Interview with Author Grace Brooks

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Grace Brooks writes under the pen names Heather Radford and Lynette Tamar Mark.
Books available are, The Asquinn Twins: Frontier Life, The Asquinn Twins: Where The Trail Forks and The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures.
Grace’s latest release is The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures. She also wrote A dog For Keeps(Lynette Tamar Mark)
Grace Brooks(Shortt) hails from Sesekinika, Ontario, but currently lives in The Pas, Manitoba with her husband and Papillion.

1/ What genres do you enjoy reading?
A: I enjoy Y/A, Mystery, and family type movies, and the odd romance.

2/What genres do you write? What age groups are your books for?
A: Really, my writing is without age limits. I write Christian/YA for ages twelve and up.

3/Tell us a little about your latest release. Where did you get the inspiration from?
A:My latest rlease is The Asquinn Twins: No Greener Pastures. This book is a continuation of Book One in The Asquinn Twins Series. The boys, Ken Asquinn and Bradan Turehue are not living the Christian life as they did as boys. Their behaviour gets to be so unchristlike, both boys are expelled from Golden Ridge Baptist Church, the church Ken’s father, Obediah Asquinn, Pastors.The boys go onto police college and graduate.
By now Ken has married Bradan’s sister, Charlotte and Bradan has married Ken’s sister, Martha.
Ken’s behaviour gets so bad, Charlotte leaves Ken and returns to Forest Lake, their home town.
The inspiration came from an incident in my life when a little girl in Ontario. When I wrote the first book, other ideas for a series sprang into my mind.

4/What are you working on now?
A/ I’m working on a sequel to A Dog fro Keeps. This book was published as a grade three reader in 1987. I’m attempting to make an ebook sequel.

5/Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline, or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your workspace look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?
A/ I used to write wherever the story took me. Since a writer in residence took me through the writing process and taught me more about plot, I outline and research and make sure I know my characters by writing descriptions of each major, minor and in between character.

6/ What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?
A/ I find writing the first page of the novel to be the hardest. So much has to be introduced to the reader here, especially in a series. Characters from the previous books need to be introduced early so the reader will know later on who this character is.

7/What about the wasiest? What part of the writing process just feels natural for you?
A/If there is an easy part of writing, I’d say from Chapter Two onwards to the last chapter. Sometimes bringing the book to a believable conclusion is an art in it’s self.

Thanks, Grace Brooks for sharing this information with us today.
Links to her books:

Author Interview with Doreen Pchajek

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With us today we have Doreen Pchajek a first-time writer from Ste. Anne, Manitoba. Doreen’s book, Ultimate Tragedy tells the story of her experiences after suffering the devastating loss of her only daughter in a car accident. Besides writing the book, Doreen also established the Stacey Pchajek Memorial Foundation, a registered Canadian Charity which gives scholarships, bursaries & prizes in her daughter’s memory. Thank you for joining us today, Doreen.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I used to really enjoy reading suspense thrillers and mystery novels. Since the accident though I find it very difficult to read as I have a great deal of difficulty with memory & concentration. There are so many great books out there right now that I’d love to read; if only I could read like I used to! My favorite authors are Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

So far the only book that I have written is non-fiction and it is for age 16 and up.

Tell us a little about your book. Where did you get your inspiration?

I had always enjoyed writing and there were many people who told me that I had a talent for writing. My daughter Stacey told me often, “You should write a book mom.” The possibility of writing a book had always been somewhere in the back of my mind. However I always seemed to be so busy being a wife and mother so it was just something to think about down the road.

When Stacey died at the age of thirteen, our whole family’s lives were thrown into turmoil. After going through six very difficult years it occurred to me that by putting my experiences into a book it could help others who are going through a similar tragedy and at the same time help others to understand what bereaved parents go through.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’ve been kept busy raising money for my daughter’s memorial foundation which is very important to me. However, I am currently contemplating writing another book. I’m just not sure if it will be another non-fiction or something else.

Tell us about your creative process.

Since my book was based on my own actual experiences it didn’t really involve a lot of creativity. Writing non-fiction stories does involve some creativity though as you still have to tell the story in a way that captivates your audience.

Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you?

Yes, my story was definitely outlined and since I have difficulty with memory I had to rely on help from family members. Together we put everything in point form in chronologic order and I worked from there.

What does your workspace look like?

My workspace is usually quite messy with papers all over the place. Every so often I have to clean it up so I can find things.

Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

As for quirks or odd habits most of the things I like to do while writing are pretty normal. Except that I like to write at night when everyone else is sleeping. Since the accident I don’t sleep well at night. I am usually ready to fall asleep about the time that everyone else is waking up. I think that I kind of like to be alone in my thoughts.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel? What about the easiest? What’s your favorite part?

Writing Ultimate Tragedy was extremely difficult for me; especially when I was reading Stacey’s hospital chart. The easiest part was knowing that it could help so many other people. My favorite part was seeing the actual finished product.

Thank you for sharing with us today Doreen Pchajek. You can find Doreen’s book on Amazon.

Author Interview with Celesta Thiessen

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With us today we have Celesta Thiessen a writer hailing from Steinbach, Manitoba. Celesta is a published author of over 20 books. Her other achievements include currently raising two young kids and working with her husband on their iPad app creation business, Visions Encoded. Thank you for joining us today, Celesta.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I really enjoy reading clean science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes I read middle grade or young adult science fiction and fantasy. I also enjoy Christian speculative fiction, which is fantasy and science fiction from the Christian worldview. My favorite author is Kathy Tyers who wrote the Firebird trilogy.

What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

I have written books for elementary age children, middle school readers, young adults, and adults. My books are mostly science fiction and fantasy. Prince Jade, a young adult fantasy, is my favorite fantasy book that I’ve written. The Dragon Warrior and the Princess, a space opera for adults, is my favorite science fiction book that I’ve written.

Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

My most recent release is called, Whispers of a Faded Dreamer. I’ve had this idea in my head for a long time now. I get most of my story ideas from my daydreams and that’s where this one came from. The idea is that you can get paid to sleep because wouldn’t that be fantastic? I think I first started contemplating the story in high school or it may have even been in junior high. The story has evolved over time. Even from the time I started writing it to the completion of the story the plot changed significantly.

What are you working on now?

I’ve written a series for children called, The Super Seven. So far, there are five books in this series. I am now working on the next book, which doesn’t have a title yet. I want to write two more books to complete The Super Seven series.

Tell us about your creative process.

Most people assume that because I’m a writer and a published author that I find writing easy and fun. I don’t. I love the ideas in my head. I love holding my finished book in my hand. It’s everything in between that I find difficult. So my creative process looks like trying to figure out ways to get myself to actually write the story and then to edit it.

I have found joining different writing groups or participating in writing challenges to be helpful in getting myself inspired to write the story. I wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo 2010. Now, I write a novel during this writing challenge each year. Also, participating in the 3 Day Novel Contest has been helpful for my productivity. I have written most of The Super Seven series during 3 Day Novel Contests.

Having accountability with writer friends has also been very beneficial. I meet with a local writers group in Steinbach where we read our stories to each other. It’s great hearing someone’s reaction to your story and looking at them to see their facial expression during the story. It really gives you a good idea about what kind of effect your story is having on people.

Recently I have bought the program Dragon Naturally Speaking by Nuance. This is a new part of my creative process, something that I’m starting to try out to help myself get excited about writing. With this program I can speak the story instead of having to type it. Some people say they have found Dragon Naturally Speaking to be very beneficial for their productivity. For me, that remains to be seen. So far, it is an interesting novelty. So the most important part of the creative process for me is feeling the inspiration and energy to be able to write.

Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you?

As for being either a pantser or a plotter, I am more of a pantser. A pantser is someone that basically flies by the seat of their pants as they write, meaning they don’t really have an outline that they’re following. I like to go where the story takes me. Most often, I do have a general idea before I start though. It’s important to have a setting and characters in mind. I also like to have a beginning for the story in my head as well the major problem and how that problem is addressed so I will know how to start and where I’m trying to go.

What does your workspace look like?

I’m very lucky I have my own office where I do my writing. I would like to say that my office is neat and organized with a place for everything and everything in its place. However, the reality is that my office is usually a mess. Sometimes even finding a spot on my desk for my laptop can be a challenge. On the wall in front of my desk I have dozens of sticky notes, small posters and cards from friends displaying motivational notes, phrases and Bible verses. I like having these words nearby. When I am feeling tired or discouraged I read these notes and verses and then the inspiration comes back.

Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

As for quirks or odd habits most of the things I like to do while writing are pretty normal. I like to have a cup of tea, for instance. I guess some of the things I do are a little unusual. One thing that’s a little unusual is that I prefer wearing something red when I’m writing. I find the color red inspirational. And I guess I do have a weird thing that I do during the writing process. I like bouncing while I think about the story. Before I got a knee injury, I used to jump on my trampoline while I worked out the story in my head. Since I am unable to do that now I had to find a new way to bounce. So now I have what’s called a Bounce Back Fitness chair – it’s chair where I can sit and bounce. I wrote about my Bounce Back Fitness Chair on my blog. My Bounce Back Fitness chair not only helps me think through my stories but also helps my mood a lot!

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel? What about the easiest? What’s your favorite part?

As I mentioned earlier, I find the whole process of writing a novel difficult. I suppose the most difficult part of writing the story is the middle. At the start of the story I still have excitement and drive and also some knowledge of what will happen in the beginning. At the ending of the story I’m excited because I also usually know the ending and am excited to be almost done the story. The middle is kind of a no-man’s-land of I-don’t-know-what’s-going-to-happen and despairing of ever getting the story done. My favorite part is when I open a box and see the physical copy of my book for the first time. I just love spinning nothing into stories – stories that can light the way to a different world.

Thank you for sharing with us today Celesta Thiessen. You can find Celesta’s books on Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.

Author Interview with Robert Stermsheg

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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

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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

Author Interview with Barbara Ann Derksen

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I’d like to introduce you to Barbara Ann Derksen, a motorcycle riding, scuba diving grandmother of ten, mother of four, and married to HC, a singer/songwriter, for 46 years. While working for six years as a journalist in Iowa, Barbara became a published novelist in 2003 and will complete her nineteenth book this spring.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

I have always enjoyed reading a great mystery. My favorite authors are Terri Blackstock, Brandilyn Collins, Colleen Coble, Robin Johns Grant, Nancy Rue, Joel Rosenberg, Sue Grafton, and James Patterson as well as many others.

What genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?

I wrote and published my first mystery in 2003 and suspected that this was my niche but then I wrote a short series of children,s stories for six of my grandchildren as birthday gifts. I work all summer as a missionary to bikers so I wrote a series of devotionals for them but my favorite genre is still mystery/suspense and will complete my 8th this spring.

Tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?

My recent work is the third in the Finders/Keepers Mystery Series. This collection surrounds a young woman who, as a five year old, watched her parents be killed. Now as an adult, she returns to the city of her birth to act as an investigator searching for missing children and the killer, who’s never been identified. Her investigation brings her into the world of pedophiles and human trafficking as she works with a service dog, Chief. This third book brings her closer to discovering why her parents were killed and who was behind it and now wants her dead.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you?

I write character lead fiction. I have, in my head, the beginning of the story, but my protagonists introduce me to new people and take me to new places. Writing, for me, is almost like reading a good mystery. I can’t wait to get to the end. As for the non-fiction, I plan those out a little more.

What does your work space look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?

I share my life with a singer/songwriter who has taken over the office for his sound equipment, recording devices, etc. So I moved into the dining room where I commandeered a small corner space to call my own. Because my space is more visible, I need to keep it neater than his. We can always close the door and do so often. As far as quirk, I like quiet with soft music playing in the background but have learned to tune my music making husband out. When I close his door, he knows I am writing so respects my space.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?

I find self editing tedious but necessary. I find it amazing how many extraneous words I use when I craft the first draft, and how often I use the same phrase or word in a particular scene. Self-editing is the hard work after the fun of revealing the story.

What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?

My characters live and breathe in my head so it is natural to bring them out and watch them move through a particular scene. They’re amateurs and stumble while they bring closure to grieving parents. My male protagonist is a Christian, as am I, so his viewpoint is different than my female, who sees no need of a Saviour, yet. They argue about this religious thing, as she calls it, but his faith gives my male protagonist extra patience with her and a sense of discernment she doesn’t have. I find the give and take between my characters easy to write and the story they take me through becomes just as easy as I follow their lead.

Barbara Ann, thank you for visiting with us today. Her books can be found at, at, at Barnes and Nobles and at Smashwords in both EBOOK format and paperback. Her website, Adventures in Writing, is where she engages her readers with a devotional every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday hoping to inspire the lives of her followers and she introduces them to a variety of writers some Tuesday’s or Thursday’s.

Thank you for introducing me to your readers and followers. I would love to hear from you in the comment section of this blog. I would also love to hear how you enjoyed my work by writing a review about a book you’ve purchased at the site you purchased it from. Reviews are important and need to be your honest appraisal.

All comments and questions for Barbara will be passed along and her answers will be posted.

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