Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet author/illustrator Saturday at 6 North

Meet award-winning children's author and illustrator Susann Batson from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 2, at:
 6 North Café
14438 Clayton Road
Ballwin, MO 63011
Susann Batson writes enchanting stories full of wisdom and whimsy. Her books are fun to read and inspire a child's imagination. She travels to schools throughout the country presenting programs, which include: writing and illustrating contests, readings from her books, and awarding prizes. Mom's club earns money for your school when they host Susann's programs at their schools.

Gilly discovers that adventures in the ocean can make a fantail goldfish quite seasick.

Little Cloud Annie is afraid of thunder. Mandy, her guardian angel needs to earn her wings. So she stirs up extra thunder with her imaginative problem solving. With renewed determination they both reach their goals.

Star friends help Sparkie overcome his fear of the dark by sharing and caring. This book also teaches counting One to Five.

Illustrated by Susann
It’s Christmas Eve in Nebraska, 1874 with a blizzard on the way. And 15 year-old Rachel would rather be back in Omaha wearing ruffled silk dresses and preparing for Christmas balls than taking care of her ill mother and infant brother.

Autographed books will be available for sale on June 2. Children will receive a surprise with each purchase!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Dreams We Writers Follow

What Dreams We Writers Follow  

By Brad R Cook

All writers are dreamers. Every writer says they are following their dreams, but no one ever says, “My parents made me be a writer.”

Every writer I know, and I know a lot of them, is following a dream. Writing is a profession that calls to dreamers. We have all heard the muse whispering in our ears, day and night, whether we are in front of our computers or driving down the street. Being a writer is about following your dreams, but that is only the first step. You see, dreams can be fickle, they change, they adapt, they grow, and for a writer, once one is realized another one forms. This doesn’t just happen to writers, but we personify the endless quest. I think it’s one of the reasons so many seek out other pursuits and let the dream of writing slip away.  

For a writer the dream is simple, to mold words in a way that moves people. Hopefully they make sense, but that’s what editing is for.

At first, all we want is a finished book. For many, this dream will remain unrealized; I think it’s the first real test on the road to being an author. Ah yes, the dirty little secret about dreams they come with tests, with roadblocks, and hurdles that must be overcome.

All dreams come with challenges that bring greater meaning and depth to them. They aren’t meant to be easy, that’s why following them is so difficult. Once a writer has a book though, they may have completed the dream, but another permeates our soul – to see the manuscript in book form. I’m not sure why a cover and formatted pages is so important to the dream, perhaps it’s about providing your dream in a shareable form, but this is an unquenchable thirst for most writers. Agents, editors, and publishing house rejections will try and squash the dream. Contracts, cover art, and countless revisions will attempt to divert the dream, but writers remain undeterred. Did I mention that writers tenaciously follow their dreams; we’re like dogs that refuse to let go of the bone, but even after we fulfill the dream and the book arrives, it isn’t over.

All writers dream of success. Hoping their published dreams will carry them forward and pay a few bills. So begins the dream of being a noted author, one sought for conferences and interviewed on television for a human interest feature. Even this lofty height doesn’t end the dream; it’s time to recapture the magic for a second book.

My point, dreams are never ending, they adapt and grow just as we do, that is the beautiful thing about dreams – they propel us through life.

Writers are dream weavers. We take our visions, combine them with other people’s hopes and give them form through words. Since movies, video games, TV shows, music, and other cultural aspects draw from books it means writers are the ones who bring dreams to fruition.  

Writing is a passion. Something deep within all writers draws us to the pen or pc. We are craftsmen and words are our block of stone waiting to be carved, polished, and set atop a pillar for all to admire – or in writing terms – words are the art that must be edited, proofed, and front faced on the shelf for all to admire.

Dreams guide us, mold us, and in the end it is dreams that give us hope. But dreams are also intangible, they have no form, they don’t exist in any plane of reality except within each of us. You can’t go to a store and buy it, no corporation can bottle it, no government can control them, and no trademark can keep people from exploring them. However some dreams can twist into a nightmare – but that is a post for another day.

To write is to follow dreams wherever they take you. So follow yours.

Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy writer and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook
To learn more about St. Louis Writers Guild, visit Saint Louis Writers Guild on Facebook or on Twitter @stlwritersguild

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The winner of Terms of Interment is. . ..

The winner of Terms of Interment is Kathleen Kaska. Please contact me at with your shipping address and I will get this book out to you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Giveaway About Following Dreams!

Happy Memorial Day! The Writers’ Lens would like to take a moment to say thank you to all the men and women who have served or continue to serve this country.

A Giveaway About Following Dreams!
By Brad R. Cook

It’s Monday, and even though everyone is off eating ribs, making that first dive into a swimming pool, or saying thanks to those in uniforms, we’re still having our giveaway.

On Wednesday, my post will talk about following your dreams, as a writer, in life, and as a motto for life. To get everyone ready, I wanted to giveaway a wonderful story about following dreams, and one of my favorite novels.

So I’m giving away a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho!

Many years ago, this book was given to me by a friend and in return I have given this book out more than any other. So, this is a bit of an old tradition for me – one I now pass along to one of you. If you’ve never read The Alchemist, you are in for a treat and if you already have, feel free to pass it along to someone who hasn’t.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – thanks to Amazon for the description.
An Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

I also highly recommend his other novels. I haven’t read them all, but I’ve liked all the ones I have read. Check out The Pilgrimage, The Witch of Portobello, or his latest Aleph. There are so many more, but The Alchemist remains my favorite.

A little fact for our writer friends – Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist in two weeks. He explains the pace by saying the story was, “already in my soul.”

Had to include my favorite cover.
It is easy to enter, just leave a comment on this post or any of the posts this week!

One note about the giveaway: Due to shipping limitations, you have to live within the continental United States to win. Apologies to the international readers, we also have giveaways that are fully online so anyone can win.

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment on The Writers Lens between May 28, 2012, and midnight June 2, 2012. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater YOUR chance of winning the contest. The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday and the announcement made on next week.

Good luck and check back on Wednesday when we’ll be talking about following dreams, writing dreams, and living the dream. I will not be interviewing the author – sorry.

Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy writer and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook
To learn more about St. Louis Writers Guild, visit Saint Louis Writers Guild on Facebook or on Twitter @stlwritersguild

Saturday, May 26, 2012

And the NEW EARTH trilogy winner is...

Congratulations to Janet Bettag, winner of last week's giveaway of R.D. Pittman's NEW EARTH trilogy.

All three books are in ebook format and available on, Apple’s iBook store, and Barnes & Noble. The print versions are also on 

Check out R.D. Pittman's interview on The Writers' Lens and his website at

Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.

This is T.W. Fendley. You can also find me at and on Twitter @twfendley.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Interviews from the 2012 Missouri Writers Guild Conference

Photo by Sarah Whitney
Interviews from the 2012 Missouri Writers Guild Conference

By Brad R. Cook

We’ve posted them for weeks, but now I am happy to provide the definitive and complete collection of interviews from Write Time! Write Place! Write Now! The 2012 Missouri Writers Guild Conference, held April 20 – 22. The Writers’ Lens, St. Louis Writers Guild, and the Missouri Writers Guild partnered together to host a series of live webchats with some of the speakers at the 2012 MWG Conference, and we have to thank everyone who watched online, and the speakers who participated. Though we had a few technical snafus we were able to post the interviews in multiple formats.

This endeavor was about two things – showcasing such an amazing conference and providing a deeper experience for everyone who attended. All the recordings may be listened to or viewed for free.

We hope these interviews provide deeper insights for those who attended and for those who didn’t maybe you’ll consider next year’s conference or picking up some of these writers books or maybe one of the agent’s clients.

The Interviews – provided in the order they were recorded.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief of The Wild Rose Press
The Wild Rose Press is a small press and epublishing company that is home to over 1200 romance titles published in both electronic and print format. The companies premise has been and always will be “a kinder, gentler publishing company.” Rhonda Penders’ writing background includes everything from small town newspaper reporting to several years writing confessionals for Dorchester magazines. She has several full length novels and short stories published under the pen name Roni Adams. For more visit

Rhonda Penders talks about epublishing.
View the video of her interview here –
The link to the raw webstream –
The link to the Podcast on The Writers’ Lens Tumblr page –

Then later that night,

New York Times Bestselling Author Christie Craig
Christie Craig, AKA C.C. Hunter, is an award winning writer, photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. Known for her humorous yet heartwarming stories, her books are laugh-out-loud entertainment. Don’t Mess With Texas, the first book of her new humorous romantic suspense trilogy, Hotter in Texas, will release through Grand Central/ on August 23. As C.C. Hunter, she writes YA Paranormals for St. Martin’s/Griffen. Born at Midnight, the first book in the Shadow Falls series, was released March 29 and the second, Awake at Dawn, will release October 11.

Christie Craig talks about the Agent/Author relationship and more!
View the video of her interview here –
Listen to the two part podcast –

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Photo by Sarah Whitney
Christina Katz, the keynote speakers at the Show-Me Awards Banquet!
Christina Katz is the author of three books from Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before The Book Deal, and Writer Mama. Her writing career tips and parenting advice appear regularly in national, regional, and online publications. A popular speaker on career growth, Christina presents at writing conferences such as AWP, ASJA, PNWA, OWFI, and Williamette Writers. She is also often featured at literary events, MFA writing programs, and libraries. Christina is the creator and host of Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon, where she lives with her husband, her daughter, and far too many pets. Learn more at

Christina Katz talks about Platform and more!
Listen to the two part podcast (best quality) –
Check out here pre-conference interview on the MWG Conference blog –

Photo by Sarah Whitney
Paul Lesko, IP Attorney with the Simmons Firm.
Paul Lesko manages the Intellectual Property Group at The Simmons Firm a nationwide law firm based in Alton, Illinois. He has published articles in The Columbia Science & Technology Law Review, and blogs on IP topics for the online magazine Cardboard Connection. He has lso provided expert legal analysis in national leading publications including The New York Times, PC World, American Legal Magazine and Chicago Lawyers Magazine.

Paul Lesko talks about copyright and its implications for writers.
The three part podcast can be heard here –
The first part the video interview can be seen here –
Part two of the video interview can be seen here –

Ann Behar, agent with Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency
Ann Behar has always loved books, and in 2002 she joined SCG. She started by doing everything from, reviewed and negotiated contracts to evaluating manuscripts, with heavy, constant contact with writers. After five years, she was asked to take over the firm’s growing list of juvenile writers. She states: “I am looking for anything beautifully written, with strong, distinct voice and characters that come alive on the page. Ideally, a book should grab my attention from the very beginning and hold it there, and leave me thinking about it for a few days after I am finished.”

For more information Ann Behar or the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency please visit
Listen to the podcast here –
You can also read her pre-conference interview on the Missouri Writers Guild Conference Blog –

Ann Collette and Carol K. Carr
Photo by Brad Cook
Ann Collette is an agent with the Rees Literary Agency.
Some of her clients include Carol Carr, Vicki Lane, Barbara Shapiro, Mark Russinovich, and Clay and Susan Griffith.

Carol K. Carr is the author of the India Black series.
Her first book, India Black, was published in 2011 by Berkley Prime Crime. A sequel, India Black and the Widow of Windsor, appeared in Oct 2011. Carol is currently at work on the third book in the series.

For more information about Ann Collette or the Rees Literary Agency please visit
To learn more about Carol K. Carr please visit

This interview was conducted by David “Cupcake” Lucas and T.W. Fendley.
Listen to the podcast here –
You can also read her pre-conference interview on the Missouri Writers Guild Conference Blog –

The interviews were conducted by Brad R. Cook, T.W. Fendley, and David Alan Lucas II.

They were made possible by a collaboration between St. Louis Writers Guild, the Missouri Writers Guild, and The Writers’ Lens.

Many thanks to Tricia Sanders, the 2012 Conference Chair, and Deborah Marshall, President of Missouri Writers Guild in 2011-2012.

Thank you as well to all the speakers who participated.

Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit or follow me on Twitter @bradrcook
To learn more about St. Louis Writers Guild, visit Saint Louis Writers Guild on Facebook or on Twitter @stlwritersguild
For information on Missouri Writers Guild and its conference, visit or follow them on Twitter @MoWritersGuild

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meet TWIST OF FATE author 5/26 at 6 North

Meet Chris Stuckenschneider, local author of TWIST OF FATE: The Miracle Colt and His Friends, from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 26, at:
6 North Café
14438 Clayton Road
Ballwin, MO 63011
Chris Stuckenschneider is a columnist and the book editor at the Washington Missourian, where she has been employed for the past 14 years. Each week, she writes, “Sights and Insights” a column about her life and area happenings. Chris also writes "Book Buzz," a monthly book column for children preschool through 8th grade that appears in The Washington Missourian.

Out of the darkness came light. On September 27, 2006, a tractor-trailer crashed on Interstate 44 in rural Missouri. Forty-two horses were onboard, headed for a meatpacking plant in Illinois. The truck landed on its side, trapping the animals. In the inky-black night, volunteers worked side by to save the animals. Many of the animals were taken to Longmeadow Rescue Ranch. "Twist of Fate" is the story of Twister, the "miracle colt" of Longmeadow Rescue Ranch. Twister was born on April 18, 2007, seven months after the accident. The miracle of Twister is that his mother, Mama, was pregnant with him at the time of the accident. Twist of Fate tells the story of the fateful night of the accident and the hope that Twister's birth inspired.

Autographed books will be available for sale on May 26.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writing Hitchcockian—the Third of the Story Worlds of Alfred Hitchcock

The cement swirled in the large white bucket like thick vanilla cake dough in a blender as I stirred it with my shovel until the texture was perfect. I drew a shovel full of the grey-white mixture and turned to my side where a wooden form had been laid out. Metal wire-like cables ran from the form to bind the arms, legs, and head of a man whose eyes have been sewn open and whose lips have been stitched closed. Carefully, I position the shovel to pour the cement mix onto the naked body.

I look up from the man, whose eyes seemed to reflect a plea to be released from his fate, to see you look again at me in horror. With a hard thrust, I bury the shovel blade into the ground, lean upon it and give you my most winning smile.

"Welcome back to my dark corner of The Writers' Lens. Pardon the mess. I am working on a small sculpture for an art project," I said as I motioned for you to take a seat on a concrete bench. "I thought I would immortalize that element in me that represents Writers' Block--like the ancient Gorgon Medusa did to those Greek heroes who sought her head for their glory."

I stop leaning on the shovel. "I suppose you are not here to discuss how to make a cement sculpture, so shall we return to discussing the three worlds of Hitchcock?"

On April 11, 2012, I began exploring the three story worlds of Alfred Hitchcock. The Master of Suspense developed a three-part story world based on Freudian theory:
  1. The world of reality (the Freudian Ego) [See Writing Hitchcockian—The First of the Story Worlds of Alfred Hitchcock: [];
  2. The world of desire (the Freudian Id) []; and
  3. The world of the mind (the Freudian Super Ego).

If you were to imagine the stories of Alfred Hitchcock to be held up like a steeple roof supported by three beams. The two parallel beams that crossed from side to side would be the worlds of reality and desire. The support beam that would connect them, allowing the viewer . . . the reader to communicate with them is the world of the mind. This is the beam on which our intellectual emotions (curiosity, suspicion, etc) run along like mice scurrying back and forth.

The world of reality allows us to see the protagonist's world as they see it and realize that the world is a reflection of their own thoughts, opinions and believes. The world of desire allows us to explore the protagonist's desires. It is this world that lets slip the façade the protagonist has adopted for himself and see what the character is really like--to peer into their true inner-self. The darkness is in this world. It is from within this world that any horrible acts (like murder) will occur by one of the characters.

Now, let's scurry along the support beam like the mice mentioned above. The dark act has happened and this challenges the protagonist's sense of reality. Something is off kilter and they must bring it back into the balance that they expect to exist.  They never will succeed. As they struggle to bring order back to their lives, their mind comes into play. Remember, they are not mere chess pieces on some game board, but living thinking people.

The protagonist may have been asleep, intellectually speaking, in his world as he went about his day to day living, but the horrible act has slapped him wide awake. He now begins some kind of investigative process, which will glue the clues together through inductive and deductive logic. They may be on a hero's quest, but they are not set on a path of some "noble selfless act" to bring light to the darkness. Instead they are on the path of a self-serving desire to pierce the darkness that all but shrouds the antagonist. This allows him to study the goal of his investigation, the antagonist, in a twisted objective curiosity--taking in the observations subjectively.

This is a critical stage. When the protagonist intellectually pierces the darkness seeking to understand it, the reader (or viewer) mentally discards their most important armor--that off lucid understanding. The audience is stripped of their sense of their world and lives wholly in the universe of the story. They have slipped into the "skin" of the protagonist like a glove and bring with them their most primal fears. With this now as their mental-self in the story, they voluntarily loose themselves into the story without any defenses (like the poor character of Janet Leigh who only wanted to take a shower and was brutally murdered in Psycho).

When the writer has achieved this--laid the support beam of the world of the mind to properly connect the worlds of reality and desire, the audience will fill in the gaps of what they are not seeing or hearing with their own imagination. If you, my reader, are in doubt of this, please do me a favor:
1. Toss Psycho into your DVD player (or stream it if it is available);
2. Watch the movie through to the famous shower scene (NO it from the beginning of the movie to the end of that scene);
3. Count the number of times the knife stabs Janet Leigh;
4. Got the count? Now rewind and just watch the scene. Watch it in slow motion. Take your time and watch the magic of Hitchcock's world of the mind at play. Count again how many times the knife actually pierced the body.

Did you get the result of zero times? Yep, you're right. Through the constant interplay of the worlds of reality and desire, demonstrated by the cut back and forth between knife, victim, shower curtain, water, etc, our mind creates the illusion of the actually stabbing of Janet Leigh. This sense of deceptive illusion caused by the emotions you felt watching the scene is what you, the writer, are aiming for--regardless if it is a horrible act like this or the cuddly romance or whatever it is you are writing. It is the ability to play the emotions the audience feels like a finely tuned violin that Hitchcock developed in his career. Dare you be that good?

In my next edition of Writing Hitchcockian, I will begin to explore the three "emotional states" that draw the audience into the worlds that we have explored and how the scripts are written carefully to produce these emotions.  Believe it or not, the emotion is not terror or fear. Until next time . . ..

Thank you for reading and please visit and You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

There are a lot of resources on Alfred Hitchcock. The primary one for this part of the series is:
Douchet, Jean. “Hitch and His Public.” Translator Berena Andermatt Conley A Hitchcock Reader, 2nd edition. Eds. Marshall Duentelbaum and Leland A. Poague: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated, 2009. 17-24. Print.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Win Terms of Interment

This week, The Writers' Lens is giving away a talk of deceit and desperation. A story that is shadowy, slapstick, and surreal as it follows one man's "ordeal from the opulence of his Central West End parlor to the dark, grim graveyard in this fantasy novel by award-winning author Marcel Toussaint.

Marcel Toussaint published his first book in the 90’s, Remember Me Young, a collection of poems written over his many years. His poems are also featured in fourteen anthologies, including America at the Millennium. He has read on various radio and TV stations including National Public Radio and the Education channel. In early 2009, Toussaint entered the National Veterans Poetry Awards competition and won gold medals in the categories of Patriotic, Personal Humorous. His poem in the Patriotic category is featured in the National Veterans Poetry Anthology. Toussaint won an award for his two poems entries at the St. Louis Writers Guild Poetry Throwdown at the Focal Point in St. Louis in 2010. He has been a featured poet at the Observable Readings, at the Missouri of Modern Arts Museum, Poetry Per Chance at Washington University to name a few events. A selection of his poems have been published in Korean, in Wilderness January 2011. Toussaint writes in English, French and Spanish and has been translated to Dutch, German, Catalan, Korean. He has read his poetry in Paris at the Club des Poetes and in Valencia, Spain 2008. The poet reads his poetry at various open mikes in the Metropolitan area.

His new novel Terms of Interment, came out October 2011.
Poetry of a Lifetime, was published in 2009.
Marcel Toussaint represented The Saint Louis VA at The National Veterans Creative Arts Nationals in Fayetteville, Arkansas October 2011 and brought back a National Gold Medal Poetry. He was selected to perform his entry in costume on stage and the show was videotaped to be run on PBS in November 2012.

HOW DO YOU WIN A FREE COPY OF TERMS OF INTERMENTTo enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on the Writers' Lens blog between now (May 21) and midnight May 26, 2012. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning the contest. If you refer others to The Writer's Lens who mention your name in their comments, I'll enter your name again in our random number generator along with theirs, also increasing your chances at winning! The winner will be chosen after midnight on Saturday, May 26, and the announcement made on Sunday, May 27. Good luck and comment often.

An interview with Marcel Toussaint:

The Writers' Lens: When you are starting to work on a novel, what do you find brings the story into focus for you? A Character? A setting? Something else?

Marcel Toussaint: A human interest will be most motivating.  I do observe all that surrounds me at all times. I try to be very discreet about it. The smallest spark can become a novel. I often write a novel within a month and a half. Preparing for eventual publication takes more time than that. So I read and re-read the manuscript, inventing more scenes and embellishing as I go.  There comes the time when the novel has to be assumed completed, and there it goes to the editor. I do not follow what I have been taught! I write in scenes and this allows for the placing of them where I find them to be best suited. I do not follow an outline from A to Z.  I may have the ending before even writing the beginning.  Many scenes in between are written as they come up to my mind. Fresh ideas move me immediately.

WL: What brings your poetry into focus?

MT: Oddly enough, I often write a title for a poem and then write the poem. Since I write poetic portraits, anyone who strikes my curiosity by his deportment or conversation is a very motivating subject for writing. In some instances just an interesting nature scene or event will wake up my muse and influence me.

WL: What themes in your fiction writing seem to drive you the most? Are they the same with your poetry?

MT: I get all wrapped up in unusual characters and I build a story around them. The characters could develop into a mini story for a poem, a short story, or a novel.  It depends on the strength of events that develop in my mind as the writing progresses. If I see that there are many meandering possibilities in the process, it becomes a novel.

WL: Do you work on multiple projects at once? If so, how many?

MT: Definitively. I wrote three novels at the same time when the three ideas came to mind at about the same time.  One of the novels typically will take up most of my time while the other two give me a change of pace for my thoughts, away from the primary novel.  Ideas cannot be wasted; they must be used immediately.

WL: How easy was it to take the leap of faith to become a serious writer and chase this career? What did you find that you had to do to take the step?

MT: Having written and drawn from the age of twelve, it has been an ongoing passion. I did it at first for pleasure and curiosity. Then I graduated to get attention and see how creative my writing could be. Eventually I wanted to collect my poetry and novels to hopefully display a substantial accomplishment. This progressive passion took me into many courses in writing to see if I was up with the changing times. Looking back, my first publication was at the age of twelve with a series of cards in a fourfold featuring a small drawing on the front page. U.S. soldiers began to notice my cards as they came to our house for a family dinner.  They initiated me on the mimeograph processes and facilitated my budding business in buying my cards.  The cards were done on a waxed paper and put into one of those marvelous print repeaters. Business was good at twelve in Morocco.  Many years later, I took a course about being published at Meramec Junior College here in Saint Louis.  The course was so grand that I presented my poetry to various anthologies.  After an initial rejection, I ended up in fourteen publications within a year or so, following the steps I had been taught in the course.

WL: When you plot your novels, from whose point of view do you plot from? The protagonist’s? The antagonist’s? The narrator’s? Some one else?

MT: I have written five novels.  I would say I have covered all those bases. It depends on the individual story.

WL: What was your biggest fear when you decided to first be published as a novelist or a poet?  Do you still have those fears with each new book or are there other fears that come up?

MT: I have been very fortunate. Editors of university journals, book editors and publishers have all shown interest in my poetry. I have more fears presenting my work to contests. Judges have likes and dislikes and are very set in their ways.  Many of them feel grandiose at deciding if a poem will make it to the finish line or not. They favor the style they approve irrespective of the quality of the poems.  Some of them have so many excuses for eliminating an entry for some ridiculous detail whether the title is in bold or you used the “old” accepted way of capitalizing the major letters of the title. One judge just did not accept poems centered on the page! So eliminating those poems and again keeping the fee!  No contest I have looked into has ever mentioned such rules! The interesting thing is they keep your entry fee but trash your poem without reading it! Some contest like obscured poetry! I wonder what is the use to write something that no one will want to read past a few verses? My French professors insisted on clear well written verses that, in those days rhymed, that made sense and were part of a well constructed poem. 

WL: What is your writing schedule like?

MT: I write when I feel like it.  This means continuously. Any idea is immediately put to paper, even while driving.  I just make quick notes at stoplights and during traffic stops, using my steering wheel as a writing desk. This later helps me recall what is important for a story or a character. I get up in the middle of the night when an idea dawns and write for hours, before going back to sleep in the early morning hours.

WL: If you could have coffee (or drink of your choice) with four other authors from any time period, who would you choose and why?

MT: Verlaine and Baudelaire, because some of my verses, I am told, trigger their works in the minds of my readers. Moliere for his comedy and De la Fontaine for his fables that are mini stories, much like my poems.

WL: How could our readers learn more about you?

MT: To know a writer is to read his works. Poetry of a Lifetime is an autobiography that my editor, Linda Dahlheimer, commissioned me to assemble under her watchful eye.  She was most interested to find that my life’s time line was parallel with my poetry time line. She found the poems that were most conducive to be included in the publication. Her creative insight is superb.  She insisted that a photo album be included along with some of my quotations.  Terms of Internment, also edited by Linda, I wrote with the collaboration of Cyrus Pars.  Both can be found at  My business card, which I regularly hand out, includes a QR code that can be scanned to reach the publisher’s site.

Thank you Marcel for your interview.

And thank you for reading and please visit and You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.