Monday, May 26, 2014

Interview with a Humorous Author Annie Oeth

A lifelong Mississippian, Annie Oeth is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women. She currently works as a features editor for The Clarion-Ledger, the state’s largest daily newspaper. She writes about family and fun and The Mom Zone blog. Annie is the author of Because I Said So: Life in The Mom Zone, which was published in April 2014. She is a solo mom to four, and currently resides in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Connect with Annie on Facebook and Twitter.

“Whether you’re a mama to sons who have an affection for reptiles and bottle rockets or a daughter who thinks you’re wrong… just when you’ve figured out your own mother was right, you’ll love yourself, your kids and your life more after this read. Why? Because I said so.”

Hello, Annie. This is such a classic statement. All of us mother have said, “Because I said so.” Please tell us about your book. What is it about?

Hello, Linda, and thank you for including me and "Because I Said So: Life in The Mom Zone" in your blog! And yes, I have also said, "Because I said so," many times. The book is about life in general and being a mom in particular. There are some laughs, but also some tears, in these pages. There are some stories about growing up and being a grown-up. I think parents will identify with it, but I also think there are things readers would identify with because they are part of the human experience.

What was your inspiration for this book?

The inspiration for the book comes from knowing and working with mothers, swapping stories and my own four children. I think we've all had moments when we loved a memory or a story so much we just had to write it down. These are some of the ones that were written down.

Are these your own experiences or from talking to other parents, or both?

In "Because I Said So," I drew mostly from my own experiences, although there are a cast of characters involved, but talking with others raising children also provided inspiration. They inspire me every day. Being a mom or a dad is not easy.

Will you please share with us one of the funniest things you inserted in this book?

There are quite a few of them that make me laugh, from my boys putting frogs in mailboxes to kids putting two and two together about Santa Claus. I also had to laugh about our preacher asking if I needed help with the housework (nothing is more mortifying) and about being asked by my son, after I brought home third place in my age group in a 5K, if there were only three people in my age group. If I wasn't a mom, I would have to pay for entertainment. 

Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

One of the most difficult times in my life was the time from 2004 to 2006, when I lost my mother to a stroke, then my husband, and five months later my father, both to heart attacks. Coming back from that was hard, but I had to. There were four children depending on me. Raising my children is a great joy to me, but keeping my family strong and connected is, for lack of a better word, my mission in life. It's for this reason that I treasure all kinds of memories.

Wow! You have had some real challenges in life. Thank you for this wonderful interview, Annie. I’m sure my readers will enjoy this fun filled book. Below is an excerpt for all of you to read. Happy reading!


There was a time of retribution like no other in my growing-up years. It was when church let out.
Church misbehavior would get you a warm behind faster than setting fire to the school back then. It was a reflection on your parents‘ child-rearing in the public-est place in town. You didn’t challenge authority too much more than acting like a heathen in church. It was like asking for the physical motivation to stand awhile.
We would witness someone wearing out their young’uns‘ backsides beside the family‘s Chevy Malibu and be thankful that our own badness, doodling, whispering and note-passing didn’t cross the line that Sunday.
Our badness continued, though, not unlike a game of Russian roulette. We’d keep talking during the preacher’s sermon, never knowing when the bullet of getting a backseat beating had our names on it.
Of course, we all grew up, and many of us kept the habit of going to church. We had even learned to behave by the time we had children of our own. And this is when I learned the lesson my parents and all my friends‘ parents knew: Never commence to punishing your child during the sermon.
The oldest boy was somewhere between two and three at the time and was bored out of his little mind. To occupy his time, he picked up the Methodist hymnal and began flipping all gazillion pages from hard front cover to hard back cover.
“Stop, baby,’’ I hissed.
It was like the tide, steady and relentless, and also pretty darned loud. I started getting disapproving looks from my fellow congregants.
In desperation, I folded my arms and gave him a pinch, surreptitiously, to get his attention.
Instead, he got mine. Along with the preacher’s and everyone else in the congregation that day.
“Mama!’’ he said in a nice, clear, outside voice. “Quit pinching me!’’
The preacher had to pause to get his composure back, shaking while he stifled a laugh, and the choir twittered with muffled laughter until the altar call.
The rest of the week, folks around town would tell me to stop pinching my little boy and laugh. That was the last time he got pinched by me, in church or elsewhere, by the way.
The oldest boy was lucky he was a child of his generation. In the church parking lots of my day, that would have gotten him a walloping of Biblical proportions.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Interview with Western Writer Heidi Thomas

Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Heidi’s first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, has won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalist award. Follow the Dream, a WILLA Award winner, is the second book, and Dare to Dream is the third in the Dreamseries about strong, independent Montana women. Heidi also teaches memoir and fiction writing classes in north-central Arizona.

Welcome back to my blog, Heidi. Dare to Dream is the third book of the “Dreams” trilogy. Please tell us about your new book.

This new book takes place in the 1940s when women’s participation in rough-stock rodeo was declining, partly due to the world wars and partly because the all-male Rodeo Association of America did not include women’s events in their sanctioned rodeos. Just as Nettie Moser has regained her heart and spirit, following the loss of a dear cowgirl friend in a freak rodeo accident, she is barred from riding. She is determined to “do something” about this outrage, but her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet. She begins mentoring a couple of teenage neighbor girls in trick riding, the only thing left for women. Against the backdrop of ranching and rodeoing is also the heart-rending affect of WWII on the Montana home front and for Nettie’s family.

Where did you get your inspiration for this trilogy?

My grandmother was my inspiration. She was a real Montana cowgirl who rode bucking steers in rodeos—these were the big wild range animals that were a lot bigger than the steers we see the kids ride in today’s rodeos. After she died when I was 12, my dad told me she had done that, and it stuck in my head until I was an adult and started to write books.

That’s impressive. I bet you felt close to her as you wrote this story. What kind of research did you do for this book?

I got a lot of first-hand information from my dad about growing up with cowboy parents. I also read a number of books about the old-time cowgirls who competed in the heyday of women’s rodeo, and read articles that related to the times and what Montana was like during those eras. Since I grew up on a ranch, I had first-hand knowledge of that lifestyle and could somewhat identify with the homesteaders of the early 1900s because we didn’t have electricity until I was six and no indoor bathroom until I was in high school.

I know this series is based on your grandmother’s rodeo experiences in the 1920s and I think it’s interesting when authors add real life situations to their stories. Did you follow your grandmother’s experiences perfectly or use her as an example for this book?

A little of both, actually. Although the timeline follows some family history, my Nettie character in Dare to Dream is more fictionalized than in the first two books, since she didn’t actually go on to rodeo that late in life and to my knowledge did not mentor other cowgirls (except me).

When I was eight, my grandparents bought me my first horse, a little black Welsh/Shetland cross named Money. Big mistake. That pony was a stubborn little cuss, and he knew he had the authority over that little eight-year-old girl on his back who just wanted to ride with her dad and grandma. He refused to budge, no matter how much I urged him to. Grandma jumped on his back—gonna show him who’s boss—and he proceeded to buck with her. Money immediately went back in the horse trailer and my next horse was a gentle strawberry roan who was my pal on many a roundup for many years. (Needless to say, I did not follow in my grandmother’s rodeo footsteps!)

Thank you, Heidi, for this wonderful interview. I don’t know anything about cowgirls and rodeos, so I learned something new today. When I was a kid, I watched Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and wanted to be like her. But that was all I knew about cowgirls. Haha. The next stop for Heidi's tour will be Tuesday at Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Blog.

You may read the blurb below about this awesome book.

Blurb: Montana cowgirl Nettie Brady Moser has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the journey toward her dream of being a professional rodeo rider. In the 1920s she struggled against her family’s expectations and social prejudice against rodeo cowgirls. During the Great Depression, marrying Jake Moser and then raising their son took priority over rodeos. And then she was devastated by the death of her friend and mentor in a rodeo accident.

In the spring of 1941, Nettie, now age 36, is regaining her heart and spirit, and she is determined to ride again at an event in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To her dismay, the male-dominated Rodeo Association of America enforces its rule barring women from riding rough stock and denies her the chance to ride. Her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet.

Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, who rode rough stock in Montana in the 1920s, this sweeping rodeo saga parallels the evolution of women’s rodeo from the golden years of the 1920s, producing many world champion riders, and shows its decline, beginning in the 1930s and ending with World War II in 1941.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Darcy Flynn

Darcy Flynn is known for her heartwarming, sweet contemporary romances. Her refreshing storylines, irritatingly handsome heroes and feisty heroines will delight and entertain you from the first page to the last. Miss Flynn’s heroes and heroines have a tangible chemistry that is entertaining, humorous and competitive. She has written Sealed With a Kiss, Keeper of My Heart, and Rogue’s Son.

Darcy lives with her husband, son, two English Setters and a menagerie of other living creatures on her horse farm in Franklin, Tennessee. She raises rare breed chickens, stargazes on warm summer nights and indulges daily in afternoon tea. 

Hello, Darcy. I absolutely love sweet love stories that involve feisty heroines. Please tell us about your novel, Rogue’s Son.

Tough and driven, Kit Kendall replaced frills and dresses with no nonsense haircuts and wranglers years ago. As owner of Sage Brush, the once thriving west Texas bed and breakfast ranch, she now struggles daily to keep her business afloat. Since McCabe Lodge reopened next door as a multi-million dollar resort, her financial difficulties compound, as she suffers one cancellation after another.

Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, Kit’s former neighbor and childhood nemesis, returns as the new owner of the resort that’s now putting her out of business.

Sam Dawson, cowboy turned entrepreneur, has returned to Sugar Creek after six years of exile with a secret that could destroy Kit’s happiness. He left town because of it and for the past two years has secretly tried to make it right. Having failed, he now returns to make one last attempt to undo the tangled web created by his father. Set in motion by his father’s Last Will and Testament and with the clock ticking, Sam has only weeks to convince Kit to sell him her ranch or reveal the truth that will break her heart.

This sounds like an intriguing story. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I love westerns, both historical and modern day and since I live on a Tennessee horse farm it was a natural setting for me to explore. I adore reunion stories and love to write them. A few years ago I had this kernel of an idea where the heroine’s former neighbor and childhood nemesis returns as the new owner of the hunting lodge that’s now putting her Bed and Breakfast out of business. And the story just developed from there.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Living on a horse farm and working around them on a daily basis translated easily to the west Texas setting I used in Rogue’s Son. My husband and I have been out west many times. We especially love to visit Texas and Arizona. I have some wonderful photos of Old Tucson that also served as inspiration. Also, Google is every writer’s friend! I found the most charming town called Turkey, Texas and posted pictures of it over my desk.
Another thing I did, which may seem strange to non-horse people - I took a daily walk while I was writing and went to our barn and “whispered” to my horse. I pressed my nose in her neck and just breathed. There’s something about the smell of a horse. They’re addictive! Their flesh is sweet and wonderful. J I told you it would sound weird!

Actually, it sounds quite wonderful. Who is one of your favorite characters in this story and what do you love about him or her?

I love my hero, Sam. He's strong and sensitive and completely captivating. I love that he comes back to help Kit, and does everything he can to protect her from the truth of her situation in spite of her sass and resistance. J

The hero sounds like an awesome man. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Oh, there are so many fun things I’d like to share here. But I’ll stick to one. I was a professional model for many years. I was in national TV commercials, national magazines and did runway for some of the top designers of that period.

Wow! That’s so interesting. I bet it was fun trying on all those stylish clothes. You went from the model world to the author world. Thank you, Darcy, for this wonderful interview.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Interview with Historical Fiction Author Bill Christy

Bill Christy, a native Kansan, was raised on a farm and educated in Kansas. He became a Certified Public Accountant and retired as a financial administrator in higher education. Bill has 8 grown children and lives with his wife in a small college town in central New Mexico. He has published two family chronology books about his mother’s family and published one book prior to this: TOMMY DE BURGH/A SOLDIER’S LEGACY.

Welcome back to my blog. It’s so nice to see that you’ve written another book. Even though this novel is considered historical fiction, it is about your great grandfather from Ireland. The events are historic but written in story form in first person. Please tell us about The Dynasty of Laurence Burke: Legacy of an Irish Immigrant.

In my prior research I had all the material needed to follow the time line of Laurence’s life but that did not tell his story. I decided to let him tell his own story by connecting all the known events of his life. He had left Ireland just ahead of being arrested by the English for violation of the Penal Codes and started with nothing in America. He made his fortune in Kansas starting with a homestead and helped many people along the way. A fine example of what hard work and honesty can accomplish. He is the hero of my family. The stories are his even though I put the words in his mouth.

That’s wonderful. Since this story is so personal, I bet you felt real close to your ancestor. What inspired you to write this novel?

Yes, it is personal even though he died when I was about two years old. My great-grandmother survived him and brought him to life for me. I have been inspired to write about his life for years but could not find a way to put it into a story. Historic is dull and hard to capture in a story. I wanted to honor the truth but in researching history you find out that there are many different versions of truth so I followed the documents and filled in the dots to retell the family tales about him.

As you know, I teach people how to write their family’s stories at libraries. It’s so important for our children to know who their ancestors are. What kind of research did you do for this book?

I was able to find many recorded documents from County and Community records. I carefully followed a time line of his life and gathered publications of the period and gathered tons of information from extended family in America and in Ireland. I also made two trips to Ireland and England. I have about ten years of research in the books and have written and enjoyed every minute of it.

You love to write historical novels concerning your ancestors. This is the second one you’ve written. What intrigues you most about writing these stories?

I enjoy writing about things I have learned about and that inspired me.

Thank you, Bill, for this wonderful interview. I love the cover of your book. I know this will be an enjoyable read for those who like historical novels.