Here Be Dragons

C M Halstead’s latest psychological thriller will be available on August 10, 2021. He describes it as “something found on the edges of ancient explorer maps, the parts of the world that the people know exist, but don’t explore. In many stories Dragons represent the big challenge the protagonist must face in order to complete their hero’s journey and receive the prize.” Here’s a brief synopsis:

Marty Roberts has an opportunity to save the world, not from itself, but from the humans that dominate it. He sits, thinking. Determined to find a solution, no idea how lost he is.

Agent Joanne Clay urgently moves forward in her career, hell-bent on making her reputation and moving on from her family’s. She, a new generation of FBI agent.

Enter a clandestine agency, a psycho or three and the race for power gets violent. A whodunit, full of power and personal struggles. Who will prevail, the young, FBI-backed agent or Marty Roberts, alone and on mission?

You may ask C M questions at Goodreads Author C M Halstead. He is @cm_halstead on Instagram, and you’ll find him on LinkedIn

C M’s Interview

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

Introvert to the core. INTP 90% introvert, the other three teeter totter back and forth by 10% or less.

That being said, I am a trained extrovert. Survival required it. Now, at my age of 50, I’ve learned to embrace my introvert nature and to resist those that say I have to go out…. No, they have to go out, they just want me to go with them.

Why go out when I can stay in? Or in the forest? Or fishing from the shore? Other things that are quiet and recharging. Thank you nature for allowing me to recharge my energy, I’ve humans in my life that demand it. 🙂

Interesting perspective!

Do you find it (1) easy to give a witty retort OR (2) think of what you should have said after the conversation is over?

I am known for witty retorts. In my own mind I am a verbal champion at this. I’ve been labeled “full of it” by peers and customers alike. I’ve had careers where quick thought and tongue were requirements often used in the constant negotiating of written contracts and verbal agreements, both between companies and spouses, as well as customers who thought they were in charge, until I took them out of their element and into mine. From negotiating multi-million dollar contracts to enticing an overbearing customer on a jeep tour to, “sit-down, shut-up, and have a good time.” Quick thought and bantering are one of the tools of my survival and success.

Easy rhetoric!

What provides more inspiration to you: (1) art OR (2) nature?

Nature is Art. Go out in it. Get high if you need to, stare at nothing, listen to everything. Stop moving! To be still is the best way to experience the things we do not normally see. Whether it be watching the ground creatures, the bugs, lizards, and others that crawl around beneath us. Or stopping to stare into a tree to experience what crawls up and down it, what flies in and out of it, and the surprises at the top watching you from just outside your site limits.

Moving meditation, also known as hiking, is a huge part of my creative process. Sometimes I will cover miles and miles on a trail, letting my body exercise while my brain wanders. I’ve been known to skid to a stop, whip out my phone and write a note before anything can distract me and the idea disappears with the same magic that had it arrive. Juxtaposed to long distance hiking, I also love to wander off-trail in various environments, seeing what I see, hearing what I hear, without the often repeated conversations that trail hiking requires. “good morning”, “great weather”, “beware of the snake ahead” and other excuses to break the uncomfortable silences of strangers passing in the wild.

Outdoors is where I escape the distractions of the modern world, slow myself down, and remove my face from the electronics. There my thoughts flow free. There my brain hops story to story or thinks of nothing.

Wonderful reasoning!

Do you write (1) when the mood takes you OR (2) at a set time?

I write on a schedule. I put myself in my #writerscave 5-6 six days a week. I view my job (as an author) seriously and my job is to put my author butt in the writing chair, in the writer’s cave, away from life’s distractions, and keep it there. When I do, magic happens. Words come from my fingers and rough drafts appear. I DO allow myself to work on whatever my mood chooses to write. I generally have several novels in process at the same time. If my fingers stop moving I switch to a different tale, whatever it takes to keep the creative flow moving.

To be honest, some days, it is all I can do to keep ME in the writer’s cave, to block out the sounds of the humans around me, the barking dogs, garbage trucks, and other human sounds that remind me there is a world outside of the one I am creating in my stories. I often use sound deadening headphones while listening to classical music, trance, or other wordless music to keep me present in the moment.
Being a creative is different than the other jobs I’ve had in the past, they were mostly linear and judged by the perception of constant productivity, whereas being an author, some of the best ideas have come to me whilst staring at the floor and smoking a cigar. It is the uninterrupted thought that is needed to create. The quiet that requires is tough in the human infused first world I dwell in.

Awesome description!

(1) Can you name just one favorite novel OR (2) you love too many to just pick one?

Who can pick just one… of anything. Me? I have a hard time with top ten lists. How about a top ten list for each genre of books, movies, music. I might be able to come up with a top ten list for video games (Madden, Super TecmoBowl….) other than that, my loves are a long list. My music tastes go from Mozart to Metal, I’d have to come up with a top ten list for both of those catagories. Same with novels… I bet I could come up with a top ten list of Stephen King novels, or top ten authors (besides the King whom I enjoy for his in the brain of everybody story telling style, Terry Pratchett for his humor and wit, Clive Cussler for his adventurous characters, and every military veteran who told their story in print, to name a few.) Top few self improvement books: The Four Agreements, The War of Art, Peter Principle. The only thing harder than coming up with a list of top ten cheeseburgers I’ve had in my life. First let us start with locations they were consumed in….

Keen wit!

Thanks for being interviewed, C M!

HBD: Here Be Dragons book cover
HBD: Here Be Dragons

Shifting Stars

The Salvation of Tempestria Book 1

Gary Stringer published the first fantasy novel in his The Salvation of Tempestria series in December 2020. Here’s a brief synopsis:

An immortal girl has a desperate and dangerous plan to save her world through the illegal use of Time magic. To provide context, she tells the tale of her mother, Catriona, when she was a young magic student.

On the best and worst day of her life, Catriona’s home is destroyed, and she receives the gift of an Angel: a magic staff. Understanding that gift becomes the focus of her life.

With the aid of pioneering magic and ridiculous radical plans, Catriona’s quest leads her to rare book, diverse friendships and amazing adventures, until one day she is forced to make a terrible choice between preserving knowledge for the future and saving lives in the present.

At what price comes knowledge and what price is too high?

Shifting Stars marks the beginning of the epic series, The Salvation of Tempestria. A fantasy world within a wider sci-fi universe, populated by bold characters with ridiculous radical ideas, as told by an immortal girl from the future with a plan to save the world…or possibly end it.

You may ask him questions at Goodreads Author Gary Stringer. He is also available on Instagram and has a book trailer on YouTube

Gary’s Interview

You see an amusing incident while grocery shopping. Do you (1) record what happens in some form OR (2) do nothing?

There actually was an incident like that, not long ago, at the supermarket. A couple of lads had bought a large TV and were trying desperately to get it in their small car…in the pouring rain…and it was obvious to all onlookers that it was never going to fit. I didn’t record it, but I do enjoy telling the story. I often wonder how they resolved that problem.

What a funny one to tell!

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

Introvert, definitely. I’m really quiet, don’t say a lot and I’d much rather sit in a corner with a book than go out and socialise with people. I can write witty dialogue, but there’s no way I could ever say it in real time. Even if I think of it, I second guess whether it’s really a good idea to say it and by the time I’ve decided, the conversation has moved on and it’s academic. I’m OK in a 1-to-1 situation, but as the number of people increases, the less likely I am to contribute to the conversation. Unless it’s conversation about a subject I’m passionate about.

A true introvert!

You can travel back in time. Will you go back (1) 10 years OR (2) 25 years?

25 years. The world of the 1990’s was a very different place and I’d love the reminder of what it was really like. I wouldn’t want to change anything about my life, particularly, but if I could have a quiet word with my younger myself, I’d simply ask him to pay more attention to his surroundings. Notice the details. Things change so fast and it’s easy to get swept away by those changes and forget how things used to be.

Wonderful reason!

Do you write (1) when the mood takes you OR (2) at a set time?

I have a specific schedule for writing. Usually autumn/winter weekends. Probably a few days off work in October to have a good run a starting something new. It’s like a kind of inertia in writing – once I get it moving at a reasonable pace, it’s easier to keep it moving. Spring/Summer weekends are for planning. Go out, go for a walk, think about plotlines and worldbuilding, and have a pad and pen with me to make notes. Then again, sometimes ideas pop into my head at the strangest times and I need to make a note while it’s in my head. I woke up the other day with the perfect opening line for my next book, and ended up quickly typing the entire first page.

Awesome description of your writing life!

(1) Can you name just one favorite novel OR (2) you love too many to just pick one?

That’s an interesting question, because ‘favourite’ is not necessarily the same as ‘best’. There are novels that I read in my university days that rank among my favourites, despite the fact that I know more recent reads are better objectively. Because the Weis and Hickman TSR DragonLance fantasy novels I read back then introduced me to the whole fantasy genre. Without those, I wouldn’t have read those ‘better’ ones (Terry Goodkind, Sara J Maas, Genevieve Cogman) and written novels of my own.

Great perspective!

Thanks for being interviewed, Gary!

Shifting Stars book cover
Shifting Stars

The Mathews Family

Mathews Family Saga Book 1

Under the pen name Trana Mathews, I self-published this early American historical fiction in January 2020. It is available in ebook and paperback formats. Here’s a brief synopsis:

From their beginnings in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, their lives have been intertwined with American history. Known facts about this 18th century family are listed in my book trailer.

As a young child, Increase “Ink” witnesses the birth of the United States. Along with his mother and siblings, he remains on the farm while their older male relatives join the ranks of the Continental Army. After the war ends, social and political unrest continues throughout central Massachusetts during the period known as Shays’s Rebellion and a battle takes place inside New Braintree.

Ink’s uncle Rufus Putnam, brother-in-law Captain Jonathan Stone, and older brother John Mathews are among the “First 48” settlers to Ohio in 1788. The peace of their settlement is soon shattered. Trying to divest the land of these new Americans, Indians attack and massacre many pioneers. The British also prove problematic. Conflict continues in the Ohio Country for almost ten years.

My historical fiction includes transcripts of actual letters written between family members during the 18th century.

I’m a member of The Independent Author Network and available to answer your questions at Goodreads Author Trana Mathews. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Join my YouTube channel for book trailer updates.

Trana’s Interview

Why are you interviewing yourself?

Unfortunately another independent author has not sent me a private message on Goodreads to arrange an interview. Since this is Memorial Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about my ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War.

Who served in this legendary war?

While my third great-grandfather Dr. Increase Mathews “Ink” is the narrator for all my historical fiction novels in the Mathews Family Saga series, born in 1772, he was too young to serve but relates the history of his entire family. Their service records are contained within the multiple volumes of Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War.

Daniel Mathews Jr.

This is Ink’s father who served as both a matross and a bombardier. These were artillery positions which loaded and fired the cannon. Daniel had previously served with the British military during the French & Indian war in America.

Elisha “Lish” Mathews

Ink’s eldest brother who briefly served twice during this war. Lish was also part of the Massachusetts militia called out to suppress Shays’s Rebellion which occurred in central Massachusetts after the war ended.

John Mathews

Ink’s older brother who was only age 16 when he joined the Continental Army in December 1780. After the war ended, he surveyed the Seven Ranges for the Confederated Congress in 1786. He provisioned many frontier forts during the Indian War in the Northwest Territory and witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.

Captain Jonathan Stone

Married Ink’s eldest sister Susannah and served with Rufus Putnam as paymaster at West Point. Part of the Massachusetts militia who suppressed Shays’s Rebellion. Listed among the first settlers to Ohio, bringing Susannah and their children to the frontier in 1789.

Brigadier-General Rufus Putnam

The youngest brother of Ink’s mother Huldah Putnam Mathews. Rufus served the Continental Army as General Washington’s chief military engineer. Like his brother-in-law Daniel, he also served with the British during the French & Indian War.

After the war ended, he submitted the Newburgh Petition to the Confederated Congress asking that military land warrants be issued to veterans. He organized and sold shares in the Ohio Company of Associates to veterans to settle land in the Northwest Territory. Today, he is known as “The Father of Ohio” for his role in settling the Northwest Territory.

What inspired you to write about your ancestors?

As a young teen, I was assigned a genealogy project. While working on this, my mom shared a small booklet which was a 1932 limited edition of Increase’s 1798 travel journal which had been published for family members. Reading his words gave me a view of our country’s history not found in textbooks!

Also, during the 1980s in company with my mom, aunt, and daughter, I had toured Increase’s home. He had built this house in 1805 using stone from his quarry. The Muskingum Historical Society has owned his residence since 1970, provides tours of this museum, and describes it as the area’s oldest building.

What is the best thing your research revealed?

The personal letters between family members! By today’s standard, some would call historian Samuel P. Hildreth a hoarder. I’m so thankful that he accumulated so much material. In addition to his collection, Marietta College also has Special Collections for John Mathews and Rufus Putnam.

Like Increase’s journal, these letters show a glimpse of our country not found in a textbook. John’s early letters downplay Indian aggression. In fact, he thinks others are imagining danger where there isn’t any. He changes his mind and later barely survives a massacre!

My original intent was just to write about Increase. Getting the transcripts of these personal letters changed my focus to his entire family. These were too important not to be shared.

Thanks to all who have served in the United States forces! Our country wouldn’t exist today without the efforts of the many men and women who serve.

The Mathews Family book cover
The Mathews Family

War of the Twin Swords

Prequel to “Amy’s Rebellion”

Julia Goldhirsh has published another Arthurian fantasy novel in her Gemstone Massacre Series. Here’s a brief synopsis:

On the night before Argentum’s Choosing ceremony, she overhears talks of a potential war. In a desperate attempt to gain more power for her clan, she goes after Clarent but gets more than she bargained for. Her clan rejects her because of her cursed familiar. When she goes off into the woods to blow off some steam, she runs into the enemy’s leader, Joan. But Joan warns her their enemy is not who they think it is.

You can purchase this novel on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or as an audiobook for Apple. You can find out more about this Arthurian fantasy novelist on her website or ask her questions at Goodreads Author Julia Goldhirsh. She is also on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram. You may want to join her YouTube channel or newsletter.

Julia’s Interview

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

People always assume this is a binary decision, but that’s just not the case for me. You can be and I am an ambivert meaning you’re introverted in some ways and extroverted in others. This just means I feel equally fulfilled being at home reading a book or being out and about in a crowd. I often get clocked as an extrovert, but I have qualities of both an introvert and extrovert.

A bit of both for you!

Science has advanced, and we can now colonize other planets. Do you (1) sign up to be a colonist OR (2) remain on Earth?

Okay I had to answer this because my Nymph’s Revenge series talks about colonialism and industrialism and the harm it does. I don’t want to be a colonist. I’d love to visit other planets, but colonize them? No thanks. How about let those other species live their lives and don’t trample all over whatever society and culture they might already have in place.

Not a colonist, just a visitor!

Do you find it (1) easy to give a witty retort OR (2) think of what you should have said after the conversation is over?

I find that pre and post conversation is generally when I come up with witty retorts. Generally, I have a hard time thinking of something on the spot or if I do think of something, I usually feel way too awkward to say it aloud unless I really want to ruin that relationship with the person. I have 2 settings sunshine nugget and savage there’s really no inbetween.

Witty retorts are not your style!

Are you (1) a morning person OR (2) a night owl?

I’m a night owl, but not entirely by choice. I just have a hard time focusing during the day time because of constant interruptions and work obligations. I also have a hard time falling asleep, so I generally lean into that and use late night times to get work done even though it’s not really good for my health. Plus I always worked in the evenings, so up until now I’ve mostly been able to get away with late night work and reading sessions.

Interesting perspective!

What provides more inspiration to you: (1) art OR (2) nature?

I’ve never been a big fan of art, but tried to be interested in it because my mother went to art school and my whole family loves art. I’d say I’m more inspired by natural phenomenon the most. I especially like places like Blue pond in Hokkaido and the Beppu no Jigoku aka the Beppu hells (hot springs).

Nature lover!

(1) Can you name just one favorite novel OR (2) you love too many to just pick one?

I can name several favorites, but not just one. That’s like asking me to choose between children. I have favorite novels for certain things like favorite novels to get over a breakup or favorite nostalgia re-read (Inkheart).

Can’t say just one!

Thanks for being interviewed, Julia!

War of the Twin Swords book cover
War of the Twin Swords

Friends in Low Places

Vince Wetzel’s debut contemporary fiction novel was published this April. Here’s a brief synopsis:

How strong are the bonds of friendship? Four lifelong buddies go on their annual trip to the lake, but this time to spread Jim’s ashes and read his ragged notebook, chronicling every adventure of the past 20 years. Over the course of their final trip together, they will read Jim’s journal through his uncensored eyes, reliving their shared laughter, life moments, revelations, and regret while coming to accept their grief. Friends in Low Places is a funny, poignant, sometimes heartbreaking portrayal of male relationships and the support they provide as boys mature into men.

You can find out more about this contemporary fiction author on his website or at Goodreads Author Vince Wetzel. He’s also on Twitter at @wetzelv.

Vince’s Interview

Do you consider yourself (1) an introvert OR (2) an extrovert?

I am an extrovert who also sees value in quiet time. In my regular job, I interact, make presentations, connect people and it brings me a lot of energy and excitement. However, I love the time when I can just sit by myself with some music and a beer and look at a firepit or a body of water and just be.

An extrovert who also enjoys quiet times!

Your novel brought you fame and fortune. Do you spend approximately $2 million on (1) an expensive car OR (2) a Hollywood-style RV?

I definitely get a nice RV, though I hope I can also hire a driver for it to remove that stress. I’ve thought that in retirement it would be great to travel to different spots on the northern West Coast and just watch the waves crash across the rocks in the cool crisp air. I would wake up with my coffee, sit outside amongst the seagulls and the marine layer of fog, and it would be the best way to write.

Driver hired for you!

Are you a person who (1) makes and follows New Year resolutions OR (2) never bothers with resolutions?

I don’t think of them as resolutions, but rather goals. Resolutions are made to be broken. Goals are made to be achieved. I usually set yearly goals, then break them down into quarterly and then weekly goals. It helps to keep me accountable for what I want to achieve. I think the key is creating process and habit, which brings you to achievement and results.

Goal achiever!

Are you (1) a morning person OR (2) a night owl?

When I was younger, I was definitely a night owl, partially because I was a sportswriter and worked 3-midnight and by the time I came down from the deadline rush, it would be 2-3 a.m. Twenty years later, I’ve adopted morning mystique. Perhaps it comes from my father, a farmer who was out the door by 6 am. But there is a peace and open-ended energy that comes from pre-dawn.

Interesting perspective!

What is your (1) favorite book quote OR (2) favorite movie quote?

“When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment or the moment defines you. I did not shrink from the challenge, I rose to it. If I had it to do all over again, I’d still hit that shot.” – Roy McElvoy, (Kevin Costner in the movie Tin Cup)

Of course, this quote is followed by another “Greatness courts failure, Romeo.” While he rose to the challenge, he always let his ego drive him. There are moments where you can’t move forward by being reactive. You have to be proactive and define the situation. Of course, sometimes that may mean failure, but you can’t be afraid of failure. You can try to mitigate the impact or find alternatives, but understand how failure is a part of success and achievement and you can define your life. I believe that if intentions are good and pure and rooted in the right things, good outcomes are more likely to be achieved.

Defining the moments!

Thanks for being interviewed, Vince!

Friends in Low Places book cover
Friends in Low Places