the fiction.

So there’s no definitive answer. But either way, I’ll have detailed authors notes in the back that help my readers separate fact from fiction!

MADAME PRESIDENTESS: Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

Barnes and Noble: