Author Interview with Robert Stermsheg

I’m pleased to introduce Robert Stermscheg, writer and translator.
Robert was born in Maribor, Yugoslavia, at a time when the Communist regime carried a powerful influence. His father, an electrical engineer, wished no part of the communist system and moved his family, initially to West Germany, and several years later, to Canada. Robert’s father ensured that he maintain his German language, an asset that would prove beneficial many years later.
Robert embarked on a career with the Winnipeg Police Service, spanning twenty eight years. It’s fair to say that he developed his craft writing reports, crown briefs and other documents, although his passion lay in translation and historical fiction.
Once retired, Robert took to the challenge by translating a prolific German author, Karl May, into modern English. He started with The Prussian Lieutenant, followed up with The Marabout’s Secret and just completed Buried Secrets.

Q1: What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?
A1: I particularly enjoy murder mysteries, historical fiction and biographies. I’ve read PD James, Anne Perry, Dick Francis, and just recently finished Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louis Zamperini, entitled Unbroken.

Q2. What genres do you write in?
A2. I’m partial to historical fiction, which is where I got my start. Karl May wrote extensively in the genre of historical fiction.

Q3. Tell us about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?
A3. My most recent release (translation), Buried Secrets, is the third installment in The Hussar’s Love series by Karl May. It takes place in the 1870s, and was penned by May in the late 1880s in serial format. Although I’ve written most of my adult life, I’ve recently discovered a skill for translating.

Q4. What are you working on now?
A4. I’ve spent the last two years researching and writing a WWII mystery/thriller, entitled, Stealth. It takes place in the last stages of the war. Although Hitler knows he’s lost the war, he is desperate to send the Allies one final message. Using a prototype aircraft, the Horten bomber, he intends on sending a ‘special’ package to London, one that Churchill won’t soon forget. The story has elements of history, but it also has that human element, pitting a ruthless Gestapo officer against an American pilot, determined to thwart their effort.

Q5. Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes place? What does your work space look like?
A5. I’m much more organized than I used to be. For example, I used to get an idea, make a few notes, and then simply run with it. That might work for small projects, but when it comes to working on a full-length novel, say 100,000 words or more, you have to have structure. Now I spend far more time outlining the plot, developing a comprehensive list of characters, complete with physical description, bio history and psyche profile.
This doesn’t mean that I confine myself to going from start to finish, with no inclusions or changes until I’ve completed the manuscript. As a writer, you have to have the freedom to jump back to a previous setting or scene, insert a new character (if that person enhances the story) or modify a scene, even deleting one.
In terms of habits or quirks, I really work on being open to new ideas, not limiting myself to what has worked in the past, or for other writers. In many aspects, I guess you could say I’m more traditional in my writing regiment. I write at home on my lap top, rarely in a coffee shop. I also find that I’m most productive in the morning. I also know of writers who start writing late at night until the wee hours. It might work for them, but not for me.

Q6. What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?
A6. For me, the easiest is getting started. Once I’ve developed the story outline and list of characters, I get going with gusto. But then, when I run out of steam, or get side-tracked by the countless things around us (bills, maintaining a home, not feeling well, family commitments, not to mention work –most of us have day jobs), I find that I’ve lost the initial inspiration and it now becomes more like work. Uggh! (Robert grimaces)

Q7. What was the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?
A7. As I’ve already mentioned, getting started on a new project carries with it the excitement of a new work, exploring characters and how the story will unfold. All the drama is just waiting to happen. That’s the part that, in my opinion, all of us look forward to.

Q8. Any highlights?
A8. Of course. The first time your book is proudly displayed on a table in a bookstore. You gaze at the finished product in wonder, remembering all the hard work that went into it. But then, one or two weeks later, your pride and joy is relegated to a less prominent spot on a shelf, replaced by the latest New York Times bestseller. But at least you had your moment of fame. (laughs)
I should mention that one of my favourite accomplishments and fondest memories as a writer, was collaborating with my father on his memoir. I choose the title: POW #74324 (his actual number!) My father, John Stermscheg, was a prisoner of WWII, captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Stalag IIIC. Fortunately he survived, and I felt privileged to be able to write his biography. It was my way of honoring him. I was grinning from ear to ear when I presented him with the first copy, coinciding with his 90th birthday.
That’s great. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Robert Stermscheg lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. You can find his titles on Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo. A softcover version of his titles is available at Chapters, Indigo as well as McNally-Robinson.
For more information, visit his website.

Author Interview with CJ Bolyne

Please welcome CJ Bolyne, author of the Trinity Trilogy the most recent release being ‘Guardians – Victory or Defeat’, the third and final book of the series. The first one is called ‘Trinity’, the second is ‘Anords – Tyranny’. She comes from rural Manitoba, just outside of Steinbach.

Question 1: What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?
I like to read fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal and historical. I love fiction!

Question 2: What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?
I write fantasy, sci-fi, and ancient history. The age group range from mid teens-adult.

Question 3: Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?
My most recent release is the third book in a trilogy called ‘Guardians: Victory or Defeat. Although I have a new book soon to be released called Ancient Origins – Discovery. My inspiration comes from my imagination and my curiousness for all things mythical.

Question 4: What are you working on now?
I am working on three different books right now. One is about witches and warlocks, one is a second book to Ancient Origins series and one on a subject I won’t discuss at this time………..

Question 5: Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your work space look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?
An idea pops into my mind and I wonder….what if? Most of the time I start a story and write a chapter or two before I begin to write notes on what I want to write next on the story just to keep things straight.
I have, however, written by the seat of my pants, so to speak. In fact, Ancient Origins, book 1 was just that.
I like to keep a fairly neat and organized work space. Anything too chaotic and I can’t concentrate very well. In fact, I need to make sure my house is presentable also. I like to have a clear mind when I write.

Question 6: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?
I find that if writer’s block sets in, I’m very frustrated. It does pass though, but if it comes I panic a bit.

Question 7: What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?
The easiest part of writing is coming up with a story. My imagination is vast and writing just feels natural itself. I am glad I didn’t put off writing any longer than I did.

Thank you to CJ for joining us today. You can find the Trinity Trilogy on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Lulu and most recently, Createspace. For more information, please visit her website at

A Three Week Creative Schedule

The next three weeks have suddenly gotten very full for me. Actually, the next 6 weeks are getting pretty tight. Don’t take the complaining the wrong way, it’s all good work, but it’s a lot.

Rose in the Dark – typing the second draft, due March 31st @ bedtime. This requires editing and typing at least 1800 words per day for the rest of the month.

Romance Plot Generator – a freelance job that has me brainstorming romance plots. I need 25 more by March 23. That’s 3-4 per day for the next week.

Non-Fiction book on bullying – starting the outline today, have to have it finished by the end of July.

Ghostwriting – 5k story, starting the 24th, due before April 4th. The client should be sending a general plot.

Ghostwriting – 6k/story, 5 stories, starting April 5th, 10 days tops per episode. Due April 14th, April 23rd, May 2nd, May 11th, and May 20th.

Editing – a diet book, not sure of the length, starting April 1st, due April 15th.

Our Lady of Hope Parish 25th Anniversary History Book – starting April 1st, due April 15th. At least this is mostly typing, scanning, and layout.

Rose in the Dark – editing. Once it gets back from the readers on April 15th I have until April 30th to edit and polish the final draft.

Rose in the Dark should be released early in May. The history book has to be printed before May 5th for the event on May 9th. The diet book should be released in May. I’m hoping to do an author reading in May for Rose in the Dark.

Phew. So if I’m absent for a while forgive me. I’m trying not to drown in writing for the next two months.

Bullying: It’s Old News

Who gives a shit about school yard bullies? In the face of endless wars and countless tragedies why are we even talking about this? I’ll tell you why. Because bullying isn’t limited to the school yard. It never was. It didn’t even start there.
People don’t stop being bullies just because they graduate from high school and when they lose the easy targets of classmates they turn to co-workers, spouses, children, elderly parents or grandparents, or strangers they pass on the street to get their kicks. Spousal abuse, child abuse, corrupt cops, street harassment, teachers and school administrators who turn a blind eye to or participate in the bullying, intimidate or harassment in the workplace – it’s all bullying. All of it.
I was bullied in kindergarten. I was five years old when a boy told me my hair scrunchie was ugly. It was my favourite, I loved it, and I never wore it again. It hid in the bottom of my sock drawer and when I moved at age twelve I found it back. That’s when I finally threw it away. Seven years later it still hurt. Hell, twenty-some-odd years later it still hurts! I let that little jerk take away something that made me happy, something that made me feel pretty.
The bullying became constant in the 6th grade. The girls teased me for being friends with boys, or with kids a year younger than me. In 7&8 I was the outsider because I liked to read, I wanted to be a writer, and because I was a practicing Catholic with actual knowledge about my faith. In a private Catholic school I was bullied for being Catholic. If there was irony there I didn’t notice it, I was too busy being lonely and watching my back.
In high school it was my braces, the fact that I was ‘out of touch’, I was sexually naive, I dressed in what I liked and not what was in style, I hung out with the boys a lot (which will never make you popular with the girls who are interested in dating), I was an introvert … the list goes on. They always put a finger on what makes you different and then shunt you to the fringes of high school society for it. There is no way to redeem yourself, but all too many ways to be noticed and being noticed means being targeted again.
So we all stand here and shout “Me too! I was an outsider! I was a victim!” And nothing changes. My five-year-old son had his sandwich thrown on the floor at lunch. Nothing has changed. We post memes and slogans and news articles about bullies winning or victims rising above and NOTHING CHANGES. Children are still bullied. People still end up in abusive relationships. The suicide rate is not dropping. Teens are taking guns to school. NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
What do we do then? We can’t claim to be raising awareness anymore, we all know the problem exists. We need to start raising awareness about solutions and that means throwing our online presence, our time, and our resources, behind groups that are providing help to our youth, and our society as a whole, through counselling, crisis hotlines, abuse tip-lines, shelters, by increasing availability of health care, both mental and physical, education, and a way out of dangerous situations. Sure, a lot of these are band-aid solutions, we’re dealing with picking up the pieces. But the #1 difference between victims who survive and victims who don’t? Having someone listen. Having someone say “I believe you”. Having someone to talk to. And the more victims who survive the better.
I stand with a few organizations:

Our Lady of Hope RC Parish – yes, this is a church, the church I currently attend. I support them because going to church helped keep me solid as a teen. It had nothing to do with faith or god and everything to do with having a safe, friendly community to go to.

Kids Help Phone – a 24/7 youth crisis hotline that is available by phone and online for teens and children dealing with ANY issue. They have centers across Canada. My debut novel Nothing Everything Nothing is in support of their much needed cause. $2 from every paperback and $1 from every e-book is sent to them.

Facebook groups – there are several that I follow and regularly share content from. These range from “stop bullying” groups to mental health awareness groups. The mental health ones are the best, in my opinion, because they are offering real advice and point you in the direction of safe help.

Will you stand against bullies, in all their forms? Will you stop the cycle of abuse? Stop being an arm chair advocate and get out there. Things need to change.

Saving the World, One Child at a Time

Yeah, okay, the title may be a little pretentious, but I’m paraphrasing a friend. Some of you may recall back in November when I released my first novel, Nothing Everything Nothing, I donated half the profits to Kids Help Phone. In a little over a month I raised $236.00 for this worthwhile cause.

For those of you who don’t know, Kids Help Phone is a crisis hotline aimed at helping children and youth across Canada. They are available 24/7, by phone and online. Kids can call with any issue – abuse, bullying, mental health questions, rape, sexual exploitation, suicidal thoughts, and more. You can find out more at

Nothing Everything Nothing deals mostly with bullying and suicide but touches on sexual harassment, street harassment, eating disorders, popularity, and the importance of getting the help you need. It is my firm belief, and there are statistics out there to back this up, that kids who have no one to listen to them, kids who are forced to face these problems alone, end up dead, hooked on drugs, or used for sex. They live on the streets as runaways. They shoot up schools. They slip through the cracks.

Kids Help Phone is filling a need, a critical need. They provide a listener, one who does not judge, one who is trained to provide help. If we don’t want to lose an entire generation to depression, cyber bullying, and other such issues we need to help our youth, and one of the ways of doing that is helping those who are trained and ready to offer help.

$2 from every paperback and $1 from every e-book of Nothing Everything Nothing will be donated to Kids Help Phone.

This is the same pledge I made for the month of November, 2014. And now I am making it for the entire year of 2015, perhaps even longer.

Go check out, see what they do and who they are, see how you can help. Buy a copy of Nothing Everything Nothing, only 2.99 USD for the e-book (all links to the e-book and paperback can be found here: and I will donate $1 to Kids Help Phone. Buy the paperback for $8.99 USD and I’ll donate $2. And if you happen to live in Southeastern Manitoba (Canada) you can contact me about getting a signed paperback for $10 Canadian (same $2 donation applies).

We talk all the time about the problems of the world. We don’t talk enough about solving them. Kids Help Phone is helping. They are addressing a serious problem. They’ve been doing it for 25 years.

Thank-you Kids Help Phone. And thank-you to everyone who has purchased a copy of Nothing Everything Nothing in support of this amazing group.